Monday, November 05, 2007

WE"RE HOME

SOME PHOTOS FROM THE TRIP
THE REAL MAID OF THE MIST

COG RAILWAY, MT WASHINGTON






THE NORTH END, BOSTON
IT'S ELVIS AT GRACELAND!!


SUNSET ON I-8











Tuesday, October 30, 2007

HEADING HOME, SORTA

Southwest from Pennsylvania we drove for three days, two of which it rained, through western Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and into Tennessee. We stopped south of Memphis, electing to stay in Tunica, Mississippi so I could play some poker at the casinos. We were close enough to Memphis to partake in some great BBQ, which we did.

So far on this trip, and on previous trips, we have visited many homes of our past presidents. While in Memphis we figured it was time to see the King's home, so we paid a visit to Graceland. Actually once you get over the price of admission, it was really pretty interesting. Besides the mansion and grounds, there is a auto museum with cars owned by Elvis, two of his airplanes and several other exhibits. They are into making money though. Each time you exit an exhibit, you exit into a gift shop.

We are now in Alma, Arkansas where our next door neighbors have a second home. While here, the refrigerator in the RV quit working and parts take several weeks to get here. We've transferred all the food into an ice chest and have decided to head home from here, with a stop in the Dallas area to see friends. We should be home sometime around the 5th or 6th, cutting our trip short by a couple of weeks. Cathie can't wait to see the grand kids as she misses them terribly and I miss them too.

All in all it's been a really good trip, even though we were somewhat disappointed with the fall colors in Vermont and New Hampshire. We explored new territory, visiting lots of historic sites and managing to stay within budget. There are no new trips planned as of yet, but we'll find some excuse to hit the road before too long.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

PENNSYLVANIA



WE FOUND SOME COLOR





We’ve been watching the fires on the TV, Internet and with updates from the kids, we are keeping abreast of what’s going on at home. So far our house is safe as is the rest of our family. We hope all is well with all of you.

We are currently in Pennsylvania in Amish country around Lancaster. Beautiful farm country, with picturesque barns and farm houses. We hired a local guide for a personal tour of the area which was very informative. On Saturday we decided to venture out on our own. Although we have seen lots of Amish folks riding in their horse buggies and working on their farms, the tourist far out number them. This past weekend the main roads were clogged with tour busses and PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE. The local shops were so crowded we gave up and decided to wait out the weekend. Out in the countryside, some of the local Amish farmers sell everything from produce to quilts. It was at one such farm that we found the best soft pretzels we have ever had. We washed them down homemade root beer, some of which we purchased and took with us.

The Amish people do not like the have there picture taken, nor do they like to be asked. Photos from the distance, where they cannot be recognized seem to be ok. We managed to get a shot of a combine in the corn field. This was right next to our RV park. It was something to see their plows and combines pulled by teams of up to six horses through the fields. Although the equipment was being pulled by horses or mules, the machinery itself might be powered by a gasoline engine. Another interesting thing we learned was that they didn’t have phones in their homes, but a many people share a phone placed in a wooden phone booth placed in someone’s yard for outgoing calls only.

Near Lancaster is Gettysburg, so we spent one day there. We took a driving tour of the battlefield we was very interesting. The battle which lasted 3 days covered and enormous area. Today a National Park, the battlefield is dotted with hundreds of monuments to those who fought and died there.

Tomorrow we get on the freeway and head southwest heading through Maryland, West Virginia and Kentucky ending up in Memphis Tennessee. I hear somewhere that they have good BBQ there. Gotta get some.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Heading South

USS CONSTITUTION


BOSTON'S NORTH END


SOME INTERESTING BOSTON ROAD SIGNS






WHEN DOES THE SEASON OPEN?




HOW DID THEY KNOW ABOUT MY WAIST?


Had some rain in Portland and the weather is getting a little cooler. Still not too bad. On our second day in Portland while eating breakfast, I broke my tooth while eating toast. I started calling around and after about eight tries finally found a dentist that could see me. Got to his office and they called me right in. The dentist, John Paul was very young but seemed to know what he was doing. He repaired the tooth with a ceramic filling and was done in about an hour. When I got back to the trailer, Cathie was flossing her teeth and a crown came off. So, since I already had an in with John Paul I called him up and luckily got an appointment for the afternoon. It’s a wonder that they didn’t think Cathie and I weren’t slugging it out. Anyway it was pretty much a wasted day, except for John Paul who has my credit card number.

