Our third trip in this new camper was over the Columbus Day Weekend, and was to Lake Erie State Park, which is just to the south of Buffalo. Weather was a little chilly; in the middle low 50’s during the day and low 40’s at night.

My wife decided to get a prime spot. Zoom up on the map linked above, and look for the elbow in the northwest corner of the camping area; that’s where we took; site number 13. You can even see the lake over the cliff from the site in this off-angle shot.

You’ll notice we managed to get the awning lights before leaving on this trip. They’re lighthouses, since Donna’s into those. Here’s a closer look. I was presented with an interesting problem with these. They’re a 12vdc string of lights. I gather that’s not unusual. However, our Kiwi only presents one 12vdc tap, and that’s inside the trailer… just inside the door. I solved the problem with a 12vdc power supply that was originally supposed to run my Coleman powered cooler. This will work OK until I manage to get a couple or three 12vdc taps mounted on the outside of the rig.

They actually looked pretty good, once nightfall came, though my available -light photography doesn’t show it very well.

Here’s a flash shot, which doesn’t look too bad.

When we pulled in, the first thing we noted was that it looked like a Kiwi convention; literally, every other rig was a Kiwi.

Standing on that Elbow I pointed out on the map, and looking along the lake shore, here’s our rig.
Now, notice that up behind the van is another trailer. That’s about a 35 footer… a family from Buffalo. Looking beyond that rig, we notice in the 2nd spot over, another Kiwi.
This one’s a bit newer than ours and has a slider. Now next to him was a Class A from Kansas, whose people we never DID see… and in the spot next to HIM was, you guessed it, yet another Kiwi.
These folks were apparently up from Erie. They’d apparently brought a truckload of wood with them, because they had a HUGE fire going every night.

All these Kiwis in such a small space, and under less than ideal camping conditions… Well, it made me feel just a bit better about things. Because….
Yep… It ain’t warm, out here.

I’ve written about LESP before, and conditions really have not changed much since the last time there. The only real difference was the amount of now-dead bugs in the showers. Which given we have our own shower, now, didn’t mean much to us.

As you can see on the map in the first link, there’s a major rail line that runs nearby; Between 100 and 150 trains per day run over those lines. In our case, it worked fine; we spent a fair enough amount of time railfanning. In some the case of some other campers, it may not work so well.

The sites themselves are level, and well-kept, as a rule. It’s one of our favorite stops.

After the first night, which went very well indeed… We’d planned on running down to the Erie area, where we’d planned on giving the Presque Isle SP a look. Turns out to be a rather pretty place. Presque Isle is French for “almost an island”, and it turns out to be a fairly accurate description. There’s more beaches per acre than anyplace I’ve ever seen… They’ve only got half of ’em named… The rest are just numbers, for pity’s sake.

Of course with the temps in the high 40’s and low 50’s it’s not exactly bikini weather, but that’s OK. My wife wanted to see the lighthouse we’d heard about. And we found it.

The wind was up at around 45mph in gusts, though, and between that and the fall chill, this was not a day to go walking out along the water. Sad; I would have liked that. Oh, well, perhaps we can swing down here again over the summer sometime.

A summer’s evening walk out along this pier would be romantic, I think.

Even the Seagulls didn’t like it, and they LIVE here. You can see the waves are up a bit in this shot, too. I gather that’s a bit unusual for this far into the bay.

There’s supposed to be a fair enough number of Herons and other water birds…. Herons being the other think about seashores my wife likes. We often make trips just to go bird-watching. But these rather disgusted looking gulls were all we saw while here. Of course, if all I had to eat were storm-kill fish, I suppose I’d not be too happy about it all, either.

On the way out we saw one of the more fascinating sites I’ve seen in terms of housing, in years…. Boat-houses… Floats, more or less.

Here’s a newer one just being built, or perhaps remodeled. A whole string of these were in the bay. They were decorated much as you’d see any suburban house in America decorated, except that all of them were smaller.

After leaving Presque, we decided to make a run for Coneaut, OH which is only about 30 miles away, so the boys could do a little railfanning. Coneaut is a favorite place of mine for several reasons I won’t get into here, but one big reason is NKP755, which is displayed here at the old rail station in Coneaut, and is right next to the CSX main line.

