Up North, MI

During the last week of July we traveled around northern Michigan.  “Up North” is considered to be the area from Midland to Mackinac (so we’re told) and is not to be confused with The UP, which is the Upper Peninsula.  Whatever you call it, we found northern Michigan to be absolutely stunning and just couldn’t get enough of the adorable lakeside communities.  We took Shepler’s ferry to Mackinac Island and walked around the island.  We saw beautiful homes along the way and wondered with sadness how these poor people lived without Amazon Prime, there being no cars on the island and all. And then our spirits lifted for the island residents when we saw the equivalent of the mainland UPS delivery truck: a horse-drawn flatbed loaded with those familiar brown cardboard boxes with the black arrow.  It is a civilized place after all.

We arrived in Charlevoix just in time for a parade followed by their Venetian Festival.  In Petoskey we got lost grabbing goodies on sale at the downtown sidewalk sale.  We stuffed our $5 sweatshirts in the car and rode our bikes along the lake to Bay Harbor.  Then we took Clyde across the Mackinac Bridge to the UP and swore we’d be back!

Cleveland, OH

On the 22nd of July, we left Niagara Falls and stopped in Cleveland for two nights on our way to northern Michigan.  Of course our first stop was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is truly a full day’s worth of roaming around reminiscing about great musicians who changed music forever.  We paid particular attention to our favorites (Dire Straits for Johan and Prince for me), but of course there are so many amazing bands and eras that were cool to learn about.  When I saw a large picture of Madonna I remembered it was the exact poster that was taped to the ceiling in my childhood bedroom, which inspired me to wear too many bracelets and a green headband to class in the 5th grade. That afternoon we took a walk in Edgewater Park, where the sun suddenly slipped behind the clouds and it began to pour.  One minute we could see the city skyline and then next minute it was completely gone.  Made for interesting photos!

On day 2 we explored the West Side Market, Little Italy, and Tremont.  There was an Irish festival at the county fairgrounds where we stayed, so naturally we had Guiness on tap, shopped for Celtic trinkets, and learned the meaning of my grandmother’s maiden name.

Niagara Falls, NY

Niagara Falls sort of speaks for itself…you can be the judge from the unedited photos below!  The collective Niagara Falls, made up of American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls can be seen from helicopter or boat, but we thought the views from land were also pretty spectacular.  It was worth sitting in the long line of cars at the border (both ways) to drive into Ontario (our 3rd Canadian province visited in this “trip through the states”) to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake on the Canadian side.  Though you will pass a Botanical Gardens along the way, you may actually find Niagara-on-the-Lake a botanical wonder of its own.  The vineyards passed along the way are so beautiful that we decided it’s worth a trip back one day to really stop and enjoy the Wineries of Niagara, known for their ice wines, while staying at the Prince of Wales Hotel with their beautiful flowers.

Lake George, NY

We stopped for 2 quick nights in Lake George on our way from upstate New York to Niagara Falls.  We stayed at the Lake George Schoon Valley RV Resort on the river at the foothills of the Adirondacks.  I did some online shopping in preparation for our visit to Chicago while Johan paddled the kayak upstream.  On the second day we hiked up Prospect Mountain (short but steep with a great view at the top), tasted some whiskey spirits at Lake George Distillery, and had dinner at Frederick’s in Bolton Landing.  A perfect way to break up the long drive to the Falls!


Montreal, Quebec

We left Clyde in Plattsburg and drove Bonnie into Quebec for a birthday celebration weekend in Montreal.  Montreal is a beautiful city with so much to see.  We didn’t get far enough by foot on Day 1, so we spent Day 2 riding our way through the well-marked bike lanes in the city to be sure we saw and experienced everything.  Our first landmark was to drive up Mount Royal (which we learned is where Montreal gets its name from). The picture of the city that surrounds Mount Royal is a bit hazy so I guess we’ll just have to go back to get a clearer picture someday.  After parking the car, we set off on foot in search of the Quartier Latin, Rue Ste Catherine, the Quartier des Spectacles and poutine.  We freshened up at the hotel (and enjoyed 30 minutes of air conditioning), and headed out to Le Local for Johan’s official birthday dinner.  We enjoyed meeting the owner of Le Local who was working behind the bar and shared stories about travelling the states in an RV and owning a restaurant (only one of which we know how to do; the other we learned about).  We parted ways after exchanging email addresses and handshakes and also after being assured it is not a crime to speak English in the French-speaking province of Quebec.  We left dinner determined to stay up all night in the city which seemed especially enegertic late at night.  We walked through Old Montreal and saw hundreds of people sitting in the park watching various movies and slide shows on the sides of old buildings.  We returned to the Quartier des Spectacles where we expected to see a nighttime parade because of the Montreal Cirque Festival.  Instead we found an Irish pub (and a super cool bartender who gifted us a Belgian Duvel bottle opener upon learning it was Johan’s birthday), and an otherwise fairly sleepy street.  It seems the performers all went home for the day and frankly it was way, WAY past our bedtime.  We rode the bikes to Rue Ste Paul the next day to catch the World Cup final (we were routing for Croatia, but were the minority of course), and visited the Notre-Dame Basilica.  Bon anniversaire mon amour!

Plattsburg, NY

We got to the Adirondack region in mid-July just in time for Johan’s 52nd birthday.  We actually celebrated twice – on his actual birthday we took the Lake Champlain ferry to Burlington, Vermont and rode the e-bikes into town via the Burlington Greenway bike path and had lunch at Splash! At the Boathouse.  After lunch we walked around Church Street Marketplace, had an iced coffee (courtesy of Starbucks for J’s b-day), and then ferried back to Plattsburg.  The next day we drove around exploring a few of the craft breweries and wineries popping up in the area – watch out Temecula, the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail has a lot to offer!

Bangor, ME

In early July we left Lubec for Bangor, ME.  Fleeing beastly high temperatures inland, we drove to the coast every day, exploring Acadia National Park, Belfast, Camden, Searsport, Wiscasset, Boothbay, and Bath.  The next time we hike up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia, we will time it for spring or fall, but the views really do make you appreciate the sweat equity spent climbing to the top.  That is, until you discover that everyone else who drove to the top gets the exact same incredible view and looks better in their pictures (no wet spots on their t-shirts or drenched stringy hair sticking to their face).  The hike back takes about a quarter of the time it took to get to the top, and we gladly hopped in the car to find Sand Beach and Bar Harbor without using our legs.  When you get to Sand Beach you wonder how it is possible to see turquoise water at the base of the mountain as if you suddenly descended on a Caribbean Island.  It was beautiful but crowded, as one might expect on a 90+ degree day in July.  Bar Harbor is a lovely town that we will go back to explore more one day; while there we enjoyed a walk down Main Street and a beer at Atlantic Brewing Company (and tried not to offend people with our “hiking smell”).  Of the other small harbor towns along the Maine Coast, Belfast and Camden are two of the larger ones, although all of them are unique and charming in their own way. We can’t wait to return to enjoy more of their beauty (and lobster rolls).