Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mission Accomplished

Capitol and Washington DC visit September 17, 2009 - On Thursday, September 17
we did not bike but instead took the Metro up to the Rayburn Building and visited the Capitol, which included spending some time with our Congressional Representative Todd Tiahrt. After a nice chat we were given a private tour of the Capitol by one of his staff. The tour included sitting in on some voting in the House that involved Pell Grants. Saw a few notable congressmen in addition to Representative Tiahrt, Patrick Kennedy, Henry Waxman, and Barney Frank. Everyone went in different directions on the Mall, Dana and I took in the National Botanical Gardens and the Museum of American History. Here is the Picasa link to the 900 or so pictures I took of our trek.

Washington DC September 16, 2009 - Roger, Braden and I went to Alexandria to pick-up my rental car. Once we all got back to the motel I loaded up my bike and gave Roger, Lynda and Braden over to DC. Roger was having lunch with an old friend who now works as an attorney at the Treasury Department, Braden and Lynda wanted to start their assault on visiting Smithsonian Museums. I dropped them all off close to the White House and Treasury Department Offices and headed to Georgetown. I found the bike shop that someone had recommended, Revolution Cycles, for shipping my bike back to Wichita. I later discovered that Revolution had fitted President Bush for a Trek mountain bike and I believe had some bike related dealings with President Clinton. We got my IF bike ready for shipping and I headed for Pete's Barber Shop in Alexandria in anticipation of Dana's arrival tomorrow and our visit to the Capitol. That evening I took Roger, Braden and Lynda to Alexandria for dinner.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Journey's End

Today at approximately 2:00 p.m. September 15, 2009 our group arrived at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. We covered over 4,000 miles in 89 days from Anacortes, WA to Washington D.C. We have been on bike trails since Pittsburgh, PA first the Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath that terminates in the Georgetown area of Washington D.C. More info after a days rest.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Washington DC - We Are On Our Way

Antietam Creek Campground to Turtle Run Creek Campground September 14 - We are nearing Washington DC, just two more nights on the road. We have been following the canal on one side of the tow path and the Potomac River on the other. The beginning of the C and O canal and Lock #1 are in the Georgetown section of DC, less than 70 miles away, Antietam Creek campground is at mile post 69. Our first destination this morning is Harper's Ferry. When we arrive about 8 miles down the road from Antietam we find that there is no way to take our bikes across the river to Harper's Ferry, so we lock them up and cross on a pedestrian walkway that is part of a rail bridge. There are actually two rail bridges crossing at this point. Harper's Ferry was a very interesting stop, lots of history, museums, shops and educational opportunities. There were a number of students there this day. I took particular interest in the John Brown museum, in fact Lynda, Braden, Roger and I toured the museum and I gained some new perspectives about John Brown. The museum took you through his life but focused mainly on his attack on the United States Arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Some view John Brown as a fanatic, some a hero, some a fanatical hero. To me he was a well intentioned individual but one who let his mission cloud his judgement regarding how to achieve his goal of abolishing slavery. Non-violent civil disobedience was not his style. We toured Harper's Ferry and I took some time to call back to KU and get some updates from Elizabeth. In the process I lost track of time and my fellow riders who were trying to call me but my voice mail box was full. While getting a quick lunch I finally got through to Braden who indicated the group was on the road on their way to White's Ferry. I am still riding well and was able to catch up to group in about a half hour or so. Braden had parked the support truck at White's Ferry so that was our interim destination as we were camping at a remote site about a mile from the truck. Roger and I ended up bombing in again and immediately went to the only cafe at White's Ferry for eats. White's Ferry is actually an operating ferry that crosses the Potomac over to Leesburg, VA. The cafe, Barron's, was pretty good and outside the cafe are flood markers that indicate the Potomac has flooded up to the bottom of the second story of the cafe. This day all was dry, the cafe cook and waitress indicated they had just moved here from Chicago to try there hand at running the place, they were doing a good job and we enjoyed chatting with them. From the cafe we went to the truck to get some food for later tonight and breakfast in the morning. We arrived at the campground to find it very primitive but nonetheless this is our last stop before we hit DC tomorrow. We all cooked out that evening, built a camp fire and reminisced about the ride, tomorrow we arrive at our final destination. Yess!

