Friday, October 16, 2009

Niagara Falls

After driving over 3,000 miles, through 3 time zones and 10 states we arrived at Niagara Falls. As it was our first visit we decided to do a tour as we didn't want to miss anything.

We started off the tour at The Whirlpool where the falls actually originated, but time and erosion has now moved them further back to their present location. Due to the Americans and Canadians syphoning off 50% of the water from the falls for their own use the whirlpool actually changes direction every day when not enough water flows into it.

Our next stop was the boat trip on the Maid of the Mist where we dressed in our blue waterproof ponchos. Both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls (the Canadian side) were awesome, though the Horseshoe Falls definitely has the edge. It was such an exhilarating experience on the boat as we headed to the mist getting closer to the Horseshoe Falls and listening to the thunderous roaring of the falls. Fantastic ! Unfortunately, it was over all too soon and we headed back to shore.

From there we drove to Goat Island where The Cave of the Winds Experience is located. For this we got a yellow poncho and a free pair of sandals. We descended 175 feet in an elevator to the tunnels that run behind the falls. We emerged out of the tunnels to wooden platforms that are built at the side of the Bridal Veil Falls and rise to about half way up the falls. There we ascended the steps and climbed up to the highest level (The Hurricane Deck). It's definitely worth doing as its probably the closest you get to the falls.

Coming back to the surface we walked to Terrapin Point right next to the Horseshoe Falls for Tony to take some more photos. There we said goodbye to our tour guide Dayna and headed off to look for something to eat.

Not a lot of eating places on the American side of the falls, we checked out The Hard Rock Cafe and the casino but decided on the Red Coach Inn, a replica of an old English inn. Tony's Fish and Chips were good, not so my Salmon Salad (where was the Salmon).

After eating we headed back to the hotel for a swim and chilled out ready for our departure the next day to Albany, the capital city of New York State.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tuesday, 13th October 2009 - From Minnesota to Niagara Falls, New York State

After leaving Minnesota we travelled across Wisconsin and Michigan between the Great Lakes for 3 days until we arrived at Niagara Falls. One of our stops was at St Ignace, Michigan, a small town situated between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. It boasts one of the longest suspension bridges in the world (about 5 miles). It was a delightful place and we were lucky that our hotel room overlooked the lake, we were quite sorry to leave, we would have liked to have spent some time on Mackinaw Island which is situated across from Lake Huron, but unfortunately time did not permit.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday, 8th October 2009 - Detroit Lakes, Minnesotta - Eveleth, Minnesotta

We have travelled from Sioux Falls through to Detroit Lakes with not a lot happening, and then headed for Longville, Minnesota, (June and Ron's old stomping ground) we promised them we would look up the Pines Motel which they used to run. On the way we stopped at Ackley to take a photo of a Paul Bunyan ( mythical giant lumberjack).
We were lucky with the weather again, sunny periods as we arrived in Longville. Thought is a nice quiet little place, though not a lot to do. We weren't impressed with the public restrooms, no doors on the cubicles just a pink curtain across the doorway. We did find a good cafe called Common Grounds, a nice place but a bit over the top with all the paraphernalia. After leaving Longville we headed for our hotel the Super 8 in Eveleth, Minnesota. Definitely recommend this motel, clean, first class breakfast, even had a sauna as well as a hot tub and pool.

Tues, 6th Oct 2009 - Rapid City, South Dakota to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

