Beats me how you found it. I searched but nothing relevant came up. Never mind.
How great to see the wall before the mural went up, and the mural in progress. I like where he says "... everything needed to be tied together". You may not have noticed that the rope which the guy is holding, who is stepping from the roof to the pillar (in the second picture), that rope appears to be attached to the banner in the first picture. Not really clear in the photos.
Wish I could see details and the explanation of the other one, as well.
After a wonderful time with the family in Florida, it was time to move on... destination Key West.
In Lighthouse Point we spent much time going back and forth to the children's activities and getting everything ready for the return to school. This meant we travelled all over the area with daughter making a point of driving around those spots which she felt were of particular significance. It's great to see places like that and hear of experiences, through the eyes of a 'local'.
Like the time she was driving, when a coconut from one of the roadside palms, hit her windscreen. She saw it comming.... and cringed. Fortunately, it did not break the windscreen (nor caused an accident), just made a most frightening noise. Guess if it had hit the bonnet of her Merc it would have left its 'calling card'.
Such is life in Florida.
The Federal Highway (US-1) took me to Homestead and Florida City. Less crowded areas and easier to park than most areas east of I-95. Also places where I feel more comfortable and at home. This time I did not stay at the hostel. In the absence of any truck stops nearby, I decided to park outside the hostel, where I parked each time I stayed there. It is a nice quiet area.
Sunday morning it was off to the Keys. I had been there before, but always on day trips. This time I had been invited by a Toastmaster to come and stay with her in Key West. At the visitor centre... i.e. the Chamber of Commerce visitor centre, (not the first 'visitor information' you come to, which is purely a booking agency for Key West) I met Joan and Judith. Wonderful ladies who let me use their wifi to catch up on 24 hours of no internet access. I spent hours there in air-conditioned comfort, while my car was nicely parked in the shade, behind the building.
It is a two and half hour drive along the Keys. I did it in two days. This time I was going to make sure to actually see something of the Keys... the beaches, the birdlife and the aftermath of Wilma - which is still visible in some areas. Places where I spent most of my time were the Wild Bird Center's Sanctuary and Big Pine Key.
At the Wild Bird Center they have many avaries with injured birds. Some are there for rehabilitation, and when well enough, are released. Others have sustained injuries which will never allow them to survive in the wild again. This center, which runs completely on donations from the public, was caring for 74 injured birds at the time, and I read that this year so far, it has been able to release 181 birds. The pelican aviary alone had well over two dozen birds in it. (I lost count after that.) These birds are mostly injured by water craft, and illegal shooting. Others have fallen foul of predators.
The centre does not ask for an entrance fee, but suggests that you may like to leave a donation of $5 per person. There are leaflets available for self guided tours. It is a stop well worth making if you are down that way. See many of the local native birds up close. Some quite rare. Others endangered.
The plan had been to camp in one of the many parks along the Keys, but availability was rare, and where it was I was looking at around $50. In the end I spent the night in the carpark of a 24 hour medical facility on Islamorada Key. It was next to a supermarket which was only closed overnight for 6 or 7 hours.
Big Pine Key and No Name Key are the main habitat of the endangered Key Deer. The speed limit on these Keys is 25 - 35mph to help preserve this smallest of all deer. Each time I saw one by the side of the road, I would quickly slow down to try and get a photo. However, even the sound of the car slowing down from as little as 20mph, was enough to make them scurry back into the bush. In the end I just put the car in drive, and let it roll. (There was no other traffic around.) And sure enough, that gave me the opportunity to get some nice photos.
On Key West we went to two lovely places to eat. One was the southern most cafe and bar on the southern most beach of continental US. The atmosphere was great with food good. The other was in downtown, where the owners were having half price specials prior to going on holidays. We sat and chatted, enjoyed the ambiance and met some lovely people.
My friend showed me around as only a local can, and I saw much more than on my previous three brief visits.
