Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Road to Nova Scotia (continued...)

Okay. So where was I?

Oh, yes. We left Concord, New Hampshire and began coming down out of the mountains, toward the sea. One final word on the Adirondack Mountains we left behind us. A travel brochure I picked up informs me that Adirondack National Park has over six million acres, is one mile high, holds 30,000 miles of streams, 1,000 miles of rivers, 3,000 ponds and lakes, and 2,000 miles of trails.

It's a big place. And very big with hikers and bikers and all manner of nature enthusiast. My father, who will be 80 years young at the end of this trip, no longer qualifies for any of those activities. But we cheered them on as we motored up and down those big, big hills.

We arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire before noon and stopped at the re-created village of Strawbery Banke, which was the original name of Portsmouth. And just goes to show how spelling has changed over the years. Here there were a good many houses restored to their late 1700s, or 1800s, or even early 1900s condition. The big difference, however, was the houses were only restored ... not moved. Every single house sat where it originally had back in the day. We walked through the very same ground that those settlers did when the town was just a small port - so small the shipping yard was called "Puddle Dock" - and enjoyed the weight of history as we moved through each home's exhibits. (The picture above is my Dad with one of the "characters" of Strawbery Banke - Sarah Goodwin, the mayor's wife, who kept a lovely Victorian garden.)

From there it was across the river and on to meet one of Dad's chat room friends near Rockland, Maine.

As always find photos of the trip at my Facebook fan page here. Click "Photos" and then "The Road to Nova Scotia."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Technical Difficulties

Yes, that's me, looking slovenly and unkempt. Hey, I'm on vacation. I may be underdressed, but I make up for it by being overeducated.

Anyway, on our long journey east, my laptop keyboard decided to stop working three days into the trip, which makes it  extremely difficult to blog anything. I am currently using my tablet, but it doesnt have the functionality or utility of my laptop, so posts will be limited by the availability of hotel computers. Sorry, everyone.

After my last post....
We wound up spending the night in Rutland, Vermont. While there, we browsed the Norman Rockwell Museum. Wow, was that guy prolific. And good. Eventually I will have some pictures up over on my Facebook fan page, but not until I get to an actual computer instead of a glorified smartphone.

From there we made our way over to Concord, New Hampshire, stopping at the home of Crowley Cheese aong the way. It's really good cheese made in an old farmhouse that looks like it's about to fall down. Maybe that's part of the charm.

The major paved arteries through Vermont and New Hampshire are vertical - they run north to south. So when you want to cross these states horizontally, you have to take winding, twisting and often narrow state highways through the mountainous terrain.

The benefit of doing that, however, is that around a very many corners you are surprised by joy. Vistas of green scenery with layers and levels of mountains, trees, and greens so deep they make you want to take your shoes off and run barefoot through them open up. Roll over a hilltop and here's a house on your left or right with manicured and landscaped lawns that look like they belong on the cover on a magazine. It's absolutely gorgeous out here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

ADK and Beyond

"ADK" is what the locals here in New York call the Adirondack State Park and associated mountains.

We left the little town of Oswego this morning and made our way through upstate New York and up into the Adirondack, or Green, Mountains. We programmed Dad's GPS unit to take the shortest route (not the fastest), which quite often leads you on merry adventures through back roads you'd never normally see, and that's what happened today.

We followed winding, twisting, snaking little roads that in some places could hardly be said to have two lanes, and sometimes went through trees so thick the sun seldom hit the forest floor. It's the kind of road that when you see a sign like this:

You think to yourself, "Oh good, I can speed up."

There is one little town - the picture at the top of the post is from just outside of it - called Newton Falls, and it struck me as the town that time (and most of civilization) has forgotten.

There is a decrepit, blighted traffic roundabout, of all things, just before you get to the main street in Newton Falls and we didn't exit it correctly and immediately the GPS piped up in careful cautionary tones, "Warning! No GPS data for this location. Proceed cautiously!"

So if not even Google knows where you're at, you are darn close to being lost. But we backtraced our steps, made the proper turn, and continued on our way.

Our next stop was Lake Placid, New York. The village here hosted both the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics. I got the strong sense the place has been mostly resting on its laurels since then. The one bookstore in town was closed up and out of business, which I always find a sad sight and poor omen for a place and its people.

