8-14 Sep, 2016: Illinois, Ohio, New York and Niagara Falls

Good Wednesday afternoon/evening folks!  We have been making some tracks once again…it is good to be back on the road.  When we last posted on the 8th, I was at the Cummins facility in Wisconsin getting my annual maintenance done on the Coach.  That went real well, no surprises other than needed a new air filter.  They are not cheap…$185!  I try to remove the air filter and clean it out every month or so, but it had been two years since I’d put a new one in, so it was time.  Other than that, normal fluid changes and lubrication’s.

We stayed in Terri’s mom’s driveway on the night of the 8th, and hit the road early on the 9th.  We had planned to take I-39 down to I-80 to start our trek East and to avoid Chicago, but we ended up going a bit further South in order to get over to Columbus Ohio on the 10th and 11th so we could visit some friends that were unexpectedly in Columbus for a bit.  We drove in the rain most of the day on Friday, the 9th, and it wasn’t too bad other than making a mess out of the Coach and the truck.  Terri found a place just north of Champagne-Urbana, IL.  It is the small town of Rantoul, IL and the RV Park (Prairie Pines) sits on the grounds of what used to be Chanute AFB, IL.  Chanute was closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 1993, and most of the base has been turned over to the local community.  I chatted with some folks that now live in the old officer’s housing, and it looks like Rantoul has made the most out of what appear to be great facilities like the gym, library, dorms that are now apartments, etc.  The RV Park sits in what used to be the base mobile home park, so it is kind of oddly laid out, as you will see in the pics that follow.  The deal between the Federal Government and the City of Rantoul as far as the RV Park is concerned is that the City has to make a major improvement every 10 years over the course of 30 years, at which time the property will be turned over to the City for good.  It was a nice place, and only $25 for 50 AMP, Full Hook Ups.

This is the West end of the park, looking out over what used to be the flight line. You can see hangars in the background if you look closely. What I meant about odd layout above is that you see the parking areas and sidewalks that used to go to the mobile homes. Now they lead to grassy RV sites...some of the time.

This is the West end of the park, looking out over what used to be the flight line. You can see hangars in the background if you look closely. What I meant about odd layout above is that you see the parking areas and sidewalks that used to go to the mobile homes. Now they lead to grassy RV sites…some of the time.

Our site...a pull through, kind of. The camp host (who has been here over ten years) led us through another camp site to pull straight into this one. Easy out the next day.

Our site…a pull through, kind of. The camp host (who has been here over ten years) led us through another camp site to pull straight into this one. Easy out the next day.

The pavilion in the foreground is a recent improvement, and the bath and showers are located in the building in the background...the building used to be the base dental office.

The pavilion in the foreground is a recent improvement, and the bath and showers are located in the building in the background…the building used to be the base dental office.

Most of the North side of the park is occupied by long term construction workers that travel here each season.

Most of the North side of the park is occupied by long-term construction workers that travel here each season.

All in all, it was a great experience, and we will stay here again if we are ever in the area.  Soon after we had gotten all settled, severe weather hit the area and the weather radio went nuts.  There were a few tornado’s that touched down not too far to the South of where we were.  Severe weather is always a concern when living in this box, but the bad stuff dissipated, and we had a great nights rest.  We were up and gone by 0900, but ran right into rain again, and it stayed with us all the way to the Columbus area.

We arrived at the Cross Creek RV Resort in Delaware, OH (just North of Columbus) about 3:00.  And just in time!  As soon as we got the Coach into our spot and plugged in, a nasty thunderstorm pushed through.  That lasted about an hour, and we then put the slides out and set up the rest of the camp site.  Cross Creek is a beautiful park, with tons of amenities, few of which we unfortunately took advantage of.  It was a little pricey, but we’ve learned to keep within our $600 per month camp site budget pretty well over the last two years.  In fact, we have actually come in under that each year so far.

Unfortunately, we did not get any pictures of the camp ground.  We headed out early on Sunday morning to meet up with great friends in Columbus.  Clay, Mary and Trase Travers were all in town, so we got a chance to spend the morning together and catch up.  God’s Speed to you all!!

