2011 Trip 10: Love the foldies...

Bonnechere P.P. - Sept 2011

When we booked the site a few weeks back, there were only a few spots already reserved, so we figured it would be a quiet weekend. On the road by 5pm, but the traffic was heavy. Took us at least 40 minutes to get out of the city, which kinda sucks, now that the days are much shorter. Seriously overcast and it looks like rain.
Sure enough, a light drizzle started to fall as we got close to the park. This is the first trip with the new bikes, which I will talk about a little later.

So now it is dark, and raining, and I have been coming to the conclusion over time that I am no longer a fan of driving at night. Especially when it is raining. Actually, I have had these thoughts for a while now. I'm not talking about driving around in the city, that's no issue, it's the highway driving that is less appealing. Perhaps it has something to do with age screwing around with your vision. I find when I am driving now, I want to SEE everything as best I came. Night driving just does not allow that.  However, when camping after Labour Day, it is going to be dark when you arrive.   Also some reluctance is from knowing that there is now a proliferation of cellphone and texting idiots that are behind the wheels.  Every few days in the paper we read of people in accidents who have driven across the centre line for no apparent reason...Hummm???  

Checking in, it is clearly pretty quiet here. The ranger says there are a few campers around, but not many. Sure enough, in our little area no one is around us. We are on a site we have stayed at before, which is probably our favorite at this park. Backed in and set up, which is really a minor job now, even the little drizzle does not bother us. Definitely alone here, although I do see a hint of light from a trailer deeper in the park behind us. Got squared away outside, then headed inside, cracked a beer and chilled. Listening to a playlist Bill put together called Roadfood. Quite an eclectic mix of tunes, covering a range of genres, but of course, they all fit together perfectly.

A nice novelty to camping in the 'shoulder season' and for being entirely on our own in this section of the park is that we do not have to pull our drapes at all at night.
It is very cool to wake up in the middle of the night looking out at the trees thru the moonlight.  It started to rain a little later on, which is fine, because falling to sleep listening to the rain drops on the roof is very peaceful.

A dull overcast day so far this morning. We don't really care though, this is a weekend of R & R, no problems staying inside if need be. We do hope to get out on the bikes though.

Last night was our first test of the new memory foam mats, an attempt to add a little comfort to the firmness of the bed. In a lot of trailers, ours included, the bed is created by using a bench seating area, thus utilizing already limited space. This means that manufacturers need to try to use a foam suitable for sitting, as well as for sleeping. Basic physics dictates that the smaller the surface area, the more pressure exerted, meaning that to be satisfactory for sitting, a harder denser foam must be used. A tradeoff that means sleeping comfort suffers. We found pretty quickly this to be the case with the Alto. At first we thought of some sort of memory foam topper or a feather tick, but it is the storage of the solution that is the problem. Where does it go when you convert back to a bench area? Larger trailers do not have this issue, as the bed is generally always stays as a bed. Storage is more challenging in smaller trailers.

Our solution was the discovery of a memory foam bath mat. A fellow Alto owner Terri emailed us that she found some of these at Costco that were 1 inch thick. We had told her of this issue with the bed and she had been on the hunt for a solution as well. If we got a couple of these, folded, they would give us 2 inches of comfort. Unfortunately, our search for them at various Costcos proved fruitless, until just recently. On our last trip to Costco, there they were, right by the entrance. We ended up buying 4 of them. Our reasoning, why not use 2 of them each, flat, for awesome comfort! The results new mats were great. They offer a larger area, thicker foam, and they are easily storable in the trailer.

Over the course of our travels, we have seen lots of bicycle use amongst campers. Last summer, on our visit to the factory, we had the bicycle rack installed on the Alto, and then took our bikes along with us on a few trips. This was fine, and we really enjoyed having the bikes to scoot around on, but to me, our regular bikes just seemed too large. We have seen a number of campers with the smaller folding bikes, and we were certainly intrigued. Ian & Karen, who have recently purchased an Alto themselves, have a couple of folders, and we have tried theirs out. We really liked the small size and folding ability, so we have kept an eye open for some. Fresh Air in Ottawa sells Dahons, which are nice, but a tad expensive. However, being the end of season, we dropped in last weekend to see what sort of deals could be had. They had a number of models, and the prices were seriously cut from those in the spring. We took a couple for a spin, did a little extra negotiating, and brought a couple home at a great price.

Mine is the MU 8 model. It has 20" wheels and an 8 speed derailleur. Dale's is a model called the Mariner, also with 20" wheels, and 7 speeds. Hers is made for the boating crowd and features more stainless steel components, which is perfect for us. The frame is brushed aluminum and looks very sharp. We would have ended up with two of those if they had them in stock, so I got the MU 8 instead. My frame is white, which Dale was not a fan of for her. Both have little luggage racks on back. They fit on the Alto rack real well, and better suit the size of our trailer.
Eager to test them on our first trip, we headed out on the park roads to explore. It quickly became obvious that they will be awesome for our needs. They are small, easy to peddle, and scoot along real nice. We covered every road in the park on our ride, excited with our new purchases. Walking around parks is great exercise, but riding around them is more fun. In another area of the park we ran into our neighbours down the street. Dan and Mary have an A-Liner, a nifty trailer that features a unique folding roof that opens up like a small A frame cottage. About the same size as the Alto, it utilizes a creative design to solve the height issue. Had a nice chat, and they are going to drop over after dinner for a visit. Continued up to the Ranger office and purchased a bag of wood, which was then strapped to the back of my bike. Talk about handy. These little folders will be great.
During my research on folders, I discovered that they have an almost cult status in the bike world. Brompton, a manufacturer in England, holds annual road races for folders, and from the pictures I have seen, a great many of the riders are in full business suits with helmets. Pretty funny. Folders are available in all the types, from regular, mountain and even racing bikes with drop handlebars. Now those ones are pretty wild looking. Whatever the incarnation, we are pretty pleased with ours.

Nice nap in the late afternoon, then a G & T to kick start getting the dinner ready. On the menu tonight is a classic... rib steak and baked potato on the Q. Got a nice fire going, and sat around it, soaking in the warmth.

Had a nice chat with a guy who was walking his dog, which was an Alaskan sled dog called Charlotte. He was really into trailering, and talked about a number of mods he had down to his. Settled back in front of the fire. Amazing how you can watch a fire for hours, and totally lose track of time, it just seems to slow right down. The sky cleared a bit so we headed for the beach to look at the stars. Quite different from looking at stars in the city. Watched the fire die down, then hit the pit.

Nice sunny morning, although only 50F. Breakfast is leftover steak and potato with eggs. Another classic. Although today looks to be a good one, we are heading out a little earlier than normal as we have dinner plans.  We took a short detour into Killaloe, to have a quick peek in town.  there is a neat little store there called Alfelskie's, which sells clothing and shoes, and has quite a nice assortment of goods. That store has been there forever.  I remember going in there when we had the cottage, and that was in the sixties. Dale found a cute pair of slippers, and I chatted with Benny Alfelskie, the original owner. I'd put him well into his eighties, but still sharp as a tack.

Home in good time, then out again for dinner. An excellent relaxing weekend once again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jim and Dale:

    I thought that I'd post a comment, since there are none so far. Nice to be first!

    I agree about the bikes, folders are great - you're going to enjoy yours.