On The Road – Ft William, Thunderbay Canada

2017-12-06_10-44-27.pngWith this post, I am going to try to add more on-the-road trip reports here to RJsCorner. I thought this would be a good project for the 2017-18 winter months. The subject of this post is Ft. William in Thunderbay Ontario Canada which is on the north side of Lake Superior. It is in my top five historic sites I have ever visited.

Here is a little background on Ft. William from Wikipedia:

Fort William Historical Park is known as a living history site. Numerous historic buildings have been reconstructed to show the range of the post, and costumed historical interpreters recreate Fort William of the year 1816. Fort William was then not primarily a settlement, but a central transport depot within the now-defunct North West Company’s network of fur trade outposts. Due to its central role, Fort William was much larger, with more facilities than the average fur trade post. Reflecting this, Fort William Historical Park contains 42 reconstructed buildings, a reconstructed Ojibwa village, and a small farm.

Historical interpreters represent the many roles and cultures involved in the fur trade, including Scottish fur traders (people of capital), who often took Native American wives and had their families living with them; French Canadian voyageurs and workers, who also had wives from among the Natives; and native hunters and trappers. The native people in the Fort William area are predominantly Ojibwa and are represented accordingly among the interpreters.

As I have mentioned before I favor fur trading forts as opposed to the military ones. They just seem to more accurately reflect the culture of the times that they represent. The military forts emphasize the battles that took place there.

Fort William is well worth the trip for anyone who wants to understand the cultural heritage of North America and this re-creation is top notch. Here is a rather extensive menagerie of pictures of the fort.

As usual click on any pic to bring up a larger slideshow view.

 

St. Lawrence Fisherman.

In my 20,000 photo database I have about 250 five-star pictures and the one above is in my top ten list.  Going beyond that level is difficult as they, like your children, are all special in one regard or another.  This particular photo has a unique story to go with it.

It was taken during our 2011 trip through eastern Canada. We started this three week venture east of Detroit MI in Windsor and ended up in Nova Scotia.  The first thing I want to mention is that Canada is much different than the US. There is practically no such thing as fast food places, especially outside the major metropolitan areas. About the only places to stay the night in the hinterland is in family owned places and they vary GREATLY from one to another.

Now, getting on to the picture. It was taken along the St. Lawrence Seaway south of Montreal. I don’t remember the exact location, my camera didn’t have GPS in those days. Since motels were far and few between we decided to stop in late afternoon. There was a small sign along the road with the motel’s name. It was basically a small house and what appeared to be a pretty long chicken coop.  The husband and wife owners at the small house office were friendly. We discovered that the “chicken coop” was basically about a dozen small rooms  for nightly rent.  The owner first told us not to drink the water.  He also said the shower was kind of intermittent depending on if someone else was using theirs at the same time. Since we were only going to stay that one night  and we didn’t know what was down the road we got a room.

The room was about ten foot square with a double bed, a nightstand and a chair.  After checking in we spent a couple of hours sitting along the river and eating the snacks we had on hand for supper.  As dusk was approaching we went to our room and discovered only one of the lightbulbs in the place worked and that the bed was basically a thin worn out mattress on some pretty hard bedsprings.  I settled in for what I thought was the night.  It ended up that I just couldn’t sleep with springs poking me in the back  so I spent a good deal of the night in the chair.

At the first glimmer of light I decided to watch the sunrise over the St. Lawrence and maybe get a good picture.  As it became lighter I discovered that I was not the only one who was up early. There was a fisherman with a very long pole sitting on a bucket about fifty yards away.  I very discretely took his picture and what you see here is the result.  I don’t know if he caught anything that morning but I know he never moved for the hour or so I was there….

Eventually my wife woke up, I don’t see how she managed to sleep through the night? We were on the road about an hour after sunrise but never to forgot our experience that night.

