2016 Trip 9: Rollins...always great!

Rollins Pond S.P. - Aug 2016

Off to Rollins for a week vacation, the second part of splitting our two weeks of vacation this summer. We tried something a little different on this Rollins trip, as we usually head down Friday morning, and use it as our travel day. Throw in the stops we make for a little shopping in Ogdensburg and then groceries in Tupper Lake, and the Friday is pretty much shot by the time we make it to the park. Dale dropped an idea a few days before we left about heading down earlier after work on Thursday instead, and here comes the change, stay overnight in the Ogdensburg Walmart parking lot. That is generally our first stop anyways, so why not camp there? Shop in the evening, then hit the road in the morning?  It made perfect sense, so that's exactly what we did.

one could almost call this quaint...

Made it to Ogdensburg by 6:00pm, once again surviving that crazy ass drive over the Seaway bridge. I just hate that bridge! My issue with it is the open grate decking, instead of the usual asphalt. The steel grating catches the treads of your tires, causing the whole car to oscilate back and forth constantly as you drive along it. It is a most unnerving feeling...images of losing control and hurtling over the side play an endless loop in my head. It is a white knuckle little journey. In reality, it is all fine, but that weird movement just keeps pushing on my fear button.

At the Walmart there were already a couple of semi's parked in the far corner of their lot, so we pulled alongside a nice traffic island, home to a couple of little trees, and a very tall set of streetlights.

I walked into the store to talk to the customer service desk to make sure it was OK for us to stay overnight, and they were more than happy to accommodate. From what we have read, this is always recommendeded to do. Talk to the store first, before assuming they are fine with it. Some Walmarts do not allow overnight parking, but the majority do. Sure beats a knock on the door from store security at 3:00 in the morning.

We got Barley settled into the Alto, then headed over to do a little shopping. All this had an odd kind of feel to it, knowing we had no time limitation to wander the store, and of course we were able to find a few items to bring home with us.  We probably bought more than we normally would have, so Walmart got our camping fee...in a round about way.  It was well after dark when we made the trek across the lot back to the Alto. It all seemed quite fine, our little rig just sitting there, dwarfed by the two big semi's. We were not really that close to them, and we were glad they were not running their engines.  Lots of light in the lot, which is great, but we did pull the curtains to darken it down for sleeping. Beyond a little extra road noise, ensconced in our curtained camper, we could have been anywhere.

Bit of a restless night...but overall, it is not that big a deal with parking in a Walmart, or a casino, or any of those other similar spots. It meets a need, serves a purpose, and it was quite civilized. Not to say that you let your guard down. If your spidey senses start to tingle, listen to them and move on. Early morning some shoppers arrived and to our pleasant surprise two Amish carriages pulled up and parked along the treed side of the lot.

Across the street we did our groceries at a very nice Price Choppers store and then hit the road.

One thing we always notice when we are shopping in the States...the customer service is excellent. Everyone is very helpful, eager to do a good job, and just plain friendly. And this attitude seems to be across all the age groups. To us, it is a nice change, and something we notice every time. We find it on the whole a far nicer experience than back home, where the customer is number two...after the smartphone.

Rolled into the park at 1:00, the check-in time.  The campground is pretty full, and there are lots of people out on the water in canoes and kayaks. Chilled the rest of the afternoon, a simple bite to eat, a little reading, then we called it a day.

the sun was pretty hot, so up went the awning

tough way to start the vacation

Woke up to a sunny day and we wanted to get Barley out for some fresh air, so on went the harness, the door was opened, and he wandered out to check the scene. After a bit he jumped into his own chair and settled in...the three of us, happy and relaxed as clams.

