Road Trip Report 16

The Great Lakes Road Trip 2009 concluded on July 24 as Vinny and I made our trek from Columbus, Ohio to Long Island, NY.  On our way home, we did travel the interstate all across Ohio and Pennsylvania. This we did for a few reasons, but mostly because we had to get home due to a change in schedule.

Traveling along I-70.

Traveling along I-70.

Pip looking at the open road and wondering why we're on an interstate.

Pip looking at the open road and wondering why we're on an interstate.

By the end of the journey, we were tired and we had seen many new parts of the country.  As always, we were glad to see the familiar signs and Long Island landmarks. Unfortunately, part of that is the inevitable stop and go traffic on the infamous Belt Parkway. Twelve hours after we started, we finally arrived home and we were greeted by a rainstorm.

Crossing into West Virginia for a bit.

Crossing into West Virginia for a bit.

"Expect delays until September." Classic Staten Island, NY.

"Expect delays until September." Classic Staten Island, NY.

Brooklyn.

Brooklyn.

Leaving Brooklyn.

Leaving Brooklyn.

Just about home - sort of.

Just about home - sort of.

Final mileage. 3641 miles.

Final mileage. 3641 miles.

Tomorrow: overall recap.

National Lighthouse Day

{a pause in road trip reports}

_______________________

August 7 is National Lighthouse Day.  According to the American Lighthouse Foundation, It was on this day in 1789, that Congress approved an Act for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys and public piers. In Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse, Congress passed a resolution which designated August 7, 1989 as National Lighthouse Day.

Lighthouses around the country are open for tours today (some tomorrow). Some are honoring the day by offering reduced admission prices or having storytellers and children’s programs available. The Fire Island National Seashore Lighthouse in New York is doing just that. The Cape May Lighthouse in Cape May, NJ is hosting an extravagant event with refreshments, vendors, and live performances.  If you live near a lighthouse look for events in your local paper or online.

And if you don’t live near a lighthouse, read these Lighthouse Fun Facts from Coastal Living to join in on the celebration. Who doesn’t love a pretty lighthouse?

Road Trip Report 15

Brief notes on the trip, state by state, with sights, places, and photographs.

Ohio

After Wisconsin, on a bright, sunny day, we drove the state highways and camped at Potato Creek State Park in Indiana for a few days. Our last destination was Columbus, Ohio to visit our fellow PiP writer, Maria. We didn’t know what to expect from Columbus, but we ended up having a great time and enjoying the city. Vinny and I took our own running tour of a few neighborhoods. Since it’s faster than walking and safer than sight seeing while driving, running is the best way to see a new place.

With Maria we explored the German Village, which is a beautiful neighborhood full of mid 19th century houses with slate roofs. Schiller Park in the center of the neighborhood is perfect for strolling and taking pictures. There is a stage for Shakespeare in the Park, a pond, a playground, and it is overall a pleasant place to spend an afternoon.

A view from the park.

A view from the park.

More of the houses that overlook the park.

More of the houses that overlook the park.

In Schiller Park.

In Schiller Park.

One of the best parts of the day was exploring the 32 rooms of books in The Book Loft, an independently owned bookstore in German Village. The bookstore is like a maze and each room has different sections of books. Sometimes we forget from where we came and had to follow the exit signs! The books are endless. There are also calendars, magnets, bookmarks, and posters, among other things.

The Book Loft in German Village.

The Book Loft in German Village.

Pathway to the Book Loft.

Pathway to the Book Loft.

Our favorite part about Columbus was being able to walk to many of the neighborhoods. We walked to get coffee, dinner, and ice cream. Ice cream in the Short North neighborhood at Jeni’s Ice Cream tasted beyond delicious.  It may be a bit expensive, but the ice cream was from an organic, grass fed dairy farm in Ohio. It was definitely worth the one time price ($5 for an ice cream sandwich). We strolled through the streets lined with impressive, historic homes. Maria said that she showed us only the good parts of Columbus so we’d be sure to return, and she planned effectively as we really liked visiting Columbus. It was a relaxing last stop to have, as I find that I prefer visiting cities where friends live.

Road Trip Report 14

Brief notes on the trip, state by state, with sights, places, and photographs.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Every route takes longer than planned on a road trip, at least in our experience. On our across-Wisconsin day we were a bit behind schedule, but we were trying very hard to get to Milwaukee, WI at a reasonable hour (i.e. daylight, not dusk) on this Sunday afternoon. Always on some form of schedule, we knew that it would be our only chance to visit Milwaukee. So we hopped on the interstate (knowingly violating our rule and found ourselves in Milwaukee in the late evening. Luckily, the day was still golden and sunny.

My grandmother grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has always spoke of it fondly. I have seen pictures of her house and the views of Lake Michigan. While my grandmother loves being a New Yorker, she holds Milwaukee as one of the best places in the world.  I love looking at photographs of her family house, so I thought that finally being in Wisconsin offered a great chance to see the house for myself. I knew the address and how to get there. My plan was to knock on the front door and politely say my grandmother grew up here, would you mind if I took some pictures of the front of the house and looked in the backyard for the view?

