A slightly warmer night, it’s all relative because it was still cold, and the hound and I took our morning constitutional through a surprisingly quiet campground. The Chili Cook-Off must have been good, either that or the accompanying beer was plentiful. Anyway, the damp and drippy walk to the dumpsters was quiet, and the hound must have decided that the bins were raccoon-free as she actually walked right up to them this time.
Dear Mrs. Toad took advantage of the quiet morning and caught up on some much needed sleep. I read and tinkered on my phone while Willow dozed quietly next to me. We lead quite the rock and roll lifestyle, don’t we?
I always enjoy my coffee when camping and, while I’d have liked to have been outside, sat inside was OK this cold morning as I worked coffee magic with the second of my AeroPress thingumybobs. The coffee is so good using the AeroPress that I quite forgot to have any actual breakfast!
It was around noon that we actually galvanised ourselves sufficiently to have a sort of a brunch, then start to break camp. We’ve always had an issue that when you’re packing up, most tasks have to be done serially, that is you can’t move onto the next task until the first one is complete. This time I just went out and hitched right up all by myself, while the good Mrs T did her stuff inside. As a result, we were packed and ready to go well before 2pm, which is quite some going for us. Willow, of course, was being Willow and it wasn’t until she was in the car that she really began to settle; the thought of heading home probably helped.
I absolutely love driving through campgrounds when we're hitched up, watching the faces of the people still there. You can see it in their eyes; a Minivan towing that? How can it be? Magic, friends, magic.
The weather was considerably improved by the time we made our way to dump the tanks. As the photographs show, the sun was shining and the it was considerably warmer than before - just as we were going home, too.
While I was connecting the slinky hose to the outlet, another camper remarked to her husband that he ought to get disposable rubber gloves like mine for when the messy stuff has to juggled. He looked a bit surprised, like he’d not ever considered such a thing. I thought it wise not to suggest his wearing flip-flops on his feet (feet are easier to clean than shoes when they’re covered in doo doo), but I thought that might be a bit too much information.
Our run home, avoiding the bridge, was uneventful and it was with some sadness that we backed onto our driveway ready to unload. We still have to prep Towed Haul for storage, but that was our last couple of nights camping for 2018. Sad, sad, sad.
Mind you, the dog was happy to be home!
A surprisingly good night’s sleep had me awake at about six, really needing the loo more than anything else. The hound had been reasonably well behaved in the night and the furnace had dutifully kicked in from time to time to stop us all from freezing to death.
Dozing for a while longer, I finally surfaced so that Willow could have her breakfast and get out for her version of the loo. It wasn’t raining but the outside temperature on the heating console showed just three degrees (Mrs. T asked when she would see me again – think about it), so it was only going to be a swift walk to the garbage bins and back. Talking of garbage bins, Willow has a dread fear of them at this park and I have to drop her leash about ten feet away if I want to make a deposit in the big, blue dumpsters. I think it might be because there are often Raccoons lurking in them, although not today, and I think she can hear and smell them way before I can. What a strange/clever dog.
In the daylight, the extent of the wet and mud, not just on our site but the whole campground, was evident. It’s no wonder the Park authorities delayed opening in the spring; early use would have trashed the place in Spring and made it worse than it is now. Naturally, I had parked the car last night right in the muddiest place on our site, so I shall be approaching from the passenger side when I need to get in it later.
The busy campground is getting busier, with people arriving early, given that check-in is usually at 2pm. In among all the monstrous Fifth Wheelers and giant, brightly coloured bumper-pulls, we do have an Argosy parked a couple of sites away, although I haven’t seen any other Airstreams yet. One of the reasons for the number of people here this weekend might be that today is the annual Rondeau Chili Cook Off. I don’t think it’s an official Park event, but the authorities seem to be endorsing it. Now, I’m famous in these parts for NOT liking Chili, so I don’t think I’ll be wandering over there any time soon. I also noticed that the Visitor Centre’s snake is due to be fed at 1pm today and we’re all invited; the attractions here are wonderful.
I was delaying heading over to the Comfort Block for a shower because of the cold and dank weather. Yes, we have a shower in the Airstream, but the Park’s facilities are pretty good, and I usually avail myself of their hot water rather than using up our limited resources. Before I went, though, I fired up our hot water heater, or at least I tried to. The darned thing did fire, but went straight out again. This wasn’t entirely unexpected, though, especially after we haven’t used the system in a while. For some strange reason, spiders seem to love propane, and are apt to build small but dense nests in the gas/air mixture tube. It’s happened before and ever since then I’ve carried a spare thermal fuse and the right tools to dismantle the bits of the water heater assembly I can see in order to clean it up. So, sitting on a deck chair in the cold and damp, I disassembled the necessary bits. That mixture tube was certainly the problem because after I’d cleaned the nest out and re-assembled everything, the heater fired into life, and I didn’t even need to replace the fuse this time. I was a happy camper!
I did go and use the Park’s facilities in the end and, despite it being a bit of a mud-fest in the outer area, the shower itself supplied copious amounts of lavishly hot water, from which I really didn’t feel like emerging. Well done Rondeau for having such excellent facilities.
