Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Niagara

Niagara must be one of the most touristy places we've been. On a par with Mt. Rushmore I think. But, there's a reason that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people here ... massive amount of water going over sheer cliffs. I couldn't get enough of it - truly awe-inspiring. And, I loved the boat ride on Maid of the Mist. They really keep the area clean and beautiful as well.

We started the day with a visit to Niagara on the Lake. An upscale community with beautiful landscaping and nice restaurants.

Here's a slideshow of our magnificent day yesterday: (if you click on the link to Niagara July in the lower left - you'll go to the Picasa Web Album and be able to see a full screen slideshow.)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Crossing to the U.S.

Just a short trip in Canada. I'd sure love to spend more time ... some other year. Some photos from today:

I think this looks like Iowa or Nebraska.

So, how do you know we were really in Canada? Well here's a dead giveaway: And the fact that you need a calculator to figure out mileage. 1 kilometer = .62 miles. Crossing back into the US took longer than crossing into Canada. We waited about 45 minutes in line. But, they asked even fewer questions. Just looked at our passports, asked how long we'd been in Canada, and waved us on. Not even a 'Welcome Back!' That's one of my Mom's pet peeves. She does a lot of world traveling and always expects a 'Welcome Back' from American customs agents. She usually has to remind them. Bye Bye Canada. We'll be back again someday and spend more time! On to another ROD membership park: Niagara's Lazy Lakes. And my first visit to the Falls. We got there just as the sun had set and soon the multicolored lights came on.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Crossing to Canada

I had originally wanted to cross into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, then take the ferry across to Tobermory and continue south to Niagara falls. But, the ferry would have been quite expensive (I think it came close to $200 when you added everything up) and we didn't know of any places to stay in that area of Ontario. If we traveled south thru Michigan we had several membership park options - so that's where we went. The route still took us through a little bit of Canada, in south Ontario.

There's even a Resorts of Distinction park near London - so that's where we are right now. Jim says we could have traveled all the way from Michigan, through Ontario and over to Niagara Falls (our next destination.) But, as long as we crossed over, I wanted to stay one night in Canada.

We crossed over at Port Huron. The bridge is called the Bluewater Bridge.

The crossing was no hassle whatsoever. It took maybe 10 minutes in line to get to the toll booth window (no toll here - $1.50 on the other side) where the customs agent looked at our passports, asked us where we lived and how long we planned to stay in Canada, then let us go on our way. Jim started to tell her that we lived here, in our motorhome, but quickly added that Fort Lauderdale, Florida was home. I seem to recall that George had a little problem at the border when he said he lived fulltime in his RV. Maybe they think you just might stay if you have your house with you? We filled our gas tank before crossing the border - $3.95/gal. Gas is sold by the litre in Canada,and I guess that price (124.4) is in pennies?! According to my careful calculations, that's the equivalent of 4.70/gallon. So, we have one night in London ... what to do? hmmmm,let me think ... I'm just at my wits end!

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thousand Trails: St. Clair Michigan

As you probably know, we are members of Thousand Trails. There are a lot more Thousand Trails parks out west. Not so much around here. So, we're thrilled to find one in Michigan for a short stay - at St. Clair. There are certain things we can count on. First of all, we don't need any money because we've already paid with our membership. When we get to the gate, it does kind of feel like home even though we've never been here.

Then, we also expect large sites, and we weren't disappointed here at TT St. Clair.

And .. oh boy! They have Pickleball courts. We haven't played since February or March in Palm Creek. I'm very proud of us that we played 3 games and don't have any injuries to show for it! And, of course, the trails: We really want to get to Maine and the Lobster Festival, so we can't hang around long. But, we did plan two nights to give us some time to catch up with email and some bookkeeping, website management and mail. We also met some nice neighbors who convinced us to go to the clubhouse for Karaoke tonight. Oh Boy .. or should I say 'Oh NO.' On to Canada tomorrow!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Somewhere in Time

Our day at Mackinac Island goes right up at the top with a list of the best days on our journey. It was gorgeous ... brilliant sunshine, perfect temperature ... splendid sights. It was fun ... boat ride, bike ride, hiking, sightseeing. It was healthy. The bike ride was 8 miles around the island. Plus we rode our bikes from the campground to the ferry dock and back, another couple miles at least. Plus hill climbing on the island gave us a good workout. It was inspirational ... visiting where the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed. A delightful movie about how love transcends time. We actually met the star, Jane Seymour, at Palm Creek last winter and have wanted to see the movie and visit the island ever since. So we bought the DVD from a book store on the island yesterday and watched it last night. It was educational ... learning that the Mackinac bridge is the largest suspension bridge in the world (yes, longer than the Golden Gate) and the crowning achievement of the bridge builder. Learning that the Fort here was originally a British fort built during the revolutionary war to protect the fur trade.

