Great Basin National Park, one of the least visited National Park in the United States, was our first stop on our trip. We researched a little bit and decided when to start our trip based on two things: one was not too early to Great Basin as the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive might still be closed (according to the ranger who I called) but not too late that it may get too hot when we arrived at Utah as we planned to do lots of hiking there. It was already May 22nd so we didn’t bring our snowshoes for our trip (although we thought about it but ditched them to save room as GBNP might be only place we could use them.) When we arrived at Great Basin, we realized that it was a mistake as the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive was not completely open and many trails were still covered in snow.

We attempted to hike a little bit but gave up after 50 yards due to thick snow. We migrated down to the lower elevation and was greeted with much better climate and lots of flowers and even a snake. The little hike was enjoyable before we moved on to the Lehman Caves, one of the most decorated caves in the world. The caves can only be entered via a tour, thus we joined one. Five minutes into the tour, Kadia who just became potty trained recently wanted to go so Susan had to take her out which left me carrying Bryden with the front pouch. So always remember to put a diaper on the little ones for a cave trip.

The cave itself was impressive. It had a lot of stalactites, stalgmites, flowstone, popcorn, bacon and many other things I didn’t know the name. It was not big like the Mammoth caves, nor complex like Wind Caves nor unreal like Jewel Caves (other caves we visited later on during the trip) but it was beautiful with its abundant different formations everywhere; I especially like the draperies formation. I highly recommended the tour.

The last thing I remember from there was the night sky; the stars practically lit up the whole sky. There was only one other time I saw so many stars: there bound to be other intelligent beings out there.

Technology has improved a lot from 4 years ago. I was able to update my route with more details now.

In the 2010 Microsoft Streets and Trips, I was able to export the trip to a gpx file then I imported into Every Trail.

Click here to see it in Every Trail Map
Then I exported it out of Every Trail into Google Earth and from there saved it as a KMZ file then imported into Google Map. This has to be an easier way to do this though.

Click here to see it in Google Map

Before the trip, I have never heard of the Thousand Islands Region in New York. The only “thousand islands” place I have heard of was in China and unfortunately was known infamously for brutal murders of many Taiwanese tourists on a tourist ship. 1000 islands in New York is between the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River and it is a famous vacation destination. I am not sure there are actually 1000+ islands given that to a minimal of one tree is required for a place to qualify as an island

smallest island

the smallest island in the 1000 islands region

I think Stockholm region has more islands but both areas are beautiful and, of course, many islands are owned by the riches with beautiful houses and parking docks instead of garages. Nice! I won’t mind having one for my house.

Island House

A famous attraction here is the Boldt castle. We took a boat tour around the region which stopped at the Boldt castle for a closer look. Kadia got to be a captain for a few seconds.

Kadia as a captain

The castle was built by George Boldt for his wife but his wife died before the castle was finished . It sounded just like many other famous tragic stories where a castle was built but the owner never lived in it. Didn’t they realize that they needed to build faster as people didn’t live very long back then?

Power house at Boldt Castle

The region was lovely and would be nice to kayak from one island to another; however, most islands were private so it would have been impossible anyway so we soon left the area after camped at Wellesley Island State Park for a night with a beautiful sunrise view from our campsite. Where is that picture?

When the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge was raised to $5 a few years ago, I thought that was expensive. But given that it is a national landmark and it is world famous, I thought perhaps if any bridge deserved the high cost, it would be the one. When we were in New Jersey and were traveling to the Long Island, we had to cross a bridge that cost $9.50. I thought to myself, I wouldn’t want to cross this bridge often. Unfortunately for people who need to go to JFK airport, they need to cross that bridge from the mainland. So I felt a little better about our toll. A few weeks later, we took a ferry from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island and were told that it was free and fee (around 50 Canadian dollars) would be collected when leaving the island. We thought we got a good deal as we would be driving off the island via the Confederation Bridge instead and how expense could a bridge toll be. We were wrong! (see below) Now I have a deep appreciation for our cheap toll! Just curious, anyone knows any more expensive bridge toll?
Confederation Bridge

I need to take a short break from writing about the trip because of kid activities, works, house remodeling and outdoor season. I probably will write less frequently in this coming month. Thank you for taking your time reading and commenting on my blog. I think there are still about 50 posts to complete the trip. My goal is still to complete the trip story by the end of this summer.

