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Showing posts from May, 2010

What We See From Our Car Window

We will be back stateside tomorrow tonight which means we will have greater access to internet (via our phone) and can finally catch you all up on all of the fun we've been having in Canada and the northeast U.S.! Until then, I thought I would share some of what we have seen while driving. Not all of them, dear. What is blocked out?? And why block that thing out and keep "Variety"? Doesn't "Variety" imply that they are selling the thing that they blocked out? I'm so confused. Gas Bar. So many interpretations, all of them kind of weird.

End of the Road

We have 38 days left in North America. Here is the tentative schedule... Date Day Night MAY 29 Ben and Jerry's Tour and Drive to Montreal Montreal 30 Montreal Montreal 31 Drive to Quebec City Quebec City JUNE 1 Quebec City and Drive to Acadia NP Acadia NP 2 Explore Acadia NP Acadia NP 3 Drive to Portland and Salem Near Salem 4 Boston Boston 5 Boston Boston 6 Boston Boston 7 Boston to Cape Cod Cape Cod 8 Cape Cod Cape Cod 9 Drive to Philadelphia Philadelphia 10 Philadelphia Baltimore 11 Baltimore Baltimore 12 To DC DC 13 To Roanoke, VA Roanoke, VA 14 To Knoxville, TN Knoxville, TN 15 To Chattanooga, TN Chattan

Worst Border Crossing EVAH!

Security Theatre , In Three Acts. Act I Video Here Ellen: [Observing the rapidly approaching stop sign.] Stop. Jon: [Failing to stop completely for my license plate close-up.] Whoops! Ellen: Ooops. ( I warned you... ) Ellen: [Handing me the passports.] Here you go. Jon: Hello! ( In a great mood this time. Ready for a quick and easy crossing! ) Dude: ( All business. ) Put the vehicle into park. Dude: Just two of you? Jon: Yes it is. Ellen: Yeah. Dude: Where's your... ( piece of crap ) van from? Jon: Ah, Arizona. Dude: Turn it off for me. Jon: Sure. [25 second pause] ( which is a looooong time at a border crossing ) Dude: Mr. Ah... Is it Boek? Jon: ( It's cool. That's what most people guess, Dude. ) Boeke. Dude: Tell me your citizenship. Jon: U.S. Dude: And, Ellen, what's yours? Ellen: ( Dude, what kind of passports did we just hand you? ) U.S. Dude: What are you guys doin'? What the... reason for your travels? Jon: Ah... Vacation. Dude:


We are in Canada. There is no Verizon service in Canada. If you don't hear from us for a couple days, blame Canada . UPDATE: We are a day behind schedule and TOMORROW (May 29) we will be in Canada. I guess that's what we get for setting up pre-scheduled blog posts too far in advance.

Of Planes and Pancakes

In addition to some wonderful historical story telling and really cool historical planes such as Bockscar , the U-2 spyplane, and the (not a plane) Titan II missile,  the National Air Force Musuem also has a few oddities. Parachute Dogs Reaction Propulsion Pistols and...  yes...  Space Pancakes . If your travels ever take you near Dayton, Ohio, go visit.  It will be worth your time and it is a great choice for budget travelers - - FREE!

A Bit More Bold

After seeing our post about Glacier NP , certain readers demanded that we be a bit more daring in our adventures.  And so, while spending a day at Grand Haven beach, we decided to oblige. Movie Link Recorded water temperature was about 51 degrees. Probably not glacier-water temperature, but it's a start. Adding to the excitement, we were also attacked by a kite. vid The pilot was incredibly talented. He could stop and turn his kite on a dime. We enjoyed watching him gently drag the kite-tips through the calm Lake Michigan water and bring his kite within inches of other beach goers. Thanks for the fun day at the beach, MI!

Growing up in G-Rap

Last week, I gave Ellen a guided tour of my hometown: Grand Rapids, MI . It was her first visit to Michigan and I was very excited to show her all about the city in which I grew up. But I need to thank her for putting up with some of the less exciting landmarks that I pointed out. "My brother worked there." "My dentist was somewhere in that building." "I played basketball in that school once." I'll filter that stuff out and give you just the highlights. Downtown. Video Here Grade School . High School . And, my childhood home . Whoops!  How could I forget Yesterdog !  Definitely a highlight. While much remained the same, I was really impressed by the development in the downtown area. Old, decrepit buildings were re-purposed into living spaces and art galleries. The neighborhood in which I went to high school went from slightly shady to reasonably hip. Good job, Grand Rapids. To the rest of Michigan, take note!

Diamonds Are Forever

Sometimes you have to travel across the country to discover gems like this*: Oh crap! This whole time I've been loving my husband based on what an awesome person he is and how he loves and supports me no matter what. I totally forgot that I'm supposed to value him for his ability to buy me jewelry. Honey, in case you forgot, I prefer princess cut. ~~~ * Pun not intended...

