2015 Trip 5: rain, rain, rain and more rain...

Sandbanks PP - June 2015

On the road by 8:30am, as Sandbanks is a good 3 hours from Ottawa and we like to get there early to catch a little beach time, since today is forecasted to be sunny all day. Important this weekend as the long range forecast calls for an extended rainy period.

There is a huge front moving in from the US Midwest, and it looks to pass right over us. This may be the only sun we get.
We headed down Hwy 7 to Kaladar, then cut over 41. This route minimizes our 401 time to about 10 minutes, which is just about right for us. We generally plan a route that avoids the drone of a 4 lane highway. Sometimes that is just not possible, and they are useful when you need to get from A to B quickly.

We always stop at the General Store in Sharbot Lake, a classic spot, with literally a little bit of everything. One of those stores that may have a part for a tractor, or a part for an RV. One never knows what can be found in there and it is wonderful to just wander the aisles, around every corner you will find something totally unexpected. Traffic is light now, although later this afternoon that may change as people hit the road to their weekend destinations. Got checked into Sandbanks and filled the fresh water tank, then headed to our site. Same one as last year, which has quickly become our favourite.  Set up similar to last year, just slightly under the trees, to give us a bit of shade, while still exposing the solar panels to lots of sun.
a simply awesome site

look closely...we are all in this picture

After we got settled in we headed straight to the beach. Lots of people out sunning, but few in the water, as is was pretty cool. Apparently the water was warmish the past few days, but I guess the wind overnight blew in the colder water from the lake. We sat in the water closer to shore, as any deeper would have been a bit of a challenge. Watched some creative sandcastle building, amazing what kids can do with a few buckets of sand.

camping dinner
Awesome sunset this evening, and the camper beach has great views. The air  is cooling down a lot, and you can feel the wind picking up as the weather front rolls in.
no photoshop here...just the way it was
Woke up to an overcast sky this morning, no rain yet, hopefully it will hold off a while so we can wander around Bloomfield with Helen & Paul. Dale did a power walk on the long beach and I went for a quick shower.

While walking the beach, Dale saw the park's tractor doing their early morning grading of the beach.  Then she saw a group of 4 young boys (about 8 yrs of age) arriving at the beach and then seeing that their sandcastles (made the day before) were going to get wiped out, Dale heard one of them say to the others to run and stand in the middle of their sandcastles so that the grader has to go around them.  She could not resist taking this photo of them, their first protest...and it worked!

Before we left, the fan in the Alto stopped working. I checked the fuses and they were fine, so I suspect it is the little interlock switch that is connected to the fan outside dome lid. This has happened briefly before, so when I get a moment this weekend, I will pull the inside cover off and give the switch a shot of WD40.

Headed into Bloomfield to meet Helen & Paul, and we wandered the Main St., dropping into the shops, especially our favourite spot, Kokito. They have a real funky selection of merchandise and there is always something there that makes the trek home with us. Later we drove out to Wellington, the next little town west on Hwy 33. There is a new hotel, called the Drake Devonshire Inn, that was originally a 1860 iron foundry, which was then renovated into a large home. It then became a tourist lodge, and then a retirement nursing home.  Sold once again, it became the Devonshire B&B, then in 2012, sold to the Drake hotel in Toronto, and renovated to become the trendy boutique hotel type inn.

Clearly a lot of money has been pumped into the renovation. There are a number of rooms in the Inn, along with several eating areas and a big outdoor deck overlooking Lake Ontario. On even a dull a dreary day, the place was quite busy. Given the assortment of vehicles in the parking lot, it seems to be attracting the well-heeled (some would say 'hipster') clientele from Toronto that it is aiming to pull from Toronto. We had a beer and a ploughmans lunch on the deck, tucked in close to the building, we were out of the breeze that was getting cooler as the rain front approached. We ended up chatting with another nice friendly couple from Ottawa, who were here for the day, a quick spontaneous road trip for them. The hotel has done a nice job on the place, and the food and beer was nice, but, the place still felt a little pretentious.

All day we waited for the forecasted rain to arrive, an inevitable event based on the radar images we have been following. Sure enough, around 4:00pm it started to fall, lightly, but with moments where it poured. At least we were fortunate to have a relatively decent day to wander around. Headed back to the site, as we are going out to dinner later this evening. Lots of rain coming down, and it is coolish, but with the furnace, we got warmed up and got the dampness off.  Heading back to Lake on the Mountain Resort for dinner, to meet our friends Joey & Geoff, who moved her a number of years ago. This has become something of a tradition for us, a nice dinner and a good catch up. We have been going there for dinner a few years now, and the food is consistently excellent. The beef short ribs are truly amazing. The place has a classic vibe, and they brew their own beer on site. Across the street they have renovated an old stone building into a cafe-brasserie, which overlooks Lake Ontario.

Rained all night, and at times, it pounded down.  We were dry and warm though, enjoying the benefits of being in a trailer and up off the ground. We remember tenting so long ago now, and rain was certainly not fun. Regardless of how you may try to make it fun, a wet, damp and cold tent is not pleasant. Fortunately, those days are past. Weather radar tells us we are now in the midst of this massive system, so today will be one of those make the best of it type days.

Met Helen & Paul in Picton and just wandered the shops. Picton is a thriving town, every year there are new shops and restaurants giving it a go. Always fun to wander through the town, checking everything out. Rain still coming down, as it has been since around 4:00pm yesterday. This constant rain/drizzle grows tired pretty fast. We stopped for a quick lunch and a pint at Coach's Pub, nice to get in out of the rain and feel some warmth, rather than the continual dampness.  A few more shops than we called it a day. We had planned to BBQ dinner for Helen & Paul at the site tonight, but the rain squashed that idea.

