I was off on my first long distance vacation in the Westy. I had tried to make sure I had packed everything I needed and that the Westy was in good mechanical shape.
I headed out late – after lunch, with no real itinerary, just knowing I was heading east. No GPS, no maps (at least for today). I headed south on Ontario Highway 404 out of Newmarket and east on the 407. I was excited that the extension to the 407 had just opened today, which was a by-pass to the busy Toronto traffic of the 401.
As I was on the new part of the 407, approaching the new 412, the bus started to lose power. I pulled over to the shoulder, thinking to myself – “Well THAT was a short vacation.”
I got out and opened the engine lid and checked to see if a vacuum hose had come off, but everything looked good.
I pulled back onto the highway and after about 200 yards, the bus started to lose power again. I pulled over again and stopped.
I then thought to myself – “I think I might have run out of gas.” I knew the gas gauge was not working and had been keeping track of when I last filled it, but in the excitement of leaving for vacation, it had slipped my mind.
I pulled my Moleskine notebook out and checked to see that I had gone 256 miles since my last fillup.
Luckily, I always remember the motto of the first school I attended in Edinburgh, Scotland (Daniel Stewart’s College), which was “Never Unprepared.”
I had brought along a jerry can of gas, strapped to the roof rack with bungee cords.
A quick pit-stop, and I was on my way. Problem #1 – solved!
I got down to the 401 pretty quickly, but realized that the gas would not take me too far, so decided to get off the highway in Oshawa to fill up.
The exit I picked was not the best one – I ended up down by the GM Assembly Plant near Lake Ontario, with no gas stations in sight, so ended up doing a circuitous route through a suburban neighborhood before finally finding a gas station.
I filled up, then got back on the 401 for a while. It had been my intention to stick to the “Blue Highways” – the two-lane roads as much as possible, but I needed to put some miles behind me, so stayed on the 401 (Freeway) until Port Hope, where I went off to use Highway 2 – the old Toronto-Montreal road.
I stopped for groceries in Port Hope and bought myself the requisite Hula Girl for the dash!
The trip along Highway 2 was relaxing – sun shining, wind in my face, and a nice drive parallel to the shore of Lake Ontario.
I passed by the Bay of Quinte Golf & Country Club – the location of my cousin David’s wedding many years ago, and thought how I had not been on this road since then. We all have tended to abandon those old roads for the speed of freeways, missing out on both the relaxation of the two-lane drive and the finds along the way. My preference is the two-lanes in the rural areas, in the built-up areas, they can be less satisfying with traffic lights and changing gears with a clutch that tends to get a bit temperamental when it warms up, and finding 1st and sometimes 2nd can be a bit of an effort.
At Belleville, had I been using a map, I might of headed into Prince Edward County to find a place to camp for the night – it is beautiful there, but I kept pushing on, wanting to make my first day a productive one, still not in the mindset to relax and enjoy the journey, but still thinking about the destination.
Not long after Belleville, I got back on the 401. Storm clouds were clearly brewing to the north and heading closer. It was a typical Ontario late afternoon summer thunderstorm caused by the humidity. Those kinds of thunderstorms can get nasty and as it turned out, there were severe weather warnings and in some places tornado watches.
Time to find a place to stay.
I was familiar with the KOA in Kingston, having stayed there before, so headed there.
I arrived just after the office had closed, but the guy was still there, and opened it for me, giving me a nice RV spot for the price of a regular campsite.
I just pulled into the site when the storm hit. It was a good thunderstorm, with high winds and rain, so I did not pop up the top. The good thing about VW campers is that you can just park and that’s it. You don’t even have to get out in the rain.
I opened the jalousies as much as I could, but it was hot and humid, so I turned on my inverter and put on my vintage fan.
The fan was awesome – a great idea – it really kept me cool.
I slept on the bottom bed, which was not bad. I woke up in the middle of the night when a blinding light hit my eyes through a gap in the curtains.
Believe it or not, it was a full moon, which had just moved into the perfect place to wake me up.
All in all, I thought, not a bad 1st day. The rain had stopped and the forecast for tomorrow was warm and sunny.