Friday, August 31, 2007

Vacation Post #4

As always, scroll down for earlier vacation posts

Our first stop of the day was Hawkeye Point, the highest point of Iowa. It is on a farm- pretty much in the owner's back yard. However, the owner is elderly and this year she recently moved elsewhere in town. The land was still being farmed adn the property looked like it was being maintained, so obviously someone is coming by the place. It will be interesting to see what happens in terms of high point access if she sells. (Some owners restrict access to select weekends which is a big pain if you are coming from far away. This was the case with Illinois.)

We then headed off towards South Dakota, where we would spend the rest of the day as well as the next.
Mitchell- home of the Corn Palace. Once considered as a posibility for the capital of South Dakota. This is a building used for basketball games, concerts, etc and the outside is decorated in corn and other plant material. Each year a different design is selected. Unfortunately the decorating was incomplete as they were preparing it for the upcoming festival. It was still pretty neat to see. Inside the building were pictures of other designs that they've had over the years.

After seeing all of Mitchell that we could (and there really isn't much to see other than the Corn Palace) we headed off to Wall, home of Wall Drug. Along the way we saw signs for the Pioneer Auto Museum. We decided to stop. Big mistake. The set up of this place was horrible. And the "informational" signs looked like something put together by a 10 year old. We definitely do NOT recommend this place. I think we left in less than an hour because it was that bad. The General Lee was pretty much the only good thing going for it.

We then continued on our way to Wall. We found a campground in town, about 2 blocks behind Wall Drug. It was a little sketchy looking, but it was cheap and convenient. After setting up the tent we crossed the train tracks and went to visit the Drug Store. Unfortunately, since it was later in the day, a number of the "attractions" seemed to be closed down for the day. That's ok though, we still seemed to get the flavor of the place. And here I am riding my first jackalope of the trip.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And in other news....

Today's non vacation related post is brought to you by the movie, Blades of Glory. Yup, love, love, LOVED this movie! Couldn't wait for it to come out in the theatre, saw it and knew I would be buying it.

Today, it came out on DVD. Chris picked it up on his way home from work and we watched it tonight. So funny!

Vacation Post #3

Sunday morning (12th) we packed up our campsite just before the skies opened up and the downpour came. Luckily the rain didn't last too long- or we just drove through it.

Here's a view of Lake Michigan, taken from the car. As we traveled along the Upper Peninsula we lad Lake Michigan to our left, and later Lake Superior to our right.

So here's Lake Superior. Gorgeous lake. Wish I had taken the time to put on my bathing suit to jump in the water. Instead, while Chris took a potty break, I went down to the water and took a few pictures and waded into the water.

A little after mid-day we reached our next destination- Mt. Arvon, which is the highest point in Michigan. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere and we had to take a number of logging roads to get to the top. Unfortunately the directions in our book were a little out of date as the logging roads had changed in the past 5 years.

When we finally got back to town we stopped at the Hilltop Restaurant for some lunch and a "world famous" sweet roll (to go). That sweet roll was huge! Unfortunately, by the time we ate it the following day it wasn't all that good. Check out the link to their restaurant and please explain to me why they think the baby is good advertising. Personally I think the baby is a little scary looking.

While on the way to our next stop, we drove through the town of Rhinelander, WI. While driving down the street we looked over and saw this. Aaaaagghhh! What is that thing?! Meet Happy the Hodag. WTF is a hodag?

Finally we reached Timm's Hill, the highest point in Wisconsin. We climbed the short distance to the high point, took our pictures, and headed back to the truck.

The Upper Peninsula had taken us much longer than we had anticipated (plus having hit some traffic the day before) and we were feeling a little behind schedule, so we did some extra driving and got a little bit south of Minneapolis before stopping at a motel for the night.

Vacation Post #2

Please scroll down for post number 1.

Welcome to Canada! Our next destination was Mt. Arvon, the highest point of Michigan. From Niagara, the easiest way to get there was to cut across Canada and then up through Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.

So Saturday morning we headed to the border. I don't think the border patrol knew what to make of us when asking what our destination was, what we were doing in Canada, etc.

When we entered Canada:
Q: What's your destination?
A: The Highest Point of Michigan
Q: So once you get there you'll be coming back this way?
A: No, then we head off towards Yellowstone....

When we entered back into the US:
Q: What were you doing in Canada?
A: Just passing through. We were at Niagara Falls this morning.

Pictured at left is Lake Ontario. We were to see 4 of the 5 Great Lakes on this trip.

After a full day of driving we reached Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The pictures here are of the 5 mile long Mackinac Bridge which connects the UP from the rest of the state. And because of this bridge we were able to "claim" seeing two more lakes- Lake Huron was to our right, and Lake Michigan to our left. This would be our only view of Huron, but we would see more of Michigan the next day.

After crossing over the bridge we immediately saw a sign for a State Park so we decided to see if they offered camping. Score! We set up, had dinner, and then walked down to the water. We didn't stay there long because the bugs were biting like crazy. Back at camp we made a fire and I had my stupid moment of the trip.

We had gotten a new lantern to use on this trip and we had just assembled it. After lighting the lantern, part of it seemed to be loose, so I reached up to tighten the screw. OWWW! Yeah- the metal screw was hot! I burned two of my fingers on the second day out. One of them has healed, but the other one still isn't back to normal.

