Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Soccer Grandma?

Yesterday evening I kicked the soccer ball around the big back yard with Josh and thought I might be hurting today.  Surprisingly I don't have any aches and pains from it.  Josh thinks it's incredible that I played soccer when I was his Mom's age!

He sure has improved since I was here last, and I know he was trying to be easy on me.  I soon got into the swing of things and did ok on my own, although I surprised myself at the amount of running I did before tiring out.

Nothing else going on and I'm just being lazy today, which gives me nothing to write a blog about!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Trip to West Point

My son took me along today on a trip to West Point.  He didn't realize there is a game this evening, and the buses, motorhomes, etc. had started rolling in - shade tents set up, tailgating, and all the fun things associated with attending a football game.  Fortunately we were leaving when the bulk of the crowds starting coming in.

Nothing else is happening and I'm tired from the trip to the Commisary and PX.  

Because it's the beginning of the holiday weekend I decided to postpone the trip to Hyde Park and Eleanor's cottage until maybe next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Tires

This morning I got two new rear tires for the Highlander, and a wheel alignment (haven't had one since I bought the car).  I asked for and got USA manufactured tires!  They didn't reset the tire pressure monitoring system properly so I'll drive by there tomorrow, possibly on the way to the Roosevelt's.  (In the meantime my son reset it himself.)  I had the same problem when the guy in Fargo patched the tire - by next morning when I was leaving the warning came on, and I had to drive by the shop to get it reset.  I wish I could disconnect the whole tire warning system.  When I picked up the bolt in my tire outside Fargo, the warning light didn't ever come on and the tire was flat by the time I stopped.  I'd hate to rely on it.

I had somewhat of a wait in air conditioning that nearly froze me to death!  I walked outside for a bit but it was cool out there as well.  The manager turned up the temp on the A/C for me and it helped a bit.

I noticed one of the odometer settings shows that I drove about 4800 miles to get here.  I estimated a bit less than that, and it would have been several hundred additional miles had I gone through Canada as planned.  Now I need to get an oil change and I'll be set until I get back to California.

Now to relax a bit, maybe sit out on the deck.  I still haven't seen a deer since I've been here although my daughter-in-law tells me there are greater numbers of them than ever.  They must be taking a different route than through the back yard.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I wanted to change the header picture but had a lot of trouble - couldn't get a picture description without messing everything else up.  I like this particular photo because it looks like one of the swans called a meeting of the flock (or whatever a group of swans is called).

I had planned to do a recap of my trip as well as my feelings about driving, camping, etc., in the various parts of the country.  I think I will wait until I get back to CA though, since my return trip will be in the south and will no doubt present different conclusions.  I've loved it all so far.

So far I've been resting and being lazy, but if the weather is good tomorrow I think I'll drive to Hyde Park and visit Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage.  Another day I need to get an oil change, and still another to find two new tires.  I hate it that I don't have a place to keep a full sized spare tire, as that donut is absolutely worthless in my view.

It is so good to be stationary for a while.  Driving a long distance takes its toll.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I have been in recuperation mode since arriving yesterday.  What a joyous reunion - those boys are keeping me on my toes.  

First of all they periodically ask if they can help me bring some more things in from my car, which means they can open the hatch and climb into the back, exploring everything there.  The first thing Justin (almost 5 yr old) found when he got in the back yesterday was my walking stick.  He said, "Oh is this for me?"  I told him that it was mine, and he asked "But where is mine?".  This went on and on until I told him that he would require a very special stick, a shorter one, and that we would have to find one that would fit him.  Judy, you would make a great hit in these parts!  I could get each of them a walking stick and in minutes they'd be swinging them at each other.  I don't think that would be a good idea!  Boys!

They really have been helpful and I can tell they've prepared for my visit.  We looked at the maps they kept updated from my travels, and Josh was excited that he was the one who found Schroeder, MN after they all looked for quite some time.  Schroeder is on Lake Superior and I stayed in a motel there one night.

This morning I watched cartoons with them and it brought back memories of having little boys - they constantly are at each other, play fighting, pretending they are hurt by the other, etc.  Mostly I could break it up fairly quickly.  To my question of what did they want for breakfast they responded "coffee cake".  That's something I always get for myself when I'm in the east and I can see I spoiled them too.  So today I went shopping and came back with coffee cake.

It's warm and on the muggy side, and the humidity feels good on my skin.  I truly prefer a bit of humidity to the total dryness of CA and the west, although I know it can get to be oppressive after a while.  

