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  1. #81
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default The Great River Road and onto Newton.

    Each time I travel between St Paul and Newton, I try to vary my route... depending on the time avialable. For once time was my friend, and I could pretty well go anywhere. Chose the Great River Road. This would allow me to catch up with friends along the way.


    It was pleasing to see so much of the road going right by the river. Often it was not possible to stop to get a better view, a photo or two, but all in all, highway 61 led me through spectacularly scenic countryside and many close ups with this mighty river.

    At Red Wing (I think it was) is a pull off with picnic facilities, restrooms etc. There was a lot of water around. When I got out of the car and walked the few metres to the river, it was actually washing over the wall. Fast flowing, with lots of debri and very muddy looking.




    At Lake City local artists were making the most of the lovely day, and were painting on the river banks. When I had a chance to pull into a turn out, I saw Christine painting the view in front of her. And nicely she was doing too. Christine took the time to tell me about the festival, artists were doing a painting per day, for each day of that week. Later they would all be displayed in a local gallery. She allowed me to take her photo so I could illustrate my report.


    Winnona saw me stop at a roadside mall to get some lunch. Was a great charity store next door. Yeah! I walked out with another bag full. Totally addicted.

    By this time I realised that if I kept stopping at all the view points and each time the road met the river, I would not be in Dubuque for a couple of days. Sadly I made the decision to by pass some of them. But only some of them.

    At I-90 I crossed over into WI and continued down the Great River Road on the eastern side of this versatile waterway.


    Stopped at the visitor centre in La Crosse to pick up a bit more info, and continued along the way. There was a sign to a rest area and viewpoint. I turned in, and followed the steep path all the way to the top. A neat spot for a view of the river from above. But I did not have the time to linger.

    Shortly after I came to Lock and Dam 8 just as a 12 barge vessel filled with corn was preparing to enter the lock. Watching this was a great experience, especially when I realised that it had to go through in 2 bits. The lock is only big enough for 6 barges at a time. How they do that is something to see. It certainly captured the attention of quite a few people - yours truly included.








    The personel involved in all this manouvering were only too willing to share what was happening, and the whys and wherefores of each move. The whole process takes between 90 mins and two hours. Two hours I could barely spare, but two hours of such great interest that I was not aware I had been there for so long. By the time I finally got to Dubuque it was 12 hours since I left St Paul.

    After Dubuque I continued down the GRR to Clinton, trying not to repeat the time consuming activities of the MN and WI stretches. Made a couple of stops, but not too many. At Clinton I headed east in IL on US 30. That too was a great route. What stands out most is the huge storm I drove into. Thunder, lightning and rain which even the fastest wiper setting could not clear. In IA I had been told that they badly needed rain, and I have to admit, the countryside looked much drier than my previous visits. I was hoping that this rain would make it to them.

    Another outstanding part of my return to Newton was through NY state. At Darien Center I picked up US 20 and took it all the way into Albany. The route took me through small rural communities and past some of the Finger Lakes. Stopped three or four of times, at large shopping malls and quaint little houses. I was so glad I was not stuck on the NY Thruway.

    Interestingly, the driving time for the 250 or so miles on US 20, at 55 mph took less time than the less than 200 miles on I-90 into Newton, which was all at 65mph.... and congestion!

    On my arrival back at son's place the Odo had just clocked up 15K miles, since I had left his place after Easter. Over the 82 days, that averages out at less than 200 miles per day. But of course, there were many days on which we did not drive. Days when she needed the rest as much as I did. (I have the grandchildren working on a name for her... any help would be appreciated!)

    Of the 82 nights, 40 were at hostels, hotels, motels, RV Parks or paid campgrounds. The prices ranged from $8 at Marion Creek on the Dalton, to $99.75 at Enterprise. The total comes to $1500 for an average cost per night of $37.50. I have not yet totalled the fuel and other costs. That will have to wait.

    As I mentioned above, in only a matter of hours now I will be on a flight to take grandson for a holiday to meet his Aussie cousins.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 07-08-2012 at 04:43 AM.