By the time I got to where everyone watches the sunset, the sun had already sunk into the ocean, but the colours lingered painting the sky and ocean a delicate pink.
I soon discovered why she has such a passion for Key West. Her appartment is on the fourth level and the view from there is breathtaking.
This is the scene to which I awoke... to which she awakes every single day.
My trip back was the standard two and a half hours, as I headed for Orlando, and the Toastmasters International Annual Convention.
Thanks for the update Lifey, I'm enjoying your tale and photos, it's quite some contrast to earlier in your trip when you were 'way up' North.
An amazing journey, thanks for sharing with us !
Once off the Keys, my trip took me up 997 to 27 and at Belle Glade I picked up 441 to take me around the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. This was a pleasant route, first through rural country... mostly growing palm trees for sale. Very scenic! Route 27 at this point leads through agricultural and swamp land. They were good roads with little traffic to worry about, and even fewer towns with stops.
The road along the lake was a single lane each way, a serene and scenic way. It disappointed me that at no time was I able to see the lake. Between the road and the lake are levees too tall to see over. Even though there is not a single town along this stretch, there are a number of hotels, motels, RV parks and campgrounds along the lake. It gave the impression that it must be a popular place for water sports and recreation. I did not stop to check... just concentrated on enjoying the drive.
At Yeehaw Junction there is one of the few truck stops in Southern Florida, where I spent the night. A very quiet truck stop. Next day 441 took me all the way into Kissimee, where I checked into the Knight's Inn (with a coupon), just a mile and a half (as the crow flies) from the convention. It turned out to be a seven and a half mile trip to get there. Without the Nuvi, I would probably have driven much more, looking for the place. It is not an easy place to get around.
All day Friday, and Sat morning I spent at the convention. By lunch time on Sat the International contest was over, and I headed back North to Newton MA.... via Cincinatti OH, Wilmington DE and Jim Thorpe PA. Straight up I-75 first. The only thing which stands out on the first part of this trip is the delay and detour caused by a fatal motor bike crash at Corbin KY. This added more than two hours to the trip. I chose to stay in Corbin, rather than try to reach my intended destination, some two hours up the road.
After Cincinatti I-75 and I-70 took me to Washington PA, from where I followed US40 into MD to I-68 and I-70, I-695 around Baltimore and I-95 to Elkton MD. The trip along US40 and I-68 was a joy indeed. There really was no need to look for things to go sightseeing, the whole journey was pictorial. I can't recall if it was time constraint or just photo fatique, but I did not take any photos along this journey.
That is until I got to Lick Hollow Picnic Ground. I mean, how could you bypass a picnic ground with a name like that. It is a lovely spot, and I imagine on a hot summers day would be a haven away from the heat. If I had known it was there, I would have waited with lunch.
Just a few hundred feet further there is the Blue Star Memorial Highway rose garden and scenic overlook.
The following day I finally caught up with the lady at Chatris in Wilmington who organised my car insurance. After all those phone calls, and dozens of emails back and forth, it was good to put a face to the name. And I brought her a koala - albeit a 2" tall one on a keyring.
All she wanted was a koala.
In Wilmington, I had no difficulty finding route 100, which would once again take me through the Brandywine Valley. This time I stopped at the Brandywine State Park, to check it out and take some photos. On entry, I found to my horror that there was a charge of $7.50. However, when I explained that I just wanted to drive through and take some photos to include in my trip report, he waved me on. Not much of the park is accessible by car. From the map it looks like there are many miles of walking tracks, and a couple of picnic areas. I particularly liked the stone-wall fences.
Enjoyed route 100 much more this time. This lovely, narrow, winding road which has very little in the way of shoulders and has trees so close to the roadway that I felt they would hit the top of my van, has a surprising amount of traffic on it.
When I reached route 52 at Lenape PA, I recognised the bridge where I had finally found the road through the Brandywine Valley, on my pass through there, a month or so earlier.
