The Good, The Bad and The In-Laws

“The Good”… We were off for another weekend of camping and our latest journey took us to Pinery Provincial Park, in Grand Bend, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Huron.

“The Bad”… This trip started off much the same as the others… delayed. If you’ll recall, from my previous post, we had a bit of an issue with a pinched trailer electrical cable (ouch, I hate it when that happens) that needed to be repaired. Herein lies the problem (the bad).

We had mentioned the required repairs to our friendly trailer salesperson (Jim) who took it upon himself to have it repaired by “his guy” (apparently he’s got a guy for everything!). The problem was, his guy was extremely busy and unable to get to the repairs until the night before, the night before we were to leave. I happened to be at the trailer when Jim’s guy (Tim) arrived to repair the cable. Unfortunately, Tim did not drive a truck therefore we had no way of testing to see if the repairs actually worked. Though he did share his wisdom and said that if the running lights didn’t work, when we plugged it in, that we most-certainly we had blown a fuse in the truck. This very nearly sent The Goddess (aka Kathie, aka my wife) into a full-blown tizzy (aka as a conniption).

Those of you who know Kathie will already understand why. For those of you unfamiliar with my wife, she is a Project Manager by day but by night she becomes The Queen of Organization and Planning. Though this is not an official title, as titles go, but we have submitted our request to the powers-that-be, to have her be named as such. We await their decision.

As part of her role as Queen of Organization and Planning (QoP), Kathie painstakingly arranges all aspects of Our RV Journeys, from beginning to end, leaving no detail unplanned. This planning begins long before we leave. In fact, it pretty much begins when we arrive home from our last trip. So to have to wait for a couple of weeks to have the trailer cable repairs was driving her bonkers. And though she did her best to control her obsession, I could tell the delay was eating away at her (the 900 text messages may have given me a slight hint).

On the night before we were to leave, we drove up to the trailer to drop off our second kayak and some other items in preparation for the next day. While there, we plugged in the trailer to test the lights. Sure enough, all lights worked… except for the running lights, which meant we had in fact, blown a fuse in the truck. By the time we had unloaded the truck and headed for home, it was too late to stop anywhere to pick up a fuse.

The next day (Friday) was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I jumped into the Ford and began my quest to get a fuse. The first stop was a local car repair shop. The owner (another Steve) began systematically checking out the fuses and contactors and after 10 minutes, he had determined that it was in fact a blown fuse. And, as (our) luck would have it… he didn’t have that style of fuse. So into the Ford I jumped and off I drove to the local Ford dealership to get a fuse (grrr). The purchase of 2 fuses seemed like a wise thing to do as they were only $5 each, and we will most-certainly blow another fuse at some point. And when we do, we’ll be ready.

By the time I got home, Kathie had everything ready to load into the truck and we headed off to pick up the trailer and begin our next adventure. With fingers crossed, we connected the electrical to the trailer and, low and behold, the running lights worked! And so did all of the others… yeah!

The remainder of the connecting went smoothly and I do believe we have now got the hang of that portion of trailering. So down the road we went.

“The In-Laws”… We knew we had a long drive ahead of us. Toronto to Grand Bend is typically a 3-hour drive. Throw in a couple of pit stops (for both for us and Bear) and let’s call it closer to 4 hours. But this weekend was going to be a bit different than the others as we were bringing Kathie’s parents, Gloria & Allan, (aka as the “in-laws”) along for the ride. This meant a slight detour on the way, to Hamilton, to pick them up.

A side note… leading up to the weekend whenever I was asked where we were camping this time, and I told them Pinery Provincial Park, their response was, “Oh, I’ve heard that’s really nice”. But when I mentioned we were bringing the “in-laws”, everyone, and I do mean everyone, had the same response… “Oh, sorry to hear that. Well, have as good a time as you can.”

Now I do understand the stereotypical misconceptions about “in-laws”. Been there, had them, threw out the t-shirt long ago! But, luckily for me, mine are cool and I love spending time with them! Now I know what you’re thinking… “Steve, you’re just sucking up as you know they read your blog”. Nope… sorry to disappoint you! I really do like spending time with Gloria & Al!

Where was I? Oh I remember now… The drive. So what would normally would have been a leisurely 4 hour drive turned into 5½ hours. It was a little (actually a lot) cramped as I sat in the back seat of the truck with Al and Bear, who had decided he would sit up for the entire trip and lean his 120 lb. body against my leg. This forced me to sit in a position a guy is not anatomically built for! Boy was I glad for the pit stops!

I think everyone was relieved when we finally arrived at our campsite, which turned out to be very nice. I’m happy to report there was no requirement for hoards of people to assist me to get out of the brush this time around and positioning the trailer, though somewhat awkward, went much smoother than previous trips. No electrical cables were harmed during the parking of the trailer.

The sites were divided nicely with enough forest between each site that you did not feel like you were on top of your neighbours. And boy am I ever glad we purchased a 30-amp extension cord. All 30 feet were necessary to reach the electrical receptacle for our campsite.

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The set-up of the trailer went smoothly again, however it was somewhat longer than the previous set-ups as we had to install the steps I had built for Bear. Having just recently completed the building of the steps (patent pending), I had never actually tried installing them on the trailer. So the installation turned out to be trial under fire with Kathie, Gloria, Al and Bear, very patiently waiting for my creation to be installed.  A huge thank you to Al for his assistance during the installation. A second set of hands was not only necessary but greatly appreciated as well!