This did not last long though. We were sipping our coffee, Barley was half alert to the sounds around him, when a bold little chipmunk appeared out of nowhere on the step. He stopped for a moment, seemingly deciding upon whether or not to scoot inside, when Barley made that decision for him. Next thing you know, Barley is off the chair and in hot pursuit, followed at a considerably slower speed by me. I lost sight of the chipmunk, but Barley made the turn by the bathroom towards the back of the camper. At this point, I am in the camper, Barley is at the front of the bench area, and the little chipmunk has just made a lightning fast U turn and is heading back our way. He somehow zoomed right by Barley, past me and back out the door. As Barley gave chase and flew by me, I made a grab for him and snagged his harness.  All this was super quick and has never happened to us or Barley before, and that chipmunk left with a great story to tell. Heaven forbid what would have transpired if Barley had been able to catch him.

We decided Barley needed to calm down inside, so it was a good time for us to head out for a paddle. The weather was perfect, sunny with nice clouds drifting by, which provided a little break from the rays. Lots of people out on the water, so we headed around the bay. The water was super flat, like glass and finished off our paddle with a long float in the water. Simply a perfect afternoon. We enjoyed a refreshing beer, sitting on the beach and soaking up the sun. Another plunge in the water cooled us off and it was by now time to crank up the Q.

our little bay

A G&T got us started on getting dinner together. Simple burgers and a side made for a perfect lazy day dinner. The sun started to fall lower towards the far tree line, so we hopped into the kayaks and paddled out to get some on the water sunset pics. It was amazing. A stillness had fallen over our little bay, people appeared on the beach, all of us with the same goal of enjoying the sunset in our own little way. We floated motionless for a long time, a few pictures were taken, then we eased on back home.

A bit of rain overnight, but nothing significant. Weather looked spotty, and the forecast bore this out. There was a nice breeze coming off the water, and this helped keep the pesky little flies away. Dale did a power walk this morning and discovered a 1743 owned by a couple from Quebec. She chatted a bit then continued with her walk. While she was walking, I was making up a few more awning guy lines, so we can add a couple to the end poles for more support. This is a little tip from Malcolm, and I am finally getting around to making them up.

we clip these little lights onto each guy line. they identify the line and cast a nice glow on the site at night

Our neighbour came over for a visit and a quick tour. We had a nice chat, they are in a tent trailer, and like us not far from retirement when they hope to do a lot more camping and travelling as well. Being Sunday, there are a lot of folks pulling out this morning, making room for the next lot of campers. Drove into the camp store at the head of the lake, as Dale was desperate for some new reading material. Although it is a well outfitted store, reading material is clearly not high on their merchandising mix.

It was bit cool and windy in the afternoon, so we chickened out on taking a swim. Dinner time came and went, the wind came up, so we sorted a few things outside then headed in for the evening.

Woke up to see that the park has emptied quite a bit, which we do find kind of odd, based on how difficult it is to get a reservation here. Seemed every time I checked, the system showed all the sites full...so where to hell are these people? Makes you wonder about the whole reservation thing...it's such a game.

Power walk this morning, then we scooted into Tupper Lake to pick up a few things, most importantly, something, anything, for Dale to read. When we got back the sun was out full, so we sat on the beach for a long time reading, then into the water for a good long float. Chatted to a few folks that wandered by, then dried off in the warm sunlight.

Dinner this evening was chicken thighs with a side salad of arugula, quinoa, tomatoes and feta. This has been our go to salad this summer. It is very tasty. Nothing spectacular about tonight's sunset, and we are not really campfire people, preferring the cozy inside comfort of the Alto.

Woke this morning to a heavy fog. Went down to the beach and the fog was very thick, moving across the surface of the water like low billowy clouds. It was chilly last night, down to the low 50's, and we were thankful we pulled out the duvet.

Barley slept in...all tucked in and cozy

Power walk, then a nice long kayak. We went all around the bay to the east, stopping at a big rock island to chill a bit.

railway lines are pretty photogenic subjects

interesting how it all goes together. the bar with the hooks are placed every 5 feet or so and this helps keep the rails from spreading apart

Headed back to our site, then right in for a swim and another good float. It was off and on sun, but the water was still quite warm. We grabbed our books, sipped a couple of G & T's by the shore, and ate up a few more pages.

