Another day, another camping trip.
Loading up and getting prepared for this particular excursion was strangely muted. I'd cleaned Towed Haul up soon after we had returned from Rondeau so that she could briefly moonlight as the Airstream Café, entertaining a couple of former workmates, but neither Mrs. Toad or I seemed in any great rush to load in clothes, food, etc. Not that it mattered of course, because we prepped, had lunch and generally dawdled around and still managed to depart with plenty of time to spare on that slightly gloomy Tuesday afternoon.
We were heading to the Science Hill Country Club, a golf course with attached campground, that sits in the gently rolling countryside close to St. Mary's, Ontario. We've camped there before following a recommendation from our (now dearly departed) neighbours, and found it to be a nice relaxing place to visit because it's usually very quiet. The journey takes a little over two hours, so still fairly close to home, but I like to take a less than direct route to get there so that we can avoid the northern fringes of London, so we found ourselves headed towards Highway Two and the turn off for Strathroy.
I've mentioned this before, but so many of the intersections on Ontario roads have no direction signage at all. Looking to turn off Highway Two at a point somewhere short of the outskirts of London, I had to look at Google Maps to both see the road name and to eyeball the road to see what signs there were, if any. No signs, of course, just the road name, and you can't see that when you're driving until you're right up close to the sign.
Just to make it interesting, I'd programmed the Satnav, knowing that its preferred route would take me the most direct route, which I didn't want. Sure enough, having located and made the correct left turn to Strathroy, at every road intersecting the one we were on, the lady in the satellite implored us to turn right, and even to turn around! I knew where I wanted to go and pressed on gamely to Strathroy, ignoring her all the while, but there I fell foul of the dearth of direction signs again and made a right when I should have gone straight on, letting the lady in the satellite have her way this time.
Following the GPS directions was always going to get us where we needed to go, but I was irked that I was not heading to my intended target, the delightfully named Ailsa Craig, but now trusting wholly in the GPS. I do like to use GPS but, if you're like me and need to see the bigger picture, that little screen only gives you a 500m square window to view and you don't see any of the surrounding roads and towns; I find that a touch annoying. Anyway, following the instructions now, we were doing fine and heading in the right direction when we came across another Ontario bugbear, the closed road.
It happens a lot here; work needs to be done, a road is closed off but there are never any advance warning signs, just an intersection that you cannot proceed through, blocked by a big orange sign. And that's exactly what happened on Ilderton Road, just east of Ilderton. The diversion signs took us south towards London, the place we were trying to avoid, and boy did it take us south; far further than we needed to go. This is where I applied the knowledge of the GPS and simply took the first left turn, on its instruction, knowing that the lady in the satellite would not fail us. I was also backed up by Mrs. Toad and her Google Maps, on which she could view a much wider area. So it was that we headed northeast, through the corn and bean (and sprout!) fields towards our destination.
The change of route added about twenty five minutes to our journey time, but that mattered not.
It's all very relaxed at here at Science Hill. I went into the Clubhouse to pay, and the owner took my money with a smile and said "we're in for some crap over the next couple of days". By that he meant the forecasted rain, but more about that in my next entry. He told us to find an empty site and set up, and when we were doing that the owner's son came up and unleashed his sense of humour on us, which was nice.
Here we are then parked on a grassy site, next to a lot of seasonal campers, comfortable in the knowledge that we have nothing we need to do for the next few days, but getting somewhat more aware of everyone's dire predictions about the weather.
The evening went food, beer, music, chat and sleep; lovely.
In my next blog entry, I'll let you know what transpired and whether of not Towed Haul floats.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
The Old Blog