So, we had to go to Rochester, NY for the Science Exploration Day that St. John Fisher College hosted. As we needed to be at the college campus at 9:00 for registration, as our son was going as part of a group of Rochester homeschool kids, and thus we could beat the crush of buses bringing in regular school kids.
We briefly looked at hotels to stay in overnight, as it’s an hour and a half drive from Buffalo, but even with the College discounts at local places, it was still pretty expensive. Given that, I of course took a look for campgrounds. And, only 20 minutes away from St. John Fisher College, I found Webster Park, which has some areas of shoreline on Lake Ontario.
The campground itself has 45 sites and is nestled back about half a mile from the shore, surrounded by light to heavy woods for all but the big motorhome sites. All the sites have electric, and while only five have dedicated water, there are enough taps throughout that about the farthest you’d have to walk for water is two or three sites. While the price per night was higher than we’d payed for any of the Erie County or State sites we’d been to, it was certainly worth it compared to the hotel costs (and proximity to Rochester and Lake Ontario probably causes a lot of demand for sites).
So, even with the bus still having the hot start fail, we decided that it would be a short enough trip that we wouldn’t need to stop the bus unless we were in a place where it could sit and cool before we needed to go again. We would start in Buffalo and get to Webster Park, then stay overnight. Then we would go from Webster Park to St. John Fisher and shut the bus down for the classes. Then, when we were ready, head out from the College and back home.
The trip to the park was fairly uneventful, though I did a horrible job of trying to stay out of the way of fast-paced cars on the Rochester expressways. It seemed like as soon as I moved over into the right hand lane to travel at the speed limit, the lane was ending, becoming an exit-only, or the exit we needed was a left-lane exit. And, for that I apologize to those inconvenienced drivers.
But some of the drive was wonderfully scenic, like on the Route 104 bridge, some 45 feet up over Irondequoit Bay. We found the campgrounds with no problem, though the stretch of Lake Road from Bay Road to the park is a lovely twisty, hilly section that motorcyclists must adore.
Checking in at the park was simple – since I had printed out my email confirmation of our reservation, all they had to do was see that and we were set. Monroe County’s reservation site was nice, as it give pictures of the sites as well as the electrical, vehicle/trailer length capabilities, and such. From that, while site 19 and 21 looked big and easy to back the bus into, I ended up choosing site 15, as just down behind it was East Creek, and I thought there would be a nice view downhill behind the site.
Site 15 ended up being even nicer when we got there. It was easy to get the bus backed in, due to the curve of the loop at that point, and contained the end of a little geographical ‘finger’ so that at the north end of our site we could look down toward a swampy area, much like we could look down into a low valley to our east.
Down at the bottom of the ‘finger’ was a path that we could follow back along to the west and north, which brought us to the Kanatota Lodge which overlooks Lake Ontario. It was a great sunny day to be there, with splashing waves and a nice breeze. And the hike only took us about 10-15 minutes.
Part of the reason for a longer hike than it might seem for the distance was that there had been a windstorm that brought down a number of good-sized pine trees, so we had to pick our way around or over those. But, since we could use fallen wood as firewood, we didn’t have to use any of our own wood for the fire.
We had a nice meal of beans (pre-cooked from dry at home), peppers, and tomatoes all cooked up in cast iron over the fire and some home-baked sourdough bread, and were joined by a dear friend who came up from Rochester to spend the evening with us. Marshmallows were toasted (or burned) over the fire on the telescoping prongs’ first use,
and scary stories were told in the red glow of the embers of the fire, accompanied by bourbon for those (adults) so inclined.
We cleaned everything up just as a thunderstorm rolled in, and we all slept well. The temperature had dropped, so it was a bit chilly, and the sky was a little overcast after the storm, but the bathroom facilities were a warm, and we were able to set out on-time to brave the morning commuters along our route to the College.
I gave us an extra 20 minutes on top of what Google had suggested as travel time for us, and that all worked out – though again, I ended up facing the need to merge into a left-hand exit with rushing commuters doing the same. My thanks to that pick-up who took pity on us and gave us space to merge!
The Science Exploration Day was a whirlwind of presentations. The 40 minute presentations were followed by 10 minutes of trying to find the next one’s room. Construction in one of the buildings, and different numbering directions in differing buildings made this a challenge, but our son got into some cool ones, and as I hung around outside the oft-packed classrooms, I overheard some good presentations.
We had parked in the back of one of the parking lots, and returned after the last presentation to our bus being surrounded by a myriad of national school bus chrome buses! We stayed and ate some lunch while buses pulled out to pick up school kids, or loaded in the parking lots. We got some looks, and had some homeschoolers come and take a look at our set-up.
One of the things we found was that the batteries for the linear actuator keychain remotes were dying or dead, meaning we only had one working. But the batteries were easy to find, and replacing them was the job of a screwdriver and taking the keyring off, taking only a minute to do.
After all the buses were gone, we packed up our lunch and headed out. Our trip was a bit slower than our trip out to Rochester, as we got stuck behind … school buses dropping off students! But we all had a great trip, and would be happy to go back to the Webster Park Campground.
Post Script: As far as the bus engine, it ran flawlessly, even for long periods. And on our trip out, the ambient temperature was in the high seventies, and the running engine temperatures on the highway were approaching 200, and it didn’t falter. I did try starting it hot at the campground after we parked, and it still hot failed. More on this later.