I made my spring pilgrimage to London, Ontario, yesterday to collect Towed Haul from her winter quarters. To be fair, the picture above isn't quite an accurate representation of the weather as I set off, but the wind was howling in from the south east and the rain was simply bucketing down. Fairly standard trailer collection weather, really.
I made my way out of town along Highway 2, the old rural road between Chatham and London, known along its entire length as Longwoods Road. If you're the really curious type, read this to find out how it became known as Longwoods Road; if you're not then carry on....
The motorway, Highway 401, is OK even in the bad weather but I thought I'd ring the changes and look at some slightly different scenery for a change, and so it was that I made my through the fields of Southern Ontario and little towns like Thamesville and Melbourne. Even driving without the trailer, the wind was catching the Toadmobile side-on as it tore across the open landscape. The rain was still pouring down and every now and then I disappeared into a cloud of spray as huge gravel trucks sped past me, more intent than I on reaching their destination.
I pitched up at Can-Am RV after about 80 minutes driving and saw Towed Haul out on the forecourt, which meant that I was expected; a good sign. It wasn't a straightforward pickup, though, as I had to have the experts look at the hitch setup, with a view to some adjustment. I hitched her up myself and stood out in the rain with Roger looking at the back of the Toadmobile.
"Your receiver needs strengthening" says he.
"It's already strengthened" says I.
"Plan B" says he.
They took both car and trailer into the shop to have a look at things from underneath whilst I sat and relaxed on a nice sofa and watched some the TV (and read a bit, too, but I don't want to come across as being overly highbrow). The technicians pronounced that a little bending had occurred in the hitch receiver box (that's the square hole on the tow bar, for the uninitiated) but fortunately it was fairly minor (they assured me) and set about doing a bit of welding to put things right. An hour or so later and it was all sorted; Towed Haul was back on the forecourt and the Toadmobile was sitting straight and level under the load. Result!
So pleased was I that I splashed out $41 on a new Carbon Monoxide detector.
Hitched up and ready to go, I noticed that at least the rain had stopped. I decided to go back on Highway 2 rather than the motorway and set off, feeling my way a bit as you have to build a bit of confidence again when you have three tons of metal behind you for the first time in six months. It was necessary to run one junction along Highway 402, the Sarnia road, and it was there that I realised just how awful the wind was. The webbing belt that keeps the towing mirror in place on the driver's door was vibrating so much that it made my teeth ache, actually distracting me to the point of missing my exit off the highway. I made a few adjustments on the fly and didn't have to go too far out of my way to get back to Highway 2, which was fortunate. I thought the vibration on the webbing would be better when I was off the motorway as I'd be down to 50 mph but no, it was just as bad and it was all down to the wind effect. I stopped to fashion a temporary pad to wedge against the webbing but all that did was change the pitch of the vibration; better, but still horrible. The kicker was that every time I was sheltered from the cross-wind by a stand of trees or something, the vibration stopped.
There was also the issue of controlling the trailer. Having 28 feet of high(ish) sided RV behind me in a wicked cross-wind meant even more concentration than usual. The gravel trucks coming the opposite way at 60mph make a real bow-wave of wind and that can cause some real difficulties with the wind-shear it creates as it passes. Only once, though, did the trailer sway off its course and even then it immediately came back onto track; thank goodness I was running with those sway bars done up tightly.
As the drive progressed I gained confidence; the repair work was certainly keeping things tight and responsive at the hitch and I arrived back in Chatham feeling quite comfortable again. The towering storm clouds stayed largely to my south, too, so I missed the storm that hit Blenheim and Ridgetown that afternoon.
Now Towed Haul is up on the driveway, awaiting a good clean inside and out before we re-stock her interior with all the stuff that makes up our mobile holiday home. That can wait until the weekend, though, because there's footy on the TV this afternoon!
Read the next gripping installment - when we do something gripping, or at least actually go camping somewhere.
People keep saying that it's just around the corner; Spring I mean. It's a long, long corner this year is all I can say.
Towed Haul is still at the dealer's storage lot, despite them having called to ask when I wanted to collect as I'd initially said the beginning of April. The winter, though, just doesn't seen to want to go away and since arranging to pick Towed Haul up at the end of the month, de-winterized, we've had a few nights with the temperature on or below freezing. This just isn't camping weather, or even parked on the driveway weather, so I'm pleased that we didn't bring our baby home earlier.
Anyway, preparations have to be made, not least in the garage. Because Towed Haul gets parked up in front of one of the doors, I have to re-arrange everything so that we park the Toadmobile on the other side of the garage during the summer. It's all to do with which side the driver's door is on, and proximity to walls, but I know that I have to shift everything from one side to other. Then I have to get the hitch and its associated hardware out, clean it up and get last year's grease off. My usual trick is to take it clean and shiny to the storage lot having forgotten to take new grease with me and I end up having to beg for some - I shall try to avoid that this year but I don't hold out much hope.
When we get Towed Haul back on the driveway it's time to clean her up, re-stock her with the kitchen stuff and bedding, then test all the systems. I always sanitize the fresh water tank, too, even though we don't use it for drinking water; we don't want horrible bacteria and the like in the pipes. I'm going to rinse out the black tank, too, but I can't do that until we get to a dump station. What I will do is part-fill the tank with water before driving, probably to Rondeau, then connecting her up to the dump tank there. Towed Haul has a flush system that you need to attach a water hose to but, in Canada at least, I've never found a water hose at a dump station with the proper connector; Provincial Parks have a sort of plastic spout on the end of the dump station water supply so there's no hope of rigging up even a temporary connection. Still, I should make something like a short length of hose with a connector on each end, and maybe get a couple of male/female adapters as well, then I'll be ready if we ever find a suitable dump station with a connectable water hose. In the meantime, the sloshing water in the black tank will have to do!
Our camping season this year will be limited, with no really long trips, just a few local runs. The tadpoles are getting ever more reluctant to camp so we're going to go easy on them this year, especially as the bigger one may well be working. Still, I think we can get them out and about a little, especially as we have a plan to carry tents, too, this year; they can have the big and airy canvas house and we can "struggle" in our aluminium tent *snigger*.
Anyway, dear reader, check back in late next week when I shall (probably) have documented Towed Haul's arrival. Let's hope spring has finally come around that darned corner by then!
Here's a bit of a departure - I'm going to try blogging through Weebly this year, and that should allow better use of the hosting website that I've slaved over. I'll keep the Blogspot pages open for now, just in case this doesn't work out and for some reference, but hopefully this will be the blog's new "forever home" (pass the sick bucket).
Towed Haul is going to be woken up from hibernation on the 29th of April, which is just as well because the weather's still horrible at the moment!
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
The Old Blog