Very early in 2017, I learned about the Thunder Bay Blues Fest. The event features 100% Canadian talent, so I booked a VIP pass and began making plans. Held during the first weekend of July, I made this into a road trip, planning to do a circle tour of Lake Superior. Two days driving, but it realistically should have taken three.
Day one was an extremely long, tiresome day, having to first drive partly through the traffic mess that Toronto has become. North on the highway, and by about 16:00 I was settled into the Watertower Inn in Sault Ste Marie.
First stop was Batchawana Bay, which is 71km north and west of the Sault. Two centuries ago you would see voyageurs here, sheltered from the storms of Lake Superior.
Moving 43km north, my next stop was Alona Bay. Here is Theano Point, believed to be the first uranium find in Canada. Also nearby, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Move along another 90km north, through Lake Superior Provincial Park, and the next stop is Old Woman Bay. There are cliffs with forests, and a beach for your pleasure.
We now move inland, through the small town of White River (with a cute coffee shop) and travel 284km north and east to Aguasabon Falls, just west of Terrace Bay. There is a well-built viewing platform to take you near the falls.
Travelling 204km west, we are nearing our destination. We know we’ve arrived when we’re at the Terry Fox Memorial, just outside of Thunder Bay. His goal was to run across Canada, beginning in Newfoundland. This is where he was forced to end his journey.
The Lyceum Theatre opened its doors in the former Port Arthur in 1908, with seating for one thousand. There have been many changes of ownership and usage, with the ground floor being used for office/retail.
Remodeled in 1932 for “talking pictures”, it closed permanently in 1955.
The Prince Arthur Hotel originally built by CN, is on the same street, and dates from 1911.
Thirty kilometers west of Thunder Bay is Kakabeka Falls, a waterfall on the Kaministiquia River. It is the highest waterfall in North America.
2016 was not a great year for travel. Due to circumstances out of my control, I was unable to spend my usual winter at my condo in Florida. I was in Canada from October until April 1st, when I went to Florida for one week.
Eartha Kitty stayed home for this trip. I took I75 south to Kentucky, where I turned onto secondary highways, passing through Crittenden, Dry Ridge, Williamstown, Mason, Corinth, Sadieville, Georgetown, Lexington, Nicholasville, Lancaster and Crab Orchard, finally settling in at Barbourville, KY.
Towards the closing of April, I went to Cincinnati for a long weekend, thanks to IHG Rewards Points. I stayed at the Staybridge Suites in West Chester out in the suburbs. No complaint; it was a decent hotel, and mostly free.
Surprisingly lots to do in Cincinnati. The American Sign Museum was a treat, situated near the old Crossley factory. The Taft Museum, Smashburger, the Findlay Market, the OTR Candy Bar and the Over The Rhine neighbourhood all worth a vist. Bonus for crossing the border to Newport, KY.
May brought a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. I stayed in a condo, on the top floor of an apartment building with a great view of English bay Beach. There was a new Nordstrom on Robson Street, and my first full day I had lunch at the Ovaltine Cafe on East Hastings Street. Late that afternoon, a trip to Horseshoe Bay and the Spirit Gallery.
Stanley Park, the Lennox Pub, Chinatown, the Vogue Theatre, Fountainhead Pub among the places I went. I rented a car and went to Whistler (Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre), Squamish, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Harrison Hot Springs.
June 22nd I arrived in Los Angeles for the first time, staying in Westwood. Budget provided me with a Kia Soul for the week, which turned out fairly good. Not nice to look at, but easy to drive and comfortable inside.
The Getty Center was a great trip, as was Santa Monica. Rodeo Drive, Beverley Hills, The Walk of Fame, LACMA and the Petersen Automotive Museum were visited. Pueblo de Los Angeles, The Museum of Tolerance (Anne Frank exhibit) and the LaBrea Tar Pits were also included.
A side trip with friends took me to Santa Barbara and the Old Mission. I bought a painting, now hanging above my fireplace at the craft market at the waterfront.
Iceland Air had a seat sale, so in September I flew to England, landing in Gatwick on the 20th. From there, I boarded a train to St Pancras Station, switched to King’s Cross, and I was off to York.
I stayed at the Wheatlands Lodge Hotel – a series of Victorian town homes converted to a hotel; an easy walk to the Mickelgate Bar. York itself is a magnificent city dating to Roman times. One can walk the wall, visit the York Minster, the Yorkshire Museum and many other features. The Viking Museum was closed due to floods.
Highly recommended: a day trip through the Yorkshire Dales with BOB Holidays. It takes nine hours, and well worth it. Includes a stop at the “Oldest Sweet Shop in the World” in Harrogate and The Falcon Inn in Arncliffe.
A two hour train ride, four days later, and I’m in Lincoln. Everything seems to be uphill from here. I stayed at a B&B called The Poplars. Nice place with friendly cats.
Lincoln Cathedral is the highlight, as is the high street for shopping. While here, I took a side trip to Sheffield, checking out the Cholera Monument and Lime Avenue.
