After leaving Jasper and the amazing places we had visited during our three months in the north it was a bit of a come down to hit the rolling prairies and corn and wheat fields of Canada and northern US.
Before leaving Canada we had one more stop - in Edmonton where we were going to spend some time with some of my family members. Jock and his family are cousins (a few removed!).
We met up with Jock in Edmonton and spent a wonderful evening with his sister Marta and her husband John and a friend, Michelle. The next day Jock, Norm and I went to the Edmonton Fringe Festival which was wonderful. The street performers were incredible especially a couple of twin sisters from Quebec. Thanks to Anne, Jock’s niece, we attended one of the Fringe performances that evening. ‘Guys in Disguise’ which was so much fun! Two very talented, cross dressing blokes who performed as Julie Andrews, Cher, Tina Turner etc. Just an amazing day and evening. Thanks Jock, Marta, John and Anne - you guys are wonderful and hopefully we will catch you again some time.
From Edmonton we headed south towards the border and an interesting time crossing back into the US. Just to provide some background, we had asked at each US border crossing what we needed to do with our I94 (our entry document) and at each one we were told something different. At one we were told that if we were spending a significant amount of time (two weeks +) in Canada then we needed to hand it in. So when we went into Canada for the last time and planning on spending about three weeks we handed our forms in.
Not a good move according to the border patrol officer in Sweetgrass, MT. According to him it is at least 30 days and we shouldn’t have handed it in. Anyway after quite some explaining and showing him our airline tickets to depart the US on 25th February (which I had changed and printed the day before - just to be sure we had everything JUST IN CASE), and paying $12 we were issued with new I94’s that expire on 27th February. So we have two days grace just in case flights are changed or some other unforeseen circumstance occurs.
So, with new I94’s in our hot little hands we were bound for North Dakota where we spent a couple of days in Bismarck. We took a dinner cruise while there but were a little disappointed. The food was okay - plenty of it and quite good, but the commentary and scenery was pretty ordinary. Mind you we have been spoiled by Alaska and the Yukon!
After North Dakota, Minnesota and our friends Pete and Judy in Byron were our next destination. We met Pete and Judy in December, 2010 in Texas and then traveled with them through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for a few weeks. We spent a couple of days with them and had a great time. It was so wonderful to catch up with them again however we were disappointed that they wouldn’t be joining us at the rally.
The four of us visited a local Amish area around Lanesboro and Harmony which of course I loved because of the quilting. Mind you, I have been a little disappointed in many of the quilts I have seen - they don’t appear to be very well made and the actual workmanship has not been that flash. I will add here that when we were in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks later I noticed that the quilts were beautifully made and the quilt stitching was really well done. Anyway a lovely time was had with Pete and Judy and we will be catching up with them again - probably in Alabama or Florida during the winter. Thanks for having us - again - and we loved spending some time with you both. Take care and see you on the road!!
Our next stop was to spend some time with the first friends we made when we arrived in the US in 2010. Mary and Bruce (from Wisconsin) pulled into an rv park in Leadville Colorado at the same time as we did and as there was only one spot we thought we were going to have to draw straws. The owner of the park eventually returned and sorted out the problem and we both ended up with places and then the four of us went out to lunch and spent some of the next few days sightseeing and chatting and eating etc. We have visited them twice before on our travels across the country and they joined us for a week at the Grand Canyon just before we went home last time.
It was so good to have some down time at Mary and Bruce’s with time to catch up on ‘stuff’. Norm spent a very profitable couple of days doing some renovations to the fifth wheel and I thoroughly enjoyed doing some cooking in a real kitchen. During our stay I cooked a real Australian roast lamb dinner and trifle for dessert. Both went down really well although I am not sure whether I have convinced the family that roast pumpkin is really good!!!
On the weekend the four of us visited the Wisconsin Dells and took a boat ride up the river. What an amazing place!! The land around the Dells is rolling hills and it is a real surprise to see the change in the landscape of the river and the limestone cliffs along its course. Unfortunately, due to low water levels the lower dell was not navigable but never mind we still had a really good time.
A quick stop near the Amana Colonies in Iowa was our next destination. Lots of antique shops and restaurants and very interesting how this group of villages have adapted to modern society.
The next week we spent at Sedalia, Missouri at the Escapees rally along with over 550 other rv’s of every description from tents to huge motor homes. We met up with Rick and Karen on our arrival and were looking forward to spend some time with them and catching up however Rick became ill early in our stay and that put a damper on the rally. He was okay by the end of the rally as they made their way east and we were going to Kentucky.
We met up with a couple, Lynn and Louise, who had just returned from four years of rv’ing around Australia. We were having such a great time with them that when they suggested that instead of slowly making our way to Northern Kentucky University, we should go with them to Branson, Missouri for a couple of days we decided to go. We had plenty of time - haha! Well we would have if they hadn’t talked us into staying an extra couple of days!!
Our stay in Branson was really fascinating. I had never heard of Branson and was certainly unaware of all the theatres that exist down there. It seems that everyone has a theatre down there and we were blown away by the standard and variety of live shows around. We went to the Dolly Parton Stampede for the dinner show - now that was an eye opener. Dinner is served on a plate as you watch the show but you have to use your fingers to eat it all. A cup of soup, a whole chicken (a bantam really), some ribs and pork loin, corn on the cob and potato and then a chocolate dessert - way too much for me. The show was fantastic with singing, horses, comedy etc. A really good night.
The other show that we went to was a group of six brother (called SIX) who sing without any instruments and make all the instrument noises with their mouths. They were really incredible and just so talented.
One day Lynn and Norm went to a car show one day and although it wasn’t what they expected it was made up of cars that had been used in movies like the Bat mobile, the Dukes of Hazard cars, Kit from Knight rider etc and some other classic cats. Louise and I went shopping!
Having pushed our stay to the absolute limit we had to hightail it across country to Kentucky to see Bryce. Six hundred miles in two days!! The first day we drove and drove and drove and were going to stop for the night in a casino parking lot but as we were looking for the casino a dreadful storm hit with lots of lightning, thunder and rain so we needed to get off the road in a hurry. We found a Wal-Mart except that the parking lot was being resurfaced and was closed off. It was right next door to a Home Depot so we decided that was a good place to stay for the night. Usually these stops can be a bit noisy but this one was off the highway and so we spent a quiet night and were able to get some sleep.
Early next morning we drove the rest of the way to our campground, set up and then took off to Northern Kentucky University at Highland Heights to finally catch up with our son, Bryce! It was so wonderful to see him. He is so happy at NKU and is loving being back in the US.
For the next few days we spent lots of time with him and his new lady, Steph. We visited Newport on the Levee and went to the aquarium there. A bit of a blast - the first display as you enter the aquarium was Australian river fish!!! This was a really awesome aquarium. We also took a walk on the ‘Purple People Bridge’ that took us across the river into Cincinnati, Ohio and took a visit to the Carew Building. The view over Cincinnati and into Kentucky was beautiful.
After cooking his favourite dinner - spaghetti bolognaise - and leaving him with a big pot of his favourite soup - pumpkin - it was time to say a very, very sad farewell. Too sad.
And on that note I am going to finish this post. Whoever thought that I could fit two months into one post had obviously how verbose I can be! I will start working on the next post right away - do you believe that?
To all our friends and family we say a fond farewell, take care and be kind to you.