2014 Trip 2: it's a long weekend, that means rain!

McLaren's Campground, St Lawrence Parks - May 2014

Friday:
Sure enough, nothing but rain leading up to the long weekend as is generally the case. It is sometimes a little odd heading out when the weather is less than great, but this is made easier by the fact that we know we will be snug as a bug, and the whole point is to get away.

We've never been to the St Lawrence Parks group of campgrounds, so we plan to check out the options while we are down there. If it turns out to be a good area, it will be real handy as it is only a little over an hour to get to.

Very overcast with spots of rain, as we are now heading towards the band of weather that is moving east. Nice drive, through some great looking farmland and some great looking farms on them. Some serious dairy and beef operations in this area, one place had a big herd of long horn bulls, all of them just laying around, as cows tend to do in the rain. Pretty impressive looking beasts, those massive curved horns just scream...'don't mess with me'.  Nice looking campground, at least what we can see through the rain. Pretty open, but lots of trees and it seems well laid out. Our site is nice, with a gravel entrance and trailer pad. We are surrounded by lush, well maintained grass. Campground is almost full, and we have seen that some of these site are definitely seasonal, but not in our true definition of what we call seasonal. There are no additional sheds and other such structures, just perhaps a simple deck.

Spotted a rare sight as we drove in...another Alto. We have only ever seen one other in a campground. This one is the bright yellow model, making it doubly noticeable, beyond its distinctive shape. We will no doubt be wandering over there tomorrow.

Drizzling as we got set up. We have 30 amp and water, so they both will be put to full use this weekend. When the weather is crappy and cool, having electricity is more important. It means you do not have to worry about the draining the battery while generating heat, and it gives you the option of both the heat pump and the little oscillating heater. After our dead battery weekend last year, we are now much more aware of our 12 volt consumption. Got the boys settled in, as usual they explored their new home and then relaxed a bit.


Dinner is Shafali's take-out chicken tikka wraps, which are simply awesome. We have been bringing some sort of pre-made food with us for our Friday night dinner. We found that between the drive and the set up, the last thing we then wanted to do was cook a meal. So now it is a take-out wrap, a pad thai or a simple sandwich for Friday night. This also gives us the option to eat while we are on the road. Figuring these routines is all part of getting the most out a weekend.

While I was outside a guy walked by and commented that he loved our trailer. Turns out he is the yellow Alto the next lane over from us. We had a great chat about the Alto and camping. We will walk over during the weekend for a visit.

A big rig pulled in beside us, a pickup hauling a dualy trailer, probably around 30 feet. The guy put it in place no problem. Then began his setup. There seems to be a lot more work to setup as the trailer size gets bigger, jacks at all 4 corners, inevitably not reaching the ground, which means you have to lug around a variety of wooden blocks, hence the pickup truck. Then the slideouts have to be put in place, and assorted window covers opened. This guy must have spent the better part of an hour getting squared away, our setup completed in 15 minutes, already inside with a beer cracked. Last thing the guy did was to haul out his water hose. Not sure why, but my first thought was that I hope the thing would reach. Guy grabs the end, heads towards the water post, and sure enough, it is about 2 feet too short. The poor guy had just spent the better part of an hour getting setup, in the rain, only to be foiled by 2 feet. He gave it a good tug, in the desperate hope that 2 additional feet would miraculously appear, but no chance. This look came over his face, he drops the hose, and I'm sure he was saying to himself...for f**ks sake! I know I would be. Out of the blue, another camper walks over and saves the day with an extra segment of water hose. Clearly I was not the only one watching the setup. Nice thing for the guy to do, but that's the way campers generally are. Keeping an eye on things and helping each other out.

Set up the TV antenna, hoping to bring in CBC to bring in tonight's playoff Rangers and Kings hockey game. We have a nifty antenna called 'The Rayzar', made by Winegard, a big name in RV antennas. It is a flat plastic panel that suction cups to a window. It has an inline amplifier that is powered by a USB connection. We were able to pull in 8 DTV signals, although because of the rain, it was a bit spotty. Most of these signals come fom the States, as we are just across the St. Lawrence river. Hopefully CBC will be able to pull in the Habs game tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday:

Rained most of the night, not pounding, but just enough to lull you to sleep nicely. Temp dropped down to 46F, thankfully we had the little oscillating heater on duty to keep the chill at bay. Relaxed in the morning, then hopped in the car and headed into Ingleside. Checked out a couple of small RV dealers, then drove to a couple of the other campgrounds along the Long Sault Parkway. They are nice, but overall, we think this is the best one. This parkway was made when the St Lawrence Seaway was being flooded to better accommodate the big freighter river traffic. A number of towns were relocated because of this, and the parkway and campsites were then created. The parkway connects a series of 11 islands, which were formed because they were high points of land after the flooding occurred. There area areas were you can still see the layout and roads of the former towns, now below water. The old highway is also visible underwater. This is a very popuar area for paddlers and scuba divers. We will come back some day with our kayaks to check it out.

