September-October, 2011

New England - and on the way home

Follow along....

We worked our way up through Maine into Quebec Province, then let our GPS Navigation system guide us thru' all French
signed Province & the city of Montréal, (with lots of road construction) thankfully "Suzie Q" seemed
to understand the language well enough to do it with ease.

Then into Ontario (with English signs) where we almost duplicated our eastward trail, with some exceptions.
We by passed metro Toronto with great "country" roads where the colors were magnificent.



We had a problem with keeping the sun out - spotted rain - but it worked out OK

We pull into our space in the Parry Sound area, and see a bit of color (or here, is it colour?) as well.
Then to Sault Ste. Marie...

Where we find a few more opportunities to catch the fall displays...

This one branch seems to be way ahead of the others for some reason.

At our Sault Ste. Marie RV Park, some additional colour.
...and to cross the border of Ontario, Canada (in the rain) and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan 

After crossing the Canadian / USA border we headed here.

Where we found this great museum commemorating and chronicling the many shipwrecks in this area.

One of the worst, and most recent was this one in 1975.

Down she went...


The Ships Bell has been recovered.

Whitefish Point is rather desolate, for sure.

A cruise ship making its way

Nothing more needs to be said...


Since 1849 this light has been On Watch.

Imposing! Glad we were not hear on a foggy day. Those horns would have been deafening..


Yes, the tree are turning in Michigan as well.

We now visit the Glenn's.
Joyce has been a friend since early childhood in Philadelphia.

Their farm, just on the south side of Garden, Michigan.

A "Back In The Day" photo of Joyce and Ned.

A current (9/11/11 - Ned's 80th birthday) family grouping
Standing: Daniel Shepeck (son of Electa), daughter Electa, Son Edwin, Electa's daughter Amanda, and Malcolm Glenn (Ned's brother)
Joyce, Ned, Granddaughter Brooke, and daughter Tracy

Daughter Electa is proud of her YOOPER connection.
YOOPER = UP = Upper Peninsula of Michigan

While here in YOOPER'ville, we stayed at a Michigan State Park at
the Fayetteville Campground at the extreme southern tip of the
Garden Peninsula  as it juts into Lake Michigan.

As you can see it was not crowded at all.

And the color in the leaves came out to play.

As we near the very near shoreline, we take a peak thru the pines...

Lake Michigan!

We see right away, that this is not Imperial Beach beach.
Today, no wave action, and for sure no sand.

Just a rocky shale - tough to walk on.

So, we head back, to our "home" on this Sunday morning the 25th of September.

The last time we were in this area, we met Bob & Nancy Scott
and their Sticky Shack maple syrup operation.
(See our 2008 trip for more Sticky Shack details.)
We purchased a gallon of their extra fine syrup.
This time, we brought back the container, and asked for a re-fill.
They had heard we were coming, and had saved some from their spring harvest.
Thank you Bob & Nancy! Great visiting with you again. See you in '13 for another re-fill?

On our way our of the Garden Peninsula on the 9/26, we again feasted on the colors
Here just the branch ends showed color, the interior was a bit behind the game.

More and more as we drive along this part of northern Michigan.


A feast of color as we drive toward the famed Mackinac Bridge that we take us to our next destination.

Moving along the north shore we find this bit of history.

From the north just prior to crossing on it, we sight the the Big Mac.
The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac to connect the non-contiguous
 Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan. It opened in 1957,
 the bridge (familiarly known as "Big Mac" and "Mighty Mac") is the third longest in total suspension
 in the world and the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western hemisphere.
We pulled into our RV site near Mackinaw City - in the rain - on Monday the 26th
with a good view of the bridge from the south looking out onto Lake Huron.

On Monday night and on into early Tuesday it rained very hard - all night thru'. When we awoke on Tuesday,
it was so foggy we could not see the bridge, but could hear the fog horns.
Taking the day off.

The fog cleared during the afternoon - and - the sun came out!
Revealing our RV site here overlooking L
ake Huron.
It is right behind me as I took this photo...

So, I turn around, and ...
Through the clearing haze we can see the Big Mac from our site.

On Wednesday, Sept. 28th, we leave the Mackinaw City Harbor...

... One the good ship Cadillac for a trip over to Mackinac Island.

The Capt puts the Jet boat in gear and ...

