Custer State Park in South Dakota

Custer State Park in South Dakota
We saw a LOT of these guys at Custer State Park in South Dakota!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sugarcreek and Walnut Creek Ohio

We are working hard on visiting various places here and there that look interesting.  There are still a ton of places on our list that we would like to see as soon as possible.

BUT there are other places that we travel to, and we realize, we need to visit as often as possible.

The Sugarcreek/Walnut Creek Ohio area fits into that category.

I mentioned this area a LOT here and here.  Since I wrote about it before, I will try not to be too repetitive......  but we just love this area.

We again stayed at the Carlisle Inn in Walnut Creek.  We had a nice suite on the 3rd floor with a great view of the rural farming area.  There was a storm one of the nights we were there, and it was so relaxing watching over the green hills from our balcony as lightning flashed in the distance.

A short walk from the Carlisle Inn is the Der Dutchman.  If you like good food, and A LOT of it, this is the place.  We went one evening and had a rib special that was perfect.  The meat fell off the bones with no effort.  Der Dutchman always has a line at popular times, but its worth the wait.

Also a short walk from the Carlisle Inn are some great gift shops, and a nice antique mall (I have had some good finds there!). 

We stopped by Sugarcreek to see the World's Largest Cuckoo Clock again.  That's always fun.

Sadly, our old Amish pal Leroy was not driving his cart around, doing his tour!  We were a bit heart broken to see the cart with a "for sale" sign on it!  I do hope that Leroy and his family are doing OK.  I would really appreciate an update from anyone who might know whats going on....  Leroy would pick up tourists in his horse drawn cart and give them a very nice tour of the Sugarcreek area.  There was no official fee charged, but he did have a tip jar.  This was a very unique experience for travelers to this part of Ohio.

AND, we got to visit one of my all time favorite café/coffee shops- Wallhouse Coffee.  It is kind of hard to put into words how much I love this place.  I talked about it before, but the place is simply perfect.  We ended up stopping by here on each day while in town, and I am already missing their smooth coffee, great sandwiches, and ice cream.  This is easily the most delicious restaurant around that is still a secret.

We are already talking about a trip to this area again soon.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thinking About Gatlinburg......

WOW!  I am sure that everyone is aware of the fires happening in the Gatlinburg area right now.  We drove south on I-75 Friday to Chattanooga, and back up on Sunday.  We could smell smoke both ways- but we were unaware that things were getting so bad.

I am very sad about this and I am constantly searching for updates.....

WBIR has been a great source of information....  I am watching their live facebook updates right now. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, Ohio

The fourth Fort that we visited on this trip was Fort Meigs, in Perrysburg Ohio, near Toledo.

This was another great Fort, and we enjoyed a self guided tour around the place.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Detroit River- Detroit Michigan

Sent in 1948, the back of this card states-

It seems like a contradiction but is nevertheless true that although Canada lies north of the United States, Windsor lies south of Detroit.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Random Thoughts on Friday

Happy Black Friday!

I wanted to take a second to tip my hat to legendary Cleveland Ohio weather man Dick Goddard, who has very recently retired.

Cleveland Scene has a nice little mention of Dick here.

Dick is very vocal about animal cruelty, and his name is attached to a law increasing penalties for those who abuse animals.  VERY COOL.

Dick Goddard is funny as heck too.  I remember him sneaking some funny jokes in to his forecasts.  You had to be paying attention to catch them!

I remember watching a Big Chuck and Little John skit one night.  I forget the punch-line of the skit, or even what it was about, but it involved people sitting in a doctors office waiting room.  Dick Goddard was one of the people waiting around, and he was looking at the centerfold of an adult magazine.  Obviously, they didn't show anything "dirty" on this family oriented show, but you could tell what magazine Dick Goddard was looking at.  It was so funny seeing the local weather guy doing that during the skit.  It was out of character, but it showed that Dick was OK with being goofy for a good laugh.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Windsor-Detroit Tunnel- Canada Postcard

This is a great old postcard that is unused showing an old view of the Windsor Tunnel in Detroit Michigan!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nature's Corner Bakery and Cafe in Ridgeville, Ontario

The great folks at White Meadows Farms in Ontario suggested to us that we should find Nature's Corner Bakery and Café for our lunch.  This was a great recommendation!

Nature's Corner is obsessed with local and organic ingredients.  They are also big on generous portions.  We had great soup and sandwich lunches, and I had honey sweetened blueberry tea that was just perfect.

Nature's Corner was an amazing spot in a great, rural area that made me feel a bit jealous of the residents of Ridgeville Ontario-  Niagara-on-the-Lake is not too far away, they can get pure maple syrup from White Meadows Farms, AND they can ride their bikes down cool country roads to have lunch at Nature's Corner!

