Washington, D.C. – Part 2

September 28 – October 6, 2019

Pat’s mom and sister Dee flew in from Springfield, Missouri to join us and visit DC for the first time.  I love seeing the marvels here again with newbies.

Visiting the Family Scientist

The first big outing was touring Ethan’s virology lab.  Well not “his” exactly, but he plays an important role.  Only two more years or so until he’s Dr. Iverson.

 

He patiently explained his influenza research and let us peer at the cell cultures through the microscope.  This is my favorite part where you look at the waving cilia on the epithelial cells.  You have them to thank when you get rid of the yucky mucus in your lungs.

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We also strolled a bit on the University of Maryland campus and found this statue of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog outside the student union.  Mr. Henson was a graduate of UMD and Kermit is a particular favorite of Dee.

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After our gift shop expedition, we had the visitors pose with Testudo, the UMD mascot and resident terrapin.  Fear the turtle!

Monumental Experience

After the campus visit, we headed to the Metro.  I couldn’t wait for Mom and Dee to get their first look at all the famous monuments.

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I think they’re having a good time!

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This is my favorite shot of the day.  Just the sort of thing I would do.

The Smithsonian

Pat sat this one out since he managed to roll his ankle in ND and needed to get the swelling down so he wouldn’t miss our other scheduled tours.

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Lunch was at the Smithsonian Castle and then a tour of the Museum of Natural History led by a guy who’s passion is fossils.  The place is overwhelming and we honestly just scratched the surface after hours in the place.  I think our favorite part was the gem and mineral display.  Everyone has to crowd around the Hope Diamond, and then you look at all the other gorgeous stones.  It was a perfect way to dodge the rain and still get back in time for a picnic dinner at our “house”.

The Night Tour

I insisted we all take a night tour since I remembered it fondly from years ago.  Not everything was easy to see at night, but some things are even better lit up.

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First stop was the Capitol where the top of the dome is adorned with a 19 and a half foot tall Statue of Freedom.  According to our guide, no other statues in Washington can be taller since nothing is more important than freedom.  We liked that.  Mom gets a good shot.

 

The Washington Monument looms large from just about everywhere at night.  And that’s what you get when you hand your camera over to a helpful stranger.  Judy the unicorn, although I prefer narwhal.

 

And my favorite monument, day or night.

We all thought it was an excellent tour and we learned quite a few things.  Our stops that night also included the White House, FDR Memorial, MLK Memorial, Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall, Korean War Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and WWII Memorial.  This ended at 11pm.

The White House

I laughed when I got the final word from our Florida congressman’s office that our White House tour had been approved.  Hurray!  But wait, it’s for 7:30 am on the morning after the night tour that ends at 11pm.  And just how to you get to downtown DC that early in the morning during the peak rush hour?  Well, the DC Metro system has a trip planner and I discovered with a few bucks on our cards and a 6 am departure, we could do it.  So bleery-eyed and without the forbidden items such as purses and pointy objects, we made our way to the big city.

 

Just to prove they were there…

 

A few of the famous rooms.

 

The view that FDR had cleared so he could watch construction of the Jefferson Memorial.

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My favorite from the White House ballroom.  Isn’t Mom cute?

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Our parting shot.

 

Since we couldn’t or wouldn’t stand in line at 6:30 am to get tickets to go to the top of the Washington Monument for the city view, we did the next best thing recommended by our night tour guide.  We trekked to the Old Post Office Tower which is at the top of the Trump Hotel.  We enjoyed the 360 degree view and particularly the rooftop gardens on the buildings next door.

National Zoo

After the Old Post Office, we hopped on the Metro again to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.  Of course it was so very hot out and most of the animals weren’t interested in being seen.

 

We were entertained by the giant panda who climbed a tree and the others who munched on snacks outside while the keepers tidied up inside.

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Most beautiful goes to the Red Panda, but he did a quick about face when he saw us.  I wasn’t quick enough get a shot of the whole animal before he disappeared through the door.

