Day 1: Saturday, September 15 – NJ to Niagara Falls

Launch from Jersey

  • We’re on our way!
  • A woman we asked to take our launch photo turns out to be a professional photographer
  • A nice man paid for our parking sticker
  • Almost ran out of gas on I90
  • Were the only native English-speakers on the Maid of the Mist
  • Saw multiple full arch rainbows in Horseshoe Falls

Jersey Junction

So, we decided to talk to people along our journey about our home state, New Jersey. After viewing the Falls on the Maid of the Mist, we found our first prospects to talk to about Jersey and, surprise surprise, they’re from Jersey! They are an adorable young couple who spend their free time doing salsa dancing. Who knew?

Sue with Jersey Salsa Dancers


We made our way to the home of the original Buffalo chicken wings, the Anchor Bar. We bellied up to the bar for some beers and a bucket of Buffalo’s best. Here we met our new BFFs, Canadians Terri and Jodi.

Our Canadian BFFs

We asked them for their thoughts about New Jersey. “We think it’s dirty but so is Buffalo.” You gotta love it!


Local fare sampled: chicken spiedies, original Buffalo chicken wings (medium hot), Genny Cream Ale

Buffalo Wings


Car snacks consumed provided by friends: way too many chocolate covered nuts

Theme of the Day


Signing off,
T and L – Jersey Strong

Day 2: Sunday, September 16 – Niagara Falls to Erie, PA


  • Yoga with Rodney Yee in the room
  • Strolled along Canadian side of Niagara Falls; water is surprisingly blue-green
  • Visited Jamestown, NY, birthplace of America’s favorite redhead, Lucille Ball. Fun Facts: Lucille (as they refer to her in Jamestown) went to vaudeville shows with her grandfather in Jamestown which inspired her to pursue an acting career in NYC.

    Shopping for Lucy memorabilia

  • Outside the Desi and Lucy Museum in Jamestown, NY
  • Jamestown is an impeccably maintained small city but we were asked by a toothless young woman for a quarter. A quarter? Really?
  • Chautauqua and the Institute – utterly fascinating. Reminiscent of Ocean Grove, NJ and Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Utopian community from the late 1800’s. Seems to have stopped in time.


  • Concord grapes in Westfield, NY – home of juice king Dr. Welch

    Concord grapes for Welch’s!

  • Dinner at Pufferbelly Restaurant in Erie, PA – an old fire house converted to a fascinating eatery. Refreshing Railbender Ale & Presque Isle Pilsner, both by the Erie Brewing Company

Jersey Junction

Glenda with our waitress and bullseye jumping tarp

Today’s Jersey Junction is brought to you by Melissa our waitress, born, bred and still living in Erie PA. Melissa has never been to New Jersey but when we asked her what was the first thing she thought of about Jersey, she said “old school Italians”. Not the answer we expected but a good one!

So tomorrow we will head to the Little Italy of Erie, PA.



Day 3: Monday, September 17 – Erie, PA to Cleveland, OH


  • Walked along Erie Bayfront. Stopped for coffee at bait and tackle shop..chatted with “Elmer”, Erie old timer.
  • Visit to Erie’s Little Italy—pizza supply/bakery/deli/salumeria/grocery store. Bought biscotti, apple tart and the world’s largest Italian sub on a giant loaf of fresh bread with hot peppers of course!
  • Photo op in Erie Little Italy renewal effort..murals, signage and we met the community garden caretaker.
  • Onto Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Highlights (and there were many): Al Green’s white leather rope fly tight pants with pink and green flower vines … SWEET….love Soul Stirrers blues gospel early influencers. Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Jagger sequined jumpsuits and frilly tops!! Boss Bruce was everywhere!!
  • A night cap game of…yes…..Bowling!!!…One of Cleveland’s fun sports. Woo hoo!!!!

By Lake Erie


Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame


Bowling in Cleveland


Sandwich from Erie’s Little Italy


Jersey Junction

As we walked to the R&RHOF from our hotel, we encountered a chatty fellow hotel guest, from across Lake Erie in Canada. We certainly learned a lot about him and his town Leamington. When we were finally able to squeak in that we were from New Jersey, he said he thought we were from Pennsylvania and then turned and bolted ahead of us no more chat. Go Jersey!!!!

Theme of the Day 

As David Bowie sang, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”… all along Lake Erie.

Day 4: Tuesday, September 18 – Cleveland, OH to Marshall, MI

Seems like a hundred years ago we were in Niagara Falls…..