Next point of interest was Centralia PA. I had read about this place decades ago, but it was Jerry (the auto electrician) who reminded me of it. This is where virtually the whole town has been relocated. It was some 50 years ago that a nearby coal mine caught fire, and it is said that this fire is still burning below the surface, and has spread under where the town was.... and still spreading. A few die-hards have stayed.
I was not game to venture far off the highway, as the streets were very overgrown, and I may get stuck, not being able to turn my van around, and not being able to walk out to get help. But I have heard that there are places where smoke comes up through the pavement.
It seemed as if someone was still attending to the lawns at the municipal offices though the neglect of the building is obvious.
The fire engine and uniforms are still in the fire station.
An interesting place to visit. On my way there I passed through Ashland PA. This was quite a surprise - though it should not have been. It was another of these lovely Pennsylvania towns tucked away in the hills. It's main street - Center Street - is quite steep and the architecture was most attractive.
One more visit to Jim Thorpe was required before heading back up I-81 and I-88 for the run into Massachusetts... and Newton.
It was Saturday evening, at the truck stop, just off I-88 at Schenectady NY. While settling down in my van, I spied a classic convertible parked, not all that far from me. Still debating whether I would go and take a photo, when the owners returned. Immediately I hurried over, and asked if I could take a photo. On enquiring about the car I was told it was a 1969 Dodge Dart which the owner had restored.
This of course led to further conversation. They enquiring whence I hailed and went on to tell me about the other three Dodges, back at their home. By now I was sitting in the back of the Dart, with the roof down, admiring the stars with John and Val. John was saying how the convertible comes into its own on a clear night. Val then suggested that I might like to come to their home nearby, and stay the night... and an opportunity to see the other restored cars. How could I refuse. They are such lovely people, and we had so much in common.
Like myself, they get in the car with no particular destination in mind, to wander the highways and byways for the sheer pleasure of the route and the road. Their only regret is that their respective work commitments does not afford them this luxury often enough. Kindred spirits indeed!
In the barn behind their house - it used to be a farm - were John's pride and joy. A 1969 Dodge Dart Hemi, also red. A 1968 Dodge Charges gold in colour. And a blue 1968 Dodge Dart Hemi drag racing car, now fully restored and only taken to shows.
It was after lunch on the following day that I bade my hosts goodbye, but not before exchanging gifts. Val gave me the third edition of the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways - the 275 best drives in the US. She said it was a spare copy she had. Since then I have spent many hours perusing this book, and am surprised at how many of the featured roads I have already enjoyed.
Headed east on US20 - my route of choice. At Becker MA there is a sign stating that the next 33 miles to Westfield are a designated scenic byway - Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway. Interestingly this is not featured in the aforementioned book. It must have been around Palmer that I took a wrong turn and lost 20. Still I was on a pleasant drive, and without a safe place to pull over and check the map, I kept going..... until I saw the sign, Welcome to Connecticut. Oh well!!
Stayed on 32 till I got to I-84 and took that and the MassPike straight into Newton, to help celebrate another grand daughter's birthday.
Sunday 2nd September was time to farewell the family in Newton. It was after lunch, and I thought I would just see how far I got. Straight down the MassPike and I-84 to I-80 which would take me west to Orland Park IL. Even this early in September, there was a distinct rusty hue over the foilage with the occasional tree where the foilage was already bright red/orange. A pleasant trip.
Followed I-80 to I-76. When I-76 ended (at I-71), headed north to US20 which took me virtually all the way to western IN. The most outstanding part of this trip was the section east of Middlebury IN, the large Amish community there. Pity I did not have time to stop and explore in depth, but it is good to know it is there, for future occasions.
