I was sick Sunday and yesterday, alas, but on Saturday my friend Judy drove me to Westport, where we ate fish and chips and we went to the Maritime museum where I got to see their magnificent first order Fresnel lens before I went back to her van and took a nap, while she toured the rest of the museum (I’d been there several times before and I was pretty tired after the 2-hour drive), then went out to the promenade where I actually walked all the way to the first bench, which has a wonderful view of the ocean.
Then I slept most of the way back, but that’s okay.
Here’s the usual photographic proof! I have a video I want to post as part of this as soon as I figure out how to crop video, too.
And the next morning, Judy and I started the process that will end with her taking over the distribution of my books and the upkeep of my website when I’m gone. So my legacy will live on without me. This makes me so happy.
This afternoon, since it wasn’t raining for a change, I decided to go down to my new neighborhood and explore around. Before I left, I checked the city of Lacey’s website to see if I could find any interesting trails close to my new place. I found what I thought were two, marked them on my map, and headed out.
The first one was something of a bust. I found the park all right, and I found what I thought was the beginning of a purported mile and a half trail that was supposed to lead from this park to views of the Sound, but the trail itself petered out pretty fast, and I couldn’t find anything else that looked like a trailhead.
So I headed on to the other possibility, which was actually only two miles from my new place. Woodland Creek Park has a nice little lake, a senior center, a community center, a disc golf course, and playgrounds and picnic shelters, and is located at one end of a six-mile rails to trails path that leads from Lacey to Olympia. Not only that, but the trailhead was easy to find.
First, I walked over by the lake (the trail doesn’t go all the way around it, alas), where I saw a flock of Canada geese bedded down on the grass. Then I took the paved path leading to the long trail, which T’d into it. I could go either left or right, and I’m not sure why I went left when I knew the main trail went right, but I’m glad I did.
It was peaceful and quiet out there. You always know you’re home when you’re on a first name basis with most of the plants you see. Or at least I am. The pavement gave out soon, and there was a sign saying that this part of the trail was not developed yet. The path was still smooth and lined with the gravel and pebbles leftover from where they’d pulled the railroad tracks out. Eventually I reached a small bridge over a stream, with some rather unfortunate graffiti (edited out of my photo because I found it offensive), and, on the other side of the bridge I could still see the old rusted railroad tracks.
That’s where I turned around. It was probably a bit under a mile one way. I managed to get back just in time not to get rained on, which was a good thing. Next time I come here I’ll have to walk the other way and see what I can discover. All in all a very good day.
I’m glad to have a good trail like that near my new home. And a pretty little park, too.
I found the World’s Biggest Bison this morning before I left Jamestown. It is a big bison, I’ll give it credit, but I saw the skull of an extinct bison this afternoon that I bet was bigger than that.
This was at the North Dakota Heritage Center, which is another name for state history museum [g]. After driving the hundred miles, give or take, to Bismarck, North Dakota, the cute little state capitol, population a bit over 67,000, so it’s actually bigger than Olympia, my state capitol, which is just under 50,000. The difference, of course, is that Bismarck is the second largest city in North Dakota, and Olympia – isn’t.
Anyway, I think I lost control of my sentence there, and I’m not going to fix it. I’m just going to say that after lunch I spent over two hours at the museum, which was just renovated completely a couple of years ago, and the shiny new is wonderful. There’s a whole huge room on the pre-man history, dinosaurs and glaciers and all, and a whole huge room on the dozen or so tribes of Native Americans, with these neat audios of people speaking in their own languages, and a huge room on the history since the Europeans showed up. Which they did way earlier than I thought – a French explorer made it to what’s now North Dakota in the 1730s, although the story really didn’t pick up till Lewis and Clark in the first decade of the 1800s, and after that didn’t get real steam till after the Civil War.
Interesting stuff, though. Lots of stuff about homesteading and the railroads, among other things, and populism and farmers vs. the big city and so forth.
