Sunday, May 16, 2010

Home Sweet Home! The Final Post!

     Sorry it's taken so long to get the last post done, but we're still not completely used to being back in Southport!  We got home mid-afternoon on May 1st, 10 weeks to the day since we started and 11,451 miles traveled.  For those who are interested, we got 14.7 miles per gallon of diesel on the trip!
     The last day was a long drive.  We left before 8am, and traveled via Canada Route 10 to Sherbrook and then on to Corbin Gore, the western terminus of Maine Highway 27.  For those not familiar, the eastern terminus of Maine Highway 27 is Southport, Maine, so we were on our "home" road the entire trip in Maine.
     The trip across Canada was fairly mundane,though it was interesting seeing some views of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We saw lots of huge, well kept farms on the road.  Also saw quite a few mountains, and a couple of ski resorts as we approached the US.  It did seem strange that ALL the road signs in "PQ" (Quebec Province) are strictly in French--no English.  They apparently don't consider themselves Canadian!
       We crossed into Maine and met US Customs and Immigration at Corbin Gore, not the busiest port of entry into the US.  In fact, there was our RV and one pickup truck, the only "clients" they had during our 20" or so stop.  Dudley seemed to intimidate the Customs guy (who had a nasty, barking German Sheperd in his truck and Dudley was taking no grief from it!).  We were asked to take the dogs for a walk while they did a "walk through" in the RV, and all was fine.  Nice enough guy.
     Maine is such a gorgeous state!  The ride on Route 27 is just exhilerating in its beauty at this time of year, and we passed through Carrabasset, by Sugarloaf ski resort, and through the beautiful Belgrade Lakes area until we got on our more familiar route from Augusta back home. 
      One of the biggest surprises to us was looking at the temperature--for the first time on our trip, all 10 weeks, we saw a temperature of 78 degrees!  It couldn't have been a nicer day for us to arrive home!  Not only that, but all the bulbs we had purchased in the Netherlands last year and planted in the fall were out in full bloom--the yard looked gorgeous!

Greg was glad to see us, and the dogs were thrilled to be back at "their" house and "their" yard!  I'm sure Dudley had felt resigned to living cramped in the RV forever, though it never seemed to bother Rosie.  In all seriousness, it was great to have the dogs along, they were terrific travelers, and it sure made having the RV worthwhile to have been able to bring them.
       In summary, it was a GREAT trip!  We clearly have the "bug" to see more- a lot more- of North America via RV travel.  This country, and Canada, are so vast and interesting that it is thrilling to finally be able to see so much of the country this way.
       For those who have followed Moosedroppings, thanks for looking in and thanks for the many comments we have been given verbally.  It's been fun, and we'll look forward to doing another! 

                                                 Oh, and Katahdin says thanks, too!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Off to Coteau-du-lac, Quebec

       We had a pleasant and relaxed morning with Jane and took the dogs back to the Commons for some exercise before leaving, and then headed off for our 386 mile trip to the western edge of Montreal.  We drove through Toronto just after rush hour, and had no problem getting through.  We primarily drove on Canada 401 most of the day, and found that they have closed EVERY reststop from the Port Huron border through to Montreal--"reconstruction for our traveling convenience!"  The strange thing is that at each closed reststop, they give you the distance to the next one but fail to say it is also closed!
          It was a pretty boring ride overall, and we were glad to have our audible book on tape entertaining us.  We did get several quick views of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which was nice--surprisingly wider than Jim had imagined.
        We arrived at the campground around 5:30, and were glad to be done for the night!  It is actually hard to believe that this is our last night on the road, and that we'll be home in Southport tomorrow!


