With a spare weekend, free of most commitments, we decided to head to Rondeau for the weekend and leave the kids behind to look after the hound. The fridge was stocked with beer and wine and we were set to head off into the sunset, with the weather looking good.
Because we've been to Rondeau many times, and blogged about it too, I thought I'd make this post a little more about the mechanics of camping with the Airstream, as there are a few readers out there who like that sort of thing.
Unlike our previous trip this year, we deliberately kept the preparation to a minimum. It was just a case of stocking the larder and the fridge, throwing in some clothes and giving Towed Haul a fairly cursory clean. The inside only really gets dirty when we have the kids and we're on a longer run, but I do like to give the shower, toilet and kitchen a good wipe over; not just for hygiene but because those oft used things will last a little longer if looked after. This time I also gave the trailer its first exterior clean of the year, paying attention to the windows, particularly those behind the rock guards. There's a seal (of sorts) on the hinged rock guards (that's the plexi-glass covers over the front windows) and it always get clogged up with leaves and other stuff during the winter hibernation. A quick blow out with the hose and it's sorted, but it's something I have to remember to do. The weather had been very warm so I left the cleaning until the evening when the Airstream's skin was a little cooler, but as I thought might happen, I ran out of usable light so had to leave the thing covered in clean water droplets which, as anyone knows, will leave water marks. Still, at least the winter's grime was gone.
On the Friday, we were in no hurry to leave for Rondeau, so I took my time packing the Toadmobile and hitching her to Towed Haul. The hitch receiver, where it holds the hitch head stem (known as the Stinger), is a little deformed at the moment on account of the upward forces exerted by the weight distribution system. There's a little wedge welded onto the stinger to prevent too much up and down movement and it all seems to be working at the moment, despite the deformation. When it's all connected up, the spring bars show a slight but healthy curve as they they take some of the weight of the trailer and help move it both forwards towards the front axle of the car and backwards towards the trailers axles.
Regular readers will know that we employ two friction anti-sway bars on our hitch, to counter the effect of any swaying that may afflict the trailer when it's being towed. I know that the old fashioned friction system only dampens sway, rather than eliminate it, but it's worked for us so far and I'm not sure we really need to upgrade to a Pivot Point Projection system (PPP) (Hensley and Propride) just yet, especially as we would pay a penalty with the additional weight that these PPP systems can add. On this balmy Friday evening, even with just a short hop to Rondeau, I still fitted the anti-sway bars, if nothing else then for additional insurance.
After five years of towing, all the components involved in the hitching and towing process look well worn in and perform as they should, which provides some great confidence when you're out on the open road, even on this short trip.
We arrived at Rondeau later in the evening, dumped what was in the holding tanks and filled our fresh water tank. Some time ago I made a little gizmo to fit on the end of the water supply line at Rondeau because it's terminated with a big, brass adapter that's too big to go into the water filler pipe on a standard trailer. This evening, I took pity on the fellow in front of us as he was trying to fill his motorhome's water tank, and lent him my little home made adapter. He looked impressed but was still grumpy that couldn't get the Park's supply hose into his filler pipe.
We were booked onto a site we hadn't used before and were pleasantly surprised with its size and layout. It was very green, too, this being early season. I backed in to the space in one fluid movement (he boasted), this despite the access roads being a bit narrow to get any flamboyant turns going. The way we were set up meant that the electricity supply post was some distance away but, as we have learned, it always pays to carry an additional 30 amp cord. I know people will say that's it's not good to have a connection in your pillar to trailer cord, but it's always worked well for us. Maybe in places that require a lot of air conditioning then a single, un-jointed cord might be better, but up here in the Great White North it all works fine.
So, a night in and a very pleasant sleep (a long one for me, too), we settled into a quiet Saturday. Before the start of the season, we bought a pair of "Wall Up" thingies. These are nylon walls, held up with carbon-fibre tent poles, basically. They can be used as screens or wind breaks and can add sides to the awning, if you're that way minded. They can also be set up in different configurations, even to the extent of making a toilet or changing cubical. This morning we set one up, more to see how it went on the campground than to shield us from wind or unwanted eyes, and we were quite impressed. Mind you, we should impressed, Wall Ups are not cheap.
So, the weather didn't hold and we had quite a lot of rain late Saturday and through the night. It didn't matter a great deal, though, as it was good just to sit in and enjoy the quiet away from home. The beer and wine helped, of course.
On Sunday, the weather cleared and we enjoyed a slow start to the day. Things dried up nicely and we were able to stow not only dry awnings, but dry Wall Ups, too. When it's just Mrs Toad and I, we can get the packing up and hitching process down to about thirty minutes. Everything went away as easily as it had come out and were rolling off the site just before the two o'clock check-out time. Our visit to the dump station was notable for the display put on my the man dumping next us us who seemed to relish his trailer spewing black tank mess (poop and paper mostly) all over the place. I think he'd pulled the valve open before attaching the big, slinky hose. He didn't seem at all fazed, though and cleaned everything up with gloveless hands and bare feet while I tried to keep a check on my stomach as the smell was hideous!
Another uneventful run back home was followed by a very deft, one go parking maneuver to get Towed Haul back on the driveway. I'm definitely getting better at parking. Before I sign off for this entry, I would just say something in praise of our Toyota Minivan (MPV) tow vehicle. Seasoned campers constantly tell us that the car is too light to tow the Airstream and that we're constantly only a moment away from a disaster. The thing is, people, we've towed for five untroubled years with the Toad Mobile and been very happy with our choice. Others can use their pickup trucks, but we'll carry on with our Minivan, thank you very much.
This will be the last camping trip (probably) before we head across the pond to the UK. Despite not having an Airstream over there, I may use this website as a means to blog our adventures without Towed Haul. What do you think?
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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