Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29. . . Rockford, Ill

Wednesday. . . June 29 . . .miles driven so far, 1218; miles driven today. . . almost 400.  Not bad considering the traffic.  I am at a Red Roof Inn (they like dogs!) in a dynamite city after driving the horrendous Russian roulette "highways" (if you can call them that) through Chicago.  But back to the beginning of the day. . .
Left the little group of dated motels at the Milan, Ohio,  exit. Did not go to the lake, had to scramble. But first had to drive through the McDonald’s window and get an ice coffee.  Have to have coffee to drive with the semi’s. (Pronounced sem- I’s. You know what I mean.)
On my way up the ramp to the Interstate, noticed a large local seed company, big silos and all. I was glad it was not Monsanto. . . it was Schle. . . .I hope they do not cave to Monsanto. . . stay strong, seed company!  I see on the water tanks that I am in Erie county. Gas is 3.47 a gallon.  Not bad at all.  The first part of the day was great. . . green green fields. Corn is higher here, maybe 2 feet high! Many barns, many acres of beautiful land. Many tractor trailer trucks going 70 mph.  The Fed X trucks move with 3 trailers attached. Three!  Ohio and Indiana both allow the three trailers, and I’m sure more states do, too. It was still windy, and the weaving trailers made me a little nervous, but then I got used to it, and it was like sailing. . . everyone swayed with the same wind. . . did I mention Indiana?  I passed over the top of that state, and it was all farmland, with 70’s style rest stops on the highway. . . but serviceable just the same. I took no pictures. I was too busy running in and out to use the facilities in a quick enough time so Yoko would not get to hot in the car, because it was hot today.  AC on full blast.  Gas was higher in Indiana, $3.99 a gallon, but that could have been because it was on the Interstate rest stops.
At 1:25 I was passing through Elkhart, Indiana. I remembered when the whole town filled up on one of our trips through because of a Notre Dame football game. No room at the inn, as they say. . . I looked longingly at Exit 31. . . Indiana Dunes the brown National Park sign promised. copy and paste this address for gorgeous pixs of the region.     I would have really liked see visit The remarkable dunes of Indiana up there near the lake, but it was hot, I am not walking like a pro just yet, and I had the dog. And I had to get around Chicago. . . so I passed, this time.I'm getting better with links. Click on the blue up there and you'll go where I didn't. . . so pretty!
The last rest stop in Indiana was a serious one. I gassed up , walked Yoko, watered Yoko, and put on my game face.  I was ready for the wild ride around Chicago.  I do not have a FastPass on my car, but will get one someday. Hopefully, it will work in Chicago, even though they call it something else. Because people like me had to be shot into a little jug-handle every five miles to pay an 85 cent  toll. And if you missed the turn because there was some large trailer truck in front of you, tough tiddle. Luckily, I always jumped over just in time. It was all very tricky. Of course, construction cones everywhere with a 45 mile per hour speed limit, which EVERYONE ignored. I was doing 60, passing no one, and being passed by everyone else. I took the circle around Chicago (480) and listed to the radio announce the crashes I was missing on Lakeside Drive. If I had been tired, I was not tired driving around Chicago. Alarmed might be a better work. And also amazed. Amazed that President Obama came from this state as a senator, and Chicago is still full of shovel ready projects. If there is an improvement, I could not tell from the last time I drove through with Jim in 2007.
With great relief I headed out into the burbs and then the country on Interstate 90, and then got myself to Rockford which is where I am now relaxing in an air conditioned room.

This is one affluent town. The cluster of motels is really high end, lawns are all cut like I am in Naples, Florida. . . and I mean the lawns around big box stores and fast food places. The city is twenty miles wide. I know this because I went the wrong way to the hotel off the Interstate, and had to turn around and come back to it. I asked the man at the reception desk what the base of the economy was in this town. Nuts and bolts he said. I guess we’d fall apart if it were not for nuts and bolts. He said this town was on the protect list during WWII because of the nuts and bolts production. So, I’ll have to look that up.  Tomorrow. The fireflies are out again, and people are setting off fireworks randomly. Yoko hates that. I hope she sleeps tonight. Nightie night. Sorry, I was clenching the steering wheel too hard to shoot any pictures.,-illinois

check out this link to see all about Rockford. I would say it is a good city to live and work in. Well laid out, lots to do, lots of housing, lots of jobs? Retail, at least. And maybe they still make nuts and bolts here.
Tomorrow, must get through MN, as they are running out of money in the state budget, and may shut down the rest stops over the Fourth of July weekend. Yikes! Lots of budget woes all around, not only in Washington. Teachers laid off everywhere, what's a little school child to do? Or a laid off teacher?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day Three, Tuesday

product stalled on I90, Erie, PA. . . stand still for an hour due to construction.
America runs on trucks, not  dunkin'
The I90 welcome center in Pennsylvania, vineyards and Lake Erie in the distance
Meanwhile, back on Cape Cod, Stella in her new hat

