Northern Trip Home

After our great time in Cape Cod, it was time to head back West. We took a Northernly route again, leaving straight from the Cape this time and hitting up a few new states... and a new country!

First we just headed out to Boston where we spent some time walking around the Boston Public Market before grabbing an early dinner, then taking Trav to the airport. Gwen and I didn't have far to go after that... just over to visit with the quadruplets a bit West of Boston. 

Its insane to me that they are starting to look at life after high school, preparing for colleges and jobs! (It makes me feel a little old!)

We had a great visit with then, but after a relaxed Monday morning, headed out for our next stop... and Gwen's first trip out of the country! 

We headed into Ontario, got set up in our campsite where we ate some dinner, then took the shuttle over to see this:

Niagara Falls is absolutely stunning!

We walked around for a while, checking out the falls view with the sun setting, and enjoying the truly multinational experience as dozens of languages were spoken around us.

That above is why we went over in the evening... they illuminate the falls at night and it is spectacular!

We took the last shuttle back to our campsite, then tucked in and slept hard until morning. A quick jaunt for donuts, then it was back to the campsite to repack the car and check out. We took the shuttle back to the falls one more time.

We had lucked out with campsite neighbors yet again. Then people next to us were from Germany and they had a daughter Gwen's age. They played at the campground play area together while I broke down camp, and the mom gave me some bus passes that still had time on them, plus were loaded with tickets for the White Water Walk that they hadn't gotten to use!

So that's what we did with our morning in Niagara.

While we waited for the shuttle back to our car, there was one more thing I had to check off my list:

It was delicious! And since we were in Canada, where you can actually get them, I grabbed one of my favorite treats:

We headed back into the states then, and made the quick trip to my Uncle's place in Northern Ohio, outside of Cleveland. A nice dinner at their house, then we headed to a local park so my Aunt Chris could show Gwen some of the great wildlife, and Gwen could burn off some energy!

We stayed out a bit late, enjoying the park, then enjoying some ice cream... so we all headed to bed not long after we got home.

My Uncle and Aunt had to head out early for work, so we planned to leave early as well... but all the late nights and thrown off sleep caught up with Gwen and she slept until I woke her up at 9 a.m.! That's what vacation is for though, and it was an easy enough drive that day to get to our next destination.

Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday we pulled up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to stay with my friend Jean, her wife, Lori, and their three awesome kids.

Gwen was able to run around like a nut, and play with all the new to her toys; and I got to put her to sleep on time in a bed, then hang out with other adults! Jean headed out with the kids early the next day for their own camping trip, so Gwen and I got up and out the door pretty early as well.

We asked for suggestions, and that's how we ended up at Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan.

It was such a fun, beautiful place! Full of interactive sections based off of different books!

It was a bit overcast, with occasional sprinkles (and it actually opened up a bit into real rain right after we left), but it was a great place to kill an hour or two.

After that we headed the rest of the way up to Green Bay because... well, why not? I ate cheese curds, so Wisconsin was very much a success.

After that it was time to cut across the state and head into Minneapolis, Minnesota! We met a girlfriend and her daughter for dinner, and while we waited for our table we checked out the best little kids bookstore.

If you are near Minneapolis, go to Wild Rumpus! Go in the kids door, pet all the animals, and read lots of books!

We ate a nice dinner, then it was time for Gwen and I to head about 20 minutes outside the city to Baker Park Campground (in Maple Plain). It was a great little campground in a Park (with a lake, of course - land of 10,000 lakes!).

We got settled in and into bed pretty quickly that night, and were up and ready for the day on Friday. We fueled up with some pancakes, sausage, and hot chocolate (I think I totally stepped up my camping food on this trip).

We checked out the park a little, looking into the green space behind us, and then venturing over to the playground and the lake beach.

It really was a great place! After that we decided to check out something I've heard of many times before... the Mall of America!

I cannot even begin to describe how big and crazy this place is, but the fact that it has an amusement park and an aquarium INSIDE the mall might give you an idea.

We spent the whole day there, even going to the aquarium twice (do yourself a favor and get the combo pass that gets you onto the Fly Over as well... it might have been our favorite part!).

We returned to our campsite in time to cook up some grilled cheeses for dinner. We snuck in a quick shower (yay for another campground with free, warm showers!), then headed back to our site to read for a bit.

As we were about to head to the bathroom to get ready for the night, our site neighbors invited us for a game of Kubb, and before we knew it midnight had come! It was another group of amazing campground neighbors, and we exchanged information so that hopefully we can camp together again somewhere!

The next day, Saturday, we got a slightly sleepier start to our day because of our late night. But we ate a quick breakfast then hopped in the car and headed for Nebraska. We originally were going to stay in a little state park outside of Omaha, but here was my first "oops" of the trip: half of our campsites were booked out beforehand, and about half weren't (mostly because they couldn't be). It had worked out fine every other night, but I had forgotten it was a Saturday... and we got that late start, so when we got to the campground we were supposed to stay at it was completely full! Same thing for the next site we stopped at.

So, we plotted our route home, and started driving figuring we'd either see signs for more campgrounds to check, or if it started to get late we'd just stop at a hotel for the night. We ended up doing the latter and it worked out just fine. Since we stayed in a hotel, there was no campsite cleanup, so we were up and on the final leg of our journey home nice and early. My 3p.m. we were walking in the door to the most exuberant greeting from Daisy!

Another week, 2 new states and a new country, and 2,550 miles added to our journey! In total we spent about 4 weeks and over 5,300 miles on the road! Its almost surreal being home.

Now its time to unpack, settle in, and prepare for the new school year!

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