From Portland we continued south to the Boston area. We stayed in a state park south of the city. We stayed out of Boston while the Red Socks were playing, but on Sunday we drove in and toured the USS Constitution, the one thing we missed when we were here in the early 90’s. One of the things I didn’t know about the Constitution, is that it is still an active duty US Navy ship and is staffed by active duty sailors. They dress in period uniforms and give the tours and I am sure are required to polish all the brass on board.

Afterwards we walked across the Charles River into the North End, Boston’s Italian section. We found a great restaurant for lunch (dinner), with the portions so big, the leftovers we took back to the trailer fed both of us the next night. After lunch and at the recommendation of a fellow diner, we stopped at Mike’s Pastry Shop for some great cannolis.

As I write this we are in southeastern Connecticut, where we will spend a couple of days before heading to Pennsylvania.


http://www.ussconstitution.navy.mil/


http://www.mikespastry.com/cannoli.html

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Some Photos For Your Enjoyment

SUNRISE ON CADILLAC MOUNTAIN
CHURCH IN VERMONT

CRAZIES AT SUNRISE

MAINE FALL COLOR


PEMAQUID POINT LIGHTHOUSE, MAINE







Monday, October 08, 2007

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE MOOSE KIND






ACADIA NATIONAL PARK


THE BEST COLOR YET, I-95



MAINE LIGHTHOUSE

While heading east on US 2 in the northern part of New Hampshire, we were clipping along about 55 mph, only 5 mph over the limit, when all of a sudden a rather large bull moose came charging at full speed out of the forest just ahead of us and to the right. Something must have spooked him because he was really hauling ass. With his nostrils flaring, we could see his breath in the cool morning air. The size of our rig must have deterred him from crossing the highway and causing major damage to him and us, for at the last second he turned left as I swerved left. The dirt was flying as his hoofs dug in to the soft earth at the highways edge. As he passed to our right heading west, and his antlers just missing our side mirror, we made eye contact with each other. We could see the whites of his eyes and the look of terror in them. I’m sure he saw the same in ours.

After getting our breathing back to normal, we continued on, arriving in Bar Harbor by mid afternoon. Bar Harbor owes its existence to Acadia National Park, which basically surrounds the town, and the cruise ship industry. It is in a beautiful setting with the downtown business district encompassed in 5 blocks of restaurants and tourist shops, and Main Street ending at the wharf. Everyday two cruise ships arrive in the early morning and by 10 AM several thousand passengers have disembarked and jammed themselves into those 5 blocks. It is human gridlock, with blue haired ladies crowding into the shops buying t-shirts for the grand kids, while grandpa stands outside in the middle of the side walk blocking traffic.

The national park is on Mount Desert Island, with the 1500 foot Cadillac Mountain at its center. The park is really beautiful with forested seaside cliffs and some fall colors. The area was once, and still is, the summer home to the rich and famous. John D. Rockefeller had a home here and between 1913 and 1940, built forty-five miles of carriage roads so his horse carriage did not have to compete with automobile. Today the roads in the park are open to hiking, biking and horse drawn carriages. There is a modern road to the top of Cadillac Mountain for some great views. One is told that sunrise at the summit is a must. For those of you who follow such things, it was at sunrise on Cadillac Mountain where Jenna Bush accepted a proposal of marriage. So one morning we got up at 5 AM and drove to the top so watch the sunrise. We had a beautiful red sky and with the cruise ships arriving below which made the early hour worth it. I was going to ask Cathie to marry me, but I was afraid her answer wouldn’t be the same as Jenna’s, so I didn’t press my luck.

We’ve had rain the last couple of nights and it’s getting colder, with temperatures in the 50’s during the day. The weather up to this point, except for some occasional rain showers, has been unseasonably warm for this part of the country. So it is here at Bar Harbor, that we make another right turn and start heading south. While heading towards Portland, Maine, we saw some of the best fall colors of the entire trip, along I-95 of all places.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

WOW, TWO POSTS IN TWO DAYS!!!


