On the Saturday morning of Labor Day Weekend, we decided to take a road trip to Niagara Falls. Naturally, we headed to West Virginia to get there. Since we’ve finished the states that surround Wisconsin, we had a long way to drive before we reached our first new county. We stopped in Greenfield, Indiana (just outside of Indianapolis), to have breakfast at Bob Evans. From there, we headed straight for Columbus, Ohio, and then went southeast on HWY 33 out of the city. After driving around Lancaster, we entered Hocking County near the city of Rockbridge – our first new county of the trip. We continued southeast and entered Athens County near Nelsonville. We then headed east, worming our way through some country roads. Near the city of Trimble, we continued east on HWY 329 and entered Morgan County. We then headed south for quite a while. At the city of Hockingport, we followed the Ohio River for several miles. Just south of the city, we crossed into Meigs County.
At this point, we needed to get on the other side of the river to get into West Virginia, but the nearest bridge was 20 miles to the south. Eventually, we crossed and got into West Virginia, entering Jackson County in the process. We then got onto I-77 and headed north into Wood County. A few miles later, we got off the highway at Rockport, headed south on HWY 21 for two miles, and crossed into Wirt County. From there, we turned around, got back on the interstate, and went straight to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Parkersburg-Mineral Wells. For dinner, we had a fabulous Mexican meal at Las Trancas Mexican Cantina. The burritos are huge and tasty. I highly recommend it!
On Sunday, we started the day by doing sort of a triangle to pick up a few more West Virginia counties. The hills and mountains of the state can make it difficult to get from point A to point B, so you often need to travel farther than you would think to get to a nearby county line. We got onto HWY 50 and headed east out of Parkersburg. Staying on HWY 50, we drove through Ritchie, Doddridge, and Harrison Counties. At the border for Harrison County, our GPS diverted us from the original route we’d planned. The new route had a lot fewer windy roads, so we turned around and followed it. Our destination was the city of New Martinsville. We headed northwest and eventually entered Tyler County. Continuing on, we eventually crossed into Wetzel County – our 2,500th county! From there, we entered New Martinsville, crossed the Ohio River to briefly enter the state of Ohio and Monroe County, and then headed back into West Virginia. We hugged the Ohio River (on the West Virginia side) for about 30 miles, picking up Pleasants County – our last new county in West Virginia for the trip. We stopped in St. Mary’s for a quick bite at Taco Bell before crossing the bridge into Ohio again, picking up Washington County. From here, we hopped onto I-77 again and headed north into Noble County – thus finishing Ohio, our 28th state completion.
With our county collecting done for the day, we stopped in Canton to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We were quite surprised to discover that not only are the busts on display, but you can actually touch them. I couldn’t resist placing my Packers cap on Reggie White’s head. Once we left, we headed to our hotel, the Hyatt Place Canton. For dinner, we decided on some endless shrimp at Red Lobster – the same Red Lobster we stopped at during an earlier trip to Canton in 2018.
On Monday, we set out for the highlight of our trip – Niagara Falls. But first we drove north into Cuyahoga National Park – an oddly placed national park in the middle of civilization. There are actually homes and people who live there. You’d never realize you were in a national park if you hadn’t seen the signs proving it. After a quick hike to Brandywine Falls, we drove to Cleveland because we wanted to tour the gigantic memorial of President James A. Garfield. The memorial was closed when we attempted to visit in the winter of 2014. Unfortunately, we struck out again – the memorial is currently closed for restoration. Perhaps we’ll try again in 2032.
Leaving Cleveland, we got onto I-90, but we had two new counties to hit along the way. As we neared the Pennsylvania border, we got off the interstate near Kingsville. We wound through some country roads, entering Crawford County on a gravel road. We then got back onto I-90, stopped to pick up some McDonald’s in North East, then entered New York State. We got off the interstate near Silver Creek, headed a few miles east, and entered Cattaraugus County, our last new county of the trip.
With the county collecting aspect of the trip behind us, we headed straight for Niagara Falls. We’d been to the Falls before, but we had never taken the Maid of the Mist boat tour. So, we remedied that. The tour itself is only about 20 minutes long, but it’s a fantastic 20 minutes. In addition to the Falls, it gave us some great views of rainbows – and double rainbows.
Next, we crossed into Canada via the Rainbow Bridge and drove straight to our hotel – the Walper Hotel in Kitchener. Although we didn’t visit Toronto, we could see it in the distance. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, TWH Social.
On Tuesday, we drove back home. We decided to go through Upper Michigan. The route was about two hours longer on paper, but we probably saved more time than that by not fighting the Chicago traffic. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at Dairy Queen in Imlay City, Michigan, and dinner at Hardee’s in Escanaba, Michigan.
When it was all said and done, we had picked up 18 new counties (including the milestone 2500th) and completed our 28th state. So what's next? Well, we had a trip scheduled for Louisiana and Arkansas in November, However, while I was writing this blog entry, Southwest Airlines had a huge sale (50% off) on airfare. So we cancelled Louisiana and instead decided to take a cheap trip to Hawaii, where we plan to enter one of the most elusive counties in the country. We then booked a trip to Georgia for December. As for the cancelled Louisiana trip, we rescheduled it for March. It was a great sale So stay tuned!