Had a pleasant stay in Orland Park, with our - now regular - visits to my favourite department stores. Picked up some (necessary) bargains and a few more true crime books. Then it was I-80, I-39 and I-94 straight into St Paul. Stopped at the rest area on I-39, just north of exit 82 in IL. This is one of those rest areas where you can linger for a while. Good facilities and information, as well as an extensive picnic area and playground. This is where Sue and John were having coffee and a snack. They had come from South Carolina and were heading to the Oregon coast. Then they planned to travel down the coast and into California. Along the way they were obviously checking the sights to be seen. I figured that they may find this website interesting, so after chatting a while, sharing travel stories, I gave them my card.
One thing which struck me on this section of the trip is, how dry the area through WI is. In places the grass is yellow. Friend had told me how dry everything is up there, but it is one thing being told, another altogether to actually see how dry it is. Enjoyed another wonderful weekend in St Paul. A visit to a Toastmasters club and several shopping expeditions... all the time realising my luggage limitations. Arrgghhh!! All too soon, here too, it was time to say our farewells.
Monday morning 10th Sept I steered my trusty van south towards Joplin, where there was an appointment for the final check-up before going into storage. It was all the way down I-35 to KC. At the Missouri Welcome centre on I-35, I stopped to enjoy their hospitality, and look a little more closely at the buffalo, which roam these plains.
After spending the night in Peculiar MO, and attending a lunch time Toastmasters meeting in Joplin, it was mid afternoon when I arrived at my destination.
Shortly after my arrival I handed the keys over to the man himself, so he could take the van for a ride to see for himself what I had been trying to explain. I am as mechanically challenged, as I am with technology. Asked him to put her through all her paces, so he could tell the mechanic at Ford just what is going on. In the end, all that was necessary was a regular oil change, etc. With a long list of things to be done before she goes on her next trip.
It was amazing to see Joplin, as I was taken on yet another tour through this town which is so heroically rebuilding. The school is now gone. The hospital is a pile of rubble - yet to be removed. [I heard about the task it was to take this down. Normal demolition procedures would not bring it down. In the end they cut the steel frame which was holding it together.... and which had prevented it from collapsing under the force of the tornado.]
New houses and apartments are popping up all over the place. The progress since my last visit in April was really noticeable.
On top of that, there were other sites to be seen, which were not there last time. This tree is on the site where a supermarket used to be, right by the railroad track. This area is still mostly vacant and desolate. You can read all about it here.
A great surprise and joy was having a home cooked meal of lamb chops. They were so nice. And home made pea-and-ham soup to go with it.
Besides all that, we shopped for all the necessary items I was told I would need for long term storage... stabiliser for the fuel; carpet for under the wheels (can't have her getting cold feet!); etc. After we were all done, I was assured she will be comfortable in her new home.
By Friday morning - in the pouring rain - it was time to say thank you and goodbye. It is hard to adequately thank someone who is so thoughtful and generous, and who cares for my van as if it were his own. Through all the months, he was always there when she needed attention, whether they were routine maintenance, or unexpected repairs. His guidance as to what to ask and say, where to go and when, has been invaluable.
Mate, I have no idea how I would have coped without you. I am forever in your debt.
Headed out of Joplin on 400, destination Dodge City KS. This would take me through Greensburg KS, the small town which was 97% destroyed by a tornado some five years ago. Greensburg has been in the news a few times during its rebuilding. It's administrators made a conscious decision to rebuild a 'green' town. Among the many environmental features are the wind turbines at the hospital, high school and manufacturing plants to supplement their electricity requirements.
There are still many vacant blocks and places where the old foundations of a building are still beckoning to be built upon. The lack of large trees is most noticeable. There has been a lot of replanting. I feel that had it not been for my experience of seeing Joplin - twice - I would not have appreciated what I was seeing in Greensburg. Almost everything is new... I did see one house which is obviously older than all the surrounding ones. One of the handful which were left standing.
Denver was to be my next day's destination. The plan was to follow US50 through Pueblo to somewhere, and then head up to Denver. From Dodge City there are very few town to slow down one's pace, and this less travelled highway was, once again, a joy to traverse. With the cruise set at 64, I sat behind two trucks for many many miles - most of the way to the border. Hopefully their slip stream helped save a bit of fuel.