THIS IS WHAT ALICE FOUND FOR US TODAY
Ok, so I was wrong. Today while out and about looking for covered bridges and fall colors, we found both. It was completely by accident. If you have ever used a GPS for getting from point A to point B, you know you can program it several ways to get to where you are going. The fastest route or the shortest route. The shortest route is what I used today, which many times takes you through back roads. Today we followed the GPS’s directions, I call her Alice, and we were instructed to travel on highways, secondary roads, dirt roads and cow trails. At one point the road became a 4 wheel drive route causing us to turn around. What the shortest route and Alice did do was find us some good color, with reds and yellows. I also discovered that all the photos you see of the fall colors here in New England, must be doctored. The photos are all so vivid, unlike what we are seeing with the naked eye. What we see is beautiful, but it’s not what the tourist bureaus advertise.

I was not wrong about the Vermont drivers.

ATTENTION CHILDREN AND SIBLINGS (Others if you’re interested)

I’ve changed the rules in the Count the White Horses Game. I learned this game as a child while traveling on vacation. Its purpose was to keep us occupied and perhaps being less trouble for our harried parents. For those of you who don’t know about this game, it goes like this.

You count the white horses you see on your side of the car. If you pass a cemetery and it’s on you side, you loose your white horses. At the end of the game the one with the most white horses win. Exciting, uh?

The new rule only applies in the northeaster part of the country. That’s because here there are lots of dead people, thus cemeteries. There are hardly any horses, let alone white ones. So here we count cemeteries and loose them when we see a white horse.

Monday, October 01, 2007

GARAGE SALE, MT WASHINGTON AND IDIOTS

COVERED BRIDGE
MT WASHINGTON VIEW

BEST OF THE COLOR


One day we drove to Warrensburg, New York, about 80 miles from Burlington to what was advertised as the “world’s largest garage sale”. Each year the town turns its main street into a swap meet. The street is about 2 miles long with people selling everything from new clothing, to antiques, to just plain junk. We parked at one end of town and followed the hordes for the next 4 hours, walking up one side of the street and back the other. In addition, all the fair food was there, with funnel cakes, corn on the cob, and Barbeque. We passed on the street food and managed to get a seat in a small cafĂ© for lunch. We got away pretty cheap, just buying some yard art and lunch.

Still in Vermont as I write this, but we have moved eastward to St Johnsbury. We are in a nice RV park on the Moose River, just outside of town. The park is full as fall is one of the busiest seasons with folks coming from far and wide to see the fall colors. According to the foliage report, we should be experiencing peak color in this region. I really hope they are mistaken because I’m not impressed with the colors we’re seeing. I’ve seen better color in the Eastern Sierras. We keep hoping it will get better, but so far we’ve been disappointed.

Today we drove into New Hampshire and took the toll road to the top of Mt Washington. It seems that in this part of the county, if there is a mountain, some private company will build a road up it and start charging for the privilege of driving up it. The road to up Mt Washington was built in the 1850’s and had been in private hands since. The road is about 8 miles, paved most of the way, and has an average grade of 12%. Once at the top, the view extends into Canada to the north, Maine to the East and New York to the West. This is if it isn’t cloudy. We were lucky in that the mountain itself was clear, but in three directions we looked down on the clouds.

I haven’t complained very much about things in this blog, but I just can’t help myself any longer. The drivers in New England are IDIOTS! They drive their Volvos and Subarus as though any curve taken at more than 10 MPH will cause a roll over. And Vermont is the Green Mountain State. These people drive as though they have never seen a mountain. I thought that perhaps I was being a little harsh, but then I got my driving instructions for driving up and down Mt Washington.

Official Mt Washington Auto Road Driving Instructions:

DRIVING UP: “Lowest gear with an automatic transmission is usually shown by symbol “1”, “L1”, or “L” on your shifting lever indicator.”

DRIVING DOWN: “Driving down in lowest gear will cause the engine to act as a brake and
help to slow you car's decent. You may notice that the engine sounds loud, or is running very fast – this is normal and is not cause for alarm."

IDIOTS

Thursday, September 27, 2007

SOME PHOTOS



FALL COLORS




FROM THE KAYAK

THE ADIRONDACKS

I've been having trouble uploading photos. This is the best I could do. We don't have internet at our campground so I am currently at the libary in Burlington, Vermont trying to catch up on the mail and stuff. Some rain expected today, so we'll try to keep dry. Stay in touch.


