Friday, July 31, 2009

Back to Canada

We were excited when we got up today because we were going to see two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Buffalo NY.

The Martin house is huge. There are actually six buildings on one acre. The main house is connected by a beautiful covered walk to the conservatory, where there is a replica of the Nike statue. You can see the statue all the way from the front door. It is a distance of 180 feet, very impressive.

The Martin family asked FLW to also design them a summer home on Lake Erie. We headed to Graycliff for our second tour of the day. This second house is nothing like the first. The house sits on top of a 65 ft cliff. There are stairs leading down to the beach, but they are not in use at this time. The house is intimate, with views of the lake from almost every room in the house, and ideal for a summer cottage.

Then we went to see a boathouse that FLW designed in 1905 and was finally built in 2007. Everywhere we looked, we could see his unique design touches.

After this we headed back to Canada, we paid the $3 toll, answered a few questions at customs, and drove north an hour and a half to Toronto, Ontario. We were too late to get a map from the visitor center, it had already closed. We got to downtown Toronto and stopped at Union Station. Bernie went inside and found a couple of maps.

As we got close to downtown we saw the CN Tower, the tallest building in the world at 1815 feet. Driving through downtown the first thing we noticed is that it looks just like Times Square in NYC. There are bright lights everywhere and huge advertisements and video screens. There was a concert downtown and tons of people everywhere.

We drove around searching for a place to park. After a while, we spotted a parking lot on a corner that looked empty. We went to check it out and it was perfect, surrounded by buildings and right next to a small park. The lot has free overnight parking and it’s only $8 during the day. It is located at the corner of Bloor and Bedford. The lot can be seen from Bloor but the entrance is on Bedford.

We decided to stay, we were exhausted. Without cell phones or internet access, we just read for a little while and then went to sleep.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hit and run

The good news is that we are happy to be in Canada. The bad news is that we hardly got any sleep last night. This is a small parking lot with a bar, stores open 24 hours, and even a small gas station. There were cars coming and going all night, people talking, and doors slamming.

And the worst thing is that in the middle of the night, someone hit our Bella and then sped off. We couldn’t believe it! Lucky for us, there is no real damage, just a smudge on the rubber part of the front bumper.

We got up tired and sleepy. We drove back to The Falls to take a look at them in the daytime. It was a beautiful day today. The Falls look so powerful that they give you a sense of pure energy. What a magnificent work of nature.

Next we headed to Buffalo NY. We didn’t plan to go back to the states this way, but we realized how close we are to two of the houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, so we just don't think we should miss them. We called and scheduled both tours for tomorrow, one at noon and the other at 2 pm.

We headed across Rainbow Bridge to NY and went directly to the first house to take a look at the area. We then searched online for a coffee shop and after a few phone calls, we found Sweetness Seven.

This is an adorable corner coffee shop that serves coffee and lunch items. This artsy place is whimsically decorated and every table is painted in different patterns. It is definitely a charming setting that mixes paint colors and real block walls with antique cabinets. We tried the American iced coffee and it was delicious. The size was generous for the price as well.

Then we went back to the FLW house and parked on the street, right in front of the house, so we can be here for our tour tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Canada for the third time

Some days no matter how much you plan, you just have to go with the flow. That’s what we did today.

We woke up in Mexicantown and drove across the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It was only a ten minute drive and a $4 toll. We want to see as much of Canada as we can and this was so close, we just had to go, plus we haven't been to Ontario before.

We got gas on the US side and paid $2.30 per gallon. Going through customs was simple and quick. They asked a few questions about our visit, handed us back our passports, and off we went.

Our first stop was the visitor center where we picked up information about things to do in Windsor. On our way out of the visitor center, we realized that we probably won’t be this close ever again to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. We had gone last winter when we were in NY but it was too cold then to really enjoy them.

So we went back inside the visitor center and got the map and info about The Falls. We then drove east for about 4 hours to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Our Lola doesn’t work in Canada, so without the guidance of our GPS, we have to rely on paper maps only.

Once we got there we found parking and walked a mighty distance to check out the rushing water. It was dark by now and there were tons of tourists speaking all different languages. We decided to wait for the fireworks that started at 10 pm. They were magnificent over The Falls, but unfortunately they didn’t last long.

