Travel


After leaving Perth we had a days drive to go around the south side of Montreal to Sherbrooke and then crossed the border back in to Maine at what seemed like a very quiet point. We hadn’t seen a car in ages as we approached the border crossing and as we drove right up to it a US border control guy (that looked around 70 years old) appeared and gestured for us to stop.

Here was complete car check number 2. Just like when we went into Canada this guy wanted everything out of the car as well, keeping us out of his view as he checked everything we had in the car. He couldn’t quite figure out why we had just spent 3 days in Canada no matter how many times we explained to him that we just thought the drive would be more pleasant going via Toronto than Cleveland but we don’t think he believed us. After an hour of checking us all out he decided that we were ok to travel on, gave us a guidebook on Maine and let us carry on our way to Belgrade Lakes.

Our destination here was Yeaton Farm Inn. Its a very historic property built in 1826 and run by a lady thats become a good friend of ours over time called Connie Parker. Shes a former art director thats worked in New York and Hollywood and after so many years of that life decided one day that she wanted to escape out to the country. Connies  helped us a lot to not only make it to Maine but also to offer advice and help now that we’re here too. If you want peace and quiet with no TV then this is another good place to be.

From here we headed to Bar Harbor and Arcadia National Park for a couple of days. This area is very pretty. Interesting places and things to see and do and the National Park is wonderful for sight seeing and walking. Then we took a  scenic drive down to Portland following  Route 1 most of the way. We stayed there over night before carrying on our journey to the town of Waterboro to stay with friends of ours for a week before we all set off to Dover Delaware for a weekend of Nascar racing prior to starting our journey back home to England

 We were staying with our friend Tammy, her husband Nelson and their teenage daughters Casie and Alicia. In this photo are the 3 ladies having lunch with us at Sarges Nascar themed bar and grill in Saco ME

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Heres just a few photos that we took from around the Portland area.

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 “Lenny” the chocolate moose. 1700lb of the finest chocolate too!

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Whilst we stayed with Tammy, we spent the weekend with them at their lakeside camp. We had a great time and i even got taught by Casie and Alicia how to fish!
Heres the proof. I know its just a “tiddler” but its a fish! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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We had a bit of a “moment” with a box of Oreo cookies. Theres me, Judith, Tammy, Casie and Alicia sat around the dinner table. Tammy and her girls are dunking the Oreos into a glass of milk and suggest that i should do the same. I decline their most generous offer to dunk in their milk as i’m a firm believer that cookies (or biscuits as we say) should be eaten dry and not soaking in cold milk! Then they suggested to me a 2nd time i really should give it a try to which i again politely declined the offer. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Tammy however wasn’t taking “no” for an answer and she grabbed my hand which was holding a dry Oreo, pulled me towards the glass of milk and thrust my hand with Oreo still attached into the milk as she shouted “Just dunk the damn cookie!!!” Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

She drowned my hand and then demanded that i eat the now soaking wet milky cookie.
I had a little nibble and it tasted awful! And to roars of laughter i chucked the half eaten soaking wet cookie back on the plate on the table. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Next stop Nascar at Dover Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On leaving Chicago we were heading for a 3 day trip through Canada to get to our last major stop off point of Maine. We decided that heading to Maine via Toronto was a nicer and more scenic option that going via Cleeveland Ohio. (No ones told us we made a mistake yet)Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket First thing though is when you’ve set your watch to Central Time and your heading to a lunch date at a certain time back in Eastern Time, be sure to remember the time difference! Luckily we got hold of the people we were meeting in plenty of time  but that was our first experience of the different time zones in the US.

 The next morning we arrived in  Port Huron where the border crossing was situated. It was wet and dull when we arrived at the control point at the other end of the bridge that spans the water seperating USA from Canada.

