Day 25: Home!

I had trouble getting up this morning so was a bit late getting away.  After a nice breakfast which included french toast, I got out into a drizzly morning with a bit of fog.  The colour of the trees as I went further north became less sporadic and more vibrant.  What a beautiful drive.

Found something really interesting at the Kia dealership in Sandusky, Ohio yesterday.  They have special counters that have a pull out desk in the front so that people in wheel chairs can use it to sign papers.  I thought that was really meeting the needs of their customers.  Even if you only have a couple of handicapped drivers who would need it, the word would spread that ALL of your customers matter and you’ll go to any length to make your customers comfortable.

I took a brief detour to the Hobby Lobby in Rochester to pick up some Rub ‘n’ Buff which I used to be able to get in Canada but no longer can.  I got several tubes of them in different colours and also found a couple of Christian books and a small decorative wooden box for one of my smaller chess sets that is rather special.  I had lunch in the same mall and then got back on the highway.  Traffic was sparse most of the time.  I arrived in Ogdensburg by 3:45, topped the tank, picked up my parcels, and crossed the border.  Picked up Budge at 5:15 and home and everything unloaded by 5:30.

What a great trip!  Hoping to FaceTime with the kids tonight and then it will be early to bed.  I might just sleep for a week.  Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian friends!

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Heading Home: Day 24 — Olean, N.Y., final night on the road

I was on the upper gray route which doesn’t have the time listed.

A beautiful day for driving again today.  I went through 4 states again:  Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.  My marvellous GPS kept me off the toll roads.  Most of the morning was on a two-lane highway but in the afternoon it was mostly 4-lane divided and much of the highway had been rehabilitated (as the signs in Ottawa always like to say) and were great to drive on.  Coming through western Pennsylvania and New York past all the densely forested hillsides with their muted fall colours made me even more anxious to get home.  Tonight is my last night on the road.

Spending the night in Olean, New York tonight, a favourite place of my dad and step-mom.  I won’t really see it until I’m leaving tomorrow since I arrived just after dusk tonight.  Again, no pictures today.

I made an unscheduled stop which was why I was late tonight.  I had my oil changed before I left home on September 12th but with all the driving I’ve been doing, I was overdue more than 2600 km. on my next oil change.  I originally was going to wait until I got home but for my own peace of mind I decided I would get it changed today.  I pulled off the highway and got gas in a place called Sandusky, Ohio.  I went into the store and asked the fellow behind the cash if there was a Hyundai dealership nearby.  He said there was a Kia dealership just down the road.  (Kia is owned by Hyundai so I felt that was close enough.)  It was about 3 blocks away and the guys there were great!  An hour later, my oil was changed, my car was washed, and I was on my way.  Thanks Roger, Paul, and Chris!!

Went around Cleveland in rush hour traffic so that was a bit challenging but went well.  There was a stretch several miles long where the highway was down to one lane and a 55mph speed limit where nothing was happening at all!!!!  Very frustrating.  All the trip, though, my attitude has been, “I get there when I get there!”  I saw a beautiful sunset and although I missed my exit, the next exit was also Olean and I was on the lighted streets right away and only a few minutes from my motel which — sadly — doesn’t have a fridge and microwave.  I don’t know how I managed that!!!  At least it has HGTV!

Check out my new page under Catching Up! at the top to read my Observations, Queries, and What I didn’t Know on the road! or click this link!

Tomorrow morning, breakfast is included with my room and then I may try to stop at a Hobby Lobby at Syracuse, and finally, it’s off to Ogdensburg where some parcels are waiting for me at the UPS store, and across the border and home to my Budge!!  Cheers from Olean, New York!


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Heading Home: Day 23 — South Bend, Indiana

I travelled through 4 states today.  I started in Minnesota, went through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana where I’m spending the night.  I was here once before in 1966 when my high school concert band played a gig at a local high school before going on to New York City and Philadelphia.  I remember nothing about South Bend.  I didn’t even realize that this is where Notre Dame is located — that famous football team that President Bartlett always cheered because he attended there.  (Just in case you weren’t a fan and don’t know, he’s a fictional president from the West Wing TV show.)

There were large forests of trees showing sporadic autumn colours as I drove through Wisconsin.  It was about the way northern Ontario looked when I left and it made me a bit homesick.  I’m sure the Gatineau Hills are displaying a riot of colour by now and I can hardly wait to get home and see them.  Two more days!!

Today was a beautiful day for travelling — bright and sunny, not too much traffic (except leaving Minneapolis, and around Milwaukee, Chicago, and Indianapolis) — and the time worked out about as expected.  Changed time zones around Hunt Lake in Indiana and that’s the last one for this trip.  The only photo I got today was from the McDonalds next to the station where I stopped for gas and met up with a friend.  Thought you’d like it Coda, Bronyaur, and Jasmin.