We saw some pictures of Bruce Peninsula National Park in Ontario before the trip and was impressed by its scenery but wasn’t sure if we would want to drive an additional 500 miles to see it. However, after arriving at Ontario, the choice was obvious as we found out that we could take a boat across the Lake Huron at Tobermory, therefore, without the extra driving. We were excited with the opportunity.

Susan and Kadia at Bruce Peninsula NPWe arrived at Bruce Peninsula National Park early Friday morning to get a campsite and, Ralph & Kadia at Bruce Peninsula NPto our surprise, it was full. We went into Tobermory and found a private campground instead. After set up the tent, we went back to the Park to do some hiking. We hiked out to the lakeshore on the Horse Lake trail and was greeted with a great view, crystal clear blue water and rocky shoreline. We hiked on the Bruce Trail (The longest footpath in Ontario) along the shoreline. It was beautiful and quiet.

A Jumper at Bruce Peninsula NPBruce Peninsula NP near Grotto There weren’t many people until we got to an area known as Grotto. There were lots of people down by the beach, either lying for a suntan or playing in the water. Susan & Bryden at GrottoWe had a great view from above. There were also many people diving off rocks into the beautiful Georgian Bay below. It must be refreshing to be swimming in a lake that felt like an ocean in size but without the smell of the sea.

The hike along the coast was rocky with the trail paved completely in rocks. The park was clean and the water was clear and warm for swimming. No wonder there were no camping sites left. This place looked like a great place for kayaking as well, a quiet lake with many beautiful rock formations. Next time when we come back, we will be doing some kayaking. We completed our loop hike along the Marr Lake trail back to our hiking starting point. It was a beautiful hike.

After walking through the Vietnam Memorial, we visited the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln MemorialI have always admired Lincoln for bringing an end to the slavery but I learned this time that the abolition of slavery was a byproduct of the civil war. Lincoln had said, “I would save the Union… My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” I was surprised but it was the right thing to do. It was important to keep the country together first then there would be time to take care anything else afterwards. We had him to thank for the strong America we have today.

Korean War Memorial was up next. Korean War MemorialThis was a war America and many other nations helped South Korea to fight off the North Korea. Although everyone may have defended the South Korea for its own reasons, it was still a noble cause. The memorial had a bunch of soldiers in their full military fatigues with their rifles. Korean War, if there is such thing as a good war, was considered a successful war. As a result, M.A.S.H. comedy was such a hit. There was also a wall with faces of 2000+ service men and women supporting the war sandblasted on it. It was not as a somber memorial as the Vietnam one.

Kadia at FDR MemorialRalph & Bryden at FDR MemorialThen there was another new memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. This one was my favorite as it told many stories through statues and plaques. Back in the 30’s and 40’s, lives in America were not so rosy. Susan and Kadia at FDR MemorialI can only imagine what the Great Depression was when people lost their life-long saving and unemployment rate was over 30%. That was a difficult time for FDR and everyone. Then there was the World War II. If we had lost the World War II, the world would be very different now.

Another new memorial, George Mason Memorial, was just beyond the FDR Memorial. George Mason is called “The Father of Bill of Rights”. The original Bill of Rights gave us the first 10 amendments of the United States Constitution. George Mason MemorialThe freedom we enjoy and take for granted today came from the high price of American Revolution. We have so much to be thankful that sometimes we forget. All these memorials and monuments are a great reminder of past struggles. We all should come visit here every few years.

We finally arrived at American Museum of the Natural History. I was looking forward to spending some time at the museum but soon we discovered it was not a good idea. Kadia would run around and we lost the sight of her a few times. After about 30 minutes, we gave up and headed for our cousin Robby’s house. We will just have to come back to see all the museums when the kids are older.