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Dec 11th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Somebody on the fourm once said there wasn't enough trip reports, so here goes.

We traveled from San Diego to New England and back, leaving in the middle of August and returning the first week of November.

We left home early Saturday morning, heading north on I-15. Opting not to stop and enjoy the 110 degree temperature in Mesquite, NV, we spent our first night in Beaver, Utah. The next day we continued north arriving in Evanston, Wyoming in the early afternoon. Evanston owes its existence to the railroad. The first transcontinental railroad came through Evanston on the way west. Trains continue to roll through at all hours of the day and night. The surrounding area primarily consists of rolling ranch land supporting cattle.

After settling in at the local RV park, we drove 25 miles east and visited Fort Bridger. Many of the original buildings still exist, but the vast majority have disappeared, most destroyed by fire.

The next day we took a leisurely drive south along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. It traverses a wide farming valley along the Bear River before climbing up over a 10,000 foot pass.

After two nights in Evanston we headed east. We got off the interstate and stuck to the secondary roads crossing the continental divide at South Pass. Many of the settlers heading west in wagon trains used this pass because of its gradually sloping hills and the lack of any mountains. We also stopped at Independence Rock, which the same settlers carved their names as they passed on the way west carved. There are hundreds if not thousands of names and dates all over the rock, which is several hundred feet high and about one mile around. Yesterday’s graffiti is now protected. I hope it’s not is sign of what will happen to today’s graffiti.

After an overnight stop near Casper, we continued east to Badlands National Park in southeastern South Dakota. The Dakota Badlands are similar to the one we have in Borrego, with the exception of prairie grasslands which surround the area and the wildlife. This is truly, as the song goes, “where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play.”

Also in the area are many cold war era minuteman missile silos and launch control facilities. One near the park has been taken over by the National Park Service and tours our offered. We did not get to see the control center because the tour was booked up, but did manage to view one of the missiles in a silo. An interesting missile fact: The minuteman ICBM missile carries a 1.2 megaton warhead which is about 60% of the power of all the bombs dropped in World War II.

Our next stop on the journey east was Yankton, South Dakota. We stayed in the nicest state park we’ve ever seen. The park is situated along the shore of Lewis and Clark Lake which is formed behind the Gavin’s Point Dam on the Missouri River. The park runs several miles along the lakeshore and consists of over 300 campsites situated within mature trees and surrounded by acres and acres of lawn. There are miles of bike trails, which we have taken advantage of, playgrounds for the kids, and beaches for swimming. This is by far the most beautiful campground/park we’ve ever seen.

Next up, Minneapolis, having arrived in the early afternoon. The state fair is in full swing and we will visit it tomorrow or the next day. The RV park we are in has a storm shelter, which is comforting because there are tornado watches in effect in the area. Perhaps we’ll have an adventure to report in the next installment.




dgassa is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 06:53 AM
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Well I guess you can say we had our first adventure of the trip. Around 2:45 this morning we were awoken by the flash of lightning. Actually, we were up going to the bathroom and noticed the lightning. At first we couldn’t hear the thunder and figured the storm was far away. Shortly thereafter we started hearing the thunder, but it still seemed a long way off. Then the rain began. When the sound of the rain on the roof of the trailer was louder then the thunder, I figured it was time to turn on the TV to see what was up.

The crawler at the bottom of the TV screen told us there was a line of severe thunderstorms heading towards various counties. Counties around here are small and there are probably 20 in the Twin Cities area. I watched closely and when I noticed Scott County, which is where we happened to be, was on the list, my heart started beating a little faster. Then the crawler informed us that the storm could have damaging winds. What does that mean? For all I knew it could mean anything from a stiff breeze to a tornado. Next it said there had been reported golf size hail. Hey, I’ve been hit with a golf ball and they hurt.

