2015 Vacation: Friday...Altos, Altos everywhere

Set the alarm for a little before 5:00am, to give us a little leaway to make coffee, a bite to eat and get squared away to pull out. On the road by 6:00, a little overcast, so it should be a good day for a road trip.

We are heading to Interstate 81, which will get us to Syracuse, where will we catch the 90 all the way to Cleveland and a bit beyond. It will be a good hike, easily most of the day. Today is what I call an A to B day, where we are not so much concerned about what we may see along the way, but rather how much distance we can cover. Our aversion to the big 4 lane highway is well documented here, but sometimes it is the neccesity.

Stopped for gas in Clayton, we are only about half empty, but want to start the trek on a full tank. Pulled into a little garage and a guy wandered out to fill us up. Chatted a bit and he asked where we were headed. He gave us a tip about catching the 81. "About 18 miles down the road, you will come to a big long ditch, at the bottom of the ditch, don't take that left turn to the 81, as that will only loop you around and back to the real entrance. That will save you a few miles". Thanks I replied, already wondering about this big 'ditch'. Clearly it could only be a long dip in the road, but I had never heard it referred to as a ditch before?   Great local expression!

Foggy, but the sun is peeking out a bit so it should burn off. A couple of the low ditches along the way were little thick with fog, but nothing that limited visibility to the point of worry. Sure enough as explained, we saw the first turnover, cruised by it, and were soon on the 81. Expecting a 401 type highway, we were pleasantly surprised to see how nice the road was. Scenic, cars travelling at a very civilized pace, and only a moderate number of big transports. After a while we noticed just how nice the pace was. The speed limit was 65, and everyone was moving at that speed or perhaps only a tad faster.
Definitely a sign of the times, but a good idea, if  they actually  can wait
There was none of the crazyiness we experience on the 401, where the 100 klm/hr speed limit becomes really 120, with many more screaming by at 130klm/hr or faster. To us, this frenetic rush of vehicles makes for a somewhat stressful drive. Not so on the I81, and then on the I90, it was much the same. It was a nice change, chewing up the miles we wanted to cover, and in a nice civilized manner.

Cruised by Rochester, Buffalo, then Erie PA, our only real indication of those cities was that the highway got a little busier as we approached and exited the area. We stopped for gas and grabbed a bite to eat somewhere between Rochester and Buffalo, at one of those big service centres. We picked up some local cherries being sold by a young woman at a little stand outside.  They looked real nice, healthy road food. Pulled up to the gas stop and started to fill up. Behind us, a beat up Chevy Cavalier pulled in. Out hopped these two woman, and they made a bee line for me as I was getting the pump ready to start, already talking up a storm as they approached. I'm guessing they were early to mid forties, and based on their weathered look, these two had a lot of miles on them. They were also seriously hard to understand, speaking quickly with heavy Latin accents. They were all over the Alto, peeking inside the windows and being over the top in friendliness and excitment.  These two did not really fit the usual Alto curiosity profile, and my spidy senses were starting to tingle. As well, one of them was starting to get a little too far into the outer zone of my personal space, so I stopped pumping gas and put the nozzle well between her and I. All the time I'm keeping my eyes on both of them, glad they were still together on my side of the Alto. When they asked to see inside, I had had enough of what ever they were really up to and went into a polite 'piss off' mode. I guess they got the hint by my curtness, wandered back to their beat up ride, and drove away. All without pumping a drop themselves which was very bizarre.  Harmless perhaps, but off putting just the same.

Back on our way, we easily got through Cleveland. There are routes around, but the shortest is through the centre. One always imagines this would be a bit of a nightmare drive, but it was quite civilized. Traffic was moving smoothly, we got a peek at a bit of the city, and saved a ton of time. On the other side we took an exit for Hwy 2, and this is how we will make it to the ferry. We had heard from Leslie that groceries were a bit sparse on the island, so we found a grocery store in Lorain and stocked up for the weekend. Dale dropped into the Dollar Store to pick up a couple of swim noodles, and had an interesting conversation with a nice young man. Looking out the window, he exclaimed to Dale "Hey, look at that...what is that spaceship thing out there"? Before Dale could answer, he then says, "I wonder how they got that there"? Dale then explained that it was a trailer, and that it was ours. The guy was most excited about that, and finding out Dale was Canadian, he said "I love Canadians. You're the first one I've met"! I'm still wondering who he was referring to when he referred to "they". Martians?

Made our way to the ferry terminal in Marblehead, and a couple of cars in front of us was a yellow Alto. It is important at this point to understand just how rare it is to see one in the wild, as we like to call it. In all the years we have had ours, we have seen perhaps 3, which will explain the excitement that was about to ensue. Pulled onto the ferry and walked up to the other Alto. It was Paul & Christine. I knew they were coming, but had forgotten they had a yellow one. Chatted a bit while the ferry crossed, then we were soon following them to the campsite.

On the ferry, notice the yellow Alto in front of us

Driving into the park, we soon spotted the first Alto, a 1743 in the new pale blue colour. In the first of 3 campgrond road loops, we spotted another group of Altos. Now the excitement is really starting to build. We have never been anywhere and had so many Altos in one place. In the next loop there was another couple, and then we turned into our loop. Paul & Christine had just finished backing in, and beside them was, another Alto. Across from them was an Alto, then another, and another, and finally, where we would be joining the line. Six Altos, all within about 30 yards.

We were greeted by Alissa & Richard, Mark & Linda, all of us excited to finally see each other, after so many Facebook conversations. Backed in, and we were soon starting the talking that would go on non-stop for the next two days. It was like chatting with friends you have known for years...it was all so comfortable. We talked and visited while getting our Alto all squared away. I could not get over just looking down our little road and seeing so many Altos. It was surreal.

our loop had six Altos!
We all headed over to Diana & Len's site for the meet and greet, and most were already there. It was great meeting everyone and immediately getting into some Alto conversations. Bart & Pete brought a keg of Pete's home brew, a lovely IPA that, after our long drive, went down very smooth. Everyone brought an appetizer to share, so there was no shortage of food. I think everyone was more interested in chatting than eating, although the beer and wine did not stop flowing. So exciting meeting people you have only seen as icons on a Facebook page. Lots of stories and experiences to share.

Diana welcoming us, and soon to give out the Safari Condo goodies.

Bart explaining how he made the replica Altos, detailed right down to the side marker lights. Fabulous!
Great shirt for the rally!

While we were posing for group pictures, a Park Ranger wandered onto the site. Unbeknownst to some of us, this is an alcohol-free campground, so those who knew this, quietly formed a wall in front of the beer keg, which itself was frozen into a big Gatorade drink container. He was clearly just wandering around, realizing that if grey hair was the norm, he would not be having any troubles from us. Diana handed out Safari Condo knapsacks to each couple that they sent up for the occasion which was a nice surprise and then Bart showed us what he made for all of us, small wooden replica Altos, painted to match, even with the side marker lights!  What a fabulous bit of handiwork. Simply blew everyone away. He even provide a little suction cup to affix it anywhere we liked on our Altos. The gathering slowly winded down with some last minute instructions for the tour the next day.

So it may have been a long days drive, but that was more that made up for by a fabulous evening with our new friends who we all share the same passion for our trailers.

As a group of us walked backed to our row, Andy and his wife, from Can-Am RV in London, rolled in, naturally pulling yet another Alto, a 1743. Quick chat, then they headed to their own site.


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