2014 Trip 8: exciting times at the dumping station...

Sept 2014: McLaren Campground

This weekend is truly a get away. We felt because we have been away on our Seattle trip we wanted to catch up a bit on time in the Alto. This campground is a short drive from Ottawa, a perfect distance for a quick trip. It is just an hour away, a nice drive down Hwy 31 south.

We came here at the beginning of the season, and liked the park for its simplicity. Although pretty open grassy sites and exposed to your fellow camper, it does have a casual relaxed feel and as a bonus most sites have good views of the St. Lawrence river.

Rolled in just before dark and got set up. Nice site, with a gravel drive and 2 services. Our back end is facing the water, which is nice. Quite a few campers here, which is a bit surprising given the time of year, and that it has been a little cooler than normal this fall. Cranked up the heat pump and the Alto was toasty in no time. A vid and a beer and that was the evening.

It was quite pleasant temperature overnight and during the day reached 68F. A little overcast and windy this morning but who cares, we have no real plans. Went for a walk around the campsite and discovered the yellow Alto once again, they are same people we met here on our first trip here this spring.  Quite a few people were clearly getting their trailers ready for the winter. Lots of cleaning and packing up outdoor gear was going on. Spied some nice sites which we may book next year.

these guys are getting psyched up for the big flight south

Decided to take a drive into town (or it may be a city now?) of Cornwall. Followed the parkway until we got onto Hwy 2. Wandered around Cornwall a bit, checked out their newly rejuvenated part of downtown, then headed back to Ingleside to pick up an easy take-out dinner from their grocery store. This is something we normally do not do but we feel especially lazy this weekend.  Also in Ingleside is a great DVD store where they have a wide selection of movies, including independent films which we enjoy the most.  They sell previously viewed films at good discount prices so when here we always go there to stock up on DVDs for our trailer travels, picked up another batch of 6 vids to store away for next summer. Watched the rest of the vid that Dale fell asleep through last night, a horrendously bad movie called Elizabethtown, and that was the day.

Windy night with frequent gusts up to 60k an hour, not as strong as Driftwood this summer...but close.  High winds seems to be a common occurance on large open rivers, like here on the St. Lawrence river and the Ottawa river.  Living downtown in a city, we are not used to high winds for long periods of time so they can be unnerving.

Got up and leisurely finished reading the weekend paper, there is nothing like it...it is probably one of our favourite trailer past-times. Dale was up and out early to take a few early morning pictures.

We can see there is a large patch of rain heading our way, so we got our act together to get hitched up and out before the rain arrived. Well, we almost made it, although the rain started as we pulled out. Not heavy though, as we still had to do the dumping station, which turned into quite the adventure. A bit of a line up at the station, so we waited our turn then moved into position. Got set up as normal, the sewer hose down into the hole, a rock holding the hole cap and sewer hose in place, and me crouching with my latex gloved hands ready to pull the levers.

As always, black first, and so I did, and that's where it went off the rails real quick. As soon as I pulled the valve, the hose quickly filled and somehow jumped right out of the drain hole. Now we have this stream of seriously disgusting fluid, dare I say, crap, spewing out where it definitely should not be. Almost at the same instant, Dale has caught sight of the environmental disaster that is now in full swing, and has started screaching and doing what I can really only describe as a dancing jig. Now I can only see this in my peripheral, as I am now focused on getting the hose back into the drain hole. Luckily, this was pretty easy, minimizing the nasty mess somewhat. Fortunately, this particular station had the drain hole in the center of a concrete catch basin, which did its intended purpose quite admirably. I simply used the water hose, always present for this purpose, and cleaned up all around. We have never had this happen before, but I suspect it was time for our luck to run out. We had a good laugh, mostly wondering what the other waiting campers were thinking of Dale's extended little jig.

As we headed home the rain was pretty heavy at times. On the way, our plan is to stop at Loughlins Country Store in Hallville. This little store is known for its butter tarts and pies, and on Friday, Dale called to reserve a couple of dozen. We are not often in this area, so it seemed a prime opportunity to pick some up and put them away in the freezer for special occasions.

little bundles of yummy goodness
This area along Hwy 31 and 43 has some very nice looking farms. The land just looks excellent. We picked up the butter tarts and they looked awesome. Everything is clearly home made. Some butter tarts have what appears to be a store bought crust, but not these little lovelies, these are the real deal! We bought a couple of nice looking egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and these too turned out to be classic. They had a little bit of pickle juice mixed in with the egg salad, which gave the sandwich a little extra ohmph! Naturally, a butter tart was  dessert.

Another little surprise happened on the drive home, although much more pleasant than our dumping station event. I glanced in the rear view mirror, and lo and behold, there was an Alto behind us! We see very few Altos on the road, so to have one behind us was pretty cool. We figured it had to be one of two other couples we know who have an Alto in the Ottawa area. Once the road went to 4 lanes, we were able to get beside each other, and sure enough, it was. We chatted side by side at the lights, they had been to the St. Lawrence Parks area as well. Pretty cool to see them on the road, and we followed them into Ottawa.

Another interesting weekend, one of only a couple left before we close it up for the season.


  1. We just picked up our Alto in August and drove it back to California. I love reading your blog. I only wish I had read the one about the sink lever before we managed to flood our Alto a week into our trip. Fortunately the Alto is made of materials that are easy to dry and we go it cleaned up and dried out pretty quickly - a bit more of an adventure than I wanted on our inaugural road trip!

    One of the biggest challenges for us was storing all our bedding and making the beds each night. We used fitted sheets and comforters and a thin memory foam mattress topper for the king bed. No place to store all that and the fitted sheets were a big hassle. We have two kids so bunk beds meant 3 beds to make. I brainstormed while we drove and decided I could make a bedroll out of two decorative duvet covers to match the interior - rolled up we could leave it out as a bolster for the back of the padded benches. We found we always wanted something across the back to lean against so that we could lounge on the full length of the benches when the bed was down. It turned out great. I would love to send you pictures to share in the section of your blog with interior ideas. We copied the magazine basket ;-)

    I found 2 great duvet covers in perfect colors - our interior is blue and green - and sewed them together a little more than halfway. I sewed a channel for our 1 inch memory foam topper in the bottom cover ahead of time to keep it centered since the topper was the size of the bed vs comforter size. I put our down comforter in the top duvet. Four sets of ties at the top of the bedroll on the bottom secure it when rolled up for the day. We simply fold in the sides and roll it up from the bottom after we wake up. It is pretty and functional. I am sure other Alto owners might like to make one too.

    Cheers! Lissa Cook - Portola Valley, California

  2. Hi Lissa,
    I am really surprised to hear the sink lever is still an issue. We has seen other Altos, and go to our local RV show every year, and we have noticed that either they have rotated the tap or used a different model tap. Unless, rotating it did not solve the problem. As you have read, this was our adventure as well on our first trip...but we had the added excitement of a snowstorm!

    The memory foam is a great idea, and needed. This winter we will be thinking about a solution for sleeping next year. And speaking of winter, we are envious of your year round ability to use the Alto. We put our away last weekend, and are already planning for next season.

    As I mentioned in my response to your other comment, it would be great to keep in touch.