After I finally dragged myself out of there, I drove past the strangest-looking state capitol I’ve ever seen. It looks like a condo building from LA or something, and its nickname is the Skyscraper of the Plains (it’s by far the tallest building in Bismarck, I’ll give it credit for that). Then I drove seven miles south of the town of Mandan (sort of Moorhead to Bismarck’s Fargo, except Mandan’s on the west side of the river) to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
Fort Lincoln was George Armstrong Custer’s last post before he headed off to the Little Bighorn and got himself and a bunch of his troops killed. It’s where his wife was when she found out he was dead, too. They’ve reconstructed his house there, but really, the most interesting part of Fort Lincoln State Park is the partial reconstruction of a 500-year-old Mandan Indian village. Five round houses (as opposed to tipis) on a slope near the Missouri River, two of which have exhibits inside them. The village was abandoned in the 17th century after the first of a number of smallpox epidemics basically wiped out 4/5ths of the population.
The houses are made of the same log and sod construction that the early pioneers built their houses from. Only the shape is different.
Oh, and there’s a wonderful, built-in-the-30s-by-the-CCC visitor center, too, with good exhibits.
By that point it was getting late, and I needed to find a place to sleep and hit a grocery store. I thought about camping at Fort Lincoln, but I hadn’t gone to the grocery store first, and it was awfully windy out there, too.
Maybe tomorrow night at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. If I get that far. I’m going about thirty miles north of here to Fort Mandan and the Knife River Indian Village National Historic Site first, because that’s where Lewis and Clark spent their first winter on the road (so to speak) and I’m curious.
This morning I left Christine’s, after a wonderful four days of visiting and sightseeing, (and a chance to catch up with practical stuff before heading on, which was also much appreciated). Thank you for a great time, all four Forbers. I hope that you, like the other folks who have been so hospitable towards me on this trip, get a chance to come out to Washington so I can show you around!
There are two ways to get to the top of the Great Lakes in order to continue west. Well, the third one is to duck down into the U.S., which would have been going through territory I covered pretty well on my last Long Trip, so that wasn’t going to happen. First, you can drive due north and go around the east side of Georgian Bay on Lake Huron, or second, you can drive northwest to and up the Bruce Peninsula to the very tip, then take a ferry ride across the mouth of Georgian Bay (a bay that’s probably half the size of Lake Huron proper) to Manitoulin Island, from which there’s a bridge to the north shore of the lake. Having decided to do the latter several days ago, I’d gone online to make reservations for the ferry. They’re for Wednesday afternoon (today’s Monday) to give me plenty of time to explore on the way.
So I drove northwest across southern Ontario, and wound up in the town of Owen Sound, on the southern shore of Huron, at lunchtime. I like Owen Sound. Yes, there’s a body of water called Owen Sound, too, but it’s not very big. The town itself is small, used to be much bigger, and, according to the local historical museum (which was great fun), was once a hotbed of vice and iniquity [g]. Bootlegging and counterfeiting and prostitution, among other things. The museum also has a couple of nifty outdoor exhibits, and is right along a very pretty waterfront walking trail.
I decided, after I left Owen Sound, to drive north along the lakeshore rather than take the direct highway to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. This turned out to be a good idea, as there were quite a few water views, and the inland part was pretty, too. The drive met back up with the highway about halfway up the peninsula, and I drove on to the Bruce Peninsula and Full Fathom Five National Parks (they appear to be joint the way Sequoia and Kings Canyon Parks in California are). The Bruce Peninsula sort of reminds me of Cape Cod, only without all the crowds, which was really nice, and the national park has a terrific (and reasonably priced, for once) campground. I’m settled in for the evening, knowing that I have all day tomorrow to explore the parks before I catch the ferry on Wednesday.
