Category Archives: Summer

Preview of Changes and Upcoming Travel

New Developments

It’s early 2017.  We’re having decent weather on the sunshine coast of Florida.  Mostly sunny, and starting to get warm.  There has been very little rain, and only a couple of storms. My only travel has been local –  to Orlando, Tampa and St Petersburg.

I’ve been spending my winters in Florida for the past eight years.  I bought a condo in an adult only development.  From here, I have been able to fly or drive to Puerto Rico, Belize, Las Vegas, Turkey, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Panama City.

Now, it’s time to go.  The US government has made a sharp turn to the right, and I think it will get worse.  I’ve sold my condo, and will be departing on 16th March, not to return.

Packing up the house is a chore, and most of what I own has been sold.  I’ll be spending one night in Corbin, Kentucky, and should arrive in Canada by the 18th of March.

2017 Travel

25th April – This is a bit up in the air at the moment.  I have booked a few days in Lansing, MI, thanks to IHG Points Breaks.  Since then, an event has come up in Warrendale, PA that I’d like to attend.  Can’t do both, but I have some time to decide.

9th May – Today I depart for my first trip to Greece.  I’ll be based in Athens, and have a trip to Delphi scheduled.  There is a travel break to Santorini, then back to Athens.  I have booked an apartment through Ebab which has a view of the Acropolis.

6th July – This week I’ll be doing a circle tour of Lake Superior, by car.  First stop is Sault Ste Marie, then three days in Thunder Bay.

Poster for the 2017 Thunder Bay Blues Fest - last year attendance was over 18,000
Summer travel to the 2017 Thunder Bay Blues Fest – last year attendance was over 18,000

I’ll be at the festival for all three days, then departing on Monday for a leisurely drive to a place called Iron Mountain, MI.  Two days later I’ll be back home.

7th November – This day I depart Toronto for twelve days in China.  In addition to Beijing, I have a balcony cabin for a cruise on the Yangtze River.

That’s all that I have planned for this year, however I’m quite certain some smaller trips will work their way in.  Beyond this list, I travel to Kenya and Tanzania in October, 2018.

 

Siesta Key Beach

I’ve purchased a new camera:  Samsung WB350F.  There’s much to learn, and it’s WiFi enabled.  I took it to Siesta Key Beach today for a test run.

Siesta Public Beach
Siesta Key Beach Historic Marker
Siesta Key Beach
Welcome to Siesta Beach

Siesta Key Beach has regularly been voted one of the top ten beaches in North America.  Cross a bridge from the mainland, a short drive through the village, and there you are.  There’s a large, but not large enough, parking lot.  Pass over a small sand dune and you are greeted by a vast expanse of powdery white sand.

Volleyball
Volleyball on Siesta Key Beach
Lifeguard Stand
Lifeguard Stand on Siesta Key
Lifeguard
Second of three lifeguard stations on Siesta Key Beach

It was a less than optional beach day.  Cool and breezy, with sporadic sun.  One important thing with the new camera was when the sun did come in, the viewing screen became a mirror.  Almost fully useless.

The water goes on forever
Siesta Key Beach

The green flags were out at the lifeguard stations.  Here on the gulf side of Florida, one can walk out into the water for ages at still be only knee deep.  However, even then, as I discovered, it still possible to be bitten by a sting ray.  Ouch!

Every Sunday evening at dusk, there is a drum circle.

 

 

This is a beautiful beach, in a beautiful location.  If you want to go, arrive early, or you will not get a parking spot.

Stratford, ON September 2014

Every year I spend a few weekends in the historic town of Stratford, Ontario, which is located about two hours from my home in Toronto.

Located there is the world famous Stratford Festival, which began in the 1950’s in a tent, with Sir Alec Guinness in the role of Richard III.  Over the years, it’s stages have also been graced by Christopher Plummer, William Shatner, Peter Ustinov, Christopher Walken, Maggie Smith, Colm Feore and Brian Dennehey.

The season is winding down now,  This year I have seen King John, King Lear, Crazy for You, Man of LaMancha, Hay Fever, Mother Courage and The Beaux’ Strategem.

Lots of Shakespeare, some Noel Coward, two broadway musicals and a Restoration comedy.

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Rochester, NY September 2014

 

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IHG Hotels had one of their point breaks specials, and I didn’t want to travel too far.  Rochester is about three hours away and looked like a good fit for two days.

I crossed the border at Queenston without incident, and proceeded north to HWY 18, taking the scenic parkway that follows the south shore of Lake Ontario.  Close to Rochester, the road was closed and detoured off.  I found out later that portions of the parkway get shut down in the winter to avoid maintenance costs.  I can understand why, there was almost no traffic in either direction the entire length.

Rochester was interesting enough, but it has a nasty loop road around the centre of town making driving a awkward.  Street parking was plentiful.  

The Holiday Inn express was in the south end of town, but easy to get to.  Lots of promotion inside as it is being re-invented as a Country Inn & Suites by Carlson.  It was a very basic hotel without much going for it.

