American Locations 4 – Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts

This trip goes from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Boston area, then up the New England coast all the way into Canada, then back through the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York.

Finished at Niagara Falls, we continued east on I-90. After a little ways we stopped for the night at a travel center since it was free. There were no hook-ups, of course, but we were allowed to park for the night. Never again. It was a hot August night, so we had to sleep with the windows open. All the semis around us, and there were many, kept their diesel engines running throughout the night. It was thunderous. We tried moving away from them to a remote corner. Almost as soon as we did another semi pulled up close. So I don’t plan to stay overnight in a New York travel plaza again unless it’s an emergency.

The next morning following a restless night we continued driving east on I-90. It was a pleasant drive through mostly farm country. For a while we followed the old Erie Canal, sections of which are operational. I-90 also took us through the Mohawk Valley. Very scenic. But the farther east we traveled the more urban the landscape. Shortly after passing through Albany and crossing the Hudson River, we continued east into Massachusetts.

As soon as we entered the state we were in the Berkshires. Western Massachusetts is a beautiful drive through the mountains. I always watch for the Appalachian Trail footbridge across I-90. I believe it is near Lee, but I’m not sure. Nearing the middle of the state we left the Berkshires and entered a much more heavily developed region. First I-91, then I-84, and finally I-395 all join I-90 from the south, and the traffic increases exponentially. The pleasant part of the drive was over.

Luckily, at this time we got a break from the drive. We exited I-90 at Sturbridge, which is just west of Worcester, to see Old Sturbridge Village. This is from their web site:

A True New England Getaway

The stories of the past come to life! Visit our village to interact with costumed historians and learn about life in the 19th century. Catch demonstrations, browse our exhibits, and explore the historic village and the local town. Spend a day or a whole weekend here when you plan your summer getaway in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

There were a lot of restored houses to walk about.

There are plenty of activities for the kids.

We could also venture inside the houses.

Many of the houses had historical interpreters at work.

Outside, too. Such as a shepherd demonstrating how he gives commands to herd a flock of sheep to his well-trained dog by whistling to it. Also, sheep shearing.

There were other things to see outside, such as these longhorn cattle.

And this brick oven.

Rides were given, too.

There was a working sawmill with a saw that was powered by a water wheel. They cut up lumber the same way it had been done centuries ago.

Of course, there was a covered bridge.

And you could just stroll through a pretty landscape.

It was a good way to stretch our legs after a day spent driving. Finished, we continued east on I-90, and were quickly through Worcester and into the Greater Boston metro area. Now the traffic, and the maze of roads, was horrendous. Thank God for Garmin.

Next Location – Boston

American Locations 3 – Niagara Falls, Canadian side

This trip goes from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Boston area, then up the New England coast all the way to Canada, then back through the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes Region in upstate New York.

On another trip to Niagara Falls we stayed on the Canadian side. We got a motel room five or six blocks up from the Falls, easy walking distance. It is much more touristy on the Canadian side.

It’s like walking through Gatlainburg.

Eventually, you approach the Falls.

Once you reach the Falls, there are nice gardens to walk through.

Eventually, you reach the Falls.

They look much the same as from the American side, you just see them from a different perspective.

Like before in the U.S., we drove the 15 miles along the Niagara River to where it emptied into Lake Ontario.

There were other attractions along the way.

And plenty of gift shops. They had a lot of maple-flavored candy.

And more nice gardens to stroll through.

The fastboats to the whirlpool were still running.

We reached Lake Ontario, where the fastboats departed from the Canadian side.

There was a good overlook of the mouth of Niagara River and Lake Ontario.

Of course, a lighthouse.

A view of Fort Niagara, on the American side. And a really nice yacht.

After returning to our motel and resting a while, we got back out at night to see the lights.

Next Location – Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts

American Locations 2 – Niagara Falls, American side

This trip goes from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Boston area, then up the New England coast into Canada, then back through the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

After leaving Erie, we drove east on I-90 out of Pennsylvania into New York. This was a scenic drive, frequently offering views of Lake Erie while passing through vineyard after vineyard. Grapes grow well here with all the lake effect moisture. What isn’t scenic is all the advertising for info on Niagara Falls, which begins as soon as you cross the state line into New York. No need to stop, you will find all the info you could possibly need once you get there.

Reaching the Buffalo area, we turned north on I-190 and left the downtown area to cross over onto Grand Island. As soon as we were back on the mainland, we exited I-190 onto Niagara Falls Scenic Parkway. We drove along the Niagara River toward the Falls. As we neared, we could see mist boiling high up into the air above the Falls.

We entered Niagara Falls State Park and parked, spending the rest of our time on foot. We walked along the Niagara River to 1st Street, where we walked across the bridge onto Goat Island. Hiking all over the island, we took the footbridge to Three Sisters Islands.

At last, we were ready to approach the Falls. Here is a shot of Niagara River taken from Goat Island Bridge looking upriver toward the 1st Street Bridge.

Another shot of 1st Street Bridge. See how much gets washed down the river towards the Falls.

You can see the river is already fast. It gets much faster. Here is a shot looking upriver to Goat Island Bridge.

Here is a shot taken from Goat Island Bridge looking downriver towards the American Falls. Of course, that is Canada on the other side.

Here is a branch of the river leading to Bridal Veil Falls.

The overlook on Luna Island for Bridal Veil Falls.

Here are some good shots of American Falls. In the first one notice the Maid of the Mist boat in the distance.

See the little yellow people at the bottom of the next picture? More about them later.

