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Day 31: Ohio is big

June 30, 2010 6 comments

Location: Milan, IN

Miles Driven: ~610

Total Miles: 6,251

New York is a big state, and I lived there for 26 years, but I don’t think I realized how big it was until this trip.  Coming from the Northeastern border to the border with Western PA and OH took quite a while.  Although I got a late start on the day, I made it into Ohio by early afternoon.  Once I crossed the border, I couldn’t help but play one of my favorite songs:

I was just east of Cleveland when I hit up a rest stop to take a break and got some exercise.  By the time I was done, it was 5PM.  I looked at the map and realized Ohio is another deceptively big state.  If I wanted to make it inside the Indiana border before it was too late, I’d have to get moving.  As you can see from the miles covered above, I certainly got moving and far too late into the night (most miles in one day so far on this journey).

It was close to rush hour so I tried to avoid the Cleveland traffic as much as possible, though I was somewhat drawn to seeing the Lebron James “We are all witnesses” giant poster.  Not being a big enough draw for me, I headed south towards Akron before hitting the city.  And you know, I can’t mention Cleveland here without showing one of the greatest city promotional videos of all time:

I’ll have to return to Cleveland sometime to see both of their buildings.

Thanks to my buddy Matt for a recommendation to get a burger from Swenson’s Drive-In in Akron.  Great burger…not sure if it’s deserving of the advertised “Best Burgers in the US” label, but it was definitely tasty.  Great shakes, too.

Continued in a southwest direction from there, eventually crossing the Indiana border late in the night.  Didn’t take many photos of note during the drive, but I was happy to make big progress on this portion of the trip.  I was thinking of pulling out the camera late at night in Indiana farm country to catch some stars, but a waning gibbous moon was a bit too prominent in the night sky.  No worries.  By the time I’m out in the desert, the light from the moon will not be a factor, and I’ll be sure to catch a large amount of stars.

joe

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Day 30: New places in NY

June 29, 2010 6 comments

Location: near Montezuma, NY

Miles Driven: 318

Total Miles: 5,631

Woke up early to a rainy day in Burlington, and it was a little bit of a bummer since the plan was to take the hour-long ferry ride from Burlington, VT to Fort Kent, NY across the enormous Lake Champlain, and I was hopeful for some clear skies during the ride.

Made my way to the port and paid the $17 fee to get my car across.  I was early, so after lining up my car I took a nap, and sure enough I awoke to my car being the only one remaining in the original queue.  I gave the clerk my ticket and was the last one onboard.

the mazda onboard the ferry

The ship departed promptly at 8:50AM and we got moving on some calm waters.  I didn’t think we were going very fast, but once I went downstairs to the galley area and looked out a porthole, I realized how fast we were actually moving.

The ride was really pleasant.  I think I’ve only taken one ferry before, and that was just me on and my feet (no car) going from Cape May, NJ to Rehoboth Beach, DE, and I had little memory of that outside of falling asleep on a bench.  I liked how passengers are free to walk around the ship and enjoy the sights.  There were no sightings of Champ, but it was still memorable.

Shores of NY in the distance

Skies clearing up on the NY side

Closer now, and more clear

Looking back towards Vermont (left, in distance). NY on right

Standing with my home state behind me

All I had in store for NY was to drive through the Adirondacks and see how far I could make it while heading west.  I wasn’t sure of any attractions along the way, so I consulted my “Off the Beaten Path” book that highlights some of the lesser-known things found in each state.  One attraction just a few miles away from port was a place called Ausable Chasm, the “Grand Canyon of the East.”

Ausable Chasm

I wouldn’t exactly describe it as Grand Canyon-esque, but it was still an interesting gorge to walk through.  I had no idea about this place, and I grew up in NY.  It was around $16 to get admission to do a self-guided hike, and I was initially reluctant, but after the hike I was happy I decided to go for it.  Cool place.

It was probably about an hour and half I spent walking amongst the different sections of the chasm.  When done, and sweaty as hell, I grabbed a quick bite and got back in the car to continue west.

The drive through the Adirondack mountains was quite scenic.

The drive took me through Lake Placid – home of the 1980 Winter Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice.”  Very nice-looking town.

Olympic Center

I continued on and eventually found my way to the northern stretch of I-81, near Watertown.  Worked my way south to the Syracuse area, then linked up with I-90W towards Rochester.  Turned out to be great timing, as the sun was coming down just as I was getting onto I-90.

Drove on some local roads for a little bit, and got to check out some farm country in the Finger Lakes region.

To take this photo, I rested the camera on the top of my car, and it ended up creating a cool reflection of the scene, like water

Tomorrow will be another big day of driving, as I plan to get to Ohio at some point in the afternoon.  Depending on the weather, I may be able to check out some outdoor attractions down that way.  NY is a huge state to drive through, but it’s hard to beat the views.

joe

Milestone reached

June 27, 2010 6 comments

Before you read this, be sure to get caught up with the last few items I’ve written.  There’s been several posts in the past 48 hours.

At this point, I suppose it’s safe to say the “first phase” of my trip is complete.  This was the map I initially drew up as a rough plan for my trip, and the blue line shows my starting point in Acworth, GA, taking me all the way up to Maine.

The initial plan. Diamond in GA is the starting point

From there, following the red line, you can see the route turns West (aka the second phase of the trip).  I started that part today.  So here’s a map I drew showing the route I took (following interstates and highways as best as I could freehand) from the starting point, May 30, through June 26.

