April 18th - Erie, Pennsylvania to Auburn, New York

The weather has become decidedly colder with the temperature falling to about 5 degrees Celsius. We awoke to light drizzle but reasonably clear skies. The motel did not have any breakfast facilities so we drove a few miles along the lake to a local restaurant. The Americans always seem to do a good cooked breakfast, and this was no exception. Eggs Benedict for me and fried eggs for the others.

Our drive today was along the south shore of Lake Erie to Buffalo, and then on to Niagara Falls. Lake Erie is a huge body of water which freezes over in the winter. Shortly after we left the breakfast restaurant we crossed into New York state, our fifteenth state of the tour. A hundred mile drive along one of New York State's turnpikes brought us to the outskirts of Buffalo. We passed through the centre of the town and then a further twenty miles on we came to the falls. Niagara Falls are one of the great natural wonders of the United States.

Below is a photo of a plan of the falls and you can see my 'navigator, trying to work out how to get the car across!!

With all the rain and melting snow the falls lived up to expectations. You can see the American falls in the foreground and the Canadian falls towards the top right of the photo. In the centre foreground is the frozen spray coating the rocks at the base of the falls.

We walked out to the viewing platform, which is cantilevered out over the Niagara River, and gives a fantastic view of the American side of the Falls. The Canadian Horseshoe Falls are much further away and, to see them fully, you need to cross over into Canada. We did not have the time to do that, but were not disappointed with the view from the American side.

We had made the decision to continue along the south shore of Lake Ontario rather than take the freeway. On the way we stopped in a state park and went down to the shore. A beautiful spot with no one else in sight.

Our drive along the lake was well worth it. One very pretty lakeside village after another. Wonderful houses, both old and new were on each side of the road. Once again we encountered very little traffic, making the journey so much more enjoyable. Lake Ontario is about 150 miles long and 50 miles wide. It is up to 800 feet deep and according to the information notice in the state park the water 'turns over' once every 6 years. We then drove about 50 miles south-east to the small town of Auburn.

Auburn is just west of Syracuse, one of the largest towns in Upper New York State. Tomorrow we drive up into the Adirondack Mountains on our way to the state of Maine and the easternmost point of our trip. Here in Auburn there is quite a lot of snow and we are expecting more as we drive into the mountains.

April 19th - Auburn, New York to Essex, Vermont

Another bright and sunny day as we left Auburn for our drive across the Adirondack Mountains of Upper New York State. To start with we drove by the 'finger' lakes near Auburn, so called because they are a series of long thin lakes.

Everywhere there was snow, often quite deep, and the lakes were either completely frozen over or with small areas of open water. Winter is definitely still here in New York.

We drove round Syracuse and then about 50 miles north we entered the Adirondack National Park. This is an area of over 6 million acres, with much of it pristine wilderness. Our drive took us past one frozen lake after another with pine clad mountains all around.

A staggeringly beautiful drive and one which we will remember for a long time.

After about 100 miles we came to Lake Placid, the site of two Winter Olympics; in 1928 and 1980. After Lake Placid we descended from the high mountain areas to Lake Champlain. The lake is the boundary for much of the New York/Vermont border and we took the car ferry across the southern part of the lake into Vermont.

From there our drive took us up the eastern side of the lake to our hotel outside Burlington, one of the largest towns in Vermont. We are staying at The Inn at Essex which describes itself as Vermont's Culinary Resort.

This is because it houses the New England Culinary Institute. This evening we are going to sample some of their wares!

We have now driven over 5,700 miles and by the time we reach our finish we estimate a total distance of about 6,500 miles.

April 20th - Essex, New Hampshire to Kennebunkport, Maine

Two things happened yesterday that I should mention. The first was that both Bob and I were stopped for the first time on the tour for speeding! We were not travelling together but were both pulled up by police using radar driving in the opposite direction and then stopping us. Luckily we were only given a warning and told to keep to the limits. Secondly, yesterday evening we had one of the finest meals any of us has ever had. The hotel, as I mentioned yesterday, is part of the new England Culinary Institute, and they produced for us a meal that was simply superb. We could not believe our luck in finding such an amazing gastronomical experience. If anyone reading this blog is thinking of visiting New England, then you MUST visit the Inn at Essex in Vermont!

Back to today's drive. This morning we woke to bright sunshine and beautiful blue skies. Our drive took us first to the state capital, Montpelier. We drove on the Interstate highway through lovely scenery with pine trees and rolling hills.

