Route 66’s Chain of Rocks Bridge, Madison Illinois

Privately built as a toll bridge across the Mississippi River in 1929, The “Chain of Rocks” was part of the designated Route 66 city bypass beginning in the late 1930’s, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. When you see it, the reason why the bridge was retired is obvious, it’s only wide enough to allow a single line of cars headed in one direction to pass over it at a time. As vehicles are no longer allowed over the bridge, it is now (by default) one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges.

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It’s name comes from its location along the river. Previous the 1960’s when the United States Army Corps of Engineers built a low water dam to correct the problem, this area was actually the sight of river rapids that made navigating this stretch of Ol’ Man River very dangerous indeed.

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That said, when the bridge first became the designated bypass, the Route 66 traffic that WAS willing to pass through downtown initially took the more southerly MacArthur Bridge, located just south of where the I-55 crosses the Mississippi… although that only the first of the bridges, as route 66 traffic was continually being re-routed….

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As I’ve said repeatedly, when you are in this part of the country, being able to “drive 66” becomes a questions of WHICH 66 you want to travel on… there is not just one… simply to cross the river there are FIVE different options.

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… the best place to access the bridge is on the East/Illinois side of the Mississippi rather than West/Missouri side. On the east side there’s easy parking dedicated to those wishing to walk across the bridge (with I might add police protection there around sundown), while on the west side there is no dedicated parking lot

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When you first approach this area (heading west) you’ll pass over a shorter, cars traveling in one direction at a time, bridge that is still functional. This one takes you from the Illinois side to Chouteau, a man-made Island that when I was driving through it seemed like it was being used as garbage dump, but apparently its being converted into a recreational area. You then drive to the other side of the island, directly into the parking lot for the Chain of Rocks bridge.

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If you look at google maps, the area directly after the gate (behind me) is green on the map… it’s not land so much as it’s swamp. As I mentioned before this section of the river was called chain of rocks because it was shallow enough that it had rapids before the corps of engineers fixed things… this was done in part by digging out the middle of the river, and this island was created with the mud …. but the first section of the Chain of Rocks passes over “land” that is still shallow and swampy

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After you’ve walked for a bit — and its was a very lonely walk (it actually made me very nervous walking across it by myself, as it could have just been me and G-d knows whom else on the bridge, in a location where there’s no one to hear you scream) you finally pass the swamp land into the wide River

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A 2nd word of warning… This bridge see’s so little traffic that the spiders seem to have taken over ownership of the place and humans are just intermittent visitors. It’s not just spider webs along the sides, as that is to be expected.

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Rather, it’s that as you along it every second or third step you find yourself walking into yet another strand of spider silk … as in THOUSANDS of them live here — this is NOT a place for anyone suffering from Arachnophobia.

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Over the course of the whole walk I saw only 6 people… one middle-aged woman walking alone (which made me feel much more secure) the group of three young people walking towards me in this shot, and then as I was leaving, middle aged couple who were smoking pot.

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And from the above photos you get a sense of just how far from downtown St. Louise the bridge is…. that odd-looking thing is the Gateway Arch from a bit of an angle.

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And no, I didn’t get all the way to the bend, the sun was going down and I was worried about getting caught out there when it started going dark.

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Kakabeka Falls, in Oliver Paipoonge Ontario, Canada

Nicknamed “the Niagara of the North” Kakabeka Falls is located on the Kaministiquia River, 30 miles west of Thunder Bay Ontario, in the municipality of Oliver Paipoonge Ontario Canada. At a height of 154 feet with a drop of 130 feet, it is the largest waterfall in the Lake Superior Watershed.

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Kinniwabi Pines Restaurant, in Michipicoten, Ontario Canada

The Kinniwabi Pines Restaurant is located on the Trans-Canadian Highway, Route 1, in Michipicoten, Ontario Canada, and based on the reviews is hands down the best restaurant in the area, if you don’t include chains…

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I was staying up the road and according to Yelp, this was the best restaurant in the area where I had a decent chance of getting a healthy meal… and there was BISON on the menu!!!! Love me my bison.