LILLY PADS


We’ve been having great weather with warm days and cool, but not cold nights. From Niagara Falls we continued north to Clayton, New York which is on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The RV park we stayed in wasn’t very appealing to the eye, so we opted to leave after 2 nights. While in the area we paid a visit to the Frederick Remington Museum in Ogdensburg where we saw many on his original sculptures and paintings. They were having a raffle for an original print which we are sure to win.

From Clayton we turned right and headed east into the Adirondacks, staying in a state park near Lake Placid. The campground is situated on Fish Creek Pond, a lake by our standards, with each campsite on the lakefront. Actually there are two campgrounds here, but most of it is closed for the season. There are over 600 campsites in the two campgrounds with 90% of them on the lakefront. We are also starting to see the fall colors, with red the most prominent.

There are lots of ponds (lakes) interconnected by creeks of varying size. It is a perfect location for trying out the kayak again. Most of you know the last time I used the kayak I injured my shoulder. I still have some minor pain from the surgery, but I figured there was no time like the present.

We launched the kayak from our campsite and paddled up the first creek we came to. We snaked our way through the forest, crossing one pond and then entering another creek on the other side. We repeated this several times not wanted to stop so we could see what was around the next bend. At times the creek so narrow and shallow that we scraped both sides and bottom. It was really beautiful with the trees changing colors. The next day we repeated out trip only going further just to see what was around the next bend. After two days of paddling, my shoulder actually feels a little better.

September 23rd was the first day of spring, so we celebrated at The View, a gourmet restaurant in Lake Placid. As evidenced by the restaurants name, we watched from our table as the sunlight faded causing the leaves on the trees across the lake to glow. We were then rewarded with the moon rise with its light shimmering across the water. We had a great meal with the Barbeque Onion Soup, a creation of the chef, to die for. I asked the chef for the recipe, and was told he would mail it to me. We’ll see.

After five nights in the Adirondacks, we traveled west and are currently in Burlington, Vermont. We plan on staying here for 5 to 7 days before heading towards New Hampshire. Today is laundry day so while we wait for the clothes to dry, I am writing this. We haven’t had internet access in 5 or 6 days so when I find one I will post this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NIAGARA FALLS AND THE ERIE CANAL

AMERICAN FALLS


THIS IS WHY IT'S CALLED RAINBOW BRIDGE



HORSESHOE FALLS

After leaving Michigan, the next stop was Erie, Pennsylvania where we stayed a couple of days. Believe it or not, but this area of Pennsylvania and Western New York is wine country. There are vineyards along the shores of Lake Erie growing all verities of grapes. The difference between the wineries here and the ones in California is they don’t charge you to taste their wine. We found several bottles of our liking and bought them.

We continued north to Niagara Falls where we stayed in another really nice state park. Our first day we spent looking at the falls and doing the tourist thing. We took the Maid of the Mist boat ride which turned out to be a big disappointment. Every one is given a plastic rain coat of sorts to ward off the “mist”. You can ride on the top deck or the bottom deck, each which is open to the elements. Now if you want to get wet, then this is the boat trip for you. The boat takes you past the American Falls where you don’t get very wet and get a pretty good view of the falls. Next you go up river to the bottom of Horseshoe Falls. The mist is so thick, you can’t even see the falls, as you can tell by the photo. It’s not really a mist, but more like a pouring rain. Those on the top of the boat get soaked and those on the bottom get wet. The entire trip lasts around 15 to 20 minutes, which wouldn’t be enough time if you could actually see the falls, but was plenty of time for a cold shower.

