Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We Can't See it All - But We Do Okay!

August 12-19, 2018
South Higgins Lake - Detroit, Michigan; Amherst, Ohio; Niagara Falls, New York

At the RV Dreams Boondocking Rally in Quartzsite, Arizona, last March we met a delightful couple - Dawn and Darrell. Knowing they would be in Michigan in August, we made plans to stop and see them on our way east.

South Higgins Lake State Park is a beautiful and popular spot west of Lake Huron. We have a FHU pull-through site surrounded by dozens of families in trailers and tents. Everyone is in swim suits with all manner of floating toys, ice chests and chairs for play on the pretty lake we can see from our windows. 

We close our blinds, turn on the AC, and take a nap.

Monday is Bill's birthday - woo hoo social security! Dawn has prepared a delicious lunch for us and they even deliver. What a treat to spend the afternoon at home getting to know them better, and enjoying a home cooked meal we didn't have to fix :-))) 

While I failed to get a pic of both of them, Darrell and Tessa provide a quick Kodak moment.

Fluffy hugs.
The next morning we're up and out early for our 200 mile drive to Wayne County Fairgrounds RV Park. We're here to break up the drive, and to see another NFL stadium. Yes, there are a lot more places to visit here, and we'd love to see them - but we can't see it all and then see everything we want to see down the road. Next time we'll visit the Henry Ford Museum for sure, and visit Kalamazoo to the west where my dad's family has a lot of history.

The fairgrounds is a nice stop with level grass, water and electric sites. There is a Fulltime Families rally here so we are one of only two rigs without lots of kids. They have several activities going on, and it's wonderful to see all these travelers getting together.

We're only here for one night so as soon as we're plugged in we make the 30 minute drive into Detroit. Like many places, we have pre-conceived ideas of what we'll see in this battered city. Driving into downtown the worn residences and closed businesses are as expected. Still, the feeling of proud history is strong here. As a retired union organizer, Detroit is the motherland and I'm immediately sorry there wasn't time for a longer visit. 

The area around Ford Field is more alive, newer, a good looking city. We have to pay to park, but can only access the pro-shop. The grumpy security guard clearly does not love his job and makes for a less than welcoming experience. 

A quick visit to the pro-shop where we can view the interior stands, then we get escorted out when Bill makes the mistake of taking a pic of the field. Oops!

There's a pre-season game here in a few days so they must be fast workers!
Stadium #15 - very nice, but feels like a mall.

Something for every Lions' fan.

Tigers next door.



Modern layers

Yes, it's 5 PM when we leave town, so we join the commuters for our return drive home. Being from SoCal, it's not something unfamiliar so we sing along to our playlist until we're back at the fairgrounds. 

Although we can't see everything in every place, our next stop in Amherst, Ohio, is a repeat. The drive on I-75 in Michigan is some of the worst highway we've driven - nearly as bad as I-10 in Louisiana! As soon as we pass the sign into Ohio the road is immediately perfect. It's like physically experiencing state budgets!

Plenty of land, why do some parks have entrances that require squeezing your RV through such a narrow gate?
Timber Ridge Campground is a quiet park with lots of seasonal campers, and we're here for the same reason we were two years ago - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must-see, especially for a classic rock aficionado like Bill! Unfortunately when we came the first time the crowds were insane. Two hours in line just to buy tickets meant we turned around and said "next time".

So here we are! And very happy to find a parking place right in front, with zero waiting in line. There's still a lot of people, but manageable.

The Hall of Fame sits on Lake Erie - Cleveland Browns' stadium just to the left of the ship.

We're here!

Some favorites from over the years - it's amazing who isn't in the hall!

Sadly, Aretha passed away at her home in Detroit on the morning we were here.

Half of this large room is filled with the Beatles.

Another British band fills the other side.

The exhibits organized by the city where the musicians became famous are very well done. In addition to Cleveland are Los Angeles, Detroit, Seattle, Liverpool and San Francisco.