Did I mention it was beautiful? Awe-inspiring actually. From the grandest hotel and bridge to the tiniest detail of the wildflowers. Even Odie had a good day. We didn't take him with us to the island, but we started the day on a great trail right here in the campground that goes thru the woods and opens up on the shore of Lake Huron with the bridge as background.

I simply couldn't choose just a few photos for the blog post, so I've embedded a slide show of all the photos I uploaded to our Picasa Web Albums. You can control the slideshow below by moving your mouse at the bottom of it - the pause, left and right buttons should appear. Or, you can click on the Picasa icon in the lower right and go to the web album for larger photos.



To me, this lifestyle is all about time. Getting more of it, losing yourself in it, making the best of what you have. I believe that time is the most important asset we have. I'm so glad we spent our day on Mackinac Island. It is now a memory somewhere in time.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Great Lakes and Sault Ste Marie

We' staying at Straits State Park in Michigan. We took the car up to Sault Ste. Marie yesterday and got there *just* as the biggest Lake Boat, the Paul R Tregurtha, was entering the lock. It was going from Lake Superior to Lake Huron and needed to drop down 21 feet. That's what the lock is for. This boat only makes this trip once every week or so, so how did we luck out to get there at just the right time? If you ask Jim, he'll say, "Planning."

Yeah, right! Cosmic planning maybe. Anyway, it was cool.

Really, it *was* cool ... about 59 degrees!

going down ... On its way ...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Casino Camping

Thanks to our friend Mac and his website CasinoCamper.com we found a great spot to stay on our route through Michigan's Upper Peninsula. At first all we saw was a wide open parking lot and we were afraid we had misunderstood. Many casinos offer dry camping. But, we just kept going and found a road way at the back to this delightful campground with pull-thru sites and electric and water hookups! In fact, it's so nice that we decided to stay another night so I could catch up on some website work, do the laundry, and Jim could clean up the rig. Wow, where did that white car come from? And, of course, an added bonus is we don't have to cook because there's a restaurant in the casino. No, we don't gamble at all. I got that out of my system completely when I lived in Tahoe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wolfs Den Lake and Bar

About 100 miles east of St. Paul, in Wisconsin, is a small lakeside resort called Wolf's Den. It's owned by an old friend of Lynne's. Lynne asked us if we could stop by and help them set up a small Wi-Fi hotspot at the bar that's on the property. It's right on our route, so Jim said, "Sure!"

I'm glad we did. It's a pretty spot and an interesting place. They don't look for much business from traveling RVers because they're 90% full with the seasonal residents here. Some folks have been coming here in the summertime for 30-40 years! They get a travel trailer and just park it here permanently as their summer vacation home. We got a spot right on the lakeshore. We had to try a few different positions before we got the satellite to see between the trees, but we did it. The blue building you see on the right is the bar. Pretty convenient eh? What a great party spot! And, that's exactly what happens. Our first night here there were 2 birthday parties going on. And all sorts of fun on the water too. I took advantage of the dock at sunset time to make a leisurely phone call.

And, yes, we took advantage of the bar too! And here's the view out our front windshield.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Being Tourists in Minneapolis

We took the afternoon to be tourists in Minneapolis. Thanks Chris L for pushing us to do this! There were gorgeous sights in downtown Minneapolis, right on the Mississippi River. And, they have a nice trail along the river on both banks. We were able to do a circle walk, across one bridge and east to the Guthrie Theatre. The black piece of building jutting out over the walkway is called the 'Endless Bridge' and it is part of the Guthrie Theatre. You're able to go inside. Here's a photo looking out one of the mirrored windows looking west along the river. Notice how the falls on the river requires a lock .. on the left .. to allow boats to get upstream. Here we got to see a barge going into the lock! That's one tall lock! And, it took less than 10 minutes to float the barge to the top and get it on it's way. Then back across on another bridge and west along the north bank of the river back to our car. About 2 miles. Nice walk! More photos on our Picasa Web Album. Just click on any of the photos above, then go forward or backward to see more.
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Friday, July 18, 2008

We love doing seminars

We've completed our four days. We gave seminars every morning and hung out at the Computer Help Desk every afternoon. At night we slept. That's it.

