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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

How many more September’s?

Day ? Who knows? Our nomadic lifestyle is making us forget what day it is. Let’s just say its September!

A wise mentor of mine once said to me that September was the best time to travel. The kids are back to school, the weather is great and everyone is back to work…except for retired folks who have the time and resources to travel.

Yesterday I was texting with another girlfriend of mine and trying to make plans for 4 couples to get together next September in Nova Scotia with a motor home, travel trailer and 5th wheel to visit with friends who live there. She wisely said to me ‘15’ more Septembers until the “NO GO” years, and when you think about it she is right. We’re living our best lives now, while we’re healthy, mobile and have the ability to get going. Our ‘Go go’ years as we like to call them.

Speaking of going, our adventures with George have been fantastic so far. We had a fabulous time north of Ottawa in L’ange Gardien at a little campground called ‘Camping L’ange Gardien’. We were only 12 minutes from Buckingham where Richard’s family hails from.

Our lot #37 at Camping L’ainge Gardien. Our lot was huge and we were able to park 3 cars along the front of our lot when family visited. We had Richard’s brother Normand, and his wife Jo, Richard’s sister Karen and her husband Eric, mom, Shirley and her friend Wilbert, Uncle Billy and Aunt Thelma, Cousin Janet and Uncle John all stop by over the long weekend for a chat, a meal or a drink. It sure was a busy time seeing family and everyone was very curious to come and see George too which meant we didn’t have to travel too far to see everyone!

We bought this little screen tent for dining at Canadian Tire on sale a few weeks ago thinking it would be great for summer camping to keep the flies wasps and mosquitoes away while we were dining ’al fresco’, and sure enough this easy pop up tent was an amazing addition to our camping gear!

We made time for a round of golf at The Heritage Golf Club while we were in Quebec. The golf course is a real fun course to play with lots of blind shots, dog legs and crazy elevation changes.

The Heritage Golf Club, Nortre-Dame-de-la-Paix, Quebec.

After such a fun weekend in Quebec, it was time for us to get back on the road with George. We packed up fairly quickly and were ready to roll around 10:15am yesterday morning, when we got stuck waiting on the one lane exit for two 5th wheels who were trying to get out in front of us, which were blocking the road. After about a 10 minute wait for them to clear out, we got back on Highway 50 towards Ottawa.

While we were driving on the 416 South out of Ottawa, I checked both the border crossing at Gananoque as well as Prescott and the Prescott border crossing had no lineup, so we decided to cross in Prescott on our way back to the U.S. instead of going further down Highway 401 to Gananoque. We also thought we could find a nice spot to stop for lunch on the St. Lawrence River, in Ogdensberg, New York where we could get a bite to eat in George, since it is not fun travelling while we’re hungry and why eat ‘fast food’, when we have a wonderful fridge full of food in George!

Stopping for lunch by the St. Lawrence River in Ogdensberg, New York with the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge in the background.

After a quick lunch of sandwich meat, pita breads and Trader Joes arugula salad kit, we decided to stop at Aldi’s in Ogdensberg to pick up a few groceries we needed before heading to our last campground of the trip.

With all of the camping we did with Newman when we had him, all over the USA, we never once stayed in a State Park! So we were finally about to stay in a State Park for two nights to see what the state parks were all about!

We were not able to check into the State Park until 3pm, so our timing of arriving at 3:30pm was perfect! Or was it?

We pulled up to the gate at Southwick Beach State Park and they asked us to pull over with George, come to the front of the check in station, and register. When the staff registered me and told me our site number I realized we only had a hydro hook up and no sewage or water hook ups. I asked if there was another site we could stay at for 2 nights which would give us full hook ups. We were told that we could get a full hook up site for only one night at this point unless someone cancelled or ‘no showed’, so the staff member looking after us transferred our reservation to the full hook up site and we would have to check in the morning if someone had cancelled. We were not really happy that we might have to move sites after getting unhooked from the Sante Fe, but really what choice did we have?

Just as we were about to leave for our camp site I noticed that I had been charged for two nights, even though we only had one night in a fully serviced site. Since we had been standing at the front of the entrance building for 30 minutes by this time, the staff member trying to figure out how to do a one night refund said she would call me in a few minutes once they figured it out.

We got back in the Sante Fe and headed towards the fully serviced campsite only to get a phone call while we were still in the car to head to site F135 which was known as an ‘emergency’ site and we could stay in this site for the 2 nights for the same price as we had paid for the electric only site. Perfect!

We got to our site and wow! What a fantastic site! The only thing we don’t have is good access to the internet. There is no wifi and the data is at about 2 bars sometimes. Oh well. Getting back to nature doesn’t mean being on our devices right?

Our fabulous site at Southwick Beach State Park.

