Monday, October 27, 2014

Almost Home

Got the room packed up Saturday evening.  Loaded the car in the morning. I was loaded an had checked out of the room when breakfast opened.  While I only had about 500 miles to drive and would pick up an hour with the time zone, I wanted to get and early start.

Goal was minimize the time off of the Ohio and Indiana Toll-roads.  Drove up to the lake and drove I-90 and US 2 to Port Clinton..  Then took the Ohio Turnpike to the West end.

Drove UP 20 to Angola, IN then North to the Outlet Mall.  Did a little shopping.  Wanted a map for Indiana, so got on the Indiana Toll-road to the first service area.  Picked up a map and exited at the next interchange.  Drove up to US 12 and ended up driving it all the way to I-94, across the bottom of Michigan.  Once on I-94, it was across the bottom of Lake Michigan.  Took a bee-line across I-80 to Bettendorf, Iowa. 

Checked into my hotel and looked for food.  Last night was the only time I are at a chain restaurand during the trip.  Was not excited to look for a local place to eat, the were an Applebees just down the road.  A burger there washed down water and a pint of Far Tire was all I needed.

Photo:  Across the bottom of Michigan had some of the best colors during the trip.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cleveland

A light day planned for today.  Breakfast at the hotel.  Gonna be a nice day, so wore shorts and t-shirt.

Drove up to Cleveland.  Found my way to Bellflower Rd and the old Sigma Chi house.  It was the house we (the chapter) moved into in the summer of 1968.  The house before was a short block away on Bellflower, but is not a parking lot.

For a Saturday, there was a log of traffic in the University Circle area.  That, and many new, larger building, I did not dally in the area.  I was not interested in walking up on campus.

Headed downtown, finding my way to E. 9th St.  Parked on the pier (a block from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Walked around the pier and little park there.  Took a couple photos.  Nothing that I really needed to see. 

The low tire pressure light came on.  Started looking for a place to check the tire/  Found a closed aute dealer and garage that was working and helped me.  Just aired up the tires.  For some reason, the tire pressure were way out of whack.  Left side were high (in the upper 30s) and the right were low (in the upper 20s).  Got lost a couple times getting back to the interstate and hotel.  The tires held pressure on the way back to the hotel.

Worked on packing the room and stretched my legs a little.  Then time for some food.  At the hotel desk they suggested Winking Lizard Tavern for a brew and burger.  They had a large selection of craft beers on tap, but it seemed that they were out of the ones I were interested in.  Settled for the Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Lager.  It was a palatable beer.  Not as good as the amber ales I prefer.  I had good timing. I was seated right away when I arrived.  When I left, there was a long wiating line.

Now going to settle in for the night.  Hopefully a good night's sleep.  500 miles to drive tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ohio & Erie Canal

When I woke up this morning, it was a bit chilly - about 35 degrees.  No big hurry to get out for a bike ride.  Went over to have breakfast.  Visited with a couple from Indiana (with roots in Naperville, IL).  After breakfast, i spent some time working on the web site paged for the reunion trip.

About noon, it was in the mid to upper 50s.  Bright sunshine and almost no wind.  Time to head over to Boston Store Visitor's Center Towpath trailhead.  Grabbed the hybrid off the bike rack, topped off the tires, and headed out South.

My fraternity suggested that it would be more scenic riding South from Boston Store than North.  The trail surface is mostly hard packed crushed stone.  There are some paved section (mostly at intersections).  The trail takes you to some of the ruins of the locks.  Other places you just see where the canal used to be.  Often, on one side of the trail you have the canal, the other side is the Cuyahoga River.

There lots to see and photograph.  In my 9 mile ride, I ended ip with about 45 HDR photos.  Obviously, I was not setting any speed records!  It was just an enjoyable ride exploring this section of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  More about the trail will be written in the web site page.

Back at the hotel, I processed the bike ride photos.  Soon, it was time to drive down to Akron the check out "Locktoberfest".  Had a little finding the location as the wrote down the address as East North St.  But it was West North St - I was off by a couple blocks.

The festival was a small community function.  Could not go wrong as the donation to the Cascade Locks Park Association was $10 and I got 2 cups of local craft beer and a large brat.  I probably could have had another brat if I wanted.  For food there also hot dogs for the kids, baked beans, and chips.

Visited with the folks from the brewery.  Can got to a brewery tour at 2pm tomorrow.  For the record, the brewery is Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.  On tap for the festival they had their "Labrador Lager".

Kids were carving pumpkins and a group of fraternity members from the local Lambda Chi Alpha (Lambda Chi) were throwing bean bags.  Others were visiting.  Now, I did not know anyone at the festival.  Thankfully, I was wearing my Green Bay Packers jacket.  It was the ice-breaker.

