Friday is travelling day, so we were up with the lark, sort of, so we could pack up and leave for the second campground on our Lake Ontario tour. I say up with the lark, but in our case it was a very sluggish lark who really didn’t want to get out of bed.
Packing up with just us two old fogeys is really quite easy, and we were done within 30 minutes, excluding dumping the poop tank. We use something called a Sewer solution when we have full hookups at a campground. It’s a water powered macerator that has the ability to drain the tanks even if the sewer connection in the ground is higher than the outlet valve on the trailer, as it often is with the low-slung Airstream. It can also flush out the tanks, which is useful, but the process is slow. It beats the pants off the old stink slinky, though, so it can take as long as it wants.
Our Friday run included crossing an international border, namely from Canada into the US. Said border can be problematical, especially in recent times, and also when towing a trailer, so I prepared well. Camping reservations, passports, licence plate details, car and trailer ownership and insurance, plus a mental note of any food we had on board and stuff that qualified as duty-free. Also, I was using my Canadian passport for the first time.
Physically it was an interesting crossing because it used a pair of narrow suspension bridges to link a couple of islands in the St. Lawrence to both the Canadian and the US side of the St Lawrence. It cost us $9 for the privilege but the views were something else. Mind you, meeting a huge truck coming the other way made sure that I didn’t linger on the panorama too long.
At the actual border, the line up wasn’t too long, and the young Border Protection Officer wasn’t too inquisitive. Why were we crossing? What booze and ciggies did we have? That was it, thankfully. I’ve heard some horror stories about crossing into the US but today it was all good.
We were then heading south on the I81 to Syracuse, before a right turn on to the westbound NY Thruway. It was sunny and warm, but as we picked up speed, I could feel Towed Haul moving us about a bit which can be a wee bit worrisome. It wasn’t anything to do with the car or the hitch, though, it was just really windy, and coming right across us from the west. The poor old Toadmobile was working hard, too, with a really atrocious gas mileage being recorded. We’ve driven into headwinds before and seen the gas gauge plummet, but today we had the side buffeting as well as the awful gas mileage. It wasn’t that the trailer was swinging on the hitch, either, it was the whole combination moving as one. It took a few minutes to get used to things and fortunately apart from the gas guzzling, it was an uneventful run south to Syracuse.
At the Thruway we collected our toll ticket (old technology, where are the cameras?) and started west. We came across a section of concrete paved road with a 55mph limit on it because of construction. At that lower speed we discovered the dreaded “porpoising”, where the car and trailer get out of suspension synch thanks to the spacing between the concrete seams in the road. We were literally bouncing down the road! Where there was a gap in the construction work where we could speed up and the bouncing eased off, but back another 55mph zone and we were bouncing again. Yes, I know, a $2000 Hensley Hitch stops that, but in eight years it’s the first time we’ve experienced that problem, so I think the Hensley can wait. Thankfully we came to some regular black asphalt and we could put our fillings back in.
When we left the Thruway, we were only charged for the car and not the trailer as well, so the toll was less than $4; hardly worth collecting in my opinion. We motored south, through the pretty town of Geneva, then along the entire 36-mile length of Seneca Lake. The road took us up onto the eastern slopes of the surrounding hills among the huge number of vineyards and offered some spectacular views of the lake and the hills beyond.
Eventually we rolled into the town of Watkins Glen, through it and then up the steep hill out of the town and eventually to the campground, nestled in a steep-sided valley. It being Friday, there was a huge line up of trailers checking in, so we took our place at the back of the queue. I went to the office to register (very well organised registration, chaps!), and when I came back all the other trailers had gone. Mrs. M was about to drive up to meet me and to encourage other new arrivals not to line up behind us as they were waiting out on the road by then.
We have a pull through site for a change, with a concrete patio, but I still managed to screw up the parking, ending up backing anyway so I could get the wheels of the trailer off the patio. In a strangely masochistic way, I think I must enjoy backing up. During my parking shenanigans, Mrs. M conspired to fall backwards over the fire ring and collected nasty grazes and bruises on both legs. Ouch!
The campground is full, and with the Watkins Glen Raceway just down the road (I can hear the cars on the circuit as I write this), there are a lot of race fans here, which is only to be expected. There was some loud music playing somewhere when we arrived, but I think the KOA folks were on to that because it soon stopped. As is normal with commercial campgrounds, we’re packed quite tightly here, but we have all mod cons, including cable TV if we chose to avail ourselves of it, which we won’t.
Supplies were needed as it’s difficult to transport any kind of food across the border, so it was off to Corning (of Corning Glass fame) and a branch of that famous Upstate New York grocery store, Wegman’s. We didn’t need much, but it was good to mooch around to see what was on offer. Grocery stores in NY, unlike their Ontario counterparts, sell booze. They don’t sell local wine because they leave that to the many local wineries, but they do sell beer and they sell an awful lot of it. There were six aisles of American craft beer and I could have spent many long hours in there choosing. I didn’t have hours though, long or otherwise, so I selected a 6-pack of the Corning brewery Iron Flamingo’s best IPA. I can happily report that it is a fine (and strong) brew.
Another feature of Wegman’s is their deli, where you can pick up some great hot and cold meals to take away. It’s sold by weight, so you have to go easy on the mashed potato, but Mrs. M and I had a great take out for our supper and we didn’t really look to see how much it all cost; shame on us.
Back at camp, replete and working hard to clear fridge of alcohol, we sat through a DVD before turning in. The campground was quiet but, unusually, it is lit by streetlights. Not a problem but so rare for it not to be pitch black when we go to bed.
We have three days to explore the area, but we were too tired to formulate any concrete plans. I wonder where Saturday will find us?
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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