Niagara Falls, Flint Michigan, Concord, Salem and Glastonbury Connecticut

On the way to Niagara Falls I decided to visit Flint, Michigan.008 002


I left Doug’s place in Tamarac Village at lunchtime, bumping to Mary as I walked Alfie prior to leaving. She lives in a mobile home that is bigger than some houses – some mobile homes are really like a tardis.


We then drove past one of the lovely big old houses in the centre of Ludington.


It was raining lightly – I have only had 4 days of rain in 13 weeks so I can’t complain. I warned my faithful travelling companion that we were in for a long trip.004 005 006 009 010 011 My reason for doing a coffee-stop in Flint Michigan was solidarity. Solidarity for these people so let down by the authorities so that they and their children have been poisoned by lead, and lied to.


I have been following the story on the only radio station worth listening to in the USA – National Public Radio: nowhere near as good as the BBC Radio 4 (the gold standard in radio) but it does have some good stories and is better than the rest of the dross you find on the airwaves.


Driving into Flint on the motorway I managed to snap a picture of a water tower from my car. Parking close to the attractive University building I asked someone for a coffee shop and found – fortuitously – 016 017Cafe Rhemak, a really beautiful and trendy coffee place, with a notice on the window that the water was purified.


I told the young guys that I wanted to visit Flint in solidarity – I probably sounded like an weirdo but they thanked me for caring! After all, I guess it is not high on the list of places for tourists to visit these days.


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I walked Alfie down to the river and as we were walking back I saw a TV van. I gestured to the young guy sat there and he opened the door. Turns out, he is the cameraman for Channel 12.


I talked to him about the water issues in Flint and he said they were doing a story on the latest accusation that Flint was neglected because it is 57% black and 41.5% poor. It is called ‘Environmental Racism’ – becoming a legal term (and as a lawyer I am always interested in the legal aspects of issues such as this) and Michael Moore, coincidentally a Flint resident, is convinced of this. Check out his website:


So the television journalist in the back of the van heard me talking to his cameraman and opened the sliding door. He was there preparing his presentation, apologised that he couldn’t talk longer to me as he was on air in 10 minutes and thanked me for my interest, allowing me to take a photo of him at work.


Good luck to the stoic residents of Flint – you deserve so much more. And thanks to Michael Moore for highlighting this issue – the powers that be have drawn the short straw having him as a resident!!019 020 021 024 028 029


Alfie and I then travelled to Niagara Falls – we were going to stop off at Lake Erie but when I left the motorway and started heading off into town I was overwhelmed by the hugeness and industrialisation so, not feeling sleepy, I rejoined the motorway then arrived in Niagara.


I couldn’t work out where the Falls were, so found cars parked outside homes, slid in between, put the shaw up in front of the front seats and went to sleep from 2.30 until 6.30 a.m.

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Waking up I drove to a diner to collect a coffee, asked how to find the Falls – turns out you follow the signs that I hadn’t seen the night before – and ended up on the island park.


Unfortunately, there is a lot of work going on around there so it was difficult to see anything. I drove back on to the other side and parked for 2 hours, walked to the Falls and paid the $1.50 to go down in the elevator and on to the observation platform.


Canada is just across the river. I bumped into a Chinese guy who lives in the USA who was with his sister who doesn’t speak English who was visiting him and was very enthusiastic about him taking lots of photos of her with Alfie, standing, sitting, walking… ! 026It was quite amusing. They were going on the Maid of the Mist but Alfie couldn’t go on it and I wasn’t desperate to go on the boat but did take a picture of it with everyone wearing their wet-weather gear.


Alfie and I had breakfast in the park and then set off to the Gorge which you can walk down. We just stayed on the top of it, looking at the different rocks and then drove to a Starbucks for a coffee and to work out my route from Niagara Falls to Massachusettes.

039 040We arrived in Concord, Mass, at 9.30. After walking around the beautiful little town, checking out a place for breakfast tomorrow, Alfie and I found a street with beautiful New England houses where we could bed down for the night.


At 7.00, Alfie and I left the car and made for Helen’s Diner where I had a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, rye toast, fresh fruit and maple syrup and limitless good coffee. I chatted to several of the other early visitors to the cafe which filled up in no time, with a queue going out the door.


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I was in Concord to visit Walden. For those who do not know Walden, check out   Henry David Thoreau built a little cabin next to Walden Pond, in woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Both of them, along with Louisa M. Alcott (who wrote Little Women) are buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  Thoreau then wrote a book ‘Walden’ which has become oft-quoted.


I loved the peace and quiet at the lake and in the woods. Quotes from Thoreau are dotted everywhere. I chatted to a man fishing there, and then a park ranger who told me that it is insane in the summer with lots of people. I think we were there at a good time.


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Returning to Concord – which is just down the road, we came across an Earth Day celebration and watched it go by, then took photos of the Thoreau house and Louisa M Alcott’s house before heading off for Salem.




First stop – the Salem Witches Museum where they have a really good presentation, with wax figures being lit up, of the Salem Witch Trials which were prompted by the hysteria of young women.


People were hung, unlike in Europe where witches were burnt. The exhibition also emphasised the importance of herbal medicine and of midwives, all of which were regarded with suspicion in times past.


We then looked around the local shops – full of references to witches and magic and a lot of fun.


Salem had a big naval and fishing history – Alfie and I walked on the sea front and then had a coffee before getting in the car and making our way towards Glastonbury, Connecticut. I met Michael in Savannah and enjoyed a walk and meal with him there (see blog on Savannah).067 065 064 066 069 070


Michael lives in a delightful house in the woods – acres of oak and pine trees surround his property.



Michael and Carol – his very lovely partner – live with their 2 elderly dogs that they dote on and create delicious food.



On arrival, I was treated to a succulent steak with mushrooms cooked in Worcester sauce – incredibly flavoursome. Alfie and I enjoyed playing in the garden and then retired to their annexe which is a very comfortable room with TV etc – real luxury!



071 073 075 079 082 083 084 081 080 091 095 098 101 096Alfie and I slept well and appeared at 8.00 to enjoy a cooked breakfast before we went for a walk in the woods around the house.


Mark Twain lived in the area so we drove around Glastonbury: so funny, it has a Somerset Square in town. Glastonbury is named after Glastonbury, Somerset.


We visited the river with the tiny car ferry and looked around the area which is a farming community that still retains stables and small farms, dotted with incredibly beautiful large houses.


At the Mark Twain museum and house in Hartford I learnt that Mark Twain was actually a pen name – a riverboat term meaning ‘safe water’ and that he was actually Samuel Langhome Clemens.


I love his wit – and one of my favourite quotes is:


“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”


We enjoyed looking around the museum and at the house and then returned to the house for another delicious supper of meat balls and baked peppers cooked in garlic and capers.


Michael and Carol have made me and Alfie really welcome and we are both rejuvenated after our days on the road. Tomorrow, 2 May, we head for New York State and the Catskills before arriving in New York on 4 May. 14 weeks on the road will be over.


It will be good to spend some time with Debbie in New York before taking the Queen Mary home.