Our trip August to November 2012 (August 24-31)

August 31

A better day (Call of Duty and the Bard)

Just our luck; on getting off the ferry and approaching Canada Customs, we get the young guy who takes all this security stuff way too seriously. Being the truthful Canadians that we are, we admitted to having 4 bottles of liquor in the vehicle. When we were told in no uncertain terms that we were allowed only 2, we displayed the appropriate shocked surprise and abject contrition. Apparently we were within a heartbeat of being sent for inspection, but they had “way too many vehicles lined up already”, so we were allowed through, with a final warninng that we would have had to pay about $30.00 in duty on each bottle (it would still have cost us less than buying them In Canada!).

We drove to Stratford and took in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in the afternoon, and “Much Ado About Nothing” in the evening, and thoroughly enjoyed both. Spent the night at the Wildwood Conservation Area campground just outside Stratford.

August 30

Not a ferry good trip

…at least for me. We arrived in Manitowoc well before we needed to be at the terminal, so when Jeannine spotted a “Discount Liquors” sign, it had to be investigated. True to its advertising, it was a huge store full of very cheap alcohol. A couple of examples: a large bottle of Hypnotique selling for $50.00 in Canada: $19.95. A 1.75 litre bottle of Bacardi rum: $20.00.  Well, what could we do? We bought 4 bottles and figured we could simply pay the duty when we reached the border.

When we checked in at the ferry terminal, we were told to park, leave the window down and the keys in the ignition. They drive all the vehicles onto the ferry themselves. They drive about half of them on forwards and back the rest on, as they load and unload from the same end, much like the old BC ferries. We watched until we pulled away, then got something to eat. Two hours later, Jeannine was sitting at the stern, thoroughly enjoying the trip, and yours truly was worshipping the porcelain god in a case of seasickness not experienced since I was thirteen. Jeannine couldn’t believe the trip was almost over; I couldn’t believe it had taken so long. It’s all about perspective.

We rolled into the Saginaw Bay campground quite late and crashed.

The S.S. Badger preparing to leave.

History of the Badger.

Priscilla being backed aboard.

August 29

Christmas in August

Another very warm day, but an easy 4 hr. drive to Wisconsin Dells, which is described to us as “Vegas for kids”. We are in the Christmas Mountain Golf/Ski/RV/Campground covering some 800 acres. It is probably the nicest RV site we have had yet.

Christmas Mountain Campsite.

We have a 3 hr. drive tomorrow morning to Manitowoc, where we catch the ferry across Lake Michigan for a 4 hr. crossing to the Michigan side. We’re looking forward to it.

August 28

Full circle

Another blisteringly hot day (at least by our standards). When we gassed up first thing this morning, the woman at the till commented that it was going to be 102 degrees Fahrenheit (about 40 Celsius), and lamented the fact that this was the end of the good weather they’d been having. All in the eye of the beholder, I guess. When we reached the rather unique town of Wall, we decided that we had to pay a visit to Wall Drugs, which had been advertised along the highway for the previous 150 kilometres. Hard to describe this “Emporium” to anyone who hasn’t seen it. For those who recognize the analogy, it’s like Coombs on steroids. For those who don’t, Google “Wall Drugs”. The last time we were here was on a trip back to Ontario before we had children; 34 years later, we are back, again without kids. How could we not take the time to come full circle? Here is the outside of Wall Drugs:

Wall Drug Store

We had a quick breakfast beside Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

Who are those guys?

Who knew?

We spent the night in Welcome Minnesota, but the WiFi signal was not strong enough to post this tonight, Off to Christmas Mountain Campground in Wisconsin Dells tomorrow.

August 27

Of Rattlesnakes and Antelope

On the road at 7:00 this morning; by 9:00, we had barely survived two Close Encounters of the Antelope Kind. Regardless of the fact that there are no vehicles in sight in either direction, they choose to play Frogger with us. These two made it; we saw several on the side of the highway that didn’t. At our first rest stop, we were greeted by this sign:

We stayed on the sidewalk.

Although we had a marathon  drive in progress, we stopped at the Custer Memorial; time well spent!

Custer’s Last Stand Memorial, Crow Agency, Montana

Off to Welcome, Minnesota tomorrow.

August 26

God, Guns, Gambling and Ground Beef on the hoof.

… the four core values of Montana. We got going about 9:00 this morning, and finally rolled into Conestoga Campground in beautiful downtown White Sulphur Springs at 7:30. It’s kind of a neat little campground in the middle of nowhere, but with surprisingly good wifi service, hence the update. They have a pond stocked with rainbow trout and a pump powered by a windmill. We have a ten-hour day tomorrow, so we may or may not be able to update.

Gone fishin’

Montana sunset

August 25

Things are looking up

Woke up early and had a great complimentary breakfast, then headed for Spokane. An uneventful drive under a cloudless sky. Tonight’s campsite was the polar opposite of last night, with adults in charge; very welcoming and helpful, and we have a nice little campsite next to a grassy treed area. Apparently there is Karaoke on the tennis court tonight.

Ponderosa Falls campsite

Feeling better

Someone even sent dinner over (see below).

Drumstick anyone?

August 24

An inauspicious start

Left home at 5:15, arriving in plenty of time for the ferry. The trip across to Tswassen was highlighted by crossing paths with two Orcas (see picture below – it’s not great, but you can see the spouts just right of centre.)

We had an hour wait time at the border, but were rewarded by choosing a lane manned by a Dave Letterman wannabe, whose opening question was “So where are you two troublemakers going?”, followed by one or two standard questions and then a string of jokes largely having to do with dog food (don’t ask).

When we arrived at the Beachwood Resort, things took a downturn. It is a huge resort, manned only by a couple of teenage “security” personnel who were trying to deal with utter chaos. This is their busiest weekend of the year, and the place was heavily overbooked, with people lining up to complain about just about everything. Like us, many of them had made reservations for sites long ago, but they have no computerized sytem to tell them which sites are empty and which are occupied. We were told to simply drive around until we found a spot, then come back and let them know. Fiteen minutes later, it became evident that there were simply no sites available. Long story short, they put us in a “temporary” spot, which was simply a gravel area between parallel rows of railway ties. No hookups, no picnic table. We spent a couple of hours in the clubhouse/pool area, then checked back. Still nothing. We eventually decided that since where we were was little better than a Walmart parking lot, we might as well go find a Walmart parking lot.We checked out and drove a couple of hours to Everett, where we found a Walmart (good news); Everett does not allow overnight stays in the parking lot (bad news).

Tired and frustrated, we bowed to the inevitable and found a Best Western nearby, which by pure luck had had one suite become available just before we arrived; otherwise, they were fully booked. Turns out that it is the fault of all those damned  Canadians  coming down to do their pre-school shopping! We brought up a dinner of pitas and dip, and then collapsed into bed.