Vacation Post #1

So I think trying to talk about my entire vacation (16 days) in one post would be a little too difficult, so I think I'll break it down over the next few days.

We left on Friday, August 10th. First destination was Niagara Falls. We got to the campground (a KOA) and were utterly shocked at how expensive it was. As a family we never stayed at KOAs but Chris' family had and he had fond memories and I remember Darlene saying that it was their campground brand of choice. However, since I'm a state/national park kind of gal, I was thoroughly disappointed in this campground.

Not only was it $50 a night (for a bare tent site with no hook-ups!) but the sites were so close together. If the site next to us had been full we practically would have been breathing down each others necks. We were to later learn on this trip that not all KOAs are created equal. They vary greatly in price and amenities.

But back to my story....

So we arrive at the campground in the early evening- set up the site, make dinner, etc. Then we headed off to the Falls. For photographic lighting purposes it might have been better for us to wait until the morning to go to the falls, but we were on a pretty tight schedule and since we could go at night we figured we should.

We decided to go on a tour of the Cave of the Winds. Perhaps "tour" isn't really the right word. You take an elevator down towards the bottom of the falls, and then follow some platforms and stairs and get right up at the bottom of the falls. The wind and the water power is amazing! However, since it was night our pictures aren't so great. Without the flash it's pretty dark, and with the flash all it picked up on was water droplets near the camera- not what we were trying to photograph 10 feet away. Oh well. It was still fun and we got a few pictures.

After we were back at the top of the falls we took a few more pictures and then settled in for fireworks, which they have most weekends during the summer. This was a nice treat and I got to test out how the new camera did with fireworks- much better than my old camera!

After fireworks we walked around the park a bit and took more pictures of the falls and then headed back to camp.

I was glad we took the opportunity to do the Cave of the Winds. I've been to Niagara twice before (this was Chris' first time) but both times before we had only viewed the falls from the top. Many people suggested that we should view them from the Canadian side, but we didn't do that. Maybe next time?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

After 15 days and 6901.4 miles, we are back at home! It's so nice knowing that we don't have to set up the tent tonight. More about our trip later, but just wanted to say we're back.

Oh, and about this picture? This is a sign on the Mass Pike in the Western part of the state. A few days later we passed through Oacoma, SD. Unfortunately they don't have a similar sign. :(

Monday, August 06, 2007

Long time no post...

Wow, 2 weeks since my last blog post. So much for trying to blog at least once a week. I kept meaning to get these pictures up, but it just didn't happen.

All of the pictures here are from a trip to Vermont that we took last weekend. I took Friday off from work and we headed up in the morning, and then back later in the day on Sunday. I realized that it takes us longer than I would think to break camp- a good thing to know before our upcoming vacation as I consider our long days of driving and now I know we'll have to get up a little bit earlier so that we have enough time.

Our first stop (not counting a quick stop at King Arthur Flour) was Ben & Jerry's. We took a tour, checked out the "Flavor Graveyard" and had a sample of icecream. And of course took cheesy touristy pictures. Next was a stop at Cabot (mmm.... cheese) and then we headed to the campground.

One thing that my family "collects" are highpoints, or the highest elevation of each state. My Dad started collecting these and as a result I've done a number of them with him. Now I've started doing some others with Chris. In fact, on our upcoming vacation we hope to get 7 more states. So on Saturday we hiked Mt. Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont. It is a mountain that is owned by Stowe Mountain Resort (a ski resort) who has a road up to almost the top of the mountain. In order to get some extra summer income, they charge you to drive up the road. So, we drove as far as we could and then had about a 45 minute hike to the peak. It was pretty cloudy on the way up, and when we were at the top it started to sprinkle, but on the way down the clouds moved away and we got some nice views. When we got back to the parking lot the clouds moved back in. Perfect timing!

After the hike we went stopped by a craft fair and although we didn't make any purchases, I did see a few things that I really liked and am considering getting a custom-made piece as a gift for my brother. Hopefully he'll like it.

As we were heading back towards the campground we saw a sign for the floating bridge. Not knowing what a floating bridge was, we figured we should go check it out, so we followed the signs and here's what we found. Ok, now here's my thing- I can understand creating one floating bridge for the novelty of it. In a small town maybe it could become a tourist draw (hey, it drew us in). And maybe when that bridge disintegrates I can understand replacing it with another floating bridge. But this one was replaced SIX times! At what point do you think that maybe this isn't such a good idea and just create a normal bridge?

Sunday, we took yet another walk to the firetower in the campground (I think we climbed it every single day) and then headed towards home. We made a quick stop in Hanover, NH. The Appalachian Trail goes through town and we were kind of hoping to do some trail magic. However, way too many people and really no hikers. We saw one, but he looked like he was just out for a short hike, not someone we would want to give Magic to.

And in other news, I got just a tiny smidge of scrapping done- one card (didn't scan) and two layouts that you can see here and here. DH slightly complained about my choice of materials on the second layout as I used paper and embellishments of things that he hardly ever uses. Oh well. I still thought they were cute. And now only 6 layouts until I'm "caught up" before my trip. If I'm lucky I'll have a chance to do one of those before we leave on Friday.