  • First day of rain..big rain.  Yoga with Rodney.

Ominous sky


  • Full breakfast and on the road, Rte 80/90 toward Indiana and Michigan.  Listening to new CDs purchased at the R&RHOF: American Roots music.  blues/bluegrass/country/gospel/cajun/zydeco etc etc.  We belted out along especially with the gospel favorite Ezekial Saw the Wheel and Dry Bones.
  • Rain rain off and on and an autumn chill in the air, we arrived at the National House Inn, Marshall MI – adorable B&B.

  • Self-guided walking tour of Marshall and its historical late 1800’s houses and buildings.
  • Cocktail hour/dinner at the Dark Horse Brewery–cool–the regulars have their own personal mugs hanging from the ceiling for their use.  Delicious micro brewery hand-crafted beers and good Michigan company to boot.


  • Met Thomas a local retired and then re-employed tail pipe maker.


Jersey Junction

After arriving at the National House Inn, we went into the dining room for tea and cookies.  In walked a couple asking “who went to Tufts?”.  Judy, class of ’71, and her husband Jack from Illinois are touring around Michigan too.  How funny to run into a fellow Jumbo in the midwest!  Jersey Junction?? Judy lived in Lincoln Park, NJ working for an insurance company after graduating Tufts.  Go Jersey!!  Go you Jumbos!!

Sue, Jack and Jumbo Judy


Theme of the Day

Small town America

Next Up: Glen Arbor/Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

Day 5: Wednesday, September 19 – Marshall, MI to Glen Arbor, MI / Sleeping Bear Dunes

  • Morning walk along the Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo River.

  • Waved good-bye to Jumbo Judy and hit the road for the 4 hour trek to Michigan’s North Country.
  • The Beatles and “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” accompanied us on the ride.
  • The afternoon at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was all about the views of the turquoise Lake Michigan and the amazing sand dunes.  This ain’t no Detroit!!  More like the Caribbean meets Lawrence of Arabia!


Jersey Junction
Today, Patty the National Park Service (NPS) Ranger, posted at the entrance to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, takes her job seriously scrutinizing Glenda’s park pass and ID.  Seeing a Jersey driver’s license she revealed that she too had been a Jersey Girl.  She was posted at Jockey Hollow in Morristown and lived in Livingston for a couple of years.  NPS Rangers in Jersey??  What???

Patty’s booth sans Patty

We also met a newlywed couple from Michigan at a scenic overlook.  The bride was adorable, gushing and keen to show us her i-phone wedding pics.  The groom didn’t speak.  Sound familiar anyone?  Their neighbors from NJ are watching their house.  See?  Jersey people can be helpful and responsible too!!!
Theme of the Day:

Shadows in sand


Day 6: Thursday, September 20 – Glen Arbor, MI and the North Country

  • Breakfast with our fellow B&B residents followed by yoga with Rodney.
  • Off to Sleeping Bear Dunes for the 3.0 mile Dunes Trail hike. Sand, dunes, vast open spaces, rolling hills, beach grasses waving, and glorious views of Lake Michigan. Wiggled our toes in Lake Michigan which was cold but not frigid.


  • Next, off to old fishing town of Leland, MI. Walked around town and yes, did some shopping! Old fish town shacks now have some cute shops. Checked out Carlson’s fish house – sampled the fish sausage – surprise, we loved it!


  • Headed further north to Northport and onto Sutton’s Bay, all towns on Lake Michigan. These towns remind us of a much lower key Nantucket or Hamptons area. Sutton’s Bay was hosting an antique car show with many parked on the street. Cool!


  • Did you know Michigan produces wine? Similar to the Finger Lakes area of NY, the Michigan North Country is home to many a vineyard. We tried out Black Star Farms vineyard. Tasting and buying. Pretty good! Mario Batali is a local fan.
  • Last stop was at Cherry Republic. Michigan is possibly the largest cherry producer in the world. In our little B&B town, there is the retail homage to all things cherry. More shopping. Yum!


