We worked on the website, so we didn’t leave until 11 o’clock.
We continued on the south shore of the St Lawrence River, driving through pretty Trois Pistoles, where we weren’t able to get an internet connection. The view looked really pretty now, as we could see the north shore of the river, with its outline of hills.
We soon arrived at Riviere du Loup, where we had been nearly 2 months ago, when we crossed the St Lawrence at the start of our tour of the Maritime Provinces. It felt strange, as we suddenly recognised the ferry terminal we had left from. We had pulled into a lookout, and got chatting to 2 ladies from Ontario, who were travelling in a car and small, old caravan. Suddenly half an hour had gone! They said how ‘unfriendly’ they had found the Quebec French.
From the lookout, we saw that there was a long picnic area far below, beside the water, so that’s where we made our way to have lunch. I was thrilled to see the flash of white of the beluga whales, as we had before. The sun felt really warm, and it was lovely looking across to the north shore, which we had driven along on our outward trip.
It was 2 o’clock when we drove on past the quay, and into the town, where we found a place to use the internet, and send our fifth email and website. We didn’t really find the ‘town’ of Riviere, so continued along near the shore, enjoying the pretty farming country, so much more tamed than the country we have been seeing.
Just before 5 o’clock, we took a sandy track to a lookout over the river and marshes. The views were beautiful, so it was a lovely place to stop. We even sat outside and read in the sunshine. The lookout was called Havre au Quai, and we looked across to the huge French looking church at St Roch des Aulhaies.
St Roch des Aulhaies from Havre au Quai
We had a barbie, and ate outside, with our gorgeous view, and a lovely sunset. The mozzies stayed away until we had finished our meal. We looked out at the stars at bedtime – the milky way was very clear, and we could see The Great Bear and Cassiopeia.
Thursday 17th August To within sight of Quebec City 74 miles
A really beautiful day! We sat outside in our ‘out of this world’ situation for breakfast. No cars came down until 9 o’clock, so we had it to ourselves. It was nearly 9.30 when we drove back to the road, and through the pretty town of St Roch, with its huge church which we had been looking across to.
We soon came to Saint Jean Port Joli, a town famous for wood carvings. It began in the thirties, with 3 local craftsmen, and has now become a mecca for artisan workshops and galleries. We walked along the little street as far as the imposing red roofed church.
It was already very hot. The village street is several miles long, so we drove on through, stopping by the Museum des Anciens Canadiens, which supposedly had huge carvings of notable woodcarvers. We looked around the various boutiques nearby, but not much of the stuff appealed to us – a lot of it was kitch, we thought!
It was now lunch time, so we were pleased to see that there was a pretty picnic area just after the town, right by the water. However, there was a big cycling event going on, and this site was being used as their ‘break stop’, so was crowded out! A bit further along, we pulled in by some roadside picnic tables, and realised that it was a historic site, with a small house where Phillipe-Aubert de Gaspe wrote his book ‘les anciens canadiens’. This was obviously an influential book, and the plaque by his monument called him ‘the father of Canadian literature.’
House of Phillipe-Aubert de Gaspe
There was a long flight of steps, surrounded by pretty flowers, to the top of the cliff, which we climbed up to get a view across to the river.
Our next stop was at Cap Saint Ignace, where hundreds of snow geese collect during migration. You could walk through the reservation, and I got chatting to a gentleman called Joseph Pierre Barcelon. He was such an interesting man, that we chatted for ages. His great grand parents had been Spanish, but had moved to Morocco when famine forced them to leave Spain. He had lived in Morocco until he was 16, when it was still run by the French. His parents had then come to Canada. Joseph wrote historical novels about this area that he lived in. He loved Saint Ignace and the surrounding area, but said that the winters were too cold!
At Berthier a boat can take you to Grosse Isle, in the St Lawrence. From 1832 to 1937 this was a quarantine place for immigrants, but sadly a typhus epidemic in 1847 claimed the lives of thousands of Irish immigrants. We didn’t have time to visit, but continued now to Levis, on the opposite bank of the St Lawrence to Quebec. We found our way first to Fort No 1, built by the British in the 1800s to keep out the Americans. It was now 4.30, and it closed at 5.00. The pleasant young girl tried to explain that it was nearly closing, but as we have passes, it didn’t matter! At her suggestion, we just had a quick walk through the tunnel, and spent the rest of the time walking around the outside of the fort, where there were views across to Quebec through the trees.
We continued through delightful Old Levis, full of lovely wooden clapperboard houses. A ferry goes from here across to Quebec, and we had thought of visiting Quebec that way, but it was far too crowded and busy, and the narrow streets didn’t suit a motorhome.
We drove up and parked by ‘The Terrace’, a pleasant grassy area, where several groups were picnicking. From here there were good views across to Quebec City, even if the sun was against us! It was warm and peaceful as we wandered around. A plaque here told (in French) of a visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939.
Looking across to Quebec City from Levis
Now it was time to drive through the modern ‘grot’ bit of the town, to locate Walmart, where at 5.45 we joined the numerous other motorhomes parked here for the night.
This time we were able to get our ‘wad’ of photos printed, and after supper we enjoyed looking through them – right up to date!
Friday 18th August A fun time in Quebec City for our 700th night in the Bam 20 miles
We left at 7 o’clock to drive into Quebec City before it got too busy. We followed the motorway for about 10 miles, until we crossed the St Lawrence to drive down the other side into the city. All this part went really well, and there were some nice houses on the road in.