Next we tried to find a place to park for the night. Without a GPS or internet access, in such a crowded tourist area, this wasn’t an easy task. We were exhausted. As we drove around we saw a Tim Horton’s in a small shopping strip and decided to stay there. Tim Horton’s and some of the other stores here are open 24 hours.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spirit of Detroit

After we got up and ready to go, we noticed the fridge was out. Bernie checked the propane and realized it was empty. When we went to return the RedBox movies, we saw that the screen had been shot the night before so we couldn’t return the movies.

Bernie went inside Walgreens to borrow the yellow pages to find a place to refill the propane. The clerk knew of a place and wrote down directions for us, that was very helpful and it saved us some time.

We went to find another RedBox and then the U-Haul place to get our propane filled. The guy who helped us, Billy, was very nice and had a lot of questions about our trip and our life on the road.

Next went to see the Heidelberg Project. This project was started by a man who was troubled by the effect of the Detroit riots on his neighborhood. With the help of his wife and grandfather, they cleaned up the vacant lots. Then using the found objects they collected, started transforming the area into a massive art environment.

Everything is decorated here, the houses, the trees, the streets and the sidewalks. We saw everything from stuffed animals hung all over a house, to a sculpture of doors piled high, to shoes stuffed inside a stove. This is truly a unique place.

After that we went to Belle Isle Park, an island park in the Detroit River which is the largest island park in the US. We drove around the whole island looking for the beach. As we got closer we saw a big slide with a pool. It looked really fun so Bernie had to do it. Then she went into Lake Huron for a swim while Mar read her book on the sand.

Then we drove to Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit to see the Michigan Labor Legacy Landmark. This monument has two arches with a gap in between representing the labor movement. Hart Plaza had several other monuments, like an Underground Railroad memorial and a huge sculpture ofa hanging arm with a fist.

We also saw the Spirit of Detroit across the street, a large bronze statue of a seated figure holding in one hand a sphere with rays symbolizing God, and on the other hand, a family group symbolizing all human relationships.

Then we went to check out Mexicantown. We saw several of their stores and had dinner at the Mexicantown Restaurant. We split the trio appetizer for dinner and Mar got one of their homemade tamales. The food was pretty good but the margarita was better. We stayed in their huge parking lot for the night.

Monday, July 27, 2009


We had fun playing tourists today in Ann Arbor MI. We took the tour of Zingerman’s. First we checked out their bakeshop and creamery, which are next door to each other. At the bakeshop wesampled the sour cream coffeecake (their best seller) and the Summer Fling Coffeecake, with lime and coconut. They were both pretty good but too sweet for our taste. At the creamery we sampled the fresh mozzarella cheese. Mar found it delicious but Bernie didn’t like it.

Zingerman’s has a passport for their tour. By collecting signatures on the passport at their four locations, you get a free Zingerman’s tshirt. So we headed to downtown to complete our passports at their restaurant and deli.

Once we had our new tshirts we went to explore downtown Ann Arbor. This is a delightful town. We found Braun Court, with little shops surrounding a courtyard with tables under the shade of trees. Here we went to Common Language, a very cool bookstore where we had a nice chat with the manager. Mar found an anklet here she really liked. She’s been searching for one for a while and finally found the right one.

Across the street, we went to Kerrytown, a unique collection of shops in a three story building. There was a paper shop with beautiful hand made papers and a fresh market with all kinds of goodies. Upstairs there is a store called “Found”, where they sell interesting art made from found objects.

We had dinner at CafĂ© Habana. Bernie had the Cuban sandwich and Mar had the Media Noche. We both agreed that Mar’s sandwich was better. We were just glad to have found this place and be able to eat Cuban food again, it’s been a while.

On the way back to Bella we saw a really cute cake shop and went in. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the owner has been on the Food Network Challenge several times. We got two cupcakes to go, one chocolate on chocolate and one malted chocolate. Unfortunately we were a little disappointed with the cupcakes. They were a bit dry and not very

After that we hit the road again. We drove east about 45 minutes to Detroit MI. We found a Walgreens where got a movie from RedBox and parked for the night.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Beatles

After getting milk and the Sunday paper at Walmart we were ready to go. We drove east about an hour to Kalamazoo MI. First we went to the visitor center in downtown Kalamazoo. The center was closed and so was most of the town.

