Tuesday, September 30

Perfect Day

Today will be awfully hard to beat. A total of only 43 miles, all on the Blue Ridge Parkway with its Fall colors. The weather was great (sunny mid 70s). With two hikes - one under an engineering marvel, the other above a river and waterfall. Lunch at a deli in the mountains and tonight a campsite for a whopping 8 bucks. Hey, it's tough out here on the road.

The Linn Cove Viaduct is a 1,243-foot concrete segmental bridge (the first built in the USA) which snakes around the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina and is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Under the Linn Cove Viaduct
Upper Linville Falls
Lower Linville Falls, from WAY up top
Lineville Gorge

 

Monday, September 29

A Steamy Day

Had a real treat yesterday - visited the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in Cass, West Virginia. The railroad,, built in 1901 to haul timber to a large mill in Cass, now hosts scenic rail tours and lets you step back into the "age of steam" and learn about this "company town" and it's history. The park has the oldest operating Shay locamotive, built in 1905, and one of the largest collections of these unique locomotives in the USA - they use a innovative geared design that enables them to climb steep grades with heavy loads and negotiate the tight turns common in mountain rail lines. It was loud, lots of steam, smoke, bells and whistles - plus some great scenery.

Shay Locomotive #5

 

 

Saturday, September 27

On The Trail

Needed a little break so decided to check out a trail I bumbled upon while driving through Parsons Virginia. Started out in pines and ended up along the Cheat River.

 

Thursday, September 25

Old Time Bridges

Received a suggestion from a reader that I might enjoy seeing the covered bridges located around Bedford Pennsylvania, so even though I'm not back to full speed I thought I've give it a try. Also understand, this ment I needed to head back north (wrong way) to check out these bridges - but hey, that's what Take The Long Way is all about. It was worth the detour (thanks GoFar). Enjoy.

 

Wednesday, September 24

Down & Out

It looks like I illegally imported a cold when I returned to the US from Canada. It's hard to put together a logical post when you can't concentrate, so I'm going to take a break. Be back in a couple of days.

 

Monday, September 22

In The Galley

Way better than Taco Bell - my Backroad Burrito Supreme! Best guess is I prepare about half my meals in the van's galley and many of those meals are cooked on the portable induction cooktop you see here - it's fast, easy to setup and doesn't heat up the interior of the van, all big pluses. I've also got a small George Forman grill, a tiny electric kettle, and the microwave - not a gourmet kitchen, but it gets the job done. Bon App├ętit.

 

 

Sunday, September 21

Bridal Veil Surprise

When I was on Manitoulin Island a few days back I stumbled across Bridal Veil Falls and this little surprise.

 

Friday, September 19

Friday Night In Canada

I stopped in Stratford, Ontario yesterday - it's home to North America's largest repertory theater festival, but this is the offseason so it was pretty quiet. Had a nice walk around the downtown. BUT . . . this is Canada and Friday night means only one thing - HOCKEY. Lucky for me the Stratford Cullitons were playing at home against the Guelph Hurricanes - so it was a night of minor league hockey, great fun and the home team won.

And, I even got to watch the Zamboni!

 

Thursday, September 18

Exploring Manitoulin Island

Out and about on the island today. Great scenery, a lighthouse (of course) and a hike. When I get a better internet connection I've got a pretty neat video to share. For now, just some random pics from today's drive.

 

Wednesday, September 17

Bridges To Cross

After crossing the International Bridge I've been doing my backroad thing. This part of Ontario is dotted with small (and big) lakes and lots of rivers. Those rivers have bridges of all types.

Dean Lake Bridge - 1908

 

Whitefish Falls Bridge

 

Swinging bridge on Manitoulin Island

 

Tuesday, September 16

Into Canada

Started the day in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, had a great lunch and visited the SOO Locks. Small when compared to the locks we often visited while living in Panama, it's still interesting to watch the operation.

 

After a day on the Micigan side it was on to Canada via the Internationl Bridge. Hardly any trafic at the border crossing - the Canadion immigration guy didn't have anything to do, so we talked about Panama.

International Bridge

 

 

 

Monday, September 15

Fellow Travelers

A few days ago I meet some interesting folks while at one of the lighthouses. They, like me, were not in a rush to get anywhere - one had this little sign on his vehicle.

 

Sunday, September 14

Two Lights Today

I'm now in Michigan's UP (that's short for Upper Penisula) whose residents are Yoopers and the Pasty (several ways to spell, I took the easy one) their take-along meal of choice. I've already had my Pastee (Cornish meat pie) picked up some smoked lake trout and managed to visit two lighthouses. I've also "boondocked" my first two nights, so the UP is treating me good - the sun even came out today.