Yoko wishing she could be a duck before leaving lake

Tuesday. . . 9:53 PM   Milan, Ohio, exit 118, Super 8 motel which allows dogs. Have to drag luggage and stuff in down the halls. Tired.
The last few hours were kind of stressful, driving around Cleveland, Ohio. Trucks trucks trucks (I mean tractor trailers) running whenever they can at about 75 mph. . . . it gets hairy in the narrow construction lanes. Backing up from that circum-navigation around Cleveland, I sat on the road for 45 minutes in Erie, PA, waiting for construction. One lane highway. We sat and sat.Great big trucks up and down the highway releasing their air brakes as they sat.

Let me go back, back to the New York city of Canandaigua . . that was nice. Very nice. Glad I had the detour. I think I will take another detour soon. The Interstate does get tedious. Indeed. And all those towns just off the exit. I see the back ends of farms, and figure out how far the farmer has to drive on back roads to get to the next exit, if he even wants to. The cows see me, but I cannot pat the cows.
Passing from New York on I90 into Pennsylvania. . . there were dairy farms and vineyards on the sides of the highway, so the first few hours on the road after picking up my fixed Highlander (new contact points for starter, $300+) from the Toyota dealership. . . were nice. And very windy!  The clouds scudded overhead so quickly that I was happy not to be in an airplane. . . the radio said 45 mph winds with gusts to 55, and you know, I was glad to be in a heavy Highlander, rather than an apple car that gets 40 mph. I stayed between the lines pretty good.  Both hands on the wheel. Thank you, Blue Ant, hands-free driving device, I can talk safely on the phone. I talked to three people on the phone today. That is not many for me. . . But one person, Jim, I talked to several times. Short times.
So the tall trees on the side of the road were leaning over in the wind, every now and then a branch would go flying across the highway. The trucks never slowed down, so I didn’t either.  Right now, Jim just sent me a picture of what I’m missing, seeing niece Stella a pix of Stella wearing the hat we got her for her birthday. Life goes on!
So, Montana-bound. It will be very nice to see my Montana people, so that’s the carrot.  I am just ten miles from a great lake tonight, I can zoom down the road to vacationland, or I can keep going. I’ll decide tomorrow. Right now I have to go out to the car to get my dog’s pills. I have to take her with me because she is not allowed to sleep in the room by herself. That’s the dog policy, “no exceptions.” So, pictures posted, I did like the first half of the day. I did not like the second half of the day.  Amen.

PS-  When I took the dog out for her last constitutional of the day, the field next door was full of fireflies. . . and the air coming off the Great Lakes was a warm wind. Very nice evening.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A diversion

last stop of the day, finger lake at Canandaigua, NY

Day Two
Seneca Falls trash mountain in the distance, power producing!

