A slight change of plan today; we’ve decided to head off home later in the day, rather than wait until tomorrow morning. It will mean missing a night, but it also means that we won’t be rushing in the morning to meet the somewhat chintzy checkout time of 11am. No rush, no pressure, just the way we like it.
I thought I’d start today by giving a run down of this KOA Campground. KOAs are not cheap to stay at so you expect a reasonable standard of campsite. This one has a pool, some sports facilities, some kids play areas and some hiking trails in the woods. Like most commercial campgrounds, pretty much all the sites have power, water and sewer hookups, and there’s a couple of shower and toilet blocks for those who prefer tent camping. The actual sites themselves are not big and although the place has been quite quiet all week and we haven’t felt crowded in, last night a whole herd of big fifth wheelers turned up and the place feels a touch more packed now. That said, there are plenty of trees about so it’s not like were just parked up in rows. The sites are reasonably level, with a gravel pad, a bit of grass and little fire pit. We watched earlier in the week as the campground staff went around cleaning out the fire pits and tidying up the sites’ grass, so that was good.
I’m never a fan of the seasonal sites, that is sites rented for the entire summer and a trailer parked there that doesn’t move until the season is over. What people tend to do is build big decks, bring garden sheds and satellite dishes, and generally personalise their area. Unusually for a KOA, there are a lot of seasonal sites here. Normally I’d turn my nose up a bit at that because it limits the sites for transient campers like us. However, this place is pretty quiet during the week, so I can understand the owners wanting to get a guaranteed revenue throughout the season, even when the seasonal campers are not on site. I don’t think there’s always a great rapport between the seasonal and the transient campers, one group will generally resent the other, but the one or two seasonal people we’ve met here this week have been fine.
I’d read a couple of awful reviews of the place, written after the last Canada Day weekend. The complaints were about failing electricity and foul smelling fresh water. While I agree these are not things to recommend the campground, I think they have to be put in context. Most campgrounds are completely full on the Canada Day long weekend. This year it was very hot so, just about everyone there would have been running one, and quite possibly two, roof mounted air conditioners; with that kind of demand, it's no wonder the supply was failing. I guess the demand on the water, possibly well water, would have been the same. I couldn't find much to complain about, really, and I thought it was a good place to stay as a base to explore the area; I'd definitely go back.
Anyway, we started our packing process after lunch and, given no kids or dog, it was all done and dusted quickly and with no fuss. I took the time to flush out the poop tank because we rarely get an opportunity to do that. We've pretty much got the hitching process sorted, and now that it's all well worn in, it's actually quite easy. So, at around 3pm, we pulled off the site and started our run home.
I had pored over alternative routes to avoid the centre of Owen Sound but decided that the most direct route was best. Oh my, what a mistake. It took us 30 minutes or more to do the first few kilometers, thanks mostly to the tightly packed traffic lights in downtown Owen Sound. One set we didn't get through until the third green, such was the density of traffic and lights. Still, up the hill on the other side and we were out in the open country and heading to Lake Huron and the Bluewater Highway. Naturally, we had a strong headwind to contend with, which was keeping the gas consumption a bit high, but other than that we rolled along, quite uneventfully, and amused ourselves watching the antics of other drivers trying overtake us. It's not that we were slow moving, we were at the speed limit the whole way, but people in this Province simply have to be doing at least 10 over or they think they're being cheated out of something. On that issue, complaining about the price of gas is a perpetual topic of conversation, and yet people seem to feel the need to waste gas by rushing around everywhere and treating the speed limit as an absolute minimum.
We'd stopped in Goderich on the way back for a quick break and when we started back on the road we were immediately followed by a pick-up towing a big, square travel trailer. I'm a speed limit junkie and, to be fair, this guy sat behind us all the way to Grand Bend and didn't attempt to overtake at any point. I could feel he wanted to go faster but he kept a safe distance back and all was well. As soon as we entered Grand Bend where there are two southbound lanes, I pulled to the right to let him pass, which he did. The problem was that his left lane was held up with some left-turning vehicles and we ended up in front of him again. Being a very good egg, though, I slacked right off and waited for him to get back in front of us before we were back to a single lane each way. It was just as well, for him, that we did because he took the same route to Watford that we did and he'd have been royally pissed to have been stuck behind us again. Being in front, though, he did disappear over the horizon quite quickly!
Again, a delightfully uneventful trip back and we were on the driveway unhitching and unloading about four and a half hours after we'd left Owen Sound. Once again we'd done it on a single tank of gas and our mileage, although a little up on the trip up there, was still around 13mpg (US Gallons that is). I'm not sure who reads this but, for anyone doubting the ability of our Toyota Sienna to successfully and safely pull our Airstream, please note that all our trips are wholly uneventful in terms of towing capability and the van is still pottering around quite happily, even after seven years.
I'm not sure when or where we'll be off again as sadly I have to go to work for a living. Watch this space, though...
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
The Old Blog