First was the Whitefish Point Light which marks the entrance to Whitefish Bay. If that sounds familiar it's probably because the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank trying to reach the shelter of Whitefish Bay in 1975 and Gordon Lightfoot immortalized the disaster in his song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." This light was the first on Lake Superior, and was first lit in 1849.

Whitefish Point Light, Lake Superior

 

Next up was the Crisp Point Light which was a 45 minute drive over dirt and sand roads (plus mud) on a very remote spit of land. Getting there was an adventure, but worth the effort.

Crisp Point Light, Lake Superior

Almost forgot to mention, all of the lighthouses I've visited allow visitors to "climb the light" to get a view from the top. Good exercise, great views - but it can be a little breezy.

 

 

 

Saturday, September 13

Boondocking It

What it is: One dictionary defines boondocks as slang for rough backwoods or bush country. The term boondocking as used by campers (rv or otherwise) most often refers to camping in the boondocks without the use of commercial campgrounds and hookups (water & electricity). For some it might also mean overnighting in a Walmart parking lot. Universally it means FREE, which is always good. It's one of those things that takes a while to get hang of - but when you do, it's surprising how easy it becomes to find a free place to spend the night.

Boondocking in Hiawatha National Forest

 

Friday, September 12

Primitive or Parking Lot - A Place to Stay

Most of the campsites I've stayed in have been in National Forest Service campgrounds, but I've also stayed in state, city and county run operations - oh, and let's not forget Walmart (you can stay overnight at most Walmarts - if you ask). I've also boondocked in our National ForrestI for free. I find these places by using a couple of iPad apps, stopping at NFS and NPS offices and by just asking people I meet. So far on this trip it's costing less than $9 a night, not bad!

This video shows my drive out to a PRIMITIVE campsite on the Ausable River in the Huron National Forrest. Primitive means, no water, no electricity, no bathroom - nothing, you bring what you need and "leave no trace" when you leave. Most of these river campsites are accessible only by canoe, but are very few are drive in - if you can deal with the roads and lack of facilities. I'm self contained, so it works for me! The biggest plus - I get to stay in places like this. Enjoy.

 

 

Thursday, September 11

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Built in 1870 and still operating today (unmanned) this lighthouse was the location of one of the first "Life Saving Stations" in 1876 and became a Coast Guard Station in 1915.

Sturgeon Point on Lake Huron

The tower is 70 feet, 9 inches tall and is 16 feet in diameter at its base. The light is 3.5 order Fresnel lens made in Paris, France. The light is still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The keeper's house is now a maritime museum

Wednesday, September 10

Rain Day

A couple of nice river trails, a museum and the Lumbermans Mounument in the area so I'm going to hangout for a couple of days and hope for some sunshine.

 

Tuesday, September 9

View From My Window

My campsite on Round Lake

I'm in Michigan near East Tawas at another National Forest Service campground. Nice and quiet, the place is almost empty.

Lake Huron near East Tawas

Little bit bigger than Round Lake. Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes.

 

Sunday, September 7

The Old & The New

Northern Ohio along US127

Saturday, September 6

First 3 Days

A BBQ Festival, a couple of hikes, winery visit and kayaking are the highlights so far. As you might guess, that didn't leave much time for driving down the road - only 277 total miles for three days and the vans computer says I only averaged 26 mph. It seems like every other small town begs me to stop and walk around to check things out.

An example, the first day I went a grand total of 83 miles and arrived at Carrollton Kentucky, a very small town on the Ohio river. "Bands & BBQ" was about to start so, of course, I had to hang around and check things out. Good eats and music in a park on the Ohio, hard too beat. Also did a winery visit just outside Carrollton.

Carrollton City Park on the Ohio
Bands & BBQ Festival
Barge traffic on the Ohio
Ohio River
On the Whitewater River, not much whitewater
General Butler State Park, KY


That's it for now. Need to get an early start tomorrow.

Monday, September 1

Ready To Roll

 

In the morning I will be leaving Bardstown on a seven week (give or take) trip. True to form I won't have a destination - I will be heading North (Michigan and Ontario) until it's time to head to Asheville NC for Overland Expo East which starts on October 3rd, then it's back to Bardstown in late October.

This trip I will be testing out my grand plan for use on future trips. Which is to say, no specific destination, no Interstates (backroads only) and the new "200 or 4" rule. This "bendable rule" sets a maximum of 200 miles OR 4 hours of driving a day - then it's time to stop. That "200 or 4" might be too much, given my last trip (3 weeks) I only averaged 60 miles a day, hey - that's why it's a test. The object here (if you haven't already guessed) is a slow journey with time to stop and enjoy the sights.

Take care. Hope you enjoy your journeys.