Seneca Falls, old and new watercraft

Site of the first Womens Rights Conference, a National Park
Monday. . .  What a day. It started out with a goal in mind. . . stop by the site of the first Women’s Conference in Seneca Falls. I had planned ahead for this, being so involved as I have been with the BPW (Business and Professional Women). In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton invited people to come hear why women should have more rights—the right to own property and the right to vote being among the many that they did not have. . . by the end of the first Womens Rights Conference, more than 100 women and men had signed a statement that they would work for more equality for women. I envisioned a large grassy national park, thinking that perhaps they had met in a tent encampment as the Methodists did on Cape Cod in the summer. But no, I drove right down to the main street of the town and found a newly restored Wesleyan Chapel as the scene of the event. Link here:    I got to stand on the sidewalk and take pictures, but that was all, as I could not shut off my engine. I had just discovered at a rest stop back on the Interstate that my starter was now going to be cranky. I dared not shut off the engine. I cruised around Seneca Falls, and took some great pictures of the little barge boats on the river. . . very historic looking, reminiscent of the Erie Canal barges, and indeed here I am in Erie Canal territory.  But still, no shutting off of the engine. I walked the dog next to my running car. I used my cell phone to ask the 411 operator if there were any Toyota dealerships in the area. None that she could find.
I headed back for the Interstate thinking I would head back east to Syracuse, that city was indeed host to a Toyota dealership.  I was so flustered that I went through the FastPass Lane of the toll booth, and then had to immediately pull over, realizing that I could not proceed without a paper ticket. How had I gone through the wrong lane? I immediately felt better when the next car did the same thing. It was poorly marked. Newcomers both, we both had to walk out across the highway to the man in the booth to get our tickets. And there I stood, talking to him on the cement island as tractor trailer trucks brushed by me through the toll. I discovered that there was a closer dealership about fifty miles to the west, so there I headed, and eventually found myself taking Exit 44 off the New York Interstate 90, heading south for seven miles, and ending up in the fabulous little city of Canandaigua. I cannot pronounce it, but I love it. . . It is a beautiful, well-planned finger lake little city. Bedroom town of Rochester, which must be going strong by the looks of the houses, boats, stores, cars and smiles I saw. The dealership took my poor little old 2001 Highlander under their wing, rented me a beautiful new Camry for the price of a Corolla (I now want a Camry. . . so smooooth), and have promised me the starter will be fixed tomorrow. Here’s hoping.
So Yoko and I found the Super 8 motel that allows dogs, dragged our luggage in (well, I did), and then went out exploring. Beautiful lake, I am glad that I stopped here.  And what a nice place to have a repair done, if you have to have a repair done. Better than out in the middle of the big wide west, flooded and on fire as it is. Pictures, pictures.  Good night.
Oh, one more thing. . . on my little drive down into Seneca Falls I saw ahead of me what looked like an ancient mound, or a giant ant hill with little ants running around on it. But it was really the largest trash mountain land fill I have ever seen, and across the highway was a large methane gas power plant which was generating energy from the trash. I’ve seen this before but not on such a large scale. Those trucks up on top were so far away they were tiny.  Just had to explain the picture.

Oh, one more one more thing. . . I would come back. I could fly into Rochester, easily, rent a car, come back here as a kick-off point, and do the most amazing wine trail that circles this Canandaigua Lake. . . if the car is not done today, that is what I am doing. What a beautiful spot.  Beauteous!

Thank you LeBrun Toyota for getting me right in off the highway when your next available service appointment was actually four days from now.  You rock.  Jeff, service adviser kept me from having a highway melt-down. 

You might have to copy and past my provided links into your address bar until I know what the heck I am doing in providing links. I'll get better.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The first day

It’s the last Sunday in June, and I’ve traveled 354 miles, which means I’ve left the sandy shores of Cape Cod far behind, passed across the state of Massachusetts on the Massachusetts Turnpike (although I did not have to turn any pikes to pay my toll. . . remind me to get a Fast Pass) and then crossed into the State of New York (state speed limit is 55, but you can go to faster on the Interstate).
Coming off the Cape with its salty air is always a noticeable transition, the air smelled lake-like. . . that fresh water smell. . . and was it humid in Central Massachusetts. . . but the trees were tall on the side of the highway, way taller than they ever grow on the outer cape. What a wet spring we had, it was all so green, the trees, the grass on the side of the highway, and wildflowers bloomed everywhere, and the sky was gray-blue with huge gray clouds that soon framed the hills of the Berkshires. Hawks circled or were chased by crows. . . crows were chased by smaller birds. . . lots of territory fights going on. I couldn’t see any signs of the horrid tornadoes that just came through Springfield a few weeks ago, but then, I was out on the highway. I saw a few flashes of lightening over the road—— sparky clouds. I didn’t want to see any tornadoes.
Then the overpass bridges got really slanted to deal with the hills, and suddenly, we were in New York. Yoko and I, that is.  At this point we had made three rest stops and one gas-up, and wouldn’t you know, the gas at the service center I cruised into off the Massachusetts Turnpike was less expensive than in Eastham, Massachusetts. Of course.