After this experience we decided not to do the Cave of the Winds or the Bottom of the Falls because they appeared to be more of the same. We did manage to get some great views standing just feet from the top of the falls. We then walked across the bridge into Canada where we were afforded the best view of both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

The next day we went to Lockport, New York to see the Erie Canal. Here there are locks on the canal, hence the name of the city. We stopped in at the visitor center for information then walked the block to the canal and the locks. Shortly after we arrived, we were greeted by and elderly gentleman who introduced himself to us as a volunteer at the visitor center. He apologized for not speaking to us at the center and proceeded to give us an interesting tour of the locks. He told us he has lived all of his 83 years in Lockport, still residing in the house he was born in. He said his father and mother emigrated from Italy and his father worked on the canal in the early 1900’s when it was being widened, earning 10 cents an hour. Today the canal is used only for pleasure craft as there is no longer any commercial traffic. Transit through the locks is free, supported by tolls on New York toll roads and bridges. Something he told us I never knew was each year in November, the canal is drained for maintenance and refilled in the spring.

Since arriving in New York State, we have managed to visit, Panama, Barcelona, Dunkirk, Angola, Greece, and Mexico, all towns in the western part of the state. Cathie says this mean we don’t have to fly to any of those places (she hates to fly) and we can do our overseas trips right here in the US.

The weather continues to be great with temperatures in the high 70’s. If this continues, the leaves will never change colors and we’ll just have to come back in the future.









Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Michigan and Mr. Ford

BIG SABLE POINT LIGHTHOUSE


CATHIE AND HER ART GLASS


September 4th and its south to the Lower Peninsula. About halfway down in Ludington, Michigan and another state park. After staying at Straits State Park and being required to purchase a State Park Annual Pass for $29, we figured we better get our moneys worth. We stayed 4 nights at Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan. Nice clean beaches for walking and miles of bike paths. We took advantage of both. We rode our bikes up the lake shore to Big Sable Point Lighthouse where we climbed to the top for the exercise and the view.

After Ludington we continued south to Sterling State Park, our third Michigan State Park. Located one the shore of Lake Erie between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, it is a convenient location for visiting Dearborn and The Henry Ford. Then Henry Ford is a complex of museums and an IMAX theater. There are two main parts, one of which is an actual museum and the other is Greenfield Village. The Museum, once called Henry Ford’s attic contains a wide variety of artifacts depicting American History, from the chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated to the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, to the Allegheny, one of the largest steam locomotives ever built.

Greenfield Village is 90 acres of historic structures including the Wright Brothers home and workshop, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, to an early 1700’s plantation house. Most of the buildings are the original building, purchased by Henry Ford, dismantled and shipped to Greenfield Village where they were put back together with the original materials. The village is a living museum with people dressed in period clothes performing the jobs and tasks of the day. There is a working steam railroad, a working farm and lots of Model T’s.

The glass shop was of interest to us, as we collect blown glass. For a fee, you can make your own glass flower. I volunteered to document the occasion by taking the pictures while Cathie, with the assistance of one of the artisans, made her glass flower. We don’t know how it turned out as, it has to sit in an oven overnight and will be shipped home later.

The next day we returned and took the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. The Rouge complex is huge and would probably take several days to see it all, but Ford only gives tours of the
F-150 truck assembly plant. Taken by bus from the museum you see part of the complex which was built by Henry Ford in 1917. Here raw materials are marshaled, delivered by rail and ship, for the production of steel. Then the steel goes to the stamping plant when the individual parts are manufactured. The stamping plant covers 2.5 million square feet, or about 50 football fields.

The tour of the F-150 plant includes a movie about the history of the Rouge complex. After that you enter a multisensory theater to “experience” what it’s like on the floor of the assembly plant. The floor shakes, you smell the smells of the factory and heat from the steel furnaces. When the finished truck is put through water jets to check for leaks, you even get sprayed with water.

You then walk via overhead walkways over the assembly line. You can take as much time as you want, stopping at video presentations explaining the process before you. Although you don’t see the entire production of the 2008 model truck, you do get to see many of the parts coming together. While we were there, they were running one 2009 model through the line to see what adjustments would have to be made to the production process. They had most of the body covered so you couldn’t see what it looked like. Here it is 2007 and they already have a 2009 model.
After the factory tour, we returned to the museum where we spent the rest of the afternoon. I suppose you could do it all in one day, but for us two days was about right. Tomorrow our plan is to sleep in and take it easy for the day. Perhaps a bike ride, but I’ll probably wash the truck as I’m getting tired of the dirt.


http://www.thehenryford.org/

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

MINNESOTA AND WISCONSIN

CORN


FORT SNELLING

After surviving the storm, the weather gods decided to stop scaring us and the sun came out. Temperatures in the mid eighties, with clear skies.