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The clouded leopard cubs were so cute and one was stuck on top of the light mounted inside the enclosure.  A typical cat.  Can climb up, but can’t get back down.  Finally we headed back home for a nap and then dinner at the local diner playing songs on the tiny jukebox at our table.  Whew!  Quite a day.

On the next day and last one in town for Mom and Dee, DC set a heat record for that date in October (98 degrees at the airport).  We opted for the nice air conditioned mall and a little shopping, followed by a farewell dinner with Ethan & Stephanie.  We jetted Mom and Dee back to the Baltimore airport in the wee hours of the next morning and bid them farewell after a grand time in the city.

A Day with Ethan

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On our last day in town, Ethan came over to our house for the day.  We taught him to play Exploding Kittens, the card game I bought in the UMD student union, and he’s beating the pants off of us.  We learned some diabolical strategy from him.

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Ethan got to spend some quality time with his dog and we showed him the sights in the RV park.  He now knows the difference between class A, B and C motorhomes, fifth wheels and pull behind trailers.  He also realizes now that we aren’t nearly as big as he thought next to the 40-footers in the park.  Compared to some of those rigs, we’re downright tiny.

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A mom and her boy.

Farewell

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After one last dinner and more card playing, we finally give Ethan and Stephanie some peace and quiet.  Photo credit to Stephanie for the family shot.  It’s been a great extended visit and so glad we could do so many things with them.

We’re now ready to leave the metropolitan area and the crazy Maryland drivers.  I agree with Ethan’s assessment.  They are crazy behind the wheel with the key word being unpredictable.  They’re just as likely to turn left from four lanes over on the right as they are to stop dead in a busy road to let out passengers.  That we won’t miss.  Finally it’s time to flee the sound and fury of the big city and trade it for the peace and quiet of the Shenandoah River Valley.

Next Up:  Back to Virginia.  See you on the way!

 

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Washington, D.C. – Part 1

September 19 – 27, 2019

For this extended stop, we’re staying at Cherry Hill Park just off the beltway in College Park, Maryland.  It’s oh so convenient to Ethan’s apartment and the University of Maryland campus.  Convenient and the the only game in town for touring D.C., but getting in there is nerve-wracking.  The stress level was high with road construction, sharing the road with texting drivers and dodging the Lebanese butcher who tried to run us out of our lane.  You know it’s dicey when you opt to drive next to the concrete barrier about six inches off your bumper because at least it doesn’t swerve.  Thankfully we made it without incident.

Catching Up With “The Kids”

I still refer to Ethan and his girlfriend Stephanie as “the kids” even though they are truly adults.  They’ll always be your babies.  Anyway, we kicked off our almost three week visit with a Mexican dinner out.  We’ve had a rough time of late finding good Mexican, so we thoroughly enjoyed the kids’ favorite in the area, Taqueria Habanero.  We took Jackson over to their apartment so he could reconnect, too, but their kitties were not impressed.  Charlie has apparently forgotten all about her long lost dog.

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We spent our first blistering hot Saturday at Six Flags for Steph’s company picnic.  We watched her ride all the big coasters and dutifully held her purse and glasses for her.  Ethan could only be coaxed into this kiddie ride.  Now she knows where the chicken genes come from.

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I also got to join Ethan & Steph in a visit to Mike and Elizabeth’s place about an hour away in Northern Virginia.  Mike is Ethan’s best friend from DeLand and he and Elizabeth are recently engaged.  We can’t wait for the big event.  And then there’s Murphy.  Seems we’re not the only parents who pawned off a cat…

Pat’s Getaway

We have a deal with each other that we’ll take two weeks away each year to do stuff on our own.  Sometime it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  Pat took a week of his “vacation” to go to Grand Forks, ND to visit a high school buddy.  While he and Greg got caught up, Jackson and I endured the heat together and I made a few outings of my own.

