Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 15- To Cody, WY

We’re so close but not there yet. Yellowstone is around the corner. Well, we still have 35 miles to the eastern entrance. Today, we woke after what should have been a great night’s sleep. We were all alone above 9,000 feet and it was cold. The generator worked really hard. I’m thinking it was the altitude and since it was working so hard, it ran out of gas somewhere around 1:00AM. We ate our breakfast with eyes searching the wood line outside our camper with hopes of seeing any kind of wildlife but that didn’t happen. I figure there’s still so much good grazing in the valley and things are just beginning to green up here. I suspect the heat and bugs will drive them up here later. As we descended towards Cody, the Tensleep Creek caught our attention. It was well above flood stage, running wild outside of it’s banks. It was running so wild, we watched as it tore through two homes and just missed a third. Tensleep, we are told, is an old Indian name for the length of days to get to this point on their summer trek or ten night’s sleep. On the side of a school in Worland, WY I read the words, “ As regulations grow, freedom dies.” I thought it was very timely. And about that time, 4 State Trooper k-9 units went by us at a good clip. We spent the next few minutes guessing what the hurry was, drug bust, lost child, race riot ( just kidding ) and then there was the last thing we thought of, and actually turned out to be, a training exercise at the local junk yard. Our arrival in Cody was too early to check in at the Yellowstone Valley Inn and RV Park so we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Cody Historical Museum. Carl talked with the gentleman at the admission desk, asking if they offered a discount for veterans. The fellow asked to see his idea, stamped our hands and told us to enjoy the exhibit. We spent most of our time in the Yellowstone Natural History exhibit and the rest of the time in the Plains Indians exhibit. Still left to explore was an extensive firearms collection, a Buffalo Bill museum and a western art exhibit. It was a most enjoyable afternoon although a day would not be an unreasonable amount of time. Our site has a marvelous view along the raging Shoshone River, which is nearly at flood stage also. They had more snow than usual in the mountains this past winter and there’s a lot left to melt. Oh, I forgot to mention we passed several signs explaining about their attempt to lessen the Sage Brush on the plains. The plant, which isn’t native to the area, uses up water, prevents good grasses from growing, is only eaten by Pronghorns and provides sap rich tinder for wild fires.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 14- Rapid City, SD to Powder Mountain Pass

I keep this notepad beside me on the front seat of the truck so when I think of something to tell you, I jot it down. Today was a busy note taking day. I forgot to mention a couple of days ago when we moved into Mountain time somewhere after we passed Murdo on Rte I-90. Now, I’m two hours earlier for my Boston Red Sox home games. Today we drove through huge areas of forest fire damage, some fairly recent and others old enough so the trees have sprouted new growth. Still, the dead, limbless snags look very strange all along the ridge line. I understand how important fire is in the grand scheme of things, nature using one of her many weapons to revitalize the soil, renew the undergrowth and in some cases even helping some trees to distribute their seeds. So there’s no misunderstanding, I am not in favor of arson started fires that endanger lives and destroy property. As we pass by the sleepy town of Sturgis, SD , I am reminded that it is not always this way. For those of you who are not familiar with the name, it’s a gathering of motorcycle people that makes Laconia Bike week look like a Sunday Church Social. We stop at the first Welcome Center after we enter the state of Wyoming and I can’t help but notice there are cattle grates across the bottom of the ramp, at the entrance to the rest area and across the beginning of the on ramp when we return to the highway. It wasn’t just that exit either, it was all of them. I guess you have to understand the kind of country we are in. It’s cattle country and cattle are only as responsible as their fences and the amount of grass they have on their side of that fence. That being said, a fair number of horses have been known to push their boundaries, as well. A cattle grate is disconcerting to cross for even us humans. The spaces between the metal slats can be as much as 4-6 inches. Put a foot wrong and this little lady’s size 6 is wedged in there. A hoofed animal won’t cross them even if they’re tail is on fire.
I catch my first glimpse of Devil’s Tower when we still have about 30 miles to travel. The road descends and twists so much the sightings are brief until the last turn and there it is straight in front of me. I had no idea this 1200+ ft monolith was up on it’s own plateau making it jut up into the sky even higher. The temperature is more than 90 and I make the decision not to do the 1.2 mile trek around the base of the rock. This means I have just as good a view from right where I am and don’t have to spend the money to drive in. What I’ll miss is a photo or two from the other side. Some of you may not be familiar with Devil’s Tower. It was made famous and brought to my attention when it was featured in the Spielberg movie, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. In the movie, I truly thought the thing was manmade. It just looks so unusual. I’ve read the material is from a “volcanic upwelling of plastic material” etc. Just someone tell me what that means, please? Eventually, far off in the distance, I catch a glimpse of a high snow covered mountain range. I wonder out loud if it’s the Rockies or the Tetons. Carl doesn’t know. In due time I will find it isn’t either one, it’s the Bighorn Mountain range and we have to cross them before we can get to Cody, WY. After taking on additional gas ( we’re going to carry 10 spare gallons in the back of the truck ) and topping off the tank, we head out of Buffalo. Carl spots a bull moose right off the bat but there’s no place to pull over. There are places further up and we pull into a few of them and top out in Powder Mt Pass, 9666 ft above sea level. We have pulled off the road in a very large parking area for the night. There isn’t a soul around although we do hear road noise from time to time. I thought I was going to have a beautiful sunset opportunity up here but the clouds rolled in and it’s begun to rain. Maybe tomorrow, we’ll get sunrise photos. 2798 total miles traveled to date.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 13- Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer State Park