I don't mean to over romanticize a place, but, this area is so ideal.  This is the little small town that you hope exists.  Its absolutely country and rural, but it is still casual but upscale and sophisticated.  Nature's Corner seems to be in an old country store- BUT not a dilapidated old country store.  It has a clean and bright, recently painted feel.  There are no dirty walls and no odd smells that you over look.  These guys are uncompromising in their effort to make unique, quality food.

Monday, November 21, 2016

White Meadows Farms Maple Syrup in St. Catharines, Ontario

White Meadows Farms in St. Catharines, Ontario was ANOTHER great, unplanned stop on this trip that really impressed us.

The Farm produces and sales maple syrup.  REAL maple syrup.  I didn't realize how big of a deal that was until visiting White Meadows Farms.  Most of the "syrup" that you buy to put on your pancakes is... well, just a syrupy mess of stuff.  Many don't eve have natural syrup in their mix!

You want PURE maple syrup.  We picked some up while we were at White Meadows Farms.  It tastes great, and you just need a little bit to liven up your cakes.

We actually did a maple syrup tasting while we were at White Meadows Farms.  There are four types of maple syrup, graded by when the syrup was collected.  I forget the names, but to me it seemed that the flavor was stronger and sweeter as the numbers got higher.  We liked the level 2 syrup the best.  it wasn't overwhelming.

We also picked up some great maple cookies, and some BBQ sauce made from maple syrup that I LOVE!

White meadows Farms hosts several cool events over the year, and they do tours.  Its not too far from Niagara Falls, and Niagara-on-the-Lake, so we will have to visit again!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

St. Davids Post Office, Ontario Canada

Here is another Canadian Post Office we stopped at, just a little outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I really love stopping at these small, friendly Canadian postal sites!

I had a great conversation with the friendly postal lady working at the St. David's post office!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake was the third of 4 forts we would visit on this road trip.  Unfortunately for us, it was also the one fort that we only had an hour or so to visit, as we stopped by later in the day.  That happens on road trips through. 

This Fort is forever linked to Fort Niagara, on the New York side of Niagara River.  You can see each from the other.

Even with a handful of visitors at the late time of the day we were there, we noticed many friendly reinactors available.  One group sang period specific songs that soldiers would have known at the time.  All seemed eager to answer questions, or to offer a demonstration.

AND, after a kitchen demonstration, we were again offered cookies and lemonade!  Sorry America, but the Canadian Forts win again with those offerings!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Random Thoughts On Friday

Unless you have been in a coma, you know that a pretty big presidential election just went down.  I have a firm rule of not talking current politics here (there are literally millions of other sites that cover that).

BUT, I did visit Trump Tower in New York City earlier this year.  Man, it might be hard to visit it right now, and it could become more difficult to visit in the very near future.

As you know, I love visiting historic sites associated with the POTUS, and I am excited that I got to visit Trump Tower before it took on an entirely new level of significance.

I think that's a whole lot of the fun of traveling to places, visiting historic spots, and being a little part of a historic timeline.

I know we visited Florida several years ago before the Space Shuttle Missions stopped.  We got a photo of us in front of the shuttle getting ready to launch.  You can't have that experience anymore, and I really love the fact that we had that moment.

I could go on- the historic places that are still around...  I am glad that I have gotten to see the ones I have seen.... and I want to get to as many as I can before they change.

I think of the Be Good Tanyas song line, "you pass through places, and places pass through you, but you carry them with you on the souls of your travelin' shoes."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Balzac's Coffee in Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

ANOTHER great little spot in Niagara-on-the-Lake was Balzac's Coffee.  Man this place was cozy, and it just felt right hanging out there.  THIS place in particular really reminded me of some of the nice coffee shops we visited on our trip around Lake Michigan.  The word "perfect" comes to mind when describing it.

Balzac's Coffee is a small chain in Ontario, I would assume similar to Heine Bros. in Louisville Kentucky.  Yeah, its a chain, but it is strictly associated with one specific geographic location.

This Balzac's coffee feels so springy- check out those light blue and yellow colors!  Balzac's in Niagara-on-the-Lake has a very vibrant vibe.

Balzac's has values too.  From their website-

Balzac's values are infused with everything our customers experience in our cafés. Artisanal, Sustainable, Local and Natural are the four cornerstones of our business practices. Each product is thoughtfully and diligently sourced. While we endeavour to keep an eye on efficiency and affordability, we will not take shortcuts with our quality or preparation techniques. We strive to offer 'Slow Food' prepared quickly, not 'Fast Food'.
Balzac's has been offering Fair Trade Organic coffee, sugar and cocoa since 1997 and all milk used in our beverage service is organic and locally sourced.