In the centre of Montpelier is a very impressive State Capital building which has a golden dome.

The town was a very interesting and is beautifully situated in the middle of pine clad hills and frozen lakes. We then drove about 50 miles to cross into our seventeenth state, New Hampshire. We then turned off the Interstate highway and took to the back roads for the drive across New Hampshire. We drove into Cardigan State Park and after a few miles the tarmac road ended and we drove on gravel through quite dense pine forests.

Thick snow was on either side of the track and not long after beginning the of the track we came up behind a snow plough clearing the road.

The drive through the park continued for about 15 miles before we returned to the road heading for Concord, the state capital of New Hampshire. Another 75 miles and we came to Portsmouth on the Atlantic coast . We then crossed the state line into Maine, our eighteenth state of the tour. We drove to, Ogunquit, one of the small towns on the Atlantic coast, and took the photo below of our car parked next to the ocean.

I looked at the speedometer and it read 6001 miles since we left California, three weeks ago. We asked one of the visitors to the beach to take our photo and Suzanne, who was from a town near Montpelier in Vermont, kindly agreed to do this for us. Thanks Suzanne.

It was a great feeling to think that we had actually crossed from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast.

Our hotel in Kennebunkport was just a few miles further on. Bob and Thelma arrived a few minutes after us, having taken a different route from Essex. We all then went for a short walk in the town. Whilst on our walk we met Beth walking her two lovely looking Labradors, or are they golden retrievers? Apologies Beth if I have it wrong!

We are staying here in Kennebunkport for at least one more night before we head back west to finish the tour at Jim and Leejun Taylor's house in Saratoga Springs, New York.

April 21st - Kennebunkport, Maine

As we are staying two nights here in Kennebunkport we didn't need to have an early start. Bob was keen to see the Kennebunkport Tramway Museum. Unfortunately, the museum is closed until the beginning of May, but luckily a very friendly volunteer at the museum offered to show us some of the trams that were not in locked sheds.There were many different trams on display, including this one that I did not manage to find any information about..

There was also a 1924 tram that was a gift from the Mayor of Blackpool to the museum.

We left Bob and Thelma at the museum as we were keen to explore the coast as well as seeing the lighthouses that Maine is famous for. We drove a few miles north to Prout's Neck a promontory that has beautiful homes built all along its shores. From there we drove a few miles to the entrance to Portland Harbour and looked at the longest operational lighthouse in the US, the Portland Head.

It was built in 1791 on the authorisation of George Washington. An interesting museum told the history of the lighthouse and of the many wrecks that have fallen foul of the Maine weather and the treacherous coastline.

We then drove into Portland to visit the Portland Art Museum that is home to many paintings by American artists. We were particularly keen to see the museum's collection of Winslow Homer paintings. Homer spent much of his life in Maine and we learnt that he had a studio on Prout's Neck. The Dulwich Picture Gallery recently had an exhibition of his work so it was fascinating to come to the state where he worked and to actually see the place that was the inspiration for many of his paintings.

We spent the next couple of hours exploring the coast south of Portland and walked down to the beach at a place called Old Orchard.

Scattered on the sand were thousands of clams that had been washed up in the recent terrible storms that have hit Maine.

When we were in Chicago we saw news reports from this area that showed houses being washed into the sea. All along the coast we saw signs of the very high tides that accompanied the storms as well as the damage done to roads and houses.

The final part of the tour took us through Kennebunk, the town just inland from Kennebunkport. As we drove out of the town we went through an area of very large colonial style houses.

Another great day as we near the end of our trip.

April 22nd - Kennebunkport, Maine to Bennington, Vermont

Once again we have been blessed with wonderful weather. The temperature is in the high 70's and forecast to get even hotter in the next day or so.

Bob & Thelma have decided to head towards Cape Cod for the final night of the tour, before we arrive at Jim & Leejun Taylor's house for three nights, whilst we hare driving about 200 miles due eat to the town of Bennington in Vermont. Before we left Kennebunkport we drove to see the summer residence of former President George Bush Snr. The compound is set on a promontory and is guarded by Federal security men. Apparently, George and Barbara Bush are keen and active supporters of the local community.

We then did some shopping in the town and we bought a print of the coastline done by a local artist, Will Cunha.

