Thursday, September 27, 2007





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.


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





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



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.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007




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.