After our false start in May when Rondeau park was flooded, we were finally going to be headed out with Towed Haul for a week of glamping.
As often happens after such a long lay off, we were both off the pace when it came to trip preparation, or at least the perceived lack of trip preparation. In truth, of course, there’s not actually too much to do once you have the trailer loaded after its winter hibernation; just clothes and food, really. Oh, and of course, electronics. Who can go anywhere without phones, laptops, i-Pads and the like these days?
One huge delay on the first day was the World Cup. Football, or Soccer as my North American chums call it, has taken on a new dimension recently with England’s continued (and highly unusual) and progress in the competition. Nothing was moving until we’d all sat down to watch the quarter-final match between England and Sweden, not even Towed Haul. Well, you’ll know that England won and progressed to the semi-finals, and two cynical, but very surprised, campers were able to hitch the old girl up and head north with light hearts and thoughts of where we could catch the next game when in Owen Sound.
Bright and sunny weather, thankfully a fair few degrees cooler than the preceding week, saw us depart Chatham and make our way up to the southern shores of Lake Huron. Near deserted roads took us through Thamesville, Bothwell, Alvinston and Watford, which all slid by effortlessly with both car and trailer behaving nicely. It always takes a while to regain confidence when towing a few tons of wood and aluminium behind you, and I said to Mrs T that I wasn’t enjoying that first hour or two. Grand Bend, that Californian beach resort lost in rural Ontario, didn’t breeze by quite so easily because it being a sunny Saturday in July, it was packed. We crawled through the little town in an uncharacteristic traffic jam, knowing that once through we’d be back to the open road.
In Grand Bend, we’d seen a load of low-slung and brightly coloured sports cars heading south and discovered, at Bayfield, the annual “Vette Fest”; the cars were Corvettes. Not that I’d have known as my knowledge of such things is woeful. In Bayfield, we were able to screech to a halt at place where we could not only park with the trailer, but get a bag of chips (Fries, French Fries) for lunch. Neither of us had thought about lunch, and there it was, not so much on a plate as in a cardboard box, but lunch all the same. Reinvigorated, we set off on the second half of the trip.
The road hugs that eastern shore of Lake Huron and the lake itself was looking stunningly blue, which I suppose is why the road we were on is called the Bluewater Highway. We travelled up through Goderich and Kincardine, ignoring the lady in the SatNav and enjoying the fairly quiet road. When we arrived in Port Elgin, I decided to start listening to the SatNav and took a right off the main road to cut across country to Owen Sound. That was all well and good, except that two minutes after the turn we found that there was a bridge out and the road was closed. As we found a couple of weeks ago on a trip up to London, the folks who dig the roads up around here give you no advanced warning at all; the first you know of the road being closed is the barrier across the road. Unlike our trip to London, though, this time there was no diversion route marked, either. Our SatNav is an antique so doesn’t show road closures, or any suitable alternative route, so we could do nothing but head back to the Bluewater Highway and keep going north.
So, once through Port Elgin we went on to Southampton, where the road veered eastwards and across the bottom of the Bruce Peninsular, to Owen Sound. It was a slightly longer way to get there than planned but at least all the roads were open, and it vindicated my decision to override the SatNav Nazi, for most of the time, anyway.
There are some interesting hills in Owen Sound, but none that bothered the Toad Mobile as she pulled Towed Haul up the slopes with hardly any extra effort. Mrs. T navigated us through some of the back roads to get to the campground and, so effective was her navigation that we ended up in front of a Fifth Wheeler that had overtaken us in the town. Nice work Mrs. T.
Having been checked in at the KOA by a nice lady from Derbyshire, we had to do a little detour around the camp ground as we were parked facing the wrong way outside the office, and there were two other sets of campers pulled right in behind us, one of them being the aforementioned Fifth Wheeler. Not a problem, really, but we had to make a sharp left straight onto a very steep hill and had no run up at it. Our front wheel drive car struggled to get any grip on the gravel road and the traction control kept kicking in, killing the power to the drive wheels just at the vital moment. We made it up, slowly, but if I had to do it again I’d probably turn the traction control off before I started the ascent!
Still, we’d made it, and we backed into our site and unhitched in no time. This is a KOA campground and the sites are quite tightly packed, unlike Provincial Parks where you generally get oodles of room. That said, we have some trees behind us and there’s no one next to us yet, so it doesn’t feel crowded at all. We do have water and sewer connections here, as well as power, which will enable us to use our own facilities for the week; a treat indeed.
Despite the fine day, the evening temperatures dropped right off, and it started to feel decidedly chilly. We feasted on Mrs. T’s fine vegan gumbo, had some beer and fell into bed – which was a pretty good way to end the day.
For the technically minded, the trip was 308 Km (191 Miles) and took us 4 hours and 20 minutes, including stops; it was all on Provincial roads whose speed limits are generally 80 Km/h, or 50 mph. We made it on a single tank of gas and the Toad Mobile returned an average of 17.8 Litres/100 Km., or 13.2 miles per US Gallon, or 15.9 Miles to the Imperial gallon.
We have no idea what we’re doing tomorrow, but the weather looks set fine to do it. Whatever “it” is.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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