This year’s big trip and we’re off to Canada’s 1000 Island area on the St Lawrence River, then over said river and into New York to visit the Finger Lakes region. Those of you with a geographical bent will say “goodness, that’s a circuit of Lake Ontario”, and you’d be right.
Us being us, we have the neurotic hound to deal with first. As she’s getting seriously agitated, we’re loading up Toad Haul and what she doesn’t know is that she’s coming with us, but only as far as William the Wonder Student; Willow is vacationing in Waterloo.
We set off a wee bit late, on account of a certain someone not setting their alarm, no names mentioned of course but it wasn’t me. Taking a wily avoidance measure, we skipped the Highway (motorway) section to London by taking Longwoods Road, thus missing the horrible construction work that’s currently underway on the Highway. You never really know if it’s saving you time, but Longwoods is a pretty way to start your day’s journey.
We did meet up with the 401 in London, mercifully on the correct side of the construction, and bowled merrily along to Kitchener/Waterloo where we were abandoning the moody hound with the dog-sitting student. Traffic was lighter than usual on account of it being a public holiday, another masterstroke by your Planner-in-Chief. I say masterstroke but to be truthful, these were the only dates we could get.
Hound duly deposited we set off proper and made our way to the big city that is Toronto. Actually, it is a big city; very long and spread out along the lake and populated entirely by crazy drivers. The 401 goes right through Toronto, but we opted for the 407 Toll Road to the north, the Toronto By-Pass. I’ll tell you; it may add a few extra kilometres but it’s worth every cent of its (as yet undetermined) toll charge. We’ll get the bill eventually.
Back the 401 on the far side of Toronto and having witnessed some of the craziness Torontonians call driving, and we still had 250 Kilometres to go. It was a hot day and the Toad Mobile was working hard dragging Towed Haul along at 100km/hr for hours on end, but apart from some scary fuel consumption, basically twice the fuel used normally when not towing, the drive went swimmingly. The public holiday was working in our favour again as we breezed along heading away from Toronto, all the while right on the speed limit, but the traffic heading back into town was awful; basically, a 200Km stretch of slow and occasionally stopped traffic. No gloating today, though, because I wouldn’t wish that kind of driving on my worst enemy. Maybe not my worst enemy, but definitely enemies further down the list.
One stop for fuel at a service centre had us staring icily at a truck driver who’d parked his big rig in one of the two RV Only parking spaces. I hope he felt truly sorry after being on the wrong end of not one, but two withering glances. Tsk.
It was about five in the afternoon as we rolled onto the 1000 Islands Parkway and had a glimpse of the great St Lawrence River and a few of the aforementioned 1000 islands. Very nice it was, too.
The campground was a few kilometers along the parkway and, as we’d been before, it was all nicely familiar. The Ivy Lea KOA Campground is a small place and on this hot holiday afternoon, looked pretty busy. We went to the office to check in and find out our site number, only to find (by a series of simple questions) that our host was none other than my boss’ nephew. Small, small world.
Our site, 120, was in the far corner and nestled in among the seasonal campers and rentals. As with any commercial campground, space is tight and as I began my backup onto the site, I caught the front right wheel arch of the Toadmobile on a low-lying rock that was bordering a flower bed. This alerted our neighbour who came out to see and, to my horror, to help. Backing into a tight spot is always a stressful activity but with a “helpful” neighbour giving unsolicited instruction, it gets ten times worse for me. We did get backed in, without catching the wheel arch again, and set up swiftly, but I heard my helpful neighbour tell someone on the phone that I’d damaged my truck on a rock. Wrong on both accounts matey; not a truck and no damage! The rock had caught the inner plastic lining of the wheel arch and it just popped back into place with some light pressure. I know I should be more grateful, but unsolicited help is the worst. Curiously, my helpful neighbour suddenly changed sites. He was sitting there with his trailer still hitched when the campground staff started moving stuff from another site onto his. He drove off to another site and another trailer appeared next to us. I don’t know why, but we had new neighbours and Mr. Helpful went off to spend half an hour deciding how to park his truck.
As is often the case after a long drive (621.5 Km to be precise), an early night was calling. It had been a hot day but with all the windows open, we didn’t feel the need for the air conditioner, which is always nice. No dog, no kids and just a few hours sleep to be concerned about, it was all looking good.
The Toadmobile has performed faultlessly and, even though driving most of the way at Highway speed, didn’t seem troubled at all, other than a tendency to gulp the gasoline. Still towing that with that.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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