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.
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.|
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?|
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.|
|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.|
|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".|
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 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!|
|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 :-)|
|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!|
|The rapidly moving water is crystal clear.|
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!|
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!|
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.