 

On The Road Again… The Mississippi

I am getting ready to hit the road again in an hour or so. This time I will be touring southern Illinois particularly along the Mississippi.  I thought it appropriate to leave you with some pictures of my Spring trip to Bridgeton Indiana.  It is in the middle of “covered bridge country” here in southern Indiana.

The Idea Of…. RVing

RV

I seem to be fixated on a phrase “The idea of” lately. That is people liking the idea of something without really understanding the details involved. This phenomenon spans across a wide sector of our world. I have several ideas for post on this topic.  The one I want to talk about this time is RVing.

Rving, that is buying a recreational vehicle and setting off on the road for daily adventures. I must admit that this one has had me in its clutches for some time now. One of the first books I read as a young man was Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. It was about how the author had a custom-made cabin made for the back of his large pickup truck (RVs were not nearly as available in his days). In his book Mr. Steinbeck tells the story of how he spent months designing the interior and filling it with everything he thought he would need for an extended trip. The stories and adventures on the road he told in the book fascinated me then and continue to fascinate me today. I have read this book perhaps a dozen time, the last time while we were vacationing in Mesa Verde National park. No, it wasn’t in an RV but in one of the very comfortable lodge rooms there.  That is another trip I will never forget but that is for another post.

I just love the idea of taking off and spending endless weeks discovering America!  The problem with this is that my wife adamantly refuses to leave her home nest for anything longer than a week or so and the idea of living in a “box with wheels” totally turns her off. So, I guess I will have to do a Walter Middy and only dream about it.

I’m sure there are countless people who plunk down $70,000 or more for a new RV only to take it on the road once. They loved the idea of RVing but not so much the idea of flushing out and connecting up the sewer lines and the other chores required to set up camp so to speak.  When the reality of the details meet with the dream some realize they made a mistake. That is good new and bad news.  It is good news for the next round of people looking for an RV because they can get one at a big discount that has hardly been used.

But then there are folks like RVSue and her crew who are full-time at it and loving it. She keeps the dream alive for me.

I have not totally given up on my dream of RVing. As a matter of fact I have spent quite a bit of time taking my old 20+ year old truck and putting a “Steinbeck” cabin on top of it.  I tell myself that this project is mainly for the sake of the project (I love tinkering and getting my hands dirty) and not so much about the end result.  But it will be kind of fun to at least get away for a solo weekend now and then for a mini-version of RVing.

I like the idea of RVing….

On The Road Cleveland – Day 8, The Final Run…

Cleveland 30Here we are in the final hotel of our Cleveland vacation. We are in Newark Ohio which is a little east of Columbus. We spent much of the day in more Amish country of Berlin Ohio. It claims to have the largest Amish community in the U.S. I bought a couple of framed pictures as mementos of our trip.  When we left this area to head south to I70 we found you couldn’t get there from here. Two of the three roads we tried were closed!

Cleveland 31Finally after three failed attempts we managed to find our way south and will jump on I 70 tomorrow morning for  the trip home. It was a good vacation; we certainly enjoyed the cultural aspects of it and the visit with my high school friends. We learned quite a bit about Cleveland that we didn’t know before. When we visited the historical society building yesterday we came to understand that it is critical to say you are from east Cleveland or west Cleveland, not just Cleveland. We learned that there is much ethnic diversity in Cleveland than we thought. We learned that you can’t get there from here when traveling south out of northeast Ohio.

It was an interesting vacation. We will likely be back sometime soon for another visit to our re-found friends. But the next time we will find an easier way to get from there back home 🙂 Tomorrow I will be getting back to my usual posting about life in general…It was nice to be away but it will also be nice to get back; even for that mountain of Spring chores waiting for me…

On The Road Cleveland – Day 7 If It’s Monday It Must Be Wash Day….

