Monday, July 25, 2016

Hamilton

We left Killbear and headed south.  We stopped for Internet, and then we picked up another windsufer (for free) off of Kijiji, the Canadian craigslist.  We hung out at a beach in Waubaushene for a bit, then moved over to spend the night at a boondocker outside of Barrie, Ontario.
Sunset at the beach
The next morning, we picked up MORE windsurfer stuff (I think it was a wetsuit) and drove all the way to a boondocker in Hamilton, Ontario.  We ended up going through a bit of the city, which took a while, but was kinda neat to see.

My parents and I took a little bike ride the next morning.  Our hosts mentioned that there was a bike trail a little ways up the road, so we set off to find that.  It's called the "Lafarge 2000 Trail" and it goes up over some really steep drumlins!  It had rained pretty recently, so it was a little buggy, but it was still pretty awesome!  That part of the trail wasn't very long (about 1.5 miles) so we ended up on a road again pretty quickly, but it was fun!



Our previous hosts said that Hamilton has a bunch of waterfalls that you can go see (I think they said 200!) so later that day we set out to go see some.  I don't remember the names of any of the ones we saw, but they were pretty cool, and the hiking was nice.  It sorta reminded me of the hikes we did in Salt Lake City.

The view was pretty awesome here!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Killbear Provincial Park

We spent our first night in Ontario at a boondocker along the Trans-Canada Highway.  In the morning, we took a bike ride, and then hit the road!  We stopped at the Sudbury Public Library for Internet and lunch, and kept driving.  Eventually, we ended up at Killbear Provincial Park, right on the Georgian Bay.


My parents had stayed here many years ago, and my dad had gone windsurfing, so he was pretty excited.  We got settled in at the campground, and some of us went exploring!  There was a really nice trail along the main road, which was great for hiking and biking.



The campground was pretty near the water, and there was a beach where you could go swimming.  It did get kinda hot some of the days, and the water felt really good.  (It was really cold!)  There are lots of rocks along the shore that you can climb around on, that was fun.  My dad brought the windsurfer down and went out a few times.




The park is on a peninsula, and out on the end there's a little lighthouse that you can walk out to.  It's really pretty around here!




Killbear was really nice, and very pretty, but after a couple of days we were ready to move on, (and get some Internet!) so we packed up and headed south!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Michigan!


We got up pretty early and left Park Falls, Wisconsin and headed towards Michigan!  It was a pretty long day, but we ended up in a county park outside of Escanaba, in the Upper Peninsula.


The next morning, we got up and drove back into Escanaba, looking for groceries and a wetsuit to go with the windsurfer.  (We got plenty of groceries, but no wetsuit.)  It was kinda rainy and gloomy, so we kept driving, and ended up at a little Michigan DNR campground on Milakokia Lake.  It rained for a while in the afternoon, but it did clear up a bit later.


There wasn't much to do at that campground, so we drove off the next morning towards Sault Ste Marie.  As we were driving, we saw a sign for Tahquamenon Falls.  It was a bit out of our way, but it was pretty early in the day, so we drove up that way instead.


We stopped at the lower falls, then drove up to the upper falls, which were a lot cooler!  The rim of the falls is sorta curved, and you can see all the rock layers behind the falls!

The Lower Falls
The Upper Falls
After that, instead of going all the way back down to the highway, we took a scenic road along Whitefish Bay.  On the way, we stopped at a fish hatchery, which was just open to the public, and we got to go into this huge airplane hangar-like building, where they're keeping millions of little fish -- it was really cool!

We stopped for the night at a city park a few miles out of Sault Ste Marie.  The next morning, my parents and I took a bike ride into the city, which was cool.  Then, we packed up and drove into Ontario, leaving the UP behind!
My dad did some windsurfing in the St Mary's River

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Whirlwind of City Parks

I say 'City' parks, but mean little county or town parks too.  On this trip we've found a few nice city parks with camping.  Many times they are very nice, and usually a little more off the beaten track.  Sure, not usually with some huge scenic attraction like a national park, on the other hand sometimes in a cute town to explore.

The last week or so we've hit a number of them through SD, MN, WI and MI.  Suddenly we feel like we need to make miles to get back to New York, for family reunion time, after a year away.

Near the middle of South Dakota, just about 2 miles off the big interstate, we found Lake Byre park.  A great free stop for going across SD.  A nice warm lake about 40 acres in the middle of rolling prairie, with cows grazing on the other size, and plenty of room to park anywhere.  It was really windy most of the time for the two nights we stayed.  




