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Back in the Great White North

It’s been a while since we updated our whereabouts in blog form so let me take you through it. After the tornado drama in Georgia we made our way west. How far west would we go before heading north to Canada we did not know. 

Alabama offer us a nice free camp site in the Tuskegee forest as we made day trips from that spot. We visited the Tuskegee airmen national memorial, which was a small bucket list item for Luke.

Next we headed to the coast of Mississippi. This would be our first time boondocking. We found a great place in Fairhope near a restaurant and the owner was fantastic. He gave us great suggestions on what to do and see and eat. We visited the ocean again and Confederate president Davis’s house. We experienced Mardi Gras in its original splendor and had a blast dining at some of southerns best eating places.

We moved on from here along the coast to Louisiana.

Luke picked up a GoPro and we visited the swamp for a nice tour of gators and turtles sunning. The camera came in handy for some water shots. New Orleans was great and a pleasant surprise. A turn down bourbon street was the only low light. It smelled like vomit and garbage. A sad sight to see people parting and hung over in the early afternoon. Otherwise it was a great city with great food, world famous deserts and festivities around every corner. We stayed at a free camp site near some of the grandest plantations of the south. Visiting them and their slave quarters was eye opening and incredible.

Civil rights struggles of the past are evident along the south but we saw no sign of the modern racism or bigotry we hear about from TV. I’m sure it exists but our experiences and way we observed were positive.

After Louisiana we made the decision to head north. This is as far east as we would go. No Texas this time around. We had about 6 weeks left and we just didn’t think the time was there.

Our first stop heading north was back in Mississippi. We visited Jones County, the place where defiant southerners chose to take over the county to create their own free state during the civil war. The following day we visited Greenwood. This town hosted the movie makers of “The Help”, a film about racial inequality in the 50s and 60s. Beautiful homes and filming locations to explore.

We made our way east into Arkansas the following day. We came within about an hour of Texas when we visited the Diamond mine at Crate State Park. We found no diamonds and it was super muddy but still fun. Springs National Park was our next Arkansas stop where we found ourselves in bath houses flowing with natural springs. Definitely not your ordinary National Park.

On the way out of Arkansas we visited the Little Rock high school, another civil rights arena of the past. Very cool to learn about this place.

As we left the state and entered Tennessee Cynthia’s mind was on Elvis. But for tonight we would be staying near the border in Memphis, at the grand headquarters of Bass Pro Shop. This gaudy pyramid was massive and the only free place to sleep in Memphis, but after we heard about people getting shot and having their cars broken into, we opted to stay at a local state park, which was a nice place to ride out what would be one of our last threatening thunderstorm of the season.

Cynthia visited Graceland the following day and then we were off to Shiloh National Battle Field. Another night spent at Walmart produced our first snowfall of the trip. Not much snow but enough to make you miss Christmas. I would have liked to spend more time at Shiloh but the schedule was tightening up. We drove down the Trail Of Tears and made our way north to Nashville.

This would be our second and last boondock of the season at a lovely older couples driveway. We bought a heater pad for the water tank and installed it because temperatures were hitting well below freezing for a couple of nights. Not worth risking it. We didn’t spend much time here. A quick visit to the downtown strip and the Grand Ol Opry rounded out the day. But no visit would be complete without some of the best southern biscuits money can buy at a local restaurant well known to many.

Kentucky was our next state and before we could barely enter it Luke found himself at the Corvette Factory. What an awesome experience. I almost walked away buying a car. Almost. Mammoth Caves National Park was our next Kentucky stop and a short one. We missed all of the tours for the day and they were downright expensive. We sourced the only free cave and that was enough for us.

We headed to Lincolns two boyhood homes on our way up the state. The following day a visit to the Louisville Bat factory made Luke miss baseball. The home of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill downs gave us a glimpse at the glamour of horse racing. No events were happening but you could see the grandeur and imagine what it would have been like. We took a slight detour east to see the Ark Encounters display of a full sized Noah’s Ark. Super cool!

Next we were on to Indiana and the home Lincoln grew up in. Lincoln state park offered us 2 nights of respite by a beautiful lake. For the first time in awhile it was warm outside and that proved to be just the weather we needed to celebrate Isla’s 8th birthday.

Our next stop would be just inside St. Louis, Missouri. We visited president Grants home and museum. From this point on we would no longer be moving west, just north east towards our old home.

Back into Illinois we went and onto Springfield, the home of Lincoln as an adult. His presidential library and museum was here. We couldn’t help indulging and getting some souvenirs. The experience satisfied our Lincoln interest but we had to keep moving. We had less than a week before we had to be in Canada.

We topped out in Chicago. Hoping the city would redeem itself from our last trip here, which wasn’t that good, we visited our favourite radio pastor at his Harvest Church. Pastor James McDonald made our audience and we had a short but fruitful conversation about God’s will and our travels. I’m afraid that would be the only highlight of Chicago. That and the deep dish pizza. On our way out of town we got heavily and mightily tolled.

We were now heading east all the way back to Canada. On our way, Luke decided to drive well into the night to eat up some of the many miles we still had ahead of us. The following morning we visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Indiana, our last national park of this leg of the trip, and a great place to take a nature walk and see some nice natural formations.

We didn’t stay long though and that evening arrived in Niagara Fall, New York. The Walmart parking lot we stayed in had mounds of snow melting away. Now we knew for sure we were close to Canada.

The following morning we crossed the border with no hassle. St. Catherine’s was our first city back into Canada and the home of our cats. Yes, our two cats whom we gave to Cynthia’s aunt before we left on the trip. They knew not who we were and had assimilated beautifully into her home. This gave us relief. They were living well satisfying little cat lives. A quick visit to the only Arc’teryx outlet on this side of the continent for some new kicks and robes and we were on the highway home. Of course we hit traffic but it wasn’t too bad. In no time we were back in Brooklin eating at the local Pizza Nova as if we had never left.

We made our way to Bob and Kathy’s up the street on full stomachs. They welcomed us with open arms as we made our way up their ling driveway, and before long we had parked the trailer in the same spot that we had left from 7 months before. It was good to be “home” Maybe a bit overwhelming for Cynthia, but Luke was happy to get respite from driving the trailer around.

Our summer plans are to remain in Ontario, making our way between Brooklin and other locations of family and friends throughout the province. It was now time to relax and reconnect.

Our first place to visit back in Canada. The home of our cats, Indiana and Phoenix. (And Cynthia’s aunt of course)

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