As we tried to locate somewhere to park, however, things got more difficult. After we had tried this car park and that, got onto a fast road, and driven through a tunnel(twice), I was feeling giddy, and my head was spinning.
We eventually got to Bassin Louise, where a lot of other motorhomes were parked, but unlike Walmart, you had to pay $35 for this! At least it lasted 24 hours, so you could stay overnight, but the list of ‘don’t’s’ was very long!
After some deliberation, we decided to stay, and Adrian did manage to get some much needed water by filling the container several times when the man wasn’t looking! We now settled down to have breakfast before setting off for our day in the City.
And it was a very good day! The weather was perfect – warm and sunny – and it was such a nice town to walk around.
Enjoying the Petit Champlain area of Quebec City
The whole area inside the walls is a National Historic Site, although we thought that there were too many unattractive new buildings for our liking.
There was plenty that was really lovely though – pretty houses, narrow streets, fun shops, flowers everywhere, street musicians, and views across the river to Levis and downstream.
Street in Quebec City
Quebec has cliffs (the Heights of Abraham), with a large area above, where the battle took place on 13th September 1759, resulting in Quebec and New France being ceded to Britain. Both General Wolfe, and the French General Montcalm, lost their lives in the battle, and there is a joint ‘Cleopatra’s needle’ type monument to them.
The walls of the city are almost intact, and we wandered right around them. They are gradually excavating beside the walls, and there was a small display of some of the findings.
We had a lovely lunch in a delightful setting – Aux Anciennes Canadiens – the oldest house in Quebec City, once lived in by Gaspe, who we had come across yesterday. The meal was excellent - not quite so ‘posh’ as the one at Metis, but even better value, and included a good glass of Chilean wine. The linen and crockery were all blue and white, which pleased me! We were grateful to Lonely Planet for the recommendation!
We arrived at the Citadel just as the Changing of the Guard ceremony was taking place. (although it said a different time on the board). This is a National Historic Site, but to go inside required a fee. We had seen the best bit with the guards, so didn’t bother!
Changing of the guard at the Citadel, Quebec
Our passes did work for the Artillery Park though, and we got good value there! As we arrived, they were performing a gun firing demonstration outside – a free entertainment, for all to enjoy. Inside the various buildings, costumed guides acted the parts of captain, parlourmaid and cook really well, and there was plenty to see and enjoy.
As we headed back to our parking area, we walked through the market, where at last I got my flowers – some huge, colourful gladioli – and a ‘ruby ring’. We got back hot and tired at 5.30, but soon recovered with a beer, sitting by the water’s edge.
Later we walked back into the town to savour and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. We returned to the Petit Champlain area, with its narrow, busy pedestrian streets. We saw a lot of people crowding round le Lapin Saute restaurant, and decided to eat there. There was no room to eat outside for at least half an hour, so we ate inside, which was luckily cool enough to be pleasant. I was surprised that most of the items on the menu really were based on rabbit! Adrian did have rabbit pie, but I had Croque Monsieur (I have never ordered one before, and have always wanted to) both came with ‘extras’, although we had really eaten plenty at lunchtime, and were just thinking of having a snack. We had a nice (but expensive as always) glass of sauvignon blanc, and enjoyed the busy atmosphere. Our waitress, whilst rather ‘homely’ looking, was really pleasant, and found time to chat, despite constantly serving customers.
As we wandered outside, one of the many street musicians was playing at the little park area. He was playing a harp, and it was so beautiful that we sat and listened for a while before wandering the long way back through the atmospheric streets, arriving at the Bam at 10.45. It had been a great day for our 700th night in the Bam.
Saturday 19th August From Quebec City to Montreal 200 miles
A noisy train shunting into the yard had disturbed us from our slumbers, and in the morning a large RV ran its engine loudly, which spoiled the peace as we had breakfast. We left at 8.15, as our fee was for 24 hours.
We had to wait a long while as the bridge was up to let a police launch through the lock as we left the harbour.
We drove along the front, giving us another chance to see the attractive houses of the old town as we passed. We wanted to have a look at Battlefield Park this morning, so drove up into it initially on a road saying ‘no motorhomes’. We managed, using tenacity, to drive around a good bit of the vast park, but sign posting wasn’t of the best, and there were lots of ‘no entry’ signs and blocked off roads.
The park – the area where the battle of Quebec was fought - is enormous, and has similarities with Hyde Park, as it is the recreation site for the city people. It is rather steeper, however! We were able to see the Wolfe Monument, the Martello towers (built by the British to keep out the Americans) and the Joan of Ark gardens.
Martello tower in Battlefield Park, Quebec
It was nicely quiet at this time of day. Avenues of huge trees lined one side of the park, making it seem rather grand. We had enjoyed seeing a marmot, who posed for us.
We now drove out of Quebec City, crossing Quebec Bridge over the St Lawrence at 10 o’clock. We had had to revise our original plan of driving north from Quebec, and returning south via Michigan, as time is against us!
We drove on the motorway westwards for about 20 miles, turning off at a place where we were able to dump, and get water and petrol. We then drove back to the river, reaching it at St Croix, which had a church even more ornate than others. We shopped here, being careful not to buy too much, as in a few days we will be returning to USA, and we only have 2 weeks left in the Bam anyway.
Storm clouds were beginning to gather, and the afternoon became increasingly humid. The land was now flat and agricultural, with fields and fields of sweetcorn.
At Sorel-Tracy we joined the motorway again to drive on south round Montreal, which we had visited last year. At first it was very peaceful, but as we neared Montreal it got very busy.