McCoy Ferry Campground to Antietam Creek September 13, 2009 - Roger, Lynda and I took off first, Braden drove the truck ahead to Antietam to secure a camp spot and then will ride back to us. The path became a little rougher than usual but still acceptable you just have to keep vigilant for anomalies in the pathway (pot holes and tree roots). Roger was quite happy as the sun was shining again. It was a beautiful morning and I am sure everyone spirits were up with gorgeous weather. Somewhere along the way I lost a bag as I had failed to secure one of my panniers properly. I noticed the missing item at one of the scenic locks and dam we stopped at. I decided to retrace my steps as we were only 3.7 miles from camp. Off I went back towards camp disappointed in myself for not closing up the pannier but fortunately I came around a bend about a 1/2 and back to a lock only to see a hiker looking at my bag as he reached to pick it up I called to him that it was mine. I got the bag thanked the hiker for noticing it and was back on the route quickly, the morning became beautiful again. We knew that about 10-11 miles out would be the only town (Williamsport) we could get food at for the day so we decided to stop there for brunch. We stopped at the National Park information center at Williamsport and looked around, saw a great old film made by Thomas Edison that showed footage of the canal in use. After the info center visit we had some trouble finding a place to eat but finally ended up at a Waffle House. After the Waffle House we headed back onto the route and met Braden on the edge of town at a really picturesque part of the canal. Braden told of the campground and his crash that day. Seems he had left the campground we would be camping at for the night, was a mile or so down the trail headed toward us, took his eyes off the road when he saw yet another camp site and in the process hit a tree root. Braden had some pretty good road rash on his elbow, knee and leg. Later that day we found the offending tree root and have a photograph of it. After hearing Braden's war story we continued on to Antietam at a really good pace. Roger and I pulled out ahead and occasionally violated the speed limit on the bike path-15 mph. On several stretches we were above 15 and closer to 20. Both of us were riding well this day and looking forward to getting to camp. We did stop however and wait for Braden and Lynda where we thought Braden may have wrecked before going on in to Antietam. By the way are in some really historic areas associated with the Civil War. At the battle of Antietam there were 26,000 casualties, lots of history here.

Paw Paw Campground near Paw Paw, West Virginia to McCoy Ferry September 12, 2009 - Interesting day, broke camp and made sure we had lights available for going through the Paw Paw tunnel. The Paw Paw Tunnel is one of the major features of the C and O canal. It was built as a bypass to some very difficult terrain along the Potomac River in Paw Paw Bends. Decision was made to proceed with the tunnel in Feb. 1836, with completion date set for July 1838. In actual fact, tunnel was not completed until 1850. The tunnel is 3,000+ feet in length. We walked our bikes through the tunnel. The canal is only a foot or two wider in most places (particularly at the locks and aqueducts) than the barges that used it. I read a story about two barges meeting in the tunnel, one going down stream, the other upstream. A standoff ensued and the matter was resolved when one of the barge operators lit a fire and let prevailing winds smoke the other barge out of the tunnel. I guess the stand-off lasted two days. Back in the day the canal carried coal down stream from western Pennsylvania to the east coast and various manufactured goods to west (upstream) to Pittsburgh and the Ohio River Valley.
Somewhere along the way there is a 21 mile paved bike path, the Western Maryland, which parallels the towpath so we rode on it to get a little relief from the towpath's occasional tree root or pothole. By early afternoon we arrived in Hancock, MD. Don and Mary headed to the bike shop to have Don's rear hub checked. We all ended up at Weavers for yet another great meal, this place is on my Top Ten list for good eats as well. I bought two of Weaver's chocolate eclairs for the road after having the 1/2 chicken dinner (it was all chicken but only half of one) and of course coconut creme pie. Mary, Don and I got to the library but only had a brief time to use the public computers. I had serious business to do regarding my fantasy football teams. From Hancock we all headed to McCoy Ferry campground for the evening. We are about 3 days from reaching our destination-Washington D.C.. The last several hundred miles have been on the Great Allegheny Passageway bike trail and now on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath bike trail. All is well. Will update blog at next opportunity.