One of the Lambda Chi brothers stopped to talk - he is a Bears fan and from Chicago.  His older brother is a Sigma Chi from DePaul. The Lambda Chi chapter were helping for the festival as a community service project!  Had another conservation with a local originally from Cudahay, Wis.  I ended up spending almost 2 hours there, about an hour longer than I had planned.

Was a very enjoyable day!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The hotel has a complimentary breakfast for guest.  So I started the day off with some eggs, sausage, potatoes, sweet roll and coffee.  I was not in a hurry this morning as the park Visitor's Center did not open until 9:30.  Waitress at breakfast gave me directions to Brandywine Falls.  Looked at my maps and charted my planned route for the day.

As I recall hearing, Brandywine Falls (pictured here) is the second tallest waterfall in Ohio.  I walked to the upper viewing platform and further to stone building ruins.  Took a few photos there and backtracked to the boardwalk to the lower viewing deck.  Did not go all the way down to the lower deck (I had lots of more walking to do today).  Got a couple photos and headed to the Boston Store.

There, I watched the movie about the Park and its inception.  The big take-a-way I got from the video is that addition of the Towpath Trail was huge in the development of Cuyahoga Valley NP.  Previously, it was just an urban National Park.

Next stop was Peninsula, OH and Lock 29.  I did not find the lock, but could see this would be an interesting spot to ride my bike.  I continued South find the Everett Covered Bridge.  More walking to get to the bridge.  I could not find a reasonable spot to photograph the bridge span over the river.

Since I had not found Lock 29, I headed North to the Canal Visitor's Center.  There. I was able to see the old, manual canal lock.  More canal memorabilia in a museum at this location.  While in the area, I drove the Tinkers Creek Gorge Parkway.  Here, I saw the best Fall colors of the trip.  Was going to photograph Bridal Veil Falls, but I did not see it.  Walked the boardwalk a bit, but i was getting tired, did not to climb the steps back up from the river, so called it an afternoon.

Back to the hotel.  Started processing photos from the day.  I was getting tired, so got horizontal, stretching my legs.  Finished the photos and changed for dinner.

I had dinner plans with a Case classmate and fraternity brother.  Another fraternity messaged about getting to get this evening - we made it a threesome.  Had Mexican food at Marcelita's (I had not eaten Mexican yet on this trip, so it was a nice change from burgers). 

Had great conversation over dinner (and well after).  Lots of reminiscing. We basically closed the place.  Thanks for an enjoyable evening, Dave K and Dave R.  in hoc.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Maine to Ohio

The last 2 days have been mostly just driving. The weather was the pits for doing other than the drive, so not minding it.  Overcast both days.  Sprinkling of rain also both days. Good shower over night in Danbury, CT.

The Super 8 in Danbury was a pretty good room.  It was a second floor room 2 doors down the hall from the elevator.  Dinner was a Philly Cheese Steak at the Windmill Diner.  Decent food but nothing to write home about.

Found my hotel at Exit 180 of the Ohio Turnpike.  I am not impressed with the hotel.  The assigned me a room that is 2 doors from the opposite corner of the hotel from the lobby, Bar/Restaurant, and Breakfast.  When I went to looking for the ice machine (the hotel map shows just down the hall from my room) there was no ice machine. 

Had a coupon for $3 on beverage, and was tired, so figured to had a brew and burger the the hotel.  That was a mistake.  Took forever to get my burger.  The fries were "limp" - not crisp at all.
beer was decent - one from Yuengling, Americas oldest brewery.

Sent message to fraternity brothers that I arrived town.  One has contacted me to meet tomorrow evening.  Now its time to get horizontal, watch TV and plan my visit to the Cleveland area.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Acadia National Park

Today was my full day to explore Acadia National Park.  With the problems betting up/down from my room, I planned my day's need so there would just be one trip down to the car and back to the room at the end of the day.

Cameras and water were the main requirements.  From descent to the car drove over to breakfast.  The hot breakfast was OK.  Scrambled eggs, sausage patties, home fry potatoes, waffles.  Poor selection of pasties.  Opts for small portions of eggs, spuds (they were cold) and sausage.  A cup of coffee and I was about ready to head out to the park.

Had to bundle up this morning to get out to the park.  The car was showing temperatures in the upper 30s when i headed out.  Don't think it broke 50 all day. 

While at the hotel, I stopped to fill my water cup with ice and found where the Post Office is (so i could get stamps and mail post cards.  Got 10 stamps and off to the park.  Drove the one-way loop road.  Wanted to make it to Thunder Hole at high tide/  The surf was pretty calm today, so the thunder was about a whimper.