We took the freeway south and then turned east as we left Maine, entered New Hampshire and then Vermont. We had lunch in the small town of Keene. We visited one of the covered bridge just south of town which are being restored and have become visitor attractions.

We then drove to the town of Brattleboro through wonderful wooded scenery. We discovered that Rudyard Kipling lived for 20 years at Dummerston, a village north of Brattleboro.

It was at Dummerston that he wrote the Jungle Books. We had to drive along dirt tracks to see his house, but it was well worth it. Because my my mother as a young child looked like the Mowgli, Kipling's character from the Jungle Book, it was a special moment for me to look at the house where he had written the books.

We continued our drive on via Hog Back Mountain, where we looked out over wooded hills to three states: New York, Vermont & Massachusetts.

Our final destination was Bennington near the state border with New York. We were staying at the Four Chimneys Hotel.

This is an old house, converted into a small hotel, with 12 rooms. Set in 11 acres it was a marvellous place to end our day.

April 23rd - Bennington, Vermont to Mayfield, New York

Today was our last day of driving. We can't believe that it is now four weeks since we left Malibu. We have driven over 6,400 miles, visited 18 states and gone from the Pacific to the Atlantic. What a wonderful experience it has been.

We left our hotel, The Four Chimney Inn, and drove to the Bennington Monument.

This colossal obelisk, over 300ft tall and the highest structure in Vermont, was built at the end of the 19th century to commemorate the victory over the British at the Battle of Bennington during the War of Independence. There is a lift inside the monument, but sadly there was a power failure and we were unable to go to the top and see the three states visible; Vermont, Massachusetts and New York.

Just around the corner from the monument was the Bennington Museum. Here they have a display, dedicated to Grandma Moses who was a local resident. The exhibition is housed in the old schoolhouse she used. It was moved from its original location in a town near Bennington, to the museum.

Grandma Moses came to fame in the 1940'a for her paintings that depicted rural life in Vermont. She lived to over 100 and has become one of the most renowned American 20th century artists. Next door to the museum is the church where Robert Frost, the American poet, is buried.

Unfortunately the church was locked so we couldn't see the inside but we were able to see Frost's grave.

We then went to the Park-McCullough mansion, a fine example of 19th century American architecture.

The mansion was built by a 19th century lawyer who made his money in the gold rush. It was the former residence of two governors of Vermont.

Nearby were three more covered bridges. We have now found out that they were built this way to give the bridges protection from the weather.

We left Bennington for Saratoga Springs, just across the border, in New York state. Saratoga Springs is famous for its spring water as well as horse racing, It was a favourite recreational area in the early 20th century. The drive then took us the final 30 miles to where Jim and Leejun Taylor live in Mayfield on the shore of lake Sacandaga.

Above is the view across the lake from their back garden. A wonderful location.

April 24th - Mayfield, New York

Our first full day here with Jim and Leejun. The weather continues to be fine, though the temperature has fallen from the high eighties we had yesterday.

Jim & Leejun had planned a full day of visits for us. First off was a tour of Jim's truly incredible collection of cars. We followed him in his Ferrari Super America, one of only 100 imported into the United States.

A fine prelude to visiting his truly incredible collections of cars. He has over 100, with wonderful examples of many great Jaguars, Aston Martins, Maseratis, Fords, Chevy Corvettes and numerous other makes of car from all over the world. He insists on driving them, and they are all kept in full road running order.

A stunning Maserati Ghibli, with Jaguar E Types and S Types in the background.

Amongst the Jaguars he has a very rare blue 1955 'D'Type No.515.

The cockpit of the D Type.

A pristine Jaguar XK220, with the D Type (bonnet/hood up) in the background.

This is a beautiful 1931 Cadillac, in front of his extensive range of American made cars from the 20's, 30's and 40's. You may be able to pick out the 1946 Buick 'Woody' on the far right.

The three of us, Bob, Jim and myself discussing the Cadillac

More early American cars.

One of the large collection of Aston Martins.

We then went on to see his manufacturing business, the Taylor Made Corporation. No, not golf clubs, but the largest manufacturer of windscreens for yachts and boats in the world. He has factories in the US, Ireland, UK, Australia and New Zealand. We were given a complete tour of the factory seeing how the windscreens are made. Close by is another large factory where they manufacture accessories for boats like fenders and boat covers. In fact, they have over 20,000 different product items. It is a very impressive operation and is the largest employer in the Gloversville region of New York state.