AmishSignWe spent the day touring amish country around our friends home. There is a very large population here in northeast Ohio ( I made a terrible mistake originally here in that I said northwest instead of northeast.  Sorry about that).  Almost every house we came to had clothes out on the line and all in typical amish colors. So that made discovering which farms are amish rather easy.  That and seeing no utility lines going into the houses.  It seems that some of the families are “cheating” though; they have solar panels installed on the roofs.

AmishLaundryIt was a good leisurely day. We went to several different stores; some for the amish and some for the tourists. Our hosts bought quite a bit of bulk goods (sugar and that sort of thing) to stock up. We bought a few things to weigh the car down a little more.  If my wife buys much more I will have to rent a U-Haul trailer 🙂

Tomorrow we will hit the road towards home. We will likely take the State roads instead of the Interstate ones and spend an extra day.

On The Road Cleveland – Day 5 Downtown

Cleveland10Since we have been walking so much the last few days we decided to take it a little easier today. We drove the mile to the center of the city instead of walking. Our fatigue and the fact that it is still in the 30s and 40s here enticed us to take the easy way.  When we got close to the Tower City Center we found a convenient parking garage. I have been reading about a 4th Street complex of restaurants and sites so we decided to head there. It was not as we expected. There were a number of the more well-known local restaurants there but they were all closed until dinner and there was little else in the area. It seemed that almost the entire downtown area was deserted.

Cleveland downtown it seems is pretty much like most of these metropolitan areas in that they are not kept in the most pristine shape. We meandered down to the Tower City Center amongst the tall high-rises and found a shopping mall and a casino there. It was surprising to see a casino right in the very heart of the city.Cleveland11 After eating at a small mexican restaurant we had enough of touring for today and headed back to the hotel for a mid-afternoon nap before heading for the Blue Point Grill for dinner. This is a very upscale seafood restaurant specializing in seafood so of course I had to have a plate of oysters on the half shell.  They were very good. I also had the special for the night which was flounder and it was to die for. Yvonne had seared trout. She gets pretty picky about this dish but this time it was cooked to perfection as it should have been for the price. We don’t eat out in upscale restaurants but once a year or so and this was definitely a good one.
Tomorrow we will do a little more touring and then head for the Ohio/Pennsylvania border for a visit with our friends. As an overall wrap-up,  Cleveland reminds me of Pittsburgh. It is not the cleanest or as tourist friendly as many that we have visited but still worth the visit.  The University Circle area was the most culturally oriented part of town. The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospital and three or four colleges are located there as well as most of the museums.  If we are ever to do this visit again I would likely choose that area as our home base and skip the downtown area.

Cleveland12We thought about going to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame which is less than a mile from the hotel but when we found that the tickets were $25 each we changed our minds. I was never much of a rock and roller, I was more into folk music in my hearing years so the enticement at that level of admission just wasn’t there. 🙂

On The Road Cleveland – Day 4 Museums

cleveland 7We spent today with some old-time high school friends of mine who are near-Cleveland residents.  We spent the majority of the day at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History but before that we got a thorough driving tour of the Cleveland Clinic.  The scale of the clinic is almost unimaginable.  There were at least twenty huge buildings in the complex. The Cleveland Clinic is thought to be the healthcare of the future in that they do it much more efficiently than most. All their doctors are on salary as opposed to independent practices. Surgeons don’t make money performing more surgeries; they make a salary to find and relieve healthcare problems. The entire complex is very automated and geared toward wellness instead of profits. I do believe that the Cleveland Clinic along with the Mayo Clinic will be how medicine is done when we finally get over our obsession with our current healthcare systems in this country.

cleveland 6The Museum of Natural History was one of the finest ones we have visited. It had a very diverse amount of different things. I seem to be a rock-hound so I spent quite a bit of time in that area and learned several different facts that I had not previously heard. Another part of the museum that fascinated me was the Mayan exhibit.  I did not realize that they had such an elaborate means of recording their history. Their hieroglyphics are very elaborate. I need to study on that some more.  The museum shop didn’t have anything on it so I will hit Amazon as soon as get home. I think I would like to be more studied on it.

