Dad and Heather have arrived back in one piece from their little escapade across British Columbia and Alberta - more importantly so has the car. Bobbie and Brant have organised to go out for a nice dinner at the Poplar Grove winery. A beautiful winery with some spectacular views of the Okanagon lakes.
During the night we developed some heavy rain and gusty winds. Unfortunately, Stubbie become all religious and developed a hole in the roof. We managed to control the leak during the night and the next two days the Big Fella was removing the old chalking and replacing it with new material. Dave believes / hopes that after a fair amount of sealant and some tape, that the roof should now be fixed (fingers crossed).
We did manage to get one game of golf in - which was my first in nearly two years - the driving was okay, but ohhh that chipping absolutely tragic. The Big Fella picked up exactly where he left off - smarty pants. It was great to be out on the golf course again - hopefully we will get a chance again soon.
So after a couple of weeks of catching up and spending some wonderful time with the Howard's and Navin's - we needed to move on.
So time to make the trek from Penticton to Niagara Falls, only a small drive of over 4000 km's, about the same distance from Brisbane to Perth. I get cranky when I have to fly that far. Let the trek begin.
06/06/2013 - Black Hills, South Dakota. Our first sightseeing stop is the Black Hills in South Dakota.
Jewel Cave is the third longest cave in the world some 266 kilometres long. Before you enter the cave they have a hollow cement block to show you how tight the cave is in some places. You have to be able to squeeze through this if you want to explore certain parts of the cave - well the big fella put the challenge out, so of course as you can see I had to give it a go. Okay it did take me two attempts, the first attempt my belt got caught on the edge. Oh well at least I kept a few other visitors entertained for a while. Dad is not particular fond of caves, and as we finished our 2 hour tour of the cave, his comment was - 'well I'm glad I have done it, but that is that last cave I will be doing' - not sure if he really enjoyed.
Next Stop - Crazy Horse Monument, Crazy Horse monument is the world's largest mountain carving. It was built to honour Crazy horse and to let white men know that red men have heroes too. It is not far from Mount Rushmore. Even though the mountain carving looks similar in size to Mt Rushmore. There is a substantial difference with Crazy Horse monument dwarfing the whole of Mt Rushmore.
Last Stop for the day is Mt Rushmore. Mount Rushmore is the mountain carving of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Dave and I have visited this memorial before, so Dad and Heather went to have a closer look.
07/06/2013 - Rapid City, South Dakota, Bear Country USA Park
One of my all time favourites stops - and one that I have been looking forward to seeing again. The Park is a drive thru park featuring North American wildlife. My favourites are the Bears and the Bear Cubs. This year they only had 4 cubs, they have been practicing birth control in the park - every female is given an injection and some have had tubal ligation. Last time we were here there was over 30 cubs... Oh well it just makes these 4 more special to me.
Dave felt my comment about a great bear rug - probably wasn't appropriate at the time...
07/06/2013 - 08/06/2013 Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
Today we have had really pretty drive through the Badlands National Park - it has turned out to be a welcome surprise. The scenery is really quite spectacular. We are camping in the National Park and Dad has decided that rather than me cook again (not sure if it is my cooking) that he would take us out for dinner. So off we go - well let's just say that whilst the scenery has been a welcome suprise the food and wine was definitely not. I think for the first time in my life I couldn't eat my main meal - the Salmon tasted and felt like it had been cooking since Good Friday in a very hot oven, very dry, chewy and had absolutely no flavour - no matter how many condiments I could put on it. And if that wasn't bad enough, Dad ordered a bottle of wine, which we thought was going to be a dry white and it was the sweetest wine, I have ever tasted, it was that bad that after my initial taste I just couldn't drink anymore - it smelt like a very sweet sherry. Even Dad and Heather couldn't drink it - it was sent back to the kitchen to let the staff enjoy. Mmm my cooking now doesn't look that bad.
Badlands National Park
09/06/2013 - Mitchell, South Dakota.
We have decided to spend our next night at Mitchell, South Dakota, it is about the right distance of driving and they have the Corn Palace - mmm yep Dave and I were excited too. Dave was so excited in fact he just couldn't bring himself to make the trek. So off the turtles and I went in search of the Corn Palace - originally built to show that Mitchell had a healthy agricultural climate. I must admit it wasn't as bad as I had expected (admittedly I didn't have any positive expectations). Unfortunately that night we have a fairly large storm come through and Stubbie has sprung the same leak - all hands on deck.
10/06/2013 - Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
We have decided to try and seek professional help. So off to Sioux Falls the next large city. We register into an RV Park and Dave has decided to have another look at the roof - he now wants to go and get some more sealant, so off to an RV Dealership. Whilst we were in there we asked if they could fit us in, in the next couple of days for a look at the roof, to which they reply 9:00am tomorrow morning - now fingers crossed it doesn't rain tonight.
We have decided to take the advice from the Lonely Planet (yet again) and visit a very small eatery named Bob's. The Lonely Planet did mention that there were 12 stools at the counter - we just thought that there would be more seating tables as well. Well when we walked inside we soon found out we were wrong, everyone shuffled around so the four of us could sit together - the food was delicious.
