Chicago is rightly nicknamed the "windy city" and we felt the effects even though we never ventured closer than 30 miles to downtown. Our first evening in Chicago there was a sudden onslaught of thunder storms directly over our campground. Lightning was flashing around and it began to hail and dump huge quantities of water. By the time we realized what was happening it was too late to take our awning down. There was no way I was going to play with 8 foot metal rods in 50 mph winds with lightning striking the ground. Wouldn't have been prudent, not gonna do it. Well, the dawn came and the area was a mess. What was a nice campsite the previous evening was now a 2 foot deep lake! Remdawg stepped off the bus and waded into the water to retrieve her ball and nearly disappeared. The winds had sheared off the metal poles for the awning, bent the roller tube, and torn the canvas. Oh, what a mess. The campground staff came by around 8:30am and gave us the number to a mobile RV repair service. We called and he scheduled us for Sunday morning at 7:30.
The repairman arrived about an hour late on Sunday morning and spent nearly an hour trying to remove the awning from the unit. It was a total loss and cost $90 for his time and fee to haul away and dispose of the awning. Then he was off to work on several other unfortunate campers around the park.
We headed for church about 10:10. We attended the services at the church where Kate's former pastor in Northampton now preaches, Community Fellowship of West Chicago. The church is state of the art and the service was glorifying to God. We had visited with the pastor and his wife on Saturday evening and had some wonderful ribs. After church there was a whole church lunch in the basement of brats and chips and soft drinks so we hung around and met some church members as well as fellowshipped with the pastor.
We drove the rig to church because we decided to flee Chicago on Sunday just in case Mrs. O'Leary's cow had a descendant that felt the need to kick over a lantern! Actually, it was to avoid the commuter traffic on Monday morning. Traffic on a Sunday afternoon in Chicago is bad enough!!!
We arrived in Elkhart, Indiana around 6pm and settled in for the next two days. Elkhart is the RV capital of the world as most major manufacturers have their factories there. It is also the heart of Indiana's Amish Country. We decided to take the Heritage Trail on Monday and drive through many of the Amish towns. Horses and buggies were everywhere and they came out of side streets without warning. We stopped at several places, including Yoder's meat & cheese barn and picked up several pounds of delicious cheddar, some burger patties, and much more. Then we went to Amish Acres for lunch and bought a 4 pack of cinnamon rolls to prepare in the rig for breakfast. They were absolutely delightful. We wrapped up our stay in Amish Country with a visit to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend. A spectacular campus filled with wonderful buildings and traditions. The next morning it was off to Niagara Falls via Port Huron, MI.
The drive to Port Huron was uneventful and the campground was pleasant, although much like a huge resort. We went for a much needed swim and had some dinner and ice cream and watched as much of the all-star game as we could handle (I shut it off at 12:30am after the 11th inning!). In the morning we headed for Niagara Falls via Canada.
The drive to Niagara Falls took about 4 hours and was relatively smooth. We arrived around 2pm and after enduring another thunderstorm headed down to the falls for dinner and a ride on the Maid of the Mist. The boat ride was nothing short of spectacular. For 30 very long minutes you head straight into Niagara Falls, getting to within a few hundred feet. The thundering cascade of the falls is deafening and the amount of water that ended up on us was incredible. Good thing the boat staff provided the plastic garbage bags (rain ponchos) for everyone, even Grace. Everyone visiting Niagara should take that ride.
Afterward we hung around at the Casino Niagara and then watched as the falls were lit up in beautiful color. Then we headed back to the campground for a good night's sleep before driving to Massachusetts the next morning.
We left around 9:00am for Massachusetts and a little over 10 hours and $40 in tolls on the NY State Thruway later we arrived at Kate's brother's house. We'll be here for a couple of weeks before going to Cape Cod or New Hampshire and spending a week at the beach. Then we'll head for Mississippi via Washington DC and Myrtle Beach, SC.
Pics to be posted later.