Jersey Junction
At the Black Star Farms vineyard tasting center, our server/advisor was Kevin. When asked what came to mind when asked about Jersey, he’s reminded of happy days at the beach in Ocean City where he spent some time as a kid. Here’s a nice story from Kevin: About 50 years ago his uncle went on a high school trip to Ocean City and lost his high school ring in the sand at the beach. His uncle died in his 40’s. Flash forward some years and Kevin’s dad (the uncle’s brother) gets a call from a Jersey woman whose husband had found a high school ring at the beach. She tracked down Kevin’s father in the Philly area and returned the ring by mail. Kevin’s dad sent it on to his nephew. What a sweet story! Jersey people done good.
Theme of the Day
Fruit! Grapes, cherries, apples, pears

Are the grapevines decorated for Halloween? No, it’s netting to protect the grapes from hungry starlings…


Next Up

Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan

Day 7: Friday, September 21 – Glen Arbor, MI to Grand Rapids, MI

  • Morning walk to lake’s edge in Glen Arbor; breakfast at Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast
  • Headed south towards Grand Rapids and passed a veritable parade of antique cars headed north. Lots of Model-Ts and tin lizzies.

  • Drove to Lake Michigan to the home of Sue’s new BFF, Tinker. Sue’s son Mac and Tinker’s son Nick, became friends their first day at Tufts. Sue and Tinker met for 20 minutes at the matriculation event, discussed the upcoming cross-country travels and Tinker promptly invited us to stay with her in Michigan. Imagine her surprise when Sue texted her and said, “We’re here in Michigan! Can we come over?”. Tinker, recovering from her shock, graciously invited us to stay.

Tinker and Sue


  • Annually, Grand Rapids hosts an art contest called ArtPrize. Artists from all over the world display their work and compete (based on public voting) for a $250,000 prize given by the heirs of Amway. We went to several of the venues, checked out their works, voted, and thoroughly enjoyed the public art display.

A portion of “Still Point by Gwendolyn Terry


  • After dinner downtown, we managed to get our mugs on the 11:00 news (Today Show-style), went home, offered our decorating advice and rearranged all Tinker’s first floor furniture. She still let us stay.
Jersey Junction
  • Tinker is originally from NJ – born and raised in New Vernon. No wonder she’s so nice!
  • At dinner, Tinker told us a fascinating Jersey story. A relative, Hiram Blauvelt, was the son of a wealthy coal businessman. Not having to work, Princeton-educated, Rhodes-scholar Hiram traveled the world as a big-game hunter and became a wildlife art collector. When he died his estate, which included a carriage house-full of wildlife art and taxidermy specimens, was left to a foundation that Tinker’s father and family would manage. A visit to the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, NJ will definitely be on our must-see list when we’re back home.

Theme of the Day: Art

Next Up: Madison, Wisconsin

P.S. This Michigan weather is wild and wacky. So changeable! Reminds us of weather in New England!

Day 8: Saturday, September 22 – East Grand Rapids, MI to Madison, WI

  • Off we go after a quick photo op at….Jersey Junction…in E. Grand Rapids.  En route to Madison, WI home of Glenda’s niece Laura and her roommate Cory.

A 4 state trek: MI, IN,IL, WI.

  • Crazy gas stop on the border of IN and IL.  There must have been 24 pumps and 100 cars lined up every which way facing all directions, backing up, inching forward, turning around and then parking at the pumps for what seemed like hours .  Later we discovered that the gas there at our chosen Shell station was a full 30 cents per gallon cheaper than other area stations.  Frank, Value Man would be proud!!
  • Stop for Teutonic fare in Rockford, IL: Der Rathskeller


  • Arrive in Madison–Badger Land!  Tour the campus and the local town.  A sea of red sweatshirts everywhere!  Badgers win over UTEP.  All good in the cheese state.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant with Laura, her dad Dave and roommate Cory.  Sue tried her first cheese curds!!  Yummy!!
Jersey Junction
Laura, as a transplant from Jersey, is often teased by her midwestern friends about being from Jersey and all that goes with it.  According to them she is confrontational, outspoken and independent thinking. When she spoke up to a waiter about the awful service her friends were horrified.  Now the new phrase is: Laura are you going to go Jersey on us?  Show some Jersey attitude!
Jersey Rules!!!
P.S. Cory, from northern Wisconsin, thinks midwesterners would actually like to be a little more Jersey!
Theme of the Day
Next up: South Dakota here we come!!


Day 9: Sunday, September 23 – Madison, WI to Fairmont, MN

  • Started with excellent bagels, just like home!
  • We deflated the bed

unplanned matchy matchy…

  • First stop, La Crosse, Wisconsin which took its name from the Indian game.
  • Headed from there to view the World’s Largest 6-Pack, so big that the beer would provide one person a 6-pack a day for 3,351 years! (Steve – take note for potential icon for new Gansett RI brewery).  We were sorry it was Sunday and there were no brewery tours. Amazingly, we weren’t the only disappointed tour seekers (there were actually others traveling to the giant 6-pack, camera in hand).

