So far behind…..

Hello, dear friends!
So sorry there has been such a delay in posting – we really haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I just posted about four entries – but I’m still behind on getting the pictures up-loaded and organized. Not to mention telling you all about the great time we had with Toby & Tammy & Ellie last weekend.
Right now it’s 11:30PM on Tuesday, and we’re sitting the parking lot of the Monaco Service Center in Elkhart, Indiana. We have a 6AM appointment tomorrow to have some work done on Lizzie. If I can get real power to this computer, and maybe a wireless connection that won’t eat up all of my minutes – I’ll try to continue to get these pages up to date.
We are well – still friends, and having an amazing time!
~~Steph

Back to the States

Even though our time in Canada was wonderful, it was still nice to be back in the good old USA! I was surprised at how good it felt – and actually how safe I felt (even though I was coming into Buffalo! =) ). Lizzie was pointed to Erie and Presque Isle right outside of Erie. Presque Isle is a lovely state park – lot’s of sandy beaches (and the only waves in PA, so I’ve read), lots of hiking and biking trails and a little bit of history to boot. This is where Commondeer Perry built (well, I’m sure he had some help) the six boats that were used in the decisive Battle on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. One of those ships remain – the Niagara, which is docked in Erie and is fully seaworthy. In fact, if you want to volunteer, they take about two dozen volunteers at a time to help maintain and sail this brig around the US. We didn’t sign up – so there’s probably room for you!
Later that same day we stopped at the only National Park in Ohio – the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located between Cleveland and Akron. It wasn’t a “destination” park – no geisers or ocean cliffs – but it was full of wonderful hiking and biking paths and some bits of history also. It was the route of the Ohio & Erie Canal – which is now a bike path. We learned a little more about turn of the century boats – this time the canal barges. (Between the USS Constitution in Boston, the Mystic Seaport, the first nuclear submarine, the Nautalis, the US Brig Niagara and now the Canal boats, we’re becoming quite informed about all things floating….not to mention the new Kayak experience…..). Anyway – about the park – it was really very nice and although we didn’t stop long (you know, Columbus was calling…..), it seemed like there was a lot to offer.

I haven’t had a chance to upload the pictures from Presque Isle and Cuyahoga Valley – but watch for them soon on the Picture page…..

Oh Canada! (Isn’t there a song by that name?)

What a lovely time we had in Canada where we visited with our Canadian Family (my Dad’s second wife, Jo, and her family), shared a weekend with them at their lake cottage on Georgian Bay, and then spent two days at Niagara Falls. Following our eventful customs crossing (never bring more than two bottles of wine per person with you into Canada unless you want to pay duty on them), we spent Thursday night (9/8) in Cobourg, Ontario (about two hours East of Toronto) and then left Lizzie at Jo’s house and headed to Toronto for a family party. On Friday we headed north to Honey Harbor on the Georgian Bay, loaded our stuff into a boat and rode out to the Go Home community of cottages on the Eastern edge of Georgian Bay. (These really are cottages – some more elaborate than others, but all beautifully synchronized with the scenery) We were blessed with amazing weather, and stunning scenery and warm hospitality. The weather was so lovely they even got me swimming in the lake (and I’m quite chicken when it comes to cold water) and learning how to kayak. We took about a mile trip over to the little library that serves this cottage community and back again. No white water, mind you, but both Gary and I remained upright and dry for the trip! Now getting in and getting out is quite a challenge (and I’m very glad it isn’t on video tape!), but the kayaking was very fun. I hope we get to work on our skills later in our trip.
This is the view from the deck of the cottage we were staying at –

Well, Gary’s not always enjoying the morning sun when they look out – but as you can see it is quite beautiful. Check out our travel picture page for more pictures of this area. It truly was breathtaking. These cottage “communities” sprinkled around Georgian Bay and the many lakes north of Toronto are to Toronto-ites what a Jersey shore home is to Philadelphians (and suburbs.) This was indeed a memorable weekend!

