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  1. Default

    I just discovered this thread, excellent and fascinating descriptions. Have you considered posting vlogs of your journeys on YouTube, like some of the long distance truckers do?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default Working on it.

    John, this technologically challenged septuagenarian is working on it. Have been for some time.

    Maybe one day it will all come together.

    Lifey

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default Onto Boston.

    With the insurance all sorted it was onto I-95 north, straight through Philadelphia. It was a good run. The cruise set at the speed limit, was hardly touched. When we were pretty much all the way to NJ it all suddenly came to a stop. Only a dozen cars up ahead there was a Penske truck parked sideways across two lanes. Then we heard the first, of what turned out to be at least half a dozen, emergency vehicles approaching. Soon the traffic was moving again through the third lane. As I passed the scene it was obvious that the driver of the truck had positioned himself to shelter the four vehicles which had been in a bingle. Mostly a fender bender. If they had all been wearing seatbelts there should not have been injuries. I never did find out the cause, or the outcome.

    Over the river into NJ I headed up 29 along the river. What a lovely drive beside the river. 202 then took me up to I-287 through the rest of NJ, ending in Ramsey/Mahwah, where my daughter lived only a few years ago. The day ended with I-87 to I-84 where I planned to stop at Pilot, Newburg NY.

    The great surprise on I-87 was not having to stop or slow down for the tolls, just like some of the toll roads in Chicago, Denver and elsewhere in the country. Such a time saver. So much like home!

    Next day I took I-84 through CT into MA, and 20 to the E-ZPass office in Auburn.... to top up my account. Well worth it really. Since I purchased the pass in July 2012, I have used $50. Unlike at home, E-ZPass actuall leave the money in your account. (In Melbourne owners of transponders are obliged to use $25 per year. If you do not use that much, the greedy so-n-sos take it out of your account. Guess why I don't have a transponder?)

    The run into Newton was smooth, and being the middle of the day, without traffic. Four and a half enjoyable days on the road, some of which I had not travelled before. All of this was driven at 65mph or less when required.

    Since I often drive well below the speed limit, the very right lane is where I can usually be found. On I-84 in NY there was an old Jeep been driven at 40, maybe 45mph, in the left hand lane of a three lane highway. The speed limit was 65 (no minimum). The driver appeared to be totally oblivious to the chaos this was causing.

    One thing I cannot get used to is the lack of greenery. All these trees without leafs on them is so depressing. It is not in my ken.

    Lifey

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default Boston.

    My time in Boston was amazing, despite not doing any sightseeing.

    4th saw granddaughter's ninth birthday. Out to dinner at her favourite spot in Newton Centre. The following day the whole family and four little best friends went horse riding. It was a great drive into the country where the ranch was. (I waited in the car.)

    Sunday was a concert put on in a church just a few doors from son's place. 'Alice in Wonderland' presented by the local ballet company and a local orchestra. 90 minutes of delightful entertainment.

    Monday we finally found affordable tickets for me to be able to take the girls to Melbourne, in July. Just as I did for their brother, two years ago. Not only did I score a great bargain, bonus is that there is only lay over (LAX) each way... with Qantas.

    Now there are two very excited little girls in Newton.

    Tuesday and Wednesday gave me the opportunity to attend three Toastmasters meetings, including one at the Boston Globe and Mathworks in Natick. Great meetings with experienced members who had lots to offer. Had an opportunity to rehearse the 5 mins I hope to present at The Moth in St Paul this month.

    Thursday was the day I had planned to move on. It would give me a week to get to St Paul for Easter, and check out some sites along the way. But Wed the little ones asked if I was coming to the Science Exhibition on Friday, at their school. Both girls had science experiments going on in the kitchen - BIG 'don't touch' signs! - and these would be presented along with all the other children's experiments. How could I refuse?

    Science exhibition was fantastic. It was voluntary for children in grades 2 to 5. Some of the ideas the children presented were amazing. A solar powered butterfly; How pulleys work; The life and legacy of Rachel Carson, and many more. Granddaughters presented how long it takes for mould to form on different cheeses and how much water evaporated over a month from a jug of water. Impressive grade three and four standard records were kept. They have a very enthusiastic and much loved science teacher at that school.

    So it was not until early (9.30am) Saturday morning when I set off for St Paul. The day was bright and sunny, promising another great trip.

    Lifey

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default Minor Roads and small towns.

    Having spent quite some time in the past on roads in MA, CT and PA, I decided that the sightseeing part of my six day trip to St Paul would be more through the following State. Hence, I-84 and I-80 were the main routes out. I did however, on that first day, stop for lunch in Newtown CT. The big surprise here was the huge sign on the supermarket. Along with Bakery, Pharmacy and the usual, it had Fish and Chips. Found that they actually cook it to order. Fresh fish and real chips (almost 1/2" square). Relished every moment of my lunch, which was a great start to this leg of my trip.