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My first impression was this restaurant couldn’t make up its mind about what it wanted to be. Take a look at the menu offerings… at best they seem to want to be all things to all people… There’s German, Polish, Italian, American, Chinese, Caribbean, and lord only knows what offered on the menu

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Unfortunately, not only were they out of the Bison, according to the waitress they’d not had it in a while and she wasn’t sure why it was still on the menu… grrrrrr….

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The tomato soup was offered to everybody as free with our dinner — mostly I think because it was a full hour wait between when I ordered and when they brought me my food. I talked to some locals and they said this is normal at that restaurant, so if you know this about your chef, if DON’T at least dull the customer’s hunger with some free soup, odds are you won’t have many.

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So my dinner, because there was no bison, was the grilled trout– The fish was supposed to come with dill potatoes and some other stuff I couldn’t eat, but they modified it to meet my needs. That said, the food was very good… but clearly the chef has no idea how to cook quickly. So it’s a good thing he hasn’t much competition in the area.

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Because the wait was SO long… I asked them if I could wander around their patio and garden while the food was being made, and could they come out and get me….

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While they do have a beautiful view and garden — what they did not have was any Wi-Fi … which is particularly egregious as there isn’t any 3G or anything in this town. So all in all, its supposed to be the best place in town, but be ready for a VERY long wait

River rafting on the Thompson River, east of Lytton British Columbia

As I was driving along the Trans-Canadian Highway, Route 1, I spotted a bunch of cars pulled to the side of the road and people alongside a wall, looking out at the river, so I stopped… River Rafting…

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I admit, this is one of those bucket list things I didn’t do when young, that I’m physically incapable of doing now that I’m old…

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Height of Land, Arctic/Atlantic Watershed, Huronian, ON

There are a whole bunch of continental divide points in north America, this is along Tran-Canadian Highway (route 1)

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Map from wikipedia

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I was kind of amazed by the rock around here… there was black shiny rock embedded into what almost looked like maybe it was marble. I collected smaller stones to take to Chicago to put on my father’s grave.

Fort Hope National Historic Site of Canada, Hope, BC

I traveled through Fort Hope back on July 30, 2016 on my way east to Stratford Canada for the Theater Festival, but never got around to posting the photos… my bad…  The Fort Hope National historic site was at first a trading post, but a year later because of the explosion of the population due to the Fraser River gold rush in 1858, was designated to be a town. Apparently Hope contains what is now the oldest church in Canada, but I didn’t stop to see it. That said, this town is in a BEAUTIFUL spot!!!

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The wind here was VERY strong during my visit, but according to a local I spoke to it’s always like that because Hope is the meeting point between the warm winds of the mainland and the cool winds from Ocean.

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My friend’s neighborhood in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island Canada

For close to three years I had been sharing an office at the University in South Korea with a Canadian woman from Vancouver Island who had been telling me over and over how beautiful her hometown was and how I should visit.

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About a year after my father died, bringing me back to the states, she too had returned to her home town … but for a job.

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The view from my friend’s living room window, in JUNE (yup, that’s snow on that mountain)

The road trip I did which started in Chicago, followed I-90/94 to Glendive, Montana, and then headed northwest to Glacier National Park, and then cut straight north to Calgary, and then west on Canada’s Route 1 (see my clickable map) was all about getting a chance to visit her in her hometown.

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SEALS!!!

One of my friend’s favorite things is walking her dogs along the beach… can you blame her? WAY better than along some city street

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It’s hard to NOT understand why she loves this place so much, it’s gorgeous and restful and the air is so free of pollution that you can a mountain over a hundred miles away

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A few weeks later a high-school friend of mine from Seattle came to visit, and I took him see where my Canadian friend lives

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