With the last camping trip being more than two years ago, I can honestly say that it's been a while.
In 2020, we took COVID seriously and didn't travel, even with the Provincial Parks partially opening mid-season. We also had the arrival of the grand-tadpole, Charlie, to keep us busy (he and his mum live with us), and of course there was always work getting in the way.
In 2021, though, things have changed. COVID isn't keeping the parks closed, Charlie is more than a year old and both of us have retired from the cursed work.
We didn't get Towed Haul out of storage until I'd retired in July, and then discovered that there wasn't a camp site available in Southern Ontario until September! Still, it meant that we were able to bring Towed Haul back to her full glory in slow time, and our first trip, to our local Provincial Park, Rondeau, became even more eagerly anticipated.
In this blog, I'm not going into excruciating detail, I'll just highlight some of the more notable events, assuming of course that there were or are notable events.
So, the weather has been hot, hot, hot all through August and in prepping Towed Haul for travel in this second week of September, it wasn't any cooler. I have sweated more this past month or so than I ever have in my life, and the weekend was no exception. Dripping sweat on the wheels as I leant through to get to the drain tap; how attractive.
Hitched up, I was pleased to see everything looking reasonably level, even with a full load of fresh water and partially full waste tanks. The run down to Rondeau was easy, even hauling that extra weight. As usual we were driving into a keen headwind so that, combined with the weight, made for disappointing fuel consumption. Of course, it's only a short run and we barely used any fuel anyway, but on longer runs, even heavily loaded, the Toadmobile tends to get used to the extra work and the mileage figures generally do settle down to their usual 12-14 mp(US)g.
Site 50 in the Rondeau South Campground was new to us and actually a bit disappointing; shallow, not level and very little grass. After taking a few minutes to decide the best place for Towed Haul, we positioned and levelled, realised that the sandy area that comprised was most of the site was going to be a nightmare if the predicted storms materialised. I say disappointing, but any time camping beats any time working, so it's all relative.
As it was quiet, and still early in the afternoon, we took our time to set up, then didn't do a whole lot more than read and relax. Willow the geriatric Greyhound was with us, so it was walkies and poop time more than once, but other than that we did bugger all, as the Anglo-Saxons say.
There were all sorts of weather warnings out; thunderstorm watch, thunderstorm warning, severe thunderstorm warning and even a tornado watch. Now call me cynical but I have been more than a little sceptical about the weather forecasting recently. The people in the know tend to predict the worst possible situation, then go curiously quiet when it fails to materialise - remember the great "Snowmaggedon" fiasco of a few years ago. Also, these late summer storms are notoriously local, that is they can hit one small area and avoid the rest of the region. And so it was that evening. Windy, for sure, but just a short rain shower and the faint rumble of distant thunder. Mind you, I did step outside to shut down the front window guards and realised my worst fears about the sandy campsite getting stuck to my shoes and ending up inside the trailer. Tsk.
The night didn't pass peacefully, though, thanks to Willow the Wonderhound. Keeping it short, she disrupted our sleeping arrangement and I wasn't at all happy. Still, she's for life, so I'm sure we'll survive.
Day two of the trip had us heading back home. Not with Towed Haul you understand, she stayed firmly at the Campground, but there were appointments in town to be attended to so we motored north again for a few hours. Staying close to home does have its advantages.
The remainder of the day was taken up with with refreshment and relaxation. Just as we like it.
Day three saw the visit of Charlie, the latest addition to the Toad family. He's only 15 months but loves thundering up and down inside the camper and climbing onto any surface he can. We did take him to the beach for a short while, which he loved, but the sand flies were numerous and biting with abandon. I don't know that Charlie was too bothered, but poor old Willow was covered in the things, so we withdrew back to Towed Haul sooner than we'd have preferred. Bugs are common at Rondeau and you kind of learn to live with them, but Willow really had no defence.
Day three was also a bit of a red-letter day because we cranked up the roof mounted TV antenna for the first time in many years. Broadcast-to-air TV is getting ever more limited, and what's on offer usually pretty naff, but this particularly evening we wanted to watch the only English language leaders' debate featuring in the upcoming Federal election. Having found a good quality channel, we settled down to watch, but came away two hours later singularly disappointed by the so called debate, both in presentation and quality. The format of the show was horrible, and presided over by a less than impartial moderator who was both waspish and unfair, stopping some debate in its tracks while letting other parts ramble on. Trudeau was panned at every turn as you'd expect. The PCs O'Toole just stuck to his script, not answering anything remotely difficult and banging on about partnerships while repeating the same annoying hand gestures. Paul for the Greens did OK but didn't field questions about her leadership very well. Blanchet for the Bloc Québécois made us all laugh by saying he didn't want to be the Prime Minister and constantly referring to Quebec as a nation rather than a Province. Only the NDP's Singh looked any good, and I say that as someone who really isn't one of his fans. Politics, eh?
Hitching back up on day four was just as hot and sweaty as on day one, but a bit easier as we're quite practiced at packing up these days.
It was good to be back camping, but the not so great site was an irritation, especially as the rest of the campground wasn't nearly as fully occupied as the online booking service said. The next site along from us, flatter and grassier than ours, was marked all week as being occupied, and yet there was no one parked there the entire duration of our visit. I'd have happily booked that site, but it wasn't available. What happened this year with the limitations on travel was that people just booked and booked, whether they intended to visit or not. Indeed, apparently there was quite a trade in selling camp sites on for more than the list price, something the Parks did try hard to stop. The cancellation terms in the Provincial Parks are quite good, so I see why people felt they could do that, but all week many sites on our campground were still showing as booked but were actually unoccupied. That's a real bummer for people who just want to get out and camp but can't find a site. I trust those unoccupied sites had been paid for.
We're back at Rondeau in October, not site 50, and looking forward to a bit of fall camping. Next week we head off to St Mary's, and a full-service site at a golf course. Different, but still camping.
More blogging? Yes, and a bit less tardy I hope!
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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