9 weeks, 7,832 miles, 19.3 mpg
Part I – Oklahoma to Bus Fusion
Given the climate, both meteorological and political, we decided that heading north this year would be the best plan. The idea was to explore Atlantic Canada, attend a couple of events in Ontario, and visit with many of our friends in the northeast. We left on May 29, stopping to visit family in Kansas.
Our early travels through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, were thankfully uneventful and the weather was perfect with 70s during the day and 50s at night. We stayed at two campgrounds that we would recommend: Graham Cave State Park in Missouri, and Leiber State Recreation area in Indiana. We do not recommend Charles Mill Lake Park in Ohio ($31 for pit toilet and picnic table) and instead opted for a Walmart parking lot. There, the first of many subsequent VW bus admirers jumped out of their car to snap pictures and exclaim “Badass!” before driving off.
The back roads through Amish country in Ohio seemed to have become even more burdened with tourist traps, and less authentic than we remembered from a trip 10 years ago. It’s our understanding that many Amish are now abandoning Ohio in favor of other, more affordable places.
Our first goal was to visit friends Dave and Sandy Milo in Zelienople, PA, whom we had not visited in 10 years.
Dave was the master mechanic behind the Roadhaus Subie transplant on that visit. We have since traveled many miles and had many wonderful adventures as a result. We took a scenic drive with them and walked at McConnell’s Mills State Park.
We had dinner with Dave and Sandy at Harmony Inn, which has been reported by many to be haunted. Over the years, people have experienced icy cold winds and the appearance of apparitions inside this former home.
Sadly we did not experience any of these phenomena.
We had bypassed Niagara Falls on previous trips but this time resistance was futile and we succumbed to the draw of falling waters. As expected, there were a lot of tourists, both domestic and foreign. We skipped the Maid of the Mist tour due to crowds and inclement weather.
We drove further east and north and entered Canada via the Thousand Islands Bridge.
We entered without incident, unlike a previous visit in which Maggie’s answers had resulted in a very thorough search of the bus and some strange questions, such as “If you had a gun, where would it be?” Larry’s answer: “Oklahoma”.
We headed on north toward Bus Fusion! We arrived at Frank and Rita’s house in Almonte on Wednesday afternoon and several people showed up to stuff goody bags for the event, followed by pizza and beer. It was good to see our old friends Frank and Rita, who we have the pleasure of seeing on their way south for the winter most years.
We camped at the fairgrounds that night among a handful of other early birds. Temps in the 50s made for good sleeping.
Thursday morning, June 8, buses began to pull in a few at a time. We walked to downtown Almonte, which is close by and very picturesque.
We took the river walk on the way back to camp. By nightfall, there were a significant number of buses present, with more to come over the next couple of days.We had a very enjoyable time visiting with friends, some of whom we had met before and some who had previously been only Facebook friends. Our good friends Peter and Andrea camped next to us and we enjoyed visiting with them and so many others, including Frank and Rita, Marcus and Natalie, Doug and Linda, Guy and Joan, Greg and Colleen, George, Joel, and Jamie, to name a few.
After three days of visiting, enjoying the food, listening to some good music, and admiring the 284 buses registered for the event, we packed up on Sunday morning to head east.