    West of Akron OH, route 18 took me to the small town of Medina. 18 to US20 and that to US6 through small towns all the way, occasionally stopping to do some shopping or check my internet at a library. A most pleasant drive, through Bowling Green, over the Maunee River and then continuing on US24 through Defiance to Fort Wayne.

    Really enjoyed Ft Wayne. One of those cities large enough to have just about everything, but not so large that you constantly get lost.

    The other reason why Ft Wayne sticks in my mind is...


    ... when I awoke (at 8am) next morning, at the FJ, everything was white.

    Lifey

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default St Paul for Easter.

    US30 out of Ft Wayne to west of Chicago, gave a really good run, but since it is now almost interstate standard, I missed out on all the small towns along that stretch. What I did not miss out on was the white flurries in the air east of Valparaiso. That continued on till well after passing Chicago. Never enough to settle on the windscreen or the road. The country around me was spectacular, all through the southern suburbs of Chicago. Only the roads were clear. Parking lots were often still covered, if not completely, at least partially. It was an enjoyable drive. I stopped frequently just to admire the scenery.

    At Joliet I picked up I-80 again, as I had wanted to be in IA that evening. Stopping as often as I had, had eaten into my time.

    Stopped in Davenport and next day sought out Antique Archeology. Unfortunately the address on their website took me to where there were only houses, and certainly nothing like the store one sees on TV. Took I-80 to Iowa City.

    From Iowa City, or rather Coralville it was US218 north, all the way to Owatonna MN. Through rural Iowa, past the barns and silos, fallow fields and a variety of lifestock. This route did not bypass the local towns. I made a point of enjoying many of them. What I also enjoyed is the wayside stops along this route, simply marked as picnic spots. One of these, south of La Porte City is next to a very small cemetry. Unfortunately the wet weather was not conducive to get out and walk through it. It was small enough so even I could enjoy it. It intriqued me. I was curious as to how old the headstones are. No more than a couple of dozen, if that.

    I-35 into St Paul on Maundy Thursday. Over Easter we did see the sun on a day or so, but on the whole, MN was wet and cold.... virtually all the time I was there. On Good Friday my friend had tickets for an exhibition at the Minnesota Institute of Arts, of Matisse Masterworks from the Baltimore Museum of Arts - 80 works from the legendary Cone Collection. Even though I am no arts connoisseur, it was interesting seeing the masterpiece, and the dozen or so sketches leading up to it.

    It was on Monday that friend's husband, having seen where I wanted my fridge, made a stand over my storage drawers so I could put the fridge up on top - and clear some floor space. Solidly screwed to the floor, it has not budged. A strong strap over the fridge holds it firmly in place. Even painted it. He also screwed my plastic drawers to the floor. Then used a band saw to cut the flooring my daughter in law had given me. Plastic/rubber mats which sort of fit together like a jigsaw. (The type you put on the floor for children to play on.) I now have a nice soft and warm floor to stand on... and much easier to sweep clean.

    Slowly but surely my precious Ford is being turned into the comfy little home I desire it to be.

    Lifey

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,710

    Default

    Your newly remodeled digs sound wonderful....I'm sure you will enjoy it more as time goes on! Also, you passed right by my childhood home if you were on US-30 (Lincoln Highway) in the south suburbs.

    Donna

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default Southern MN.

    The night before I had initially arrived in MN some places north of the twin cities had received up to 20" snow. So when I planned to explore MN, I decided to stay roughly in the south of MN. The headwaters of the Mississippi, Duluth and the Canadian border area would have to wait for another time.

    Armed with a list of State Parks which are open all year round, I set out the Tuesday after Easter, a fine though overcast day. Headed down to Bloomington and then west through the suburbs, stopping at places of interest... second hand book shops, thrift stores, and the like. At Hutchinson I headed south to New Ulm and Flandrau SP.

    Flandrau State Park offers three levels of camping. Since the restrooms were still closed and only vault toilets were available, I figured I may as well pick the rustic area. Nicely grassed with picnic tables, I had the pick of the bunch. There wasn't another person / car in sight. After dinner, and even before it got dark, it started to spitter.

    By the time I went to sleep it was raining... raining quite heavily, and when I awoke next morning, it was still raining. I was surrounded by soggy grass. The path was waterlogged. Most importantly, I discovered water was getting in somewhere near the back doors.

    On my arrival at Flandrau I could not figure out the self registration procedure. Neither would I have had the right change. I figured that in the morning there was bound to be someone in the office, or maybe someone would come around to collect the fee. As it is the ranger did go around and seeing my van, decided not to disturb me. So it was not till the morning (after 9am) that I pulled in at the office to settle my account, and have a chance to talk with a ranger.