Back into Picton later in the evening to have a bite at the Acoustic Grill. We discovered this little pub, set back a bit off Main St, last summer and it is a great spot, offering a nice variety of pub fare, home made kettle chips, and a large section of draft beers. It is clearly a favourite of the locals, which is always a good sign. Still raining when we headed back, hoping that tomorrow we may catch a break in the weather.

Our friends are heading back home tomorrow morning, and regardless of the weather, we worked around it and and had a good time.

Rain seemed to stop overnight, but the morning is still overcast. A good wind is coming off the water, drying stuff out, but also adding a bit of a chill to the air. We went for a nice power walk up and down the beach, not many people out at all, so we had the beach almost to ourselves. The sun started to peak through the clouds a bit, and what a difference that makes. Going to chill today, not really much planned.

a nice little chillaxin setup
The sun was out most of the afternoon, so we grabbed our chairs and headed to the beach. A cool breeze coming off the lake, and the occasional kid that walked by all seemed to have some sort of comments about how cold the water is. Now when kids are complaining the water is cold, and there is little chance of an adult getting in. The wind was drying out the sand, and to each direction from us, it was like a small sandstorm, whipping up the sand so much, you could barely see the people.  This sand storm was also blowing over the top of the dune that separates the beach from the road. There is a row of sites just behind this dune, and I can imagine just how sandy stuff must get on those sites. As much as it is real neat to be right by the beach, I think when the winds come up from this big great lake the sand must be a bit of a pain to deal with.

love the light on the water ripples
As we are close to the Trenton Air Force Base, there are always planes and helicopters flying about. This afternoon a big Hercules buzzed down the length of the beach, neat to see, and fun to watch everyone stop everything and gaze upwards as it flies by. Naturally, all the little kids were waving furiously.

The weather was holding so we thought it would be nice to put on a campfire. We bought wood when we arrived, and we had a bunch of kindling, so Dale got the fire going while I prepped the salmon for the BBQ. Dinner tonight is salmon with quinoa salad and asparagus spears.  Much the same as we had at Bonnechere. I really like the BC Salmon Rub, as it is quick and easy, and very tasty. Took a while for Dale's fire to get going, but as she started it around 4:30, there is lots of time for it to turn into some nice coals. We had a G&T, then I fired up the Q and grilled the asparagus. Bathed the asparagus in a lemon garlic dressing, which should give it a nice flavour, and put on the salmon.  It all tasted lovely, with a nice lager to wash it all down.

brilliant green goodness

Sat around the fire, and we were thankful for its warmth.

It is cooling off the lower the sun falls towards the horizon. As the sky started to turn pink, we scooted to the beach to take a few snaps, then right back to the warmth.

The cold finally drove us inside, and we were a bit surprised to see it was past 10pm. There is a full moon tonight, and its light did a good job at fooling us into thinking it was earlier in the evening.

The furnace took off the nip in the air inside the Alto, and we were soon warm under our duvet, Barley curled nicely between us.

Overcast and rain pretty much sums up today. Throw in a bit of cool temps just for good measure.  Walked the main beach and then came back and read all morning, the furnace holding back the dampness of outside. In the afternoon we headed into Picton to get some things.  We need a refill of propane, so we found a spot that offers this service, as so many places now are only doing the tank exchange program. Stopped at the coffee shop for lunch, a place called Miss Lilly's Cafe. Had a nice soup and sandwich, then sipped on a coffee while I surfed a bit to see what was going on in the world.

Rained all day, a constant companion of cold and damp. On the way back to the site, we stopped at a funky little antique shop on the outskirts of West Lake. Nice spot, with an eclectic selection of odds & sods. Around dinner, the rain tapered off and we actually got a couple hours of sun. Everyone made an exodus to the beach, eager to soak up all the rays they could and to take in another sunset.

lots of contrails tonight, but I doubt they have this view
A full harvest moon this evening, but we only saw a few moments of it before the clouds and rain returned.

Rained overnight, and very windy and foggy this morning. At the beach, the visibility is about 20 yards, the wind whipping around the moisture laden air, pounding your face like so many little bee stings. As we have pretty much had enough of this wet weather, we started to pack up right after breakfast. The fog is clearing a bit, and the rain is spotty. Headed out cutting across Hwy 38 towards Sharbot Lake and Hwy 7. Meandering the secondary roads is our way of travelling, much more relaxing than a 4 laner.

We stopped in Harrowsmith, as we spotted a little bakery/cafe.  Lunch was an amazing (real) turkey sandwich, on fresh homemade white bread with mayo and pepper. The big slabs of turkey were moist and delicious. A caramel and apple sticky bun served as dessert. What a great spot.

On the way home the weather turned nasty. Big ominous dark clouds opened up and the rain descended in windy waves. The line of traffic slowed right down and we crept into another town. Not wanting to continue in this nonsense, we pulled into a mall parking lot to wait it out. Over the hour we spent sitting there, a few more dark clouds rolled by and just let loose. Started out again when it became more civilized, the rain now just a mist. Pulled into the driveway just when the sun started to peek out.

So, this has been the longest period of cold wet weather we have camped in a very long time. Having the Alto, and all its creature comforts, goes a long way to making these types of days so much more bearable. As well having our long time friends with us helped us all overlook the weather and make the best of it.


  1. Hello Jim, Just discovered your fantastic blog today. We just ordered the Alto 1713 build date of July 2016. We would like to get in contact with someone that has experience with this camper. We are also in Ottawa. Could we contact you?


  2. Hi Gail,
    I would be happy to talk to you about the Alto. As well, have you discovered the Alto Facebook page? If you are on FB, just search for a group called Altoistes. If you want to send me another comment with your email address, which will remain private of course, we can communicate that way as well.