In the summer of my 14th year I snuck into the Whisky A-Go-Go in Los Angeles to see the house band play. A woman in a fringed vest walked up on stage from one of the tables in the audience. She sang several songs in between shots of bourbon and a few beers. I've never heard anyone since who sang with such raw and tortured emotion. I was mesmerized. Janis Joplin was an experience I will never forget. A few months later she was gone.

A much less pleasant experience was meeting Mama Cass at the Black Rabbit in Hollywood. A most unfriendly person.
We both enjoyed the historic story of "how" we experienced music over the years. Bill and I each had a radio like this, complete with the leather covers. From Hi-Fi's to IPods, we've seen a lot of changes!

There are a lot of talented and "best" guitarists showcased here, but Jeff Beck has been my favorite for decades. His well-worn instrument from his early years with the Yard Birds.

Elvis' butt sat here so the chair is famous :-)
Fun to see my parents' favorite group - along with the Mills Brothers - and to put on the headphones to hear their amazing harmonies I grew up listening to.
Bill and I are Doors fans with Jim Morrison being the number one lost musician we would "bring back" if we could. This scout pack pick of Jim is not who we think of!
The words to Riders of the Storm written in Jim's hand in 1971. He died the day the song "hit the charts". 
There is so much to see here, and we enjoyed all of it. We finally pulled ourselves away after over four hours. 

We stop for fuel and printer ink on the way home. A few hours later the RV tech who Bill contacted the day before stops by. It's after 6 PM and he's still working - bless him! 

Our electric connector on the Jeep has been giving us issues off and on, and when we arrived here it completely fell apart. A less than subtle message that a new one is needed. Fortunately the tech has what we need on board, and 30 minutes later the new one is installed. 

Even better, when we hook up in the morning it works perfectly. And it's still working.....yay!

A long travel day for us, Friday we travel 270 miles to Niagara Falls. It's a nice drive on the Turnpike where we learn that New York tolls are cash only if you don't have a pass - and if you don't have cash you can mail them a check. So why not just take a check at the booth? Oh well....we pick up cash for the remainder of our travels in state.

Another lovely stop we learned about from Steven and Linda (The Chouters) we set up at Four Mile Creek State Park  in a huge, green and level site with 30 amp, electric-only. Even with the numerous trees, our satellite connects. Not surprising, this is another location with lots of families - bicycles and evening camp fires. 

The humidity is thick and we head for a nearby air-conditioned pub - Somewhere - where the food is incredible!! Love these little dives in small towns.

Let me know if you can tell what this says :-)
It rains overnight and yesterday's humidity becomes today's sweltering blanket. We figure since it's Saturday we'll just drive near the falls and see where we want to go on Sunday.

It doesn't work that way. Once we wind ourselves into the area we end up following the cars into the parking lot. What the heck, we're here. How bad can it be?

Holy schmoly it's SO crowded. Two wedding parties (I can't imagine wearing a suit or nylons in this weather), a marriage proposal, a few family reunions, and thousands of tourists join us to see this natural wonder. 

It's my own fault for planning a summer weekend visit. We do pay the small fee and join the hordes on the observation platform above.

We don't take a Maid of the Mist cruise under the falls. From the platform we can watch individual people walk through a small building and become matching blue bugs on the other side. Weird.

On the Canadian side they make red bugs. No matter the color, I cannot imagine being piled so tightly together. Everyone I know who's done it says it's worth it, but I know my limitations.
Why we're here - and definitely spectacular!

American Falls

Across the top of American Falls to half of Horseshoe Falls.

One of the Maids heads into the mist.

Not far from tons of roaring water, the Niagara River calmly continues north to Lake Ontario.

I've seen enough water....and knees.
Away from the water we find these treasures - rocking park benches!! I hope this catches on everywhere :-)
Back on Niagara Scenic Byway we make our way away from the insanity of the main park and stop at the Niagara Whirlpool. With a lot fewer people, we take our time watching the swirling water, the shallow rapids, the Canadian gondola, and the very fast jet boats that race about 25 thrill-seekers through and under all of it. It's a lovely spot to take a breath.