Walked past 4 other restaurants tonight to go to Perkins because every other Perkins I’ve been in serves a house white and red wine, has free wi-fi, and after 9 pm have special late night “bites” for $5.  Yeah, this one had none of that.  Rather disappointed also with the TV channel selections in my motel.  First one I’ve stayed at that doesn’t have H&G TV with all my favourite renovation shows.  I got spoiled in Jamestown with the huge selection they had.  They even had a Hallmark Murder and Mystery station that was running Columbo and Murder She Wrote episodes.  Oh well, it’s only for one night.  I’ll watch something on my computer — either Netflix or YouTube.  Tomorrow it’s Olean, NY where Dad used to like to stay for a few days to swim and shop on his way to visit friends in Syracuse.  Not quite as long a drive and then Friday it’s a fairly short one home, so cheers from South Bend, Indiana!

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Heading Home: Day 22 — Minneapolis, Minnesota

Modern court house reflecting City Hall.

Coming into Minneapolis yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that the skyline is very similar to those in Toronto and Winnipeg — tall modern buildings with some lower, older buildings of some architectural note, especially the turrets, tower, and green copper roof of City Hall.  There is a whole strip of factories, mills, etc. alongside the railway like Toronto has along its waterfront area.  The roads and highways weaving alongside the downtown area were very reminiscent of the Gardiner Expressway area of TO.  It all seemed very familiar.

Today I was able to pick up a day pass for $3.00 at the light rail station that is a 2 min. walk from my motel.  (I got dollar coins for change from the machine that I didn’t know the US had — pretty cool.)  The trains are every ten minutes and are very like our old trolley buses in Toronto and Hamilton (although our Hamilton ones didn’t run on tracks) but very sleek and modern-looking.  It was very simple and dropped me off exactly where I wanted downtown, right at the Nicollet Mall which consists of many blocks of shopping and businesses all connected by skywalks like in downtown Calgary and Toronto.  The first building I encountered was a visitor’s information and it is currently housing the Mary Tyler Moore statue because of construction along the mall.  I took my picture and picked up a map.  I looked at souvenir sweatshirts and T-shirts but didn’t see anything I liked in my size.  It was early in the day so I kept going.

In a short time, I came across the mall where Mary and Bess shopped and where she did a restaurant scene with Grant Tinker.  I got lots of photos, looked in shops, and picked up a menu for the first floor restaurant called Mission.  There’s a Nordstrom’s Rack there, a huge food court, and a souvenir shop all in the IDS Crystal Court.  Second floor had a Banana Republic and more fast food outlets.  I finally found where Basil’s Restaurant was but it was part of a hotel and had closed just a few weeks earlier.  Still didn’t see anything I wanted to purchase.

Old copier on top of safe

I had no trouble finding the Wells Fargo Museum as I only had to use a couple of skywalks to get to the Wells Fargo Mall and it was right there.  It is not very large and can be seen easily in 45 min. to an hour.  There are several interactive exhibits and an ATM which will print your photo out on money and email it to you as well.  You can also get a receipt for shipping an item using Wells Fargo.  Some of the old machines on display, like the copier they used to transfer ink and make a clear copy, were really interesting.

I did have lunch at The Mission, American Kitchen and Bar and it had a very relaxing atmosphere even though it was quite busy.  There was a patio area on the courtyard but I was seated inside.  I had a Salmon BLT with their home-made potato chips and it was delicious.  The salmon was very tender and lightly charred, the dressing had thyme in it, and the bacon was peppered.  It was a lovely meal and the service was pretty good.

I hopped on the light rail again and got off at Government Plaza and got some nice pictures of City Hall — back and front — the Court House, the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, and some other art deco architecture.  The government buildings all have their flags half staff because of the shootings in Las Vegas.  There’s a nice bridge the LRT goes over that has some lovely deco stonework on it, too.

After I got back to the motel, I did a bit of research and drove off to some suburban malls.  I ended up at a place called Mall of America which is huge and has an indoor theme park for kids and tons of fast food and fine dining places.  I ended up buying a hooded sweatshirt that says Land of Lakes — very plain — but I couldn’t see anything I liked better.  I wasn’t interested in any Minnesota shirts that had moose on them — I’m from Canada — we’ve got moose, too.

So back now, getting set for an early start for my 7 1/2 hr drive tomorrow to South Bend, Indiana and I’m pretty sure I lose an hour.  I leave you with some photos I shot today.  Cheers from Minneapolis!