That afternoon was gorgeous, so we decided to take in the Columbus Zoo.  Kind of pricey, but they honor a military discount, so it wasn’t too bad.  It was well worth the price.  This is definitely one of the nicest zoos that we have been visited.  The way they have arranged most of the animal exhibits gives you the feeling they are in their natural habitat…especially in the Africa area.

Hyenas playing around in the water hole area before the Cheetah run began.

Hyenas playing around in the water hole area before the Cheetah run began.

They do a Cheetah run 3 times per day weather permitting. It was a blast watching these speed demons chase around like they were hunting.

They do a Cheetah run 3 times per day weather permitting. It was a blast watching these speed demons chase around like they were hunting.

One of the areas I was referring to above...every kind of animal that can live together without seeing the other as a meal lives in this expansive area.

One of the areas I was referring to above…every kind of animal that can live together without seeing the other as a meal lives in this expansive area.

The Reindeer are just losing their felt. As we walked past, this worker had just untangled to of them that somehow got one of the others halter off and they were hooked together.

The Reindeer are just losing their felt. As we walked past, this worker had just untangled two of them that somehow got one of the others halter off and they were hooked together.

And of course, the Bonobos. This gal looks bored, but the younger ones were flying all over the place, so much so that one of the elders had to smack a few to calm them down...funny.

And of course, the Bonobos. This gal looks bored, but the younger ones were flying all over the place, so much so that one of the elders had to smack a few to calm them down…funny.

We were up fairly early on the 12th for a shorter trek to Geneva on the Lake Ohio.  It is just East of Cleveland.  What a great place!  It is right across the street from Lake Erie, and they are a Passport America Park, which means we get 50% off their rates, as we are members.  For only $40 per year, this membership usually pays for itself in one or two nights.  I talked earlier about staying within our budget, well, this is one of the ways we do it…staying at an upscale independent park for half price…why, yes please!  And a gorgeous park it was!  Plenty of room between sites, cable TV, swimming pools, movie stars…er, nope.  Sorry, went Beverly Hillbilly on ya there.  But a huge, really nice place with a full grocery store on site, chapel, theater, meeting areas, stocked catch and release fishing ponds…they had it all, and for the PA rate of $25 per night…we will stay again!

Our long pull through site. The truck is still attached to the Coach...just a bad angle.

Our long pull through site. The truck is still attached to the Coach…just a bad angle so you cannot see it.

Looking out towards the fishing ponds. The Coach got a bath this day too! I love Blue Beacon Truck Washes. they are the cheapest and they seem to do the best job. It was $50 to do the Coach and the truck, and they sprayed off our bikes for us too!

Looking out towards the fishing ponds. The Coach got a bath this day too! I love Blue Beacon Truck Washes. They are the cheapest and they seem to do the best job. It was $50 to do the Coach and the truck, and they sprayed off our bikes for us too!

One of the ponds.

One of the ponds.

Another pond with a nice gazebo on it.

Another pond with a nice gazebo on it.

Nice pool! And the several restroom/shower/laundry facilities are likely the best we have seen.

Nice pool! And the several restroom/shower/laundry facilities are likely the best we have seen.

Sun setting over Lake Erie. There is a path across the street from the park that the park Chapel built. It is first class as well...

Sun setting over Lake Erie. There is a path across the street from the park that the park Chapel built. It is first class as well…

Terri at the bottom of the overlook enjoying the view.

Terri at the bottom of the overlook enjoying the view.

We were up and at it early again on the 13th, Tuesday.  We had a fairly short trek to Grand Island, New York, which is right near Niagara Falls.  Terri and I have never been, so we were looking forward to it.  I have to say, the highways in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Western New York have been great…I hope that continues as we move East.  We stopped at the first rest area in PA, and the lady working the counter couldn’t have been nicer.  She directed us to a few scenic routes that are navigable with the RV, and off the tollways.  Those of you from this part of the woods know that tolls are prolific!  In fact, we are considering buying an EZ Pass for the remainder of the trip…tough to swallow that though…I’ve been looking at alternative routes.