We visited Fort Snelling which was the first white settlement in Minneapolis. It is situated on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Most of the fort has been restored to its original condition. There are people dressed in period clothing, playing the roles of those who lived there in the 1830. Solders, blacksmith, shopkeeper, doctor and cook. They each played their roles and explained to us what life was like back then.

The next day we took a shuttle bus to the Minnesota State Fair. The place was packed. Although the Del Mar Fair has lots of junk food, the Minnesota Fair is junk food. The fair grounds are huge and set out with streets in the traditional square blocks. Food booths line each of the streets. On top of that, there were buildings dedicated just to food. Everything comes on a stick, from the common, Hot Dog on a Stick, to the uncommon Breakfast on a Stick and Pork Chop on a Stick. Since the Midwest is farm country, there were lots of displays related to farming. Corn, dairy products, pork, and tractors galore. There was even a life sized cow carved out of butter. All in all it was a pretty good fair, and beats the Del Mar Fair in the food category.

I spent the next day exploring downtown Minneapolis and the state capitol in St. Paul, while Cathie lay around the pool. Downtown is pretty clean with a great system of bike/jogging paths around the Mississippi River. I wasn’t able to get close enough to the collapsed bridge, but most of it had already been removed. I didn’t stay long in the downtown area due to a Vikings game in the afternoon.

Our next stop was a campground near Shawano, Wisconsin. The result of being America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin is also America Fly Nation. They were pretty thick when the air was calm. The campground is mostly occupied with seasonal campers. They move their RV’s in at the beginning of summer and stay till fall. At night they roll out a big movie screen and everyone brings a chair. We spent time visiting with a retired co-worker who lives nearby. He has spent the last six summers, since retiring, building a lakefront home on property that has been in his family for years. A really beautiful setting, until winter when everything freezes.

It’s raining now so we are hold up in the trailer. We are in St. Ignace, Michigan in a state park which on the Straits of Mackinac. The Straits separate Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Across the Strait is Mackinaw City which we can be reached on the 5 mile long Mackinac Suspension Bridge. Every Labor Day, which was yesterday, they close several lanes on the bridge in the morning to allow walkers and joggers to cross the on foot. Participants cross going south and return via school busses. Well it turns out the powers to be didn’t expect 57,000 people to walk across the bridge. We heard stories of people having to wait up to 4 hours for a bus ride back. Usually people are allowed to walk on the bridge till around 11 am, but there were still people walking at 4 pm. It took several hours for a car to drive across and traffic was backed up for miles. Glad we didn’t get into town until after 4:00.
We are still enjoying ourselves and are seeing areas of the country we’ve never been in. St. Ignace is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or the U.P. as the locals call it. Tomorrow we will head south, across the Mackinac Bridge onto the Lower Peninsula, still exploring new lands.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

AN ADVENTURE! - STORM UPDATE

Well I guess you can say we had our first adventure of the trip. Around 2:45 this morning we were awoken by the flash of lightning. Actually, we were up going to the bathroom and noticed the lightning. At first we couldn’t hear the thunder and figured the storm was far away. Shortly thereafter we started hearing the thunder, but it still seemed a long way off. Then the rain began. When the sound of the rain on the roof of the trailer was louder then the thunder, I figured it was time to turn on the TV to see what was up.

The crawler at the bottom of the TV screen told us there was a line of severe thunderstorms heading towards various counties. Counties around here are small and there are probably 20 in the Twin Cities area. I watched closely and when I noticed Scott County, which is where we happened to be, was on the list, my heart started beating a little faster. Then the crawler informed us that the storm could have damaging winds. What does that mean? For all I knew it could mean anything from a stiff breeze to a tornado. Next it said there had been reported golf size hail. Hey, I’ve been hit with a golf ball and they hurt.

About this time I told Cathie I thought we should probably get dressed in case we had to head for the shelter. Within the next minute the wind started. The trailer was rocking and the trees outside were bending. At least the power was still on. I looked outside and didn’t see anyone, figuring they must have already gone to the shelter. With the rain going sideways we made a run for it. The storm shelter was about 75 yards away, which seems like a mile, but with the wind at our backs, we made it in record time. As we stumbled into the basement of the RV park owner’s home, we were heartened to see the lights on at the bottom of the stairs. We expected to be greeted by the rest of the parks occupants, but were surprised to see only one other couple and their dog. The lady who owns the campground came down the stairs from the house to welcome us, and told us that her policeman husband had called to say the power was out in Bloomington, a nearby town. After turning on the TV for us, she returned upstairs.