What a whirlwind of a day! We were at Mt Rushmore just after the gates opened today. We had an idea that morning light would flood onto the faces and sure enough, it did. We had a problem with Abe throwing a shadow on Teddy for a while but before we left about 10:00, the shadow was gone. We took a leisurely walk on the Presidential trail, a 6/10th of a mile loop that gives you a slightly different look to the mountain, takes you to the studio where Gutzon Borglum worked and gives you a view of the forest that has grown up around the mountain since the completion of work. It was a great help to have parking garages in place instead of having to walk a great distance from parking lots. I loved the way they have designed the approach with the flags lining the approach to the viewing terrace. It’s a must do if you’re in the area and the $11.00 fee gives you a year’s access to the site. We did not get back to the night program because we were just too tired after our very full day. Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial, a work in progress since 1947. The work is carried on by the family of Korczak Ziolkowski (core JOCK Jewel CUFF ski ). The face measures 90 feet and when complete, it will be the largest free standing sculpture in the world. You’d have to be the judge on if it’s worth the $10.00 per person admission. There are two movies, a huge museum, on site native craftspeople and a wonderful restaurant. All proceeds go into the work on the mountain and absolutely no federal money has been used or will be used. Work this season will begin on Crazy Horse’s wrist and hand resting atop the horse’s mane. After lunch, we headed to Custer State Park, home to 1300 wild and freely roaming buffalo. We hadn’t been in the park 15 minutes when we saw our first bull resting in the shade beside the road. Then it was more than an hour till the next. We drove the 67 mile Wilderness Loop Road slowly because it weaves it’s way through the Black Hills and turns back on itself a number of times as it climbs to over 6,000 feet. During our drive, we saw Pronghorn Antelope, prairie dogs and burros which are not native to the park but seem to collect quite a crowd begging for handouts. We continued on to the Iron Mountain Road which led us through three of the six tunnels carved through solid rock. One of these tunnels gave us a surprise view of Mt Rushmore, in the distance, through the opening. Just before we left the park to return to our camper, we came across a small herd of bachelor bulls. We waited while a couple went into a draw for a drink of the French Creek that winds it’s way through the park and then came to within 75 feet of the truck. It was a magnificent site to see these huge animals munching on the lush grasses that grow throughout the park. Sadly, we spent so much time in the park, we didn’t get to the Badlands so I’ll have to
put that back on the ol’ bucket list for another time. Tom
orrow, we head to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

South Dakota

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 12- Sioux Falls, SD to Rapid City, SD

