Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Last Day - DE-Touring Thru NY & PA

It had been rainy off and on thru the night - but now we had bright skies above! We decided to leave around Noon, so we could do a little hiking and have a leisurely breakfast. As we met up with different campers, we started to hear how severe the rain had been - and that south of here was flooding - into PA. We did not understand the severity of the flooding. We had to stop back at the Corning Museum to pick up the girls artwork - it cooled there overnight - We then headed out 414 to I-86 to State 17 - and wanted to take it to I-81, but it was closed at the junction to 220. We decided to take 220 - Which took us into Pensylvania, and we thought to Route 6. We were detoured off 6 because of flooding - and we started to understand how high the water was. On part of our detour, we needed to drive thru the waters that were rushing across the roadbed. I could see the center line thru the murky water - but it was still unsettling.

We tried to do south on State route 87 - only to be turned back. We stopped at a closed gas station, and Amy found out from some other travelers and trucker that they had not been able to get out of the area since the night before.
The truck driver was able to tell us where the State trooper barracks were, an a hospital - in case we wanted to 'boondock' for the night.

We stopped @ the barracks, and the young lady by the counter told us we would probably need to head further north and then perhaps east. She was taking many calls on the radio, so yelled in the backroom for help from a trooper. fortunatly the trooper had just came from the south, and was able to tell us that Route 29 was passable "even if it didn't look that way". We headed out and took 29 to 81, to 80,to 476 - and Home. Saw lots of evidence of the power of water - from Moved Homes, to downed trees, and mudslides.
9 hours for a trip that should have taken 4 to 5

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rainy Drive & Artistic Glass

We finished packing up and were on the road before 10am. With some easy directions from the staff @ KOA Niagara we were to Rainbow Bridge in no time. Destination - Corning & Watkins Glen, NY. There was some rain, but as we headed south the skies really opened up. RoadAbode did well, and we only slowed slightly in the heaviest parts. 4 hours later we were at the City of Corning. The river was high, but we didn't see any danger. We caught a quick lunch @ Wendy's (the girl's choice) and then headed to the Corning Museum of Glass. In hindsight we should of planned more time at this interesting place. From the History of Glass, glassmaking techniques, Glass in Art and Sculpture, and the future of glass in technology - all where covered in the museum. There were also demonstrations of glassblowing, and a chance to try using glass in various artforms for yourself. The Girls took advantage of the last option, creating fused glass mirror frames.
After Having fun at the museum, and doing some shopping, we headed back to RoadAbode and to our next Camping spot, Watkins Glen KOA We selected this KOA for it's proximity to Corning, location in Watkins Glen, and Free Wifi - to check into work. The Facilities were awesome - all new indoor pool, and playground, climbing wall, fishing pond, and trout stream - and a nice hiking trail. We should have spent another day or so in this
area - and plan to in the future!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Last Day-Trip in Niagara

Today was our last full day in Niagara, so we went in the AM to Clifton Hill to use the Tickets for Louis Tussaud's Wax Museum we had purchased as part of a package with Ripley's
It was good fun, and we took some pics posing with some of our favorite actors or other famous people. If I get time - will post a few here.

Afterward, we hit a few souvenir shops along Victoria Street, and then just window shopped and made our way back to the Red Line to take a swim, have lunch, and start to pack up. We got a call from our Friends from RPC Mr. Mike and Ms. Christie - who came up for their vacation. We planned a meeting at the falls.
Mr. Mike & Ms. ChristieWe took the Red Line Falls Shuttle back down, Met with them and shared some of our "Best of the Falls" info with them. Even without our tips, I'm sure they will have a great time! We had some dessert together, and watched the lighting of the falls start. After a brief visit, we headed off - back to finish packing, get the girls to bed, and plan the route back to the U.S. for tomorrow.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Flower Clock, & Power From Water

Floral ClockWe decided to visit the Floral Clock, above the Botanical Gardens and Butterfly Conservatory today. We were one of the few on either the Falls Shuttle, or on our Transfer to the PeopleMover.
(The Shuttle Drivers & PeopleMover Drivers were more talkative today - found out the were long-timers - 25 years for one, 13 for another)
The Clock was beautiful, but really is nothing more than a really nice rest area on the Niagara Parkway.
Next to the Floral Clock is the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Plants 1&2. We went in planning a tour - but saw the cost -over 10 for adults(Kimberly is considered an adult) and just didn't think it was worth the expense. Just as our driver was pulling up to our stop, I remembered that we had coupons for the tour - 1/2 price. We waved off our driver - and went for the tour. It was interesting!
The station diverts water from Niagara River above the falls and flows back into the lower portion of the river. For the first station, a long canal diverted water to the plant. For the second, two underground tubes were built to carry the water to a resivoir. The whole process of how the electromagnets create electricity is explained realy well here. Our tourguide, Richard had a great sense of humor, and called our group the 'candy' group, because we were dicussing the differences between candies in Canada and the USA. On the elevator ride down to the plant.(their 'Smarties" are not 'sweet-tart' but more like M&Ms). The Plant #2 that we toured has 16 turbines generators, & each turbine assembly weighs in at 4 tons, and they are services each year, and totally overhauled at 7. We saw some of the machine shop - where they have a huge steel lathe to cut their own turbine shafts, and for other power stations as well. The floor of the plant is so large, that bikes are used by employees to get from one point to another.
After our tour, we decided to try a few bars of "Aero" which is different types of chocolate (milk, dark or Mint) and the center contains air bubbles. They were good, but seemed more crumbly that our hershey bars.
After our tour and snack of chocolate, we caught our PeopleMover to the Botanical Gardens, and walked about for a short time, enjoying the flower beds. We could of spent much more time there, but decided to move along so the girls could get in a swim, and then a shower.
We hopped back on the PeopleMover, Transfered to the Falls Shuttle, and headed back to RoadAbode. Swim for the girls, Nap time for the driver!

