Our first trip of our eleventh season found us back at our favourite haunt, Rondeau Provincial Park, for three nights starting Sunday June 12th. Still not school holidays, so sites were available, but it did mean having to fit the trip around that awful four-letter word, work...
Yes, in a weak moment, I went back to driving school buses last Fall, after a very short four month retirement. That kind of thing helps with the bank balance but plays havoc with camping plans. No problem this time, though, I just drove back into town to cover my two shifts each day. Certainly it meant fewer hours camping, but it did allow DW to have some very much needed time to herself; who knew such good could come from me driving a big yellow bus?
The weather for the trip was set fair; hot and getting hotter, although with the prospect of storms. As it turned out, there was just a bit of rain one night and the rest of the time was fine and sunny, even (dare I say it?) hot, so we had a virtually dry three days.
Prepping for the first run of the year always takes a little longer, but it was good to have Towed Haul finally hitched and following us obediently for the forty minute drive to Lake Erie. The Toadmobile was working well, and all the hitch paraphernalia was working too, and that's something you have to learn to trust at the start of every season; towing something that heavy has the potential to turn nasty if things are not working as they should. However, we rolled up at the Park gate exactly as we set out; all attached and looking fabulous. Funnily enough, we were greeted at the gate by the daughter of a neighbour who lives three doors down from us, who's clearly working her summer with the Provincial Parks team. I'm not sure she recognised us immediately, but her name badge gave the game away.
Our site, #16 on the South Campground, was a corner plot with lots of room, an easy back up and level pad. We were even within easy reach of the power pillar, which isn't always the case at Rondeau. Best of all was the stand of trees shading us from the worst of the midday sun. I'm waxing lyrical here, but we've been on this site twice before so we knew of it's advantages over some of the other less accommodating sites.
Once unhitched, plugged in and set up, we enthusiastically took to sitting around, eating, drinking and enjoying the flora and fauna, which in this relatively early part of the season was indeed plentiful. The Park Store was bedecked with various types of Swallows in their muddy nests, there was a Purple Martin colony just behind the store, and we watched numerous Blue Jays, Oriels, Blackbirds, Turkey Vultures and sundry other feathered friends that we were not quick enough to identify. We also revelled in the Carolinian Forest, a mass of Oaks, Ash and Pine, all growing in the protected environment of the Park. There were very cheeky Chipmunks everywhere, usually only about a foot away, and it was turtle season, when the females come out of the bay to lay their eggs. I had never seen a turtle here before, but I saw two on this trip, and very nice they were, too.
My run into work on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings started early, at dawn really, but the roads were empty and I did get to see a Vixen and her cub as I headed out of the Park at 5:30am. I was also treated to the sight of various heron, geese and swans, all milling about on the flooded wetland area as the sun began to rise. The three hours I had back at the park between shifts were short but profitably used, and the evenings after I returned again to the Park following the afternoon bus runs, were spent working hard at doing not much. Despite the need to get up and get moving each morning, I slept well in the Airstream bed, something that doesn't always happen, especially on that first run out of the season.
Of course, it was just me and the DW in the trailer this time. Willow the Greyhound had departed this life back in November, and apart from Emma and Charlie visiting on Tuesday afternoon, it was just grown ups this time, and that made it all the more pleasant. Not that camping with dogs and children was unpleasant you understand, but the atmosphere is somewhat more relaxed when it's just two old fogeys you have to think about.
I wasn't present for much of Whirlwind Charlie's visit, but he seemed to have a great time on the beach and splashing around in the Lake. I know that DW and Emma are not big sand fans, but they braved the grit for the sake of the nipper and I think he enjoyed their sacrifice.
On the Wednesday morning, DW did a lot of the breaking camp preparation while I was at work, so when I did arrive back there wasn't too much to do other than hitch up and then go round to the dump station to empty the holding tanks. Wednesday was the hot day, temperatures up around 35 degrees Celsius, so getting on the road needed to be swift to avoid the noonday sun. Still, we achieved that and were back home in good time for, yes you've guessed it, my afternoon bus driving shift. Still, that's the last time there will be a camping and work mix, so all in all it worked out quite well.
Thoughts from the trip included:
Wow, we're lucky to live so close to such a fabulous Park.
Getting up at 5am isn't so bad in such great surroundings.
We're very pleased that we've learned to camp with the minimum of stuff.
We're very happy that our eleven year old Minivan and Trailer are still working well together.
We're still smiling at the odd looks we get as we haul our Airstream through the campground because (all together...) "You can't tow that with that!"
Until the next time, I'll leave you with some photos.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
The Old Blog