Last night Sioux Falls was hit with a severe thunderstorm accompanied by 60 mile an hour winds. We were there during the storm. There were times when I felt as if the camper lifted from the ground. I kept watch for a tornado but none materialized. This morning we found out winds were measured at 63 mph. What a wild ride! I think the only thing that saved us from further damage was a tall hill we were camped beside. Most of the wind went over us. Our travel route today was on rte I-90 for over 350 miles. It’s a good thing there was plenty of stuff to see, to begin with. There were large marshy areas with white caps in most of the pastures we passed and we noticed muskrat huts on more than a few of them. This area like most of the Midwest has had way more than their annual rainfall so it’s hard to tell where the normal water level would be but we noticed many fields with a number of large round bales of hay partially submerged in water. While Walnut Grove, MN is the childhood home of Laura Ingalls, De Smet, SD claims her after her marriage and while she was writing her memoirs. We stopped often for rest room and stretching breaks along the way. We took in the view at a couple of scenic overlooks. At one of them, we were treated to a spectacular view of the Lewis And Clark Memorial Bridge and at another, we got a sneak peak at the outskirts of the badlands. Now, don’t yell but we passed on the Corn Palace and Wall Drug. The Badlands will have to wait for another trip as well. The flat windswept plains with its oceans of waving multihued grasses gave way to the gentle rolling hills of cultivated crops and finally to the rugged landscape where numerous breeds of cattle, both dairy and beef, and horses grazed. Every once in a while we would see black tailed deer and pronghorn antelope grazing as well. Both Carl and I had to laugh at exit 127. You see, it was just there. No sign announced what town or road was to found in that direction, only the fact that at the end of the ramp was a dirt road running in both directions. In the distance I could see two homesteads. Imagine having an interstate exit all your own. Our home for the next two days is the Lazy J RV Park And Campground.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 11- Randall, MN to Sioux Falls, SD

Our departure time of 10:00 was met although as much as I want to see this beautiful country, it was hard saying goodbye to my friend and her family. It’s been 5 years since we last saw them. Who knows how long it will be until we see them again. I am continually amazed at the farms and fields we drive by today. When I think of Minnesota, I think of thick forests, lots of wild animals and 10,000 lakes. We were amazed by the miles of corn and other crops mixed in with countless herds of cattle, sheep and horses. The county roads we drove took us past a most unusual church with a silo attached and in the stubble of last years corn fields we observed some tall reddish brown birds with I think are cranes, what kind I’ll have to figure out later. We came near to Walnut Grove, homestead of Laura Ingalls. I guess I should have investigated our route a little more closely. It might have been interesting to see what the town has done to honor her. About 20 miles from the MN-SD border we came upon the most amazing site. As far as the eye could see, in both directions, were huge wind powered generators harnessing the constant and sometimes quite strong breezes that cruise through the open plains. Although the route we traveled today was long, it certainly wasn’t boring. Gas prices today were at 3.39 a gallon. Our home for the evening is the Wal-Mart in Sioux Falls. We obliged them by purchasing the weeks groceries, thereby paying for camping fee for the night and then some. Smart fellows, those CEOs who allow RV parking.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 10- In Randall, MN

We talked all day, met Kevin and took a few minutes to run to the Post Office, the grocery store and the gas station. I mean THE gas station. Randall is quite small but I’m okay with that because I grew up in a very small town. I used the time to cook off a beef stew for supper and a lasagna for tomorrow because we’ll be pulling in to Sioux Falls, SD on the late side. Thanks for the cake, Michele ( and the cup of flour )

St Cloud Sampling

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 9- The Journey To Randall

So maybe it wasn’t the best place to sleep last night but the price was right. After breakfast we walked back into the Welcome Center and asked what we might do along our route to kill a few hours. Michele has to work today and we didn’t want to arrive too early. The very pleasant woman behind the desk told us about Munsinger Gardens in St Cloud. The minor detour would take us about 3 miles out of our way and there was no fee for touring the acres of gorgeous flowers along the Mississippi River. I’m a sucker for flowers so off we went. Sure enough, two beautiful sprawling gardens waited for us. We wandered through acres of roses, delphiniums, trickling fountains and ever other flower you could name. It was beautiful. I was particularly struck by the huge variety of peonies they exhibited. We spent about two hours strolling about, in both sun and shade and it was well worth the time. Then we started looking for a place to eat, not something familiar like Mc Donald’s or Wendy’s. We were thinking Arby’s or Red Robin or anything after a while. We found Rte 10 is just about in the middle of no where. It goes through about 5 very small towns between St Cloud and where we were headed. We finally settled on a familiar place, Subway, in the town of Randall. We were less than a mile from Michele’s house. It was great to see the boys, Christian and Jude. It has been 5 years since we were last able to visit. They’ve grown so much. We talked for several hours, played Yahtze and then retired for the evening, lulled to sleep by the gentle hum of our generator and the not so gentle blast from the trains as the crossed each road in Randall. I’d forgotten how much impact those heavy freights can have on their surroundings. I could feel the ground rumble before I actually heard them.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 8- The Dells And Beyond