September 2nd was a more or less catching up with life day, thank you so much, Christine and family. In the morning we went to one of the best needlework stores I’ve been in for a very long time, and I bought more patterns than I probably should have. I would give my eyeteeth to have a needlework store like that near me. In the afternoon I went and got my hair cut (third time on the trip, and the lady who cut it, bless her heart, fixed the disaster the lady in Quakertown, Pennsylvania created a month ago), and went to a quilt shop Christine had told me about, where I bought some completely unnecessary but adorable quintessentially Canadian fabric. And then they took me out to dinner at a very tasty Italian restaurant (well, the food was delicious, and the service was good – I didn’t try to eat the restaurant [g]).
Yesterday we got up at the crack of dawn to deliver Christine’s oldest son, Colin, to a boathouse down near Niagara for a regatta, then she and I went down to Niagara Falls. One wonderful side effect is that we arrived at the falls at about eight in the morning, before all of the crowds arrived. The first thing we did was do a tour called Journey Behind the Falls, which was exactly what’s on the label. We donned those funky plastic raincoaty/poncho things that keep everything dry except your head (yes, there’s a hood, no, it doesn’t stay up), your arms, and below your knees, and took an elevator down to tunnels that lead to the underside of the Horseshoe (Canadian side) of the falls. Thunderous is the word I’m looking for, I think. A solid wall of water pounding down just feet in front of your face, vibrating up through your feet and in through your skin and everywhere else. I had done the Hurricane Deck on the American side on my last Long Trip 17 years ago, but this was something else entirely.
After that we walked along the promenade (I think it’s got another name, but anyway) for a ways up above the falls to the rapids, and down below the falls to where we could see the American Falls, which apparently only account for 10% of the water (according to at least two sources). The rest of it goes over the Canadian Falls, which explains why the view is so much more impressive on the Canadian side!
By the time we finished at the falls, the crowds were getting thick, and we had other places we wanted to go. We drove downstream towards Lake Ontario (the Niagara River flows north, which confused me no end), and stopped at the southern terminus of the Bruce Trail, which runs along the entire length of the Niagara escarpment (I’ll be passing by the northern terminus in a couple of days). Then we went to the Printery, which is all about the history of newspapers in Canada, among other things, and I got to operate a printing press, which was fun.
Then there was Fort George. Fort George was all about the War of 1812, and played havoc with my so-called knowledge of North American history again. Plus we got to talk with some fascinating docents, see a scene from a play associated with the fort, and learn about the lot of a British soldier’s wife. Only 6% of them were allowed to travel with their husbands (chosen by lottery), and since the soldiers were conscripted for either 7 or 21 years all over the world, with no contact during that time, the wives left behind were considered to be divorced once the men were gone. Legally, from what I gathered. Talk about a hard choice.
We were about walked out at that point, and Christine’s parents live nearby, so she called and asked if we could come over for a cup of tea. That turned into a really pleasant couple of hours’ chat plus dinner [g]. Thank you so much, Christine’s parents!
And then we went back to the falls to see the lights. That’s a spectacle and a half. Crowded as all heck, but what they do, once it gets dark, is play spotlights all over the falls in rainbow (and patriotic) colors. Staying that late to see them is not something I’d have done on my own (I don’t like driving in strange places late at night, and we didn’t get back to the house until almost midnight), but I am so glad I got to see that. It was beautiful.
I woke up to a world that didn’t look like it rained a single drop yesterday. Not a cloud in the sky (for the morning at least – it did cloud up and shower just a bit this afternoon and started coming down good again about bedtime) and Goldilocks temperatures (not too hot, not too chilly).
I drove north on Trans-Canada Hwy. 2 until I saw a sign that said Grand Falls. That sounded interesting, so I got off the freeway (basically Canada’s answer to the Interstate) and drove down into a cute little town with an enormous waterfall right in the middle of it. A sign nearby said that during the spring freshet, the waterfall has 9/10ths of the volume of Niagara. Of course it’s late August now, but it’s still pretty darned impressive.