National Gallery of Art

I love a good art gallery and there are some rare masters at the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art that I wanted to revisit.  I ended up back at the West Gallery since that has all the impressionist works which are my faves.

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I took a spin through the gallery’s statue garden before heading in to see the paintings.  From the garden, I was thrilled to see that the Capitol got its braces off.  The last time we were here it was covered in scaffolding for repairs.

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This gleaming silver tree caught my eye and was my favorite on the grounds.

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There’s a special exhibit going on now featuring Andrea del Verrocchio, a sculptor turned painter who was the teacher for Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci.  This cherub was the sweetest little statue and one of Verrocchio’s signature pieces.

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His work cannot be captured in photos of course.  Standing inches away from this Madonna and Child painting was breathtaking.  I wanted to reach out and touch those rosy cheeks.

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The gallery also has a program where artists can copy great works of art.

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Vincent van Gogh has a great style, too.  Lots of texture – ‘Green Wheat Fields, Auvers’

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My new favorite is American artist Thomas Cole.  These shots are from his work ‘The Voyage of Life: Childhood’.

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Here’s another one of his works, ‘The Return’.  Those stained glass windows positively glow.

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‘View From Vaekero near Christiana’ by Norwegian artist Johan Christian Dahl.

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And finally ‘Moonlit Landscape with Bridge’, by Dutch artist Aert van der Neer.  Seems I’m partial to Dutch artists, and I really enjoyed losing myself for a few hours in the gallery.

Washington National Cathedral

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During our family vacation to DC years ago, we visited the National Cathedral.  It’s off the beaten path by a good bit, so we hadn’t made it back on subsequent visits.  So off the path, in fact, that it took me about 50 minutes by Metro with an additional 1.2 mile trek to finally arrive.  Worth the effort since it’s the 6th largest Cathedral in the world and took 83 years to build.  It has 112 gargoyles, 215 stained glass windows and 10,650 pipes in the organ.  Massive, just massive.

Gothic arches and lots of light.

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Spectacular stained glass

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I was reading a book about building a Gothic cathedral, so it was interesting to see this finished spectacle again.

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I happened to visit when the Armed Forces chaplains were there and shared the chapel solitude with some of them.

Scenes from the chapels in the crypt level.

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And a view of the city from the observation deck.

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Those famous flying buttresses.  In my novel I was reading, they were just coming into use by builders in the 1400s.

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Although the Capitol no longer has scaffolding, the cathedral still does.  It was damaged by the 2011 earthquake that rocked Washington, D. C.  Several stones actually fell and they are in the process of repairing the damage.

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Time to retrace my steps back to the Metro and home to Jackson.  It was a grand out-of-the-way day.

Next Up:  More DC touring with family visitors.  See you on the way!

 

 

Shenandoah River

September 17 – 18, 2019

The destination is one of our favorites, Shenandoah River State Park.  This is our third visit, but seems we only manage to stay for two days at a time.  We’ll have to fix that during our next travel season.

O Shenandoah

 

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I have a folk song looping through my brain every time we visit.  “O Shenandoah, I long to see you, Away you rolling river…”  Beautiful song, but it doesn’t refer to the Shenandoah River.  Still, I sing it anyway when we’re here.  On our first morning, we managed to get Jackson to walk the trail to this spot, Culler’s Overlook.  And there it is, the rolling Shenandoah River with the clouds gliding through the valley.

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It’s an uphill trail, so we only coax Jackson to walk this one once.

 

And the “littles”.

Lunch at the Cattle Company

Kevin, one of my Abbott friends, lives nearby in Winchester and he graciously invited us over for lunch.  I’ve known him for almost 30 years and we go all the way back to the time Pat and I were first married.  Pat was still in the Navy and I took the job with Abbott in Texas.  The joke at work was that I moved away while Pat was somewhere under the ocean.  Technically he was in the ship yard.

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We had a delicious lunch and a bonus tour of his cattle company.  Nothing like a close encounter with a slick cow nose.