There was a stretch of motorway missing – they seem to be working on it - but there was little in the way of signs to tell you where to go. However, I noticed a Walmart, at St Catherines, and we thought it a sensible place to stop. It was 5.10 when we arrived, and Adrian was dumbfounded to find the shop closed when he went to inquire if we could stay. He then found out that it closed at 5.00 pm on a Saturday – unheard of, when many Walmarts are open 24 hours!
Sunday 20th August We cross last year’s route twice on our way towards Toronto 200 miles
There was heavy rain in the night, and the day was miserable and grey. We continued on our route just south of Montreal. Nothing looked much fun in the ‘mizzle’.
We crossed several bridges over various small islands until we were on the northern bank of the St Lawrence.
At 11 o’clock we drove out of Quebec and into Ontario. We immediately noticed that the road surfaces were better. We had travelled this section of motorway last September, when we made our ‘spur of the moment’ flight to Calgary from Ottawa for Adrian’s birthday.
We soon turned off to drive on the ‘Heritage Trail’, near to the river. At Cornwall, the roads were all closed – we imagined for a running event – and signs telling you where to go were absent! We had lunch in a park by the river soon afterwards. There was a plaque to a cargo boat carrying iron ore, which had gone down near here in 1970, with the loss of all 9 lives.
We soon took the motorway again, crossing the route which we took after our return from Ottowa airport last year, but then we had taken the road by the shore. We pulled into a motorway rest area which was rather reminiscent of a service station on the M1 at bank holiday. I made my first, and probably last, visit to Tim Hortons to buy us each a donut.
The stretch of the river here is known as 1,000 islands, and there are many boat trips centred around these numerous islands. We remembered from last year how busy it was. Many trips leave from the town of Gananoque, which calls itself the ‘Gateway to the 1,000 islands.’ The old part of the town was attractive, with some nice houses.
We drove on through to Kingston, an attractive large town situated where the St Lawrence flows out of Lake Ontario. A lot of the houses are of red brick, and others of grey limestone, but there were also some unfortunate modern mistakes. We thought that it looked much like a pleasant English town as we drove around the streets.
On trying to find our way out again, we came to the ‘end of the road’ by the airport and next to a farm. It seemed a good place to stop for the night. Behind us was a sign to a conservation area, so we drove down to find out what was there. The day was now dry, and we found that there was a footpath leading down to the lake – used mostly by runners and dog walkers. It made a pleasant stroll for the end of the day. As we reached the lake, a chap in shorts, T-shirt and trainers waded straight in up to his head – he said afterwards that he was hot from running, so this cooled him down.
By Lake Ontario near Kingston
Monday 21st August A long trail through Toronto, with an unintentional but nice campsite stop 327 miles
After the rain the sun – it was a beautiful day today. We left early, and stopped to have breakfast by Lake Ontario. We were in Fairfield Historic Park. This is a loyalist area – there were even large gates with ER2 on them – and the house on this site had been owned by a loyalist family who had settled from New England after the revolutionary war.
While we were there, hundreds and hundreds of cormorants took off across the lake, scuffing up the water into white shapes as they went. It was quite a sight.
It was lovely driving along, with the lake on one side, and blue chicory flowers dotted with lacy white cow parsley on the other. We had to take a (free) ferry to Quinte Island, also known as Prince Edward, and supposed to be like PEI. We arrived at just the right time for the ferry, and were soon across, and driving up to ‘Lake on the Mountain’ – a lake which is considerably higher than Lake Ontario far below, but has no rivers flowing into it. The lake has been associated with many legends, and it was a nice spot to look down to see the ferry crossing back.
The Quinte island ferry
Quinte Island was nicely rural, with pleasant, mostly brick, houses, but I was disappointed that we never got any beach access.
We rejoined the ‘mainland’ at a place called Carrying Place. We stopped by the Severn and Trent Canal (which we had come across further up last year), and watched as the bridge was swung open to let boats through. This cost the boaters $4.50, and the gruff operator walked down with his pot on the end of a stick to collect the money as they went by!
It was a pleasant place to sit in the hot sunshine and have our coffee.
We were now at Brighton, and joined the motorway towards Toronto. At first we drove through rural countryside, and there wasn’t much traffic, but things got steadily busier as we neared Toronto.
We had driven through Toronto last year, not on the motorway, which was lucky, as we saw virtually nothing of it this time except millions of vehicles and throngingly busy roads. The freeway was a 3 lane express route and a 4 lane connector route each side, which seemed to work well as you could only get off the express route onto the connector lanes occasionally and so did not have the criss-crossing of traffic. The reason for us coming here was that Adrian wanted to take his computer to the Acer headquarters in Mississauga, just to the west of Toronto. He had hoped that they might repair it there and then, but this wasn’t to be – it will be sent on to Simon’s address when sorted, and we will have to manage without it for the next 10 days (we do still have ‘my’ computer).
We headed down to the lakeside, after our marathon drive through the traffic and pulled into ‘Jack Darling Park’, beside the lake, (which we had pulled into last year too) and I at last had my swim in the warm waters of Lake Ontario. We could see the CNN Tower in the distance.
Now that we knew that we didn’t have to wait around for the computer to be fixed, we drove back to the motorway and headed out west.
The motorway had ended by the time we drove through the attractive towns of Shakespeare and Stratford (on the River Avon), but by now we were looking for somewhere to stop for the night.
