Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pennsylvania and New York

We’re back! We haven’t had access to WiFi in over a week. So...I’m playing catch-up. We left the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Thursday August 13th. Spent the night in Wauseon, Ohio. That day we hit the Ohio turnpike and drove all the way through the northern part of the state. We spent the night at Greenville, Pennsylvania, then on to Warren, PA the next day. On Sunday we drove into New York toward Lake Erie. We spent two nights at Lake Erie State Park. The next day, August 18, back through Pennsylvania, western Maryland, the eastern edge of West Virginia, then Virginia to the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. That is where we are now. The photos below will bring you all up to date. You'll need to start at the bottom of the post and read up...

After visiting the falls, and a quick stop for burgers, we drove east to Lockport, NY. That is where we saw Lock 34 on the Erie Canal. The town itself is pretty with several bridges crossing the canal. Did ya’ll learn the song about the Erie Canal in school? My sister Kathy and I did. North Ward Elementary in Mrs. Schmidt’s music class. “I’ve got a mule her name is Sal...” Ring any bells?? Okay, enough of that...

A couple of barge workers on the Erie Canal. Not sure if they are “Hoggees”, the men and boys who drove the mules pulling the barges.

The Erie Canal was opened in 1825. It ran 363 miles across upper New York state connecting Buffalo and Albany. The original canal was only four feet deep with 83 locks, each measuring 90 feet long by 15 feet wide.
This photo is of the “five flights” that were part of the original canal. The lock gates have been removed and now it is used as overflow.

On Monday we got up early to drive over to Niagara Falls. We were glad we got there so early as they were having another heat wave. It was still cool when we first got there and there were so few people that we felt like we had the park to ourselves. This is the American Falls. You can see people on the 230 foot tall observation tower. You couldn’t pay me enough to go up there because you know how I am about heights.

Another view of American Falls. Niagara Falls State Park is America’s oldest established in 1885. There are a lot of things to see and do in addition to the falls - the Great Lakes Garden, the Discovery Center, Niagara Aquarium, Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist and the Adventure Theater.

A nice lady from Rhode Island offered to take our picture after Donnie had done the same for her and her family. The morning sun hit the waterfall mist just right to make this cool rainbow. Shelby doesn’t look too impressed though. Think we got her up too early.

We walked over a pedestrian bridge to Goat Island to get a better view of Horseshoe Falls. You can see one of the Maid of the Mist boats that take a roundtrip near the base of both falls. We passed on the boat ride as we saw how wet some of the passengers got!

We stopped in Westfield (east of state park) at a car show that was hosted by the VFW. There were all kinds of cars there, but of course we only took pictures of Mopars!

I really liked this car, a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, so Donnie snapped our photo!

In the same area there are miles and miles of vineyards. We stopped at a produce stand and talked to a very friendly lady who had grown all the fruit and veggies. We bought homegrown tomatoes (Donnie was in heaven!!) and some really wonderful peaches. She told us that in 3-4 weeks the concord grapes would ripen and the air would be scented with them.

On Sunday we were driving along the edge of Lake Erie when we saw this lighthouse. It was near a beach where lots of locals were trying to cool off. While camping at Lake Erie State Park the temperatures were in the low 90s.

Guess you can tell where this photo was taken? Yep, a WalMart parking lot. We were stopped here in Greenville in western Pennsylvania. Donnie noticed the shed with a horse and buggy parked in it. We saw several Amish couples and families coming in to WalMart to do their shopping. Downtown Greenville was small and quaint with narrow streets and some really interesting old buildings.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mackinac Island, MI

We are staying a couple of nights at an RV park in Cedarville, MI. This is a view from our "back yard". Not bad, huh?! We can watched the seagulls, ducks, and swans. And earlier today we saw a bald eagle soaring above our site chasing an osprey. Pretty neat stuff...

This morning we took a catamaran (fast moving ferry) over to Mackinac Island from St. Ignace. The trip took about 15 minutes and this is a photo of the first thing we saw as we neared the island. I know...another lighthouse!

A view of Mackinac Island mansions on a cliff overlooking Lake Huron. Wouldn't you love to have one of these "cottages" for a summer house? I sure would, so I better start buying a bunch of lottery tickets!

The island harbor was a busy place this morning. We arrived here about 10 AM and it was already bustling with tourists. The white structures and wall at the top of the hill is Fort Mackinac.
A helpful gentleman at the chamber of commerce said the walk up to the fort was very steep, so we decided to tackle it first. When we got there a tour had just started with a demonstration of firing a cannon. Wow, talk about making your ears ring! The British founded the fort in 1780 during the American Revolution. Americans took control of it in 1796. Feel like you are getting a history lesson? We sure did when we toured it, and we learned quite a bit.
We walked everywhere we went and really enjoyed the exercise. Although I have to admit, all those horse drawn carriages started looking pretty good after a couple of hours.

The harbor looking down from the fort. The larger boat in the center of the picture is like the catamaran we took this morning.

One of the village streets on the island. Carey and Carolyn, you were right! Every second or third store IS a fudge shop. I read in one of the brochures that tourists are called "fudgies" by the locals. Now I know why. Actually, we didn't buy any fudge at all. We were not very good tourists! I say, just give me a good ole Hershey Bar any time...

I know you can't read the sign very well, but it is rare that we have a photo with both of us in it. We were walking up another steep little street when a nice lady offered to take this picture. I just had the camera out as an excuse to catch my breath! The sign says Mackinac Island State Park.

This church was built in 1904 with stones from the island. The stained glass windows were just beautiful.