We had a very nice trip through some of the PA and NY wine country, and had a very uneventful trip through the city of Buffalo to reach Grand Island.  We are parked at the Cinderella Motel and RV park, with 50 AMP and full hookups, cable…but it stops there.  We hardly watch TV, so cable isn’t that big of a deal.  What drove us to this park is the location near the falls, and the price…they are another Passport America park, and rather than spending $75 a night for a really “tight” park, we are paying half of that.  What I mean by “tight” is that I know for a fact that if my neighbor on either side needed sugar, or a beer, or whatever, I could open the window and hand it to them  through their window!  Oh well, we are not here to spend all of our time the Coach anyway.  Looking ahead, it appears that I may have the unfortunate opportunity to blow the monthly camping budget in the NE…these places “ain’t cheap!!”

Onto today and the falls!  We decided to use the Gray Line tour system, and tour the Canadian side.  We are so glad we did!  It cost about $100 each, but well worth it for the places we got to go.  We totaled up what it would have cost us to park, and admission for what we got to do, and we would have spent way more than that if we had gone on our own, and we would not have gotten the history from our life long Buffalo resident and ardent Bills fan, Howard.  On to the pics.

Walking down to the Hornblower Canadian falls boat tour. This is a pic of the American falls....obstructed by the trees! The tower on the other side is the elevator that takes you to the boat tour on the American side.

Walking down to the Hornblower Canadian falls boat tour. This is a pic of the American falls….obstructed by the trees! The tower on the other side is the elevator that takes you to the boat tour on the American side.

A shot from the back of Hornblower of the Rainbow bridge that connect the two Niagara Falls cities.

A shot from the back of Hornblower of the Rainbow bridge that connects the two Niagara Falls cities.

Looking upriver toward Horseshoe Falls. Canada on the right, US on the left.

Looking upriver toward Horseshoe Falls. Canada on the right, US on the left.

The American Falls...they will close this off in the next year or so to repair a bridge that goes to one of the islands. We learned soooo much today about how they control the water on this river, and how they get it to the hydro-electric plants further down river. What an experience...It would take pages to re-capture everything we learned.

The American Falls…they will close this off in the next year or so to repair a bridge that goes to one of the islands. We learned soooo much today about how they control the water on this river, and how they get it to the hydro-electric plants further down river. What an experience…It would take pages to re-capture everything we learned.

Another shot of Horseshoe, the Canadian side, the behind the falls tour group (middle right) and a sliver of one of the our of service electric plants.

Another shot of Horseshoe, the Canadian side, the behind the falls tour group (middle right) and a sliver of one of the out of service electric plants.

Selfies Suck I say, but here we are...the background is the spray caused by Horseshoe falls...can't see a thing.

Selfies Suck I say, but here we are…the background is the spray caused by Horseshoe falls…can’t see a thing.

Down river by the

Down river by the “whirlpool” and the tram. The river make a severe 90 degree turn here, which results in a huge whirlpool on the left. The only place along the Niagara river where you can look across the river, and you are still looking at Canada.

More of the whirl pool.

More of the whirlpool.

The floral clock. Design changes twice per year. Maintained by the Horticulture University on the Canadian side.

The floral clock. Design changes twice per year. Maintained by the Horticulture University on the Canadian side.

OK...I hate heights, but this was worth it...looking at Horse shoe from the top of Skylon Tower.

OK…I hate heights, but this was worth it…looking at Horseshoe from the top of Skylon Tower.

The American Falls, Bridal Falls on the far right.

The American Falls, Bridal Falls on the far right.

Well, that’s it for now.  What an awesome last few days!!  We are planning on exploring more of the local area tomorrow, and hope to get to the finger lakes next and spend a few days there.  We have not determined if we will go the northern or southern route around the lakes, but the southern route does not include tolls…so there is one indicator.  We are still looking at how we will traverse to Maine, but it appears now that we may catch I-91 in Mass, and take that all the way to the Northern end of VT and take US 2 over to I-95.  We will see.  If any of you have suggested places to go and see, routes to take, or things to do, please let us know!

As always, we hope this finds you Happy, Healthy, and Living Your Dreams!!!!

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