Today reminded me of New England in late October. The sky was overcast and low, the wind had a bite to it and you could just tell there was something brewing in the near future. So, I gave up the Dells until another date. We come back this way the end of August and it would mean a side trip so we are investigating this possibility. We traveled the highway for most of the trip but came upon a detour through the countryside on county roads identified by letters and not numbers. We thought it odd until we looked at a map of Wisconsin and found countless counties so I guess if you look at it from that point of view, instead of having Rte 302, they have CR-J or CR MM. One of the little towns we traveled through was Ripon, Wisconsin where a sign boasted the birthplace of the republican party. Gas prices in this region are 3.55 per gallon . Once back on the highway we drove for about 70 miles and pulled into a rest area. Here there was a memorial to law enforcement on Wisconsin, a plaque commemorating the Passenger Pigeon, extinct since 1914 and a paved walking path through a previous burn area. The crown fire was in 1977 and ruined 14 homes and more than 12,000 acres in a matter of minutes. The area reestablished itself ,with a bit of help, and supports a young but healthy oak and spruce mixture. The walk was just the stretching of legs we needed, a break of about 40 minutes including photos. Then it was back onto the highway. We crossed over the Mississippi River and entered the state of Minnesota just about the time Carl ran out of steam. Lucky for us there was an Information and welcome Center a few miles up the road. We asked about overnight sleeping in the parking area and were told there was a 6 hour minimum but, honestly, no one ever checked. We found out why later on. Most of the truckers pull of the road during rush hour and take a nap or catch up on their logs. By evening we were parked in a sea of tractor trailers and heard them coming and going all night. It was a different sort of experience than parking in a Wal-Mart. The photo is from the new growth burned area we walked through. You can see the charred trunk with new offshoots.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 7- St Ignace To Appleton, WI

The rain and high wind continued all through the night and we woke to the continued drumming of the raindrops on the camper roof. Normally, I would be lulled to sleep by this sound but I’d had enough. After breakfast, there was a bit of a lull so Carl and I tried to hurry through tucking everything into it’s proper place and then dashed about with some haste to get hooked on before the rains began once more in earnest. The drive to Appleton, WI, some 277 miles promised to be a long one, fighting wind and rain. Little did we know we would also fight fog and horrible road conditions a good part of the way. Our route today took us south along Lake Michigan and on most days you could tell what a scenic drive it would be. Along the road we spotted lupines growing and several smokehouse sending wonderful aromas into the air. Somewhere near the Hiawatha Golf course, we began to see signs warning of blowing sand and around the very next bend, there they were, not the massive shifting dunes of the Sahara but dunes, none the less, mile after mile of them. Just beyond was the Lake, acting like a proper ocean with white caps and wind driven waves that some people would enjoy boogie boarding on. I did manage a few photos today although I suspect they will be as grey and mean looking as I felt while taking them. Eventually, we came upon a sign that informed us we had crossed into the central time zone and just like that it was an hour earlier. Don’t know what I would have done without that sign. And even though it was that hour earlier, we were still hungry. Lunch found us at a county operated camp ground/ picnic area right on the shore. Imagine our surprise when we spotted a dump station and fresh water to refill our tank on our way out. The sky became quite ugly looking and please don’t take this wrong but I was actually looking for tornadoes. There was a very long line of thunderheads and smack in the middle, I saw what could only be described as a wall cloud, the kind that are know to rotate and produce twisters. I kept watching for miles but didn’t see anything except some teasers protruding from the bottom. Carl clarified my position on photographing tornadoes during this trip which is a definite yes, as long as we are not in imminent danger. By 4:00 PM, we were both beat so pulled into, yes, you guessed it, the Super Wal-mart in Appleton. After parking the camper, we grabbed the grocery list and our environmentally sound reusable bags to get groceries for the next week. The weather isn’t looking very good for our visit to the Wisconsin Dells tomorrow with more severe storms predicted in the area for another 36 hours. We’ll just have to play it by ear. I can’t believe it’s been a week already. We've traveled 1364 miles to date.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Little Piece Of The Upper Penisular

Top to Bottom and Left to Right:
A beautiful example of wild yellow lady slipper, White Paper Birch, St Ignace Light, Boats in Lake Huron protected harbor, A different sort of deer at Indian Village, Patriotic moose, Mackinac Bridge cable Towers and Mackinac Bridge dividing Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