One thing I learned both yesterday and today is that this is Spring break for the Cleveland area. I can’t tell you how many shin bumps I have from being hit by baby carriages in the last two days.  Maybe it is a good thing that we are childless as I just don’t seem to have much patience for all the kids running around frantically at these sort of places.

We finished up our tour of the museum with a planetarium show. It was an elaborate demonstration of the mars probe as well as showing us all the constellations in the heavens. I still think it is kind of a stretch how they name some of them. They just don’t look like lions and bears and such to me. But it was a very impressive show.  I remember hiking up to the top of a mountain in Colorado in my much younger days and see all those stars they showed us today but I has been years since I saw a sky so studded with stars.

cleveland 5After the museum it was off to Little Italy for a late lunch at a one-hundred year old establishment and then some cannoli at a bakery of like age.  Both were fantastic.  Tomorrow will sort of be an R&R day for us. We have walked about ten miles in the last few days and need a little rest. The day will probably be spent at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and dinner at a place along the lake. But, of course more on that later…

On The Road Cleveland – Day 3 Zoo

cleveland3We are now situated in our home for the next three days. It is in a DoubleTree Hampton on the 15th floor overlooking Lake Erie. It will be nice not having to pack for the next few days. Nice views from the 15th floor.  We spent the day at the Cleveland Zoo and Rainforest. It was an interesting time. Of course photos are attached here.  The Rainforest was pretty nice; lots of beautiful flowers and such. The Zoo was pretty good but not up to par with our hometown one in Indianapolis.

We will be spending much of the day tomorrow with some high school  friends who are giving us the royal tour of the city. They both graduated from colleges here after attending our alma mater high school in Indiana and have been living here for 30+ years. I have seen them a few time but this will be the most time we have spent together since we were classmates almost fifty years ago.

cleveland5When we left the zoo for the hotel in downtown Cleveland I punched the name of the hotel into my iPad mapping program and it set up a route for me.  Unfortunately it was the wrong location. I didn’t discover it until we were more than ten miles beyond where we needed to be. You gotta keep an eye on these gps programs 🙂

I am spending the evening trying to come up with a restaurant for our anniversary dinner on Saturday. Since my wife and I have such differing tastes it proves difficult.  We were going to try the Lola which is owned by the famous chef Bobby Simone but the menu wasn’t compatible with my wife’s tastes or our budget and it was already filled for the entire weekend. So I am still on looking for one.

Cleveland 1

 

Tomorrow we will likely see the Cleveland Clinic along with many sites in the University Circle area. More on that tomorrow.

On The Road Cleveland – Day 2 Youngstown

Youngstown3As noted in yesterday’s post we spent the day at Youngstown. It was everything I expected it to be. The Youngstown Historical Center was of course all about steel. I took about forty pictures of the exhibits and will give you a few of them here.  I didn’t realize that there were actually seven mills running here during their heydays in the 1960’s. They started shutting down after the Japanese started flooding the market with sub-cost steels in the early 1980s and Ronald Reagan didn’t do anything to stop them. As a result they disappeared very quickly along with thousands of good paying middle class jobs.

There is little there now of any of the big buildings. About all that is left is the soot they produced. Youngstown is a dirty town similar to Pittsburgh but there are signs of life with new business. But never enough to keep the blighted neighborhoods in the background.

Youngstown1When we are in areas like this we try to visit the local food establishments. I got on Yelp and found a few good ones but of the three I had chosen all were closed. One appeared to be open on weekends only. We finally did find a really nice italian delicatessen.  The help there was very patient we my wife and her picky diet.

There is another thing that surprised me about the Cleveland area and that is just how diversified it is. There are many different ethnic restaurants and such around. But when I got to studying the exhibits in the historical center I remembered that many people throughout Europe and Russia immigrated to work in the mills.