Icicle, Dandy, and Annabelle, to name a few, came up to check us out and eat the cookie snacks we offered.

The rest of our short stay was taken up with a provisioning stop at Wal-mart in Front Royal and preparing ourselves mentally for the drive on the DC Beltway to see Ethan.  This spot is perfect.  About 90 miles away so we can time the madness into the city.

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Jackson waits patiently while we pack up to leave.  His ramp comes in quite handy.

And that’s it for Shenandoah this time around.

Next up:  College Park, Maryland for almost three weeks to see Ethan.  See you on the way!

Fallingwater

September 14 – 16, 2019

Pat picked this spot so we could tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.  He read about the incredible building feat and we thought it would be an excellent tour opportunity.

Ohiopyle

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Ohiopyle Falls in the cute  town of Ohiopyle, PA.

We’re back in Pennsylvania for the last time this year, staying at Ohiopyle State Park.  I read that you shouldn’t take the main road in due to the steep and winding couple of miles.  Big rigs are cautioned to take the “back” way.  I always heed those warnings and after driving the other road in Bitsy, we’re glad we did.  We could have lumbered up, but going down would have been scary.

Ohiopyle gets it name from a Native American word meaning “white, frothy water”.  Seems appropriate.  It’s not Niagara, but cascade waterfalls are a favorite of mine.  The waterfalls in the area are all on the Youghiogheny River or the “Yaw” for short.

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We took a short hike from a pullout to see this waterfall and the river rapids.  See that kayaker in the distance?  Good thing they had a helmet since they definitely rolled over in the rapids.

The Main Event

We read that advanced tickets were a must to prevent “disappointment”.  I marked it on my calendar months ago so I wouldn’t forget to buy ours.  In the end, only three other people were on our tour so it was perfect and personalized.

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I’ll skip to the money shot first.  You can’t take photos during the tour inside the home, but you can stroll to the prime viewing spot and take all the pictures you want.  This is the view you see on all the advertising for the place.

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Fallingwater was built over the top of the Bear Run waterfall and creek.  Steps in the home lead right down to the flowing water.  The balconies jut out with seemingly no support.  Our tour guide explained that they are cantilevered, or beams supported only on one end.  In this case, that support is the vertical part of the house.  FLW incorporated the same design in the built-in furniture giving it that floating appearance.

Of course Frank also designed free-standing furniture pieces for his clients.  He had the audacity to move the pieces back to his designated locations if the home owners had the cheek to move them someplace else.  He met his match in the Fallingwater owners who relegated his dining room chair to a back bedroom.

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It does appear to be an engineering marvel, but we discovered while reading signs in the cafe that although Frank Lloyd Wright was ahead of his time with this design, it wasn’t perfect.  The home has been repaired extensively over the years to prevent the collapse of the terraces due to errors in building calculations.  Still, a marvel and beautiful weekend home to the Kaufmann’s, department store moguls escaping the dirty city of Pittsburgh during the industrial 1930s.  The home was completed in 1937, yet seems so modern.

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Some “littles” from our stroll around the property.

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And one more of the long view.  A little later in the season and we would have caught the Fall colors.  That’s it for our visit to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Next Up:  Shenandoah River State Park – a favorite campground.  See you on the way!

West Virginia

September 10 – 13, 2019

Gone are the Great Lakes, but back are the rolling hills and forests we love.  We drove through lots of farmland in Ohio with our sights on the northernmost tippy tip of West Virginia.  There’s a skinny little peninsula sandwiched in between Ohio and Pennsylvania and I picked it on purpose to get a camping stop for the new state.  West Virginia makes 39 and it’ll be our last new one until late 2020.

Tomlinson Run State Park

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This hardly counts as staying in West Virginia, but as you can see, we did cross under the official welcome sign.

We spent my birthday relaxing in the forest in Tomlinson Run State Park, and not doing much of anything but dog walks and reading.  It’s the double nickel for me this year and my friend Barbara tells me I can officially get senior discounts at some places.  Well that’s something.

