We have one of our longest days driving today to re-trace our route south on the 17 and 69. We have managed not to duplicate our journey very much so far but there really was no sensible option for this bit. In any case the road looks very different in this direction and it is noticeable that the trees have reddened since we came the other way on Saturday and Sunday. Pulling off for petrol resulted in a very pretty detour round a back street. I finally managed to locate a post office so I could pay a small fortune to send back the corrected proofs of ‘Remember Then’ – this had better be worth it and mean we get a pre-Christmas publication date. Today’s best town by-line was ‘Echo Falls – worth repeating’ – who thinks these up?
In theory the sat-nav knew exactly where this site was. Theories are all very well and the last couple of miles were undertaken without her aid. Just as we began to look for a place to make a U-turn, the site appeared. This is one of several Ontario Provincial Parks sites that we have used and is better patronised than some. The receptionists always ask if they can reveal our pitch number to guests enquiring about us – sadly I don’t think we are likely to have any visitors! Today I was also asked, not just for the license plate number of the van but where it was registered. How on earth do I know? She writes down Toronto, later we discover that it tells you on the plate and I should have said Alberta, oh well, can’t be far apart!
We have a lakeside pitch again and just to make us feel at home the train line is nearby, so we have the joys of hooting trains once more. Next to us is another Canadream van – we have not encountered many – driven by a couple from the Isle of Wight. We make the obligatory tour of the site to view Oastler Lake, which is very attractive. Today marks the half-way point of our trip.
While we have our breakfast we watch a red squirrel unearth nuts in our pitch’s fire pit and retreat to eat them. Good job we hadn’t lit a fire. We did wonder if this squirrel likes his nuts roasted! With the view of the lake in the background, the only thing that mars this site are the ever present trains, which hoot long, loud and repeatedly all through the night.
A little more step retracing as we head back to Darlington Provincial Park for our last two nights. Some rain for the early part of the journey does not detract from the trees that are now truly beautiful. We are going through Kawartha Lakes, allegedly because it will be a new road for us and also because the Jewell and Prouse families emigrated there from Buckland Brewer and Clovelly. Actually this route is primarily in order to avoid the centre of Toronto. Today’s is a comparatively short drive. Not as short as it should have been owning to a road closure. A sign helpfully said ‘Detour’ but there was no clue as to where the alternative route might be. Some deviations, hesitations and a U-turn later and we are back on track. We end up with nice views of Lake Simcoe that we might otherwise not have had.
We have another lovely lakeside pitch at Darlington Provincial Park. Inevitably there are still trains but not quite so close as they were last night at Parry Sound. On this stop at this site we have time for a walk through the park to McLaughlin Bay; here the squirrels we spot are black. The first European setters arrived in Darlington Township, via Port Darlington near Bowmanville, in 1794. Roger Conant, John Burk and John W Trull had answered the appeal for United Empire Loyalists to settle in the area that is now the park.
Chris has a bit of an incident with the shower curtain rail – there now isn’t one. I hasten to add that this was inadequate construction techniques and not his aggressive shower curtain pulling. Tomorrow is likely to be a busy day so we start to see how much we can cram back in to our suitcases. This seems to go worryingly well – what cupboards have we forgotten to empty?