Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Return Of The Toads

A fine summer missed. Ho hum.

We're back now, though, so it's time to hitch up and head off into the sunset, Towed Haul trailing along behind us obediently. I say sunset but I really mean Rondeau Park, just half an hour away, but I'm sure they have sunsets there, too.

I'd spent all week preparing our pride and joy and it was in sultry conditions that we hitched her on the driveway, all the while keeping an eye on those big black clouds lurking above us. It was good to get the trailer level again and even better to see the running lights come on. Best of all was to hear the wheels lock up as I brake tested her coming off the drive. Bliss.

First stop at Rondeau (apart from the gate, obviously) was Poo Corner, also known as the Dump Station. Because I'd re-sanitized (is that a word?) the water system, I had half full sewage tanks which needed purging before seeing some action. We also needed fresh water; no need to drag 50 gallons of water from home, eh?

Our site for the weekend wasn't very deep and we needed to back on to it at an angle. Despite discussing our backing up policy (available on the Internet at http.......) I still managed to get all all the angles wrong - lack of practice, see. As we were just about in the right position and the Toadmobile was blocking the loop road, a big truck towing a small trailer hoved into view; no pressure then! Then it started to rain; big fat rain, and lots of it. Curses! Still, we placed some levelling blocks under the wheels, chocked the beast then unhitched her from the Toadmobile, all briskly and efficiently without letting matey in his truck upset us. Out came the awnings (please note that they were deployed after the rain had started, possibly in an attempt to get it to stop?) and we continued to pitch camp, only releasing the hound and the Tadpoles from the car when we were good and ready. Naturally the rain stopped once we'd completed the out of doors work but hey ho, that's what camping's all about.

Home on the range

In a masterly stroke of planning, we'd decided on pizza from a local take away emporium for our evening meal so once settled, all we had to do was drift on over to Ridgetown to pick the blighters up, or take them away, as it would be more properly described. They were good pizzas from Godfather's but a tad pricey; the consequence, I suppose, of being only one of two pizza places for miles around. Ho hum again.

Friday night is Film Night (it might be Movie Night but I like the alliterative possibilities of  the words 'Film' and 'Friday') and we watched When Harry Met Sally accompanied by some nice cool drinks. The hound joined us on the Banquette and we had a jolly mellow evening. I don't think I'd ever seen that movie before, despite its age and popularity, but I had seen enough clips of it to have caught at least 50% of it before. Still, it was just right for a Friday evening in the camper and the Tadpoles were suitably embarrassed by the "Orgasm" scene, so that was good.

And so to bed, just as the rain started again. Of course being in a nice cosy caravan means that rain is unimportant, apart from the noise it makes, but this evening the stuff came down with a vengeance. I had a flashback to our first ever trip to Rondeau when it rained so much in the night that I had visions of Towed Haul floating away; well, it wasn't dissimilar. Pity the poor devils their tents on the other side of the campground.

Saturday dawned to a damp but bright day and as ever, I was up early. I decided to walk the hound through the camping loops and spy on my neighbours and their camping tackle, if you'll excuse the expression. North Americans do like a bit of fire and flesh and the smell of wood smoke and cooking bacon was all pervasive and making me quite hungry. There were no other Airstreams that I could see but there was a minivan being used to tow a reasonably sized caravan so that pleased me.

Breakfast was taken at midday, quite normal for the Toads, after I'd had a lovely warm shower in the bath house and the Tadpoles had endured a cold shower as the water heating system had gone screwy in between times. Snigger. The day was turning out nice, to paraphrase one Mr George Formby (don't you just love his lean, mean, grilling machines?), so we loaded the hound into the car and drove out to the dog beach. We've noticed before that at times of great excitement the horrible hound pees a lot and today was a three pee event as she went loopy on the sand. You're not supposed to let them off the leash but we were the only ones there and she's so wimpy that's she won't run off, so we let her charge about, untethered. Her tail betrayed her delight. Sadly we had to leave the beach as the sand flies were so much in evidence and the poor dog was covered in them, getting quite distraught as they do tend to nip a bit. 

Back at the mobile ranch (via the convenience store just outside the park's gates to stock up on ice cream and chocolate), we decided to get the fire going for the culinary delight that was to be supper. It's a good job we started early because our firewood was the slowest burning wood in the universe and it took an age to get some heat into it. I've been schooling the large Tadpole on how to make fires, our mantra being "Only One Match Allowed". Well, he did a pretty good job, even if it was all off to one side and he put too much wood on too early. Next trip we'll try without the matches, using a handy-dandy little spark making gadget we were given. No, it's not a lighter!

Supper was diced pork, cooked in a foil tray over the fire, chopped mushrooms also in a tray, and a melange of peppers, mushrooms and onions done in a third tray. Sadly that left no room for my tin of diced tomatoes but, being a resourceful soul I stood the tin in the fire pit and with deft use of toasting fork, kept it stirred. I have to say, although the pork was quite expensive, it made a really nice meal with the addition of some rice; that's one for the camping cook book I think.

Saturday night wasn't movie night so Mrs T and the Tadpoles played cards whilst I read the English newspapers on line, using my phone as a hot spot. Goodness knows how much my friends at Bell will gouge me for that but it was a peaceful hour or two. We went to bed with all the windows open but hadn't realised that the temperature had gone from balmy to not balmy at all in the space of a few hours, so I woke up on Sunday morning a little chilled. The hound and I went for another exploratory walk before anyone else was up and frankly we both regretted not wrapping up a bit because being not balmy, it was flippin' cold!

The weekend's rain had meant that the trailer was a tad muddy inside, what with dogs and errant tadpoles to deal with, so when we started to pack up we didn't really do a lot of tidying other than to put breakable things away. It may be slovenly but it's hard to get excited about a spruce trailer when people keep dragging mud in all over the place - oh the trials and tribulations, eh?

Hitched and ready to roll, I fitted but forgot to tighten one of the sway control bars on the hitch, No harm done but I thought the old girl was twitching about a bit whilst under way. And the trailer was, too. We were out done in the senior moments department, though, by the honking great 5th wheeler that was about to depart Poo Corner with it's door open and steps down. Mrs T saved the day with a warning call and it made my slack sway bars seem a bit tame.

So that was it; only the third trip of the year, but one completed successfully. If truth be told, it might have been a bit more comfortable without the Tadpoles but, and this is a real bummer, they're still a bit too young to leave at home on their own all weekend. Pffft.

So, Toad Fans, next week is a camping weekend as well so you'll not have to wait too long for the next gripping installment of Toad Life. Pleased? I know I am! Gribbit.