Probably the most interesting place to visit was the Susan B Anthony House on Madison Avenue.  I was the only person there so I got a private docent tour.  Walked around the neighbourhood afterward and had a long chat with one of the local homeowners.  It’s a nice neighbourhood and she had recently purchased a massive older home across the street from the park.

I did go downtown, but I think I hit the wrong area. Some huge old buildings, but the ground levels are mostly empty.  Lots of construction downtown and almost everywhere.

The former Erie and Genesee Canals have been made into a park.

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Hung out a few times at the Avenue Bar.  All in, a decent way to kill a couple of days.

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The University has a lovely art gallery built in the early 20th century, and the surrounding neighbourhood of the arts includes the van Gogh themed Starry Nites Cafe!

 

 

 

Warren, Ohio 2013

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Once I left Cleveland, OH I had a specific destination in mind.  I love museums, and have a fondness for automobile museums.  I’ve been to both the Chrysler and Ford museums near Detroit.  While researching, I found the National Packard Museum.

Having left Cleveland in disgust over the traffic situation (many, many roads closed for the filming of Captain America), I took a leisurely drive to Warren, OH, the birthplace of Mr. Packard.  It was here that the Packard Automobiles were first manufactured.

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Warren, OH is a small town near the PA border, steeped in history.  The National Packard Museum is quite small, mostly confined to two large public rooms.  The first room houses some displays, signs, check-in and the gift shop.  The larger room houses the automobile collection.  It was a bit crowded when I was there, although with cars, not visitors.

The wonderful people at Best Western had given me a free night which I had to use before it expired, so I stayed at the Best Western Penn-Ohio Inn, located in Hubbard, OH.  A very nice choice.  Welcoming (with cookies!), spotlessly clean, and an indoor pool.  I never actually went in to Hubbard, but ate at a local restaurant which wasn’t so good.

PA is just minutes away, so my stop the next morning was in the town of Sharon.  Another place that reeks of turn of the last century beginnings.  There, I found Ryer’s Shoe Store.  Self-promoted as “The World’s Largest Shoe Store”.  They had a good sale on ECCO shoes, and in PA clothing and footware are exempt from state taxes.  Bonus!

Next stop:  Jamestown, OH

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Future Travel:

August:  Fort Wayne, IN; Little Rock, AK; Oklahoma City, OK; Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs, CO

November:  Istanbul, Turkey

April:  Amsterdam, NE; Lisbon, PT

Cleveland, Ohio 2013

 

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I was looking for a short getaway, but some place near that I hadn’t already been.  Buffalo, NY was ruled out, so I settled on Cleveland, Ohio, just a morning’s drive away.  Once out of Canada it was an easy drive, with very little traffic.

I drove directly to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  A wonderful old building located on University Circle.  They have installed a vast glass atrium to connect it to a new addition.  Their collection was great, and I spent my entire afternoon here.  Parking at the museum was easy; parking on University circle almost impossible.

Next, I tried to work my way to my hotel.  Similar to Toronto, Cleveland has isolated the waterfront from the city.  The Shoreway seems to be the main road through town.  Unfortunately for me, at the time Cleveland had sold it’s soul to Hollywood.  The shoreway was closed for filming Captain American II.  There’s was a massive amount of detours with a massive amount of police likely collecting massive amounts of overtime.  Definitely not a good time to be in Cleveland.

Dinner that evening was at a place called Melt Bar and Grilled.  They had an excellent beer selection, friendly staff and patrons at the bar.  I had the Westside Monte Cristo – a massive plate of food I couldn’t finish.  They also have The Melt Challenge, featured on Man vs Food

Day two brought me to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  It’s isolated from downtown and just out into Lake Erie.  Pyramid shaped, but not an impressive structure.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but overall I left feeling somewhat dissatisfied.  Nothing really grabbed me – see one guitar, seen them all?

Some artists got way too much attention, others not much at all.  Interesting to note that Aerosmith once opened for the New York Dolls.

From Cleveland, I went on to Warren, Ohio.

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Summer Travels Begin

I’ve been back in Toronto since mid-April.  It’s a great time to watch the city transform into summer, however we have had an unusually cold spring.  As I write this it is a chilly 10C and there’s been light rain all day.

Last week was my first venture out of town; one of several I’ll make to the lovely city of Stratford, Ontario.  It’s just slightly over two hours driving one way.

The city is home to the exciting Stratford Festival. one of the greatest classical theatres in North America.  This year marks my fortieth year of attending performances there.  Thursday I attended performances of The Three Musketeers and Blithe Spirit.  There’s nothing like some Noel Coward to end your day with a smile.

I’ll be back before the end of June for two more productions, and probably several times more before their season ends this fall.

This looks like a good year for a summer road trip.  Over the coming months I’ll be in Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Saint Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Little Rock.  More to come, for sure.

 

Stratford Downtown
Stratford Downtown

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