Week Three - water, water everywhere
Jun 23, 2009
|Took a wrong turn Monday morning, and couldn't u-turn easily, and so continued on a winding road in West Virginia and happened upon the National Radio Observatory, home to the Green Bank Telescope. This thing is over 300' diameter, and listens to signals from outer space.
Jodie Foster was handing out coupons to "Contact". Remember? There are 4 of these observatories around the u.s., listening, listening, listening...very strange. We were trying to hook up with Nick,Miriam and the baby, but were in a 13,000 sq mile "no radio" zone. I thought there were simply no towers in WVa...what have they got to talk about, anyways?
We saw lots of weird and amusing W Va towns ("Frank"..."Beverly"..."Junior") which offered lots of flavor and interesting scenery. As we hit Pennsylvania we thought we were out of the woods, but NOOO...our recalcitrant GPS "Garmin" took us on a circuitous and boring and annoying route ( complete with an up close and personal drive-by of a nuclear power facility.)
to our next stop, Whitethorn Lodge, Darlington, PA (West of Pittsburgh.) After a long day, a relaxing hot tub soak was our reward, and Jim swears the day was one of "roade rallye" penance.
Hey! the heater works...cold Tuesday a.m. (sissy Floridians) but coffee and grits and a hike around the campground will get you heated up. Paulette: I enjoy the morning routine in "the love nest". We sleep remarkably well, awaking at about 7:30 (no clocks, alarms or watches allowed) and I have my coffee while sitting in my bed/couch/window seat/office writing my journal, doing post cards, gathering info for the day ahead, reading, etc.
Jim's the business manager cum computer geek, and totally enjoys his morning "on line". He'd do it all day if we let him :)
WhiteThorn is a lovely place, and we thoroughly enjoyed pool, hot tub, sauna and forgot about our difficulty yesterday in finding the place..."Oh, no! You didn't take Route 18 did you?" (aside: we've travelled about 1800 miles to date, including side trips and touring around)
Rainy Wednesday (with 4 more rainy days predicted) and a good day to travel onward. Shuffling off to Buffalo, Niagara Falls here we come...we both honeymooned here 40 years ago or so. What's changed? The falls? Us? Because of the relentless rain, we altered our m.o. and drove the interstate, but the rain was no less relentless and pulling the trailer was annoying at best. We amused ourselves by eating junk food and playing word games and listening to an hour of Spanish. ( we are going to need that in Canada, aren't we?) We arrived at Four Mile Creek State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario late in the afternoon. One of my worst fears happened on arrival....the slide out...wouldn't. Jim is a genius (editor says "keep it in") as he discovered a sheared bolt, and replaced it quite quickly, on his back, under the trailer, in the wet grass. (Editor's note: What a guy!)
Thursday dawned rainy, but allowed for a maintenance and chore day in beautiful, run down Niagara Falls. Jiffy Lube, hardware, dollar store, grocery, all the usual on-the-road stuff. By 3 p.m. I couldn't stand the suspense, and had to see "them" (about 10 miles from our campground.) Jeez,Louise! We were both awe struck by the easy accessibility and closeness of the color, force and power of the Niagara River falling 167 feet at 675,000 gallons PER SECOND! Awesome, indeed. What an exciting and ferocious Wonder of the World this is, beyond imagination.
Neither of our memories did justice to this spectacle. Did it change? No! Did we? Most likely.
Jim:Never paid attention in school to have known that all the Great Lakes drain to each other, West to East, eventually thru the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic. The Niagara River connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario (which is 180 feet or so lower than Erie) and thus the flow to create the falls. The rivers' just a channel.
Friday is tourist day, sunny and warm. Saw the Imax movie, then rode The Maid of the Mist boat virtually into the falls and finally hiked a short way right to the edge of Bridal Veil.
We returned after dark to see the falls "lighted" and watched a fireworks show over the gorge. Hard Rock Cafe is across the street from the parking area, and had a pretty good "Govmnt Mule"-like band playing. It was fun having a night out
Saturday morning....big time rain. Looked at the radar and saw a break coming late in the morning. Hitched up, dumped the tanks, and headed for Canada. The falls are really much better viewed from the Canadian side, with full views of Bridal Veil and Horseshoe, plus a better idea of how wide the river is that supplies the falls. There is a wide and long promenade for viewing, and the town is full of arcades, restaurants, casinos, hotels, etc, etc.
Canadian Customs was an ordeal, got lost near Toronto, ran into more rain, and were bombarded (yes, BOMBARDED) by mosquitoes at the KOA Campground in Gravenhurst, Ontario. We've been spoiled so far with the lack of pests and am wondering if this is going to be our REAL woods life in the future.(Saw something interesting on the road - major highway- you know the signs at each exit -saw - BARE OAKS NUDIST PARK and GLEN ECHO FAMILY NUDIST PARK next to other attraction announcements. No hang ups in Canada, eh?).
Things change. A beautiful, sunny, warm Canadian Fathers Day and God Save the Queen! We are in the Muskoka region, a sports mecca for Toronto summer (and winter) recreation. 32 picturesque golf courses, lots of lakes and streams, boating and fishing opportunities everywhere. We like the Canadian spirit of seeming freedom to do what you want where you want to. Folks swimming everywhere (and anywhere), kids diving off of bridges, that kind of thing. Skies are a brilliant, clear blue, the air smells of cedar and the water is delicious.
We visited picturesque Huntsville, trying-hard Braceville (can you believe zip-lining?), and our town of Gravenhurst with Muskoka Lake on one side and Gull Lake on the other. Country's oldest steamship still does the tourist thing from this port, and dinner was served at this newly developed wharf. After, we lucked into an outdoor concert at Centennial Park at Gull Lake and helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of this venue, which was dedicated those many years ago by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Not only did they play the Canadian Anthem, but also God Save the Queen. We got strange looks when we used out words -My Country Tis of Thee - oh, well.
Just a few words aboot Canada, eh? You may or may not know...and you might or might not care...but 1) omg, the METRIC system is alive and well. e.g. Gas is bought by the liter (or litres some areas) and is $1/L x 3.875 L/gal, or damned expensive. 2) mileage markers and speed is in kilometers and km/hr which is easy cause your speedometer has it on it's face 3) the temperature is in Celsius....9/5C+32=F. "It's gonna be 30 tomorrow!" Huh? 9/5x30+32=86F DOH! 4) Wanna buy a timeshare? You'll be buying a "fractional". 5) Wanna talk to the Mayor? Don't call him "yerhonor", but "your worship"! Not me, unless you worship morons 6) There are no waterfalls, just "chutes" 7) Flashing green at a stop-n-go light means that you have an early green. So GO! 8) Niagara has an extra "a", but nobody sez it. 9) "Niagara" is a Mohawk word for "thundering water"...I'll say 10) Canada is an Iroquois word for "village" as in " it takes a."..11) Muskoka is an Inuit word for "you keep this up, Simon, we're gonna Sioux ya!"