2014 Vacation: Sandbanks/Driftwood

Starting two weeks today. This year, rather than a big road trip, we have decided to spend a week in a couple of our favourite provincial parks. We are heading to Sandbanks first, followed by a second week at Driftwood. We have been road tripping the past four years, and although those are great holidays, we have yet to spend a longer time in two places.

Nice drive down, we took Hwy 7, then 41 which took us to a brief ride on the 401, then onto 'The County', as Prince Edward County is called here.  Being in the County is our ultimate favourite place to be, the dunes, the expansive long white sand beach, wineries, rural scenery and country roads,...can't be beat.  A nice plus to our yearly trip to the County is meeting up with long time Ottawa friends, Helen & Paul, who make yearly trips there to spend a few days together, and old friends (Geoff and Joey) who moved to the County a few years back.

Before we left I half-filled the black tank, to let the road movement give it a good clean. I noticed that the fluid level monitor was giving an incorrect reading, when it was definitely empty. That is a sure sign that a little extra cleaning was needed to clean up those sensors. Levels in tanks are determined by a series of vertical electrodes, which use the fluid to create electrical connections between them. The more sensor in the circuit, the fuller the tank. If those electrodes get "gummed" up, this can also create a circuit, and provide false readings. Some have suggested to dump a bag of ice cubes down the toilet before heading out, so the cubes can scrub the sides of the tanks. They then melt and get drained. Have not tried that yet.

Pulled into the dumping station and ahead of us was a newish looking R-Pod. The guy came over to speak to me as he was having trouble draining. This was only their second trip out, and he was clearly frustrated. I had a quick look and he was doing all the mechanics of the process correctly, but a look from the toilet view showed the tank was totally full. We had a similar problem last year, so I suggested he drive around a bit to try and loosen things up, then drain again. If that did not work, he would need to get a toilet snake a do it that way. This is how we fixed an earlier problem.

Pulled up to our site and it looks excellent. Did a quick walk around and decided where to situate the Alto. Backed it in exactly where we wanted it, bit of an angle to the road, looks great. The site is awesome. It is huge, has a bit of a driveway in from the road, and we are surrounded by tree and shrub covered dunes. It is the valley of some dunes. We have total privacy and literally can only see the very tops of our neighbours tents of trailers.

well back from the road, and massive
In the afternoon, we are getting a nice amount of dappled shade, and this is where we have placed the Alto. Having the solar panels generate is important, being without an electrical hookup, so this factored into where we set up. When we booked, it was one of the very few available, and from the pictures it looked great, so we were a little curious why it was not snapped up quickly. I think this may be because the description of the site lists poison ivy as being present, and sure enough it is. There is a minor amount around the edges of the site, nestled into the shrubs.  In the open part of the site itself there is none so it will be easy to avoid. We can see parents reading this on-line would reject this site as kids could run into the shrub area, a poison ivy rash can be nasty.

As we are boondocking, we are keeping a close watch on our battery and our holding tanks. In full sun, the panels are putting out 14.6 volts, so this will not only charge, but also directly run stuff like the fan. When it gets hot, the fan really seems to help kept the air moving, expelling the hot air out and cooling the Alto a bit. Nice to be running this off solar. I have noticed a lot more campers have added solar panels as part of their gear. Some have built homemade stands to have the panels self-supporting and adjustable. A real important accessory as a battery not being recharged can only last so long.
purchased, or damn good homemade
Got all set up nicely, then headed to the beach for a swim, a mere 100 yards away. We are at what is called the campers beach, which is just that, a beach for those camping in the area. Day use people cannot park in this part of the campground, and we have already seen the rangers out looking over cars to see their campsite permits. This is a good policy, as it maintains the beach for those camping in this area, and leaves the much larger main beach for the day users, and any of the campers who wish to head over to it. Water is a little chilly, probably a product of our long cool spring and probably the ice left it a little later than most years. This is a huge body of water to warm up, so if spring is delayed, the water will be cooler. Floated around a bit then headed back, as it was time to start thinking about dinner.

seagull web prints
Lounged around the site a bit. I looked over the firepit and it was almost full to the top with ash. As we want to have fires, I got our little shovel and dug it out a bit. It quickly became clear that this had probably never been done. I dug it down to expose the air hole, probably about 8 inches or so. Which brings me to a bit of a rant. Why is this not done on a regular basis? Campfires are standard activities, so it must be known that at some point, the fire pit will become completely full. At Rollins Pond, a N.Y state park, at check out time, and right after a site is vacated, we have seen a couple of park people scooting around on a four wheeler. They pull into a site and pick up any left over garbage, and they take a number of shovels full of ash out of the pit, all to make the site ready for the next camper. We have seen this happen all the time, This took them all of 5 minutes to perk up the site. Why can't Ontario Parks do this?  I think it all comes down to outsourcing, and that all boils down to maximizing profit. And to add a little perspective, an Ontario site costs nearly $50 bucks, where a state park is $25, half the cost, but twice the service. Pretty simple stuff to do, not rocket science here. These are summer students doing this work in the States, for minimal cost, why are we not getting the same level of service? To me, it boils down to expense avoidance and thus profit for the outsource. I think Ontario campers are getting ripped off. We have great parks, but the experience could be so much better for the high camp fees and the provincial taxes we pay. Campers are to blame as well, because some are simply ignorant of those around them, unwilling to spend an extra minute to clean up a sink or pick up a piece of garbage.

Simple dinner of smoked sausages on the Q.  Tasty with a cold beer.
Wandered down to the beach after dinner, you can really feel the air starting to cool, in fact, as the sun got much lower, it actually became a little chilly, it will be perfect for sleeping.
the hoodie...a Dale standard
Amazing full moon this evening, lots of light coming into the Alto, left all the drapes open to see the sky.


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