31 July 2009

We View No.2 Big Blue - 289 miles

The GPS gives me a lot of problems. One of the most frustrating ones is which way to go in the mornings. Normally it says "travel north-west to xxx road and turn right". Now that is OK if you know which way north west is. Normally, I never have a problem. Spin me around anywhere in Australia and ask me to point in a direction and I'll get it pretty close. But here, I'm lost. The sun comes from the wrong way and we are way too far up. The sun doesn't come up in the east, but the north east and then describes an arc in the sky and sets north west. It just isn't normal, and my mind doesn't cope.
To make it worse, this morning it was overcast and although it was light, there was just no indication as to which way was north. But the GPS said "travel north-west to xxx road and turn right". So I apparently went south-east and got chastised with the "Off route - Recalculating" in her haughtiest of voices. I'm sure they program in several versions of that statement. The amount of haughtiness in her voice is inversly proportional to the stupidity of the mistake.

So with a couple of U-turns and a late swerve onto a ramp, causing poor Jack to have a conniption trying to follow, we were under way.

The route took us through some back roads of Vermont which could do with some attention, but I do like travelling the back roads and taking in the atmosphere of the country.

Eventually we found a 50's style roadside diner and while Charleen ordered breakfast, I attempted to change the left light bulb which had gone bad. It took a while and, as usual, skinned my hand, but it turned out the replacement bulb, a spare of Jack's, was also bad.

So we traveled on and soon found a Wal-Mart. One is rarely far from a Wal-Mart in America.
We all did some shopping for what we needed, my needs being a light bulb and I was the first one finished. The girls soon arrived with food and beers and such and that all put away, we were under way again.

We took a few turns and crossed a bridge into New Hampshire. Then we spent a few hours traveling east on more back roads of this pretty state. Most of the houses are weatherboard, which is relatively unusual here. The architecture is old, quaint and pleasing to the eye.

We made a wrong turn - stupid GPS's fault - and found ourself at Lovell Lake. Had to stop for a photo of that. It was only a small lake, just a couple of miles long, but very pretty.

Maine was getting close, but amongst these back roads, we completely missed the border and so had to get a picture at the first named sign we saw.

Then it wasn't far - just one rain shower - and we ran out of states to visit in this direction. That is to say, we came to the Atlantic Ocean. This was a big first for Charleen and me so we made sure to find a nice scenic spot. York Harbour is a very pretty town and has a big beachside. Pity about the beach. But then we Queenslanders are spoilt.

Back on the big freeway and we headed for our intended digs south of Boston. We injected ourselves into the freeway system and emerged 80 miles later intact. Phew.

Tomorrow, we'll head back into Boston for a look around.


Our very own lake.

Pontoon boats are very popular on the lakes

Grey beaches of York Harbour

We finally reach the Atlantic

Now That's a nice hotel. No, we're not staying there.

Big traffic on Boston freeways. Devotees will notice three Subarus in the pic. Probably the most popular single brand in the New England part of USA.

Noddy lives?

30 July 2009

Vermont has Good Food - 257 miles

Jack and Linda got lost trying to find their way back to our motel. Turns out they had a lovely night in a very nice KOA on a riverbank. Would have been good for us too, but who can tell?
Finally underway, we headed towards the Adirondak mountains. Now this is weird too. The whole area is shown on maps as a Park. There is a sign at the entrance to say Adirondak Park. But apart from having all the street signs in brown and yellow like most parks, there is nothing else to make it look like a park.
There are houses everywhere, all styles from trailers to mansions, all condition from falling down to recently built. There are towns, with city halls and court houses, streets of shops and servos. So what is the park? I do notice it is not stated that it is a State or National Park, just Adirondak Park.

Aside from that, the park is quite pretty with lots of trees that I bet turn lovely colours in autumn. Many lakes, lots with islands in them and many houses on the banks. It would be a lovely place to live or have a holiday house.

Jack collects photos of his bike at border signs. He missed the one entering New York State from Ontario, so we were under orders to stop at the border of Vermont so he could turn around and get one that way. Only it turned out the border crossing was on a river with a ferry. As we approached I was sure the ferry would be waiting impatiently for us to board and no time to get the shot. Turned out we had a few minutes but there was no welcome sign at this particular border crossing.

On the ferry they had a box of local Maple Syrup for sale. I like Maple Syrup. In the USA they have syrup on almost everything, but it is always imitation. The taste is very similar, but a discerning pallette for things sweet will always know the difference. (I must try a blind test one day). In any case, just knowing it is the real thing makes a difference.

So Jack noticed that the maple farm was not too far to the north. North we went. Quite a ways, but we eventually found the farm. They had lots of great foodstuffs as well as the Maple Syrup. We also saw a film of the harvest and production. It is always done in May, when the trees start to produce sap for the spring/summer. We bought maple flavoured frozen yohurts - delicious. We also tasted lots of locally grown and produced jams and spreads. All yummy. Good thing we cannot carry too much.