They’ve turned the place into a really fine rail museum. It’s been that since about 1962, when the NYC dontated the station, and the Nickle Plate Railroad donated the 755. 755 is a huge 2-8-4 type. And I mean HUGE… It’s bigger than most diesel locos of today, even, and in fighting trim would certainly outperform most of ’em, too.

There are others of that type which are still running… There’s one at Steamtown, for example. I have a picture of that particular one pulling the Freedom train back in 1976, as it got up past 80mph in Kansas. I’ve stood in the cab of that beast as it rested years ago in Steamtown, and can only hint at the wonder you feel for such a beast moving at all, much less doing 80, and pulling a train loaded with several hundred people. The Museum is free (Donations would be nice) and open to the public, though you should be aware that it’s usually open only during the summer months.

We got some lunch and headed back to New York, and the Park. We were there in less than an hour.

While enroute, we picked up a few supplies at Brocton, NY, which is just to the south and west of the camp. When you drive through Brocton, you’ll know it because of the unique feature at the 4 corners of town. This picture, culled from the towns official website doesn’t show it, but this huge arch lights up at night, and is a very colorful sight. It was built in the 20’s as I gather it, and has been up ever since.

Once back, we had some dinner and started a fire. A cold night like this, more or less requires one to get a good fire going to counteract the chill. Good for us that not only did they have a fair enough amount of wood available in the park, but also, a few tons of driftwood on the beach, which we spent a couple hours picking over, and moving the better bits of it to the site. By the time an hour had gone by, we had a great fire going, and we sat around talking and just being together for several hours afterward.

We found that the heater wasn’t called for quite so much on this second night. We were also amazed that there wasn’t a problem with condensation on the tent walls, as there had been in the pop-up.

Monday morning came all too soon. But I had the rather rare chance to walk around the campsites after the rush had left on Sunday afternoon. Most of the campers had left. So, it was me, and the lake, and the gulls. The quiet was an amazing experience. One begins to wonder how many millions of years this lake has been here. And you very much get the sense that you’re merely a visitor.

In walking around, I found the remenants of kids who had stayed the weekend; hopscotch maps on the driveway. I hadn’t noticed the kids in this section of the park, but clearly they were here. In looking it over, I was taken back to a time not so many years ago, at Brinks Interstate Park in Kentucky and Tennesee, when the pre-teen girls in the next site over were doing this the whole time they were there. I remember watching them from the awning of our 1961 Apache Chief pop-over. Funny how little things like that will trigger a memory.

We had breakfast, folded the rig (This time without issue… we’re getting used to this rig, I think)

We went back up to the Indian Reservation at Irving, NY, and filled the tank… and then drove across the reservation, and east, eventually picking up SR39. We decided to do this for several reasons, not least of which to see some fall colors. We weren’t disappointed.

Another reason was that the I-90 coming down here is pretty much flat, and I wanted to see how the truck would deal with the trailer on the hills. A quiet Monday morning, where there was a minimum of other traffic seemed a good time to try. SR39 does have some of the stiffest hills north of the Pennsy state line.

Remember that the 4.3 Vortec in the Astro/Safari frame, is a true to gosh truck engine. Not a whole mess of horsepower, but gobs and gobs of torque, mostly in the low and middle RPM ranges. So, keeping that in mind, I found that there are a few tricks to driving in the hills with this rig.

* Momentum is very much your friend.
* Don’t worry about the brakes too much, just don’t overheat ’em
* Don’t try to push the rig too hard going up hills… Just plunk the revs in the middle-band where the engine is the strongest, and let it pull for you. And pull it will, too. Make no mistake, this engine’s a workhorse. You won’t get there as fast as that guy in the Firebird, but you’ll get there.

I found most everyone willing to accommodate me going up hills, too… a point which surprised me a bit.

Total MPG with the trailer was 13mpg, including the hills. Not too bad, really.

We only have one or two more weekends we can shoot for for an area overnight, and we’ve been getting a lot of rain up here on the weekends, so this may very well be my last trip posting of the year.

But we’ll see as the next weekend approaches.


One Response to “Trip Number 3: Lake Erie State Park”


  1. Bitsblog » Nightly Ramble: Ashtabula and Erie