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Heading Home: Day 21 — Minneapolis, Minnesota

Well it seems that Minnesota also gets its share of rain.  It’s supposed to rain the whole time I’m here.  The rain started after I had stopped for a nice lunch at a Perkins along the highway.  There had been some construction areas but they were not “stop and go”s they were just down to one lane in each direction and didn’t delay the drive much.  But, when the rain came, it was a downpour.  Fortunately, most drivers slowed down and used common sense.  I even went off at a rest area for a bit as did many others.  However, as in Canada, there are drivers who don’t use daytime lights even in foul weather so extreme caution is called for.  There are no personally shot photos for today of the lake and tree terrain of Minnesota.

The day started well enough.  I got up, showered, went to the pool for a swim and a soak in the hot tub, then back to my room where I made breakfast.  I watched a Columbo on TV while I ate, then packed everything into the car carefully, dropped my key and survey sheet at the main desk, and headed off to get gas before hitting the highway.  Hmm.  That’s where I made my first mistake.  I’m used to the grades starting with the lowest at the left and the highest at the right.  I like the price on the sign and didn’t notice that the grades weren’t set up in the usual fashion until I noticed the price was wrong.  The picture at the left I found on the Internet and it, too, doesn’t go in order, but it’s the opposite way around from the one I was at this morning.  I had the left-hand grade as usual and ended up with the middle grade instead which was 5¢ a gallon more and not the grade I usually get.  It threw me so much that I ended up leaving without my receipt.  Anyway, a cautionary tale and I’ll be more careful from now on.

So I’m in a small motel near the metro which is a bit noisy tonight but will be handy for going uptown tomorrow.  Since it’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow again, I doubt I’ll be throwing a tam up in the air anywhere.  I’ve looked up a site about locations shot over the years for the Mary Tyler Moore Show and it’s very interesting.  About the only site worth seeing today is the Nicollet Mall where Mary took Bess shopping and where there’s a restaurant where she had lunch with a friend (who was actually played by Grant Tinker, her real life husband at the time) and so I’m thinking I’ll go there (right on the metro route) in the morning, shop a bit, have lunch there, and maybe go to the Wells Fargo Museum which is only a couple of blocks away and has the added attraction of being free.

Mary’s house in the show.

I learned some interesting things about the old Victorian house where Mary, Rhoda, and Phyllis lived.  In the show, it was supposed to be at 119 N Weatherly Ave but in reality, it stands at 2104 Kenwood Parkway.  The owner was a university professor who grew tired of the notoriety of it and all the tourists it attracted and wanted the show to move Mary to a different location.  When it appeared they weren’t interested in changing the location (1973), he put signs on his front lawn, “Impeach Nixon”.  Mary moved to an apartment building.  The house has been remodelled and looks quite different than in the show.  I’ve seen different things

The house today.

online.  I’ve seen the house listed as a museum but many reviews as late as August, 2017, say it’s a private home and you just get to peek in the window and have a photo op if you’re lucky.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to go looking for it or not.  Having seen Minneapolis’ rush hour traffic first hand today, I’m not sure I want to go badly enough.  If you’re interested in knowing more about other locations for the show, you can visit this website which I enjoyed very much.

Minneapolis has really good information and videos online about how to ride their different public transit systems and I think I know how to go about it but I’ll check with the front desk in the morning before heading off.  I’m a couple of blocks from the station and can get a senior’s day pass.  I sent out for pizza and have leftovers for tomorrow night, and I have an umbrella in the trunk of the car, so I think I have a firm plan.  I also booked my last motel for Olean, NY, for Thursday night and so that’s all set, too.  Cheers for now from Minneapolis, Minnesota!

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Heading Home: Day 20 — Jamestown, N. Dakota

Well, I’ve been in North Dakota exactly twice in my life and both times it’s been stormy and raining.  I think I’ll have to reconsider the idea of coming here to do a dinosaur dig.  Digs are no fun in the rain.  Seriously, it stopped raining for about an hour this afternoon and I almost took back my misgivings about the dig but then the rain started up again, so there you are.

Getting back to yesterday for a moment, Hwy. 18 wasn’t bad at the beginning or on the last part.  I joined it at a little town called Maple Creek which had a small historic district and people wearing cowboy boots and hats and pulling horse trailers.  The road was fine — paved and divided by a yellow line — and the countryside was interesting.  Until I hit the dirt and gravel section that went on and on and on.  Anyway — ’nuff said!