About this time I told Cathie I thought we should probably get dressed in case we had to head for the shelter. Within the next minute the wind started. The trailer was rocking and the trees outside were bending. At least the power was still on. I looked outside and didn’t see anyone, figuring they must have already gone to the shelter. With the rain going sideways we made a run for it. The storm shelter was about 75 yards away, which seems like a mile, but with the wind at our backs, we made it in record time. As we stumbled into the basement of the RV park owner’s home, we were heartened to see the lights on at the bottom of the stairs. We expected to be greeted by the rest of the parks occupants, but were surprised to see only one other couple and their dog. The lady who owns the campground came down the stairs from the house to welcome us, and told us that her policeman husband had called to say the power was out in Bloomington, a nearby town. After turning on the TV for us, she returned upstairs.

I wondered where all the other people were. It was hard to believe they could have slept though the storm. The TV was telling us the winds were in excess of 70 MPH, which I understood to be hurricane strength. On the way to the shelter we had noticed several tree limbs laying around, I was sure the locals would have enough sense to seek shelter. Then in our conversation with the other couple in the shelter, we learned they too were from California. It was only the Californians that had enough sense to come in out of the rain.

After about 30 minutes the storm subsided and we returned above ground to see all the locals standing around in their pajamas, watching the light show which was now heading east. We scurried back to the trailer, hoping not to be noticed. Can’t wait till some of those Midwesterners come west and experience a 4.0 quake.
If it happens again tonight, I’m still heading for the basement.Here's a link so you know I'm telling the truth.

dgassa is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 11:54 AM
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After surviving the storm, the weather gods decided to stop scaring us and the sun came out. Temperatures in the mid eighties, with clear skies.

We visited Fort Snelling which was the first white settlement in Minneapolis. It is situated on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Most of the fort has been restored to its original condition. There are people dressed in period clothing, playing the roles of those who lived there in the 1830. Solders, blacksmith, shopkeeper, doctor and cook. They each played their roles and explained to us what life was like back then.

The next day we took a shuttle bus to the Minnesota State Fair. The place was packed. Although the Del Mar Fair in San Diego has lots of junk food, the Minnesota Fair is junk food. The fair grounds are huge and set out with streets in the traditional square blocks. Food booths line each of the streets. On top of that, there were buildings dedicated just to food. Everything comes on a stick, from the common, Hot Dog on a Stick, to the uncommon Breakfast on a Stick and Pork Chop on a Stick. Since the Midwest is farm country, there were lots of displays related to farming. Corn, dairy products, pork, and tractors galore. There was even a life sized cow carved out of butter. All in all it was a pretty good fair, and beats the Del Mar Fair in the food category.

I spent the next day exploring downtown Minneapolis and the state capitol in St. Paul, while Cathie lay around the pool. Downtown is pretty clean with a great system of bike/jogging paths around the Mississippi River. I wasn’t able to get close enough to the collapsed bridge, but most of it had already been removed. I didn’t stay long in the downtown area due to a Vikings game in the afternoon.

Our next stop was a campground near Shawano, Wisconsin. The result of being America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin is also America Fly Nation. They were pretty thick when the air was calm. The campground is mostly occupied with seasonal campers. They move their RV’s in at the beginning of summer and stay till fall. At night they roll out a big movie screen and everyone brings a chair. We spent time visiting with a retired co-worker who lives nearby. He has spent the last six summers, since retiring, building a lakefront home on property that has been in his family for years. A really beautiful setting, until winter when everything freezes.

It’s raining now so we are hold up in the trailer. We are in St. Ignace, Michigan in a state park which on the Straits of Mackinac. The Straits separate Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Across the Strait is Mackinaw City which we can be reached on the 5 mile long Mackinac Suspension Bridge. Every Labor Day, which was yesterday, they close several lanes on the bridge in the morning to allow walkers and joggers to cross the on foot. Participants cross going south and return via school busses. Well it turns out the powers to be didn’t expect 57,000 people to walk across the bridge. We heard stories of people having to wait up to 4 hours for a bus ride back. Usually people are allowed to walk on the bridge till around 11 am, but there were still people walking at 4 pm. It took several hours for a car to drive across and traffic was backed up for miles. Glad we didn’t get into town until after 4:00.