The lake bottom was soft mud and shallow along the edge, and I experimented with water starting the windsurfer (having the sail pull you up out of the water to start, instead of standing on the board and pulling up the sail).  I didn't get it yet, but it was good sailing.  Elliot got some pictures of me taking off and crashing once.
video
The second day there the wind shifted and was blowing broadside to the trailer.  It was strong enough and gusty, that it was repeatedly blowing out the refrigerator burner.  We put a board and a plastic bag over the lower vent door outside to block the wind.  The wind died back down in the evening again.


Another fun part of city parks are sometimes the people you meet.  At Lake Byre, there was a young couple from Ohio, traveling in a van for a while.  After dark the girl got out an LED hula hoop and practiced twirling and throwing it, it was pretty neat.  I missed getting a picture of us all laying on the bed watching the show out the window.


The next day we stopped at a down to earth county park on Lake Benton, in Minnesota.  The park has a lot of long term sites, and a dozen regular sites.  The lake here is nice, good fishing probably.  There's a beach and playground, and it's big enough to get some wind across it.  I sailed across and back in the afternoon on the windsurfer.  There was a fair bit of algae in the lake.

The side roads here and back in SD were good gravel roads, with no traffic, great for bike rides.  Usually in the morning Elliot & Annie go for a ride, and sometimes I go along.

Passing through Minnesota, we made a tradition of stopping to see the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, again.  It was just a year ago we were here.  We were listening to the song as we drove up, blasting it out with the windows open.  I had to laugh when I realized the song predicted that we'd be back again.
In the morning we were on our way home again
But we really didn't want to leave, that was perfectly clear
I said, "Folks, I can tell you're all sad to go"
Then I winked my eye and I said, "You know, I got a funny kind of feelin'
we'll be comin' back again next year"

last year:


this year:

this year Weird Al photobombed us.



We stayed another single night at Schroeder Park, on Cedar Lake, MN.   The lake and beach was really nice, clean and clear water.  Not so much wind on the lake, and the campground was full of those two legged things, what are they called?  people?  So we just stayed one night.

We started seeing these funny looking travel trailers with odd tall square wheel wells, small vinyl double pane windows, and bay windows on the back.  It took me a little figuring to guess what these are:  We're in Minnesota, it gets real cold here.  The trailers say Ice Castle on them...  Ahah!  drive 'em out on the frozen lakes, drop the trailer down on the ice, open the floor, cut your hole, have a beer, watch the game on TV, make fish dinner in the kitchen, and use the loo too!



Next we made a two night stop in Wisconsin;  Hines Park in Park Falls, WI.  Cute little town, a little run down with the lumber and other local industry, but very nice.  Right by a little lake above a small hydro-electric plant, and a big paper mill downstream.  Great for paddling.  There is a bike path into town, where there's a nice big newer library.

And one last county park in the streak, Pioneer Trail CG just outside of Escanaba, MI.  Nice park and by a nice river, but it was pretty well packed and we just passed through.  People all over again....



Monday, July 11, 2016

Badlands

We got up and left Devil's Tower pretty early, and headed east.  We left Wyoming and entered South Dakota, and drove through Rapid City.  We stopped at the Ellsworth AFB Air and Space Museum for a few hours on the way, that was cool.
Minuteman missile in the center. 
B1A  (Carter cancelled it, Reagan made it the B1B)

B52 - thankfully never delivered nuclear warheads...




After the museum, we kept driving about mid-afternoon we arrived in a field in Buffalo Gap National Grassland, on the east side of 240, south of Wall, right outside of Badlands National Park.  The really cool part about this spot (besides it's free, and right outside the National Park) is that it's right on the edge of a huge cliff, looking out over some of the Badlands.  It's really cool!

It was HOT when we got there!  We put out the awning and spent most of the afternoon in the shade.  The grass was pretty dry, we were careful to make sure we didn't do anything that might start a fire.


We stayed in the same place on our three week test trip last summer.  Last year, there were a bunch of cows grazing here, but we didn't see any this time around.  It was a whole lot drier too.  (Alice got a tick last time too, but we didn't see any here this time -- maybe it's too dry?)


It cooled down a lot after the sun started to go down a bit.  We had dinner outside, and I took a walk along the edge and took some pictures.







We got up even earlier the next morning and hit the road really early, because it was supposed to be really hot.  We drove east through the National Park, and stopped at a bunch of overlooks, some of which we remembered from last time.



As the morning went on, we pulled over, had second breakfast, and climbed around a bit.  It was really fun, but it started to get really hot, so we kept moving.


We headed north, and pulled over at an overlook/trailhead for lunch.  We all did the really short Window Trail, and my dad and I did the 1.5 mile Notch Trail.  The Notch Trail was pretty cool, we walked through a canyon for a bit, then climbed a log ladder/stairs and walked along up higher to the Notch, which looks out over the park.


It was still pretty early in the afternoon, so instead of stopping just outside the park, we kept heading east!