Well, we did go to the exercise class 2 mornings. And we went to the Nitty Gritty Dirt band entertainment on Thursday night. There just wasn't time for *any*thing else. There were plenty of people in the exhibit hall we would have liked to say Hi to. Sorry. We were focused on seminars and help desk and selling our CDs. We're exhausted, but it was a GREAT week for us. We even made money! We now have 58 paid members, and 1,712 free newsletter subscribers. Here's a slide show of our week. I was supposed to write an article for RV.net on Thursday. It didn't happen. But I got around to it today. You can read my RV.net Blog article here.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Busy at FMCA rally

Two seminars each day keeps us pretty busy. Then we promise to be at the computer help desk in the afternoons. That's where we're selling our 'Seminars on a Disk' so we certainly want to be there. And, people are asking for the new Seminar on a Disk for 'Vista: What's New.' As of yesterday, I had 9 videos completed. I stayed up till almost midnight and got a few more done. So, with 13 videos, we're burning our Vista Seminar on a Disk this morning so we can sell them this afternoon!

whew, JIT ... Just in Time. Our Vista seminar is this morning.

We still made a point to get up early enough this morning to attend the exercise class. It's taught by Wayne and Dahelia Hunt from PFIT. They've been at every FMCA rally we've attended and we love their classes. They teach as a team, kind of like Jim and I do. Sure would love to have 'drill sargeant' Wayne along with us as we travel. Maybe we'd get in shape! If you're here at the rally, make sure to attend tomorrow's class: 7am Seminar 11! We'll be there. No more time to write. Check out more photos on our Picasa Web Album.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Minnesota on the Map

What a treat! We haven't put a new state on our map in quite some time.

We're here at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. The weather is gorgeous! In the 60s overnight, 70s in the morning, 80s in the afternoon. It's daylight out until about 10pm. We're getting two days' worth of work in one! And, I gotta tell you about the showers :-) That's a water tower in background above. And, the showers are in the base of that. LOTS of water pressure! And, there's certainly no drought here, so I took advantage and really enjoyed a nice, long, hot shower. Tomorrow starts our seminars. Here's the posted schedule:

All our seminars are in the same room. That's a luxury. Not having to schlep our handouts and equipment around. And, it's only about a block from where we're parked. You gotta love this lifestyle ... just park by your work. And, there are a few other coaches parked in our same lot. We all got out lawn chairs and socialized for a while tonight, even enjoying some wonderful homemade wine brought by Don. We're going to be busy! And, when we're not presenting a seminar, we're going to be in the 'Internet Cafe' helping folks with their computers and selling our 'seminars-on-a-disk.'

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Iowa to Minnesota

Had a long travel day. Long for us anyway ... 300 miles! About half in Iowa and half in Minnesota. The weather cooperated nicely - finishing all the thunderstorms overnight.

The first sight was downtown Cedar Rapids where they are still in the throes of flood recovery. geez, it looks like New Orleans did.

When we drove across the river, I just couldn't imagine the water level being high enough to cover the bridges ... but it was. Such pretty farmland out in the country. Now, here's a good idea! There's certainly been enough wind! Just before the Minnesota stateline, we decided to take advantage of a rest stop. I wandered around and looked at the exhibits for a few minutes (did you know that Frank Lloyd Wright has several famous buildings in Iowa?) when I heard someone say, "That looks like Chris Guld!" huh? I'm in a rest area in Iowa, where I've never been before and someone recognizes me? It's Beth, who we met at a Datastorm rally in Texas 2 years ago. She follows our blog, and is a member of our Computer Education website. That is such a wonderful thing about RVing - and blogging - you make new friends and keep in touch automatically! I see she's already beat me to the punch on her blog: ChrisBethNBubba. Go visit, and you'll see the picture she took and the nice things she said about us. Thanks Beth! And ... next time don't restrain that hug ok?

Welcome to Minnesota. This is a new state for us.

And now we're happily parked at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for the FMCA Convention this week. Do you know what the tall monument in the background is? It's just one blade from those giant windmills! Geez, it is HUGE. What a cool photo op!

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