This proved an impossible task! The 2 picnic areas we passed had ‘no overnight parking’ signs, and everywhere else was just neatly farmed land, with not an inch of spare ground or anywhere to pull off. We were heading towards Goderich on Lake Huron, and had almost reached there, when at Benmiller, Adrian spotted a sign to ‘Maitland River Falls Conservation area – day use and camping’.
It hadn’t been our intention to go into a campsite tonight, but this was really pleasant. We had an open, sunny site (although we hadn’t arrived until 6.45).
There were few other people about, although a young couple did come up and ask the way. They had been out walking for 8 hours, and had walked right around the huge campsite area, instead of walking the Maitland River trail, which they were supposed to be following.
Our site was close to the ‘falls’. This was a lovely area of cascading water and flat rocks, reminding us of places in Australia.
Maitland Falls park
After viewing the falls, we set to with barbie, followed by a fire, and sat out under the myriad of stars until 10.20.
Tuesday 22nd August Enjoying Lake Huron 27 miles
The good thing about our travelling, is that each day is different – one day 327 miles, the next just 27!
It was a beautiful day, so we enjoyed breakfast outside. The swimming was a ‘no-go’, as the rocks were slippery and slimy, and the water was shallow, with large underwater rocks, but I did do a few strokes.
It was midday when we left the park and headed for Goderich.
We pulled in by a little park area, and ate our lunch on a seat above Lake Huron, which looked beautiful with the blue sky and deep blue water. We saw that a path went down to the shore, so we followed it. There was a beach area of white stones, and a large port just beyond. We made our way up by another path and found our way back along the road to the Bam. The centre of Goderich is a circular road and the other roads radiate from it.
We drove a few miles south to Bayfield, which had a nice central green, and lots of crafty, touristy shops. Also, it was just above a lovely sandy beach. We climbed down to it, and had a swim in the milky blue water. It was pebbly underfoot, and the water was shallow, but it was nice to have swum in Lake Huron.
There were ‘no camping’ signs here, but other little roads led down to the lake, so we drove down one and stopped right above the water at 5 o’clock.
We sat out in the hot sunshine and had a cup of tea and donut/walnut tart (Adrian voted his donut better than the one from Tim Hortons!)
Nice spot above Lake Huron
It was a beautiful spot, and we watched until the sun went down over the lake, eating our meal outside. An elderly man had hobbled down with his canvas seat and had sat nearby and read a book, but didn’t speak to us.
As the sun goes down
After the sun had gone down, with all the glorious colours, we climbed down to the beach and walked along, coming up by a different path.
One of our anniversary balloons had popped, with an almighty explosion, which made us both jump.
Wednesday 23rd August Goodbye Canada, hello USA again – into Michigan 195 miles
Quite a day! We left at 7.15 on a lovely morning – we had seen the pink glow over the lake as we awoke. We stopped to have breakfast a bit further on, near the lake. Afterwards we walked down to a sandy beach, which was deserted, and still quite cool before the sun reached it.
We set off again at 8.30, stopping at Grand Bend to get enough fuel to get us out of Canada. Once more they wouldn’t accept Adrian’s card, so he had to come back and find cash.
We had intended visiting Kettle Point, which had strange spherical geological formations which we would like to have seen. The signposting was so abysmal though, that we didn’t get there.
We were driving south through flat, agricultural land, but with names like Oil City and Petrolia suggesting something else. In fact, Oil Springs had the first oil well in North America in 1863.
We were heading for Dresden, and the reason was the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin historical site’. This had been the home of Josiah Henson, the black man who Harriet Beecher Stowe had based the fictional character of Uncle Tom on.
Having visited Hartland, Connecticut, H.B Stowe’s home, last year, and having been very influenced by the book of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a child, we had to come here.
We went into the museum at 10.30. The price was reduced, as a tour group was coming, and we wouldn’t be able to see the video. There were restored buildings including the home that Josiah Henson lived in during his later life. A small museum had displays which gave an insight into the wicked and horrendous treatment of black slaves. Josiah Henson had been instrumental in providing refugees from slavery with education and skills to make them self sufficient. An inspirational man – another Mandela perhaps.
Josiah Henson (uncle Tom) and his wife
Now we headed for Windsor, back on Route 401. We noticed lots of car transporters heading to and from Windsor/Detroit. There seemed to be more full ones travelling to Windsor than from it. Windsor is on the Ontario side of the Detroit River, and is said to be the only Canadian town south of USA, Detroit being north of Windsor.
We went through long sections of roadworks, and there were hold ups as we neared the bridge. At least this gave us a chance to see some of the fine buildings in Windsor, and to appreciate the Detroit skyline.
We crossed the bridge, so it was goodbye to Canada for a while. We had really enjoyed our two months in the eastern provinces.
We had a rude awakening coming into USA, with an abrupt and unattractively oversized customs official (who, after all the questions, waved us on when I said that I had been a teacher) and an equally uninspiring lady at the toll booth!
We manoeuvred the busy motorway system to find our way to Walmart at Taylor, where we hoped to stay tonight. All was well here, so we found our way back to Dearborn, where we wanted to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. This had been set up by Henry Ford in 1929, with homes and buildings which he wanted in his ‘village’.
I had known of this place for a long time, after Auntie Nancy had visited it when her daughter Margaret Massialas was living at nearby Ann Arbour in the eighties. Auntie Nancy had given me the brochure about it, and said what an interesting and educational place it was.
We had understood that you could get a ‘2 day ticket’, like we have had at other large museums. Having located the area, our first mistake was arriving at the ‘Automobile hall of fame’. We went to pay, when I realised that this wasn’t the right place! We walked out, and located the ‘Village’ just a bit further on.