These short, weekend trips are really just a means of recharging ourselves a bit, to get away from the routine and do something a little different. With it being so cold, our alternative Saturday morning consisted of reading, and reading, and a bit more reading. It’s something we both love to do but don’t always get the chance to indulge. But here in the Park, with no one to bother us, we set the furnace to a comfortable level and opened our books (Kindle, in my case), and set to. A great way to unwind.
We did manage a quick jaunt out to Ridgetown in the afternoon. It’s not the closest centre of population, but the easiest to get to, given that the little town of Erieau may only be a few kilometres away, but there’s a strip of unbridged water to cross, and we didn’t feel like swimming it.
A quick call into the baker’s shop had Mrs. T making some excellent purchases, including some apple dumplings and a custard slice; well worth the trip just for that, I’d say. Then we walked the hound around a couple of blocks, admiring the old, and the not so old, buildings. In Ridgetown, many of the houses are faced in wood, or would have been before aluminium and vinyl siding had been invented, and it’s interesting to see the difference between that and the houses in Chatham. We finished our walk with a run into Subway, not a favourite fast food joint for us, but a quick means of obtaining a very late lunch.
Back at the Park, it was a bit more reading, a snooze and then some DVD watching. Veronica Geurin (a bit superficial but starring the sainted Cate Blanchette, which made it eminently watchable) and The Untouchables (way too gory and full of cartoon characters – brainy man with glasses, puffy Italian gangster and grizzled Irish cop, who of course is Sean Connery and he can only do a Scottish accent so, despite the official dialogue, a grizzled Scottish cop). Fortunately I slept through most of it.
I’m always struck how we tend to hide away inside on these trips at either end of the season, and most other campers are outside, gathered around necessarily roaring campfires. Each to their own, I suppose, but we weren’t going sit outside being choked with wood smoke, burning hot on our faces and with freezing cold backs. Oh yes, we’ve done the campfire thing, but it really didn’t look like a relaxing evening when the temperature outside is just five degrees Celsius.
And so to bed, complete with the hound acting as a great big fidgety bolster. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
Prepping for our final trip of the year, and only the second time we’ve camped this summer, I don’t think either Mrs. Toad or myself really had our heads in the right place. Yes, food was made ready last weekend, but neither of us had been in the trailer before Thursday and even then, I didn’t do any more than check that things were working.
I did head home at lunchtime today to load my clothes and wash bag, and to check the tyre pressures given that poor Towed Haul has sat on the driveway since the end of July.
After work, though, I finally found some enthusiasm and started the final loading of the car and hitching up, all on my own as Mrs. T was having a works' social event. It took me an hour but in the gathering gloom, I was all set to head out a little after six.
We’d decided to bring the hound this time, partly because she get’s really antsy at home when we’re not there, and partly because we thought she’d enjoy a day or two away. Boy, was she ever agitated? She positively leapt into the car, fearful that we’d go without her, and more canine shenanigans were to come.
A slight mishap occurred when one of the extended mirrors broke just as we were about to move. Fortunately, it was the one on the right, less important than the one of the left, so we looked a tiny bit lopsided as we made our way out onto the street.
As is always the case when you know that you have limited time before the daylight will be gone, we needed to fill the Toadmobile with gas; something I should have done before hitching up. Not that it was a big deal, but it was another ten minutes of light that we were losing. The bridge on Charing Cross Road was out, too, which mean a detour down to the Truck Stop and back again so that we could start our southerly drive to Rondeau.
Our normal routine on arriving at a campground is to visit the dump station to clear down the grey and black tanks (usually at least half full of water, part of the plan to keep them clean and functional), and to take on fresh water. This we did, but the water supply at this park isn’t exactly high pressure and it took an age to load up our 45 gallons, and we were only done just as the final light of the day disappeared.
Two surprises greeted us on arrival at our site. First was that the campground was surprisingly busy for a Friday in mid-October, and second was just how wet and muddy it was. We’re just a few hundred yards from Lake Erie here and this year, the lake’s level is very high. I think any ground water here takes an age to dissipate and there was certainly plenty in the campground.
Parking and setting up in the dark is never fun, especially as it was just five degrees Celsius and starting to rain. The dog decided that she didn’t like us leaving her in the car while we backed in and unhitched, going ballistic and trying to strangle herself in an attempt to get out and be with us, so she had to be brought into trailer as poor Mrs. Toad was doing the internal stuff and getting the supper on the stove.
That said, it didn’t take us too long and we soon had the furnace going to warm the place up. Have I mentioned how cold it gets in a metal skinned travel trailer? The insulation isn’t designed for anything but Summer camping, I think.
A great big bowl of vegan gumbo later and I was ready to take the hound out to do what she must do, then to collapse into bed. We didn’t even fire up the DVD player or crack open the beer, such was our joint exhaustion after a long (four day!) week at work. It’s always tough sharing your bed with a seventy-pound Greyhound, and she was making sure that she had her fair share of space, but we didn’t care; it was lights out and goodnight Vienna. Or Rondeau, anyway.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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