Pretty well put, eh?  This is such a perfect coffee shop in a perfect town.  I can't wait to visit here again!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"Ghosts of Niagara-on-the-Lake" by Maria Da Silva and Andrew Hind

After visiting the spectacular town of Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, I wanted to find out more about it.  The town is classy and cool.  AND, according to several people I talked to, it is considered the most haunted town in Canada.

The whole "haunted" title doesn't impress me as much as it used to... but it does still get my attention.  And I do like good ghost stories- especially when history is attached to them.

Well, "Ghosts of Niagara-on-the-Lake" by Maria Da Silva and Andrew Hind covers the legendary ghost stories of the area, linking them to the history.  There is a nice "notes" section in the back, mentioning sources and more details to the stories.  Many books in this genre give wimpy sources, if any at all.

The first 15 chapters each cover one of the well known haunted locations.  Another chapter gives a short section to several more haunted locations that the authors could not fit into a fuller chapter.  They do tease that these locals might be researched more for a future volume.  There is a section with contact information and visiting details.

We did visit and pass by several of the spots mentioned in this book during our brief visit to the town.  After reading this book, I want to go back and visit so many more places in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  We parked right next to Angel Inn.  If I had known the terrifying story of Captain Swayze, and of his tragic end at the Angel Inn I would have had to have stuck my head inside!

I am not a golf fan, but I sure as heck would have checked out the oldest golf course in North America, which has remnants of an old historic fort on it!

I had never heard of Laura Secord before, but I love the odd tales of locals helping out during a battle..... even if she was helping the British against the good guys.  A visit to the Laura Secord Homestead will be a must on our next trip.

Oh!  There is one absolutely disturbing story about how some marks got on tombstones at the St. Mark's Cemetery!  It is one of the darkest tales I have ever read!

With that, let me say again that Da Silva and Hind do an outstanding job of telling a ghost story, and linking it to known history and locations.  This book will be enjoyed by skeptics who love dark history, and by believers who love scary ghost stories.  Add Niagara-on-the-Lake to your bucket list, and read this book to get excited about your trip there.  "Ghosts of Niagara-on-the-Lake" gets my highest recommendation.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Shaw Cafe and Wine Bar- Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

We stopped by the Shaw Café & Wine Bar for a very nice and relaxing lunch while we were in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

We ate very late on this day, and I was so hungry that I neglected to get some good photos, but we absolutely loved this place!  I have included a scan of a postcard I picked up- showing the front of this beautiful establishment.  We had great food, great service, and we loved how this open yet cozy spot looked!

Its funny though, I was looking the place up later to read more about it, and it isn't exactly the top rated place for a meal in the area.  This made me think that there must be some AMAZING restaurants getting better reviews than this place.  I also thought that maybe someone with a grudge is posting some bad reviews.....  I'm not sure, but the Shaw Cafe gets high marks from us!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

I think I mentioned before that a big part of our trip to the Niagara Falls area was to get Niagara Falls out of our system.  We wanted to officially and 100% be able to say "we have done the Falls!".

Well, we can say that, but.....

We discovered Niagara-on-the-Lake in the process.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a very leisurely 40 minute or so drive from Niagara Falls.  The drive was nice and once you are a few miles away from the Falls, you are driving through beautiful Canadian country.

And then you get to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I had read some on this little town and thought that it sounded like a nice place to stop.  Like most great little towns, reading about it just doesn't do any justice to the actual location.

We stopped by a great restaurant, and then enjoyed walking the streets.

I stopped by the local post office and had a great chat with a very friendly postal worker.  He told me that they had their own special postmark showing ghostly soldiers from Fort George!  A special stamp with the same image was issued too, AND a special Canadian postcard!  As a postmark collector, I really admire the Canadian Postal Service.  Oh, and at this post office, they had a great selection of postage paid postcards you could buy, AND they had an amazing selection of first day covers for sale!

Staying on the theme of the town's ghostly postmark, my new friend at this post office proudly told me about the town's haunted reputation!  He said that Niagara-on-the-Lake is considered the most haunted town in Canada!

We stopped into several shops and really appreciate all of them.  On small shop (I forget the name) had some jewelry and decorations.  The shop owner talked to us at length about some other great cities to visit in Canada.

I joke a lot that Canada is holding out.  They don't want the people living to their south to know how great a lot of Canada is!  Well, this is one of those great towns that should be better known to tourists all around.

I have a bit more to say about Niagara-on-the-Lake, but for now, enjoys these random photos!