We are still enjoying ourselves and are seeing areas of the country we’ve never been in. St. Ignace is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or the U.P. as the locals call it. Tomorrow we will head south, across the Mackinac Bridge onto the Lower Peninsula, still exploring new lands
dgassa is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 01:58 PM
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Thank you for posting. I'm enjoying your report!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 03:46 PM
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Hi there dgassa, I sort of skimmed your report (taking a break from housecleaning). Will read it more carefully over a glass of wine. But from what I have read..what a great trip report!
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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September 4th and its south to the Lower Peninsula. About halfway down in Ludington, Michigan and another state park. After staying at Straits State Park and being required to purchase a State Park Annual Pass for $29, we figured we better get our moneys worth. We stayed 4 nights at Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan. Nice clean beaches for walking and miles of bike paths. We took advantage of both. We rode our bikes up the lake shore to Big Sable Point Lighthouse where we climbed to the top for the exercise and the view.

After Ludington we continued south to Sterling State Park, our third Michigan State Park. Located one the shore of Lake Erie between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, it is a convenient location for visiting Dearborn and The Henry Ford. Then Henry Ford is a complex of museums and an IMAX theater. There are two main parts, one of which is an actual museum and the other is Greenfield Village. The Museum, once called Henry Ford’s attic contains a wide variety of artifacts depicting American History, from the chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated to the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, to the Allegheny, one of the largest steam locomotives ever built.

Greenfield Village is 90 acres of historic structures including the Wright Brothers home and workshop, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, to an early 1700’s plantation house. Most of the buildings are the original building, purchased by Henry Ford, dismantled and shipped to Greenfield Village where they were put back together with the original materials. The village is a living museum with people dressed in period clothes performing the jobs and tasks of the day. There is a working steam railroad, a working farm and lots of Model T’s.

The glass shop was of interest to us, as we collect blown glass. For a fee, you can make your own glass flower. I volunteered to document the occasion by taking the pictures while Cathie, with the assistance of one of the artisans, made her glass flower. We don’t know how it turned out as, it has to sit in an oven overnight and will be shipped home later.

The next day we returned and took the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. The Rouge complex is huge and would probably take several days to see it all, but Ford only gives tours of the
F-150 truck assembly plant. Taken by bus from the museum you see part of the complex which was built by Henry Ford in 1917. Here raw materials are marshaled, delivered by rail and ship, for the production of steel. Then the steel goes to the stamping plant when the individual parts are manufactured. The stamping plant covers 2.5 million square feet, or about 50 football fields.

The tour of the F-150 plant includes a movie about the history of the Rouge complex. After that you enter a multisensory theater to “experience” what it’s like on the floor of the assembly plant. The floor shakes, you smell the smells of the factory and heat from the steel furnaces. When the finished truck is put through water jets to check for leaks, you even get sprayed with water.

You then walk via overhead walkways over the assembly line. You can take as much time as you want, stopping at video presentations explaining the process before you. Although you don’t see the entire production of the 2008 model truck, you do get to see many of the parts coming together. While we were there, they were running one 2009 model through the line to see what adjustments would have to be made to the production process. They had most of the body covered so you couldn’t see what it looked like. Here it is 2007 and they already have a 2009 model.
After the factory tour, we returned to the museum where we spent the rest of the afternoon. I suppose you could do it all in one day, but for us two days was about right. Tomorrow our plan is to sleep in and take it easy for the day. Perhaps a bike ride, but I’ll probably wash the truck as I’m getting tired of the dirt.


From here is't on to New York State
dgassa is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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After leaving Michigan, the next stop was Erie, Pennsylvania where we stayed a couple of days. Believe it or not, but this area of Pennsylvania and Western New York is wine country. There are vineyards along the shores of Lake Erie growing all verities of grapes. The difference between the wineries here and the ones in California is they don’t charge you to taste their wine. We found several bottles of our liking and bought them.

We continued north to Niagara Falls where we stayed in another really nice state park. Our first day we spent looking at the falls and doing the tourist thing. We took the Maid of the Mist boat ride which turned out to be a big disappointment. Every one is given a plastic rain coat of sorts to ward off the “mist”. You can ride on the top deck or the bottom deck, each which is open to the elements. Now if you want to get wet, then this is the boat trip for you. The boat takes you past the American Falls where you don’t get very wet and get a pretty good view of the falls. Next you go up river to the bottom of Horseshoe Falls. The mist is so thick, you can’t even see the falls. It’s not really a mist, but more like a pouring rain. Those on the top of the boat get soaked and those on the bottom get wet. The entire trip lasts around 15 to 20 minutes, which wouldn’t be enough time if you could actually see the falls, but was plenty of time for a cold shower.