... off we go. About a 20 + minute ride.

We see Big Mac with fog on the northern shore.

By the time we approach the island, this is all we can see of the bridge.

We come into the Mackinac Harbor - on the Starboard side we can barely see the lighthouse.

On the Port side, it's a little clearer.

We are here - I think.


The first thing you notice. No cars, trucks, etc.
Ever since 1869 horses have provided the main transportation on the island.
The only internal combustion transportation is for ambulances or other emergency vehicle.

All are licensed.

The island is about 3 .8 square miles.

This map highlights some of the places of interests for the visitors.

This photo pretty much shows the only methods of transportation:
By horse, by bicycle, or by walking, as Jean is doing here.

We are moving via two horsepower. A freight wagon is in the other lane.

You may rent your own - U-Drive/Ride.

As this lady to the left is doing.

The Grand Hotel - since 1887

If you are staying at the Grand Hotel - this is your transportation!

Yup, it is Grand. About $595 / night - to start.
If you are not a guest - they charge you $10 to just walk on their main porch.

Each room's awnings has this logo on them.

Our two horsepower guide/driver told us that:
Each balcony's ceiling is painted blue.
Reason - it confuses the birds, think they are still out in the open,
so they don't build nests in the covered areas.

A drive yourself single horsepower rig.

We are riding in a rig like this one.

An early "Victorian" carriage.
The sign says there are only 10 like it in the US.

A hearse - still in use today for island funerals.
To be buried on island, you must have lived here, own property here.

For the second portion of our trip we transfer to this 3-horsepower rig - holds about 30.

A unique island formation.
Something you might expect in Utah


A horse drawn street sweeper (Or perhaps a pooper scooper.)

The Draft Horses have special shoes for their front feet. Specially made, hard rubber
with a steel frame. They have some 400 horses on the island. Most are purchased from Amish Auctions in
Ohio or Indiana. They are all taken off island in the winter to graze at a "horse resort," then return in the spring.

This is supposed to be a "Horse Fly Catcher."
In theory, the flies are attracted to the black ball, then are caught up in the netting.
So far it has produced dubious results, we were told.

A horse drawn sled....

... and Fire Truck.

This is directed toward bicycle riders.

A UPS Delivery van? But its not brown, so probably not.

As we leave Mackinac Island, we see the Grand Hotel from Lake Huron.

A sister boat puts it in gear to head for the mainland.

So, on Sept. 29th, we head south now, for Indiana, then to Illinois.

Since we were "east" (at least 'east' to us from California), we brought our Phoenix Cruiser back home
to Elkhart, Indiana - where she was built.
We swapped out an electric tri-fold bed we never used for a sofa with a large drawer
under it, for "stuff." Also, our original equipment analog TV just started to fail a few
days ago, so exchanged that for a new digital - and larger TV. And a couple of
other odds and ends that the great folks at the factory took care of for us.

While there, we checked out to see what was coming down the production process.


And - we found that Club Member Kay ("Member At Large") & Jim Eldridge
where here picking up their new 2012 Phoenix Cruiser #2552, (still dripping wet from being outside
in the rain) replacing their 10-year old one.
They then joined us for a few nights at the Elkhart RV Park.

On Sunday, October 1st - we travel toward the Hampshire, Illinois area
to visit with our Son Eric & family.

At this point, to maintain continuity, go back up to the top
and click on the "Hampshire, IL" link.

While in Iowa, we spent several nights in Amana.
Always a favorite destination.

Now, let's take a trip down Memory lane...

Our first home in Omaha, 7730 Hascal St.
In the Westgate area.
And we planted those trees - just sticks at one time.

While living for five years in the area, I was instrumental in the design
and construction of the Westgate Community Pool.

Still a going operation.

Still going for records apparently.

This school was not yet completed when we first moved here.
Mark went to a series of temporary schools, (in homes), until it was completed.
It was finished before we moved (we lived in Westgate for 5-years) After we left, a severe windstorm
did some major damage to it.

Our second home was this one in the Prairie Lane area of Omaha.
We designed and built this one at 3323 S. 114th St.
Again, we planted the trees. Amazing.

Above and below


And, here as well. I designed and supervised the construction of a Community Pool.
Was honored as an "Admiral in the Nebraska Navy" as a result.