  2. #82
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,133

    Default

    So where is she housed when you are not driving her?

    Nice report.

    Mark

  3. #83
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default Good Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    So where is she housed when you are not driving her?
    A block from son's house, in a side street where parking is unrestricted. Fortunately I know the lady outside whose place it is, and she will keep an eye on it. It's a pretty good area. Not ideal, but with all the construction going on at son's house, parking there is not an option.

    Lucky to have that. You know what parking anywhere in greater Boston is like.

    Lifey

  4. #84
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,012

    Default Cheers !

    I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up with your report since returning from my UK break, great text and images ! I know it takes up a lot of your valuable time to get these posts and pictures done that enables us to share in your wonderful adventure, and I for one, am most grateful !

    Glad you managed to get the van back to it's original colour after a good clean !! [A name, let me think.....]

    Have a great time with your Grandson and family back in OZ !

    Dave.

  5. #85
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default Back.

    Now that I am in beautiful PA it seems that my wanderlust has returned. I do so enjoy wandering over the highways and byways of Pennsylvania, checking out every nook and cranny tucked away in the mountains with no particular destination in mind. Yeah! a State to lift the spirits.

    It is three weeks now, since I started the first of two long haul flights (30+ hours), all within the period of 10 days. Not recommended!

    The trip was a great success, even if it took me four days to recover. Took grandson two days as well, though I have a feeling he will never be the same again. Travel changes one, no matter what age. And he certainly had some great experiences. One comment struck me as interesting. Driving home after we had been to the zoo, he said that looking at the roads and the traffic, it was just like Boston. That was on the last day. I agreed. After a while, all cities start to look much alike.

    Monday 23rd July I set out from Newton, destination Detroit. Along the way, I thought I would check with the Fast Lane/E-ZPass people if I could get a transponder in my own name... without a credit or debit card. Not a problem, was the prompt reply. Having checked with friend in MN, it was decided that rather than change her transponder into my name (I have been the only one to use it), she would keep that, and I would get a new one. Simple!

    Well, so it seemed, until they asked me for my papers, registration of the vehicle, etc. This was required, because we were taking it off her transponder. I had to proof that the vehicle is mine. It was at that point that I recalled daughter-in-law asking me for the papers, and suggesting that we not leave them in the car while I was away. Needless to say, I did not have them. They were back in Newton.

    A couple of phone calls quickly established that no one knew where they were. Back in Newton, a few more phone calls, and the papers were all emailed to me by the insurance provider and the attorney. Printed them off, and headed back to the Fast Lane office... which btw, was ~40 miles away. Bottom line is, I now have my own transponder, and will be able to keep tab on how much I spend on tolls. Something which friend (said she) was never able to do for me.

    One more step to becoming independent successfully completed. (Next getting my own bank account!)

    Had planned to be in Buffalo that night, but.... got as far as NY State Line. When I saw the sign announcing that there is a full service truck stop at B3 exit, headed for that and stayed the night.

    Next morning headed up 22 to 20 and took it to I-90. From there to exit 24, I-90 is toll free. At this hour (it was not yet 6am) there was very little traffic. I was through Albany in the blink of an eye. Exit 24 runs straight into route 20... that's where I wanted to be.

    Stopped in Guilderland for breakfast, where I had stopped on my way east. Not being in a rush - Buffalo now my destination for the second day - took the opportunity to check it out. The European influence in this part of the country is very evident in these small towns and villages, especially the Dutch and German. This goes for other places in the region, besides Guilderland. Voorheesville, Rotterdam, Roseboom and of course, Amsterdam - a name so close to my heart. There are many more.

    Each village is unique. Each seems to be mainly laid out along the highway. Country shops. No supermarkets or national brands here. No fast food. Lots of lovely small restaurant, though I only sampled one. There were specialist quilt and clothing shops, and many, many antique shops and malls. The latter culminating in Madison, where next month (next week) is the annual antique fair.

