Our first trip of the year and we are so unprepared. Two cars, four kids and a dog add hugely to the logistical nightmare of heading out for a long weekend, and yet we've struggled to get to grips with the most basic tasks required. Why? Because us adults are both now working full time and the tadpoles are in serious teenage mode where even the tiniest task that doesn't involve a cell phone is just too much for them because they're exhausted after their day at school. That's irony, by the way, thick and creamy irony.
So, not fully prepared and attempting to take two extra children (and two tents as well) but not being able to leave home before 5.30pm is concerning me somewhat, given that the drive is in excess of three hours. We don't normally go that far for a weekend but, as it's Victoria Day on Monday, we have an extra day which kind of makes it worthwhile. It also has something to do with not being able to get a spot at a Park nearer because I'm not quick enough (nor willing to get into that booking frenzy nonsense, frankly) to be booking on the day the sites are released.
Anyway, it is what it is and we are duly loaded and ready to roll at 5.30. We've sent the big tadpole and his current squeeze on ahead with instructions to get the big tent up before our arrival, and the weather is looking pretty good, so feeling very tired and wholly unprepared, my spirits were lightened by getting Towed Haul's wheels out onto the road.
It's a lovely run up to Inverhuron. Along the Thames River for a bit, then strike north across country towards the south end of Lake Huron at Lambton Shores. My British chums would appreciate the almost eerily quiet country roads, as straight as arrows, but with the occasional right angle turn to make. We all look forward to going through the little farming town of Watford, where the relatively recent addition of a surprisingly steep bridge over the railway raises you up higher than all the surrounding land and you get an aerial view of the Main Street as you crest the rise and start down the other side.
Once at the lake, we join Highway 21 and take Huron's eastern shore up through the fashionable (and busy) resort of Grand Bend, then past Bayfield, Goderich, Kincardine and Tiverton. The road is straight, hugs the lake and goes through some rich farmland, dotted all the way up with wind farms. The names are Scottish and German up here, which is interesting. We're driving at 80Km/hr, the legal limit, but are the slowest on the road, as the streams of people passing show their impatience. The Police, too, were out and about so a few people saw their run somewhat extended as they chatted with officers of the law at the side of the road.
About an hour away from Inverhuron, Mrs T's phone started to chatter as the big Tadpole arrived at the Park and showered her with questions about putting the tent up. She dealt with it all with more grace than I would have, but then my mind was set on getting there with as much usable light as possible. One of the issues relayed to us was that the electrical point was miles away from the actual site and that the lead the boy had wasn't long enough. I doubted his estimate of 150 feet to the supply but Mrs T made a note to borrow an extra lead from the Park store when we arrived.
We duly rolled up at the gate at 8.50pm, checked in and made for the dump station to lose the waste in the tanks from the new season's cleanup process and to take on fresh water. As we negotiated our way through the narrow loops through the trees to our site, the light just disappeared and we found our narrow campsite entrance flanked with some rather scary trees. With the narrowness of the access road this would have been a little nasty to negotiate in daylight, but in the dark, a real humdinger of a back up. No problem, though, we have walkie-talkies. Yes problem, the little blighters were not charged up! I said we weren't prepared. So, because I couldn't hear Mrs T's instructions, or see them in the dark, we had a relay system of instructions coming via the big tadpole. In the end it took me twenty minutes to get backed up into that space. My mood was not the best.
So, having un-hitched and let Mrs T loose on setting up, I rigged an electric light to work by. The boy was right that the supply post was a long way off but the leads I carried were sufficient, so we were at least allowed the gift of power. I had intended for the girls to put one of the tents up but with the crushed limestone pad resisting all but the most insistent whacking to get the pegs in the ground, I did it. My newly purchased $5 (regularly $9.99) rubber mallet endured a severe workout in its first outing!
It wasn't until around nearly 10.30 that we sat down to supper; this had been a long day. Realising that the temperatures were plummeting, and thinking about the kids in their tents, we did offer them shelter in Towed Haul, but they were all looking forward to a night under canvass (or more correctly, Nylon) and declined. We eventually retired, absolutely shattered, at a little after midnight and eyed the thermometer dipping down to 5C. I really didn't want to fire up the furnace with the kids outside in their cooling tents (see, I'm not that bad), so we went to bed, complete with the horrible hound, and tucked ourselves in for a cold night.
Look in for day two. How cold did it get? Did the dog allow us any sleep at all? Is all this worth it? Read on, my friends, read on.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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