      After leaving the Emmett campground, we had a fairly short drive over to Niagara-on-the-Lake.  We drove to Port Huron for the crossing, and it was speedy and efficient getting through Canadian customs.  Our route across Canada was on the main highways, the 401, 402, and onto the QEW into Niagara-on-the-Lake.  We went over the Welland Canal on the St. Catherine's Bridge, and to Jane and John Chappell's new townhouse home for a 2-night visit.  Jane and John are good friends from when we lived in Hudson, and we had actually visited Niagara-on-the-Lakes with them in 2004 when we took a trip for Becky's birthday--they wanted to show us where they were thinking about retiring to, and they actually did it!
          This is a gorgeous city, and we had great weather for walking around.  Wednesday afternoon, after taking care of the dogs, we walked around the downtown area and got reacquainted with this beautiful city.  The Clock Tower is in the center of town on the main steet, and it and the several blocks are decorated with hundreds of tulips in beds.
     We ate back at their house, and spent a delightful evening talking.  We slept in the RV with the dogs, but had all the luxuries of a B&B the next morning with shower facilities, cooked-to-order breakfast, and lots of great conversation!   
        On Thursday they gave us a driving tour of the area, and we started at the Welland Canal Museum at lock 3 on the Canal.  The Welland canal consists of 8 locks connecting Lake Ontario with Lake Erie, rising 326' and by-passing Niagara Falls.  Ships up to 775' can traverse the canal, and we quite enjoyed watching one go through.  The photo shows the Canal, part of the museum display, and the St. Catherine's Bridge in the background that we drove over to get into the Niagara district.
        After lunch we took the dogs to "The Commons", a huge "wilderness" area within the city that is probably 1/2 mile long and 1/4 mile wide.  It used to be the barracks area for Fort George, described below.  Dudley and Rosie could run free, and boy did they!  Tired them out so much, they collapsed back in the RV and were happy not to have to do anything but sleep the rest of the afternoon!
          John took Jim over to Ft. George, which was a major British fort constructed in 1799 and was the site of battles in 1813.  It's massive, and is undergoing reconstruction but was open for wandering about.  There was a "reenactor" giving a demonstration on the history and the use of the musket, which would seem to be a rather dry and boring topic.  On the contrary, the man was not only informative but was one of the best stand-up comedians you can imagine.  His delivery had the entire audience, including us, in stitches, and was a true delight!
        Jane and Becky, in the meantime, went touring on their own, including checking out a shop specializing in lavender.
         We met later that afternoon and went to their favourite restaurant in the area, the Angel Inn which dates to 1815 after the original was burned by the Americans during the 1813 battle.  We had actually been there with them 6 years ago, and they serve terrific British pub fare.
         The evening was spent back at their home, where we looked at some old pictures, watched a British murder-mystery, and just enjoyed each others company.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another travel day - to Emmett, MIichigan

        This was a travel day for us.  Of course, now that we were leaving Baraboo, the weather got nice again and we sped through the Wisconsin and Illinois countryside in sun and temperatures in the high 60's.  Our Garmin GPS decided we should be routed through downtown Chicago, and we were fortunate in not running into any of the traffic problems that one usually encounters between O'Hare airport and downtown.
        The brief travel through Indiana was not pleasant.  The highway construction around Gary is terrible to negotiate, clearly the worst construction job we had been through since I95 in Georgia two months ago.  Northern Indiana is heavily industrialized, and driving by the steel mills and the other heavy industry doesn't make for great photographic vistas!
        Scenery improved as we got into Michigan, and we enjoyed seeing the pretty faux-Dutch city of Holland.  There are tulips all over the place, and we were actually there at the right time to enjoy them in bloom.  There are faux windmills, dutch houses, and even a store that makes and sells wooden shoes!  Nice place to drive through, and probably to visit if we had had more time.
        We arrived at our campground on a beautiful evening.  The site itself was beautiful, but the place is transitioning to a full "KOA" facility and it has a long, long way to go.  For example, though they advertise propane, Kabins, K-9 park, and cable TV, the former three aren't available and the TV isn't at all sites--including the one we were at.  On the other hand, it's a huge, lovely facility, and again we were among the few RV's there.  The dogs loved it, and we took advantage of the time to clean the RV, do some laundry, and catch up on our computer work.

Baraboo, Wisconsin

         So much for the beautiful weather we had experienced this past week!  We parked in Jim's brother Kermit's yard in Baraboo yesterday, and the RV remained parked for both Saturday and Sunday.  Kermit's daughter Brianna has a small bird in her room, and his son Kyle has a very elaborate working roller coaster model set up in their living room.  Rosie thought these were the most enticing treasures ever, and spent the entire weekend trying to get to either
 or both.  We are pleased to report
she didn't, but only because she remained on a leash in the house the entire time, something that we
 very rarely have to do.  You can see, though, that she and Dudley have great big eyes for Kermit!
       We visited Kermit's wife Dorothy both days in the very well run Nursing home that she is in since her surgeries and brain aneurism.  Though she cannot speak, she was clearly understanding and responding to quite a bit of the conversation that was going on.  It has to be unbelievably frustrating for the whole family, and we cannot but admire how devoted and close they all are during this difficult time.
        On Sunday we went into Madison with Kermit and had a good time with he and his family;  Becky hadn't seen some of the kids for years, and had never met Kermit's son-in-law Adam.