    I continued along route 20, enjoying each and every one of these gems, past the Finger Lakes to Avon, where, noting the time, I made my way up to the NY thruway. Having been told that my transponder would not work outside MA for at least three days, I paid my tolls manually, and noted how little they were. On the internet I had read that in NY tolls are doubled for vehicles over 7'. Seems I was let off this time. Hope it stays that way.

    Never managed to find the motel where I had planned to stay. Put it into the satnav, but when it was taking me way back east, I gave up, and picked a place on Niagara Falls Blvd.

    Lifey

  6. #86
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default Forgotten snippets.

    Route 20... it is still on my mind. Being talking about it with fellow travellers. Then, reading over the above post, I realise my omissions.

    This lovely area is also sprinkled with a good number of hotels, motels and B&Bs. Can't say I saw any national brands. Did however see one called 'Jeanie's Dream' and another 'Whispering Wind'. The former was high up on a hill, overlooking a valley. The other, much further on, was located in a lush green valley.

    Besides those, there was also a good selection of campgrounds, mostly mom and pop operations. I did see one KOA. Just as somewhere around Madison I think it was, I saw a Macca's.

    The other thing which really stood out was the number of churches. All Christian! I did not count how many brands of Christianity were available, but I am sure there were more than I have seen before. Would have liked to have had the time to check out some of the older of the churches, as they looked like they had been there for a century or more.

    Yeah! a great route.

    Lifey

    Edit: My reference in the post above, to vehicles over 7' was referring to over 7' in height!
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 07-30-2012 at 11:38 AM.

  7. #87
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    I think I just erased my long response by clicking on "Reply to Thread" instead of "Post Quick Reply." I wish I'd learn to stop doing that!

    Anyway, thank you for all the work you've put into your trip log. I enjoyed reading the posts about northern BC, Alaska, and the NWT the most. Maybe some day I'll be able to make the trip while remembering your notes!

    Moderator Note: None of the Moderators every use Post Quick Reply Reply to thread is what we all use -- Yes, auto-save would have saved your message.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-02-2012 at 06:06 PM.

  8. #88
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default I can relate to that.

    Quote Originally Posted by shirohniichan View Post
    I think I just erased my long response by clicking on "Reply to Thread" instead of "Post Quick Reply." I wish I'd learn to stop doing that!
    It is only one of several reasons why I always go 'advanced'. (You know you possibly could have retrieved it. It may have been saved by the auto-save function. Too late now.)

    Hope you make it to AK. Awesome trip, awesome country. And although I said this was my last trip to AK, somehow, part of me is not accepting that.

    We'll see!

    Lifey

  9. #89
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Hope you make it to AK. Awesome trip, awesome country. And although I said this was my last trip to AK, somehow, part of me is not accepting that.

    We'll see!

    Lifey
    Thanks!

    The only trip I made to Alaska was to Hyder along part of the route you took. Back in September '02 I took my wife and 2 1/2 year old daughter in a ex-police car I bought for the trip (the trunk could hold lots of luggage, and it had a 20+ gallon fuel tank). Your notes and photos brought back memories of that trip. Did you stop in Kitwanga to see the totem poles? We stayed at the Ripley Creek Inn in Stewart and just barely made it back to Kitwanga on the tank of gas we got there on the way to Stewart. In September there were a number of tents along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway offering halibut fish & chips, also. I thought that odd.

    We took the trip because I read somewhere that the only unrestricted bear viewing area in the United States that you could drive to was in Hyder (the other one you'd have to fly to). It was also the closest part of Alaska I could drive to so I could add Alaska to the list of states I've visited. In May it must have been impossible to drive the road up to the Salmon Glacier, but I thought it a side trip worth the effort. By the end of the trip I think my wife and daughter were tired of listening to Johnny Horton's "North to Alaska" and "When It's Springtime in Alaska" I brought along on his greatest-hits CD.

  10. #90
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,133

    Default Yellowstone is closer...

    A lot closer bear viewing would be Hayden Valley in Yellowstone! They are there 99% of the time.

    Mark

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