Off to adventure

John A. Travels to California

September 8: Day One

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Day 01- Leave Ontario
Day 02 - Chicago
Day 03 - Mt. Rushmore
Day 04 - Yellowstone
Day 05 - Yellowstone
Day 06 - Up to Alberta
Day 07 - Banff & Lake Louise
Day 08 - Whistler, BC
Day 09 - Vancouver & Seattle
Day 10 - Mt. St. Helens
Day 11 - Coastal Hwy 1
Day 12 - San Fransico
Day 13 - Yosemite Park
Day 14 - Giant Redwoods
Day 15 - Hearst Castle
Day 16 - Los Angelos & COD
Day 17 - Hollywood
Day 18 - Thru the Bible & Vegas
Day 19 - Death Valley
Day 20 - Hoover Dam & Skywalk
Day 21 - Caverns & Grand Canyon
Day 22 - Grand Canyon - Hike
Day 23 - Grand C. - Hermit's Rest
Day 24 - Petrified Forest
Day 25 - Meteor Crater
Day 26 - Carlsbad Caverns
Day 27 - Dallas, Texas
Day 28 - Mississippi River
Day 29 - St. Loius
Day 30 - Detroit
Day 31 - Home to Woodstock

All images can be enlarged NOTE:
All images can be enlarged

Ronald Tayler & John A. McDonald leave Woodstock, Ontario

Ronald & John leave Woodstock

Let me share with you the journal of our California trip.   It all started one year ago in 2006 when I asked my friend Ronald Tayler to accompany me on a Caribbean cruise.  After a week traveling the Caribbean I found Ronald to be a wonderful traveling companion.
Shortly after, Ronald started asking me if I’d be interested in accompanying him to the Grand Canyon the following year.  His friend Robert Masters was no longer able to travel with Ronald as he had gotten married.  Robert and Ronald had travelled the U.S. and Israel for some 20 years, and Ronald was looking for a new traveling companion.  I told Ronald that it would have to wait until the year after as I had to recoup the costs of my cruise.  This year Ronald came back and volunteered to cover any of the cost I could not so that we could still travel in 2007.  At the time I was having trouble with my tail bone, and asked him to wait another month while I sought medical aid.  In the end, I got a special cushion to sit on, and on August 20, we decided the trip was on.

Mom and Dad, Eleanor & Lloyd McDonald say goodbye
Mom and Dad say goodbye

We plan to be away from September 8 to October 7 or possibly October 8.  This will give us an entire month to travel all over the west coast of the U.S. and Canada.  Myself, I’ve never been south of Vancouver.  Our first stop will be Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.  I’ve seen so many pictures of this monument, and will now finally be able to get up close.
The second stop will be Yellowstone National Park where Ronald was prevented from traveling last year due to snow.  We’re going to see if Old Faithful really is.
Next we will head north into Canada and visit Banff National Park and Lake Louise.  And then on to Jasper, and across the Rockies over to Whistler, British Columbia.  Then we head south through Vancouver and over the border into Seattle, where we plan to visit the space needle.  Next we will go to Mount Saint Helens.  Then we will follow the coastline down to San Francisco and visit the Golden Gate Bridge and ride the trams up and down the hills.

Ronald's parents Lillian & Gordon Tayler say farewell
Ronald's parents say farewell

The next up will be Los Angeles, where we will visit the head offices of Thru the Bible radio network in Pasadena.  This visit is one of the main reasons for my trip, as I’ve been a volunteer for Thru the Bible for the past four years.  I’ll be meeting many of the staff I’ve been corresponding with all this time.  What a thrill after first being introduced to this ministry as a teenager!
Then we will head back up to Yosemite Park to view the great redwood trees and Death Valley.  Next will be Los Angeles, the Hoover Dam, and finally the Grand Canyon.  I expect the Grand Canyon will be even more impressive than one can imagine.  After looking at many beautiful photos all these years, I will finally be able to explore it up close.
Finally we will head over to see the Petrified Forest, and then take old Route 66, which is now Route 40, back home.  I still can’t believe this is actually going to happen.
When the day finally arrived, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. as usual on Saturday morning.  The old body keeps waking me up as if it’s another workday.  I set to work finishing my packing and set my emails to an auto responder.  I had purchased a laptop for the trip, including Microsoft Streets and Trips with a GPS attachment.  I’d also purchased Vonage V-Phone, and hope to go into the Internet at the various motels and call back for free.  After I changed the voice mail for my cell phone to extended absence, I was ready to go by 7:30.