The Next Part Of The Journey To Wisconsin Dells

View Larger Map

Day 5 and 6 - In The Park

We knew it could happen. We knew, at some point, it would happen. It clouded up and rained most of the night. Monday has lousy weather and Tuesday isn‘t looking good either. So, I got caught up on editing photos and posting blog entries while I had an internet signal. Then I did some laundry and tried to think how better to arrange some of the stuff I can’t find a place for in the camper. Right now, the shower has three plastic totes full of stuff in it because I have run out of closets and drawers. Carl, meanwhile, fixed a leak in our city water supply, worked on leveling the camper a bit better, put out the awning for the very first time ever, installed the gas grill on the side of the camper for our supper meal and took the gas stove apart inside because we had a tiny “fire issue” with one of the three burners. We’ll have to find an RV place for parts on that one. It’s Tuesday now and the weather looks even more unsettled than Monday. I’ve made the decision to not go out to Mackinac Island. I’ll put this back on my bucket list. I can’t see enduring a rough crossing for a cold and windy day on an island with the prospect of gray pictures or getting drenched. This also kills plan B of driving up to Tahquamenom Falls, the second largest falls east of the Mississippi. So, we’ll have another down day, filling our propane and gas tanks and shopping for moccasins for Carl. While we were out getting the various fills, we also stopped to get a few provisions and a couple of post cards at the local tourist trap. It’s called The Indian Village. They boast a wide range of Minnetonka moccasins and a heritage museum. The very first thing I picked up was made in China. In fact, just about everything, including the moccasins, were made in China. I am so bummed that an “authentic Native American heritage site” should be filled with stuff like that. We just had a whopper of a thunder storm, enough so Carl shut off the television while it flashed and rumbled nearly at the same time. Tomorrow we’ll be off to Wisconsin.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 4- Travel to St Ignace, MI

We were on the road early today headed to what I hoped would be a marvelous photo excursion to Mackinac Island. We travel all day instead of stopping half way which put us a day ahead of schedule. The trip, for the most part, was uneventful. We stopped a couple of times, to stretch our legs, have lunch and fill the tank but otherwise kept moving until Carl realized he could drive the entire leg. I was skeptical. We called the Tiki RV Park and they said come on up. UP being the Upper Peninsular of Michigan. I took a few shots as we traveled but I can tell you there were times when I thought we were back in NY because the view out the window was mile after mile of farm lands and growing crops. Other times we could have imagined we were still in NH on Rte 93, a mixture of conifers and evergreens hugging the two lane highway with little or no travel accompanying us. One note of interest, we passed a sign that stated “ You have just crossed the 45th parallel, half way between the equator and the North Pole”. Now I’ve been to the Equator when we went to Belize but I doubt I will ever get to the North Pole. The wind was really strong and we both had some concern when the signs warned of severe cross winds on the Mackinac Bridge but our concerns were unfounded. The view from the bridge was of water as far as the eye could see, Lake Michigan to our left and Lake Huron to our right. It’s cool and quite breezy at our campsite but the park is quiet and our home away from home is cozy. Both Carl and I were pronouncing the name of St Ignace differently so I asked our campground host which was correct. Turns out neither of us was. It’s pronounced as if it were spelled St Ignis.

Other Images From Nighttime Niagara

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 3- The “More On This Later”

While we were at the Three Sisters, a Park Ranger asked us not to go beyond a certain point. We wondered about this although the rocks were quite slippery even dry. Carl found a path in the other direction so I could take some photos of the rapids and little waterfalls up river and that’s when we saw the boat sunk in the river up to the gunwales. One of the guys on our tour asked a news reporter on scene and the following is part of the article she wrote for the evening news:

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - YNN News Report - An early morning rescue on the Niagara River took a complicated turn Saturday. It started with a 911 call at around 2:15 am, about a disabled boat stuck near the power intakes with four teenagers on board. "Niagara Fire Department and New York State Park Police responded to that and quickly removed the people in that situation. In an attempt to recover the boat that was involved in that, the Park Police launched a jet boat into the river and in the process of that, actually grounded in the river," said Sergeant Mark Van Wie of the New York State Park Police.
Sergeant Van Wie says the police boat got hung up on rocks about 300 yards south of Horseshoe Falls.
"It's a very dangerous area as you can tell, with varying depths of the water, the rocks and what have you, and obviously the falls," said Van Wie. That meant some complications in the rescue of the officers, which included help from both sides of the falls. "That boat was in heavy water, only hanging on an anchor, and the water was high. We didn't want to put any extra stress on it. There was no way you could have just landed beside the boat so they could have jumped on to the helicopter," said Ruedi Hafen, the helicopter pilot involved in the officers' rescue. With a joint effort between the U.S. and Canadian responders, both officers were safely rescued around 8 am.

