Tribe thought she could drive in the rain – she has a license after all…
We departed Lake City in the midst of a horrific rainstorm, which slowed our progress; a couple of lightening strikes came way too close for comfort!
Florida’s vexing roads continued to plague us as well, as we threaded our way to the highway to Jacksonville, where we headed north onto I-95. Of course there were slowdowns, due to the deluge of rain, and an accident where someone had so totaled his semi truck cab (no trailer thank goodness) that only the frame with the wheels could be seen on a flatbed, and they were digging the upper bits of the cab out with a backhoe in the wet swampy land. Serves them right for not having the highways not nearly wide enough to accommodate the traffic. Most have a wide median strip – overgrown half the time – and narrow pull off strips that dive down into the ever present swamps.
The road rides up almost on a rail along this part of the lake, as it approaches Mirror Lake, a small lake to the northeast of Winnipesaukee, split off by a narrow strip of land the road passes over. Since it is more likely to be frozen solid, you may see more activity on it, as ice skaters play hockey on the frozen surface, and snow mobilers and skiers take advantage of the open expanse edged by summer cottages.
The Libby Museum – and a small park looking out onto another of the bays appears almost immediately after Mirror Lake vanishes into the rearview mirror. This is another fine spot to pause to take a few photos before driving onto Wolfeboro.
A high view of Lake Winnipesaukee looking towards Wolfeboro.
Following Route 11 north offers more views of the narrow frozen waterway of Alton Bay, before it heads inland a bit, and begins to climb up the hills that hem in the lake. Trixie keeps watch for a cliff of granite that inevitably appears ahead, because in the shadow of it is one of the best pull offs to view Lake Winnipesaukee from on high. Odds are if you set your GPS to just “Alton Bay” it will lead you here, and the ‘center’ of the town is supposedly nearby.
From this lookout, you can look south towards the narrow channel of Alton Bay – or northeast to Wolfeboro, a good long drive away, depending on how many times we stop to see the scenery. The islands of the lake stand out as black streaks on the white plain, and the White Mountains start to rise on the horizon like low gentle waves under blue skies.
Ohio’s Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse on Lake Erie
Once the tour was done, it was back on the road – we tracked down a nearby lighthouse, and glimpsed Lake Erie, but the ‘scenic shoreline’ drive I planned was a bust – those on the Great Lakes don’t care to share their shorelines without imposing a steep fee, or hiding it behind homes, forests or as we noted in the distance, nuclear power plants.
With the onset of rain, we head north to Niagara, on a long drive that got us to the hotel well after dark.
Unlike the other coastlines we have driven, where there are periodic views and vistas of the magnificent bodies of water, Michigan is almost wholly hidden by crowded beachfront properties, built atop of each other so nary a speck of lakefront or sand dune can be glimpsed between the buildings that ranged from quaint to outright ugly. We finally found an ‘unloading zone’ for some steep town beach at the bottom of a steep sand dune cliff, where we could view the elusive Great Lake of Michigan.
Then with a huff of disgust from Trixie, we set off for Ann Arbor, Michigan.
We had just crossed the border into Michigan, and passed the first exit when again the folly of road construction reared its ugly head, impeding our progress. For half an hour we sat still in the cool confines of the car, awaiting the wall of semis to move. When they lumbered forward, ever so slowly through six miles of construction zone – of which only the last mile seemed to have any construction at all – it was at a snail’s pace. We pulled off at Exit 23 for lunch to let this herd of highway hooligans move along. And sure enough, once they had lumbered away in their overloaded big rigs, the traffic improved immensely.
The Ingalls land – in the center, a pond or “swale” helped provide water for the crops.
Our next stop is the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota. Back in New England, a ‘homestead’ might be a mere house. Here the original 160 acres of land, a vast space, is preserved and worked in a fashion similar to the way the Ingalls worked it- although part is reserved for camping.
The visitor’s center in on the northwest corner of the land, atop a hill that overlooks the fields. To the northeast corner lies a relocated church, to the southwest corner lies a schoolhouse, representing the things from the Ingalls’ era.
With that, we beat a retreat to the car and brave the maniacs starting to clog the roads to head towards Cody, Wyoming. There are few geysers near West Thumb, and I get a more intimate look at an extinct steam hole, marked with the skeletal white mineral deposits around the black hole. From this spot we got our first glimpse of the huge lake that covers the southeastern corner of the park.
We take a long pause at the Lake Village Store for lunch – burgers and chips topped off with ice cream and a little shopping, all with the view of Yellowstone Lake spread out before us, and snow-capped mountains beyond. It is a fine resting stop before the long drive ahead.