Oh, and we also discovered pepperoni rolls and jo-jos at the local drive-up pizza joint.  Technically jo-jos are a thing in Ohio, but we didn’t discover them until here.  They’re scrumptious giant potato wedges that I’m going to try my best to duplicate.

On our second day, we took Jackson for his morning constitutional and made it to the dumpster when we heard frantic scratching coming from inside.  This is the kind of dumpster you see at construction sites.  Long and deep, but open on the top.  Well from what we can see peering over the side, there are two raccoons in there looking frantic and trying to dig their way out.  The dumpster was full the day before, but got emptied and we guess these two trash pandas went dumpster diving and could’t get back out.  We felt sorry for them, so Pat found a long tree limb and stuck it down in the corner.  Lo and behold, six raccoons quickly scurried up the branch and scattered.  Not the end of the story though.  There’s always one in every crowd and this one raccoon kept up the “digging”.  We thought maybe it’s paw was stuck somehow.  Pat had to poke it with a stick through the small opening at the bottom to break it’s concentration.  Whoa, where did everybody go?  Finally smart guy exited the dumpster, too.

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And the next morning?  There are no less than 11 raccoons trapped in the dumpster.  They apparently knocked over the escape stick on their way in.  Lee, a fellow camper, took this adorable shot of the poor dears stuck in the bottom.

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I found a big branch and dragged it over so Pat could make another rescue.

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Out they come!

Homer Laughlin China Company

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Did you know that the Homer Laughlin China Company makes Fiesta ware?  And did you also know that they hail from Newell, West Virginia?  We didn’t either.  They have free factory tours and it’s one of our favorite things to do.  I was happy to get a last minute reservation and the place was only 15 minutes from the state park.  Of course they also have a very colorful factory store and that’s dangerous.

No photos are allowed in the factory, so I just amused myself with all the finished goods in the store.  Aren’t those the cutest cat treat jars?

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Stacks of Homer Laughlin china in the original factory alongside new Fiesta ware bowls.

Our guide explained the whole process from mixing to cutting the clay, making each piece, glazing them and finally firing them in the 2000 degree kiln that runs the length of the almost mile-long building.  I even got to attach a handle to one of the mugs.  All the pieces with handles have them individually attached by hand.  Ardis gave patient instruction, but I couldn’t match her experience and expertise.  My handle did stay on, but I deformed it she says.

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I got to keep my mug, too.  We also got four place settings for our apartment-to-be in Springfield, turning that into a not-so-free tour.

On our last night in WV, there was a country fair at the state park.  We had pulled pork and fry bread along with fresh lemonade and roasted corn for dinner.  Pat had a bowl of ice cream as big as his head and we got more lovely fresh produce.  And that’s it for our short stay in West Virginia, but it still counts!

Next Up:  Pennsylvania and a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.  See you on the way!

 

Lake Erie

September 3 – 9, 2019

We have two stops planned on Lake Erie to complete our Great Lakes tour.  It’s been fun, but we’re ready to wrap it up.

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Our first stop is Lampe Marina Campground in Erie, Pennsylvania.  It seemed like the perfect Lake Erie vantage point.  I do like the campground, but it’s very close to a coke plant (used for smelting iron ore, not for drinking), and that means interesting noises all day and late into the night.  Train horns and car alarm-like noises.  You know the ones – whoop, whoop, whoop! and then woooOOOO, woooOOOO!  We just turned on our AC fan all night and that drowned it all out.  That and headphones for TV watching.

 

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We first arrived on Tuesday and the place was practically empty.  After setup, we sat outside to enjoy the cool weather and these two big critters crawled under the fence to eat the wildflowers.  “What are those things?!” I asked Pat.  He didn’t know.  I Googled them and thought they might be Nutrias after sneaking up on them to take this very poor shot with my phone.  They looked like beavers without the beaver tail.  I have since been informed by a Pennsylvanian that they are woodchucks.  I can confirm that they don’t chuck wood.