We were the only car at the crossing and were parked outside a kiosk with a tinted glass screen. There was  someone behind it as we could see them moving although they seemed in no hurry to want to open the window. After about 5mins a young guy looking very official opened the window and wanted to know why we were  crossing into Canada. We told him and he proceeded to ask for our passports. He questioned us on how long we’d been in the US and why we’d traveled as far as we had whilst we’d been there. He never smiled and his questioning was blunt and to the point. All of a sudden with me in mid sentance replying to a particular question that he asked, he just shut the window. Then a couple of minutes later he opened it again and told us to park the car in a bay a little further down the road as we had apparantly been randomly selected for a car search. Well theres a surprise Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucketwe were the only car there. We drove to the parking bay as asked where we then had 2 more officials with guns come to the car, asked us to get out and stand about 20 yards from the car. The one official came over to us and said that our car was going to be searched and did we have anything that we wanted to tell them. We told them which bag had all our laundry in that needed washing and we told them where we were headed to and then they started searching…and searching and searching right through the car. Everything came out including the laundry where they opened the bag and tipped it up dumping it all on the floor before they used a stick to poke through it. They went through all our cases and bags, through all our printed pages of itinery notes and then  proceeded to check all around the car with our stuff lying there. Each time we tried to explain anything to them about a certain item they were looking at or when we wanted to ask them a question they would just tell us to stand back and if they wanted to know anything then they would ask. The whole inspection lasted around 35mins and at the end they came across to us saying that we would be allowed into Canada and that we would have to put everything back into the car ourselves before they walked off. What a great welcome! We reloaded our car including the laundry bag and carried on with our journey toward Toronto having to get used to watching the kph section on the speedo rather than mph.

We were heading to Toronto during a public holiday and luckily for us all the people had left the city for the weekend and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We had a great time going for a guided tour around the Toronto Skydome which amongst other things is the home stadium for baseball team the Toronto Blue Jays and where the guide kept walking backwards whilst talking so as to keep an eye on everyone making sure they were all keeping together. Its a great tour too, goes on for an hour or so and you get to see all the sections of importance like the hospitality boxes, changing rooms and media section etc. There is a hotel built into part of  the Skydome with rooms that overlook the pitch and if you want these rooms whilst theres a game on you have to pay extra or for some events such as concerts there is a large screen put up in front of the rooms so you can’t actually see whats going on. The Skydome is now known as the Rogers Centre after a major communications provider in Canada.

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After the Skydome we went across the road to the CN Tower. Heres a picture of the skyline that includes both buildings

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The CN Tower is the tallest building in Canada at a height of 1,815ft. Heres the view looking down from the glass floor which is at a height of 1,122 ft and also looking from ground level back up towards the glass floor from the outside

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To finish the day we took a boat trip out into Toronto Inner Harbour which included a trip round the Toronto Islands that allowed more great views of the Toronto skyline such as the picture below

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The next day before our journey on towards Maine we went for a visit to the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame. Its a great museum with plenty of racing cars as exhibits and very informative. Certainly worth a visit if your ever up near Toronto

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After a great couple of hours spent at the museum we started on towards a town called Perth which was going to be our overnight stop for the night. We picked Perth because it was not too far from Montreal. The next day though we would need an early start as we’d be driving all the way from Perth onto Belgrade in Maine. This part of the journey was also unique for one other thing. It was the first time that whilst driving on the “other side of the road” that i’d actually crossed a junction onto the wrong side. Luckily for us it was a section of road that was leading to a new retail development  and there were hardly any cars around so i was able to reverse back the 10yards or so back into the correct lane very easily. One of the things we always need to do when driving here is when we get to a junction in the road is to always check to see where our entry point is at the junction for the section of road that we’re headed towards. You always have to be aware of where you are and what your doing at all times on the road.

Perth was a very pleasant town, small with a very “country” style. Unknown to us till we saw the sculpture it was also home to a very famous “showjumping” horse called “Big Ben” that had been one of the most successful ever in world showjumping competitions and ridden for years by Perth resident Ian Millar. Heres what Wikipedia says about Big Ben

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And then it was time to cross back into the USA at one of those little dirt track road crossing points in the forests. You know the ones where you don’t see another car for ages and then you get to the crossing point only to find a Homeland Security man there with a gun thats old enough to be your grandfather…

To be continued Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Chicago has to be the biggest city we’ve ever driven past. It just kept going for ages as we traveled up I294 heading towards Libertyville about 40miles north of Chicago where we were staying with friends for a couple of days before carrying on our journey into Canada.

