2010 Trip 8 - Bike rack...what a great idea!

Bon Echo Provincial Park - Sept 2010

Long weekend, yippee! Although the Labour Day weekend usually bookends the wrong end of the summer, there is still lots of weekends left before the Alto season is over. On the road Friday night by 6:00, sort of on track. Pissed down the rain shortly before we headed out, and now it is only off and on. Traffic heavy as expected, seems to take forever to get out of the city. Once we got past Carleton Place, it moved along quite nicely, with the occasional a-hole driver just to keep things interesting.
Some people always seem to not be able the settle in and cruise along...they just have to pass everything in sight. And the trailer effect must drive them crazy. What they don't realize, is that I'm pretty much right behind the guy ahead of me, and the one ahead of him, and so on and so on. They probably think it will be clear sailing, well big surprise. Rain was intermittent the whole way, making for a greasy drive the whole way. We have gotten into the habit of grabbing a sandwich to eat on the road, saves having to rustle up something when we get there, and by that time we'd be starved.

Arrived about 8:30. Totally dark now, the days are getting much shorter, which narrows the window of being able to set up in the daylight. Nice looking site, at least by the light of our headlamps, which by the way, everyone should own one of those little gizmos. Simply indispensable, mainly because you get to use both hands. Site has a downward slope, but with a bit of juggling, managed to find a reasonable spot to park. Campground seems full, but lots of privacy between the sites, and have yet to spot the dreaded construction light! Finished setting up then moved inside.

Pulled out the Tivoli, really eager to try it with our latest acquisition. A used 3rd gen iPod Nano. We wanted an iPod with a little screen, so we can load up a bunch of playlists to select as the mood moves us. This particular gen of the nano appealed to me based on the size of the screen and the shape of the body. Found one on Kijiji and snagged it real cheap. Loaded up some playlists and away we go. Right now I am listening to Bistro Mix 2, courtesy of my brother. It sounds awesome though the Tivoli. Lots of guts, and the sound out of it has to be heard to be believed. It is a perfect combo for the Alto.

The music I have gotten from Bill is excellent, spanning all sorts of listening styles. He has got a great collection, and given the breadth of his music knowledge, he puts together excellent playlists. The songs just seem to fit together, complementing each other really well. His musical influence has certainly expanded my listening experience over the years.

Rain and clouds this morning. Really slow getting going, looks pretty ugly outside. Did a little reading, put on some coffee and breakfast and just relaxed. Cleared a bit later in the morning, so we went for a little bike ride. Brought the bikes, both to try out the new rack, and as it is such a big campground, it is probably a great way to get around. I took a map and pen with us as we biked around to look over other potential sites. Quite a nice campground.

the indigenous Sifto...
 The sites are big, fair amount of privacy between them, and lots of biking and hiking trails. Couple of nice beaches and for families, lots of organized nature activities. I was a bit skeptical of the value and usefulness of a bike rack, but am now converted. For big campgrounds like this one, or Sandbanks, it is obviously a great way to get around them. I'm sure lots of other places will be the same.

Clouded over and started to rain again, so we headed back to camp.

 Read a bit, then had a nap, a perfect dreary day activity. Our neighbours beside us seem to enjoy fires of all sorts. There are a couple of lamp oil torches going, the ones heavy on the bamboo tiki style, as well a big propane lantern, sort of like the modern version of the Coleman lantern. Not quite the construction light, but close. Well this afternoon he started work on getting a fire started. He got the pit all loaded up with kindling and wood, picked up the big container of lamp oil for the tiki lamps, and proceeded to give his fire pit a really healthy soaking. I prepared for the explosion. Sure enough, as soon as the wooden match hit the pit, a massive burst of flame erupted, thick black smoke curling skyward. The flames lasted only until the oil burned off, then nothing. The wood had barely started. So obviously the only thing to do was to give it another good splash to egg it on at bit. That was pretty exciting. He is lucky the flames just did not travel right up into the container. Being lamp oil, it probably is a little less dangerous than gas or naptha. The fire did get going though.

Burgers and a show for dinner. The show being Mr. Accelerant, as I now call him. As soon as he started to set up his little round charcoal BBQ, I just knew there had to be a container of briquet starter lurking somewhere. There was indeed. Same routine, a healthy dosing, then WHOOSH! No luck though. As we all know, those little briquets can take their sweet time getting going. One other thing. The BBQ is much closer to the tent trailer and awning, than the fire pit is. I saw him quickly glance towards the awning after the first ignition, clearly worried he might have set the whole thing ablaze. Of course, to help the BBQ along, he sprays the accelerent right out of the container, like non stop flames. Scary. Got it going though.