Here's a photo of the boys showing me the 5# Hershey Bar their dad won.
I think I will sit out on the back deck and wait for the deer to start moving from the woods and across the backyard.  There is a lot of wildlife in those woods and maybe I can even glimpse the wild turkeys or the red fox!

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Made it!

I had talked to my son yesterday and told him I'd probably be there tomorrow (Tues.) and that I would try to camp overnight.  He phoned me when I was on the road this morning and said unless I was hell-bent on camping I should just come on to their house today.  He had figured the mileage was doable for me, and it was.  Once I arrived at the quick decision to make this my final day on the road, my spirits soared, my heart sang, and the car performed flawlessly!

I didn't leave the Sleepy Hollow Motel until 9 am as I talked with the owner for at least a half hour.  This motel is on U.S. 20 just east of Auburn, NY, and I mentioned it in my blog yesterday.  What a beautiful place - the absolute nicest motel room I have stayed in, probably in my life!  The relaxed atmosphere, the friendly owners, the rural scenery, the most comfortable mattress I've ever experienced in a motel - it was just so nice and so needed at the time I found it.  I will definitely try to stay there again - possibly on my way home from NY the NEXT time!  The motel is open from approximately May to October, depending on the weather and traffic.

I loved the bedspread in the room and took a photo - not your standard motel-type bed linens.

I got a business card from the Sleepy Hollow, and it gives their web site:

Auburn to the west and Skaneateles to the east are two great little towns that seem to have a lot to do - lots of little shops, museums, etc.  I don't like to shop much and museums and other attractions are more fun when you share them.

I stopped to take a couple of pictures in Skaneateles, but didn't stay long because I was in metered street parking and I didn't pay!

The skies were overcast all day, really dark part of the time, and it rained for about my last 50 miles. 

I had a wonderful trip here and experienced some new (to me) places along the way.  I did it exactly as I wished - as Frank Sinatra sings, "I did it my way!"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Heading around the last turn

I left the motel in Rochester this morning thinking I'd find my way to the Ontario shore.  I couldn't get near it but a little further east I did find a spot to take some pictures.

Getting bored with looking for elusive Great Lakes, I headed south a bit for the Finger Lakes area.  On a Sunday morning Seneca Falls was locked up tighter than a drum, to my great disappointment.  I walked the streets for a bit and couldn't find a thing open except for a few breakfast places, and I had already had breakfast.

Before arriving at Seneca Falls I managed to get a picture of Seneca Lake from a state park.  It was early enough and no traffic, so I asked the gate attendant if I could just snap a couple of photos and be on my way.  What a nice young man - he didn't mind at all:

I thought, OK, I'll just get pictures of the Finger Lakes.  The situation with them is similar to the Great Lakes - I drove the entire length of Lake Cayuga and when I got to the state park near the southern end, the tourists were out in force.  The gate house wasn't close enough to the lake shore that I didn't even bother to ask. 

I got back to US 20 after an awful lot of driving in the upstate NY wine region, and when I reached Auburn I decided to look for a motel.  I found a lovely little place on the outskirts of Auburn.  

I asked if I could dry my tent fly in the field  and was told I certainly could - and that I could hang it over the fence if I wished.  I did that and it dried  and is now rolled and fitted into its spot in my car.

Sometimes these little places are real gems, and I would take them a thousand times over the chain motels.  The prices this time of year are killing me though.

I'm really tired of driving.  I'm tired of looking for what I can't find.  I'm also tired of not feeling at my best.

My head injury is just about over with, and my tailbone hurts when I sit or lie down a certain way, but then I can usually move a bit and it goes away.  Now I have a pain in my shoulder that suspiciously reminds me of the frozen shoulder on my other arm I had in 2006 or 7, which I attributed to taking Boniva.  The operation and physical therapy following it was excruciating, and I worried about it when the doctor wanted me to take Lipitor.

I did begin the low dose of Lipitor, but this morning I found the website where actual patients report side effects - not the doctors or the drug companies.  I am worried enough about it that I think I will stop taking it for 3 days and see what happens.  Hundreds of reports on this web site that I've read so far mention terrible leg cramps at night, and that was the first thing I noticed when starting the drug.  They have gotten worse and are far more painful than any leg cramps I ever had before.

My shoulder keeps me awake at night and prevents me from getting into a comfortable sleeping position.  I don't have any pain meds with me because I don't take aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.  I bought an individual foil wrapped Advil and took it a couple of days ago when things were at their worst, and it was a temporary help, but I worry too much about stomach distress to even try another Advil.