What a change weather wise, today was a nice sunny day, still cold but not complaining, we seem to have kept a day ahead of the snow. Today, we visited Mount Rushmore, we were lucky it had just re-opened that morning due to being closed for the snow yesterday. It was definitely worth seeing, very impressive, but thought the car parking fee of $10 was a bit steep, as we were only there for about 20 minutes. Keystone, the town below the monument was cute, an old american style town. We then headed on to the town of WALL, if you are not aware this town has a famous store called Walldrug. It was originally a pharmacy in the 1930's but the owner wasn't doing very well in the depression years, until his wife came up with the idea of giving away free iced water in the summer to passing cars who were on their way to Mount Rushmore. From then on it grew into a huge tourist attraction as he extended the premises selling everything you can think of, it has gifts, cafe, old black and white photo's, a museum, a shooting gallery, you can even pan for your own gold. After we had had lunch in Wall, we continued on our way to the Badlands. No words can describe the beauty of the Badlands, we both found it more impressive than Yellowstone. Tony could have spent all day there taking photos, there was just so much to see. After an exhausting day, (we lost an hour going through a Time Zone) we headed to our hotel for a rest.

Monday 5th Oct Sheridan Wyoming to Rapid City South Dakota

After visiting Yellowstone Park we stayed another night at Bozeman and then continued on our journey. Due to worsening weather conditions, snow was predicted, we decided to abandon our idea of camping for the night and decided to head to Sheridan, Wyoming and stay in a hotel there.

On the way we passed The Battlefield of the Little Bighorn, Custer's Last Stand. There was not a lot there just markers of where the poor soldiers had fallen in battle. It seemed so ironic as a lot of the soldiers were immigrants who only joined the cavalry as a way of feeding themselves and staying alive, and they ended up all dying in a battle where they were totally outnumbered. There was also a monument with all the names commemerated on it these included a Harrison and a Smith. We then continued on our way to our hotel in Sheridan.

Upon waking we found that we had had about 3 inches of snow overnight, luckily it was soft snow so we were able to continue on our journey. Unfortunately, the weather didn't improve , it was overcast all day with intermittent snow showers. I was really disappointed as I wanted to see the Devils Tower (Encounters of the Third Kind) but we had to postpone that trip. We were glad to get to the hotel and chill out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Saturday, 3rd October 2009

After a night at Bozeman we set off to Yellowstone National Park (90 miles away) where we entered the North Entrance by The Teddy Roosevelt Arch. I didn't realise how big Yellowstone is.

Our first stop was The Mammoth Hot Springs which was fantastic. We then drove on the North Loop stopping at viewpoints to see the panaromic views which were unbelievable. We had a ten minue unscheduled delay to let the Bison cross the road. Our next stop was the Sulphur pits, one of which Tony described as an evil looking hole in the earth.

Due to a road closure we had to drive 91 miles through the park ascending to over 10,000 ft to finally see Old Faithful. Boy was it worth the drive. I've never seen anything like it before. After waiting an hour Old Faithful finally let off steam.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thursday 1st October 2009

After a long hot summer at last we were leaving Port Angeles our home for the last 18 months to start our big adventure, to go across America, West to East on the Interstate 90 and back again East to West on Interstate 40.

We left early morning taking the Kingston to Edmonds ferry and then on to the Interstate 2 heading for Leavensworth, Washington State. For those of you who don't know, Leavensworth was a dying american town that transformed itself into a mock Alpine village and is now a great tourist town to visit.

Now travelling on the I90 we passed through Spokane and onto Coeur d'Alene heading for our campsite for the night, stopping at the liquor store first, (it was a cold night). Not having camped for about 30 years I was a bit hesitant about what to expect. We arrived just as it was getting dark and leaving Tony to erect the tent I sorted out the bedding etc. Tony had a good nights sleep needless to say I was awake most of the night listening to the animals scratching at the tent. Oh the joys of camping! Would I do it again, yes when it warms up.
Friday, 2nd October 2009.
After a makeshift breakfast we continued on our way back to civilisation heading for Bozeman, Montana on the I90 via Saint-Maries stopping on the way at Finnegans Inn for lunch. A really good meal and cheap at the price (no sales tax). The scenery was impressive going over the Continental Divide the road climbing to well over 6,000 ft in places.
We booked into our hotel in Bozeman, and headed straight for the indoor pool and hot tub to relax our tired muscles after travelling 800 miles in 2 days. Then to sleep (not as young as we were).