We headed on to Niagara on Monday the 13th. That evening we did Niagara on the Lake (NOTL) – a quaint community on Lake Ontario north of the Falls. If we’d had the time we could have spent days touring wineries and small historic homes, but since we had Columbus (and the kids) in our sights, we had to pick and choose our destinations. Before we left NOTL, we headed to the lake shore where off in the distance we could actually see Toronto – can you pick it out is this picture? Maybe the world really is flat!?

We did visit Fort George which was involved in the War of 1812. It was an interesting place – and it was especially interesting to hear the story of the Battle of Niagara from the English point of view. The facts were the same, but the perspective was different.
From the Fort we headed off to THE Niagara Falls (of course!). We took some of our Tourist Allowance and did the Tried and True Maid of the Mist. Of course, if you have ever taken that boat ride, you know it should be called the Maid of the Rain. Another amazing experience – one we’re glad we invested in. To be that close to such thundering power – WHEEEWWWWW.
This is a picture of the boat on its way back to the dock. Pretend I’m one of those blue raincoat clad tourists down there – and trust me, I’m soaked!

More Niagara Pictures are over on the Travel Images page if you have the time!

All in all we had a wonderful time in Canada. And according to most of the Canadians we spoke to, we hit the best weather of the Summer! Every day was blue skies and sunshine ~ and much to our delight the crowds had all left on Labor Day!
Special time with Family and continued reminders of God’s awesome creation! Doesn’t get much better than this!

Helpful Signs

Just as aside (amongst all this travel talk) –
I think this must be a contender for the world’s largest NO SMOKING sign. – Do you think it impacts the folks on the shoreline?

And I really appreciate the signs that not only help identify an area, but go on to offer helpful suggestions…
Seen outside of Erie, PA –
CORRECTIONAL FACILITY AREA
And underneath it…
DO NOT PICK UP HITCHICKERS
…Thanks for the tip!

On the way to Canada

(OK, so while we’re already back from Canada in reality, I hated for you to miss any of the fun spots we hit on the way. So here’s a little flashback!).
We said good-bye to Elna & Henry in Bradford and headed north. After a quick (is that really possible) stop at the Costco in Burlington, we headed up through the Grand Isles of Lake Champaign on our way to Canada. Rte 2 through Lake Champaign is a very beautiful drive which I highly recommend. Guess I was too busy gawking to take pictures, but wanted to send the recommendation along! We were headed to the Thousand Island Bridge to Canada, and we made a stop at Alexandria Bay to see Boldt Castle. This is another of those famous “cottages” built during the Gilded Age (before income tax and the Depression).This castle was built by George Boldt, owner of both the Bellevue Stratford and Waldorf Astoria. He was building it for his wife who tragically died about four years into construction. After her death he halted all construction. Workers (so I am told) just laid down their tools and left. The property remained unfinished and open to the whims of nature (and those northern winters aren’t too whimsical) and local curiosity seekers. Fortunately, the castle was fully enclosed before construction was halted, but by the time it came into the hands of the Thousand Island Port Authority it had been ravaged by harsh winters, high waters, vandalism, fires and graffiti upon graffiti. Thirty years later, most of the out buildings have been restored and the Castle itself is safe to tour. While the first floor of the castle is mostly restored, the remaining floors (up to 6 in the turrets) are still covered with memories of curious tourists from generations ago(like “The Lewis family was here – 1947”).
This is the “out building” that housed the generators….

And building in the front was just used for entertaining. It even had a bowling alley –

And while you can’t really get a feel for the enormity of this building – this is the castle itself – taken from the boat as we approached to island –

Mr. Boldt never returned to this island after his beloved wife died. But now hundreds come every day. Go figure! It was a totally self guided tour – we took our time and even though the day was not very pretty, we were glad we stopped.

Seeing the country……Serving our Lord!