The journey so far. Southeast, East Coast, and Northeast explored

You may have noticed I’ve covered over 5,000 miles at this point, 29 days into the trip.  As a point of comparison, back in my 2005 roadtrip, I did a big loop around the country and covered about 12,000 miles in the same amount of time.  That was a definite whirlwind, so I’m glad this time I got to take my time coming up North, seeing friends and family along the way.

As I travel further West, the number of friends and family I know decreases a fair amount, so I imagine I’ll be covering more ground in that portion of the trip (red arrow in first map above), in a shorter amount of time.

Thanks for following me along so far.  Everyone’s words of support have meant a lot.  Hope you stay tuned – there is a lot more of the US and Canada to see yet!

joe

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Day 29

June 27, 2010 2 comments

Location: Burlington, VT

Miles Driven: 209

Total Miles: 5,313

Took care of laundry and some other business at Colleen’s in the morning, then hit the road shortly before 1PM and made my way Northwest.  The plan was to get to Burlington, VT by the end of the day.  On paper, it was a five hour drive, but I spent a lot of time on state highways that, though scenic, moved fairly slow.  I’m glad I had the chance to take this route as New Hampshire and Vermont are both incredibly scenic states.  I got to drive through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and learned why Vermont is called the “Green Mountain State.”  I was debating taking time out to do some hiking, but I wanted to get to Burlington before it was too late, so I passed.  Worked out, as for parts of the way it was raining.

A New Hampshirian lake

Great scenery on the drive along Hwy 302

Coming up on the White Mountains

Vermont countryside

So thanks to my friend John for bringing up the ferry options available at Lake Champlain, which is on the Northern border of NY and VT.  I had no idea Lake Champlain was so huge until I took a detailed look at the map.  One could drive around north or south, but it would be quite a detour, and I’ve heard the ferry trip is a nice ride (and not too expensive) so I’ll do that tomorrow morning and be back in my home state of NY; however, it will be unfamiliar territory for me, as I don’t think I’ve ever been that far north in the state.  All the more reason to explore it.

joe

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Days 27 and 28

June 27, 2010 5 comments

Location: Portland, ME

Miles Driven: 175

Total Miles: 5,104

In Bar Harbor, I was having a spotty connection on my phone – phone calls were not going through, and I was having difficulty getting on the Internet.  I was curious as to when the sun was rising so I could be on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in time to catch it.  I think I mentioned that it is one of the first places the sun hits in the US.  Fortunately, I could sign onto my MSN account on my phone, I IM’d my buddy Nick in Taiwan, and asked him to look up the sunrise time.  Thanks to Nick, I learned that the sun would rise on Friday around 4:17AM (about 6 hours away).  My plan was to hike up the mountain in time to catch the sunrise, and that would require starting the hike around 2AM.  So I shut my eyes for a few hours, and around 1:30AM I began to make my way to the park.

I was bummed initially as I could not find any trailheads for getting up the mountain, so I ended up just taking the park road to the parking lot at the summit.  In hindsight this turned out to be a very good thing, as it was damn cold near the top.  It must’ve been in the 40s with the strong winds blowing.  If I had hiked, I would not have been prepared for the cold at all, nor would I have had my tripod to set up for some sunrise shots.

I got a little rest in the car, and then before you knew it the parking lot was filling up.  Around 3:30AM you can see a distant glow in the horizon, so I got out of my car to find a spot to watch from.  It was cold, but there was a cool atmosphere on the summit with everyone excited to see these first few rays of the sun.  Once the sun came up from the horizon, it seemed to rise incredibly fast, and before I knew it the day was bright.

I was thinking I should try to post the photos showing the transition from early early morning to the sun appearing, but that could take a little bit.  So I made a little slideshow showing the progression.  Apropos, the music is from the soundtrack to the film “Sunshine” (one of my favorite movies).  The track is entitled “Capa’s Last Transmission Home”.  Catching this sunrise was an unforgettable experience.

The crowds were dispersing, and after it was bright again I went to the car, removed my extra layers as I was already getting warm, and caught a little more sleep.  Woke up around 9AM to do some hiking.  Hiking down the mountain was easy, coming back up was a little strenuous, but enjoyable.

I had a recommendation from my friend Frances, along with one of my roadtrip books, to check out a restaurant on the other side of the park called “Thurston’s Lobster Pound.”  I made my way over there to grab lunch, and I was not disappointed.  I wasn’t hungry enough for a whole lobster (which was pretty cheap), but I ordered a lobster roll and it really hit the spot.

Never had a lobster roll before. Tasty

After lunch, the plan was to make my way to southwest towards Portland, Maine, where my friend Colleen lives.  I’ve known Colleen for ages having gone to confirmation class with her, and she offered to put me up for the weekend.  Had a great time lounging about not doing too much, met some of her friends, and ate some great food (and also witnessed the US World Cup loss to the “injury”-prone Ghana team).  I also got some tips on places in Michigan to check out from her friends Jeff and Jen. Thanks guys.  The fun night ended and I got some sleep as my break here will end and the roadtrip continues.

The plan is to stick around in Portland until Sunday, and from there the journey turns West for the next several weeks.  And as I type it is Sunday morning, and I’m fixin to leave here and work my way through New Hampshire and Vermont.

Some shots from the weekend are below.  Thanks so much, Colleen, for hosting me.  Portland, ME (the kids call it the “other Portland”) is a great place.

Colleen and me

Belting out songs with Jen on the SingStar game

Leaving Portland soon.  So long, East coast.

joe

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