We managed to un pop for the first time only 1 hour behind which in Lewis time is ON TIME in fact I was so relaxed I only slipped into Lloyd (my super type A dad) time near the very very end and I managed to hold in almost all the stress – until Sabine decided she needed the window open as we drove through manure town. After we finally managed to get the window up she pipes up – it smells like poop. The real downside of Goderich/Albertville/Huron is the surprise manure air. That makes it almost unbearable to be outside.
I spend the drive contemplating TRAILER life which is nothing like one imagines while scrolling though insta or if one happens to follow any van lifers on YouTube. The parks are packed cheek to jowl like tenement housing, the people are affable and friendly and do not reflect any of the diversity of Toronto, nor any of the brusque busyness. It feels like small towns on the prairies in the late 70s and early 80s of my youth. Only the names are different – Mason’s and Maddie’s as opposed to Mike’s and Jen’s. There are campfires, lots of dogs and beers, sitting around shooting the shit and general lounging.
Only after arriving at tent and trailer park number 2 on Musselman lake do I realize how private and green our spot on Huron was. This park is like a retirement resort with grey hairs in golf carts swooshing along it’s paved lanes to play shuffleboard. The volleyball sand court and tennis court remaining desolate. The hot tub jam packed with people and their individual floating drink holders (strick no kids rule) and the, I’m not joking here, eight horseshoe toss pits ready for the tournament.
These families and retirees have real trailer game, big rigs, small hard shells, stationary “cottages” with actual build up decks, potted plants, wee little sheds and address plaques that announce The Walden’s or, my favourite, a rock painted with Ela & Elo’s. Every trailer has an outdoor rug and an extra table just outside the door with a coffee maker and don’t get me started on the knick knacks and bric a brac. They have padded camp chairs. For all the promise of adventure and exploring a trailer holds there doesn’t seem to be a lot of get up and go.
Musselman is a great little lake and we pull into our drive through spot ( TOTAL luxury to not have to back in) and don’t even bother to pop up because we want to hit the lake and meet up with Chris’s cousin and – we got this – we can pop up now. We spend the evening with Christina and Dave – celebrating his daughter’s birthday, eating giant shrimp, tenderloin, gazpacho and what might have been the most delicious garlic bread ever. Then Anderson and Sabine get to go out fishing and we get ferried back to our beach as the sun is setting. Yes you heard that right we are SO confident we don’t even roll up to open the trailer until after dark. Maybe the strong manure smell we drove through erased our memories of the hour and a half set up the first night. Needless to say we had placed the camper door in the wrong location and things got threaded around things and we couldn’t pop up until we figured it out which would have been a LOT easier NOT IN THE DARK with our head lamps tucked away safely in the camper. We managed to stay calm and work it out without any tense or sarcastic words and we were all snuggled in by 11:00. By snuggled in I mean the kids with their duvets, sleep sacks, stuffies and pillows and Chris and I lying on bath towels with me in Sabine’s sparkle mermaid tail blanket/bag and Chris under Sabine’s giant and hideous Paw Patrol blanket that I brought with us so we could “lose” it.
We had to pack up by 8:30am so Chris could take Ole Smokey into the dealership for some more work. The kids and I were left in retirement town to eat a giant country breakfast, play shuffleboard and swim the day away all the while lugging around a giant swim bag and soft pack cooler and stroller. I don’t think I’m making a wild assumption that the seasoned campers were laughing pretty hard as we rolled by. The good news is the work got done and we managed to hit the road by 6pm.