Morning is overcast, with on and off rain. Headed into town, both Cloyne and Northbrook, to check them out. Actually, the prime reason is to get some blueberry home baking since we are in wild blueberry country. Like some parts of down east, this area is known for its blueberries. Checked out a number of little shops, then pulled over to a roadside stand and bought a pie and some tarts. Although the various roadside stands seem like independent entrepeneurs, they are really all owned by the same lady in these parts...kinda like a blueberry monopoly.

Went for a good bike ride upon return, first to the visitor centre and the old log Dennison home. In the early 60's, the Dennisons gave the entire park to the citizens of Ontario, Amazing!  Biked down to the Narrows as well. This is a great park, the main feature of the park is the Bon Echo rock which is a giant face of rock that rises almost 400' straight out of the water, and is just as deep below the water.  Sections of the wall have numerous pictographs and one area has a tribute to Walt Whitman chiseled into the face. At one time, this place was a destination for poets and artists in the early 1900's. It is very expansive, with a diverse range of things to do and see.

 Went and had a shower down at the comfort station. One has to time this so as you are not waiting to get in. If you avoid the mornings, you can be pretty much be assured of just walking over and going right in. They have really improved the comfort stations since that last time we camped at provincial parks. Especially the showers. They now feature outside access, usually five of them. This means you don't have to go into the washroom section of the building, and all the steam and moisture caused by the showers are self contained and vented directly outside. As well, each shower room has obviously been designed to withstand even the most inconsiderate of individuals. They are virtually abuse proof, which is great for the rest of us. Some would say that the camping fees in provincial parks are a little on the high side, but from the ones we have visited this summer, they offer very consistent value, excellent services and superb surroundings. Well worth any extra cost in my mind.

A G & T to chill out at the end of the afternoon. One may think from reading this blog, that the G & T is an integral part of our camping routine, and to that I would say, how very perceptive of you! Tonight's dinner is Montreal thighs and grill basket Bone Dust veggies, tossed with goats cheese. Tasty indeed. A Sunday camping dinner.

 Dessert is the recently acquired blueberry tarts. I would have to say, a huge disappointment. The pastry was spongy and the filling screamed of E.D. Smith. Perhaps "homemade" means something different on this stretch of Hwy 41? Sat around and chilled to the sounds from assorted playlists. Most impressive coming out of the Tivoli is the Acoustic Stones. Simply excellent. If I close my eyes, I'm sure Keith is sitting right up front. Camping cannot get more comfortable than this.

Mr Accelerant unloaded numerous bags of firewood and they got a dandy fire going. We generally sleep with the curtains to the back window open, so we can see outside. The light from the flames of the campfire were dancing around the shiny ceiling of the Alto and it was very cool. The window is like a little snapshot of what's happening around us, pretty cool. The fire next door is huge. Too huge! Mr. Accelerant has just thrown on 2 full bags of wood, and it is now raging. The flames must be 4 feet high and every time another log hits the pile, a huge burst of sparks fly skywards. We are now well past "campfire" and into "bonfire" territory. This would be fine on a beach, but right in the middle of the woods, a tad excessive and a little unnerving.

Cool again this morning, probably around 10C. Dale met some tenters in the comfort station and they had a miserable night and were pulling up stakes.  When we woke up it was 50 degrees inside our camper but thankfully when we turned the heat pump on it did it's job and brought it easily up to over 70 degrees. Everyone is starting to pack up. Watching the activities, it is not only tents and tarps being put away, but it seems like summer is being folded up as well. Looks like the wife across from us has just backed the family van hard into a tree, while attempting to hitch up the trailer. Husband is clearly not amused, emitting a fine selection of age old expletive phrases I have not heard used together in some time. When asked why, the wife's utterance of "I didn't see it" caused a classic response from the husband... a slight pause, then he says, "A tree?" Perfect. Husband then takes over behind the wheel, and now wife is yelling at his every mistake. Hilarious.

Drive home uneventful, thankfully the rain held off. A quick latte in Carleton Place for a boost, then rolled into the laneway later in the afternoon.


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