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Girls @ White Water Walk. Just does not do the power of the swells and rapids justice.

A gathering of butterflies enjoying orange and grapefruit sections

Here is a friend landing on Amy. We also had them on my hat, Emily's back, and Kimberly's Butt

Here is a "Hatchery" for Baby Butterflies - The butterfly keepers pin Chrysalis to the walls and ceiling of this chamber, you can see butterflies emerging!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Roadabode's Home for a few days in Niagara

Getting Ready to board the "Maid of the Mist" with the rest of the 'BlueBerry' People

RoadAbode Girls in Front of the HorseShoe Falls

Niagara Falls - Up Close and Personal

Woke around 6:30 - grabbed a shower, made coffee, had breakfast and did some cleaning of the 'bug guts' off of the cabover and front of RoadAbode. We packed a backpack of some snacks and 'kid essentials', and then headed for the Falls shuttle for 9:30a. We got dropped off at the entrance to the "Maid of the Mist" market area, and we decided to walk up to Table Rock Pointe - which was about a mile hike. It was amazing to see the mist of the Falls, and in the early morning, the sun did not have a chance to burn it off- so it was like walking thru a 'misting tent' at a outdoor concert or event.
RoadAbode Behind Niagara
Behind Niagara
We stopped to view the falls a few times, just to enjoy the immense power and take in the beauty of the gardens and area. When we got to Table Rock, we traded in the Internet Passes I had printed for real ones, and went to our first destination, Journey behind the Falls. Now - I know it's a touristy thing to do, but it was pretty cool. Not the "portals" behind the falls (kind of hoe-key) but behind at the base of the falls, and seeing how the water crashes over - and how far out it falls from the wall behind. We had rainGear on - but still were pretty wet.
We then decided to have an early lunch - just a grab-n-go kind of thing, which started a debate - whether to use the debit/charge or cash in for some Canadian Currency. I was for the first, but we went for the latter. At least the Bills and coinage are pretty to look at....
After lunch, we decided to walk to Maid of the Mist - the King of Attractions here in Niagara.
It was easy to get in, and simply, for how hoe-key it sounds - the experience is worth it. It was a blast! And no matter what - you get wet. The ability to get so close and see the power of Water, both Falls and River, has to be done yourself.
After the Maid, we stopped and got a few souvenirs at the gift shop, and then enjoyed watching a Glassblower work his craft in the artisans shop area. A preclude to what we'll see on Tues - was really cool to see how this molten glass can be formed into something so beautiful.
Around 2pm we decided to head back. We've had a dip in the pool, showers, and have already gotten our tickets for Oh Canada Eh?, a Dinner theater style show that is right outside the KOA, and looks like loads of fun.

Few other interesting things I've seen here in Canada:
  • Black squirrels - seen a few around the Campsite
  • Loads of Rental RV's - All shapes and sizes too - from the US and Canada
  • Canadians are not Rude - but they are purposeful - Most of the people that perform a service for me (Like campground help or attraction hosts) when we go somewhere in the states, I usually can get a conversation out of 'em. So far the Canadians - bus drivers, desk people, and the like - are all about getting things done - and moving you along. I'll keep trying though...
Well - off to Dinner and a show!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

RoadAbode's Home For A Few Days

Here's a pic of our Spot at the KOA in Niagara - for a few days
This was before we were totally setup, we also have a screen room and seating area already set up.

Niagara Bound...

After a busy day @ work, & a late church "business" meeting until 10:30pm on Tuesday, Amy and I loaded up RoadAbode. Amy had picked her up earlier in the day, so she was just waiting to be filled with the things that make our trips fun.
We worked 'til around midnight, and then went to bed, too tired to do more.
Awoke at 6am, got myself ready, made sure I had packed the essentials (like this laptop and all it's cables and such) got the girls moving, helped Amy get together the last of our things, and we were off.... by 9:30am. (one hour behind schedule)We started off our travels as we usually try to - with a short prayer of thanks and request for wisdom and safety.

It seems all the road crews were put on 'high alert' RoadAbode is on the move!!!. I think every route between Philly and Niagara had some type of construction on it.
The girls were pretty bored for much of the ride (all 9 hours...) and kept occupied with card games, CD's, videos & games. They even took a short nap. But as we started seeing directional signs for the Falls - they got excited - really excited!
as we got closer to the Falls, following the Niagara River, we could make out some of the place we want to visit, the Minolta Tower and the Skylon Tower. We also could see the mist rising as the water fell over the falls. The view of the falls was shorter than I had thought as we drove over Rainbow Bridge, but was exciting for all of us.
We got to the border around 6:30pm - and were boarded by a congenial young woman. She just checked our papers, asked if we were carrying any firearms, asked which one was Kimberly, and asked Emily her birthdate - and we were free to go.
We continued on to Lundy Lane and pulled into the KOA. Check-in was no hassle, and we got to a great spot, close to the playground and pools (both inside and out) and fully paved, with a little patio.

We're all setup, the girls are finally in bed, tomorrow, a new day of adventures awaits!