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Our walks with Jackson took us down the pier for good views of the lake and the Erie Harbor North Pier Lighthouse.  The Coast Guard station was across the channel and they raised the flag and played the national anthem every morning promptly at 8 am while we enjoyed this view.

This turned out to be mostly a chore stop – 5 loads of laundry, restocking groceries at Wegman’s (a very swanky grocery store), a haircut (I could join the military with my latest scalping), and washing & ozoning the car.  Yes, poor Bitsy smells like something crawled up inside and died.  It’s from the wet dog ramp that rides in the passenger seat when we travel.  We had a stretch of stops where it rained the night before we left every. single. time.  Needless to say, we had to get rid of the funk.  And I had letters and a special birthday present to pack up and mail.

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On our last evening, the U.S. Brig Niagara came motoring into the harbor.  Not to be outdone, the sky lit up with the brightest rainbow that looked like it originated from the lighthouse.  These aren’t the best shots since I only had my phone with me on the way to do that 5th load of laundry.  I dropped the basket of clothes like a hot potato and climbed up on the nearest picnic table to take these two photos.

The lake was great, but I wasn’t sad to leave the town of Erie.  It is officially the most confusing city to drive in and the roads are rough even in the car.

State # 38

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It’s a new state for Judy and new state for the camping map.  Ohio makes #38 in the motorhome.

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We’re staying at Geneva State Park near Geneva-On-The Lake, Ohio and it seems we’ve landed ourselves smack in the middle of the 13th annual “Thunder on the Strip”.  That means a campground filled to overflowing with motorcycles.  Noisy ones and they ride through at midnight blasting their music.  We’re sure most of the riders are mild mannered, but those few are really spoiling it for us.  Fortunately we only overlapped one night with the rowdy crowd.  We were quite happy to see them leave on Sunday.

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Our last stroll on Lake Erie and my last hunt for Great Lake rocks.

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I was looking for some sea glass, but instead Pat found this little gem.  You just never know what will wash up on shore.

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If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was at the ocean.

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And my last Great Lakes “little” on the trail back to the campground.  The Monarchs love this area.

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So that’s a wrap for the Great Lakes.  I found this postcard a while back and marked all our stops on it.  And the award for favorite Great Lake goes to…..Superior.  I was pretty sure from the beginning that would be the case.  The Minnesota North Shore was spectacular and our favorite stop of all.  Door County Wisconsin on Lake Michigan is the runner-up, although we don’t feel like we truly did justice to the 1,000 Islands area in Lake Ontario.  Plus Erie only got two stops.  We’ll just have to go back one of these years.

It was our “unsalted and shark free” summer on the water and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next Up:  New state #39 – West Virginia.  See you on the way!

Niagara Falls

August 30 – September 2, 2019

There are a few places that you know in photos, even if you’ve never been to them.  Niagara Falls is one of those places.  Iconic, awe-inspiring, the measuring stick by which all North American falls are measured, and what we’re after at this stop.  I’ll also warn you that I selected about 50 pictures for this post and of course they won’t all make it in.  It’s hard to take a bad photo of the place.

Four Mile Creek State Park

We opted to camp at Four Mile Creek State Park on the shores of Lake Ontario complete with more Great Lake sunsets and right across the way from Toronto.  We found it confusing to be east of Canada and that kept us mixed up on our directions the whole time.

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Down the road at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park we actually got lake access and I had a last chance rock hunting expedition for Lake Ontario.  On the way back I bought more fresh peaches from the roadside stand and they were divine.  The kind you eat over the sink with the juice running down your chin.  They also had donut peaches which were odd things that resembled tiny flat pumpkins.  I tasted a sample, but they weren’t for me.  Enough about that and on to the main event.

The Falls At Night

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On our first evening we decided to take Jackson on a drive and check out the falls at night.  They light them up in all colors, but my favorite was the blue light.  Pat didn’t really care for them being lit up at all.  Jackson was just plain tired from the travel day so he had no opinion.