Thought to be formed over 4200 years ago, the large whirlpool is the result of the river eroding a hidden gorge nearly perpendicular to the water rushing from the falls - giving the water a large "cul-de-sac" to swirl around. 

Gondola riders watch the large spinning jet boat below.

Now this boat I think would be a lot of fun!

Niagara Gorge

The rapidly moving water is crystal clear.
We're glad we took the time to see the Falls (last time we opted for a different direction), and agree that next time we would want to do it in early Autumn with less people and cooler temps.

On our way home we visit the cute historic town of Lewiston. Quaint eateries and shops with pretty gardens and vintage buildings, it's a nice, quiet afternoon.

Elephant Ears - we had a plant at our house from birth until 2nd grade. The day my mom let me wear one as a cape was a big deal!
Sunday the humidity is 93% and Bill suggests we take the opportunity to see another NFL stadium while we're in the area. Another place we didn't see last time - because you can't see it all :-)

The Buffalo Bills New Era Stadium feels like football to us - an outdoor field away from town. No parking structure, not even a crosswalk from the lot across the street. These are hardcore fans who watch games in freezing temps and slushy snow. 

Home of the Buffalo Bills

Ready for another season.

Even though it's "his" store, my Bill only wears Cowboys gear!
Almost as exciting as checking another stadium off our list - we find a Trader Joe's! It's a treat to restock with favorites.

It's fun to say "I can't believe we're in New York!" It's just as fun to say "I can't believe we're back in New York!" Like our last time, we'll miss some of the great places that others suggest, and add even more places to our already long list for next time. 

This time we're moving quickly until we get to Maine and start our route south on the Atlantic coast. After Labor Day we'll slow down and loosen our planning. 

We still won't see it all. We're all blessed to live in a country filled with unlimited natural, cultural, historic and personally relevant locations to visit. This lifestyle gives us the opportunity to see much more than we ever dreamed possible.

Monday we make a stop to see a little slice of heaven I've been reading about for five years, and the good friends who have made it their own.


  1. Honestly, we have a love/hate relationship with suggestions from others about where we should go and what we should see. It's like, do you think we didn't check this out before we got here? :) And yet, I could give you a hundred examples of things we would have missed if folks hadn't taken the time to give us information. So I totally understand where you're coming from.

    I told you get out early, but I don't think you took me seriously. By early, I meant, like, 5 a.m. You know, sunrise.

    I love how we always compare the worst roads we travel on to Louisiana's I-10, and nothing *quiet* comes close to that god-awful stretch of highway. :)

    Love ya!

    1. Oh yeah we totally blew it not only on the day of the week, but on the time of day! Since I figured we'd go back early on Sunday.....and then slept in :-))) Still, the state park was as beautiful as you said! I'm going to follow John and Pam's recommended route around that nasty LA stretch this time - one of those recommendations you just have to follow :-) Back atcha!!

  2. Certainly hope to make the Ford Museum and the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame where we will move on to Dayton. Since we also stayed at Four Mile Creek SP, I can second the recommendation that it's a good place for a base camp. For Bill's Rock'n'Roll side, the 'music died' at the Surf Ballroom - it's an amazing visit! If my CD is still at the crash site, it has Buddy's playlist from the '59 Winter Dance Party.

    1. We were going to make the Surf Ballroom stop on the way back, but our route changed (for now). We'll get there and farmer's field someday. Will check for the CD!!

  3. Yes, you did do okay :-) So glad you were able to see the R 'n R Hall of Fame. It must be one of those places where pictures can't capture the essence. But your photos are great. I loved the blue and red bugs. But yikes, that is a lot of people on the boat! I'm sure Tessa would rather be on the beach making zoomies :-))

    1. They put so MUCH in that museum, it can't be absorbed in one visit! She tolerates the knees but loves her wide open spaces - like her peeps :-)

