There has been no sign of the skunk as we leave our lovely lakeside site. The trains have been hooting all night and now we have to brave the level crossing. The lights are red as we approach and this time two engines are pulling no less than 177 carriages. Most of these are two containers on top of each other so that is some train. I do wonder what possessed me to decide I could cope with the 401 through Toronto in rush hour but cope we do. Part of this road has five lanes and it is the biggest road either of us has ever driven on but Chris is unfazed; I remain frankly terrified. I do hope I am not going to find I have turned into a total wimp as a passenger when I get home. I am not normally bothered by being driven on busy UK roads.
Once past the outskirts of Toronto we are in flat farmland again. We are heading further west and take a slight detour through Guelph, where the Chings of Bulkworthy went to live. I am beginning to wonder if Canadians don’t eat, or if we are missing something. Despite riding through towns there are no signs of any food shops, apart from numerous take-away outlets. Around Elmira, we are travelling through Mennonite country and signs warn us to look out for ponies and traps; we do spot some.
Today the sat-nav is clueless on the location of the site but yippee the map has it marked. We even managed to finally find a food shop in Goderich first; just as well as we are out of supplies. On this site, there is even a certain position where emails can be downloaded. This time our booked pitch, 207, is vacant but in order to connect to the electricity supply using the ridiculously short cable with which we have been provided, we are in danger of ending up in a ditch. Chris does some nifty manoeuvring and approaches the pitch from the opposite direction, which does mean that we are relatively flat and have electricity.
We go to explore the site and after 122 steps down, are on the banks of Lake Huron in what we have been told is the remnants of a hurricane. We don’t linger long and after a quick wander along Old Farms Trail it is back to the van to watch the birds from our window. We have had no news for over a fortnight so the world could be coming to an end for all we know. A chatty lady camper tells us the weather on Sunday will be ‘interesting’ – wonderful, something else to worry about.
We continue our journey from Goderich – another destination for north Devonian emigrants, this time the Penningtons. The street grid here is diagonal to our direction of travel, so we tack across minor streets, through open farm land, in seriously high winds. Many houses have pumpkins on their steps, or orange ribbon decorations, presumably ready for Thanksgiving. We also see chrysanthemums for sale in various places. Half our journey is on road 400 but this is not to be compared with the 401 in the scary stakes, although the buffeting of the vicious wind does add a terror factor. Much of this road, known as the Georgian Bay Coast Route, is cut through rock and people have built mini-cairns along the cliff tops. The road’s construction must have required a serious amount of blasting and we wonder why it wasn’t just built on the top but we have noticed that Canadians like their roads to be flat, so perhaps this is why. At least the rocky channel gives us some protection from the wind and the trees on top of the cliffs are really beginning to look quite special now, although we have been told it will be another week before the colours peak.
We arrive at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, another site found without aid of sat-nav and the only hazard here is that bears have been spotted in the locality, oh and the rattle snakes. I’d quite like to see a bear from the safety of the campervan; I have been practicing my introductions as advised (see day 3). I’d even settle for a moose. Wildlife tally so far: chipmunk, red, grey and black squirrels (that’s three different squirrels not a multi-coloured variety), squashed skunks and racoons and of course the ever present flies. Again we have difficulty parking close enough to the electricity point. Our first attempt was near enough but meant a branch was banging against the roof. In this wind, the novelty of this could very quickly wear off so we try again. Then a quick walk round the site to observe Grundy and Gurd Lakes but the wind is too cold to make this pleasant so back to the van. Today we passed the 5000km mark for our trip. There is a somewhat worrying water leak in the van that seems to be dangerously near the electrics but Chris claims to have fixed it.
Today’s predicted ‘interesting’ weather did not materialise, perhaps yesterday‘s was enough. We have got more rain as we set off further north on the 69 but this soon eases and we turn westward on the 17. This is similar scenery to yesterday’s and a pleasant drive. This will be as far north and west as we get under our own steam and the journey is purely so we can take a train ride up the Agawa canyon tomorrow. So many things can go wrong. This trip has already caused problems as pre-booking and in theory, pre-paying, is essential but for some reason, when trying to pay from the UK, neither Chris’ nor my cards would work. They very kindly agreed to hold our places and said we could pay in cash on arrival. The sat-nav recognises the train station and we are going via there on our way to the site (also miraculously recognised), to make sure that there will be somewhere to park tomorrow. I am fairly sure there will be as I checked this out on Google Earth and sure enough there is a huge car park. The only slight worry is that we have had to travel down streets where lorries are prohibited. I do realise we are not a lorry but all the other vehicles look much smaller than us and I am wary of another low-bridge incident.
We pay for our tickets and are all set for tomorrow. A very good job we booked in advance as tomorrow’s train is full. A quick trip to Wallmart to replenish Chris’ chocolate peanut supply and we are away. We find our site without difficulty; we are the only van on site and there is even internet – hurrah. We park up and I look for our train tickets. They are nowhere to be seen. I begin to panic. I turn the van upside-down. I know I put them in the glove compartment. They are not there. I search all the places they cannot possibly be – nothing. I send Chris back up to reception, a not inconsiderable walk away, in case I left them there – still nothing. I enlist his help in the search. He finds the tickets in the glove compartment. I am clearly no longer fit to be let out. Tomorrow Chris is to be in charge of the tickets.
I settle down to make use of the internet, which may be our last until Friday. Chris is cooking but passes the time investigating parts of the van that he had not yet fiddled with. A green light starts flashing. In order to find out what this means, I have to lie flat on the floor. It appears to be something to do with the carbon-monoxide detector. A flashing red light means call 911, two flashing red lights mean we are dead but no clue as to what a flashing green light means. We open a window in case. A minute or two later the light stops flashing and we assume we are safe. If this is the last blog post, we weren’t.