Link to a PDF of the published article – MJ Martin – Travels with PIG
When you own a RV, regardless if it is a Class A, B, or C, travel trailer, or a fifth wheel, there is always this irksome feeling that you must use it all the time to help rationalize the costs. But, planning, organizing, and executing, ‘big’ trips is often hard work, inconvenient, and challenging. So, RVs often sit unused.
But, there is an alternative.
You can take smaller, micro trips. Use your RV to explore your own province. You do not always need to pursue those grand bucket list experiences. Often, short two or three day adventures can be fantastic experiences.
Yes, you still need to plan and prepare a wee bit, but if you are like me and use checklists and keep your RV in a constant state of readiness, then rolling out for fun can be fast, efficient, and even become a wonderfully spontaneous escapade.
What I do is pick a theme for my micro trips. I spend some time during the winter months to dream up short journeys within a few hours drive from home.
I have used the Rideau Canal as a theme and visited a variety of lock sites to do photography. I have gone overnight to meet out-of-town friends for dinner. Attending farmer’s markets, art festivals, music events, agricultural fairs, and RV gatherings are all great fun.
For about ten years, we shared our home with two dogs, Churchill, and PIG. Churchill was a Golden Retriever and PIG was an English Setter. Churchill had above average intelligence and suffered if we left him alone for too long. We decided to get Churchill a dog of his own, so along came PIG. Now, Churchill had an amazing vocabulary and demonstrated wisdom. PIG, not so much. But, you will never find a more loving creature than PIG. Churchill was named for Sir Winston Churchill, a person of admiration and PIG was named for the movie; he lived to eat, just like me.
Both dogs treasured time in the RV, but PIG always wanted to be with me; we were connected. PIG and I would take short adventure trips, just the two of us. Leaving Candy and Churchill at home to do their own bonding. Churchill was clearly my wife’s dog as they were tightly connected, just like PIG and me.
A special theme for me was retracing the route from my childhood home to my grandparent’s farm. In the 1960s, these drives were the highlight of our childhood summertime vacations. Thus, PIG and I drove the road from my childhood home in Stoney Creek, Ontario along Highway 8 to Goderich, Ontario.
PIG and I departed Toronto where we lived and headed just 100 kilometres away to the Fifty Point Conservation Area in Stoney Creek (Hamilton). This was to be our jumping off point. We arrived in time to set up and meet my parents who still lived nearby in the family home.
Fifty Point is a wonderful location right on the edge of Lake Ontario boasting a marina, restaurant, large grounds, and endless views back across the lake towards Toronto. It is an ideal place for a quick visit and PIG loved the long walks, observing the geese, and sleeping under the awning, while I read my book beside him.
The next morning, we departed Stoney Creek, avoiding the major QEW highway and headed straight towards Highway 8. Driving a larger Class-A on a two-lane road might bother some, but, the journey is slower, and you get to see much more compared to driving on the major highways. In fact, it is not really that challenging compared to the chaotic blur of a major expressway.
Our next stop was a campground called, Green Acres, about two hours away located in North Waterloo. The Green Acre Park is minutes from the village of St. Jacobs and Farmers’ Market. We set up and went to see the famous Farmers’ Market. Back by dinner time, we had some local Cambridge friends, Bill and Sue, visit the RV for a BBQ dinner and a delightful evening filled with laughter and conversation. PIG was exhausted and went to the RV door and barked. He rarely barked, so one announcement told me that he was done for the day. I opened the door and let him go to bed while we all continued our fun under the stars.
The next day, PIG and I departed along Highway 8 towards Goderich.
We drove through the magical town of Stratford, known worldwide for its theatrical plays. While I have been to the theatre there many times, it was not in the plan for this trip. But, it could have been as there are a few charming campgrounds skirting the town.
While driving the RV through downtown Stratford, they had some construction underway and reduced the road to a tightly narrowed single lane. As I proceed along slowly, I saw a flash in my peripheral vision as I hit an orange construction cone. It went airborne up over the mirror terrifying the city workers who all ran for cover. I immediately heard a barrage of colourful language as they shared their immense displeasure. In fact, I hit several cones to amplify the volley of insults hurtled my way. Obviously, I slowed immediately, but I had absolutely no room to manoeuvre with a tight corridor between the road cones and the oncoming traffic. A police officer directing the oncoming traffic had seen my stupidity and waived me over to the second lane at the end of the construction zone. I was sure that I was done for, and even PIG glared at me from the floor as if to say, “what were you thinking?”
The officer kindly protected me from the construction workers and asked, “Did you do that on purpose?” I told him that I was not that good of a driver. We looked for damage but found none. Eventually, a small mark was noted on my newly installed wing cameras. I had hit those cones with millimeter precision launching them like the Tesla rocket off my tiny protruding rear-facing camera housing. I must admit to some pride in my driving accuracy; sadly no one else shared my view.
Released with a warning, the officer kindly sent me on my way with no harm done as he had to return to directing the traffic which was getting messy. However, PIG continued to silently frown at me with disdain all the way to Goderich.
Mitchell, Seaforth, and Clinton were all driven through with no further drama. Finally, we reached Goderich, renown as “Canada’s Prettiest Town” and it truly is a magnificent place to visit. A stop in the town for a shared ice cream cone restored PIG’s undying love for me and the Stratford incident was now forgotten.
Our next stop was near Kingsbridge, my grandfather’s home. So, we camped overnight at the MacKenzie Tent and Trailer Park just past the hamlet off Highway 21. This facility was right on the edge of Lake Huron, offering stunning views and warm summer breezes. PIG and I had dinner and then went to take our last walk of the day before bedtime. He went down the five steps out of the RV ahead of me, only to abruptly stop, and then back-up coming into the RV in reverse. Who knew that he had this skill? I looked out the door to see a fox and a racoon fiercely fighting over some food thoughtlessly cast into the fire-pit by the previous occupants of the site. PIG wanted nothing to do with this quarrel. Eventually the racoon won the squabble and trotted off with the chicken breast. PIG finally agreed to go for the requisite end-of-day bathroom break.
To our absolute delight, the nearby Celtic music festival was underway, so several campsites had groups of people playing guitars, harmonicas, fiddles, and an assortment of classic instruments like a mandolin. Many were visiting from the USA. The soft Celtic music was a delightful finale to the day. An American visitor sweet-talked us into a visit at their campfire for a drink and some fabulous entertainment. Eventually PIG reminded me that he was ready for bed. So, we departed to put our heads down for the night, drifting off to these wonderfully melodic refrains lulling us to sleep.
The next morning, we had completed our adventure and took the slow winding route along the lake on Highway 21 towards home. We passed through Kincardine, Southampton, and Owen Sound, where we connected to Highway 26. Next were Meaford, The Blue Mountains, Collingwood, until we got to Barrie and joined the high-speed Highway 400 south to Toronto and home.
PIG and I enjoyed many of these micro adventures over the years, and I greatly cherish these memories. You do not need to undertake a grand trip to enjoy your RV, short adventures abound. Just plan and go. Road trips with your dog can be magical adventures.
About the Author
Michael J Martin is a passionate photographer, amateur writer, technology aficionado, licenced pilot, and lifelong explorer of learning new things. He lives in Toronto with his wife Candy and their dogs. They own a 36’ Holiday Rambler diesel-pusher Class A motorhome and the entire family loves time together exploring new places.