Took lots of photos along the coast during the drive.  Turned North to Jordon Pond.  Stopped there and found a recommended bike riding spot.  Problem was that it was too cold yet.   Took some photos.  Will debate later about riding in the afternoon.

Yesterday was overcast.  So, I drove back up Cadillac Mountain to see the view on a clear day.  Back in town, I decided to check out the scenery on Route 3.  Drove down to Seal Harbor.  On up route  to junction with 233, heading back into Bar Harbor.  Along Route  233, I happened upon the 4-unit generator site that Bangor Hydro (they were the owners at that time) had.  One time I made the trip to Bar Harbor (and even all the way to Eastport) with the power company representative.  Stopped and had a brief conversation with a worker that happened to be there at the gen-sets.  He told me they were working to decommision the sit and remove them.  He had worked to the railroad, so familiar with the engines.  Glad I happened to take that road!

Soon after that, near the park headquarters, I found a parking lot where others were loading and unloading bicycles.  There was a junction of a couple carriage roads and the highway.  Had to check out the carriage road for possible riding.

It looked good.  Not wearing my cycling kit, I rolled up my right BDU pant-leg.  Got the hybrid off the rack.  I knew I did not have the computer on the bike and not up to changing shoes.  So, grabbed my gloves and helmet and rode on down the carriage road in my sneakers. 

Guessing I rode about a mile.  Too bad I did not have the time and the weather was warmer.  These carriage roads are a great place to ride,  The crushed rock is packed almost like pavement.

On the morning drive on the one-way loop road, I went again to check out Sand Beach.  A pretty beach.  On into town.  I was getting hungry. Found a parking space downtown Bar Harbor.  Selected the Dog & Pony Tavern (had noticed the place last night) for brew and burger.  I had their Real Ale Beef Burger with chips.  the bartender suggested the Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale.  I had shied away from these ales in Portland.  But the bartender told me the ale is not a fruity beer.  I tried it and enjoyed a pint.

Back at the hotel, I grabbed ice for my water cup and climbed to my room.  Copied files from camera cards to a portable hard drive.  By this time (with a full stomach) I was getting tired,  Took a nap for about 2-3 hours.  Woke up and processed the photo from today.

It won't take me long to load the car in the morning. Just worrying about the 2 trips down the steps (more so the one trip UP).   Early morning start heading West.

Next Stop - Bar Harbor

Was up early to load the car and head towards Bar Harbor.  Had breakfast in the Clarion restaurant.  Gave my final "good-bye" to a couple folks.  Took me longer than planned to get out of Portland.  It was almost 9am before i got on the road.

Played tourist on the way to Bar Harbor.  Took coastal Hwy 1 to Ellsworth,  When I got to Bar Harbor, instead of looking for my hotel, i spent some time getting orientated with Mt Desert Island.  Drove up Cadillac Mountain.  Shot some photos.  Was a chilly, overcast afternoon. 

Stopped in at the gift shop at the "summit".  By this, it was time to find my room.  the Quality Inn in Bar Harbor is on Route 3 and you near the main retail area of the town.  Unfortuate;y, the assigned me a room way down the hotel (actually in one of the extra little building). The room ins not convenient to the office or breakfast.  Worse, yet, i was a climb up from the parking lot up the drive and up several steps to get to my room. 

I complained that they should not put "Seniors" into such inconvenient rooms.  The only thing they said they could do might move me to a second floor room.  They gave me a song and dance about the reservation system does not give them sufficient information about me until day of arrival to plan.  No accommodation for a 67 year old, unless I had requested a handicap room in advance, it seams.  Well, I do not qualify for handicap sticker.  Leaving me a very bitter taste in my mouth about Quality Inn and Bar Harbor.

Lower photo is the view from the door on my room looking down to the parking area.

Drove down the the Main Street area.  Picked up a couple souvenirs.  Did not find a book about riding a bicycle on the carriage roads (and more importantly, a relatively flat road) to ride. On of the shopkeepers gave me a recommendation. Being after 5 on a Sunday evening, did not think the bicycle shop in town would not be open.

Across Main Street was the Bar Harbor Beerworks.  Looks like a good place to have a pint and a burger.  I asked for an amber or red ale.  The sever suggested Bar Harbor Brewing "Leafpeeper" Oktoberfest beer.  A nice way to end the day.  The burger was served with sea salt kettle chips (a lot of them).  I was able tp eat the burger, but too much food to finish the chips.

Stopped by at the office to get ice for my water.  Of course, its up stairs or at the far end of the building.  Ihe desk clerk said she would get some for my drink cup.  She came back with th 20ox cup only half-filled with ice.  Damn, they can't ever getting a cup of ice right!  Back to the room and struggled up to my room.  While tired, I could not sleep.  Processed photos drive to Bar Harbor.