I wondered where all the other people were. It was hard to believe they could have slept though the storm. The TV was telling us the winds were in excess of 70 MPH, which I understood to be hurricane strength. On the way to the shelter we had noticed several tree limbs laying around, I was sure the locals would have enough sense to seek shelter. Then in our conversation with the other couple in the shelter, we learned they too were from California. It was only the Californians that had enough sense to come in out of the rain.

After about 30 minutes the storm subsided and we returned above ground to see all the locals standing around in their pajamas, watching the light show which was now heading east. We scurried back to the trailer, hoping not to be noticed. Can’t wait till some of those Midwesterners come west and experience a 4.0 quake.

If it happens again tonight, I’m still heading for the basement.
Here's a link so you know I'm telling the truth.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wyoming and South Dakota


DAKOTA BADLANDS


CAMPSITE AT LEWIS AND CLARK LAKE


Well it’s time for this trip’s first installment of Gassaway’s Adventures. So far the trip has been pretty tame, with no real adventures to report. It's different from last year because so far we haven’t spent anytime at the Ford dealership, nor have we had to buy any new tires. (Knock on wood).

We left home early Saturday morning, heading north on I-15. Opting not to stop and enjoy the 110 degree temperature in Mesquite, NV, we spent our first night in Beaver, Utah. The next day we continued north arriving in Evanston, Wyoming in the early afternoon. Evanston owes its existence to the railroad. The first transcontinental railroad came through Evanston on the way west. Trains continue to roll through at all hours of the day and night. The surrounding area primarily consists of rolling ranch land supporting cattle.

After settling in at the local RV park, we drove 25 miles east and visited Fort Bridger. Many of the original buildings still exist, but the vast majority have disappeared, most destroyed by fire.

The next day we took a leisurely drive south along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. It traverses a wide farming valley along the Bear River before climbing up over a 10,000 foot pass.

After two nights in Evanston we headed east. We got off the interstate and stuck to the secondary roads crossing the continental divide at South Pass. Many of the settlers heading west in wagon trains used this pass because of its gradually sloping hills and the lack of any mountains. We also stopped at Independence Rock, which the same settlers carved their names as they passed on the way west carved. There are hundreds if not thousands of names and dates all over the rock, which is several hundred feet high and about one mile around. Yesterday’s graffiti is now protected. I hope it’s not is sign of what will happen to today’s graffiti.

After an overnight stop near Casper, we continued east to Badlands National Park in southeastern South Dakota. The Dakota Badlands are similar to the one we have in Borrego, with the exception of prairie grasslands which surround the area and the wildlife. This is truly, as the song goes, “where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play.”

Also in the area are many cold war era minuteman missile silos and launch control facilities. One near the park has been taken over by the National Park Service and tours our offered. We did not get to see the control center because the tour was booked up, but did manage to view one of the missiles in a silo. An interesting missile fact: The minuteman ICBM missile carries a 1.2 megaton warhead which is about 60% of the power of all the bombs dropped in World War II.

Our next stop on the journey east was Yankton, South Dakota. We stayed in the nicest state park we’ve ever seen. The park is situated along the shore of Lewis and Clark Lake which is formed behind the Gavin’s Point Dam on the Missouri River. The park runs several miles along the lakeshore and consists of over 300 campsites situated within mature trees and surrounded by acres and acres of lawn. There are miles of bike trails, which we have taken advantage of, playgrounds for the kids, and beaches for swimming. This is by far the most beautiful campground/park we’ve ever seen.