The woman who answered the door obliged, but didn’t say much else. I figured that would be the end of it – I’d take a few pictures and leave. As I snapped a few photographs of the front yard, a man walked out from the backyard. We said hello. Charles was very friendly and cordial and asked who my grandmother was. When I told him her maiden name, he said he knew the family! This man, a stranger to me and most of my family, knows some of my grandmother’s family! He invited Vinny and me into the backyard to take some photographs while he went inside to get something. As fate would have it, Charles’ grandfather was the husband of my great-aunt Mary (my grandmother’s sister). Mary died when she was young, so then her widower remarried. Charles is the grandson of Mary’s widower. Charles bought it only a few years ago. Thus, we’re distantly related. But, still related! I’m not sure of the exact chain-of-title for the house, but it was obviously kept in the family.

Aside from this surprise, the box of photographs and scrapbooks astounded me.  He had photographs that I have, ones that I’ve seen, many that I haven’t seen. Mary was the scrapbooker in the family and kept everything. When she died, her husband saved it all and passed it along. We looked through the photographs and I identified pictures of my grandmother, my father, my uncle, my great-grandmother. Charles shared stories of my great-aunt that I never knew. It was amazing. Charles didn’t know many people in the photographs, but said that he couldn’t get rid of any of them because someone knows who they are.  It is now one of my favorite quotes.

The house looks just as it did in photographs from about 50 years ago. Charles said he had fixed a few things and added a fresh coat of paint, but most of his work went to the beautiful deck and the outdoor living room next to it. Once the room is complete he wants to hang historic pictures of the house and of those who lived there.

I never expected such a meeting at my grandmother’s childhood home. It was surreal to meet a complete stranger who has a distant relation and so many photographs that I have. I’m so glad to have met the person who loves the house like a true family member. It is one of my favorite stories.

My grandmother's childhood home in Milwaukee, WI.

My grandmother’s childhood home in Milwaukee, WI.

The modern view from the backyard. The grass is above an underground water storage tank. It used to that Lake Michigan came all the way to the cliff behind her house.

The modern view of Lake Michigan. The grass covers an underground water storage tank. It used to that Lake Michigan came all the way to the cliff behind her house.

Road Trip Report 13

Brief notes on the trip, state by state, with sights, places, and photographs.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin we drove south on Highway 35 from Prescott to Onalaska. Highway 35 is a National Scenic Byway also called the Great River Road that runs along the Mississippi River on the western border of Wisconsin. The hills roll through beautiful green, lush country. In between the small, mostly vibrant towns are gorgeous overlooks and rest areas with historical markers. This road truly made Wisconsin one of the most pleasant parts of our journey.

Entering Wisconsin.

Entering Wisconsin.

Most of the towns welcomed us with the population count on their signs, some under 100. However, these towns never seemed to lack something happening – even on a Sunday. Many have galleries that attract artists and tourists. Ice cream parlors tempt that passers-by.

One reason for taking this route was to visit Pepin, Wisconsin, birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We had seen her homes in Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota, and this one in Wisconsin fit perfectly into our schedule. Pepin, Wisconsin is 0ne of the larger small towns on the highway. In town we stopped at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum (free admission), which is mostly a museum of early Pepin history and pioneer days. However, the museum also had interesting Little House paraphernalia such as a Little House board game (who knew!?) and dolls of the book characters. It warranted a short visit.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, WI.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, WI.

From there we headed out 7 miles on County Road CC to visit the Laura Ingalls wayside, where there is a reconstruction of the Ingalls’ family home (the one from  Little House in the Big Woods).  The drive is enjoyable and the wayside is peaceful. The unfurnished log house is open to the public. Surrounding corn fields and rural farm country enable visitors to imagine what Laura might have seen in her childhood days.

Historical marker at the wayside.

Historical marker at the wayside.

Little house reconstruction.

Little house reconstruction.

Side/rear view.

Side/rear view.

The interior. This is the loft where the Ingalls girls slept.

The interior. This is the loft where the Ingalls girls slept.

Cornfields behind the house.

Corn fields behind the house.

Another corn field view.

Another corn field view.

If you are in the area, Pepin is definitely worth a visit, as is the 7 mile drive to the Laura Ingalls wayside. You’ll have to drive back to Pepin to find a highway. Before you leave town, get a cup of coffee at Grand River Roasters. It’s excellent. The snacks are delicious and there is wi-fi.

We continued on WI-35 for a while, enjoying the views and the many towns. Eventually we had to veer off and head towards the interstate. Why an interstate? We had an important mission in Milwaukee, WI that we didn’t want to miss.  That story is tomorrow’s post. It’s my favorite part of the trip.