Took the short drive into Ingleside and dropped into the grocery store for a few things, as well as the Home Hardware. Every HH is different, as the owner stocks a variety of goods appropriate for the surrounding market, making every store unique and this one has much more interesting stock.  We also rented a vid for the evening from a good little local video store that carries a wide range of movies and we bought three previously viewed DVD's to keep in our trailer for rainy evenings.  We also rented a DVD for this evening, a British comedy flick called 'Saving Grace' with Craig Ferguson, who is now known for his late night talk shows and Brenda Blethyn, who Dale is a big fan of.  Love British humour...

As the weather has cleared somewhat  we went for a nice long bike ride through the campsite and then along the Long Sault parkway which is the road linking the chain of islands.

The clouds cleared and the sun came out, a nice change to the past couple of days. Still cool outside though, never reaching higher than about 58F. Watched a bit of the Habs getting blown out by the Rangers. No worries, lots more games to play. The CBC over the air feed of digital TV is lame. The signal is really weak. Kinda sad when an American signal from a couple of New York PBS stations was perfect. Our tax dollars at work. Well done CBC, keep on fulfilling that mandate of yours! We picked up a BBQ chicken at the grocery store for dinner, we are not overly enthused about being outside in the chill working the BBQ...the easy peasy option. A few brave souls have started some campfires, and they are all huddled pretty close trying to soak in the heat.

Sunday:
No rain last night, but chilly with the temp overnight dropping down to 39F. Clear sky in the morning, the rising sun was beaming into the Alto, warming it up nicely.  Early morning I walked up to the comfort station for a shower, and I was not the only one with that idea as the 3 showers were occupied, surprising in that it was 7:00am. Despite being cool, there was no wind and it was actually quite pleasant sitting on the bench waiting. Typical Ontario Parks showers, well built and reasonably well maintained. One thing we have noticed at this park, it seems to be better maintained than the provincial parks we have been at and the staff here appear to be friendlier and more engaged. Hard to pinpoint what it is, perhaps it is because St. Lawrence Parks is a smaller organization than the provincial parks, and thereby probably better managed and they hire a little better group of staff.

All morning the sun was great. We sat out for the longest time, Dale reading the paper and catching some rays, while I poked around the Alto, cleaning the exterior a bit. A nice couple, Anne & Gilles stopped by and started to chat. We had a nice visit with them, and beside us were his brother and wife, and they wandered over as well. Some clouds started to roll in, and without the warming rays of the sun, you could really feel the actual temperature, which only really got to a high of around 59F. Read a little of the paper in the afternoon, and I did a little cruise around on my bike. We really enjoy the folding bikes, a highly recommended option for RV'ing. The smaller size makes them so much easier to haul around, be it on a rack or in the back of an SUV or a pickup truck.

A little rain in the afternoon, hopefully it will not put a damper on the plans for pizza on the Q later on. Bruce dropped by, the other Alto owner here, and we chatted for the longest time about the trailer. It was interesting to hear another perspective on the trailer, although it was very similar to our own.  We both shared little modifications we had done to our Alto's, a few of them being exactly the same idea.

Dinner tonight is pizza with pesto, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions & goat cheese, with a topping of cheese, fired up on the Q with a side arugula salad. G & T starter of course. Getting chilly as the sun goes down, forcasted to be another cool evening. At least the sun is still strong as it is going down, should be a nice sunset.
a tasty summer beverage...
Monday:

Not as cool last evening, lots of sun in the morning. There is a band of dark clouds heading our way, and the weather radar confirms it is just a band. This should pass in a couple of hours. We are enjoying our iPhones while camping, especially for being able to check the weather. As well, on the way here, I took a bit of a wrong turn, so I just pulled over and checked where we were on the maps app. Pretty amazing that is can figure out where the iPhone is to within a few yards. Very handy. You can tell we are smartphone newbies, it is still all pretty fascinating.

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