After this experience we decided not to do the Cave of the Winds or the Bottom of the Falls because they appeared to be more of the same. We did manage to get some great views standing just feet from the top of the falls. We then walked across the bridge into Canada where we were afforded the best view of both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

The next day we went to Lockport, New York to see the Erie Canal. Here there are locks on the canal, hence the name of the city. We stopped in at the visitor center for information then walked the block to the canal and the locks. Shortly after we arrived, we were greeted by and elderly gentleman who introduced himself to us as a volunteer at the visitor center. He apologized for not speaking to us at the center and proceeded to give us an interesting tour of the locks. He told us he has lived all of his 83 years in Lockport, still residing in the house he was born in. He said his father and mother emigrated from Italy and his father worked on the canal in the early 1900’s when it was being widened, earning 10 cents an hour. Today the canal is used only for pleasure craft as there is no longer any commercial traffic. Transit through the locks is free, supported by tolls on New York toll roads and bridges. Something he told us I never knew was each year in November, the canal is drained for maintenance and refilled in the spring.

Since arriving in New York State, we have managed to visit, Panama, Barcelona, Dunkirk, Angola, Greece, and Mexico, all towns in the western part of the state. Cathie says this mean we don’t have to fly to any of those places (she hates to fly) and we can do our overseas trips right here in the US.

The weather continues to be great with temperatures in the high 70’s. If this continues, the leaves will never change colors and we’ll just have to come back in the future.


dgassa is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 10:20 PM
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Enjoying your trip report, dgassa. Looking forward to more....
5alive is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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We’ve been having great weather with warm days and cool, but not cold nights. From Niagara Falls we continued north to Clayton, New York which is on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The RV park we stayed in wasn’t very appealing to the eye, so we opted to leave after 2 nights. While in the area we paid a visit to the Frederick Remington Museum in Ogdensburg where we saw many on his original sculptures and paintings. They were having a raffle for an original print which we are sure to win. (Update, won second prize, $100 gift certificate)

From Clayton we turned right and headed east into the Adirondacks, staying in a state park near Lake Placid. The campground is situated on Fish Creek Pond, a lake by our standards, with each campsite on the lakefront. Actually there are two campgrounds here, but most of it is closed for the season. There are over 600 campsites in the two campgrounds with 90% of them on the lakefront. We are also starting to see the fall colors, with red the most prominent.

There are lots of ponds (lakes) interconnected by creeks of varying size. It is a perfect location for trying out the kayak again. Last time I used the kayak I injured my shoulder. I still have some minor pain from the surgery, but I figured there was no time like the present.

We launched the kayak from our campsite and paddled up the first creek we came to. We snaked our way through the forest, crossing one pond and then entering another creek on the other side. We repeated this several times not wanted to stop so we could see what was around the next bend. At times the creek so narrow and shallow that we scraped both sides and bottom. It was really beautiful with the trees changing colors. The next day we repeated out trip only going further just to see what was around the next bend. After two days of paddling, my shoulder actually felt a little better.

September 23rd was the first day of spring, so we celebrated at The View, a gourmet restaurant in Lake Placid. As evidenced by the restaurants name, we watched from our table as the sunlight faded causing the leaves on the trees across the lake to glow. We were then rewarded with the moon rise with its light shimmering across the water. We had a great meal with the Barbeque Onion Soup, a creation of the chef, to die for. I asked the chef for the recipe, and was told he would mail it to me. We’ll see. (It's still a secret, never sent me the recipe)

After five nights in the Adirondacks, we traveled west to Burlington, Vermont. We stayed there for 5 to 7 days before heading towards New Hampshire.
dgassa is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 01:24 PM
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While waiting for the next installment, here are a few photos of the trip.

dgassa is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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I get an "album not found" message from Kodak when I click on that link.