I am a hundred pages into another Steven King. This one is called Doctor Sleep, the long awaited sequel to The Shining. Hard to believe that forty years have gone by since King unleashed that book upon us...and I'm sure that is just how it felt to most of us. That was my first King, and I was not many pages into it before I was saying to myself "Who is this guy"? The book was riveting, let alone able to scare the shit out of me. I was immediately hooked on his style of writing, the casual sort of way he is able set up the characters and the scenes, you become comfortable, the words flow along, then one sentence jumps off the page and wraps itself in a death grip around your throat. Where to hell did that come from?  I've read pretty much everything he has written, although I never did take a shining:) to the Dark Tower series. So far, this sequel has not disappointed...and I'll leave it at that for all you King fans out there.

Our little stretch of the park has been quiet, but late in the afternoon a family arrived a few sites up from us, then a couple from Vermont pulled in right beside us. Still, it is unusually quiet. We were tempted by an evening paddle, until we heard the bells of the ice cream truck doing its rounds. We had missed it the past few nights, so tonight we were standing in wait at the roadside. A couple of sea salted caramel cones, enjoyed while watching the last remnants of a lacklustre sunset, made for a yummy desert.

Rained overnight, and at times, it sure seemed heavy. Still going in the morning, and we hoped it would let up a bit as we planned to scoot into Lake Placid for a look around. We have a miniature ravine running through out site, and it a steady flow of water from the road all the way to the lake. Thankfully the rain subsided so we hopped in the car and pulled out. Placid is only about 25 minutes from here, and it makes a great day trip for wandering the main street.

We were lucky that the rain stopped which made strolling that much nicer. Had a great chat with a couple of guys in a sports store, they had spied my Habs ball cap and we just started talking hockey. Naturally, an opinion exchange on the 'Subban' trade was the first topic covered, it was evident that these guys were definitely long time fans. As my brother says, a Habs ball cap is sure to start a conversation most anywhere...true enough indeed.

Headed back in the afternoon, and we tidied up the site a bit after the rain. Barley was happy to see us, and not wanting to go to too much effort for dinner this evening, we picked up a nice corn chowder soup and a side at the grocery store, simple and easy. Still a lot of clouds rolling through, so not much of a sunset this evening. I continued into my book, while Dale started on a new Bill Bryson, one of her fave authors.

Definitely cooler the past few nights, and the morning is again heavy with fog. Although the fog cleared, the clouds remained. It was a cloudy with sunny periods sort of day. Power walk, serious reading, and a good paddle pretty much made up the day. Much cooler today, but we did get in for a bit of a swim.

serious construction at Rollins this summer...

I'll grow wherever the hell I want to

someone must have heard this when it fell

this site had plenty of fire pit options

Fajitas for dinner, which is actually easier than it sounds. We used a small skirt steak, marinated all day in a chipotle BBQ sauce, some sauteed red peppers and onions, rolled into a flour tortilla with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. A tasty and finger licking good meal.

Landshark...beer of the week

The wood truck was making the rounds so we got a bunch and made ourselves a nice fire. It has been cooling down after sunset now, and the fire helped take the chill off. Burned most all of our wood, although our little fire was rather tame compared to some of our neighbours, who had quite the blazes going.

Overcast in the morning, and chilly. Today was to be our last full day here, as the plan is to leave very early Saturday morning to arrive home in time to attend a wedding in the afternoon. By the time we were sipping our morning coffee, under the overcast skies, we decided to pack up slowly and head home in the afternoon. It's certainly not going to be swimming or kayaking weather, and it will also be much more relaxed tomorrow while getting ready for the wedding.

We slowly packed away our gear, loaded the kayaks and eventually hitched up. Pulled out around 2:00 and we had a smooth drive home...well, other than that damn bridge of course! It was a nice week, weather cooperated most of the time, got in a lot of paddling and floating in the lake, a trip into Lake Placid, and some nice chats with our campsite neighbours.


  1. What an awesome blog you have Jim! Looks like you and Dale had a great summer.

    1. It was a great camping summer, but sadly, it is fast coming to a close. Time too start planning next year!