    Blue Mounds SP was recommended as a great place to see Bison in MN. My plan was to arrive there late in the day, so the animals would be feeding. I had been assured there are roads through the park, that you can drive through the park. Alas, when I got there, this was not the case. A local cyclist said that the roads had been closed 'for years'. From where I was and from the campground it was not possible to see anything. It was still wet; I was disappointed. When it once more started to rain, I gave up on my plan of checking out the State Parks. Plan B was put in place - driving the scenic byways and country backways of southern MN. I could plan to be at a truck stop every night.

    Plan B worked well. I thoroughly enjoyed MN, the variety within the rural culture. Even the colour of the soil is strikingly different from border to border. Spent half a day in Rochester, and then, as the rain let up (it rained most days - snowed some), decided to drive along 14 to Winona and crossed into WI.

    In WI it was scenic routes to Marshland, south from there to Trempealeau, and down through Holmen to I-90, where I crossed the Mississippi again. At this point I was not aware that road/bridge works made access to La Crescent very difficult.

    Right where one takes a left turn in Trempealeau there is a business with the name of Mrs Sippy. I was not able to pull over and did not see what type of business, but I was tickled by the ingenuity of the name.

    Found a great truck stop at Nodine.

    Lifey

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,430

    Default

    Google says it's a restaurant. Mrs. Sippy's River Town Bistro.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,020

    Default More of southern Minnesota.

    Even though I had decided to wander the backways and byways of southern MN, at times I found myself on the interstates. One such time was on I-90, at the rest area, just west of Blue Earth. This rest area is known as the I-90 Golden Spike rest area, to commemorate the completion of the paving of the I-90 interstate, in 1978. At the time, they painted a small section of I-90 gold. There is a board explaining it all. (I did take a photo, but am having a bit of problem downloading photos from the camera. Hopefully will post some later.)

    At the same rest area there were boards telling of how European style land management affected the prairie, and what is being done to repair the damage. There were also boards with much information on exploring southwestern Minnesota. All very interesting. I am glad I stopped there.

    Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway.

    This was probably the peak of my interest in southern MN. I had read about it at a truck stop in Dexter. It is also marked as a scenic route in the Rand McNally, though not on the AAA map. (Another reason why I carry multiple maps.)

    The 40 miles of route 16, from La Crescent to just west of Lanesboro, is estimated to take about 2.5 hrs. It passes through or by some three state parks and has several State Trails leading off it. (I did not explore any of these.) It runs along a river for much of the way, which in itself makes it scenic. There was an Alpaca Farm at the western end. A bit further along was Honey Farm B&B - looked like one of these quaint country get-aways. Besides the state parks, there was at least one campgroung.

    The buds on the trees were just starting to turn green taking the drab greyness off the countryside. I'd imagine this area would be very pretty in autumn.

    About half way, in the town of Rushford, I must have taken a wrong turn. It took a while to find the route again, despite maps and gps. In the meantime I made the most of being lost, chancing upon a lovely old church and school seemingly made from local stone. Then, as I turned the corner, thinking I had found my way again, I stumbled upon a Norwegian Coffee Shop.

    There was a fish hatchery and a hotel called Green Gables Inn. (Wondered if there was any connection with Ann of Green Gables.) At Lansboro, I filled up.... not that I needed to, but here I saw unleaded cheaper than any I had seen for quite some time. I queried the attendant, who told me that sometimes when they are due for a new delivery, the price is dropped to empty the tanks. Began to wonder if I was buying the dregs.... if it was all past its use by date?

    West of Lansboro there is a rest area which overlooks some lovely countryside; and picnic tables under shady trees. Here there are several boards telling of the early Norwegian settlements in Minnesota. Just reading all these boards filled in some of the gaps in the scanty bit I knew from family.

    Most of the little towns along this route had a population fewer than 1000. There were small cemetries by the side of the road. But even though it was not really raining while I drove route 16, it was too miserable and cold to get out and explore.

    A little further along the route, at Preston, there is a unique school built like a series of igloos, connected by enclosed walkways. None of the buildings have windows, all the natural light coming through the skylight rooves.

    A most enjoyable and interesting drive. I can highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for a break from I-90.

    Back at Dexter I spent the night at the Geo Lake truck plaza - with their free wifi available throughout the building and outside. The lovely couple who own the business have been there just short of ten years. As well as the truck plaza, they run the adjoining restaurant and bar. I had to take a photo of one of the posters they have on the wall:

    GAS
    unleaded
    ARM 9/10
    plus
    LEG 9/10
    premium
    BOTH 9/10

    The following day it snowed as I headed back to St Paul, where friend and I planned to attend The Moth that night.

    Lifey

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