Winding It Up

Seems like we’ve been on the road forever, but it’s really only been about seven weeks. In some ways, I’m ready to be back home, yet the minute we pull into the driveway, I’ll wish we were on the road. Guess that’s why I can’t see myself being a full-time RVer anytime in the near future.

So, our last big stop is Ohiopyle State Park, in Ohiopyle, PA. Fun to say, but even more fun as a gorgeous park, with a wonderful campground.20151023_174914 Our main reason for selecting this park was its proximity to Fallingwater, the house generally acknowledged to be Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork. So, the first thing we did upon arrival was schedule a tour.20151022_131032Wow – what a fantastically beautiful location for a house. It sure didn’t hurt that we were there on a sparkling fall day, and the surrounding maples were in full color glory. 20151022_144054One of the things that makes this house so unique is the placement of the house on the site – instead of building across the stream so that you could see the falls from the house, Wright actually built the house directly over the falls. I’m sure a good argument can be made for either view, but there’s no doubt that Wright probably chose the less common placement. No photos are allowed inside the house on the tour, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

BUT, I do have to say that it would be a tough spot (for me) to live. I kept looking around, wondering where I’d want to curl up with a book to enjoy the magnificent view. There isn’t one stick of comfy furniture in the entire house. (and the house includes all the original furniture, some of which was designed by FLW, as well.) Our tour didn’t include the kitchen, so I’m left to wonder what that may actually look like. Go, if you get the chance. After completing Fallingwater, Wright was besieged with over 400 more projects, only about half of which he managed to complete before his death.

We used the rest of our time at Ohiopyle to hike and explore. This little town is an adventurer’s paradise – the center being the Youghegheny River, which roars through town. Looks like a great spot to white water raft.20151022_15332620151022_12574620151022_125543There’s a larger set of falls nearby, Cucumber Falls, but try as I might, I could NOT get a decent photo. The lighting gods were conspiring against me that day. In addition, the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail runs through here – a tiny sliver of this 300+ mile trail from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. 20151023_143306 You can probably get a great hotdog at this little spot, but we didn’t sample one.20151022_153915

We drove forever the next day to get as far as Findley State Park, in Wellington, OH for a quick overnight. Another beautiful park, with very few inhabitants. We shared a loop with just one other camper, and hardly saw them at all – perhaps the downpour had something to do with that. But, here was the view from out the back of the Fireball.20151024_172431Pay no attention to the little blurry spot in the middle of the photo, I must have jiggled a bit when shooting this panorama. Jezzy liked it here, too.20151024_170227

Our last stop was Brighton Recreation Area in Michigan, selected because we needed to camp near Ann Arbor, as we had tickets to hear one of our favorite authors, David Sedaris. The show was fantastic – held in the Michigan Theater, a classic refurbished movie theater in downtown AA. We laughed all the way through – Sedaris is bold and has a self-deprecating manner that doubles his comic presentation.

Perhaps the star of this visit though were the three Sandhill Cranes who hung out with us for two days. From early morning to evening, they wandered through the campground, squawking and picking up various tidbits. It was huge entertainment to watch them.20151026_08093120151026_081049Obviously, as it gets later in the year, traffic in the campgrounds thins out. That’s fine with us!20151025_17455820151026_125830Last one to leave, turn out the lights.20151027_092601

Brighton, Birds, Bats, and Bikes

Ka-WAAUK!  KA-WAAUK!!!!  WAAUK!

That’s the sound I’ll associate most with our most recent camping expedition to Brighton Recreation Area (MI).

Was it the sound of the Detroit Tigers bats pounding the LA Angels? Hardly.

Perhaps the sound of squeeky doors opening in the chilly, overcast air? Nope.

It’s the sound of all the Sandhill Cranes who make their home around Bishop Lake. Many were bold enough to stroll right through the campground in the morning hours. Others flew far overhead, where we never could see them through the ever-present dark clouds. But, there were few times during our three days there where we didn’t hear them. No, I never did get any photos. My best chance was one early morning as I strolled across the campground to the restrooms. Three Sandhills were prancing around an empty campsite. There was lots of wing flapping and hopping going on, as they stretched their early morning bodies. Naturally, my camera was back in the Fireball – who takes their camera to the bathroom, anyway? Besides, you can find superb photos of cranes at some of my birder blogger buddies Quietsolopursuits and LiveLaughRV. (Thanks to Ingrid at Live Laugh, a trip to the International Crane Foundation in WI is on the travel wish list for 2016.)

Since this was our first trip to Brighton, we weren’t familiar with the park. Knowing what we now do, we would opt to camp in the rustic section of the park (pit toilet/no electric) instead of the improved campground, where all sites have electric service. Although we had a pretty good site, overall it’s pretty cramped. The rustic sites were huge.wpid-20150826_124806.jpgWe loved the mountain bike trails, but did stress ourselves out a bit by riding pretty much beyond our technical capabilities. But, we’ll probably never get any better at this if we don’t stretch our comfort zone(s). John’s not so eager to do this – I am really wanting to be a more proficient mountain bike rider. Protruding tree roots and dropoffs caused several anxious moments along the ride for all of us – sister Lynn and brother-in-law Jerry were along for the trip, and for the ride.20150826_12280020150826_122852In additional to mountain bike trails, there are hiking and equestrian trails throughout the Park, which is spread out over several small lakes. 20150825_16104420150828_09160320150828_090926wpid-20150828_093426.jpg20150828_093704On one hike around the lake, we discovered these enormous weeping willow stumps. I had no idea that willows could be so massive. Wow. This stump was easily 4-5 feet across.20150825_155130My love affair with Detroit Tiger baseball is going through a rough spot – it’s hard to love a team that just can’t seem to put together two wins in a row.  We got beat 2-0 on the day we went to the game. But, the loss was tempered by the fact that we had the best seats I’ve ever had for a ballgame. Being close to the field is amazing.20150827_120705 There were 30K+ people at the game, but we just couldn’t cheer/stomp any runs across the plate. Last place sucks! Dont want to be a fair weather fan, but….

Naturally, now that we’re home, the sun has decided to peek out.  First sunshine we’ve seen in a week – honestly.  Lots of cleaning, organizing and planning to do.  The East Coast is beckoning. We’ll be some of the lucky folks for whom camping season really begins in September, vs those for whom the season is ending.