Then we found that tickets for 2 days were far more expensive than for one day, rendering it silly to visit today. We wandered around a bit, then went back to make sure about the tickets – that one ‘dual price’ enabled you to visit both the village and the museum on the same day. Having done this, and feeling a bit annoyed that we had come here today for no good reason, ‘Joanie’ came to our rescue. She saw us come from the ticket office, and said ‘Do you want to go in? I am a member, come with me’. We chatted a bit as we made our way to the entrance, and we both walked through the gate with her. There was about ¾ hour until closing time, so we set about enjoying ourselves for that time, with the intention of coming back tomorrow to see the rest. We thanked Joanie profusely, and she went on her way.
It was lovely at this time of day, as most of the visitors had left. We were able to wander around Henry Ford’s childhood home, his first production line factory, the home and bicycle shop of the Wright brothers (of special interest to us, as we were at Kittihawk last year) and other old buildings which Henry Ford had wanted rebuilt here. We sat and watched as Gog and Magog struck 5 o’clock, then made our way to leave.
Henry Ford’s first car and his 15 millionth Model ‘T’
The Wright brother’s cycle shop
On our way back, we stopped at ‘Kroger’ to stock up with food and wine. We had lived on our resources for the last few days, not wanting to hand anything in at customs. The man at the fish/meat counter recognised an English accent – he had come out from Manchester when he was 10 years old. At the checkout, we were dealt with by efficient Tracy, but the packer, a lad of simple intelligence called Larry, asked where we were from, as he recognised a different accent. He had packed each wine bottle carefully and slowly in 2 plastic bags. Normally I would have been annoyed at this, but we were in desperate need of bags, so I was pleased, and thanked him.
On our way back we also stopped to get some (cheaper than Canada) fuel, some spirits (liquor!), and next door to that, some propane. Strangely, people here had great difficulty in understanding Adrian when he asked for things, but people seemed to like our accents. It was 7 o’clock when we arrived back at Wal-Mart. It was still very warm, and it had been quite a day, so it was lovely to settle down to the sushi meal we had bought in Kroger, from an oriental chef, and a feta salad that I had made.
Thursday 24th August Henry Ford Museum and Greenwich Village 69 miles
We hadn’t realised that the railway ran right next to us, so we were disturbed once or twice in the night. We were also disturbed by rain, which didn’t augur well for our visit to the Henry Ford museum and Greenwich Village today. In fact we did brilliantly, and had a thoroughly enjoyable day.
The morning was greyish as we set off. We arrived at the museum at 9.20 and got organised for our day of visiting. As it was still overcast, and the chap at the ticket office said that it was supposed to clear up in the afternoon, we decided to visit the museum this morning. When rain fell at lunchtime, we wondered at this decision, but it turned out to be the right one.
So – we spent the morning in Henry Ford’s museum, which he set up in 1929, with the idea of commemorating the inventive spirit.
The museum was immense, and we lost each other after a few minutes! It covered cars, campers (which we particularly liked), trains, planes, homes, liberation, and very much more. We saw the car in which Kennedy had been shot, and Henry Ford’s first automobile, and much else besides.
Adrian by ‘Kennedy’s car’
The aforementioned rain meant that we spent a little longer here than originally intended, but then we returned to the Bam for lunch, before going back to Greenwich Village for the afternoon. We were so grateful to Joanie, who had given us that extra time yesterday, as there was so much to see!
The afternoon was very hot and sultry, but we had a really good time. We visited many houses, most of which had displays, or guides who were keen to chat. We learnt that Heinz was the son of German immigrants, and that his first product was horseradish. The ‘Heinz 57’ logo dated from the 1890’s!
Ford had worked for Edison, who he greatly admired (we had visited their adjacent winter homes in Fort Myers, Florida, last year.)
The incongruous looking building we saw was a Cotswold cottage, which had a lovely cottage garden, but we didn’t find out why Ford had wanted to have it here.
Adrian in the garden of the Cotswold cottage
In the recently constructed train roundhouse, we were able to walk right underneath the train engine, something I have never done before.
All in all, a brilliant visit.
We returned to the Bam and left at 5 o’clock to head off towards Ann Arbor. We negotiated both the traffic and the road system, and had a drive around Ann Arbor, where Margaret Massialas had lived and worked for some years. Our impression of this University town was of much greenness, a very modern centre and some lovely houses, both brick and wooden.
We found the motorway south to Dundee, where there was a large store called Cabelas, where RV’s could park for the night.
Friday 25th August Travelling on through Ohio and Indiana 313 miles
We awoke at 1.00 am to what I thought was sudden torrential downpours, but turned out to be the grass watering system coming on!
The morning was misty, but it became increasingly warm and humid. There was a town about 20 miles away called ‘Adrian’, so we had to make our way there, following minor roads which had no signposting, but we did manage to find our way.
It was quite a large town, with some nice houses in the centre. I took a photo of Adrian by a sign of his name.
Adrian in Adrian, Michigan
Then it was on south into Ohio, through flat, agricultural country with sweetcorn growing on one side of the road, and beans on the other.
We had lunch at a picnic table at a place called Cecil before continuing into Indiana, where the scenery was much the same. We amused ourselves by listening to our recordings of our trip to Alaska 2002.
We drove on motorways round Fort Wayne, and on to Indianapolis. We negotiated driving right through the centre of this vast city, on the motorway, and were relieved to emerge at the other side, where we soon turned off to a quieter, ‘pretty’ route 40.