My next stop was for lunch in the town of Edmundston, then a few miles almost to the Quebec line, where I saw a sign that said Jardin Botanique. Well, even I can translate that! The New Brunswick Botanic Garden, complete with butterfly house, was charming. Absolutely charming. The late summer flowers were in full bloom, the grounds were beautiful, and it was just the right size to while away a couple of hours on a perfectly sunny afternoon.
I had an interesting conversation with a gardener in the potager (kitchen garden) section of the place, my first real attempt at a conversation with someone whose English wasn’t much better than my all but non-existent French (northern New Brunswick isn’t quite as Francophone as Quebec, but almost). Anyway, I asked her what those berries in the photo were, and she told me they were related to blueberries, but needed to be cooked with a lot of sugar so they wouldn’t be disgusting (her word) [g].
There were some rather odd sculptures, apparently a temporary exhibit, and a stonehenge, my second one of the trip (the first one was back in Washington state at Maryhill). And just a lot of lovely scenery.
I crossed over into Quebec right after I left the garden, and all of a sudden everything was monolingual – in a language I don’t speak! I’ve never been to a place where my native language isn’t the primary language before, let alone driven there. It’s a good thing I had a couple of weeks worth of bilingual road signs before I arrived here, because at least I recognize most of the common road words (sortie for exit, convergez for merge, directions, that sort of thing). Anyway, buying gas (about 10 cents more a liter in Quebec than in the Maritimes) and getting a campsite were interesting exercises, too. The campsite is right on the water, and very lovely.
I decided planning was the better part of valor, so I have reservations in Quebec City’s hostel for three nights starting tomorrow. That has me leaving QC on Saturday, Christine, Elizabeth and Marna, so it looks like I actually won’t get to Ottawa until at least Monday, and Mississauga after that, depending on whether I actually spend time in Montreal or not. I hope that works out for everyone!
Last night, Irene and I walked around her neighborhood, which has houses built over 200 years ago. That was fun, if a bit hot and sweaty, and dark by the time we got back. We also ate Thai food for supper, which was another first for me. I’d always thought Thai food had to be really hot and spicy, so I’d always avoided it. Turns out I was wrong. I had pad thai with shrimp and lots of bean sprouts, and it was quite delicious.
This morning I was looking at my map and noticed a state park named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt that was only about thirty miles away, so I decided to go check it out. Irene tells me that it’s only a ten minute walk to the train station and a two-hour ride to go into New York City, but NYC intimidates the heck out of me. Someday I’ll fly into JFK and actually stay in the city somewhere, but for now, no. By the time I got there I’d only have four hours or so to do stuff before I’d have to turn around and come back.
Anyway, so it turns out because the roads are so twisty and turny and go through so many little 30 mph towns, thirty miles took about an hour. And when I got there, it turned out that it wasn’t a historic park at all. In which case why name it after him? Oh, well.
I came back and went to the Danbury Railway Museum, after getting a recommendation for the diner across the street where I ate a huge Italian grinder for lunch. Grinder appears to be the local term for a sub sandwich. Anyway, it was good.
And the museum was fun. It had four working model railroad setups, and lots of railway artifacts, and, outside, at least twenty vintage rail cars, engines, and cabooses, some of which you could go inside of. I went in a couple of them, but my nemesis the weather drove me back inside, which was fine.
I came back to Irene’s and now I’m catching up on things and figuring out where I’m heading tomorrow and where I’m going to spend the night. It’s supposed to be cooler in general tomorrow, and cooler on the coast than here, so I’m going to see about camping for the first time since I fell out of the van. We’ll see how that goes.
Heading east by north. It’s funny how the coastline runs east-west in this part of the world.
I’m so glad I wasn’t doing the driving today. Downtown Baltimore is a nightmare to drive in, and they were doing construction on top of that. Teri was amazing to get us all through that and still manage to take us where we were going.