We then went to Kindleberger Park in Parchment MI, about five minutes away. In summer there are free concerts at the park every Sunday and lucky for us, today’s concert was a tribute to the Beatles.

We got there extra early and got a great parking spot. While waiting for the concert to start, Mar read the Sunday paper and looked online for things to do in Michigan, while Bernie worked on the new jewelry she’s creating.

The concert started at 6:30 pm and there were lots of people. The group is called Shout and they are very good, they even dress like the Beatles and have the same haircuts. The concert was fun, there was crowd participation and we even got up to dance.

After the concert we left Parchment and drove east another hour and a half to Ann Arbor MI. We listened to our Beatles cd while driving and sang along to pass the time. When we got to Ann Arbor it was already late. We found the Zingerman Bakeshop and parked there for the night.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Back to the beach

After our cup of coffee we headed out and drove north about an hour to South Haven MI. We did not take the highway again today. Lately we have done all our driving on back roads. It has been nice to see the small towns and the many farms along the way.

Once there we went to the South Haven Center for the Arts. They have some very quirky exhibits at this time. The one downstairs are sculptures using recycled objects. It’s very interesting to see "art" made from lid rings, plastic bags, hangers, and other common objects. The exhibit upstairs is by an artist who does pictures using hair. Yes, real human hair. It sounds weird but the pictures were quite nice.

There is an Irish store right next door. Bernie is part Irish so of course we had to check it out. It was a very cute store with lots of great gifts. The owner was there and she let us use her hose to fill up our water tank. Then we walked to the visitor center where we got some information about Michigan.

Next we headed to the beach. We were lucky to find parking right next to the sand. We set out to walk down the pier to look at the lighthouse. We sat on the edge and relaxed while taking in the beauty of this place.

We walked back to Bella because we were hungry. After dinner we decided to go for a walk on the beach. By then the sun was going down and it was a bit chilly so we didn’t get in the water but we got our feet wet.

On our way back to Bella it started to rain and we got soaked. After changing, Mar decided to surprise Bernie by going to get ice cream. While we were waiting in line it rained again and everyone tried to huddle under the eves. We split the brownie sundae with chocolate peanut butter ice cream. It was really good.

On the way there we had seen a Walmart just down the street so we decided to go there to park for the night.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Touchdown Jesus

Today we went to the American Countryside Farmers Market in Elkhart IN. This is an indoors market with a food court and two stories of stands selling produce, meats, baked goods, ice cream, clothing, jewelry, antiques, quilts, toys, you name it.

They had free health screenings at the Healthy Living Corner today so we went to have our cholesterol, glucose, body fat, and blood pressure checked. We were especially interested in the cholesterol screening. Mar’s is ok and Bernie still needs to work on lowering hers.

This market is huge and it was a nice place to look around. We got some plums and spinach from the produce stand.

Then we drove west about twenty minutes to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend IN. We went to the visitor center and watched the eleven minute video about the history of the university.

Then we went to see Touchdown Jesus and the Golden Dome. Then Bernie went to mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. She went to the Grotto and drank the water there so maybe it will help her cholesterol.

Next we drove around downtown town a bit and then decided to go to Walmart to park for the night.

New look for Bella and the Road

After a year on the road, it was time to give our blog a new look. Hope you like it!

Please note that if you're reading this blog, this is our secondary blog, our backup blog. This blog is called Bella 'on' the Road.

Our main blog is called Bella 'and' the Road. It is more complete with more pictures, take a look here: Bella and the Road

Once there, scroll all the way down to see the slideshows and please join the Friends of Bella there, we'll appreciate it. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Four Winds

We had a small change in plans. We found out about the free tours at the Four Winds factory and since Bella is a Four Winds, we decided to do that today and check out to the farmers market tomorrow instead.

So we headed to Four Winds and took the tour with five other people, most of them from Florida too.

We saw the A wing, this is where class A motorhomes are made. We really wished we could have seen the class C wing instead. The guide was very nice and it was interesting to see the different stages of building a motorhome.

We haven’t had any luck finding rv junkyards in the area so we went to the parts department at the factory, since we were already there, but they close at 4 pm and the tour was over at 4:30 pm. No luck there either.

We then went to Walmart to get a few groceries, we rented a movie from RedBox, and got gas for $2.33.

Then we went back to the American Countryside Farmers Market, where we parked for the night, so we can go in and see it tomorrow.