Then we discovered a pamphlet for the local Ben and Jerry ice cream factory. Plans were immediately changed to take us there.

We got there after a couple of wrong turns, but found it very crowded with busloads of school kids and a long lineup to get near the ice cream counter. The tour of the factory was not for 45 minutes and I had seen threatening clouds outside. We discussed it and decided to try to get local accommodation and return later hopefully after the schoolies were gone. It never happened.

We made it in to town and found not much in the way of reasonably-priced digs but there was one only a few miles away in the next town. On the way there the heavens opened up. We dashed off the freeway and under a bridge to put on wets then braved the elements - wind as well as rain - to the motel. Turned out to be quite nice and had a nice restaurant with well-priced meals. One of the specials was sirloin steak - my pick - and it came out looking great. the cook asked whether I would like to enhance it with Lea&Perrins or destroy it with A-1 sauce. He was delighted when I said it looked so good I would hate to spoil it with sauces. It was a good decision and a great steak.

It is now after 9pm. We are snug in our bedrooms and it is still raining heavily outside. Let's hope it clears up by morning or we are going to have a wet run in to Boston.

Here's pics:

Lots of wild turkeys on the roadside

Quaint stores

Bridge over the Hudson River

Syrup for sale on the ferry

Parked on the ferry

The maple syrup boiler. This machine renders the maple sap down to one fortieth its volume of syrup. I can only imagine the smell and it imagines well.

Strange idea for a hydrant

29 July 2009

In Search of Clinton's Folly - 258 miles

The motel breakfast was a little late so we got underway a bit late also with only coffee and a small doughnut to sustain us.
I had changed the route the night before as we had discovered we hadn't yet seen the last of the Great Lakes. So we headed North towards Lake Ontario.
On the way, Jack noticed that we were to go near the Erie Canal. He had learned about it in history classes in school, so was curious. In the town of Lockport, we took a detour and went in search of the canal and some of the locks. We found them and took a couple of piccies.
Turns out this canal is 363 miles long and rises 600 feet through 50 locks. It was built from 1817 to 1832 and was quite an engineering feat for its day. The original organising politician was New York Govenor at the time, DeWitt Clinton. The newspapers scoffed at the idea. Thus today's title.

Moving back on track, we found Lake Ontario - not too difficult, it is quite big - and came across it as a very nice State camping ground. Looked like a very peaceful place to stay, especially in the nice weather we were having. Apparently it isn't always this good.

Shortly after we suddenly changed from the two-lane country road to a four-lane expressway that ran beside the lake. Seemed like overkill for the area and there was hardly any traffic on it. We had a couple of small problems with it. There were no services nearby and Charleen wanted to go. The road suddenly turned to very rough with lots of ups and downs. Also fuel was getting very low.
The Parkway eventually ended and we were plunged back in to civizilation. We found the very first servo before we ran out and wouldn't you know it, no rest rooms.
So I quickly filled up and we headed across the road to a coffee shop and used their washroom and stayed for coffee and a snack.

All better we headed more east and the GPS decided to take us through suburbia rather than on the highway. Not sure why, but it was very pleasant with nice houses and mostly well cared for.
But it was slow so we eventually found our way back on to a highway.

We came across Lake Oneida. Once again we found that, like many other lakeside areas, lots of properties are built right on to the lake and the passer by cannot get near. Eventually we found a lakeside memorial park and pulled up to take a look and stretch the legs. We were soon overtaken by a light shower so that got us moving again. We managed to out-run it and were soon at our intended digs for the night.

We are motelling it still, due to the cool nature of nights way up north here and we are both harbouring lingering colds. We're fine, but just don't want to take the chance of regression.
Jack and Linda have opted to camp and so are currently not far away.

Today's photos:

One of several large power stations utilising the Niagara Falls

Old Canal Boat memorial

Overhead view of one of the locks in Lockport

Shores of Lake Ontario

We've also been through lots of towns with European names in upstate new York

Many homes have a star on them. Does anyone know why? Genuine question.

One way of reaching out to the postie

Parked by the highway. Nicely preserved.

A place to contemplate the serenity of a calm lake. Cleveland town.

Strange truck following us

28 July 2009

Niagara From Both Sides - 148 miles

Leaving London a little later than usual, we didn't stay on the slab for too long. We turned off south to find yet another of the Great Lakes, Erie. We traveled through farming land of Ontario and liked what we saw. The farms are neat and tidy, with clipped lawns and very little "used machinery" junking up the paddocks. Every farm has at least one huge barn not far from the house.
It appears this country is good enough to grow almost anything as the crops are many and varied. Corn is the major crop growing at the moment with oats looking ready for harvest. But there are also various berries, melons, potatos, pumpkins and even quite a bit of tobacco.
Eventually we made our way to Port Dover and the shores of the lake. After the obligatory photos it was time for breakfast and we tried a Canadian chain, Tim Hortons. The store is essentially McDonalds-like, but with some interesting differences. More selecting from the shelf than pointing to a picture. For fast food, it wasn't too bad.