That said, I really liked the Inner Harbor area. We walked along the waterfront for a bit, and saw some interesting sights including a very odd piece of sculpture with a wonderful fountain at its base, and the weirdest trash collector I’ve ever seen. We ate lunch at a Lebanese restaurant (I’d never had Lebanese before, but it was close enough to Greek that I kind of knew what I was doing, and it was pretty tasty).
Then we drove around in the traffic for a bit more until we arrived at a park called Federal Hill (at first I thought Teri had said Federal Hell, and wasn’t that in DC, not Baltimore?), which gave us lovely views of the Inner Harbor area, and had a cute playground with a pirate ship and a screwpile lighthouse jungle gym.
Then we went to the Museum of Industry, which was fascinating. Sort of like MOHAI in Seattle, oddly enough. We went on a tour of the museum with a guide who was knowledgeable and entertaining, and who even operated some of the machinery on display for us. We saw stuff about canning oysters (and vegetables in the off-season), and a working machine shop from the turn of the last century, and a tailor shop, and a pharmacy (Noxema was invented in Baltimore [g]). And we saw a print shop with a linotype machine that made me feel very old.
My first full-time “permanent” job was as a display ad proofreader at a chain of newspapers in the Bay Area, and we worked in the same room as the folks who set the type for the articles and the ads. This was in the days before computers were widespread in that industry (I worked there from 1980-1983, and they were just moving to computers for part of the process when I left), and I remember the linotype machines.
Oh, well. It was a lovely museum, and I had a very good time. We were going to go to one of the last drive-in movie theaters in the country tonight, but there’s another thunderstorm booming and crashing (and, for a few hours at least, dropping the temperature to something resembling human) out there, so no movie for us, at least not tonight.
Independence Day was fun. I made it to Fayetteville by mid-afternoon, and after a bit of confusion arrived at Morgan and Kaz’s house. It’s a cute little house, full of three very large dogs (mostly malamute-husky mix, and one has a bit of lab in him, too). Morgan had just been given a sewing machine as a gift, sans manual, and when she pulled it out of its box, it was a vintage Singer just like mine only I think a few years older. So we went to JoAnn’s, which was open on the holiday, bought some thread and a remnant to practice on, and got absolutely drenched running back to the car in a downpour.
But at least she now knows how to thread her sewing machine, wind the bobbin, and sew with it. My good deed for the day [g].
Then the thunder and the lightning started, and we added fireworks of our own (well, they did), fountains and sparklers and all that fun stuff. The neighbors pitched in with their own supply, too. It was fun.
The day before yesterday I headed north towards my friend Mary’s home, up near the Virginia border about 150 miles away. Finding her house was a bit of an adventure, too, but I did it, even if I had to pass way too much kudzu to do it.
Mary lives with some friends, in a sort of mother-in-law apartment, way out in the country. It was good to see her because the last time I saw her was in 2011 when we went to the Reno WorldCon together. We pretty much chatted non-stop the whole time I was there, but the best part (aside from meeting her slighly psycho cat Miles – I told her she was tempting fate to name him after Miles Vorkosigan!) was yesterday when we took a drive to some local landmarks.
First we went to Pilot Knob, which you can see really well from a viewpoint on the highway, and which you can also drive up, almost to the top. The views are pretty spectacular, with the haze from the humidity blurring the horizon again.
Then we drove around to Hanging Rock, but just about the time we got there the skies opened up again, so I never actually got to see the hanging rock itself. But we did go to a nice place for lunch. And then she showed me – or tried to show me – the house she used to live in with her husband before he died. But the driveway (which was basically more pothole than road, and really, really steep and slick because of the rain) was gated shut halfway up. I was so glad there was somewhere to turn around!
We also looked at a few of my photos [g].
This morning I headed out again, across the border into Virginia. I made a couple of stops, one at a state park where I caught my journal up and ate a picnic lunch, and again at the site of an old fort.
I’m aiming towards the Atlantic coast. I’m actually headed towards Williamsburg, where I haven’t been since 1991. I can’t wait.