So I'm ready to get off the road for a couple of weeks and maybe see some local sights - the last time in Hudson Valley I visited the Roosevelt house and museum, and this time I will visit Eleanor's cottage.

I really love New York, and I hope I can get back to this part of it for another visit in the future.  Right now I've driven down so many dead ends looking for water that I'm ready to give up.  

So far I've driven through Duluth, Cleveland, and Rochester, and I guess I'll face Albany.  If Albany isn't too difficult to drive in I'd like to take a tour around the downtown, but that probably won't happen, as I can imagine the traffic on a work day in the state capital.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Searching for Lake Ontario

What a disappointment to find that the shores of Lake Ontario, as many of the other Great Lakes, are in private hands.  Today I could only snap a photo from afar while on the Ontario Lake Parkway.  Every time I tried to turn down a road that looked promising it ended up being private.  I'm hoping to see more tomorrow.

I did find something unexpected in the little town of Medina - The Erie Canal:  the bridge going over the canal is a also a drawbridge!

Here are two photos I snapped from the Parkway, a divided highway with a very wide median strip, and mostly large trees on the lake side.  If you get a break in the trees you get to see the fine houses lining the lake.  I wouldn't waste a picture on those.

I only drove 90 miles or so today.  The campground was comfortable, quieted down early, and I got a good night's sleep.  There was heavy dripping dew all over everything when I finally got up this morning.  I wiped off the tent fly as best I could, although the dew reappears immediately.  So I've packed a wet fly; the tent stayed relatively dry but as soon as I removed the fly the moisture tried to land on the tent.  I got that down in a hurry, but everything needs to be air and sun dried soon.

I'm in a motel in Rochester, hoping to get a load of laundry done.  I'm ready to cry over this place, which is nice enough, but the doors are almost impossible for me to handle.  I've bruised and cut myself just trying to get through them.  I asked for a room near an outside door so I wouldn't have to carry my bags far from where I parked the car.  They have me in a spot not to my liking, but I know the desk clerk tried and had no idea what I really was asking for.  She's too young!

I've found several things on the map I'm interested in, as well as trying to find camping.  Seneca Falls is nearby and I might try to get by there.  Tonight, Saturday, is the hardest time to find camp sites available - I've already tried a couple of places.  As long as there isn't any rain in the forecast I'll sleep in my tent the next couple of days, I hope.

Several readers have commented that I'm making "good time", which never really figured in my planning.  I had "x" number of days to work with, and way more things I could think of to see than I could fit in those days.  I'm glad in the long run that I decided not to go into Canada, as I would probably not have gotten to Lake Ontario if I had.  Of course, I still need to get a good look at Ontario, and I hope to tomorrow.

I think the Great Lakes are national treasures for both the U.S. and Canada.  It is so sad that so much of the shorelines in the U.S. are held privately, and it's really difficult to determine where there is public access.  I thought about going into a State Park today, one of those that had no camping sites available, but I'm not sure how much if any lake access I would have had from the park.  It sure wasn't advertised.  I still think Michigan features Lake Huron in the best possible way, but I can only say that from the little I've seen, so don't take my word for it.

Thanks to those who responded to my questions about the Edmund Fitzgerald.  Of course it happened in Lake Superior.  I think what threw me was that there are so many verses in the song, and all the Great Lakes are mentioned in it.  And I should have known the singer was Gordon Lightfoot.

I hope tomorrow is a better day for lake viewing as well as for camping.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fri, Aug 23 - Darien St. Park, NY

I left the motel in Lorain, OH at 7am this morning to try to beat the worst of the commute through Cleveland.  But first, a word about last night's dinner.

I went next door to a restaurant that had the nicest staff I have met in a long time.  Everyone stopped by my table to chat, as they did with all the patrons.  But the menu!  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to order the city chicken.  I have never heard of it outside Cincinnati, but evidently it is an Ohio food.  It is made with cubes of pork which are placed on a wooden skewer, dipped in beaten egg, and rolled in coarse cracker crumbs and skillet fried.  My mom made city chicken to die for!  I made it a few times but I don't think it was a favorite with my kids so I quit making it.

The city chicken came with mashed potatos and gravy, and carrots, and all were seasoned and cooked to perfection!  Unfortunately the portions were too big for me and i could only eat half the food on the plate, but it was a meal to remember!