But fascinating report, even though I have NO desire to travel by RV. More power to you.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 07:47 PM
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Thanks, the link is now working
dgassa is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 07:58 PM
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It is not working for me.
Michael is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 08:48 PM
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I'm have trouble getting the photo link to work. I try to fix it tomorrow. Sorry
dgassa is offline  
Dec 14th, 2007, 09:08 PM
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We are not RV'ers, but I would LOVE to one day have the opportunity to make a cross-country motor trip. I am interested in the route you chose -- you seem to be hitting a great number of scenic and historic highlights. Thanks for posting.
azzure is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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As for a route. We try to stay off the interstates when possible and prefer the secondary roads. As for our route, it went something like this;

San Diego to Evanston, WY via I-15, then to Casper via I-80 to US191 and US 20. Then HWY 20 and 18 to South Dakota. Next on to Minneapolis, Wisconson and the Upper Pensiula of Michigan. South though the lower pennsiula around Lake Erie to Erie, PA. North to Niagara Falls and Northwestern New York. Into the Adironadaks and the Lake Placid area. Next Northern Vermont and New Hampshire before hitting the Maine coast at Bar Harbor. Heading south from there to Boston, the Connecticut coast around New London. From there we avoided New York City and headed southwest to Lancaster, PA. After that it was south to Memphis via West Virginia and Kentucky. Next came Fort Smith Arkansas, before heading to Dallas. From Dallas we made a bee-line home via The interstates. As I said we try to avoid the interstates, but actual miles traveled, we use them the most.
dgassa is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 01:30 PM
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Ok, I'm going to try again with the link to the photos. Try this one and ignore the first.

dgassa is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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I think the photo link is working now.


One day we drove to Warrensburg, New York, about 80 miles from Burlington to what was advertised as the “world’s largest garage sale”. Each year the town turns its main street into a swap meet. The street is about 2 miles long with people selling everything from new clothing, to antiques, to just plain junk. We parked at one end of town and followed the hordes for the next 4 hours, walking up one side of the street and back the other. In addition, all the fair food was there, with funnel cakes, corn on the cob, and Barbeque. We passed on the street food and managed to get a seat in a small café for lunch. We got away pretty cheap, just buying some yard art and lunch.

After Burlington we moved eastward the short distance to St Johnsbury. We are in a nice RV park on the Moose River, just outside of town. The park is full as fall is one of the busiest seasons with folks coming from far and wide to see the fall colors. According to the foliage report, we should be experiencing peak color in this region. I really hope they are mistaken because I’m not impressed with the colors we’re seeing. I’ve seen better color in the Eastern Sierras. We keep hoping it will get better, but so far we’ve been disappointed.

Today we drove into New Hampshire and took the toll road to the top of Mt Washington. It seems that in this part of the county, if there is a mountain, some private company will build a road up it and start charging for the privilege of driving up it. The road to up Mt Washington was built in the 1850’s and hads been in private hands since. The road is about 8 miles, paved most of the way, and has an average grade of 12%. Once at the top, the view extends into Canada to the north, Maine to the East and New York to the West. This is if it isn’t cloudy. We were lucky in that the mountain itself was clear, but in three directions we looked down on the clouds. Beautiful just the same.

I haven’t complained very much about things in this trip report, but I just can’t help myself any longer. The drivers in New England are IDIOTS! They drive their Volvos and Subarus as though any curve taken at more than 10 MPH will cause a roll over. And Vermont is the Green Mountain State. These people drive as though they have never seen a mountain. I thought that perhaps I was being a little harsh, me being from Southern California and always in a hurry, but then I got my driving instructions for driving up and down Mt Washington.

Official Mt Washington Auto Road Driving Instructions:

DRIVING UP: “Lowest gear with an automatic transmission is usually shown by symbol “1”, “L1”, or “L” on your shifting lever indicator.”

DRIVING DOWN: “Driving down in lowest gear will cause the engine to act as a brake and
help to slow you car's decent. You may notice that the engine sounds loud, or is running very fast – this is normal and is not cause for alarm."



dgassa is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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Once again I'm having problems with the link to the photos. I'll keep trying.
dgassa is offline  
Dec 15th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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Are they idiots for not knowing that they should down-shift or because they are down-shifting?
Michael is offline  

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