Lots o’ beer from City Brewery

  • Our final stop in La Crosse was Grandad’s Bluff for a great view of the 3 rivers, 2 of which we don’t know! But the big one was the Mississippi. Standing in La Crosse, WI we looked across the rivers at Iowa and Minnesota.

Mississippi and 2 unknown rivers (you can look it up)

  • Onward via I90 West – cheese curds snacks cooled by our very “cool” Coleman car plug-in fridge. Corn, corn, soybeans, soybeans, flatness, more corn. Beautiful.

Sunset on I90 West

  • Arrived at Blue Earth, Minnesota to take in the glory that was the 55 foot tall Jolly Green Giant. Enough said.

Sue as JGG

Jolly Green Giant
  • Stop for the night in Fairmont, Minnesota Hampton Inn. We learn that 4 other guests are on cross-country trips. Wow.
Jersey Junction
Our waitress at the new, locally-owned, Bean Town Grill has never been east of Wisconsin. When asked about NJ, she came up with 2 thoughts. 1. Good Will Hunting. Does that have anything to do with Jersey? 2. She recalled an acquaintance she met while living in Arizona. From somewhere in NJ that began with N-e-w-… New Providence? New Brunswick? New Vernon? Further questioning revealed the person to be somewhat troubled, possibly drug-addled, and possibly a former gang member. Newark, we asked? A tough town? That’s it!!! Did he have an accent, we asked? Oh yes, she replied, saying it just like she was Marge of the movie “Fargo”. Cory Booker – there’s a little more work to do! There is, though, a good ending, complete with reform and redemption for her friend.
Theme of the Day: Vegetables
Up Next: Badlands, South Dakota

Day 10: Monday, September 24 – Fairmont, MN to Badlands National Park – Interior, SD

  • Morning…ball of confusion…We temporarily lost the following: an envelope of cash; Glenda’s eyeglasses; Glenda’s sunglasses; Sue’s cell phone; Sue’s sunglasses; Sue’s cell phone charger (sadly, permanently lost); Glenda’s camera.  Went to the gas station-more ball of confusion-we Jersey girls don’t pump gas!!  What’s with this diesel gas, ethanol 10%, ethanol 85%, unleaded regular nowhere in sight? All very confusing which made for a late start. 

The gas station incident

  • Back on I-90 to South Dakota.  We learned that South Dakota all along I-90 is the ticky tacky kitschy capital of America.  Yay!!  We found a giant cow statue at the Land O Lakes building.

Is that a wave or a signal for help?

Glenda surveying the big bovine

  • On to Mitchell (shout out thanks to Kathy B for this recommendation) to view the Corn Palace.  Spectacular!!  It is an arena with its outside walls all decorated using corn husks, cobs and other plant and grain material.  Doris Gerlach, our hostess, told us they get 600 visitors a day in the off season…and buses from Australia!!!

Glenda with Doris, corn volunteer

This year’s theme is “Youth Activities”

Halloween mural made of corn cobs

  • Happily, in Mitchell and further along I-90 we also found a corn cob, a big steer, and a junk art sculpture park on the highway to photograph.

Sue and Glenda pose with a happy cob of corn

Giant steer

Some guy’s enormous sculptures in a field along I-90

  • Continuing on toward the Badlands–scenic landscapes and signs galore.  Stopped to pick up groceries in Murdo.

  • Finally…exit 131 off I-90 toward the Badlands National Park.  Before we arrive at the beautiful park we get to see the giant prairie dog statue.  Phew!!!  We have not, however, seen a live one yet.

Oversize prairie dog

  • Badlands National Park: crazy beautiful landscape.  Our cabin is unexpectedly new, charming, made of cedar wood with western decor.

Jersey Junction

No Jersey stories today.  We think that is because the entire day was just, as noted above, a big ball of confusion.  Jersey girls pumping gas and cleaning the windshields?  It was all just wrong.  We did meet a woman in Mitchell from Massachusetts and a man from Connecticut took our picture at the cabin.  Close but no cigar.  We’ll look forward to getting back on track with Jersey tomorrow.


Theme of the Day:  Ball of confusion

Next up: Another day at the Badlands.