  4. We have the same issues--we are neither one museum people and we always hear, "did you see the museum of this/that?" and our answer is usually, "no." We are also with you and Bill--we don't do crowds! If--and that's a big IF--we ever get to Niagara Falls we will follow Nina and Paul's tips about going really early. Our friends Larry and Geri used Nina's tips and had a wonderful experience. Poor Tessa--

    1. Yep, going early is good advice we didn't take!

  5. Remind me this winter that you are Jim Morrison fans. The little hole-in-the-wall motel he was born in is in Melbourne, FL. 😉

    1. How cool!! I wonder if that's where the scout troop was too?!

  6. There's so much to do, it seems like no matter where we go, we always have a "next time" list! Good problem to have, huh? Love your personal memories of the rock musicians you've met—I grew up listening to the Mills Brothers, too—they were my mom and dad's favorites.
    Way too many people crowded onto those boats for me...they do look like bugs! And please tell me what that sign says because I cannot figure it out and I've already spent way too much time trying, LOL!

    1. After multiple attempts I finally gave up and asked the bartender. He said "If I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink?" and I thought that was pretty bold, but was ready to make the agreement. Then I realized that was what it says!! Too funny and a great conversation starter :-)

      Gonna buy a paper doll to call my own.....loved those Mills Brothers!

    2. Oh seriously??? I would NEVER have figured out that sign! LOL

      And Lazy River by the Mills Brothers! It was a great era, even if it was long before our time.

    3. I wouldn't have either!! I'm thinking I need to download some of that great music :-)

  7. Boy you are sure blazin’ through. Amherst Ohio? Never heard of it. Thought the Hall of Fame was in Cleveland so I guess Amherst is a suburb? I 75 doesn’t go through Cleveland. I spent my first 18 years in Ohio and never went to Detroit. Once in the 90’s we spent 6 weeks tent camping around the Great Lakes and stopped at Serpent Mound in Ohio and the Henry Ford Museum but skipped Detroit again. I consider you brave. The thing I love most about D-troit is MOTOWN! Wish they had a Motown Hall of Fame. I’d make a trip there for sure. I cannot believe you saw Janis Joplin in person. Me too on the parents and Mills Brothers and the transistor radio. Love your pics from the Hall of Fame. Really great luck with the RV tech. Having what you need on hand. Amazing!! We stayed at Four Mile Creek too. I think everybody who visit Niagara does. Did you have a reservation? I was afraid not to. I give up, what does it say? Oh no, week-end/summer/Niagara. Really great pictures of Niagara too. Those aren’t phone pics are they? I read the comments. Why would anyone go to Dayton? Sounds like Fall in New England. GREAT PLAN!!

    1. Yes, Amberst is a small burg west of Cleveland. You're not the first to question our going to Detroit, but I liked it :-)The Rock and Soul Museum in Memphis has a great Motown section! The Janis Joplin experience was probably the most amazing of my life. Yes, I reserved at Four Mile several months in advance! See reply to Laurel's comment for what the sign says :-)))) No phone, those are with the Canon.

  8. It's interesting that you found the roads in Ohio better. Our travels on our way back west through Ohio were some of the worst road we have ever driven in the country. So glad your stop at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame was successful this time. It is an amazing place. I can't believe you saw Janis Joplin!!! I just love her music. The Lions stadium looks like it is a parking garage. I'll have to check it out on TV this fall. Neat that you were able to see the falls despite it being a Sat in the summer. Love the color of the water. Tessa was certainly enjoying her one on time.

    1. You'll have to tell me which ones to avoid in Ohio. There was a post on FB yesterday applauding the condition of the Ohio toll roads too. The Hall of Fame was indeed amazing, so glad we got to finally see it! Tessa manages to get lovin' everywhere we go :-))

  9. Holey Moley, you sure have crammed in a lot even if you didn't see it all. Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame is a museum I would enjoy. Lucky you to have seen Janis. Like the falls but when I went decades ago it wasn't as crowded and still felt like too many people to me. No boat ride either.

    1. I agree we managed to see more than enough for this time! With summer so short "over here" we're finding that most popular places are full of families. Hoping for week day breaks after this weekend - although it's still plenty hot right now!