So I left early this morning and though the traffic was heavy enough, I didn't have a problem.  When did I start thinking I couldn't drive through cities?  I don't like to and won't do it except when I have to, but I can do it.

I finally got to the road along the Lake Erie shore but was disappointed that most of the lake is held privately so there isn't a lot of beach access.  I did manage to get a few pictures though.  I think these were taken at Conneaut Township Park, after which I stopped at the Ashtabula Campus of Kent State University and took the photos of the geese.

I stayed on the lakeshore drive through the small portion I traveled in Pennsylvania.  Again, almost all the lake access is in private hands.  PA is a gorgeous state, and this part featured grape vines and wineries, plus many fresh produce stands.  Erie PA has an interesting section along the shore, but I kept going and entered New York.  I think this shot was at Westfield, NY.

Here are some shots taken at Lake Erie State Park, NY.  I walked down all those steps and way out on the boardwalk.  The return trip didn't bother me like I thought it might.  There are 73 steps and I climbed them at a pretty good pace, stopping after 40 for a few seconds and then continuing right on up.

I'm not sure where these were taken - I think at a boat launch somewhere along the way.



It wasn't the wisest decision I ever made to try to drive US20 up to and around Buffalo on a Friday afternoon.  I should probably have gotten on an interstate for most of it.  Finally US20 turned east and I stopped at Darien State Park where they had about 5 available campsites, one of which is perfect for me tonight.  I can't believe how friendly the other campers are.  My campsite before setting up the tent.


Tomorrow I will make my way to Lake Ontario and that will be the final of the Great Lakes for me this trip.  Before I entered one of the municipal parks along the way the radio played the song about the Edmund Fitzgerald.  That ship went down in one of the Great Lakes, and I can't remember for sure which one - Lake Huron, maybe?  I also can't remember the singer who did the song so beautifully, but I couldn't have heard it at a more perfect time.  Every one of the Lakes is beautiful and powerful.

A lady who stopped to talk told me it is supposed to get down into the 50's tonight.  I don't know whether to put on the tent fly or not - I normally don't use it at 50 in California, but maybe it would be a good idea tonight, especially since I can't ever be sure there won't be a few showers.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thur., 8/22 - Lorain, OH

Today wasn't what I had hoped or expected, but it got me to where I am now.  The first part was along Lake Huron, mostly hidden by all the cottages and resorts on US23.  I would really like to return to this eastern shore of Michigan some day in the spring or fall.  

I had thought I would drive mostly on US23 until I got near Toledo and then switch briefly to I-75.  I misread a sign and ended up on I-75/US23 south, rather than plain old 23.  Interstate and freeway traffic has been terrible all day long, and even with all the road construction, closing two lanes, etc., the drivers still want to go over the 70mph limit.  I hate driving like that, plus there isn't anything pleasant to look at while you're driving.  I don't mind going through all the little towns, farmlands, etc. and prefer it to the mindless quest to get somewhere in a hurry.

Michigan is certainly Chevy country, especially the part I've traveled through today.  If I had a kid along I would have told him or her to count make of cars on the road, although that game is probably not played any more now that the kids watch DVD's while traveling.

I need to emphasize that in my post yesterday I was being facetious when I referred to hating Michigan.  I don't hate it at all, and never have.  The only exception was on Saturday afternoons during the 1960's and 1970's, and being a loyal fan of Woody Hayes Ohio State Buckeyes, I was obligated to hate Michigan once a week during football season!  Once Hayes was fired and television took over football (and ruined it in the process) I never liked football again, and so I never had a gripe with Michigan after that.  And I NEVER put a bumper sticker on my car with an unfavorable action towards Michigan in all those football years.  If there are any Ohioans of near my age reading this, you know which bumper sticker I'm referring to!  :~))))

I have to face it - I'm not a summertime traveler.  But I'm on a mission so I can do anything I need to do to celebrate Justin's birthday.

So now I'm in Ohio and after driving for 6 hours in less than optimum conditions, I'm worn to a frazzle!  I found a Motel 6 near Cleveland - comfortable, and located on the ground floor with my car parked right outside, I'm content.  There is a restaurant next door I'm going to check out for dinner (if I can stay awake).  This is a nice little room, and is actually the smallest motel room I can remember staying in.  For one who has lived in a 5th wheel and now lives in a pretty compact mobile home, I don't mind a small motel room, but then I don't mind the big ones either!