We stopped for fuel at Belleville, but there were no stopping places on this road, so at 5 o’clock, it was Walmart once again, at a place called Brazil.
It felt really hot and humid. After supper, we tried to walk out, but there was nowhere to walk to, so we just wandered around the vast carpark.
We came back in, and were surprised to hear loud voices outside. We soon realised that it was a couple of chaps coming to ‘preach’ and witness their Christian beliefs – the first time we’ve heard THAT in a Walmart car park. We don’t know if they had any converts, as there were very few people around.
We looked out and watched as all the Walmart workers left when it closed at 10 o’clock, and we were left alone.
Saturday 26th August From corn and beans to hills and trees 225 miles
There was a loud and dreadful noise at about 4.00 am but we didn’t discover what it was. It was too noisy for a carpark sweeper, so we remained puzzled.
It was still dark at 7 o’clock, but today we change time again by one hour. It was still very warm and humid. The morning started grey, and fluctuated between occasional showers and some sun, but turned out incredibly hot.
We drove on through Brazil, which looked like one of the Midwest Route 66 towns. In fact we were following ‘historic route 40’
We stopped to have breakfast at Twigg Rest Park, which was at the end of a trail for dog walkers and cyclists, and many came while we were there.
We drove right through the University town of Terre Haute, which had a nice old centre, and then we were in Illinois, and driving down the I70 towards St Louis.
It was still sweetcorn on one side of the road, and beans on the other. We turned off to drive through Vandalia, which had been state capital from 1819-1839, and had a grand courthouse.
We had lunch sitting at a shaded picnic table at Silver Lake rest area just before St Louis – by now it was really hot.
We drove right around St Louis, which we had visited in 2002, on the motorway, but we did catch a glimpse of Gateway Arch.
We crossed the Mississippi, so now we were in Missouri. We turned south on route 21, and soon went through forested, hilly country, sometimes with vertical cliff sides where the road went through.
We turned off to view Sandy Creek covered bridge, and not long afterwards stopped at Washington State Park. We knew that we needed to be somewhere where we could get outside tonight, because of the heat. Cooler weather is much easier for free camping!
We drove for miles through the forested park, until we found the camping area. It seemed pleasant enough, so we drove back some miles to the place where it told you to book in. The silly young girl there, however, said that we had to have marked a site first, so wouldn’t book us in! Stupid! Usually you are told not to set up camp until you’ve registered.
Nearby was the river, where lots of people were enjoying the water on Saturday afternoon. There was a swimming pool (paying) elsewhere in the park, but we resorted to the river, which was beautifully refreshing. Although quite shallow, and muddy, there was a current which we could float down. I used my water shoes for the first time.
Back at the campsite, it was so hot and humid (still 90°F) that, although we had bought some wood, we couldn’t even think of lighting a fire.
We did cook outside, using the little outdoor stove.
Too hot for a fire, Washington State Park, Missouri
We also put out the awning, which hadn’t had an airing this time. The camp hosts came along to collect the money while we were eating our meal. They were from Florida, and were far more fun than the young girl in the office.
Sunday 27th August Getting nowhere far in stormy weather 51 miles
At 5.30 am, a storm started crashing and banging, so Adrian went out to bring in the stove and lamp. The rain didn’t come to anything then – it stored it up for later!
We enjoyed pancakes for breakfast, which we cooked and ate outside in our lovely situation. We left at 9 o’clock, continuing south on route 21. The side roads here often have letters not names, like ‘C’ or ‘MM’, which is different.
We stopped to have coffee and share a delicious donut at Caledonia – population 158, and looking like a film set for an old movie. The temperature was 85°F.
Soon afterwards we pulled into Elephant Rocks State Park. It is nice that state parks in Missouri are free. At this one, there was a mile long trail around the huge granite rocks. Although the sky looked threatening, and it was very humid, we set off on the trail, which was really pleasant.
Elephant Rocks State Park
We have seen similar rocks in other parts of the world, but they always look attractive. These were a dark pinky colour, and were often covered in light green lichen. We had just climbed up to the summit of the rocks, and were enjoying the view, when huge drops of rain began to fall. Nothing much happened for a while, and we were almost back before the torrential stair rods started! Many people had come for their Sunday picnic, but we were just able to get into the Bam and drive on.
It was now midday. We soon came to Pilot Knob, site of a Civil War battle. We pulled in here, and with an internet connection were able to phone Paul and wish him Happy Birthday. Emma and the children were also there, and they were about to have a barbecue supper. I spoke briefly to Ruby. When I said that we were just going to have our lunch, Ruby’s reply was ’You have your lunch late’!
We also rang Simon, who told us that Tom was in London for the weekend for the Notting Hill Carnival, but we got no reply when we tried phoning him. It was still very stormy. We had lunch, and had a quick walk around the civil war site and didn’t leave until 2.45.
Suddenly the rain became torrential, so we pulled into a rest area at 3 o’clock – one that I had thought that we might have stopped at for coffee this morning! As the rain and thunder continued, and visibility was terrible, we stayed for an hour.
We set off again, and a few minutes later came to a parking area for the Ozark Walking Trail at Claybaugh Creek. As the weather didn’t look like improving, we settled in here, hoping that we would overcome the problem of the extreme heat and the rain, which means that we can’t ventilate the van by opening the windows and door.
Adrian to the rescue – after a while, he pulled out the ‘used only yesterday’ awning, and we found that it was really pleasant sitting outside, despite the rain. We cooked a meal outside, and sat underneath the awning to eat it, hidden away in our little outside hideaway – blow the weather!
