By Diva Melody Hodgson
Living in Huron County, the love and pride felt by the residents is evident in even the simplest of conversations. Pride in their land, homes, the bounty of all the area has to offer; love of their relationships, workplaces and the general feeling of community partnership and support. Many of us are fortunate to share at least one, if not all of these sentiments. Rarely, however, do we get to combine them all and create a work environment that embodies everything we love. Welcome to Huron Adventures Inc. (On Twitter)
The brainchild of Genny Smith, Huron Adventures Inc. packages the best of what Huron County has to offer and curates a tailored experience for each of their clients. Genny, along with Heather Boa (Communications), Craig Sinclair (Graphic Design), and Angela Smith (Photography), have taken their shared love of Huron County and created a company that takes the guessing out of experiencing. Whether you are looking for a genuine adventure (hiking, crossfit and wakeboarding – oh my!), a culinary experience, or a theatrical creation, Huron Adventures Inc. has all the passion and partnerships to let you in on the many adventures we have hidden within our beloved county.
Last Friday I was fortunate enough to be able to join Genny and her crew on their inaugural adventure with Steven Sparling and the Canadian Propane Association corporate retreat attendees. If you’re anything like me, I often feel intimidated by the limitless options we have within the area and end up doing much of the “same old” every weekend since I can’t make a decision. Luckily for everyone, Huron Adventures Inc. had the whole day planned out, leaving any decision making out of the equation.
I met the group at the Queens Bakery in Blyth after their chartered bus pick-up at the Benmiller Inn & Spa. Located in a beautifully renovated heritage building on main street in Blyth, the espresso bar features local artisanal products (coffee, cheese, maple syrup, etc) and fresh baked goods in a super relaxing and chill environment. From here we were to grab a beverage of choice (hello Royal Canadian coffee!), where I looked like an opportunistic coffee mooch by joining the group’s coffee order prior to an introduction. After some laughs, we were on our way to experience a historic tour of Blyth hosted by one of the town’s most avid ambassadors – Rick Elliott.
Queens Bakery in Blyth
Rick’s historic tour wound it’s way past the Blyth Memorial Hall (we were unable to enter the hall due to theatre rehearsals; the festival opens Wednesday, June 25th), and led us towards the soon-to-be repurposed Blyth Public School. As a defining component of Blyth’s Campaign 14/19, the old public school will be re-established as a School of Art and Design within the next five years. After a humourous education regarding the longstanding familial rivalry between rutabagas (thank you autocorrect) and turnips, we toured past Howson Mills where the smell of durum wheat at the flour mill made us think longingly of all of the delightful goodies we left behind at the Queens Bakery.
The final leg of Rick’s walking tour brought us to the Blyth Greenway Trail. Situated on old CPR rail lines, the walking trail features fitness stations nestled alongside the Blyth Brook and is one of town’s hidden gems. It was here, in this peaceful and relaxing environment, that we met our next adventure…Jen Fleming of The Tank Crossfit in Goderich. All smiles and full of contagious energy, she presented us with this lovely whiteboard:
Nothin’ to it…right?
“Surely she can’t be serious”, I said to myself. A few seasons of office work had fooled me into thinking my semi-daily walks were enough to keep me “fit”. I was sorely mistaken, but since this was a day of adventure and trying new experiences we all dove right in. There is something to be said about how great it feels to remember muscles long forgotten, but I will be forever grateful to the kind soul who decided all buses should have a handrail to climb and descend stairs with. The program Jen created for us was fun and energetic, and we all spent a good portion of the exercises alternately laughing (at ourselves), and negotiating repetition counts. It’s not every day you get to hold a propane tank over your head while your partner pounds out dreaded burpees!
Hey, Manitoba…how’s that one-armed push-up going?
The CPA Group after the Fit Tank Goderich Crossfit experience!
Once we had completed the team building crossfit extravaganza, we hopped (I use that term loosely, we did just complete a million lunges) back onto the bus and began the trek out to Bayfield for some wakeboarding and stand up paddleboarding (SUP).
As you will learn, I love food, and this lunch was one of my favourites. Shop Bike Coffee Roasters (a locally operated establishment in Bayfield with a lovely shop bike I am extremely envious of) sponsored the lunch featuring gourmet sandwiches, gluten free pasta and sweet treats all from the Black Dog Pantry. To top it off, they had a variety of their organic & fair trade coffee options available to try. Ah-may-zing.
A snippet of the delicious spread by Shop Bike and the Black Dog Pantry
The energy that palpated through the bus on the drive to Bayfield had diminished somewhat by the time we boarded for our return to Blyth. Not out of any sense of disappointment, but rather a combination of exhaustion and reflection; we had already experienced more of what our county has to offer in one day than most (myself included) choose to experience in a month.
The final stop on our adventure tour found us once again in Blyth, this time at Part II Bistro under the care of chef extraordinaire Peter Gusso. Chef Gusso and his staff had prepared the restaurant for a private sushi lesson. Each person was to create a sushi roll for another person in the group, however they liked, at which time the recipient would do the same for the next person.
Smoked trout sushi created under the guided direction of Chef Peter Gusso.
With full bellies, a few rutabagas, and big, tired smiles it was time for the CPA crew to call it a day. Thanking them before they boarded the bus back to Benmiller, I was at a loss of words to fully explain how much I appreciated being able to join them that day. The passion and dedication the Huron Adventures Inc. crew have for Huron County, small towns and local businesses is inspiring. Their business model will create sustainability within the community through their shared partnerships and dedicated goals. Huron County has so much to offer, not only to visitors, but especially to those who reside within our boundaries. It is sometimes easy to forget, but like Friday showed me, it is sometimes just as easy to remember as well.
If you aren’t excited about Huron Adventures Inc yet, you need to be.
L to R, Heather Boa, Angela Smith, Genny Smith and Craig Sinclair of Huron Adventures Inc.
Huron Adventures Inc.