We were staying up close to the METRA train network that covers Chicago and surrounding areas and for an hour ride into the centre of Chicago it was the pricey sum of about $6 each way! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket OMG you can’t even get on a train for that cost in UK let alone go anywhere.

Double decker trains! The last time i was any of these was in Amsterdam Holland. People have complained for years about overcrowding on the trains in the UK and why can’t they go with double deckers there.. the bridges are too low thats why Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We walked the short distance to the station and whilst looking for a ticket machine were surprised that there wasn’t one. We got onto the platform where the train in the photos was sat. We had no idea which way it was  headed as there was  no info anywhere. We started to walk down the platform expecting to find a door open so we could climb aboard but as we kept walking trying various doors there were none that would open for us. Trains in the US are a lot longer than the ones in UK and as we got to the end of the train we still had found no way of getting on. Come to think of it, we didn’t even know which was the front end as there were the exact same engines at both ends.
So we walked all the way back up the platform to the other end again and as we reached the engine a door opened and this fella steped out eating his breakfast. Turns out he was the conductor and it was breakfast time before they took the train back into Chicago and whilst still eating he proceeded to open the next carriage for us so we could get onboard.

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We got into Grand Central Station and it was time to explore. Now Brits are a little bit unique in that we don’t like to drive everywhere, we like to walk! (Fast forwarding to present day 2007… thats something that people here in Dexter have noticed, we walk everywhere and that includes the rather steep hill that leads up the road to where our house is)

We had a very interesting time walking to all parts of central Chicago where we had a good look round the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and Navy Pier. We wanted to go up Sears Tower and see Chicago from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere but the queues were rather long and so we decided to take the easier and quicker alternative and go up the John Hancock Tower as when your up to the 94th floor there who cares what the views like from the observation deck in Sears Tower that might be an additional 12 floors up but i bet the Chicago skyline looks no different at all.

 Heres some pictures

Sears Tower from the John Hancock Center Observatory Deck
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The view is amazing! You can see 40 – 50 miles and the States of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin on a clear day

Its only fair that i show some pics of our 1st day there too and you’ll see why we never ventured skyward that day..it still looks pretty in a funny kind of way

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Whilst in Chicago we had a very pleasant trip on a riverboat operated by Shoreline Sightseeing that followed the river from Navy Pier right into the centre of Chicago heading in between the skyscrapers.

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Chicago was fun and our 2 days there were now up. Time to head on and aim for Canada Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The day after our brush with the law we make it to Indianapolis Motor Speedway! A fine looking place indeed and very big!. It was the week of qualifying for the Indy 500 but we’d picked the only day on our schedule to visit when there was no track action. That wasn’t a problem though as we have a friend called Cathy in the ticket office and still managed to get free passes for the speedway and museum for a fun day out.

 Heres some photos of the day

Us and Cathy of IMS

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

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Before leaving Indy we met up with some friends, David, Ed and Susan for a very pleasant evening out culminating in me receiving a very nice IRL (Indy Racing League) jacket. Ed had it with him over the back of his chair and as the evening went on he came round and told me to try it on. It fitted pretty well too and i told him so to which he replied “Thats good cos its yours”!! Like he said, you can’t go back 6 time zones to Indy and just have a couple of beers Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Show me a State that is as boring to drive through as Indiana. If it wasn’t for Indianapolis Motor Speedway would there be anything there worth seeing? As we were heading along all we saw was cornfields, farms and flat land, miles and miles of cornfields, farms and flat land. Apart from our 2 “meet n greets”, the Speedway and a guy losing a front wheel on his car on I65 right in front of us at 70mph Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket that was it…

After Indy and on route to Chicago we met up with our good friend Allen (otherwise known as Split) and had dinner with him.. check out his car right here

1934 Ford 3 window coupe with Corvette power Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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But now, the unthinkable has happened (must be the hot weather as he’s moved to South Carolina) as he now has a 2007 Z06 Corvette, 427 cu in 505 hp Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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And then it was on to ChicagoPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Its Saturday morning, the day after RCR and we’re headed back to Richmond VA for the Nextel Cup night race! Richmond International Raceway is a great place to watch racing. A short .75 mile track with capacity at around 110000. If you ever get the chance to get to one race anywhere on the Nascar schedule make it a night race. Theres something about it, whether its the lights round the track, the colour of the cars, the flames that fire out the exhausts or the red glow of the brakes, its a sight that you really should experience just once in your life.