The first welcome center over the state line from Massachusetts was barred off and closed. . . but the big I Love New York emblem blazed on the lawn for all disappointed motorists to see.  The closure is a  sign of the tight financial times. . . oh yes, they still collect the tolls, make no mistake, but they offer no welcome to the traveler. And the travelers. . . a lot more eco-cars on the highway than there were several years ago, the last time I passed this way was on our way to live in Montana in June, 2007.  Now I find myself traveling to the same destination to pack up and dismantle our home there, hubby has been back working in Massachusetts since March, 2009. And we cannot afford a proper domicile on Cape Cod if we are maintaining an empty one in Montana. I am so sad as I retrace our steps to take apart our Western Dream. . . and I must give up living close to my daughter and granddaughter, but I am also very grateful that I have so many members of family and friends on Cape Cod. What did Dr. Suess say?   Don’t cry because it’s over, be glad that it happened. Or something like that.
Dairy land came up pretty quick after getting through the first tolls, lots of cows up on the hills beside Interstate 90, old farms that must have been showplaces 50 years ago perched here and there in the hills, and thank you for surviving. It’s nice to see tankers of milk on the road, as opposed to tankers of cola.
I saw a brick federal style square farmhouse, and then three more within fifty miles. There must have been a busy bricklayer in the area more than a century ago.  The first one had the same huge sign it had on it four years ago:  “For Sale By Owner.”  I wonder what that house could be. . . a far out retreat for those who want to contemplate the passing traffic and the distant hills dotted with struggling dairies. Um, no.
So, the best thing I saw today, and it was something I’ve never seen in my more than half a century long life. .. A steamboat race on the Mohawk  River!  No kidding, I’m driving along, I pass a dam, and then there was a V-formation of vintage one-stack steamboats coming towards me- the type reminiscent of Fulton’s folly (not that I remember that far back). .. and one was clearly in the lead by at least ten boat lengths. So of course I honked my horn at the captain, being only ten feet above the vessel on the side of the river. . . and he saluted back.  Yes!  A good horn tooting event, and no motorists near me for me to annoy. . . it was all just for me, I know it.  I tried to look up this obscure happening when I got to the Red Roof Inn (allows dogs and is very friendly) in Utica, because I know you do not believe me. I hardly believe it myself.
I could find no Internet proclamation of the event, and maybe that’s how they wanted it, being so vintage and all.  But I did learn that I was passing by the village of Fultonville, (west of Amsterdam) which was just across the river from me, just before I encountered the steamboat formation. So now it makes sense. And then after the flotilla, a few miles up, another dam. So I know they  had a limited amount of river between dams, and that stopped the worrying part of me, it’s all under control, even though the river is way higher than the Google satellite map shows. They must have shot the river last summer. Update, please, Google satellite. Enough of my blah blah (can you tell I am resting in my hotel room now?)- here are some links. .. pretty cool. I learned something. By the way, housing is very inexpensive. No new construction lately.
Utica.  I fear for the economy here, truly. It is far more deserted than it was several years ago. I took a tow down Genesee Blvd, past Utica’s fountains in the main square and beyond, and so many store fronts are closed. True, it is Sunday. But I mean really closed, as in . . . forever, with trash swirling around in the front doorways. I felt bad. No jobs here today.  No wonder the woman who cleans my room at the Red Roof has been a loyal employee for twenty years. She found my forgotten passport for me the last time through and Beth the manager sent it to me special delivery. That is true customer service. They saved my life and my identity. But, hey, the Cultural Center is going to open a new historical bridal show. . . that would be worth seeing. If I was staying. Which I’m not.  Onwards and upwards tomorrow.  But here’s the link:        Some pretty cool old gowns to look at there, on-line. I couldn’t get in today, it was closed. Sunday. After five. That could be why.
So I feel pretty safe here tonight, even though my car says “handicapped” loud and clear and I am in a handi-capped room, because Beth is in charge on the front desk, and she knows where I am. And where Yoko is.  All is well.  Talk more later, hope you are enjoying this. But just because I don’t want the nutties to track me down while I am sleeping, I will post this after I sleep and once I am on my way again.  Which way am I going? Don’t know yet.  Minot, North Dakota is in real flood trouble, and I was planning on going that way (the high line), but now, of course I am not. I really feel for the people there. Trouble all over. No pictures today, but maybe tomorrow! Just found my camera battery charger. . . in a hidden pocket of my "black back pack" Say that three times fast.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On the road again.

So where the heck have I been!  There has been silence on the blog since last August. I had to leave Montana and fly east for my BIG OPERATION, and no, it was not a face lift. I have a new leg and I can walk and maybe even run soon. My amputation was performed in Indianapolis, IN on October 26 with Dr. Jan Ertl, whom I sought out because of his skill level. This was a necessary operation, I had mangled my foot at 25, and was limping along for thirty years. . . till nothing could be done for the pain, and I was contemplating life in a wheel chair!  But . . . I can now walk without a limp.  I came back to Cape Cod to recover, and thank you daughter Jamie for flying to Indy to be with me and Jim through the days in the hospital.  And on Cape Cod, a surprise. My sister Evelyn came to visit me on her way to Europe, and never left me, helped me all through the winter here on Cape Cod (Jim helped, too, but he did have to work all day, of course. . . and I never could have made it without Ev's help). . . I had all my sisters nearby, and my Son and his wife and fabulous kids, and my nieces and nephews. . . so I have healed on Cape Cod, and am hitting the road TOMORROW to drive myself and Yoko back to the Montana woods that we love. Road trip. . . I love road trips! Watch for the America you've never seen right here.  Oh, I didn't mention the dozens of good friends that cheered me along. . . I am so blessed. Friends and family galore.