The Good, The Bad and The In-Laws

Allan and Steve installing the Bear Steps (Image courtesy of Gloria Shinn)

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Bear waiting patiently to try the steps. (Image courtesy of Gloria Shinn)

So with the steps installed, it was now time to see how Bear would react. He hesitated at first but then charged right up and into the trailer! If Kathie’s and my backs could have sighed, they most surely would have! Frequently lifting 120 pounds of dog in and out of the trailer, although necessary, was certainly not fun.

From that point on, everyone pitched in and we had the trailer set up, connected, the truck emptied, fridge and cupboards stocked and everyone was unpacked and ready for the weekend… and dinner.

Once again, we had another amazing weekend with wonderful weather. We first decided to take a drive to the dog beach. No, we were not being lazy by driving. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pinery, it is a huge park. We were staying in the southern part of the park whereas the dog beach was in the northern-most part of the park. The drive, which although done at a leisurely 30 km/hr. through the park, took us almost 20 minutes. Upon arrival, we strolled up over and down the boardwalk to the beach. And what a beach it was with dogs (and owners) as far as the eye could see.

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Kathie & Bear on the Boardwalk to the Dog Beach

Unfortunately a few years ago, Bear was attacked not once but twice by an off-leash German Sheppard, while we were walking through a nearby school yard. These attacks have left Bear very untrusting of other large dogs and he usually snarls, barks and lunges at each one he meets. That being said, Bear, for the most part, behaved fairly well and is becoming more comfortable being around other dogs with each trip we take and we spent an hour or so letting him play in the water.

The Good, The Bad and The In-Laws

Gloria waving to her subjects

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Allan & Gloria on the Dog Beach Boardwalk

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Allan sneaking through grasses

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Bear, Kathie, Allan & Steve (Image courtesy of Gloria Shinn)

After successfully wearing Bear out (playing in the water), and after we all rested, we decide to load the kayaks into the truck and drive to one of the (numerous) people beaches. And though it was later in the afternoon, it was still extremely warm. Gloria and Al set up chairs in the tiniest bit of shade while Kathie and I managed to find our way to a good spot on the beach and launched our kayaks. This was the first time we had been able to kayak together and we had an amazing time (though I can only speak for myself). The water was warm, the wind wasn’t too strong and we paddled together for about 40 minutes.

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Kathie & Steve kayaking on Lake Huron (Image courtesy of Gloria Shinn)

We came ashore and I switched spots with Gloria, who had been dying to try out a kayak. After an ever so brief “lesson”, off mother and daughter went paddling away on Lake Huron! Gloria was thrilled to be able to try kayaking for the first time in her life and, although her back was now sore, I really don’t think she cared too much, based on the smile on her face!

Everyone was having a wonderful weekend and were sad when it had to come to an end. We awoke on Sunday morning to find the park emptying fast. Checking the weather forecast on my phone soon shed some light as to why the mass departure was underway. It seems that overnight the forecast had changed from nice and sunny to showers with an increasing chance of a thunderstorm. It didn’t take us long to decide to pack up and leave ourselves.

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Pulling out of our campsite (Image courtesy of Gloria Shinn)

A huge thank you again to Gloria and Al for their help in packing things up, disconnecting the trailer and loading up the truck! We could have done it without you but it wouldn’t have been as much fun! We packed up in record time as the rain had already started, albeit it was a fairly light drizzle. On our way out of the park, Kathie decided that we’d take a slight detour and go into the town of Grand Bend for an old time’s sake tour.

On another side note… When Kathie and her sister Sandra (aka Sam) were much younger, Gloria and Al took them camping all over the place. One of their favorite spots to camp was Pinery Provincial Park, thus part of the reason behind having Gloria and Al come with us on this particular trip. And it wasn’t hard to tell being back there again brought back wonderful memories for all of them!

As we drove into Grand Bend, the sky cleared and the weather was pleasant again. We were unable to drive the trailer all the way down Main Street, though Kathie attempted to (my turn to have a conniption), we decided to stop first at a Tim Horton’s for coffee and tea then at an amazing family-run diner, called Best’s Restaurant & Homemade Ice Cream, for a late lunch. This turned out to be a great decision as the meals were fantastic and Bear was even allowed to sit on the patio along with us!

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Kathie & Steve outside Best’s Restaurant & Homemade Ice Cream

The drive back to Hamilton, though long and tiring, went without a hitch. As luck would have it, we never did run into any rain as we seemed to be following its track east as everywhere we stopped was still wet from the storm that had rolled through.

With Gloria and Al dropped off at home, Kathie turned the reigns of the driving over to me for the final Hamilton to Toronto stretch. By the time we finally arrived back at the yard, in which we store our trailer, it was about 10:30 pm and pitch black. We somehow managed to successfully back the trailer into our spot without a hitch and, though we were both exhausted, we both agreed it was a wonderfully memorable weekend and we’ll definitely be going back to Pinery Provincial Park!

Up next… 1000 Islands Ivy Lea KOA

Until next time… Enjoy the Ride!

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