Still looking good.
We pioneered a new concept here, an aluminum pool.

Above & below


And for five years some of our children attended this school.

And ... our absolute favorite place to dine in Omaha.
The meat is more than excellent, it is superb!
Brother Sebastian's

Now we move on west, toward Colorado.

But first a stop in Gothenburg, Nebraska, to learn a bit about some Nebraska plains history.

Gothenburg sits just about in the center (east/west) of Nebraska, in the middle of the plains.

And is the home to one of the few remaining original Pony Express Stations.

This building originally (1854) was a Fur Trading Post and Ranch House along the Oregon Trail.
It served the as a Pony Express Transfer Station from 1860-61.
Then an Overland Trail Stage Station (1862) before becoming a Bunk House on the Upper "96" Ranch.

When the rider came in, the folks at this station would have a new horse saddled
and ready to go.

The Transfer Stations were located about every 10 miles along the route.

When the rider arrived, he would take this type of saddle,
which contained the mail, from his one horse, to the next horse,
sling it over the saddle, and ride on.


Another example of a MOCHILA saddle.
Easier to see in this example how it would just fits over the top of a standard saddle.

Here is the transfer, one horse to the other - and onward he would go.

It took a particular breed of man (boy?) to be a Pony Express Rider.




What was most surprising to us - was that the Pony Express Service only lasted about a year and a half.

Near our next destination, we find a Bison in danger from a stalker.
Never fear, neither moved while we were there.
Maybe 'cause it was a dreary, wet and cold day, do you suppose?

Also in Gothenburg is an original sod house, once common in the prairies.

Just sod (plentiful in these grass lands), piled up, forming the inside and outside walls.

Roof - the same.

However, rain, snow and weather in general is a tough environment for this type of construction.

Outside of town, at an intersection of some Section Roads we came upon...


The Berg's Prairie homestead encountered a tragedy when their first child died in July of 1885, 4-months after her birth.
Their second child died when he was just 3 months in 1886. The third, a boy, died at age two in 1889.
The children's grandfather sent to Sweden for some steel, from which he fashioned
these three unique crosses.

Before we leave town, we stop at the local McDonald's (Their fries are great!) and notice this child seat.

Now, we are off to the Denver area.

While we are in the Denver area,
we first take a trip about an hour + south
to check out Pike's Peak

As we travel along I-25 south, just north of Colorado Springs
wee see a portion of the Air Force Academy, foreground,
and the snow capped mountains

The Air Force Academy's sports stadium. Home of the Falcons.

Our destination for the day.

Steam locomotive #5. Delivered in 1901.
Note, the tilt. Designed that way so that the boiler would still be (about) horizontal.
They are no longer using the steam engines.
Have converted to Diesel Electric (by G. E.) propulsion,
The cars made in Switzerland.

A maintenance shed. And a look at the slope we will be traveling up on.

The system is driven by a cog wheel fitting in these teeth.
Note they are off set.

At a switch, the teeth must always be available for the drive wheel to engage.

The maximum grade on the Pike's Peak RR is 26.5 percent.
An Adhesion (friction) Drive RR (which is standard) will only be able to handle a grade of 8%.

The cog, and the teeth system.
The Mt. Washington Cog RR system went into service in 1869.
This Pike's Peak Cog RR entered service in 1891, and is the highest Cog RR in the world.
(We wished to ride the Mt. Washington Cog RR when we were in New Hampshire,
but the recent storm washed out the roadways between our location &
the Mt. Washington Cog RR station.)

Here, above & below, is the actual cog wheel and track as the train moves forward.


As we begin our climb of some 7,544 feet ...

We see the massive boulders that are along the mountainside.

Some energetic folks are getting ready for the holidays.

Stacked high.

Reaching tree line.

Our first view of the summit of Pike's Peak.
If you look carefully, you may see a dark object in the center on top.

With the assistance of my telephoto lens, it become clearer.
The Summit House.

The end of the trees, at this altitude is near.
This occurs at about 11,500 feet here.

No more trees, just very hard rock pieces.

We pull over on a siding, to permit this downward train pass us by.

We find an abundance of Arctic Ravens looking to scavenge for food.

Yes, there is a road to the top as well.
We drove up here some 25 + years ago.