We are now in Minneapolis, having arrived in the early afternoon. The state fair is in full swing and we will visit it tomorrow or the next day. The RV park we are in has a storm shelter, which is comforting because there are tornado watches in effect in the area. Perhaps we’ll have an adventure to report in the next installment.

http://www.lewisandclarkpark.com/









Thursday, August 16, 2007

THIS TIME IT'S NEW ENGLAND

We leave this weekend and expect to return sometime during the first two weeks in November. As usual we do not have a detailed itinerary, only that we want to be in New England for the fall colors. We will drive north until we reach Wyoming, then turn right. After that it's anybodies guess. We will go with the flow, stopping when we see something interesting and perhaps stay a while. When we grow tired we'll move on. We will travel ac cross the northern tier of the country heading east and return on a more southerly route.

I will post on the blog when I feel like it, usually about once a week, depending on the level of excitement we've experienced. As in the past we are available via e-mail. I finally broke down and purchased a cell phone plan with nationwide calling so feel free to give us a call.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

MAUI

It's been some time since I've posted anything here, but it's been some time since we've been anywhere. We've been staying close to home due to a kitchen remodel, new landscaping in the front yard and the marrage of our daughter Julie. Now that's all done, it's time to get back out there and see the world.

Last fall our good friends Gary and Diane, invited us to go to Maui with them and stay in their timeshare condo. Not wanting to pass up the offer of free lodging, we jumped at the chance. In exchange we agreed to pay for the rental car, not really an equal exchange, but hey, they invited us. With the plane tickets purchased we were all ready to go. At the last minute, an illness prevented Gary and Diane from going, but they insisted that we go without them.

The six hour flight was a breeze, having upgraded to first class at the last minute. After two unsuccessful attempts at getting a rental call that was non-smoking, the third time was a charm. We arrived at Kahana Beach Resort, our home for the next week, and got settled into our condo. (Or should I say Gary and Diane's condo) Our unit was on the third floor and right on the beach. When I say right on the beach, I mean right on the beach or about 20 feet as the crow flies. At high tide, the waves hit the sea wall that surrounds the building. Our lanai overlooks the beach and one can see the Humpback Whales passing by off shore. We left the sliding glass door open each night and fell asleep to the sound of the waves.





In traveling around the island, we often saw abandoned and stripped cars like this one. They are all over the place, and there is no apparent effort to remove them. I asked one local why this was and I was told that there is no place to put them. People remove the vin number and abandoned them. The police apparently do nothing to find the owners or to remove them from the sides of the highways, or in this case a scenic view point.


Each morning before breakfast we would take our rented mask, snorkel and fins and hit the local beaches. We were told morning was best for snorkeling as the water is calm and clear. We saw all kinds of colorful fish and coral, but the highlight was to watch the sea turtles. I was able to follow one for about twenty minutes as it ate seaweed. (yum) About every five minutes or so it would come to the surface for a breath of air right next to me. I'm pretty sure it was checking me out each time it surfaced, but it never seemed afraid. The rest of the day was spent laying around and doing pretty much as little as possible. We did manage to drive the road to Hana, which if you come to Maui, everyone must do. We were here in 1980, and the road is much improved and not really as bad as it was back then.

While in the Hana area, we wanted to hike up the Ohe'o Gulch to view the seven pools and waterfalls. We were disappointed to discover that although some of the pools contained water, there was no water over any of the falls, due to a dry winter.

On of the highlights of the trip was a magic show we saw. Called Warren and Annabelles the Warren part was worth the price of admission. The Annabelle part was pretty lame. You are told that the show starts at 5 pm, but having been warned, we arrived about an hour late. The first two hours of the show are spent in Annabelle's parlor where you can order expensive and bad food. About 6 pm, Annabelle shows up. Well not really because she's a ghost. With the assistance of a hostess, who sings poorly, Annabelle plays the piano while the singer sings. We are told Annabelle takes requests, but as it turns out, she didn't know any of the requested songs. So you sit there and listen to a player piano, and a bad singer for the next hour. The funny thing was, when the singer wasn't singing and it was just Annabelle, people would applaud at the end of a selection. They were applauding a player piano!

For the Warren part of the show, you are ushered into a small theater where Warren, a real person does his magic. I won't give anything away, but he is good and funny, and worth it even if you have to put up with Annabelle.



MAUI SUNSET

We saw seven of these great sunsets, this one taken from our condo.

After a week of great snorkeling, restful nights, and way too much food it was time to return home. We were thankful that Gary and Diane invited us, but sad they couldn't be there to enjoy it with us. There will be a next time.