Monday 28th August Winding on through the Ozarks 255 miles
We left at 7 o’clock on a misty morning, hoping to stop soon for breakfast. In fact it was an hour before we found anywhere to pull off! We had already driven almost as far as yesterday’s total! Being out early, we did see a bit of wildlife – Adrian swerved twice to avoid tiny tortoises crossing the road, and had to brake for a wild turkey. Also today, we came across several dogs (separately) wandering on the road.
The road was going right around Taum Sauk, the highest point in Missouri, but visibility wasn’t very good. Although it was damp, we sat outside to have breakfast, and left again at 9 o’clock.
We entered Arkansas at Mammoth Springs, which had a delightful ‘Heritage Mall’ of old shops.
We stopped again at 12.45 at Salem for lunch. This was on the South Fork of the Spring River, and was an area made for fishermen. There were no picnic tables, so we put out our own, and had a nice view of the river. We saw a lot of butterflies, mostly large dark ones, edged with blue and yellow.
Lunch by Spring River, Arkansas
We crossed the impressive White River, at Calico Springs which had steep limestone cliffs a bit like the Dordogne.
We drove on through the attractive Ozark National Forest to the yellow limestone town of Mountain View, which dubs itself the ‘Folk Music Capital of the World’, but nothing was happening on a Monday. We stopped to get some fuel, and the pump attendant asked Adrian where he came from in Texas. When Adrian said ‘we are from England’ the chap said ‘England,Texas, where’s that?’
As we left to ascend into the hills, a sign said ‘Crooked and steep road for 17 miles’ (and then another 9 miles). At this point, the heavens opened, and we had a stair rod downpour for the next little while, but then the skies cleared again, and by the time we reached Clinton, it didn’t appear to have rained at all.
We turned off at Choctaw to Greers Ferry Lake , where there was a Corps of Engineers campsite. It was now 5 o’clock. We drove around the almost empty site (schools seem to have gone back today – we had our pet hate of having to wait behind school buses as they loaded or unloaded) and selected a pitch overlooking the lake. We made our way to the beach area (looking very much like our first stop on last summer’s trip), and had a lovely refreshing swim.
By 6 o’clock, we were at our pitch, and Adrian was collecting up wood for a fire. It wasn’t as hot as 2 nights ago, but still too hot to sit by the fire. We cooked our meal on the fire, and sat at the large stone picnic table to eat it.
Behind us was a forest of tall pine trees, and below us the lake. It was beautifully quiet, as we sat out until 8.30
Tuesday 29th August More lakes and swimming 175 miles
We enjoyed the early stillness and coolness. We both had a really lovely swim in the warm water of the lake. We now drove south to Morrilton, noticing a lot of pretty shrubs with bougainvillea coloured flowers.
We managed to find our way out of the town, and had a late lunch sitting above the Arkansas River, on the supports of the old bridge. It was 3 o’clock when we left here to drive on through the Ouchita National Forest, crossing our route of January last year at Mt Ida.
It was ironic that we saw many places today where we could have pulled off for the night, but we had settled on going into a campsite again, because of the heat. Even more ironic, when we finally did get to the campsite, it was both cooler and less humid than previous days, so having electricity for air conditioning wasn’t so essential.
We arrived at Kirby Landing Recreation Area on Lake Greeson just before 6 o’clock, settling on a pitch near the swimming beach.
The water was so warm in the lake, that we both had a pleasant swim, but then decided to drive back to another pitch we had liked, on the far side of the park. By now, the sun had left this spot, but we had a lovely, peaceful view down over the lake, so once more Adrian collected up some wood and got the fire going.
It was lovely sitting in this beautiful, quiet situation overlooking the lake to eat our meal. We were somewhat taken aback when a vehicle came by, and the ranger got out and told us that there was a fire ban, and would we put out the fire! He drove off, so we sat a little longer before putting it out, looking up at the star filled sky before coming in.
Wednesday 30th August We reach Texas 165 miles
The lake looked lovely in the early morning mist. The night had been cooler than others lately, and the morning was pleasantly cool and very still. We enjoyed breakfast outside.
Lake Greeson with early morning mist
We were amused to read through the regulations, and find that ‘Pike County is a dry county, and no alcohol must be sold’. It went on to say that alcohol could be consumed in private, but county regulations must be adhered to. There were numerous other strange regulations on the leaflet, which we hadn’t taken in last night.
We had a swim in the lake just below us – it was muddy getting in, but beautifully warm.
It was 10.30 when we left and headed for De Queen. We were overtaking a tractor, which was wandering rather, and couldn’t have given him enough clearance. With a loud bang, we lost the right wing mirror complete – the whole fixture snapped off. We pulled in, and so did the driver – a huge young chap called Dan. He walked back with me to where the wing mirror was lying on the verge, then with a wave, off he drove! Well, it could have been worse. It was both sobering and inconvenient, as Adrian needs the wing mirror when driving in traffic. Lucky that we have only 2 days left.
We were aware of the Mexican population as we drove around De Queen. Many of them were just going into work at a chicken packing factory.
Now we were into the flat plains as we neared Texas. We crossed the Red River to New Boston and then followed the I30, turning off at Mt Pleasant, where we found a rather useless shop and bought some prawns for tonight, but we couldn’t get any wine. We asked the cashier, and he told us of a place 6 or 7 miles down the road at Winfield! Is this another dry county? We made our way there, and sure enough, on the opposite side of the motorway to Winfield was a liquor store and a petrol station (which also sold liquor). This seemed to be all there was of the‘Town of Millers Cove’, apart from a speedway track, that is! Adrian bought a bottle of wine (which he could have got days ago, but he was hoping for something better). We also got fuel.