       We enjoyed seeing where Kermit worked on the way back to Baraboo, and taking the ferry he commutes to work on every day.
       Despite the rain, it was nice to see the Baraboo/Portage/Lodi/Madison areas, and how scenic they are with rolling hills, trees, and lakes/rivers/streams everywhere.  As a final note, we didn't see one single Cheesehead the entire time we were in this Green Bay Packer area of the world!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oshkosh, and on to Baraboo!

     Yet another nice day greeted us, and we headed north to Oshkosh where we had read about their large and welcoming dog park.  We finally found it, after going around several detours.  Seems like half the roads in the city are torn up and under construction!  Really nice, huge, and well maintained by the local prison inmates!  Not many dogs there, but Dudley and Rosie thoroughly enjoyed themselves and tired themselves out.
       Not having been on the internet yesterday, we drove over to the Oshkosh library, took our computer inside and took advantage of their high speed wireless.
        We then went to see what Oshkosh is most famous for, the Experimental Aircraft Association museum.  Each year, the biggest experimental airshow in the world is held here in Oshkosk, and they have a magnificent museum with an adjoining grass strip (and that is situated next to the real airport).  The hangers shown above are actually part of the museum, and are filled with vintage aircraft--unfortunately, they are not open until May for public display.  After dining in the RV for lunch, we went inside and enjoyed the various exhibits and aircraft on display.  Burt Rutan and his brother Dick are honored with a wonderful display of some of their world famous aircraft, including their rocket aircraft that has circled the earth from space and the ultra-long range aircraft that has circled the earth without refueling.  They have an interesting 15" film on the rocket aircraft, and as it is shown on the movie descending, the actual full scale model shown in the picture above (the white and red aircraft with the stars) has its parts move in synchronization.  Pretty cool!
       Jim saw quite a few aircraft he had never seen "live" before, including the British Mosquito fighter, an F-89 fighter, and a fascinating WWII rescue aircraft that participated in numerous actions in all theatres of the war.  The photo at the left is Becky in front of an early American Airlines aircraft, as a WW I Spad flies overhead.
        We arrived in Baraboo about 4pm and Jim's brother Kermit got some quality time with Dudley and Rosie.  We visited Kermit's wife Dorothy in the nursing home where she is at in Portage, and then had a delightful tour of the famous Wisconsin Dells.  For those who don't know, the largest concentration of waterparks in the world is located there, along with numerous miniature golf courses, roller coasters, and other family amusements.

A travel day to Fond du Lac, WI

     It was another beautiful day, and we decided to treat the dogs to the Rochester dog park they had enjoyed so much yesterday.  They were thrilled as we approached the park and docked the RV, and they charged forthwith into it!  Unfortunately, there was no one else there!  We played frisbee with them for awhile, and after 1/2 hour or so decided to leave and head east for Wisconsin.
          An hour later or so we found ourselves in LaCrosse, trying to locate what turned out to be a dinky little park with no pizazz at all.  There were four or five people there with their dogs, and we didn't find either the two legged or four legged friends particularly friendly.  This is illustrated in the picture you see on the left, where Dudley was trying to make friends with this rather wild looking puppy!
        Our road atlas said that a trip to Trempealeau would be worthwhile, with beautiful views of a dam and bridge.  We drove up there and saw there was a dam and a bridge.  We were underwhelmed, and don't recommend taking that side trip if the reader is ever tempted!
         As the dogs needed a break and it was lunchtime, we stopped at a scenic overlook park in Unalaska, and were impressed with their welcome sign, shown here on the right.  Tough day when the highlight of the day is showing a fish sign!
        We took a "red road", which are generally more scenic than the interstates across the state.  Unfortunately, this wasn't the case on this ride, and it was frankly pretty boring.
        When we went to check-in at the RV campsite, the owner wasn't there but her daughter-in-law was.  She said she wasn't sure if the camp was open yet (the KOA book said it opened today!), but she knew four sites were available with full hookups and told us to pick one; so we did.
        After 6pm the owner did show up, and was apologetic for not being there.  She said she was so busy she didn't know if she was opening this day or tomorrow, but was glad we came in!  We constituted 50% of the guests there this night!