After the historic center we had enough time to also visit the Butler Institute of American Art. It was a first-class place and totally dedicated to American artists. Homer Winslow was one of the most celebrated ones there.  Of course no photos in the museum so no pictures to show of that.

Youngstown2The temperatures continue to be in the 30s today but they say it will be in the 50s tomorrow. I certainly hope so as we plan to visit the Cleveland Zoo and particularly the rainforest area. It is supposed to be world-class.  More on that tomorrow.

On The Road, Cleveland — Day 1

Yes, we decided to visit the Cleveland Ohio area for our April vacation this year.  As expected we spent most of the day in the car. I don’t know why even after 27 years this Friday of being married I haven’t learned to lie about the time I want to leave.  I told Yvonne we need to be on the road at 9:00am so of course as usually it was about 9:30am before we left.  Why didn’t I say 8:30?

We took almost all interstate roads to get here to Macedonia Ohio. After seven hours on the road the most significant thing I can say  about our trip is that almost all the roads we took were in serious need of repair; there were bumps and potholes everywhere. I heard we are about number 18 in the world and rapidly dropping in maintaining our infrastructure and I can believe that after today. If we don’t spend some taxes on them soon they will be gravel roads again like they were 100+ years ago.

Tomorrow we will be visiting a historical center in Youngstown Ohio.  For those kids out there Youngstown was famous for its steel mills in the 1960s. About the only thing still there are the skeletons and history places.  I have never visited this area of Ohio before so I didn’t see it in its glory but I do remember hearing about the Cuyhoga River catching on fire in the last 60s.  That proved to be the turning point for our finally seriously attacking air and water pollution in this country. We will be going over that river tomorrow. I’m sure it will looking nothing like what it did back then.  I wonder what similar event will finally trigger our seriousness toward global warming?

I can’t believe the difference between today and a year ago when we were on the road. Last year it was in the 70s and 80s and farmers were out in groves plowing and disking.  Today in never got out of the 30s.

We will spend a couple of days around the outskirts of the city and then move into our fancy hotel in the downtown area for our anniversary weekend. I hear the Cleveland Zoo has a rather elaborate rainforest area. We are hoping to see that maybe on Thursday.   More on that in tomorrow’s post.

On The Road Again….

Banner - Aside 2

on the roadStarting tomorrow we will finally be on the road again. These last six months seemed longer than most. Cabin fever was really getting me down.  I know several of you really enjoy my “On the road reports”. I thought about not doing them this time and instead taking a hiatus from blogging but I realized that I really do enjoy writing the reports. They allow me to sit back and think about how my day was and to record things in a “Travels with Charley” format similar to what John Steinbeck did about fifty years ago.

So my daily posts will be coming out at the end of the day instead of the beginning as it usually does. In one way I am taking a step back from blogging in that I won’t even attempt to do any aside posts in the afternoons as I have in the past.

See you tomorrow evening with the first report of a week-long trip.  I will leave it a mystery as to where we are headed this trip for the first post tomorrow. I don’t think anyone could guess where we are going.  Since these “on the road” reports are pretty much posted as they are written I hope you will excuse me in advance for the typos and such.

On The Road Again…..

Mesa Verde National Park

Yes, starting today my wife and I are on the road again. This time we will be traveling by car to the great State of Colorado. The majority of our time will be spent at Mesa Verde National Park so expect many photos in the next few weeks. We will be staying at the park lodge for six days of R&R, casual exploring and photographing nature. Although they don’t, on purpose, provide any television they do have wi-fi in the lodge, but not the rooms, so I can send the daily posts as always.

We will also likely see some first hand forest fire damage which I will try report that. After leaving Mesa Verde we will travel a little further west to Monument Valley and then back to Denver for a day or two. My wife says I won’t last the six days laying back at Mesa Verde but I think otherwise. At least I hope otherwise. We will find that out together I guess.

So, starting tomorrow expect the special on-the-road reports of our experiences….