A Tale of Two Calders

Our travels took us from this big orange sculpture on Tuesday... this big orange sculpture on Wednesday. The second one is in Grand Rapids and we'll talk about that city a bit later. Today, we'll recap the first city: Chicago. We had the opportunity to spend some time with my oldest brother and his family who live north of town. We visited during the week and so we were able to watch my two nieces and nephew participate in a play... Video and some baseball. It was particularly exciting to see my nephew, while pitching, catch a line drive and strike out the two remaining batters. In his next game, he hit a double bringing home a runner on third. We were also treated to some Lou's . My favorite Chicago pizza. Yum! While the family was away at work and school, we wandered around downtown and took a self guided architecture tour . Have you heard about the Chicago Club? Interesting stuff. For lunch, we stumbled upon Miller's Pub . I

Pure Michigan

We are in Michigan! Birthplace of Motown, auto unions and my beloved. Yes! Michigan!

What's in Your Backpack?

I'm on a roll in the advice giving department so I'm going to keep going and pass along another hard-earned tip. This time the topic is clothing and the secret that I am about to share with you is HUGE . It might just save you money and months of psychic distress. The topic is travel clothing and the secret is... Pack the clothes that you like to wear. I know, I know, this may seem like the most obvious advice ever, kind of along the lines of Save Money, Live Better or Drink Water, Be Less Thirsty. But preparing for a long trip alters your brain. You get excited and in America, getting excited makes you want to buy things. Things like special anti-microbial underwear . And jackets that stuff into little pouches. And moderately ugly but extremely comfortable walking shoes . So you start your trip with your new purchases and with some durable, casual clothing that you feel will hold up to the rigorous experience of being washed in someone else's washing machine.

I'm So Vain

Remember when I told you that I was going to leave my vanity (and makeup) behind ? Hahahaha! I just love it when I make predictions about how my future is going to be and then put them in writing so I can look back and see how wrong I was! It turns out that I may be the teensiest tiniest bit vain. And unable to leave said vanity behind. Here's what I now know about myself: I can go forever without makeup while physically traveling, in National Parks or in other rural environments. But get me in a city or out on the town with friends and I just want to look less...splotchy. So I caved and while in Minneapolis (at the Mall of America, no less), purchased something recommended to me by my fabulous friend Kim: mineral foundation . Holy crap, this stuff is amazing! It takes about two minutes to apply and makes me look like I have really good skin. I would venture to say that it may be the perfect traveling makeup. Of course, I've been using it for less than a week and thus

When Eagles Cry (or scream)

After two days in Minneapolis, we are on the road again! Stephanie took great care of us and it was so nice to hang out with her, Kara and Steve. We will leave you with a souvenir from our visit: Kara's eagle scream. Video here

Bread and Circuses

We've been moving pretty quickly since we left Canada. We cooked in the cold. link At Little Bighorn , we saw some dead soldiers with simple headstones. At Rushmore , we saw some dead presidents with heads made out of stone. Jefferson had a runny nose. Lincoln was crying. Maybe because of the Bad Lands nearby? ( rimshot ) link In Wall , we fell for the hype.   And at Mall of America we got taken for a ride. link But now in downtown Minneapolis, we're relaxing on rooftops.   And visiting good friends.

Most Beautiful Road in the World

On our second day in Alberta, we traveled to Banff . We had seen beautiful pictures of the impossibly turquoise Lake Louise and of the surrounding area and so we had set our hopes pretty high for the day. So, um, nobody told us that the lake freezes over in winter. Our plans for a long hike around the lake shattered*, we stopped into the Chateau and perused the info pamphlets. Oh, look, this one proclaims that The Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper is "The Most Beautiful Road in the World." Sure, why not, let's give it a spin... Ho... ly...  Wow.... These Canadian Rockies just dwarf their US counterparts. And they go on for miles and miles. We traveled nearly two hours north from Banff and still hadn't reached their end. I tried finding ways to visually capture the scale of these mountains. Take a look at the two-lane road going through the first panoramic shot or maybe try to find the skiers paths on the left side of the second one. May

Limited Visibility

More snow! And fog! In May! Video here But you have to admit that it makes Devils Tower look more mysterious and beautiful. Before: After:

Making Friends on the Road

We spent this past weekend in Alberta and stayed two nights with our Couchsurfing friends Terry and Jen, their adorable daughter, Ellie and their two sweet dogs, Hayden and Tokaji. We will tell you all about what we did in Alberta in another post but first I want to explain how we got to know Terry and Jen and explain how you can get to know them as well...or at least get to know people like them. We've mentioned Couchsurfing before but never really explained what it was. The short answer is that it is a fun way to meet cool people, both as a host or as a traveler. The long answer from their website is this: "CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cu

Washington Recap

We left Washington last Wednesday without saying a proper goodbye on the blog. Much more than just beautiful beaches , locks and interesting cities , here is the rest of what we left behind. Rainforest! Enjoy some photos and videos from in and around Olympic National Park and Snoqualmie Falls ...                    We also got a chance to spend some time as honorary aunts and uncles. Thanks to Dayna, Gary, Jen and Aaron for letting us live vicariously through your parenthood. We already miss you WA, but we have this feeling that we'll be back soon!