I like this picture. Totally calm on the edge of destruction. Of course, he can fly away to safety whenever he wants to. But it still looks cool.

Rainbow shots are always good. Here are my best ones.

Of course, we did all the touristy things. Such as the Maid of the Mist boat ride. Here is a boat passing under a rainbow.

Here is a close-up of one. They really pack people onto these.

Here’s what it looked like to us standing on the deck.

We got closer.


Then back out.

Of course, they were doing this from the Canadian side, too. They were wearing red slickers instead of blue. How else are you to tell Americans and Canadians apart? Despite the slickers, we got drenched.

We also got drenched taking the Cave of the Wind Tour. This lets you walk right into the waterfall. We wore yellow for this occasion.

Totally drenched.

I love the NO SMOKING sign. I’d like to see someone try to light a cigarette here, let alone smoke one. Even if they could, what possible harm could it do? Everything is soaking wet.

Finishing at the Falls, we drove down river to where the Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario. It’s about 15 miles. Pictured is the International Bridge into Canada.

The river remains turbulent for miles downriver from the Falls.

There is a bend in the river that creates a whirlpool. Fast boats race up the river from Lake Ontario to spin around in this whirlpool. We passed on this activity.

Fort Niagara is on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River. We didn’t tour it this time, as I had done that years before. Here is an image I got off the Internet.

Here is a Wikipedia entry about the fort:

The history of Old Fort Niagara spans more than 300 years. During the colonial wars in North America, a fort at the mouth of the Niagara River was vital, for it controlled access to the Great Lakes and the westward route to the heartland of the continent. With the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, however, the strategic value of Fort Niagara diminished. It nonetheless remained an active military post well into the 20th century.

The three flags flown daily above the parade ground symbolize the nations which have held Fort Niagara. Each competed for the support of a fouth nation: the powerful Six Nations Confederacy. The French established the first post here, Fort Conti, in 1679. Its successor, Fort Denonville (1687-88) was equally short lived. In 1726 France finally erected a permanent fortification with the construction of the impressive “French Castle.” Britain gained control of Fort Niagara in 1759, during the French & Indian War, after a nineteen-day siege. The British held the post throughout the American Revolution but were forced, by treaty, to yield it to the United States in 1796. Fort Niagara was recaptured by the British in 1813. It was ceded to the United States a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812.

This was Fort Niagara’s last armed conflict, and it thereafter served as a peaceful border post. The garrison expanded beyond the walls following the Civil War. Fort Niagara was a barracks and training station for American soldiers throughout both World Wars. The last army units were withdrawn in 1963. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard represents the only military presence on the site.

Old Fort Niagara was restored between 1929 and 1934. It is operated today by the Old Fort Niagara Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Admission fees, Museum Shop sales, grants, and donations provide support for the operation of the site. Membership in the Old Fort Niagara Association is open to all.

We drove back upriver to the Falls, then south back to Buffalo, where we got back on I-90 and continued east.

Next Location – Niagara Falls, Canadian side

American Locations 1

Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania

This trip goes from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Boston area, then up the New England coast all the way to Canada, then back through the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes Region.

We began our New England trip by driving north up I-71 through Columbus to Cleveland. There we turned east on I-90, driving out of Ohio into Pennsylvania. We exited onto Rte 832 and continued northeast into Erie. On the lakefront at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, Rte. 832 became Peninsula Drive. We drove onto a narrow peninsula roughly 2 miles long that connected the mainland to the isle.

This is from the park’s web site:

Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie. As Pennsylvania’s only “seashore,” Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating.

Presque Isle is a day-use park that provides year-round recreational opportunities. Overnight accommodations are available nearby.

The neck of the peninsula is attached to the mainland four miles west of downtown Erie. The park creates Presque Isle Bay, a wide and deep harbor for the city of Erie. The bay attracts many pleasure boats and worldwide freighters — making Erie an important Great Lakes shipping port.

A National Natural Landmark, Presque Isle is a favorite spot for migrating birds. Because of the many unique habitats, Presque Isle contains a greater number of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania.

Whether you come to enjoy the sandy beaches, study ecological diversity, or learn about the historical significance of the peninsula, there is something for everyone at Presque Isle State Park.

Peninsula Drive loops around the isle. I’m sure these aren’t the migrating birds the article referenced, but they are the birds we saw the day we were there.

We stopped at other Lake Erie beaches.

Of course, there was a lighthouse.

And other attractions besides waterfront.

These floating vacation rentals looked interesting.

There is a monument to the Battle of Lake Erie.

Here is a Wikipedia account of the battle:

The Battle of Lake Erie, sometimes called the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on 10 September 1813, on Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio during the War of 1812. Nine vessels of the United States Navy defeated and captured six vessels of the British Royal Navy. This ensured American control of the lake for the rest of the war, which in turn allowed the Americans to recover Detroit and win the Battle of the Thames to break the Indian confederation of Tecumseh. It was one of the biggest naval battles of the War of 1812.

Although the battle took place at Sandusky, Ohio, the American fleet was constructed and harbored at Erie in Presque Isle Bay.

From the south side of the Isle you have a view of Erie.

Having spent hours in the park, we drove back onto the mainland to see the Erie lakefront.

There was a small marina.

And like all Great Lakes ports, there is a cut channel connecting other parts of the city to Lake Erie.

Having finished our stop to see Presque Isle State Park, we drove southeast out of Erie and back onto I-90 to continue east.

Next Location – Niagara Falls, American side