11/06/2013 - The next morning we wake up and send Dad and Heather off in Shooter for the day, whilst the Big Fella and I head on over to the RV Service Centre. We drop Stubbie off and head on over to Denny's for breakfast. Well we were gone for just over an hour and when we return Stubbie is outside of the Service Bays. We are not sure if this is a good sign or a bad sign. Dave talks to the technician and he thinks he has found the problem and fixed it, he believes there was some creases in one of the tapes, so they have pulled that up and resealed that section. The only problem is it takes about 4 hours to become waterproof and looking outside the weather is not looking good - so for peace of mind we ask if we can put Stubbie back into the undercover Service Bay until the four hours has passed, needless to say we did receive a few very very light showers. Dave is really very sceptical that they have fixed the problem - but has decided to head on over to Niagara Falls, see what happens in bad weather and make the call from there. He has decided that if the roof is not fixed he wants to take Stubbie to the RV Roof Man in Sacramento, California - only approx 4000 km's away.
Well we have finally made it to one of the Great Lakes - Lake Michigan. Whilst there are children in the water swimming - to us the ice has only just melted and it is way too cold, to even put our feet in the water.
15/06/2013 - Niagara Falls, Niagara, Ottawa.
We have finally made it - it has been a long journey and whilst some of the scenery was just spectacular a lot of the drive across the plains, for Dave and I at least did become monotonous, both Dad and Heather did enjoy the journey. As we got closer to the East Coast the roads have been very bumpy with a lot of construction and traffic. I can see why they say they only have two seasons, Winter and Construction.
16/06/2013 - Niagara Falls, Niagara, Ottawa.
Well the day has arrived (this has been what Heather has been waiting for - her highlight) and of course it is rainy and overcast, we decide to wait awhile and see what the weather is going to do. So just before lunch we decide to bite the bullet and head on over to the Falls. Wow.... Absolutely magnificent - Heather was like a child in a lolly shop and really couldn't stop smiling. We book ourselves in to do the Maid of the Mist (the boat ride up to the falls) and the Journey behind the Falls (elevator ride down 150 feet and in behind the water fall). The one thing that did surprise me was that the noise from the falls wasn't as loud as I had expected.
The sheer beauty of watching the falls was mesmerising.
We decided to stay until sunset (well after 9:30pm) and watch the lighting of the falls.
18/06/2013 - Toronto, Ottawa.
We have decided to catch the train into Toronto and jump on the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. We do do the Hop On Hop Off Touristy thing regularly, we find it a good way to get the feel of a city whilst pointing out the highlights.
The City of Toronto is doing some major construction work on the roads - so I'm sure that if the roads were all good this tour would only take 45 minutes, but when the roads are all being worked on (and you can see why -winter must really knock the roads around) it takes about 2 hours to do the loop. The main attractions for us to see are - Dad and Heather the Canadian Tower (know as CN) and for Dave and I - the Hockey Hall of Fame. So after the full loop of the bus we head our separate ways and agree to meet up at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Dave and I head off for a bite to eat and then onto the Hockey Hall of Fame. For me I found the Hockey Hall of Fame a little disappointing - the highlight for me (which was a huge highlight) was to be able to see and touch the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded to the winner of the National HockeyLeague - other than the cup I really did loose interest quite quickly. Whilst in the RV park I have had the pleasure of sitting back and watching the little chipmunks running around. Also, we have had the chance to observe a ground hog.
Best of all we have had rain and no leak in Stubbie.
A little bit of Silverware we picked up on the way. "THE STANLEY CUP".
19/06/2013 - 22/06/2013 Toronto, Ottawa - Montreal, Quebec
Dad and Heather have decided to rent a car for just over a week and travel over to Boston and meet us back at Quebec, with a few days to catch-up and look around Quebec City until they make the long journey back home. Dave and I have decided to take our time and drive up to Quebec via Montreal. Well as soon as we crossed over from the province of Ottawa into Quebec, all signs are now only in French, prior to this you would find that most signs were in both languages. Whilst we are driving along and nearing the City of Montreal, we notice the word 'Barree' written on a few of the road signs - Dave looks at me and asks what does that mean - well let me say that my one semester of French in grade 8 does not help me out. Oh well we continue to drive on. We are getting close to our turn-off when we notice that the word Barree is now appearing on our exit. What to do? - so of course we continue on, only to find out that the exit we had planned on taking is closed - no problems we will take the next exit and try and work our way back. All the while we have a navigation system that insists on taking us on a freeway that is closed. Of course the next exit takes us into Downtown Montreal - remember we are in Stubbie and towing Shooter - luckily our next turn takes us back on the highway. We have both realised it is time to get our French for Dummies book out and start reading. When we get to the RV Park, I start to look up a few of the french words that I will need and also to look up the word Barree. Yep Barree does mean Road Closed. The RV Park we are staying in is about 1 1/2 hours out of Montreal. We plan on staying here for about 5 days, the first two days have been spent catching up on things around Stubbie etc. We have both really enjoyed these couple of days.
The RV park we are staying at is quite full because of the Canadian long weekend for the start of summer. It is strange not to hear any english being spoken and our French is being tested to the limit...and beyond.
We have had a few showers with no leakage - so fingers crossed.....