Four days later, I travel to London, where I stay for eight days.
One of the perks of travel with Iceland air is a free stopover in Iceland. I chose to take mine at the end of my trip, arriving on 4th October.
The entire stay was dogged with pounding rain, cold and violent winds. The Blue Lagoon was a wonderful respite, despite the weather. The Golden Circle Tour heavily marred by the storms.
WestJet had a seat sale, so I thought it was time for another trip to Vancouver, BC.
I usually book trips based on a seat sale and where I want to go. One of the conditions of this sale required me to take a flight with three stops. I departed from London, ON (YXU), next stop was Winnipeg, MB (YWG), followed by Calgary, AB (YYC), where we had an opportunity to deplane for thirty minutes, finally arriving in Vancouver, BC (YVR). Not a terrible way to spend an afternoon.
I had booked accommodation through EBAB – a site I have used before, although mostly in Europe. I just off Davie Street, within walking distance of English Bay Beach.
It was evening when I arrived. The apartment owner picked me up at the airport, and made dinner. I settled in for the night.
Early the next morning, it was time to venture out. I took a wander down Robson Street, where I had stayed on my previous trip. Locals are making a big deal over a new Nordstrom store that recently opened. Lunch brought me to the Ovaltine Cafe on East Hastings Street. It’s easy to see that gentrification is encroaching.
Late afternoon the apartment owner calls, asks if I want to take a trip! He picks me up downtown, and we’re off to Horseshoe Bay. It’s a small village nearby in West Vancouver. We stopped into the Spirit Gallery, where I bought a piece of native art for my home. It barely fit in my carry-on.
We returned to Vancouver and had dinner at the apartment. I went for a walk in the dark, toward the Pacific Ocean, where I discovered that at the end of Davie Street is English Bay Beach. Great for a little evening relaxation.
My trip starts out well, with a packed first day. Six more days to go. Early mornings, late evenings, lots of walking, a car rental, and side trips to Harrison Hot Springs, Chilliwack and Whistler.
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.
Hung out a few times at the Avenue Bar. All in, a decent way to kill a couple of days.
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!
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.
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
August: Fort Wayne, IN; Little Rock, AK; Oklahoma City, OK; Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs, CO
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.
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.
Time to leave the sunshine coast of Florida. I’ve been here since early December, and usually leave late in March. Unfortunately, Easter arrived so bloody early I got stuck here. My travel day is set for Sunday, the 7th of April.
My first stop will likely be at the Best Western in Bennettsville, South Carolina. No particular reason, except I’m trying to keep my Diamond member status, and driving on I95 through the southern states is rather bleak. Most cities are located well off the highway.
From there, I’ll arrive in Bear, DE to visit a friend for a few days.
The next stop will be the Genetti Inn & Suites in Hazle Township, PA. A friend is staying there on a short golf vacation. I’ll be catching up with him for one day. After that, I should be in Canada on 12th April.
2013 is the first summer in some time that I don’t already have travel plans in place. I’m town between visiting the east coast of Canada or taking a trip down Route 66 in the US. The cost difference between the two is substantial.
The big event for 2013 has already been booked. I’ll be leaving for Turkey on 31st October, visiting Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia and a few other cities.
Air Canada advertises on their website “Air Canada Lowest Price Guarantee always at AirCanada.com
An opportunity to check this out came today.
There is a return flight in July from JFK – DUS via Air Canada available on Orbitz for $869.00
A quick check at the Air Canada website shows this same return trip, on the same dates (20 July/26July) is priced at $1169.00. The actual trip is JFK-YYZ-DUS, then DUS-YYZ-JFK. $300.00 in savings are available by not using the guaranteed lowest price at Air Canada dot com.
Also, because this trip involves Tango and Lufthansa, Aeroplan miles would accumulate at 50% for part of the trip, and 0% for another part of the trip.
When I eliminate the JFK – YYZ leg of the trip, and using the same parameters, a return flight from YYZ – DUS comes in at a whopping $1818.00
What this means is I could book a return flight from YYZ – JFK on Air Canada’s website, book the Orbitz flight from JFK – DUS, and save $481.00 versus flying direct from YYZ – DUS.
I checked my Aeroplan account today, and my balance has made a considerable jump.
There were two flights remaining from Egypt Air, dating back to September, which had never been credited to my account, despite my jumping through hoops providing proof. My Aeroplan number was even on the boarding pass.
I can’t discern when these credits came through, since they show up on the dates my flights would have occurred. None of credits specifiy Egypt Air – all are from “AE Customer Service”.
4,200 Miles dated 31 August
314 Miles dated 3 September
530 Miles dated 7 September
Having arrived at this point, I won’t pursue this any further. The 4,200 miles must be for JFK – CAI, although I was credited 5,600 miles for CAI – JFK.
Two weeks ago I flew United to Las Vegas, a total of five flights. All but the last connection JAX – TPA have been credited to my account. I don’t think I’ll bother following this up.
Unless Aeroplan does something to piss me off again.