Cumberland, MD to Paw Paw, West Virginia September 11, 2009 - Yahoo, leaving Cumberland, not a bad place but I am tired and as we enter the C and O Canal Towpath we will be riding along the Potomac, getting closer to Washington DC and perhaps moving away from the train and truck traffic into a more quiet environment. Had a bagel and oatmeal for breakfast at the camp. It is 184.5 miles to DC from here but our first stop will be at the Paw Paw Campground about a mile from Paw Paw, WVA and .6 miles from the Paw Paw Tunnel. For those unfamiliar with the C an O Canal it operated in mid 1800's until trains and finally a flood lead to the demise of the canal in 1924. Prior to reaching the C and O we had heard a lot of stories from bikers and others that the trail would be nasty and rough with potholes and tree roots all the way to DC. We had found the Allegheny's relatively smooth compacted limestone quite satisfactory and did not know what to expect on the C and O after all of these comments. I guess after 3900 miles we have become tough the C and O was a bit rougher but my bike rode well on the surface, there were pot holes and tree roots but overall the C and O was not too bad. If you were riding an unloaded cross or mountain bike with minimal suspension it was be even better but not necessary. I liked the C and O almost all 184.5 miles of it. Don't recall the mileage to Paw Paw but Roger and I get there first around 1 p.m. and went into Paw Paw for some groceries and to check out the town, Braden and Lynda arrived a little later and we ate at Grandma's Place in Paw Paw. Our waitress at first was quiet but warmed up to us and sort of left us sad, she was young sort of joked about the town not much going on etc. but sounded like she was sort of stuck there for whatever reason. We headed back to camp only a mile away. Lynda and Braden were going to go over to the Paw Paw Tunnel and do some exploring. I laid down in my tent around 3:30 or so and slept until 8:30 pm, got up sat around the campfire a bit and went back to bed, I must have really been tired from two nights of listening to the trains and trucks in Cumberland. Took a little razzing for my napping but no problem I felt much better and that night it was very quiet except for typical nocturnal animal noises, all was good and peaceful along the banks of the Potomac.

Rest Day in Cumberland, MD September 10, 2009 - Typically on a rest day it is nice to catch up by getting online. This is usually done on the laptop I have brought along or using a public computer at a library or similar community facility. I have been having issues with the laptop not connecting to a wireless networks, something to do with not acquiring an address. The lad from London had it working in Niagara but the laptop is having wireless issues. Too bad because all of Cumberland is served by Wi-Fi. The library is our best alternative but unfortunately we find it is ran by a rather rigid library staff. I burned my time on fantasy football about 10 minutes and getting a motel in Washington DC, about 50 minutes. Although there were unused computers the two ladies who appeared to be nice pleasant if not attractive librarians were unbending on the policy - you can only use the computer once a day for one hour. In order to work around this policy others in our group let me use some of their time so we could find inexpensive accommodations in DC and make our reservations. Those two ladies probably are not to blame perhaps the Library board set up this one hour per person per day rule after some computer hogs abused the previous policy....maybe I should call the Mayor and have a chat with him about this... Of course since Cumberland has the community Wi-Fi this policy may make sense in many cases, but for those of us on the road and starved for information it seems silly to let computers sit idle. I digress, We ate at Crabby Joe's down in the shopping and dining district and visited the local bike shop for a few small items probably tubes was on the list. The proprietor of bike shop said he could fix my computer and later that day I sat on a nice sofa in the loft above the bike shop catching up on email, if those librarians could see me now! We all headed back to camp, some did grocery shopping, cooked our evening meal at camp did some bike maintenance and sat around the campfire. Didn't sleep too good with train and truck noise during the night even my I-pod could not drown out the background noise.