The highlight of our stop was lunch at a Howard Johnson's *restaurant.* A large sign out front said there are only two left in existence. The one here and one in Bangor, Maine. Perhaps we'll get to stop at that one, too. The chowder was delicious!

From there we drove down through the mountains, with Dad snapping photos right and left, and let Ms. GPS - whom I shall never doubt again - guide us straight onto the ferry at Essex, New York. It transported both us and our trusty vehicle across Lake Champlain with swift efficiency, and by midafternoon we found ourselves in Vermont.

As always, I have posted a few extra photos on my Facebook fan page. Click  here, and then click the "Photos" link. While you're there, be sure to click that "Like" button, too. Thanks!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Slowly I Turned...

Niagara Falls. Much to my surprise, they turned out to be less than five hours from my home. They look so much farther on a map. And pretty small when you're looking at them from about 770 feet. Which is where I was when I snapped this photo; on the observation deck of the Skylon Tower, which is as high as you can legally go in Niagara Falls without actually sitting in an aircraft. More than 34 million gallons of water rush over the lip of that cliff every single minute until the river starts to freeze in winter.

As I write this, we are at the end of Day 2 on "The Road to Nova Scotia" and I'm sitting in a TraveLodge somewhere east of Rochester, New York. We arrived in Niagara Falls early in the afternoon on Saturday, drove around for quite a bit while Dad related to me how much the area had changed since he was there 20+ years ago. And, indeed, it obviously had. Big high-rise hotel chains are now littered throughout the city. At least two casinos, several additional miniature golf sites - each with its own novelty approach - a Sea World knock off called "Marineland," some kind of "Safari" experience, and several additional museums. There's a section on Clifton Hill that would rival Chicago's "Magnificent Mile," if not nearly that long.

Dad and I are two of 14 million people who come to this city every year. Four of the five Great Lakes drain through the Niagara River and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Ontario is the only one that doesn't, if you were curious. I've posted a mess of additional photos, as I promised, over at my Facebook Fan Page. You can find it here.

Tomorrow we head on up into the Adirondack Mountains, through the Olympic Village at Lake Placid, and then ferry across to Vermont.

I'll keep you posted.

P.S. - The title of this post comes from an old vaudeville act that was most popularly exploited by the Three Stooges. Whenever someone would say, "Niagara Falls," they would turn as one, and say "Slowly I turned, step-by-step, inch-by-inch...and proceed to pummel the person who had uttered the offending phrase." Find an old You Tube clip or Google it for the full story.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Road to Nova Scotia

 So. Dad and I leave in the morning. We hope to make Niagara Falls by the evening and maybe hang around a bit on Sunday to see what's what and how tourism has changed the place since we were last there. And then on to Nova Scotia.

All in all, Dad and I will drive approximately 2,500 miles over the next 14 days.

I can't imagine what sights we'll see. But I'm excited about seeing them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Refurbished and Reactivated

...at least temporarily.

This blog came to an ignominious end about a year ago. It started with my Mom entering Hospice, followed about 10 weeks later by her death in June. About a month after that, my schedule took me to three different states and about six weeks of traveling. Most of this is detailed in a previous post.

But then, last fall, my father-in-law passed away.

By then blogging had pretty much slipped away from me and it is a hard habit to get back. I regret that I didn't give more of you a heads-up on what was happening and I thank ALL of you for your patience and indulgence as my life situation kept me tied up and away from the blog.

I'm still not really back. At least not full time. But I did update and refresh and kind of overhaul the blog to get it going again for really just one reason ... you see, in just a few days my Dad and I will be taking another trip. This time for two weeks, and by vehicle, from Michigan all the way out to Nova Scotia and back.

Here's a pic from a couple years back of Dad and I.

I wanted a place to blog about the trip, to post a "picture of the day" kind of thing, and make a space to remember it all and share it with you, my friends, and my family. Dad may be kicking in a few of his thoughts, too.

If you're on Facebook, you'll be able to see more photos of the trip if you "Like" my fan page there. Here's the link.

At the end of our trip, my Dad will be 80 years young. Who knows? This may be the last, greatest chance we'll ever have at spending some really quality time together. I hope not. I pray not. He's a spry old guy and he's forgotten more about life than I may ever know.

I'm sure looking forward to the rest of July, 2012.