Today began early and with a light drizzle.  I somehow got off to a false start as I must have got a bit turned around last night when I left the highway to come into town to the motel.  Anyhow, I got my tank filled and set out on a 2-lane paved highway with a yellow dividing line which was a good beginning.  Then I got directions from someone in a store to an interstate which my GPS was avoiding but somehow I missed the overpass (is it possible that overpass means something different in Montana?) and stayed on small, two-lane highways for many hours.  The upside was that being Sunday, no-one was working on the construction and there was no traffic so I just sailed along.  Also, I could see huge distances in both directions so was able to stop a couple of times and take photos despite the terrible weather.

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By the way, you haven’t really seen a rainbow until you’ve seen it stretched across the massive breadth and height of a prairie sky.  Wish I’d been able to take a picture of that but I saw it while I was on the I-94E where the speed limit is 120k/h.  I did manage to stop at a scenic view rest stop and get a few photos but my phone needed recharging and my ipad doesn’t take great pictures.  Probably should upgrade that soon.

Oddly enough, I went through three time zone changes.  First, I passed into Central Time, then an hour or so later, I went back into Mountain Time.  Then, after I got on the I-94E, I crossed back into Central Time.  Also, when driving along the back highway, I saw a sign saying I was leaving Little Missouri National Grasslands without knowing I had ever entered it.  Then later, on the I-94E, I entered it again and haven’t left yet.  Will update tomorrow for sure.

Arrived in Jamestown in good time in the end.  I chose the Gladstone Inn and Suites because of the set-up where rooms exit into the pool area but, alas, my room does not.  While there is a restaurant, it is not open on Sundays so I will have to eat elsewhere.  The room is huge and football themed.  Even the ceiling is set up like a football field.  I hope I’ll be able to sleep without dreaming there’s a game going on!


Tomorrow, it’s on to Minneapolis where I will spend two nights, catch my breath, see the Mary Richards’ house, and take in a few sights.  It’s a short day of driving and I’m looking forward to the break.  Cheers from Jamestown, North Dakota!

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Heading Home: Day 19 — Malta, Montana

Ironically, less than 48 hours after telling my brother-in-law that I didn’t care if I never drove through Saskatchewan again, I spent most of this afternoon driving around the province’s southwest on a two-lane highway, at least an hour of which where it was dirt and gravel.

The original plan — and we all know how often they can go awry — was to follow the route mapped out on Google where I go to Medicine Hat, Alberta, then south IN ALBERTA to Wild Horse, Montana where there is a border crossing.  Alas, Google Maps and my Hyundai GPS are two completely different things.  I hesitated as I watched the sign for Vaughan and Havre go by but thought the next exit my GPS had scheduled would be closer.  Next thing I knew, I had crossed the Saskatchewan border.  The GPS was taking me to Swift Current!  Well, I pulled off and checked my phone and found a more southerly direct route.  Yep — Highway 18 for 3 hours and when it wasn’t dirt and gravel it was mostly broken road surface. (Photo is from the Internet but that part in the middle? not the part with the lines — that’s what it was like for more than an hour.)  Didn’t even see a dozen vehicles the whole afternoon — and that was a good thing.  I began to wonder if I’d ever get to the border.

Well, I arrived eventually at the border site which had hours posted.  Lucky I got there before 6 pm.  Then, having crossed a time zone entering Saskatchewan, I now went back into Mountain time going into Montana, so I didn’t lose an hour today after all.  Good thing.  Oddest little border crossing I’ve ever seen.  I don’t think they get much traffic.  I had to wait for the officer to leave one building and come out to the roadside booth and turn on the green light for me to drive into the little garage.  I had to lower all my windows before turning off my engine.  (Picture from the internet.)

Anyway the landscape here is really interesting.  Real contrast to Alberta and B.C.  No pictures as it also was a two-lane highway and there wasn’t really any place to pull over.  Lots of dirt-coloured bluffs and buttes surrounding fields where cattle were grazing.  The first field I came to, the gate was open and several cows seemed to be contemplating coming out onto the road as they had already passed the gate.  (This picture is the closest I can find under Montana on the Internet.  Now I’m really sorry I didn’t just pull over — I could see way in the distance in both directions, I’m sure I would have been safe.)

I do have some pictures of the town.  My motel is right across the road from the railway station so here’s some pictures for Paul, my train-buff friend.

The train station is right across from my motel and I’ve already heard two trains (seen one) go by so I’m hoping they don’t run in the night.  One of my motel neighbours has a beautiful dog that looks something like an Irish wolfhound.  Owner said the dog was friendly but pooped out from hunting all day.  Very small town (population about 2,000) but it does have a casino and a pizza place.  I think I’ll eat in tonight and try to find a decent place along the road tomorrow for a late breakfast.  Pushing on to Jackson, North Dakota in the morning.  Cheers from Malta, Montana!

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