On the road by about 9:39am. A bit of a surprise start as we’re driving in a bit of a snow squall off and on all the way to Kenora. Pretty uneventful drive except for a couple of deer running across the road, thankfully I spotted them well in advance and just slowed a bit to let them across.
After Dryden the road is new to us. It’s a pretty drive but not too much happening between there and Thunder Bay. We make the typical stops for gas and washroom breaks and one stop to take a photo of a giant metal sculpture of a mosquito carrying away a man in Upsala. ( Photo later, it’s on the SLR)
Highlight of sightseeing was Kakabeka Falls
Very pretty with the ice and snow surrounding the falls. Reputed to be the 2nd highest falls in Ontario after Niagara.
Another 30 km and we’re in Thunder Bay at our hotel around 8pm EST. Dinner at a Greek place and we’re done for the day.
Recently, a friend gave me several paper maps of one of my favorite places, Lake of the Woods.
I find something quite pleasurable and almost magical about looking at paper maps and wondering what it would be like to explore over here or over there and how would I get there. Plus there is a fascination with the markings, symbols, legends and colours. I find paper maps a pleasure to look at and explore.
We’re on the run for home now. You know how it is when the road trip is coming to and end and your looking forward to returning to the comforts of home. It’s a 7hr drive with a few gas, restaurant and shopping stops, but basically “boogie to the border”. Crossing back to Canada is uneventful, and it’s good to be home.
It’s still rainy and windy as we leave Mackinaw City over the bridge and on to the southern shore of Lake Superior. As we cross the bridge you can see Mackinaw Island in the distance and I’m remembering the trip my parents took me on to New York, NY & Washington DC, via a stop on the island and a stay at the Grand Hotel. That was a great trip with lots of good times and memories.
It’s a driving day with a few stops for some brief sightseeing and we enjoyed the views of Lake Superior and some of the huge rollers that were crashing on the southern beaches.
I’ve been to Duluth a few times before, many years ago, and I’m surprised by the layers of freeway as we approach the city and navigate through to our hotel. We settle in and then find some dinner at a near by restaurant. A little relaxing in the hot tub and we call it a day.
The weather has really turned over the last couple of days. It has cooled off considerably from the sunny +26°C earlier in the week to about +4°C and rain.
We leave Belle Vernon and take the Interstates, tolls and all, to Mackinaw City just to mix up the return route and see some of the southern shore of Lake Superior. Coffee in the cup, GPS set, and we’re off. Within about 10 minutes, we hit our 1st toll booth. Upon leaving the toll booth the GPS is updating the directions, but the choice is right there and as I’m rushing to read the signs and hoping the GPS will come to the rescue, I make a split second 50/50 decision and of course moments later I realize we’re going the wrong direction and the GPS confirms with its oh so polite “route recalculating”.
Interstates are wonderful, except when you make this kind of mistake. There are no U-turns, no easy fix, in fact it’s 30 miles before we can turn around! Insult to injury, we have to pay yet another toll to retrace those wrong 30 miles. Not a happy camper for a few minutes here.
What can you do? Not much, so I eventually I let it go and we settle in to a day of more tolls, traffic, gas stations stops and worsening weather and road conditions, especially the last 2 hours getting into Mackinaw City. When we arrive it’s quite cold, a mix of rain/sleet and blowing hard. Our hotel for the night is a little funky but passable, defiantly more of a summer resort complex that a 4 season establishment.
Here we are, at probably the FLW highlight of the trip, Fallingwater.
How did we get here? The original plan was to do the FLW Trail as established by Wisconsin Tourism. Also, a nice review of the trail. This would have left us in Racine, Wisconsin. Well, Racine is close to Chicago where there is a lot of FLW stuff. However, both Shirley and I have seen a fair number of the Chicago sites, one trip for Shirley & two for me. But we’re so close (sort of) to the FLW Mecca and Google Maps showed us it’s just a 10hr drive on the Interstates, so lets go for it!
All along the trip we’re treated to the fall colour show around every corner. Well, not so much on the Interstates but once we were off onto the more rural roads it was quite spectacular.
Well worth the drive!
We check in to the visitor centre and get hooked up with our small 12 person tour group. They are pretty fussy about what you carry into the house. Shirley is not able to carry a fairly small purse and I’m cautioned about my camera and the need to keep it in front of my body. They really don’t want you to hit, bump or touch a lot of stuff. In fact we get a list of dos and don’ts, basically don’t touch anything unless it’s metal or stone/concrete. And oh yeah, like so many FLW sites, no indoor photography.
Other that that you are right in the house with all the furniture, antiques, and priceless art works, up close and personal. We tour a good portion of the main house & guest house, but not everywhere, and certainly not allowed to go down to the river & falls. Here is our tour group as we first approach the house.
It’s raining lightly off and on and they supply umbrellas at ever point where you go outside onto a terrace or path. It seems likely that rain is not an uncommon occurrence in this part of the country.
There is a trail down to the iconic photoshoot point where it seems you really can’t take a bad picture of the house.
Here’s a short video of our visit to Fallingwater.
After the tour we drive around a bit and see some very cool places where rivers and bike trail intersect.
However, being a rural area there are not too many restaurants, none of which work for Shirley, so we move on to Polymath Park.
At Polymath Park were shuttled through a scenic 130 acres to the Duncan House,
Balter House (my fav of the three),
and the Blum House.
Duncan is the only “true” FLW house which was build originally in Isle, Illinois and then disassembled, moved and re-assembled (over the course of a couple of yeas) at Polymath Park. The Blum & Bater houses were designed by FLW apprentice Peter Berndtson. All of these three houses are bookable for overnight stays. I think this would be great but we can’t agree on which house, besides they are booked quite a long way out. After the tour it’s back to Belle Vernon for dinner. Tomorrow we turn homeward and it’s a big driving day to Mackinaw City.