Day 3- Our Day In Two Countries

We spent the day on a very hot bus tour. We were first on at 9:00 AM for what was supposed to be a 6 hour tour. We picked up several more people on the US side and then crossed the border by way of the Rainbow Bridge. This was a relatively painless experience, the Canadian Border Agent came on board the bus, looked at 9 passports and wished us a pleasant visit. After picking up several more guests, we totaled 18 all together, we were off to the Skylon Tower for an exterior elevator ride to the top of this 20 story observation platform for a 360 degree look of both the American and Horseshoe or Canadian falls. There is also a revolving restaurant which we are told is pretty tasty. Other highlights of the tour included some history of the area, views of hydroelectric towers past and present, the view of the falls from Table Rock ( way to much mist) a refreshing voyage on the Maid Of The Mist to the base of the Canadian Falls, a stop at the Whirlpool, Botanical Gardens, Floral Clock and a refreshment break before we crossed the border once more back to the American side of Niagara. This time, the US Border Agent came on board, asked the driver a few questions and then asked all passengers to come inside. Our passports were scanned, several questions asked and once more, we were back on the bus and on our way. We traveled to Three Sisters Island for some interesting photos ( more on this later ) and then we were off to Goat Island for a trip to the Cave Of The Winds. By this time, we’re on our 8th hour of the tour and I’m toasted so I tell the guide I’m not interested in donning one more plastic bag, aka rain poncho, and climbing down and back up about a million very slippery steps to get drenched under Bridal Veil Falls. Okay so it was only about 100 steps and the view must have been amazing, the spray probably would have felt really good but let’s face it, it wouldn’t do anyone any good if I had slipped ( I’m a klutz ) or worse, passed out from heat on the way back. There was a lovely breeze where we sat in the shade and tons of people to watch as they posed for photos with a 15 foot statue of Nicola Tesla. The end of the 9 hour plus tour found us getting gas and making our way back to the very same Wal-Mart of the night before.

Another Look At Niagara

Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Canadian or Horseshoe Falls with the Maid Of The Mist, Birch tree overlooking the Niagara Gorge, Viewers of the Canadian Falls from Table Rock, Some beautiful flora, The Spanish or Aero Chair suspended across the Gorge from 6 cables, Floral Clock patterns are changed seasonally and a small pond fish hiding among the pond lilies.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 2- On to Niagara Falls, NY

We left Cooperstown, much the same as we entered, by way of rolling pastures of horses and cattle mixed among fields under cultivation although eventually all things must come to an end. We crossed the Erie Canal and merged onto the traffic of the NY through way, Rte I-90. Our original plan was to stop at one of the many service areas along the way for the night but when we stopped at the last one, just outside of Buffalo, Carl found he still had another hour or two of driving in him. His spirits were further lifted when he found out there were fire works over the falls tonight. So we continued on until we found our way within a block or so of the falls. Parking once more turned into an exciting proposition although we “lucked out” when we found a parking lot with room for us. Of course, instead of the $5.00 per car, they had to charge us $15.00. They didn’t do us any favor because with all the extra cars, it was a real chore to get out when the fireworks were over. I hadn’t seen fireworks in many years so I wasn’t sure how to go about photographing them. I already had my flimsy travel tripod with me because of wanting some night shots of Niagara with the lights on them. It was amazing and gave me an hour of practice playing with shutter speed and aperture settings. I always use my shutter release cable when I use this tripod because I don’t have to touch the camera. By the time the fireworks started, I had the f-stop at 3.5 with a one second shutter speed. It was great. I only had one issue. Don’t laugh now. I couldn’t find the right knob to adjust the up and down aspect of the tripod so I just tilted the whole shooting match back until I framed where I hoped most of the burst would end up. You be the judge… We arrived at Wal-Mart #2 at about 11 that night and I don’t mind telling you, we were both over tired.

