Saturday, 16 November 2013

That Was The Season That Was

Heading East - At an Upstate New York Service Area in August, on our way to Massachusetts

With Towed Haul safely in hibernation, it's time to review the season's activities; our highs and our lows, and to publish some statistics. Hooray for statistics!

This year we travelled 4,917 Kms (2,950 Miles) with our beloved Airstream in tow. 

We spent a total of 31 nights in her spread across 7 trips and visited 9 different campgrounds, some of them more than once. 

We sort of lost September from the calendar as we had visitors and I had some minor surgery, and we were a little light on trips in the early part of the season because of the renovations. Still, a month on board isn't too bad. 

I haven't kept records of how much fuel we've burned as that would be just too scary, although I can tell you, though, that we averaged 18.77 litres per 100 Kms, which is 12.62 miles to the US gallon or 15.16 miles to the Imperial gallon. That stacks up quite well when compared to other tow vehicles as 12 mpg (US) seems to be the norm regardless of what vehicle is being used to tow.

We created a couple of records this year, too, as we camped at our most easterly extreme in Middleboro, Massachusetts and our most Northerly point in Quebec City. 

I suspect that our site at Lake Glimmerglass in New York state was our highest ever, but I've not been counting that, and we drove through Franconia Notch in New Hampshire attaining an elevation of 590 metres (1,950 feet), which is probably also a record for us.

The road through Franconia Notch in New Hampshire
We visited some interesting places on the long trip in August including Cooperstown in Upstate New York (home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame), Provincetown on Cape Cod (a vibrant and very gay-friendly town), Boston (Cheers!), Salem (of Witch Trials fame), Quebec City (Ooh la la) and Ottawa (The Nation's Capital).

Cooperstown, New York

Provincetown, Cape Cod


Salem, Massachusetts

Quebec City

Ottawa (actually Gatineau, but from Ottawa)

We also managed to get some great photographs whilst on our travels, not least of the Ospreys of the Kawartha Lakes in Ontario, and the Atlantic whales off the coast of Boston.

Ospreys in Orillia

Humpback Whale off Boston

This year's campgrounds included Rondeau, Wheatley, Point Farms, Mara and Emily Provincial Parks in Ontario.

Further afield, we went to Lake Glimmerglass State Park in the US and some commercial Kampground of America (KOA) sites in Middleboro (Massachusetts), Quebec City (Quebec) and Ivy Lea (Ontario). The commercial sites had the full service set up with sewer and water connections to supplement the usual electricity, but they were considerably more expensive than the single service sites. Still, the KOAs are family friendly and there was much to occupy the tadpoles.

KOA Middleboro

KOA Ivy Lea

The weather has been quite kind to us this year and I can only recall a few rainy days; one in Middleboro, three in Quebec City and one at Rondeau (it wouldn't be Rondeau without some rain). 

A lot of running on the long trip was done with a stiff wind behind us as we were travelling west to east. However, on the run between Quebec City and Montreal we were going east to west and heading right into the wind and the gas consumption figures suffered accordingly.

We did one set up in the dark, at Lake Glimmerglass, thanks to my underestimating the THREE hour wait to cross into the US at Niagara. I'm still smarting about that, especially as the US border people weren't being particularly difficult that day. No, the long lines were caused by the hordes of Canadians heading south on that long weekend; next time I shall check the calendar!

We had a couple of 400 mile or more daily journeys, which is pushing it a bit when fully laden. We also had a couple of really nice shorter runs this year, including a lovely back roads trip between Peterborough and Toronto, which turned out to be rather hillier that I thought it would be, but really enjoyable all the same.

We met some interesting people, too, including a German family who lived in London, England and were holidaying in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There was a friendly Dutch family who hired a motorhome to travel around the US Eastern seaboard but didn't really know how to operate said motorhome, and there was Danger Man who spent quite some time pointing out the error of our ways using our Toyota to tow the Airstream. 

We also met a middle-aged English couple who were on the final leg of a coast-to-coast tour of the US and Canada on motorcycles; not rented bikes, though, they were using machines that they'd shipped from the UK to Halifax, Nova Scotia; the UK licence plates really stood out.

I think the low point of the season was driving around the Isle D'Orleans in Quebec looking for an ATM, in the mankiest weather we had all year. It's a beautiful island in the St. Lawrence River that has huge significance for the Francophone people of North America and for the History of Canada. It wasn't looking at its best, though, in low cloud and spitting rain on that dour August day. Mind you, the biting bugs of Orillia were notable for their ability to irritate, which was a low point as well.

The high point was probably whale watching off Boston; the weather was good and the whales were very generous in giving their time for us tourists, of which there many so far off the coast. The naturalist on board the boat did say that they try not to inundate the whales' feeding grounds with trip boats, and the whales seemed most obliging, so I shall work on the assumption that our tourist activities weren't doing any harm.

Towed Haul is now in hibernation, ready for the cold and snow of winter. It would be better if she was stored indoors but leaving her at the dealer's facility works for us because they put her to bed properly and get her up again when required.

As ever, we will spend the winter planning what we're going to be doing next summer. There is a possible trip to the UK on the radar for 2014, without the Airstream of course, and that will limit our travels somewhat, but we will get out to the local campgrounds if nothing else.

I will sign off, then, and head over to the AirForums discussion pages on the Internet and wind a few people up about towing.....

A quick reminder of why we store the Airstream over the winter - this is March 2013.