There were a lot of mosquitoes in this park so we lit a smoky fire to keep the pesky mosquitoes away. We had a couple of sweet potatoes I wanted to cook for dinner, so I buried them deep in the coals wrapped in foil. Since the fire pit had a BBQ grill on top of it, we got the Alaskan wild caught salmon that we had picked up frozen at Trader Joes last week and defrosted it, seasoned it and then put it on the grill with some foil under it to cook it. Lastly, we steamed some green beans and snow peas to finish off our meal. What a camper’s feast! The salmon was delicious and somehow cooking outdoors makes everything taste better!

This morning we had a 9:20am tee time at ‘The Elms’ a country golf course about 7 miles south of Southwick Beach State Park on Hwy 3. When we arrived at the golf course I think there were 2 other cars in the parking lot. It seems that early tee times are not a premium at The Elms! I paid $60 for both of us with a cart for our 18 hole round of golf. The golf carts were not clean though with lots of grass in them, so Richard asked if he could borrow a broom and he swept off the floor of the cart and away we went to the first tee.

15th hole at The Elms, Sandy Creek, N.Y.

The golf course was a real treat to play. It wasn’t a par 3, easy golf course, but had a lot of elevation, tight fairways through trees and lots of water hazards too. The elevation changes were a lot of fun on the par 3’s too. Its always nice to have uphill and downhill par 3’s to try and figure out. We finished our 18 holes in exactly 3 hours playing with no one in front of us and no one behind us. Perfect!

Our plan after golf was to go to Sackets Harbour, New York for lunch. The guy at the golf course had told us that we would have lots of choices for lunch if we drove the 30 minutes to Sackets Harbour. The weather was perfect today. Hot and sunny and 82F or 28C.

1812 Brewing Co., Sackets Harbour, NY.

We found a great spot right on the harbour in Sackets Harbour called 1812 Brewing Co. and we were seated on a very busy patio overlooking Black River Bay. Sackets Harbour has a very interesting history and this is why the restaurant is named after the War of 1812.

Sackets Harbour was named after land developer Augustus Sackets who founded the town in the early 1800’s. To support the War of 1812, the US Navy built a major shipyard and its headquarters for the Great Lakes at the village, due to the size of the natural harbour at Sackets Harbour. Sackets Harbour was directly opposite the British controlled areas so its location was very strategic. Within a short period, more than 3,000 men worked at the shipyard. The Army constructed earthworks, forts, barracks and supporting infrastructure to defend the village and navy shipyard and the troops also camped in the village. By 1814, Sackets Harbour was the third-largest population centre in the entire New York State after Albany and New York City. The Navy shipyard operated until 1874 and a new Sackets Harbor Naval Station was constructed in 1848.

After our lunch we walked around the town and saw that many of the homes in the town had plaques on them identifying when the home was built. We saw homes that dated back to 1808 on the Main Street. We went into a gift store in town and Richard asked “How was business this summer?” The proprietor said that the town had the pier dug up all summer so no tourists could arrive by boat this summer, which really hurt her business. The town is spending $2.5 million on renovating the harbour with floating boat docks, a new kayak launch, a new boat launch and a bandstand improvement. Many people come to Sackets Harbor for their vacations as there are many State Parks and cottages in the area.

We headed back to Southwick Beach State Park veering off the Route 3 to travel through the small village of Henderson Harbor. Beyond a couple of marinas and a few restaurants and lots of cottages, there really wasn’t any reason to stop in Henderson Harbor though.

Richard wanted a nap today, so given the very hot temperatures outside, we did relent and put the air conditioning on in George while he napped and I started today’s blog. Its amazing how well the air conditioning works in George, cooling down the small travel trailer very quickly and efficiently!

The beach was calling me though and I wanted another long beach walk on Southwick Beach’s beautiful white sandy beach. We put our beach flip flops on and drove over to the beach. It would have been nice to have a bike in this State Park as our campsite is quite far away from the beach. Anyway, the beach was almost deserted today now that the kids are all back at school. There were a few younger children and their parents and some older, retired looking couples, like us who were enjoying the beautiful September summer weather!

Richard enjoying the gorgeous beach at Southwick Beach State Park, N.Y.

We had a fabulous meal on our picnic table of BBQ rosemary beef tips from Trader Joes, that we barbecued on our small fold up BBQ, using Green Egg charcoal. A nice Aldi’s Caesar salad kit, and some Trader Joes frozen vegetables with wild rice, barley and farro, complemented our meal. We have eaten very well on our trip and the freezer in George has been able to accommodate all of the meat that we needed for our trip.

Tomorrow we head for home. We have just over 3 hours to drive and do want to make a couple of shopping stops before we get home while we are in the U.S. The ‘experiment’ of buying a travel trailer has been a great one for us and we really have enjoyed our vacation and getting to know George, while seeing family and spending some time in places we’ve never been before. The next few weeks are going to be very busy for both of us, so its been nice to have some down time, relaxing and recharging out batteries after a busy summer.

September is such a wonderful month to travel. We’ll definitely be planning next September soon as we can’t let them get away on us! Only 15 more summers until the ‘No Go’ years, so we have to make the most of them!

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