Sears tower in Chicago
Sears tower in Chicago

I had breakfast at Mom and Dad’s, and was on the road by 9:30.  By 10:30, Ronald and I left Woodstock for the trip of a lifetime.  The one concern we had was that Ronald’s passport application had been rejected for some technicality, and he only had his original rather tattered birth certificate to show the customs official at the Sarnia border.  But as it turned out, Ronald’s honest face won the day, and we zipped right through.  There was only about a 20-minute wait to get to the front of the line.
As soon as we got over the bridge in Sarnia, we made a wrong turn and had to use my GPS to get turned around.  We’ve experienced several glitches with Ronald’s small model GPS unit.  It is an Alpine Blackbird model that is mounted on the windshield.  I have the Microsoft Streets and Trips 2007 software version with the GPS attachment based on my laptop.  After running flawlessly for a couple hours, the small GPS unit will all of a sudden decide to lockup.  It had to be reset by poking a pin in the bottom of it.  We had the same problem with my GPS as we left the Sarnia, which accounted for the wrong turn.  Overall, my laptop-based GPS is what we’ve come to rely on.  In fact, I think I’m hooked.  I’ll never travel again without it.  The ability to look ahead at the town you’re coming up to and find out what street the motels are on is invaluable.  Also the ability to be able to zoom in on a city map saves a great deal of time by avoiding getting lost.
Ronald drove for the first 5 hours, after which I took over close to Chicago.  I enjoyed being able to monkey around with his GPS and my computer and assist with the navigation.  We decided to travel with only a light snack for lunch each day rather than have three large meals and get sleepy while on the road. 

Indian statue in Chicago
Indian statue in Chicago

As we approached Chicago, I was driving and Ronald was shooting pictures out of the window.  The Chicago skyline is rather impressive with the skyscraper called the Sears Tower rising over everything.  Typically Ronald avoids big city centers as his vision does not allow him to read all the road signs.  But with Ronald working the GPS beside me, I was able to drive into the downtown right past the Sears Tower.  I shot a couple of pictures looking straight up.  I was truly amazed at its height.
The only problem we had in downtown Chicago was that there was nowhere to park.  We had intended to have lunch in the downtown core, but that turned out to be impossible, so after firing a bunch of shots from the car window, we jumped back onto the main artery and continued to the outskirts of Chicago.
We ended up stopping at a Pizza Hut for supper, and were not impressed with the slow service.  The food was

The Chicago Stock exchange
The Chicago Stock exchange

good, however.  We decided to we were good to go, and we headed out on I90.  We drove till almost 9:30, as I wanted to reach Rockford.  I think this is the Rockford from the TV show called the Rockford Files, which was an old detective show I used to watch years ago.  While the GPS helped us find a hotel strip, it turned out there was a soccer tournament in town, and there were almost no rooms available in the entire city.  We ended up being forced to sleep in a single bed, king-sized, which turned out not to be the best idea.  Neither Ronald nor I have slept with anyone else in the bed for decades, and we got hardly any sleep that night.
We had traveled 885 kilometres that day, and were quite satisfied with our progress.  Unfortunately, I could not get the laptop to connect to the Internet that night, and so could not send any of our  photos back home.
Overall, the thing I remember most about the first day of our travels was just how thrilled I was to finally be on the road, after having discussed it for almost a year.  I feel truly blessed, and still can’t believe I’m actually doing this trip.  I know all the guys back at work were very jealous when they heard that I had four weeks to be able to travel all over the west coast of the United States.  I feel I’m seizing the moment, as this type of trip may not be possible in the future, as Ronald’s parents are getting rather elderly.

Well that’s all from day one.  We traveled 885 km.

God is good!

Next Day >>>>


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