So, the other day I took a quick trip up to the Niagara Gorge at
Lewiston, and while I was there, I sounded the horns. It was pretty empty while I was there, but there were some people with dogs (who were supposed to be on lead, but weren’t), and a bunch of wildlife, so I didn’t want to go too wild with the horns.
The area is awesome, if you’ve never been there, as the Niagara River has carved the gorge with a constantly ‘advancing’ set of falls, of which our iconic Niagara Falls is only the latest version.
With the dramatic drop of the cut, you can see the whole stratigraphic column of the bedrock exposed.
But at any rate, here’s a clipped version (due to upload size restrictions) of the recording of both the air chimes and the Supertyfon. Enjoy!
Yet another of the destinations we want the bus to take us to is Darwin, Minnesota. ‘But why?’ you might ask, never having heard of this significant location. The answer, my friends, is that Darwin is the home of the Biggest Ball of Twine (Rolled by One Man). Other places may vie for the ‘Biggest Ball’ title, but so far, Darwin’s holds the moral high ground by making it a single individual’s work (read more on the others here).
The ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 17,400 pounds. It took Francis A. Johnson 29 years to complete, and he was apparently a stickler for turning the ball so that the windings would keep it circular (though it is reportedly sagging a bit since becoming a permanent exhibit). The production of the ball was also apparently responsible for his death from accumulated twine dust.
And the Twine Ball Museum is open during the Twine Ball Day celebration, and by appointment (it also houses some baseball memorabilia). That’s right, on the 2nd Saturday in August there’s a festival around the celebrated ball, which includes a Twine-K runn and the Minnesota Minn-e-Rods tractor pull, which takes place on Main Street where competitors find out who has the strongest lawn tractor (and you can check out their Facebook page – it doesn’t seem to get much traffic) .
All that said, Darwin (located about 60 miles almost due west of Minneapolis) isn’t too close to any of our other current destinations, though it could be a nice stop on our way out to the Badlands area and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Luckily, there are a few places that look like viable overnight spots for the bus, like the Lakedale Campground, about five miles away, the Lake Ripley Campground about 10 miles away (though it’s a first-come place – they don’t take reservations), or the Cokato Lake RV Resort, about fourteen miles away.
And yes, the inspiration for this travel destination was Weird Al Yankovic’s 1989 song “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” which if you haven’t seen it, is here for your listening enjoyment:
Another of the locations that we want to take the bus to is in New Brunswick, namely, the Bay of Fundy (around Irving Nature Park, near St. John). And if we’re going that far, Halifax, Nova Scotia isn’t far away.
The Bay of Fundy is a cool place for people who can appreciate geology. One of the awesome things about it is that it has some of the greatest tidal range in the world, spanning about 56 feet of change between high and low tides, which happen twice each every day. (Which hit a difference of 71 feet in 1869 in a perfect storm of a tropical cyclone, low barometric pressure, and a spring tide.) In addition to this, the bay area is also seated in a rift valley where most of Nova Scotia could have peeled away from North America if that pesky mid-Atlantic Ridge hadn’t meddled in the tectonic action.
If you’re not big into geology, what you could take away from this is that a bunch of the rock layers in this area are igneous (volcanic), so they’re different from other areas of nearby Canada. These rocks (and their differential rates of erosion) are one of the things that create the ‘flower pot’ rock formations people are walking and kayaking around in my first picture of the post.
It also created some really cool cliffs in the area. The formation of the Bay and it’s high tides also creates ‘bores’ in some of the rivers that can actually reverse the direction of their flows as the tide comes in. These ‘bores’ are places where a wave front makes it’s way up the river against the flow as the tide comes in.
The area just seems to beg for a canoe and some strong paddling arms.
But beyond (farther east) is Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s not quite as far east as we could reasonably take the bus on the continent (out near Sydney would be about it, unless we wanted to take the ferry out to Newfoundland and drive about there!). But Halifax has some neat stuff, like the Alexander Keith’s brewery, which is one of the oldest breweries in Canada,
the Halifax Citadel (Fort George), a seven-pointed earthworked fort atop the hill that overlooks Halifax, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which seems to have a wealth of information on Halifax and Nova Scotia’s nautical contributions and history and is also the oldest and largest Maritime Museum in Canada.
There’s a nice-looking campsite about 20 km away, the Woodhaven RV Park. It looks to be about a 90 minute bike ride to the southern area of Halifax, but the Citadel has parking for buses and RVs, so it might be a reasonable thing to just park the bus there and sight-see.
Part of the other fun of this trip is the driving! The trip to St. John should take us about 13 hours (847 mi) at Google speeds, and probably about 14.25 or so bus speeds – if we go via the Thruway and other highways. According to Google, if we skirted just south of the Adirondacks through Ticonderoga, NY and up to Burlington, VT and through Lancaster, NH and Augusta and Bangor, ME, it would only take us 15 hours (827 mi), and probably 16-17 hours at bus speed.
From St. John to Halifax is only about 4.5 hours, though it seems a circuitous and scenic route as it curves around the Bay of Fundy, the Minas Bay, and Cobequid Bay. And just off the path, of course, is Prince Edward Island for just that many more tempting sights.
As you can see, this trip could turn into something long, and would need some careful planning for overnights of travel, parking, and fuel stops. But this gives some nice bones to flesh out!