We were deliberating what to do – it was a lovely day, but not so hot that we had to go into a campsite. After much procrastinating, we started following a route back to Lake Bob Sandlin State Park. We were feeling very half hearted about this, especially when we discovered that there was a fire ban here too, so no fires. We had really changed our mind, but then we came across the park, so decided to have a look. It appeared that the boat ramp was closed too as the lake was low. At least that meant that there wouldn’t be many people there.
We drove around the vast site and finally found an open site where the sun was still shining. We had to drive the long way back to register, and having done that drove on to the swimming area, where we both had a warm, but again muddy swim in the lake.
Back at our pitch, Adrian assessed the damage to the wing mirror.
We lit the little barbie, and had a lovely evening sitting out in the quiet, with just the moon and stars above. Two raccoons came to visit, reminding us of the chudditches in Oz.
Thursday 31st August To Dallas 140 miles
It was a beautiful morning – like a damp but sunny September morn.
We had one more mishap, when the bed broke as Adrian sat on it, so he had to spend time taking it apart to see how it might be mended.
We had breakfast outside, leaving at 9.15. We saw some deer run off as we drove out of the park.
We set off, driving on a long bridge over the reservoir, but when we finally reached a junction, we found that we had gone the wrong way! Still it was a pleasant route, before we joined the I30 towards Dallas and reached the busy and hellish motorway system. It was nightmarish both for Adrian driving without one wing mirror, and for me as passenger, but we survived until the motorway north from the ring road motorway, where there were road works, and traffic was at a standstill. We managed to find another route north, but when we finally reached the road where Adrian had marked the RV Park, it was an industrial estate! Our hearts fell, as we thought that maybe the RV Park had been built upon, but with more investigations, we found that the road we wanted was a bit further on. We found the RV Park, and when we saw the row upon row of RVs, we wondered if there would be room for us. Much as I detest RV Parks like this, I couldn’t face anymore frenzied driving, even if we could find another campsite!
Our luck was in – we were given a pitch – about as dreadful as could be imagined – squashed in between 2 RVs, with not enough room to put out an awning even! Why do people want to stay in parks like this? For us it is a last night necessity only!
We turned on the air conditioning and had lunch inside – it was too hot outside, and nowhere to sit – before we got on with the tasks of getting ready to leave in the morning.
The saving grace was a pleasant swimming pool, which we both indulged in, between getting all the washing done, the Bam sorted and the packing done.
We had noticed that our receipt said that there was a reduction for Seniors (over 60), so we went back to the office. The woman said that we should have told her when we arrived (How were we to know that there was a reduction?), but she did give us our reduction, as we were visitors.
Friday 1st September Dallas to Calgary – if you don’t like it, don’t travel! 16 miles
We were already awake when the alarm went at 6 o’clock. It was hot as we left the RV Park and found a non-motorway route to the storage place at Colleyville. We arrived at 8.30, knowing that it didn’t open until 9 o’clock, but we hadn’t much spare time to get to the airport for our flight to Calgary.
We got the van all sorted, but as is so often the case, when we haven’t much spare time, the taxi was late coming. The driver, originally from Egypt, recognised us from a previous trip a couple of years ago!
We had quite a long wait to book in, so time was getting short, but as we went through security was when the trouble began. Being away from ‘civilisation’ for 3 months, we weren’t aware of the implications of the recent ‘liquid bombs’. Consequently, we both had bottles of drinking water, and I had a few ‘liquid’ toiletry items in our hand luggage.
I was told that I could take my bag back to be checked in, but it contained some things which I wanted for the flight. We weren’t allowed to do anything there, so I had to return to the booking hall, where I sorted my bag, and clutching the few ‘take on’ items, went to check it in.
With all the waiting around, when they tried to check in the bag, it was too late for a label to be issued. I was by now getting frantic, knowing that Adrian was on the other side of security, wondering where I was!
By the time I had been cleared, and had gone through security once more, I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Adrian dashed us over to have our fingerprints and photo taken so that we could keep our visas, before we rushed to our departure lounge. The officials then tried to remove our ‘multi entry’ visa from our passports, although we knew that we needed them, as our flight back to London is via Houston!
Eventually, we arrived at the departure gate as our plane was boarding. We thought, as we so often have, of Uncle Ali’s words ‘if you don’t like it, don’t travel’!
As the stewardess greeted Adrian with ‘and how are you today’, he said ‘terrible’! – she seemed taken aback! I just asked for a glass of water!
After that, the flight was trouble free, although the descent was unpleasant. We were sitting next to a very nice gentleman from Raleigh, NC, who was going to help his brother build a garage in Calgary. He had the bluest eyes I have ever seen. I finished reading Anne of Green Gables, which I had really enjoyed.
We had wondered about the safe arrival of my ‘late booked in’ travel bag, especially as on our last 2 flights, our luggage hasn’t arrived, but it was first off the carousel!
We sailed through to arrivals, where we were thrilled to see Simon and Manolo - 9 months old today, and greatly grown up since we last saw him 4 months ago.
We had had a wonderful trip, and set about enjoying the next few days with Simon, Laure and Manolo, before we return home on the 12th September.
Total Mileage - 10437 miles Stayed on 18 sites and 68 nights Boondocking (free)