Vacation

When we left upstate New York, we drove into Canada near Ottawa and drove along the Trans-Canada Highway.

For those that would believe a highway with such a name would be a huge 4 lane, or larger, highway, you would be wrong.  Nearly all of the part my wife and I drove along was just one lane in each direction with a 90kph (55mph) speed limit.  The engineer in me believes that there is no reason to enlarge the road because outside of the towns we would encounter only one or two cars every few minutes.

The route is very beautiful and wonderfully rural.  I would recommend that people should put driving this route on their “bucket list”.   It took us 3-1/2  days of easy driving, camping each of the three nights in the very nice Provincial Parks to make it around Lake Superior and back to the USA.

diesel

One thing that makes me wonder about the climate, though, is the availability Diesel #1, Winter Blend Diesel and Diesel #2.  Diesel #1 is one of those products that I rarely encounter in the deserts of the USA. 🙂

 

After we drove back into the USA we camped at a county park/campground in Minnesota about 15 miles from the start of the Mississippi River.  It was a Sunday night and we were the only humans in the park.  The mosquitoes, however, were *NUMEROUS*, *HUGE* and *HUNGRY*.  The 100% strength DEET insect repellent on our clothes and 25% strength DEET on our exposed skin kept the mosquitoes mostly at bay.  After awhile we quit noticing the loud whine of the clouds of frustrated mosquitoes.

I wasn’t able to get a picture of the road sign, that I think was a joke (but I’m not sure).  It was the typical road warning sign–a yellow square set so that the points of the sign are at the noon-3-6-9 clock positions with a black symbol warning of an upcoming road hazard.  In this case, instead of an arrow or a picture of a large truck tipping over, there was an image of a mosquito flying off with a human.

 

We stopped at Itasca Lake State Park and waded across the Mississippi and then walked across the Mississippi River Bridge.   It’s hard to tell from looking at this picture, but the bridge is only about 30 feet (not quite 10 meters) long and the water would barely cover one’s feet.

 

 

We then drove on US Interstate Highway 94, and camped west of Bismark, ND so that we could stop at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  There were a huge number of Prairie Dogs and it was interesting watching them.  Prairie dog lookouts were stationed at various points, watching for predators and at any sign of concern, the lookout would sound an alarm “bark”, which resulted in every prairie dog scurrying for their burrows.

We also had to wait for a herd of bison to finish crossing the road, which I thought was amazing.   In the car behind us was a family and the man (father/dad, I’m guessing) was grumbling about how long it took for the bison to cross the road.  His wife and children were much more patient and they even laughed at my “The reason the bison, or chickens for that matter, cross the road is to prove to the armadillo that it can be done.” joke.

At the park is a cabin that was used by President Theodore Roosevelt and what amazed me were the examples of cookware displayed in the cabin’s “kitchen”.  It wasn’t the age of the items that amazed me, rather it was that I have similar items in my own kitchen.

From there we drove on into Montana and camped just outside of the Little Big Horn Battlefield Monument.  The interpretative park ranger was a retired history teacher and it showed.   His narration of the battle was nothing short of amazing.  I hope the US National Park Service recognizes the talent in that man!  This site is also a US National Cemetery (for US military veterans) and I saw grave markers with dates up through the mid 1970s.  For what it is worth, this is probably the most emotion producing place we visited during the 7,000 mile (11,000Km) drive.

Our route then took us through Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.  Even the smallest of parks deserves a few days of time for a visit and, like the Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons deserves many days.  We didn’t have that much time, so we didn’t even try to “drive in, get a T-shirt and say we ‘did it’.”  We will visit these places again when we have more time.

The final two places we visited were Bryce Canyon and the Glen Canyon Dam.  We camped inside the park at Bryce and spent quite a bit of time wandering around the park, watching the light of the sunset play on the rock formations.