Last but not least...This is the Grand Hotel. Built in 1887 it is believed to be the largest summer resort in the world. The front porch which measures 660 feet long goes down to a green sloping lawn covered in all kinds of blooming flowers and shrubs.
Well, that pretty much covers our adventure for today. We will be leaving the Michigan U.P. in the morning. We'll cross the Mackinac Bridge and head south. We aren't sure where we will stop next, but I will definitely keep you posted...

Shipwreck Tour Munising, MI

On Monday Donnie and I took a shipwreck tour in Munising Bay (Michigan) on Lake Superior. We went out for a couple of hours on a really neat glass bottom boat. The tour took us out over three different shipwrecks. This first photo is of the bow of the Burmuda, a 150 ft wooden sailing schooner that sank in 1870. The top deck of the Bermuda is only 12 feet below the surface of the lake. The water is so clear that Donnie was able to take this photo leaning over the side of our tour boat.

As you can see these two pictures were taken looking down through the glass bottom of the boat. The captain of the boat, who was a lady, was amazing. She maneuvered the boat back and forth over each wreck, so you could see the decks, hatches, railings and even where the masts had been attached.

We also cruised along the southern shore of Grand Island. We were told there are all types of wildlife on the island including bear, coyotes, beaver and otters. We didn't see any of those animals but we did see a very large bald eagle perched in a pine tree on the edge of the water.

You all know how I am about lighthouses. Can't pass one by without taking a photo! This is East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island. It was built in 1869-1870 to guide ships into Munising Harbor.
Donnie and I both really enjoyed the glass bottom boat tour. We had a great time. The lake was smooth as glass and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. A great day to be on the water.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Marquette, Michigan

Hello all! Hope you are enjoying the posts of our adventures. Feel free to write us back. Just click on comments at the bottom of each post. Would love to hear from you!

We are staying at an RV park in Ishpeming, MI in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We got here on Friday and have spent a few hours here and there touring the town. This afternoon we tried our first pasty (pronounced pass'-tee). We drove a few miles over to Negaunee and stopped at Grandma T's Pasty Shop. Bought the beef pasty that also has potatoes and carrots in it. It was surprisingly good, as we had been warned that a pasty is very bland. They are a local food here in the Michigan U.P. and originated as a portable meal for the miners.

Here are a few photos of Marquette, just a few miles to the east. Marquette is a beautiful old town on Lake Superior. Donnie and I drove over yesterday and walked around town. We stopped at a Farmers Market and checked out all the fresh produce and baked goods. I refrained from buying any bread, but it wasn't easy!

This is the County Courthouse. Marquette county was founded because of its vast deposits of iron ore. There are several mines in the area that feature museums and tours.

We walked down to the dock and enjoyed the fresh air off the lake.

This large structure is an iron ore dock. When it was operational, ore was brought in on the top rails by train, then dumped into the dock. Ships would dock under the long chutes on the sides, the chutes would be lowered to the ships' cargo hatches. Each chute would load about 20 tons. A local man gave us this information on how the ore dock worked. It would have been fascinating to be able to watch these ships being loaded.

When we walked around the dock we just had to take a photo of this yacht. Such a tiny little thing!

Lake Superior Area

Our "campsite" near the Bad River Casino about 10 east of Ashland, WI. We had all the conveniences within a few steps - a grocery store, post office, restaurant and gas station. We never got around to going into the casino as we were too busy checking out the area scenery, parks, lakes and waterfalls.

More views of Lake Superior. The water is so clear you can see rocks on the bottom. These photos were taken from an overlook while we were out exploring.

A marina in Ashland. Seeing this sure made us wish we had our boat with us.

This waterfall is called Superior Falls. We found it while out and about one day. On the drive out to the falls Donnie saw a young black bear on the side of the road munching away on something. It ran into the woods so fast that I missed it. Just my luck!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wisconsin and Minnesota

We have been in northern Wisconsin two days now. We are staying at an RV park near Ashland, Wisconsin. This is a photo of the courthouse in Ashland. It is a very quaint little town right on Lake Superior. There are huge baskets of cascading dark pink petunias hanging from every light post and flowers in planters everywhere.

Many of the buildings have murals painted on them. I thought this one was neat because of the lighthouse keepers and lighthouses. We saw several artists painting new murals as we walked around town.

The Ashland Breakwater Lighthouse. Donnie took this picture from a city park on the shore of Lake Superior. The lighthouse was built in 1915 when Ashland was a busy port.

Another building, another mural. You may have to double click to get the full effect of the painting. It appealed to me because of its 1950s theme.

Donnie and Shelby in front of an old boat at the Lake Superior Marine Museum.

Another view of Lake Superior.

This was our first sighting of Lake Superior after we left Duluth, Minnesota. The lake is so large you almost feel like you are looking at the ocean.

Speaking of leaving Minnesota...We spent two nights there. The first night was just as we left South Dakota. It was pretty uneventful. The second night was another story. We wanted to experience "camping" in a Minnesota State Park. We stayed in one called Crow Wing that looked nice and "woodsy". We started to have second thoughts when the road to the camp sites turned into dirt. Then we found a campsite that we thought we'd fit into (most of the spaces were geared toward tenting). As we got out of the truck we were swarmed by gnats and deer flies. After setting up, it began to rain and that took care of the bugs, but not the mosquitoes! We headed out early the next morning. Donnie said Minnesota might be the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes but it was also the Land of Ten Billion Mosquitoes!!

Donnie in a Minnesota cornfield... or maybe it was a South Dakota cornfield. Needless to say most of eastern SD and southern MN are covered in corn. I was told that most of the corn is field corn used to feed stock and to make ethanol.