We made it! All the signs indicated the altitude as 14,110 feet.
But recent more accurate measurements show it as 14, 115 feet.
Winds up here have been clocked at 178 MPH, with temps down to 65 below zero.

Is this the end of the line?

Yup, any further, and you would loose altitude in a hurry.

Our train car. There are actually two train cars, articulated in the middle.


The views are vast.


The idea for the lyrics of "American The Beautiful" came upon the author
while atop Pike's Peak.


Some stats for you....

The car parking lot up top.

Our passengers slowly make their way back to the train for the downhill journey.

Before we leave the Denver area, we welcome a visit with First Cousin
Don Langmuir and wife Marge. We spent an enjoyable afternoon and dinner time
catching up, as we had not seen each other in about 25-30 years or so.
(We visited with his brother Bruce while in Sudbury, Mass earlier in our trip.)

And now we move on, and south, just as a winter storm is threatening the Denver area.

Now, to us in the very Southern California, San Diego area, these things are unique.
We found these at a local Safeway store, just before the Winter Storm in Mountain Region
was due to arrive, in a few hours - where we currently are. Hopefully we will be able to get out in the AM without difficulty.

When we woke up Wednesday morning (10/26) to this view from the two sides of the cab.


While doing a walk around we find....

Snow pilled high. This is this vehicle's snow baptism. Don't get this stuff in San Diego.

Well covered.

Our retractable window awnings have their share as well. Complete with icicles.


However, after the tracking the storm during the night, and keeping close tabs
on the Colorado DOT Highway status web page, we pretty much know about where
the storm has been, and where it's going - and the conditions of highways...
We also know that the temps have been in the 70's for the last 3 to 4 days, so the ground is warm'ish.

So, off we go. Air temp 29.
We find that the Interstate highways are open, and just wet. South of Colorado Springs we see
some slush on the highways, as reported by the DOT reports.
Soon it just becomes wet again, with lots of falling snow, but no highway problems, again as
reported by DOT. By the time we near the New Mexico border, and the Raton Pass
@ 7,834 feet it is mostly dry - again as reported by DOT.

It was pretty much like driving in the rain - road condition-wise. Just white rain.
We didn't lose our Cruiser & Car snow covers until we are substantially in New Mexico
and the temps had gone up to the low 40's.

As we approach Santa Fe, now in the mid-40's, the rain starts again.
As we pull into the RV Park, it is raining harder, and the forecast is for the upper 20's
and snow. And - we are 2,000 feet higher than we were in Denver. We had planned to spend
 two nights here any way, so by then, the forecaster's say, it will have moved on.

While in Santa Fe, we take advantage of visiting one of the many museums on Museum Hill

Two of the sculptures as we near the entrance.


Currently they are displaying the jewelry of the Santo Domingo Pueblo.

Many examples of their artistry


This one (below) caught our eye - interesting.


In the museum shop is this prize winning basketry. See below for a close up..

A close up showing the detail workmanship involved.

At the entrance to Museum Hill - some interesting Public Art.

A large sculpture of a wagon and mules along the Santa Fe Trail.
(If you happen to have an iPad, you can enlarge the text to see it better.)


We were very impressed...





As we head back to our RV park, we see frost collecting on the hill-side.
Another chilly night, but no snow is forecast.

Friday, the 28th - and we are in Grants, NM.
We plan to be in Flagstaff on Sat,

Where we saw this unique mailbox - in this railroad town of Flagstaff.

And had a nice shady spot in our campground for the night.

 then on to Barstow, CA,
before heading home, to arrive on Monday the 31st
if all goes well.

However, due to the just notified death of a close friend in the Phoenix area,
we will head south from Flagstaff on Sunday, and "hang out" with
our son Mark & daughter-in-law Melinda in Gilbert
for several days in order to attend the services.

Here we are, tucked in-between a grape vine, and citrus trees - all hooked up.
This is where we land in late December as well, when we come over to AZ for the holidays.

For years we have driven by the NE corner of Lincoln Drive and Tatum and have seen
the Barry Goldwater Memorial erected by the Town of Paradise Valley,
his home town.

We paused during this trip to visit his likeness, looking out toward the west, and toward his home,
which is about two miles from this spot.


Home again (4/11) - it's been a long trip (8,512 miles), but who's counting.
See you all next time.