The last place was a “I didn’t know they offered tours” so it was an even more spur of the moment thing.  My wife and I are both engineers and her dad worked at a small low head, high flow hydroelectric power plant on a river in upstate New York, so there was no way we would not stop to see a “high head, lower flow” large hydroelectric power plant.

Vacation

My wife and I spent Saturday, July 8 through Thursday the 13th driving to upstate New York.  It was a 2,700 mile trip that we drove in a reasonably leisurely manner.

Along the way, we stopped in Dallas to visit the President Kennedy Assassination site and museum, the Vicksburg National Military Park, Great Smokey Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.

We tent camped at the Smokey Mountain and Shenandoah National Parks and had planned to camp one more time, but decided against it because the last campsite was covered by flash flood warnings.

We have been visiting my wife’s family and have been doing the tourist things.  My wife’s idea of a vacation is do X, Y, Z, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…..then we can have breakfast before continuing with the rest of the list and finish up around dinner time.  My idea of a vacation is a bit more relaxed.

Friday and Saturday was spent driving through the north country of New York.  Sunday we drove around to my wife’s relatives houses.  Monday was spent at Lake Placid and Tuesday was spent touring the thousand islands and Boldt Castle.  Since Monday was very cloudy we are going back to Lake Placid on Wednesday.

Thursday we will be starting the drive home.  Our plan is to drive into Canada from upstate New York and drive to Sault Ste Marie or Thunder Bay before crossing back into the USA.  From there we will drive home via Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Utah.  I’m hoping that we can tent camp most nights on the way home.

 

 

I’m back, for the moment.

I’m back from vacation.  My wife, daughter and I spent five days driving to upstate New York, then spent seven days visiting her cousins, aunts, uncles and other relatives and finally spent five days driving home.

The area, near Potsdam, was beautiful.  If New York was easier on one of my hobbies, target shooting with a pistol, I’d consider retiring there.

On the way there and on the way back, we looked at the areas we were driving through with the idea of “should we come back to look around at a later date to see if we would like to retire here”.

So far, our two favorite places were Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC.  We haven’t yet looked in the northwest US–perhaps next year..so our short list may get slightly longer.

One thing we did wonder about though, is the apparently inexhaustible supply of the orange construction area barrels.  If my wife ever needs an example of “infinity”, this would certainly be it.

baracadesOh, and finally, while driving through Maryland, I got travel orders for for,…wait for it….Maryland….  If I only had my uniforms, etc. with me, we could have spent a few days wandering around Washington, DC.  Instead, we had to drive 3000 miles to get home, so I could, less than two days after I arrive home, fly back to where I had just been.

Oh well.

Family Vacation

I am in upstate New York, probably 45 minutes from Canada.  We drove the 2500 miles to get here and tent camped along the way.

The first night was in Bluff, UT-a town few have heard of.  It’s in what is called the 4-corners region, which is where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico share a border.  It is beautiful and I like the people.  I could live there, but my wife and daughter disagree.

There was a bit of sadness when I drove through this area.  Back in the early 1980s, my girlfriend (and later fiancee) was in a pre-med program with the goal of becoming a pediatrician.  My goal was to become an engineer. Our dream was to find a small town in northern or eastern Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah or southern Colorado, and move there. I would be an engineer for a power or telephone company or perhaps a government agency and she would set up a medical practice.  We had done a lot of camping and met a lot of people in these areas which is how I came to love the area.

That dream closed with her death and the dream was never fully replaced.  Instead of directing my life, I let my life direct me.  Many years later I met someone else, we married and had a daughter.  She’s now 17 and a senior in high school.  While we didn’t have a dream, we did save money (probably 1/3 of our household income)  for retirement and our daughter’s college education.

A new shared dream is slowly forming….find a semi-rural area in the country to semi-retire…..which is why we decided to drive to upstate New York for a (her) family visit.  So far, the only requirements are semi-rural, hobby friendly, a not terribly extreme climate and friendly people

So far we have made it though Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois,  Ohio and New York.  On the way home we will wander through the more southern states.