On The Road….Again

I wanted to let you know that starting tomorrow I will be doing a series of “On The Road” posts here.  For those of you who are not familiar with them they will be end-of-day posts about our trip to Washington DC and Baltimore.  Except for a one day trip in 1998 this will be the first time we have taken a tour bus. This will be a six day trip.

Of course the first and last day of the trip will mainly be sitting in a hopefully comfortable air-conditioned bus and letting someone else do the driving for a change. I am already lining up all my techie toys to take with me. I will be working on my MacBook to do some work (my wife calls it play) and of course the iPad will go along with us. My wife loves to play many of the games installed there but I hope she will relinquish it occasionally to let me do some of my regular internet stuff including responding to your comments here. 🙂

Yvonne and I were in DC in 1988. It was a pretty stressful time given that I had only recently went deaf and we had not worked out a good means of communications between us. That along with trying navigate the streets there drove us to the edge more than once. My wife vowed that she would never set foot in that town again!!  The only way I convinced her to do it this time is that we will be chauffeured to each of the site and will not have to get behind a steering wheel for the entire trip. But I’m still kind of amazed that she agreed to go.

We are scheduled for several visits to the Smithsonian, as well as trips to the White House, Congress, Arlington Cemetery, and the Mall and other places I am probably forgetting. It will be a busy but enjoyable time.  Like always the old saying “Things are never as good as you had hoped or as bad as you fear” will come to play here.  I have certain hopes for how meaningful the trip will be. I’m sure that as usual some of these will be dashed on the proverbial rocks. We will both be finding out about that soon.

One of my all time favorite books was Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck. It was about Steinbeck and his dog Charlie traveling around the U.S. in a makeshift truck camper. I read the book when I was about fifteen years old. The way Steinbeck described his experience totally enthralled me and I quickly tried to make his writing style as my own.  I later discovered Will Rogers and had the same experiences.  So today I say my writing style is a meager attempt to combine my two favorite authors.

No, I am not Charles Kuralt (for those of you who are not old enough look him up on Wiki) but I think I can entertain you with my on-the-road reports. Check them out in the coming days. If I happen to miss a day due to exhaustion or whatever please excuse me in advance. 🙂

On The Road – Omaha (Day 6) More on Boy’s Town…

A rather  boring day today. We left Omaha about 10:00am and made almost 400 miles of Interstate driving before settling down near St. Charles MO. But given that there was little walking it was good for my aching knees. Tomorrow we will visit the picture puzzle super-store and then likely make a dash for home.

Since not much happened today I thought I would give you a little more about Boys Town.  Here is the info on the sign in front of the history center. It does a pretty good job of providing a short-hand version of the history of the place. This picture to the right is that famous saying I quoted yesterday.

A warm welcome to the Boys Town Hall of History. This museum is a cherished place for us at Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home.   It houses our precious memories of the earliest days when we were a small shelter for a few homeless boys from the streets.   It graphically depicts our joys and sorrows, our trials and tribulations, as decade by decade we have welcomed homeless, neglected, abused, and handicapped children.   We have changed with the times.   Today we care for boys and girls, for high risk inner-city youth, and for children with speech and hearing handicaps.  

Our story is one of struggle, growth, and change.   But what has not changed since 1917 has been our deep trust in God, our love for the young, and our goal-to impart the values of family living to generations of troubled young people whose own families failed them.   We are proud of these efforts and hope that they may inspire you, our visitors, to believe as we do that there is no such thing as a bad boy or girl.

One of the billboards in the center talked about even in the 1930s they stood strictly against segregation. They welcomed everyone.  Around 1980 they changed from a dormitory type living to more of a family centered approach.  They currently house about ten kids in a family unit headed by a very well-trained husband/wife and often kids. To the right is one of those houses. There are probably fifty of them on the campus.

I pray that Boys Town continues to be funded into the future. They certainly fill a need..