I enjoyed driving through the wide open plains with little traffic to take my mind of the folk who live there, the development of agriculture and animal husbandry and thinking of what it would have been like, just a few centuries ago. The sort of joy you don't experience on an interstate.
After crossing the border, just past Lamar CO, I saw an exit '287 to I-70'. Had not noticed this on the map, but it sounded interesting. Took it all the way to Limon, and I-70. Once again, I was in my element. Light traffic, cruise at 64 and the wide open spaces all around me. This has to be what Heaven is like!
I approached Denver along I-70 and as the (snowless) Rocky Mountains came into view, I found it hard to decide which I prefer. Two views of Heaven!
Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-16-2012 at 08:29 PM. Reason: typo
It is almost a decade since I drove on I-70, west of Denver. As for Loveland Pass, in those days I did not even know it existed. Today I had a little spare time, and vowed to remedy this ommission in my roadtripping.
Awoke early in Idaho Springs, where I had spent the night. First stop I made was at the Visitor Centre in Georgetown. There they had a great map of the area around Loveland Pass - much greater detail than my State maps were giving me. Suitably armed with all the information I needed, I headed west to exit 216.
Loveland Pass - 4 miles! Didn't say anything about the road... no railing and a sheer drop over the side. Certainly not a road for anyone who has issues with height. I have to admit that most of the time my left wheels were on the rumble strip up the centre of the road. No way was I moving closer to the edge... not even when a tanker came the other way.
Actually, I was horrified to see those big trucks on this road. I realise it is because they cannot go through the tunnel, but.....
Pulled over at every opportunity there was, to admire the view and take some photos. Up on the Pass the view was just magnificent.
If the wind had not been so cold, even though the day was bright and sunny, I would have stayed longer. A gentleman told me that the beauty of the Aspen will be gone in a week or two, when the first snows fall.
I stopped at the little lake nearby, beyond which some folk were camping.
A gentleman and his dog were sitting on a seat looking over the lake and at the birds circling on the thermals, and two gents were scanning the mountains across the valley with their binoculars. Hadn't seen any wildlife, but quite a few people up high on the mountain.
I too, took some time to sit here, just letting it all sink in. The wonderful world of nature, beauty and solitude.
Then it was the '8 miles of steep grades. Can't say I particularly enjoyed running down them, especially when a truck turned up on my tail. Took every opportunity to pull into parking areas where they were available. That also gave me the opportunity to take more photos.
When I arrived in Dillon, I decided that the sun was now high enough not to get in my eyes, heading east. So turned around, and did it all over again. It was no less scary! Coming from the west there are overtaking lanes, which make it a little less hair-raising. It certainly is a magnificent drive.
Then back down I-70, into Denver. Phew!
At one point, still west of Idaho Springs, there was a scenic overlook. I pulled in. There were two people standing at the edge of the overlook. I asked them if there was anything worth looking at which I was not able to see, from where I was. I am not as stable on my feet as I used to be, and was terrified of getting too close.
They pointed to a little tourist train which was going along the other side of the river, and heading up towards a bridge across the valley. We stood and watched, and photographed this little train as it went on its way. It must have been breathtaking going over that little bridge.
I was glad I was not on it.
(There is a little mystery here, maybe someone can explain it to me. That red writing on some of the photo was not put there by me. Anyone know how that got there. It is on 22 of the 74 photos. 13 have Silver Gulch. 8 have Snowdrift Gulch. Those 21 photos were all taken at the same spot. Another photo taken in downtown Denver has Lawson Park on it.)
Larry and Jeanette are from Vermont and were visiting in Idaho Springs. I was informed, with good authority(?), that the scars on the mountain opposite, were scars from old gold mines.
It reminded me of a lady up on the Pass, who said to me that the Aspen in all their glory made the mountains look as if they had been sprinkled with gold.
Back in Denver I made myself comfortable at the FJ, whence this comes.