Page 5 of Stephanie and Andras Travel Blog Posts

One thing became clear while we were in the Black Hills - we need a new car battery. After having it die once before in Ontario, and almost again in remote forests of the South Dakota, we made it a top priority to get one at our next opportunity. So, that opportunity arriving in Spearfish, SD, we were put a little off our intended schedule and had some ground to cover. What was originally going to be an overnight at Devil’s Tower turned into a day trip, and since neither of us are rock climbers, we both agree that’s all we needed anyhow. Besides, even if we were climbers, there is a voluntary climbing ban on half the monument for the month of June in deference to Native American ceremonies, and a mandatory ban on the ... read more
Devils Tower National Monument
BearTooth Pass

Winding our way up the Peter Norbeck Scenic Highway, Andras is the first to spot the monument in the distance. With our windows rolled down, we let the comforting scent of pine drift on in our way. The Black Hills appeared suddenly out of the grasslands as increasing precipitation supported the growth of more biomass, now in the form of douglas fir and ponderosa pine. Andras says it smells like home in eastern Washington; I can’t confirm his perception, but it sure smells fresh. As we careen through pig-tail bridges and switchbacks we slowly make our way closer. The sculpture is higher up than we expected. Even though we have an Interagency Pass we still have to pay the parking fee. Unlike the other national parks which charge admittance fees, Mt. Rushmore is operated through a ... read more
Mt. Rushmore
Slate at the base of Castle Rock
Camping at Castle Rock

A dramatic shift in the landscape from grassy plains to sharp, jagged spires which seem to rise out of nowhere announce our presence in the Badlands. With a name like 'the badlands' you would think of it as nothing more than a barren wasteland, but there is actually an abundance of flora and fauna if you keep your eyes peeled. The rains that came through last week caused the prickly-pear cacti to bloom and their yellow and red flowers dot the landscape, but now it's hot and dry. The previously muddy ground has now been baked by the sun and does not yield to our footprints. Before we do much exploring, we try to get a campsite at the free first-come, first-serve Sage Creek Campground. It's a bit of a drive from the main visitor area ... read more
Sago Lily
Signalling the Alarm
Mountain Goats Along the Ridgeline

There's not much we can say about the praire in south-western Minnesota, other than we're glad to be out of there. The wind battered fiercely against the car the hours as we drove west on I-90. As Andras fought to keep the wheels straight, I stared out the window at the endless fields of grain. It became apparent very quickly that we wouldn't make it all the way to the Badlands by nightfall thanks to the wind slowing us down, so we headed north to visit Walnut Grove, one of the residences of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder. My sister and I were also fans of the television show growing up and I think she might have read the books, so we thought a bit of nostalgia might break the monotony of the long drive. ... read more
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
Windswept Grasses of the Prairie
Andras at the Wheel

North America » United States » Minnesota » Lanesboro June 6th 2007

After high-tailing it out of Wisconsin, we drove west another hour or so before reaching the Minnesota state line. For the first time on our trip the visitor station was open and staffed so, considering we had no plans and really no destination in mind, we stopped in for some guidance. It was the best decision we’ve made thus far. The blonde middle-aged woman behind the counter was courteously answering the routine questions posed to her by other travelers while we browsed through the informational handouts trying to get a feel for where we should head (interesting fact: the Minnesota State baked good is the Blueberry Muffin). What road do I take to get to Minneapolis? Can I get a map? Where are the restrooms? She’d overheard us discussing the scenic drives illustrated on one ... read more
Downtown Lanesboro
Rhubarb at the Farmers Market
Omelette Fixin's

North America » United States » Wisconsin June 3rd 2007

In traditional elementary school style, we both decided to scribe hypothetical letters back to the state of Wisconsin after visiting, much like we were obligated to do after field-trips and guest speakers and such. Mine goes like this: Dear Wisconsin As the self-professed 'Dairy Capital of America' I was really looking forward to your acres of cow pasture, tasting your marvelous cheese and touring your beautiful farmland. Instead, all I got was rain, mosquitoes and overpriced public campgrounds. I am truely dissapointed. Sincerely, Stephanie Andras was a little more succinct: Dear Wisconsin You suck. PS: Your cheese is good and the Packers are okay too. Needless to say, this leg of our trip was not exactly what we had expected. After waking up first thing in Michigan, we headed out early to make the 200+ mile ... read more
Caught in a Downpour
Wisconsin Cheese
Amish Farms Dot the Countryside

Watching the sunset over Lake Superior the trip slowly starts to feel like it's a reality. The hues of red and orange reflect off the gently lapping surface of the water and slowly shift to warm shades of rose and lavendar as time passes on. The sand feels good between my toes and we sit there until the sun dips below the horizon. This morning we started off with a good roaring fire. Andras drove into Grand Marais to get ice and change while I stayed behind to 'keep camp.' We've come to a lakeshore during the peak of an extremely bad mosquito season and between them and the smoke from the fire it's hard to get a moment to yourself. But apart from the bugs, our only company is the squirels and birds looking for ... read more
Au Sable Light Station
Moccasin Flower
Trailside in the Woods

We awake to the sounds of birds signaling the early morning, allowing us to get an early 5am start. We’re slowly starting to get used to the idea of planning our days around the sun - awake at sunrise, asleep at sunset. In order to catch the 8am ferry out of Tobermory to South Baymouth, we rush around the campsite folding blankets, and stuffing firewood into the nooks and crannies of the trunk until we’re ready to go, right on time, early even, at 6:30am. We’re quite proud of our ability to stay organized and to have made such an early departure possible. With time to spare, we plan on heading to the Visitor Center outside the town where rumor has it a cluster of Calypso Orchids have been spotted and positively identified. We’re all smiles. ... read more
The M.S Chi-Cheemaun Ferry
Five Fathoms National Marine Park
Deck Chairs on the Chi-Cheemaun

This very well could be the end of the earth. What was expected to be a four hour drive took nearly seven and by the time we arrived at Bruce Peninsula National Park we weren’t thinking about the geologic significance, the new ecological zone we’d entered or about how we were going to set up for our first night camping. All we were concerned with was standing up. It’s not that the drive along Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment wasn’t scenic, it was just so long and speed limits in Canada are relatively slow compared with what we drive in the states (80km/hr is the equivalent of 50mph!). The Niagara Escarpment runs from Rochester, NY northward through Ontario and up along the Bruce Peninsula. In 1990, UNESCO named the Niagara Escarpment a World Biosphere Reserve, internationally recognizing it ... read more
Canoe on Cyprus Lake
Georgian Bay
Bikes at Singing Sands

North America » Canada » Ontario May 29th 2007

The moment we approached the US-Canadian border, we knew we were in for something special. We had been anticipating a fair amount of difficulty getting into Niagara Falls, what with our car laden down with everything but the kitchen sink, but instead we were greeted by what had to be the friendliest border guard in the planet. “Where you headed, eh?” “Niagara Falls, Toronto and then camping in Bruce Peninsula, sir” “Oh, Bruce Peninsula. Is that up by Tobermory? Great little place. Have a cabin up there…” Turns out it is up by Tobermory and he had quite the story to tell about. “You all do a lot of biking?” “Not yet but we hope to.” “I took a bike trip recently….” And indeed he had, all around the Great Lakes. In the end, several stories ... read more
Niagara Escarpment
Another View of Horseshoe Falls

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