Sights From The Game

Left to right and top to bottom:
A t-shirt design that does not describe my house thankfully, statue of "The Sandlot Kid", statue of Ted Williams carved from one single piece of basswood, 'Tek's away jersey worn during the final game of the 2004 World Series with the St Louis Cardinals and David Ortiz's batting helmet from the 2007 games against the Colorado Rockies

Day 2 - National Baseball Hall Of Fame

It’s every baseball fan’s dream to visit the Shrine Of The Diamond, the Holy Cathedral Of The Game or as it’s better known, Cooperstown. Today I got to scratch one more thing off of a very long bucket list and we did drive through some more beautiful countryside to reach our destination. In fact, at one point, Carl mentioned how curious it was the Hall Of Fame was in the middle of no where. That was until we made the very last left hand turn onto Main Street. Then his comment was how could the Hall be in the middle of town. I could fill pages with statistics and the mentioning of all the memorabilia we saw but that couldn’t do justice to the overall experience. I do want to mention a couple of things the Hall Of Fame website does not mention. There is not a great deal of parking, especially when there is a game scheduled at Doubleday field. We didn’t know this and were at a loss as to where we could park our truck and trailer which measures 44 feet in length together. We pulled up to the firestation, talked with a couple of local folks who were quite helpful. One suggested a parking lot out behind a Credit Union with lots of room. Come to find out, it was a trolley stop. We still walked down town, about a half a mile, to the museum. The second thing I want to let people know is the Hall Of Fame offers free admission to veterans. We didn’t find this out until Carl offered our AAA card and his military ID, asking which would get him a better discount. The cashier smiled, asked if he was a veteran and then proceeded to take the AAA card to give me a 20% discount while Carl was admitted at no charge. We spent three wonderful hours taking a tour through the history of the game which to my surprise also included a pretty good display honoring the All American Girls Professional League, replacement ball played during the war and for a few years after. I also got to pay homage to the greats of the games, names like Cobb, DiMaggio, Ruth and Williams, along with favorites I watched play for years like Jim Palmer, Dennis Eckersly, Carl Yazstremski, Wade Boggs, and Jim Rice. Even artifacts from Pete Rose are there, being honored for his contributions to the game, his prowess with a bat and his record for lifetime hits. BTW, I do not agree with the commissioner’s edict to keep him out of the Hall. The photo is of THE baseball that ended the "curse" and an 86 year long dry spell in 2004.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 1- To Cobleskill, NY

We’re finally on our way. I had a meeting in Lebanon to attend last night so we drove to Quechee, VT and stayed in a lovely state park a short distance from the Gorge. After topping off our fresh water we hit the road. I haven’t traveled much, by vehicle, in the state of NY so I was pleasantly surprised to find our route winding through some beautiful farming country. Sadly, the weather made things less than photogenic but I almost relented a couple of times and asked Carl to pull over. It’s much more difficult to yell “stop” when your towing a camper. After only a minor mishap with the very good directions provided us by AAA, we found our way to our very first Wal-Mart camping area. We’ll be staying in a lot of them along the trip and I’m resisting the urge to turn this into a “Wal-Mart Across America” blog. Although I have to say, our first evening was peaceful as we were the only camper in the parking lot. The beautiful countryside I mentioned will continue through a good part of tomorrow.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Knew I Could Figure Out How To Post A Map

I know some of you will be interested to know our first stop is the National Baseball Hall Of Fame, a place I've wanted to visit all my life. I'm not sure how many photos I'll be able to take but I can assure you I will take many memories away with me. Can anyone imagine me, a photographer, not taking at least a handful of pics somewhere in the building? Total mileage for Day 1 will be 300.1 miles. Keep watching! It only gets better from here...
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Friday, June 10, 2011

It's Almost Time

Some of you may already know about our upcoming travels, this time with a bunch of suitcases. My husband, newly retired, and I will be leaving on June 15th for a 10 week photo adventure to Alaska. We will be taking our camper from New Hampshire and visiting some really neat places. Some of these places have been on my mind for years while others are newly discovered, all of them have just one thing in common. They are places I want to go to take photos. So for those of you who are following me on facebook, when I have internet service, I'll be posting descriptions of our travels, places we'll be visiting and of course, there will be lots of photos. For those of you who follow my love of nature through this blog, well, you're in for a treat. I know I'm not going to be disappointed. I hope you won't be either. Oh, did I mention we'll be visiting Niagara Falls, Wisconsin Dells, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Denali, Arches, National Park, Gettysburg and the Amish country of Lancaster County, just to name a few.