Our last day at the Clover Park campground was pretty uneventful; we had to do some washing and we wandered up to McDonalds to get some wifi and then we wandered back. It is so hot and humid here at the moment, rushing is totally out of the question. We had looked at the road near the campsite and decided that cycling was only a death-wish option.
When we got back to the campsite, our friendly neighbour from the monster RV next to us called us over and insisted on giving us beer. It’s a hard life, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. George is a realtor and his wife Kimberly sells her genius father’s engineering products abroad. She, sadly, had a nasty freak accident with a snow shovel a few years back and managed to shatter one of her kidneys so badly that, despite the best efforts of some amazing medical staff (who saved most of it), she is not allowed to fly any more. Hence they invested in a pretty luxurious vehicle that allows them to enjoy their holidays in comfort.
Kimberly and their cute little daughter Stephanie disappeared halfway through the conversation to nip down to Toronto zoo to see the tigers being put away. Apparently the keepers stand behind a wire fence and the tigers try to eat them every night at seven pm. I can just imagine the plans going through the tigers heads. One day it is all going to go horribly wrong and the tigers will have a very nice snack indeed.
George was a very interesting bloke to talk to and we learnt a lot about the financial crash and the development and deliberate destruction of the Canadian supersonic jet in the 1950s that was cancelled with minimal notice and caused the suicides of the major engineers and the loss of a myriad of jobs.
I also got chatting to this lovely couple, who are part of the truly multicultural community that make up Toronto. Like so many people that live in the city, they love to get out to the countryside for the weekends.
I especially liked their cooking set up and they seems equally intrigued by our camp kitchen and general set up.
On Sunday we headed north with the view of getting to one of the campsites near Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula just by Georgian Bay, part of Lake Huron.
We were not sorry to be leaving Toronto behind; the network of roads around the place seems designed to get as many cars into the city as quickly as possible and then to grind to a halt at least twice a day. We didn’t meet a single person who loved the place, most people seemed to want to get away from it.
We breathed a sigh of relief to leave the traffic behind.
All was going swimmingly, until Tim tried to change down to stop at some traffic lights and the clutch pedal went all floppy. Luckily there was a place to pull over so we could get out of the traffic. We were convinced that it could not be a major problem because the clutch had only been replaced a year ago. Our hopes rose as we spied a garage just up the road by the lights, but, of course, being Sunday, it was closed.
There was a nice diner next door, called the Coffee Bean, so we went in to find out if they knew anything about the garage. Sadly, the two businesses were totally separate, and they had no emergency contact number for it, but one of the lovely waitresses, who was busy all the time serving hoards of brunch-seeking customers, used her own car recovery insurance to arrange for a tow to a nearby garage. While we were waiting we ordered a bacon and egg sandwich each (which were gorgeous) and then the tow truck turned up. The waitress refused to take any payment or even a tip and just wished a good trip (I shoved some shrapnel in the tips pot, but that felt inadequate).
The nice recovery bloke was meant to take us back south to a small garage, but he suggested that we would be better going to Fred’s Autocentre, which had a much better reputation and had the added advantage of being in the direction we were already headed. Not only that, there was also an hotel next door. He struggled a little as Camel was rather heavier than he expected and being four wheel drive, could not be towed and he had to put some dollies under the back wheels.
We left Camel looking rather abandoned and sad outside the garage and managed to get a room for the night. The local pub didn’t look promising, although I was amused to see the old red phone box (sans glass) outside
but it was full of friendly locals
and the couple who ran the place (Owen and Amanda) were very friendly and professional and the food was delicious
Next morning Tim went over to talk to the garage guys and to give them the key. They couldn’t tell us if they could do anything until they got camel upon a ramp. They were obviously very busy, so we headed off into the centre of Orangeville to check out its historic centre.
Orangeville is about 150 years old with a few good solid civic buildings and quite a lot of pubs and eateries. They have a wood sculpture trail throughout the town, some of which are mightily impressive.
I loved the eagle, but i wasn’t too sure of the message next to it.
There were some quite quirky things around
This place was claiming that cannabis could sort out every problem from tourettes syndrome to cancer and I sniggered a bit. By a strange coincidence I read an old issue of the New Scientist that said there was evidence that cannabis may stand a chance of interfering with some cancerous cells.
This place had moved away and I thought it might be because it was not shown enough respect (‘they call me MR Sub’, gerrit?)
I thought back to school supplies were meant to be pens and paper and the like
We ended up having lunch in the Tipsy Toad pub, which was pretty good in itself, but the best thing about it was that a whole load of older gentlemen go there for a drink at lunchtime, and they were a hoot.
When we got back to the garage, we were given the sad news that they could not fix Camel; the clutch slave cylinder was leaking and had to be replaced. What we had not realised when we came this way was that, despite the fact that there are Discoverys (or LR3s as they call them) over here, they are all automatic. Nobody at the garage had ever worked on a stick shift car, let alone a diesel one and even worse, a right hand drive to boot.
Clark the mechanic, who was busy turning into my hero, had tried everything. The major sticking point was that he could not get the required spare part; nobody had it because there was no market for it in Canada. He then went out of his way to find a garage that could help us, and came up with Westminster Motor Corp. in, you guessed it, Toronto, our least favourite place on all of our trips so far. He had contacted them and found out which parts were required and talked to the wonderful Avo. He then insisted on us using the garage’s phones to talk to Avo, who suggested a firm to transport Camel to the new garage. Clark then called up the transport people and arranged for them to come and collect us. When we got back to the hotel we were too late to avoid paying for the room for the night, but we were more worried about getting Camel back on the road. We took all our gear back to the truck and waited for about 2 1/2 hours and Clark was very kind- he kept us informed of what the pick up truck was up to (stuck in traffic) and offered us shelter from the heat. Towards their closing time, Dave, the boss at Fred’s came out and said they would be here in ten minutes. When I wondered if I should call the other garage to find out what to do with the car, as they would be closed by the time we got there, he kindly insisted that I should again use their phones and offered me a cold drink. These guys had put themselves out for us considerably but they would not take any payment for it (they said ‘take your wife out to dinner’- Tim said that I was going to be taking him out).
We finally got to the garage in the outskirts of Toronto at seven, luckily found someone still there to give the key to and walked half a mile up the road lugging our bags to a halfway decent hotel, that still had some rooms for the next couple of nights.