The race was a great one too with Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart battling all night long with Kahne always just having the upper hand to take the win. Heres a couple of pics from the evening

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Sunday we carried on with our journey aiming for Indy heading thru the lush green countryside of West Virginia and by Monday lunchtime were moving at a fair old pace through Kentucky with “moving at a fair old pace” being the correct wording here as we got pulled over doing 75 in a 50 by a State trooper Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Ok, so this is how the story went. We’d been stuck behind a line of trucks for a good while and at last found a passing place to get past them but as they were all motoring along at a fair rate, we had to motor on a little bit faster…. Oh btw, heres an “Englishism”… “Semi” in America = “Articulated Lorry” in UK or “Artic” for short Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So there we are “pedal to the metal” going along quite nicely and we reach the front of the queue, start dropping down a hill when round the corner coming up is a trooper! We never knew what a State troopers car looked like hence we never slowed down and we didn’t realise that they have those speed cameras in the front of their cars either and so guess what… he turned round and put his lights and sirens on. Whoops! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Mistake number 1 was speeding and so mistake number 2 was getting out of the car to enquire of the officer as to why he’d pulled me over. Hey i never knew he had a gun.. I’m British!

So i walk towards his car a couple of yards and he’s shouting and screaming at me and pointing too! I can’t understand a word he’s saying so i move a little closer to him. Bear in mind here that you can do this in the UK so as far as i was concerned i wasn’t doing anything wrong. I just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting out of his car. Then as i edged a little closer i could start to hear him and could make out words like “Stop” and “Gun”.

Now i was never brilliant at word games but those words make out a sentence that even i can understand and so rather quickly i turned and jumped back in the car..

And with the cop approaching the car he said in a Kentucky accent
“What the hell are you doing getting out the car?”

Me – “Hi!! I’m from England”

Cop – “I don’t care where your from. You don’t get out the car when you get stopped. We have guns here”

Me – “Well i didn’t know. I’m not from round here”

Cop – “Your not from round here are you”

Me – “No i’m from England”

Cop – “England? What the hell are you doing out here?”

Me – “Heading to Indy”

Cop – “Do you know why i stopped you”?

Me – “I think i might of been just over the speed limit”

Cop – “Just? It was 75″

Me – “Oh” Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Cop – “Let me see your drivers licence and insurance”

Me – *Passing my drivers licence to him*

Cop – “Whats this?”

Me – “My drivers licence”

Cop – “Not here it isn’t”

Me – “Well thats cos i’m from England” Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Adding here that in 2005 i was still using a paper drivers licence that looks nothing at all like what Americans have. Heres a sample of one

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The size of this licence is about the same as A4 paper in UK or the standard copying paper size in US (8.5″ * 11″ or whatever it is). It has no ID on it at all except for a name, address and driving licence number. The rest of the licence is filled with words and theres a big space for penalty points when you get caught for speeding or some other traffic offence. In reality it could be anyones licence and so i produced my passport to show it was me as well as the rental cars insurance documents

To show how the current UK licence looks, heres a sample of one i pulled off the internet. It has photo ID now but still nothing like all the other ID features that can be found on a US licence
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So the troopers looking at the drivers licence and you can tell he’s thinking. He flips the paper over one way and then the other and starts to read various notes printed on it. Then without warning he says “Its your lucky day, i’m going to let you go”

Me – “Oh ok thank you!”

Cop – “Drive slower for the rest of your trip”

And with that he handed me back the papers and whilst turning towards his car wished us a safe trip and a nice day.

The only reason i think he let me off that day was because it was probably going to be way too much paperwork for him considering i wasn’t just “out of State”.. i was “out of Continent”! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

 And with that we were back on the road heading for Indy Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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