Then it was more running through farming and rural communities towards Niagara Falls and as we approached we could see the high-rise hotels looming in the distance. All the big names are there, all towering over the Canadian side of the Falls. A bit, shall we say, over the top?

However, we went past and made our way to the edge which is mostly parkland. Grassy parkland as well as car-parkland. Prices were pretty high, but we finally located one that was only $4 per hour. Surprisingly it was only a short walk to the Falls.

We mingled with the crowds and took quite a few photos. It looked very much like the spot used for the Superman movie, so I left the group and went to get a hot dog. Nothing happened while I was away.

Back on the bikes, we headed for a border crossing again. Not so bad this time and for a change Charleen and I got through quicker. A couple of right turns and another expensive car park and we were on the USA side of the Falls. At least this time they let both bikes in for the price of one car, so long as we only took up one car park. So we took up half an RV park.

There wasn't quite the crowds where we were so we had a nice stroll through the mist and another look at the rushing water.

We weren't far from our intended digs and the day was wearing on, so we both followed our GPSs different ways.

Tried to have dinner at a Pizza Hut, but the offerings were just too silly, so we opted for a Dennys.

Here's Charleen's effort:

Port Dover fishermen's memorial

Lake Erie

Lots of farms with barns. All very neat.

An old opening bridge

We got lots of piccies of the falls - we'll show you later

The hot dog man. Actually he said he was out of hot dogs so I could only get a sausage on a bun!

All the high rise on the Canadian side

USA flags are half mast every second day while their military are fighting

Maid of the Mist IV approaches the falls. It is full of blue raincoats.

27 July 2009

I Wish Henry Ford Made Motels - 238 miles

Saginaw, Michigan is probably a very nice town. Can't say for sure. We drove right around it thanks to a silly detour, we stayed in one of the worst motels ever near it, but still didn't see the town. So we'll say its nice.

We got away from that motel as early as possible and had a light brekfast at a nearby McDonalds. Well, they do have nice coffee.
Then it was slab it all the way in to Detroit as we were over a hundred miles away and wanted a good look at the Henry Ford Museum.

So we paid our $15 per head and spent three hours having a good look at some great exhibits. Mostly to do with transport. Cars, motorcycles, trains, planes over the last 100 plus years. Made for a great morning.
By lunchtime we were pretty walked out and got back on the bikes to go to London, ON, Canada. That meant going through customs again, which only took about two minutes, after waiting in line for 50 minutes!

After that, another 100 plus miles of Canadian freeway and we arrved in London, just a little bit wet but tonight we are in a better motel - not hard to do - but it's internet connection is broken. Can't win 'em all.

Got some pics today: 

Birmingham is a nice little suburb/town

Well, it is Detroit

The entry to the museum

First "car" he built, the quadricycle. Fascinating.

"A bear's natural Habitat - a Studebaker" Fossie Bear - Muppet Movie.
A four-door version of this car is the first car I ever drove.

Janis Joplin's car. Not a Mercedes you'll notice.

Apparently Alice was a very sweet guy. Long story.

Lineup behind us on the Bridge to Canada

and in front

Nice Canadian countryside under harvest

26 July 2009

Wet Wet Wet - 289 miles

Overnight the thunderstorms kept us awake but in the morning there was a little sunshine. It was short-lived however and we set out wearing the wets.

Having left Lake Superior behind, we caught our first look at Lake Michigan crossing the huge Mackinac Bridge.

Then we turned off the freeways and went for a tour down beside Lake Huron. Very pretty country again, but we also saw a lot of rain. This interrupts Charleen taking photographs, but she does try. The camera got a bit wet today, but still seems to be working.

It wasn't until after lunchtime that the skies finally started to clear. Charleen and I removed the wets after a while, but Jack and Linda kept theirs on, not really game to take on the weather. Sure enough, two minutes after we got under way again, it began to spot up the windscreen.
Thankfully it didn't last.

Then we got back on the freeway and got fooled by a detour, which led us in a big circle for about ten miles or so back to where we started. So we needed to refuel again and decided to try to find a local motel rather than go too far out of our way.

So we found one. It was cheap and has internet. That's about all I can say about it.

Just as we parked, down the rain came again, but this was only a small shower and we were able to go out for tea and back without getting wet.

Tomorrow we head for the Henry Ford Museum, then perhaps back in to Canada.

Today's few pictures.

Lake Michigan

Couldn't get a good shot of the Mackinac Bridge due to the weather, so here's one we prepared earlier

It has a mesh surface that you can see through. Very slippery on a wet day.

After the top they let us on to the bitumen bit.

Refuelling. Looks like this servo caters for old-time steam engines as well.

Lake Huron has a beach and quite the holiday destination.

Probably left over from early July.

Dire warning near roadwork.