I'm hoping to get away from interstates as much as possible tomorrow, and possibly get close to Lake Erie.  I'm running a contest in my mind as to which Great Lake I prefer, but of course it is so subjective as to be worthless to anyone but me.  How I was feeling at the time, the views I got of the Lakes, the traffic, the weather, etc., all point to Lake Huron being my fave so far.  US23 is the perfect road from which to see it, the pull offs are spacious and if you miss the entrance you can slow down some more and turn in at the other end of the pull off road.  There are generous views of the lake from just about everywhere, but the pull offs are clean, spacious, and inviting you to take a good look.  We'll see where Erie fits in tomorrow.  That makes me realize to do it right, I need to view Lake Ontario, which will require some juggling of my schedule and route, but I'll probably do it.

Speaking of schedules and the record-keeping involved, I can tell they've been shot to hell and back!  I don't follow my own schedules if I feel like turning a different way, and by the time I crossed the Mississippi River (actually by the time I stepped into the Mississippi River) I was tired of recording every little detail and expense.  I have a handful of receipts, a lot of numbers jotted here and there, and what I miss I can probably pick up from my statement of charges.  I did look this afternoon when I stopped for the day and I have traveled about 4060 miles so far.  I think if I had gone up through Canada around Lake Superior as planned I would have gone well over 4500 miles for the total one way trip.

Highlights so far have been many and I'm so grateful for them all.  Right now I'm still on a high from crossing the Bridge, and wondering when and why I ever decided I couldn't do it.  It was fun and I was grinning ear to ear from one end of the bridge to the other.  Doing it early and with very little traffic was a plus.

I haven't had an opportunity to take any photos today, but I hope I can make up for that tomorrow.

I'm trying to read as many blogs as I can but I'm just not able to keep up with commenting.  It's not easy working out of a motel room or at a picnic table if and where I can get reception.

That's about it for now - do I take a quick nap or have another beer.  If I have another beer I'll probably get the nap too, so that might be a good deal.  It is so hard to unwind after this sort of day. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wed., Aug 21, 2013

I got through Duluth yesterday easier than I thought was possible, and traveled east on Hwy. 28.  I would have driven US 2 but it was much longer distance-wise, so I decided to do both, cutting down to US 2 further east.

Unfortunately last night I stayed in the buggiest campground I have ever been in.  When I got out of the car the bugs were all over me - I had to keep brushing them off to apply Bug Guard.  The Bug Guard didn't help much and I got into my tent in late afternoon.  That is no way to spend the daylight hours.  I had driven to the point where I just didn't want to drive any further, although another few miles would have gotten me to a motel along US 2.

I fell asleep early but woke up to a flashlight shining around but wasn't too worried when I realized it was a guy calling his dog, or his kid, or maybe both.  This was at midnight, and I heard a woman calling to kids and more dogs.  One dog had a "lab bark" and a couple more were the little yappy kind.  The man must have been gathering firewood and it wasn't long when I saw a couple of huge bonfires - big enough that I was slightly worried about them getting out of control.  I went back to sleep but woke up several times again during the night, finally getting up about 6:30. 

I packed my tent quickly and got ready to leave - I drove past a big motorhome which is how the other party must have avoided the bugs.

I knew I didn't have far to go to get to the bridge, but stopped to take a couple of pictures of Lake Michigan.

I was driving over the bridge at 8 am, wondering why in the world I had worried about it.  A bridge is a bridge, and I have driven over many of different lengths and heights, and the Mackinac Bridge is a piece of cake.  I had no traffic but there was the roadwork - at least two places where they closed the right lane.  No problem.

Pictures of Lake Huron:  Note the ducks in the first, and a freighter in the 2nd.

Further along the eastern shore of Michigan I stopped at a lighthouse and museum, but was disappointed that I couldn't climb the stairs.  The man in the gift shop said that it is still a working lighthouse and the Coast Guard only allows visitors to go up on weekends. 

I stopped at 1 pm this afternoon at a lovely little motel with friendly owners who say they might have a bonfire tonight.  Right now I'm going to take a shower and wash my hair, and hope I get rid of all the bugs.

This morning I hated Michigan and would never come back.  Now that leaving Michigan will happen tomorrow, I know I will miss it.  I really love the UP but now know to never camp there in the summer time.  I doubt if I will ever travel in the summertime, except maybe close to home. 

I forgot to include this photo - I think it is "bittersweet"?  I know it is used in a lot of dried arrangements, but I like it growing on the bush and up close.