Category Archives: The Grand Tour

Niagara Falls Fifty Years Later

Turns out our route would take us within about half an hour of Niagara Falls, so we decided to take the quick detour. We had both been there as children, and we’re pretty sure it was the exact same year, 1964,  either before or after visiting the New York World’s Fair. David was nearly 12, and I was 6. We may have even been on the same Niagara Falls tour boat, for all we know, but needless to say, we did not meet. I mostly remember feeling swallowed by a big smelly slicker and getting rather wet.

No tour boat running yesterday!

Niagara Falls, March 2014
Niagara Falls, March 2014
Niagara Falls, March 2014
Niagara Falls, March 2014

I know it looks like I published these in black and white for artistic effect, but these are regular color photos. This is how cheery and sunny it actually was. Brrrr. The mist flying up instantly turned to ice crystals which pelted us in the face. We lasted about 45 seconds.

Spring in New Hampshire
Spring in New Hampshire

Roads were dry though, and we made it all the way to New Hampshire last night. Not so balmy here either!

Flight to France tomorrow night, if all goes well . . . .

Tropical Iowa and Other Highlights of Mid-America

After Omaha, we were off to the Ramada Tropics Resort in . . .wait for it . . . Des Moines, Iowa. Isn’t the word “tropics” the first word that springs to mind when you hear “Des Moines”?

Ramada Tropics Resort, Des Moines, Iowa
Ramada Tropics Resort, Des Moines, Iowa

Not really our kind of place, had we been on our own, but we were meeting Courtney and our granddaughters (who are 7 and almost 6), and, although a mob scene most of the time, it was perfect for them. Look at these smiles!

Felicity (5) and Bailey (7)
Felicity (5) and Bailey (7)

We only stayed one night there, since we had to keep heading east, but today, just past Gary, Indiana, we got in the wrong lane at a toll stop and found ourselves heading back west on I-90 for a while. Ghaa-a-a-a-a! David managed to keep his cool and got us turned back in the right direction at a crazy, complicated cluster of exits, loops, and ramps–none adequately marked–nowhere near any major metropolitan area that seemed to warrant such creative engineering. Yeesh.

Once we were finally heading east again we passed a new-ish looking roadside attraction: the RV/MH Hall of Fame. I’m not making this up. (We did not stop.) What exactly does a motor home do to earn a spot in a Hall of Fame?

Tonight we’re in Erie, PA, and I’m gradually getting healthier with each day. Can’t believe we’ll be on a flight to Paris on Wednesday. I hope Spring has sprung there more convincingly than it has here on I-90. We heard a radio announcer today saying, “Here in Cleveland, we know it’s Spring when feeling returns to our hands and feet.” I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for a bit more than that!

Mini-Break in Omaha, Nebraska

Today we’re enjoying a short break (two nights in the same hotel!) in the Old Market area of downtown Omaha, Nebraska:

Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska

The Old Market area is reputedly the most picturesque part of downtown Omaha,  and this is the cutest part of Old Market:

Old Market, Omaha
Old Market, Omaha

I’m afraid the shot is a bit cockeyed, because I was terrified someone was going to pop out and yell at me. This little nook is so popular with photographers, there’s an involved, semi-hostile sign limiting photography to one hour a day even for “amateurs, grandmothers, moms, dads, etc.” and I was half an hour beyond the photo window. I think it means for wedding and graduation photos and the like, since it also lists various forbidden activities like moving the plants and reminds the reader that this is not a studio, but it had me shaking in my shoes.

The angular geometry of the urban landscape catches my attention most before the trees leaf out. Although it’s the first day of Spring, the only sign of that here is the blue sky:

Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska

Definitely grateful for the blue sky, though, and the warmth, and my slightly improved health that allowed me to stroll a few blocks in public without people crossing to the other side of the street–at least until they heard me cough!

On The Road

According to Vivian Swift (see my Quotes page*), every road trip has a low point, and our first day was a serious contender. I sincerely hope it doesn’t get much lower than yesterday. I’ve got a raging cold/flu/bronchitis thing that made the day super miserable for me and not much better for David, since he had to look at me. Between the sneezing, sniffles, coughing, etc., I look like I’ve been on a four-day crying jag, and freckled blonds such as myself never cry prettily. Mind you, I haven’t done any actual crying, I just look enough like it that random strangers encountered at gas stations and hotels tend to look extremely uncomfortable.  But now, after a visit to the doc and the pharmacy, I have a giant sack of meds, so hopefully I’ll be on the mend soon.

I’ve been way too unwell to snap photos, but I can’t leave you with no photos, so here are a few more of the Alexandria trip of a few days ago.

Alexandria, Virginia
Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia

Cheering on Chelsea and the other runners was actually great. Chelsea’s boyfriend Will would yell things like, “Way to go 34126!” or “Looking good 29372!” to random runners none of us knew, and you’d see people glance down at their number and smile and perk up, and his mom was Cheerleader Extraordinaire. Here is the glaring evidence that I am not a professional sports photographer:

David giving Chelsea a high-five at mile 8.
David giving Chelsea a high-five at mile 8.

Chelsea’s friend Rachel is on the left in green. Great to see both of them running strong at the top of a hill at mile 8. Here are Chelsea and her friends at brunch after the race:

Rachel, Chelsea, Kristin after the half-marathon
Rachel, Chelsea, Kristin after the half-marathon

So after the quick weekend trip, Monday was spent finalizing things at the house (and seeing the doctor, as mentioned above), packing up the car, then driving to just east of Cheyenne, where my miserable self got straight in bed. We woke to blowing snow and road closures west and south of us, so were glad we were heading east where the snow was intermittent and didn’t hamper us much.

Today we made it to Kearney, Nebraska, which may be fabulously photogenic on other days, but not today, and honestly I haven’t ever managed any great shots while speeding along I-80, so I’ll leave you instead with something very photogenic from a bit further north, near I-90, taken on a previous road trip:

Badlands, South Dakota
Badlands, South Dakota

*Be sure to check out my Quotes page periodically, as new quotes are added from time to time.

Alexandria, Virginia 2014

On Wednesday, we moved out of our house in Colorado, and flew the next day to Alexandria, Virginia, to cheer on our youngest daughter as she runs a half-marathon on Saturday.  David managed to score a great deal on first class tickets for barely more than the coach ticket plus bag fees and lunch with drinks in both directions. He didn’t mention it to me, preferring it to be a surprise, so of course, there I am at the airport, trailing behind, feebly calling to him as he charges on past the coach kiosks: “Um, David, where are you going? We’re supposed to go over here. . . . David?” I thought he was just oblivious.  But what a welcome surprise after days of the chaos of moving. I’m battling some cold/flu thing, so thought I’d better choose orange juice as my complimentary beverage. Doesn’t it look healthy?

OJ, the way they do it in First Class
OJ, the way they do it in First Class

Love our super-cute hotel just off King Street (the main drag of Alexandria):

Our hotel: Morrison House, Alexandria
Our hotel: Morrison House, Alexandria

We needed to tend to business while our room was being cleaned, so set up with our laptops in the library of the hotel:

Library of Morrison House, Alexandria, VA
Library of Morrison House, Alexandria, VA

Very pleasant, nice and warm, with smooth jazz playing in the background. After catching up with emails, we had a nice little wander down King Street.

King Street, Downtown Alexandria
King Street, Downtown Alexandria

I love all the old brick and shiny black trim. Bit chilly yet to do much exploring, especially while feeling not so great, but at least the sun was out. It seems Spring may actually arrive this year after all. Bon courage!