Niagara From The American Side

When I made these reservations, I was so proud of myself.  Niagara Falls for Labor Day weekend.  How cool it that!  I truly didn’t think that through.

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The place was mobbed with people with a two hour wait for the Maid of the Mist boat ride.  I’d been to the falls twice before, but always in the winter when the boats weren’t running, so that was my one must-do this time.  Well, we didn’t want to spend all our time in that line, so we opted for the park movie and a walkabout instead.  I have to admit I was disappointed.

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One of my favorite shots from the day with the American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and the Maid of the Mist in view.  Ethan and I saw this view for a brief moment in time back when we were in New York trying on colleges.

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There’s Rainbow Bridge and the American Falls as seen from Goat Island.  And I was lucky enough to get a real rainbow.  My second favorite of the day.

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Yep, I was there and with creative cropping it looks like I had some space to myself.

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Then there’s Horseshoe Falls.  675,000 gallons of water pour over that spot every single second – all day, every day.  The slogan is “Niagara never stops”.

A few more from the American side:  Niagara River feeding the falls, Rainbow Bridge to Canada, top of the American Falls and top of Horseshoe Falls.

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Some perspective.  Little people, big precipice.

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Farther down the gorge, we discovered the old Schoellkopf power plant ruins dating back to 1905.  It was the largest hydroelectric plant in the world when completed in 1924.  Much of the plant was destroyed when water began to seep in and the buildings collapsed into the river.  The Maid of the Mist company restored the elevator so you can go down to the river level to see the new boat being built and access a hiking trail.

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The calm downstream from the falls.

Niagara From The Canadian Side

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I don’t think anyone would dispute that the best views of the falls are from the Canadian side, so we rounded up our passports and walked across the Rainbow Bridge for another perspective.

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Niagara Falls is really comprised of three different falls – American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.  From the Rainbow Bridge, you can see them all.

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When the going gets tough, the tough go to Canada!  We weren’t able to get on the Maid of the Mist on the American side, so we hopped on the Hornblower on the Canadian side for a ride into the mist.  The raw power!  And we were grateful for the pink rain ponchos.  There’s a smidge of Pat’s poncho showing as I hid behind to block the spray.  Anything not covered got soaked at the base of Horseshoe Falls.

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Swapping places with the Maid of the Mist at the base of Horseshoe Falls.

Passing by Cave of the Winds.  Those people in the yellow ponchos are taking the boardwalk down into the spray from the American and Bridal Veil Falls.  Those pink poncho people are our fellow Hornblower passengers.  We blended right in with those Canadians, and I was so excited to get my boat ride in after all.

A few more from the Hornblower.

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The Canadian side also offers the adventurous sort a chance to zipline past the falls.

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Pat’s favorite was the American Falls with all those boulders at the bottom.  There’s a reason no one has ever tried to go over that part of the falls in a barrel.

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This side of the river gives you the full Horseshoe Falls experience.  As a teenager, I vacationed here with Cecil & Eloise one December.  We stayed in a hotel on the Canadian side with this view, watching hockey on TV and enjoying the light show every night.

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Scary amounts of water pouring over Horseshoe Falls.  Too bad I couldn’t capture the sound to go with that fury.

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One more looking over at the American side with that rubble pile.

Of course the flower gardens lining the Canadian side were gorgeous and those British double-decker tour buses were fun to see.

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We were lucky enough to practically walk right on the Hornblower boat tour, but not so at Tim Hortons.  We waited over half an hour for our donuts and water.  I tell you, those Canadians are crazy for Tim Hortons.

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It turned out to be a beautiful day to walk to Canada with truly the best views of all.  At the end of our seven miles or so, we happened upon this guy on the way to the car.  A black squirrel and he’s got his eye on us, too.

Next up:  The last Great Lake on our tour – Erie.  See you on the way!