Rockwood, PA to Cumberland, MD September 9, 2009 - Woke up to the sound of rain on the tent and left around 9:30 a.m. for Cumberland. The Husky Haven folks stopped by to see us off, the name of their camp comes from their love of Huskies, I believe they have a number of them. Today we will have completed the Allegheny Trail when we get to Cumberland and start the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath which will take us to Washington DC. The Allegheny Passage is 134 miles from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. At Cumberland we will get on the C and O Towpath and it will take us to Georgetown in Washington DC. The weather cleared somewhat but we haven't seen much sun as we head southward along the Casselman River. Our first stop of the day is at Meyersdale, there is a train depot museum there and some of our group took a brief tour. Roger and I, later Lynda went looking for breakfast/lunch/brunch and after debating about going downhill into town proceeded to one of the best diners of the entire ride, a place with a curious name the GI Day Room-Hot Roast Beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and egg noodles with coconut cream pie. Climbing up the hill to the trail didn't seem too bad but not a lot of fun after eating. Not too far down the road was the village of Deal and a crossing of the Eastern Continental Divide. The Eastern Continental Divide separates the waters flowing to the Atlantic from those flowing to the Gulf of Mexico. Braden had driven ahead to Cumberland and biked back to us just in time to meet us at the Eastern Continental Divide tunnel on the trail. As you might expect the ride east from the divide was downhill and thoroughly enjoyable. As an added feature we crossed the Mason Dixon Line at the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. Our consensus for today was that it was a day of tunnels and
bridges. As we glided into Cumberland I felt that this day was almost perfect, we had some sun, nice vistas, smooth trail and that nice down hill grade. I might mention that the beauty of rail lines is that they do not have much grade usually a max of 1% so they make excellent bike and hiking trails for those who don't like to climb a lot and that would be the category I fall into. We arrived in Cumberland and went to the Cumberland National Park info center for the C and Canal Towpath and after being fully informed proceeded downtown to eat at City Lights a semi upscale eating establishment-I had crab cakes. This was a place recommended by a gentleman I stopped on the street who turned out to be the Mayor of Cumberland. By the way as a politician he did, in all fairness, mention several other places as well. City Lights was good. It looked like it might rain and there were some pretty good storms in the area but we were spared and had a dry ride from downtown Cumberland over to the campground at the YMCA. It was free camping at the YMCA but it cost $20 a night for all of us, I guess the $20 was for use of the showers and pool, none of us used the basketball or racquetball courts. Since Roger and I are both members of the Y we thought we should not be charged but the staff there said they were giving us the best deal and it was but we still had questions about free camping. We stayed across the street from the Y and pitched my tent under the pavilion to avoid any more rain which we did get that evening in small amounts. We have had our bouts with noisy trains and the tracks here are only about 10 feet from our campground. Fortunately they don't blow their whistle at this location but they do have squeaky wheels and brakes.

Kentuck Campground to Rockwood, PA September 8, 2009 - OK, it is morning and we have to push our bikes down that nasty path to the Allegheny trail. We woke up to more rain and got a bit of a late start from Kentuck CG I believe it was around 9:30 a.m.. The .5 mile trek down to the trail turned out to be much better going down but the footing was tricky due to the rocks and gravel on the path. We pushed on to Rockwood and will camp at Husky Haven tonight which is a private camp but situated on the Allegheny Trail. The rain has subsided and it is a cloudy but pleasant day. The Allegheny trail has been really awesome and today is no exception. This particular area was a big coal mining region and you can still see coal deposits in the rock strata along the way. Around noon we reached Confluence, PA visited the local bike shop and had lunch at the Sister's Cafe. At Confluence we know longer were biking along the "The Yock" but now the Casselman River which is known more for fly fishing and trout. On to Rockwood, arrived late in the day, Roger was waiting for us and we went over to the Husky Haven office and showers which are separated by a levee from the campsite. Husky Haven was nice they had a cell phone hot spot since cell service has not been available for some time and a PC for our use, they even had a bike wash. Roger and I showered and did some laundry at a combo Pizza and laundromat. After that I headed back to the Husky Haven offices to use the computer (fantasy football season is starting). By the time I headed to the campground it was pitch dark. My saving grace was the light from Don's campfire that helped guide me home. I had no headlight with me and had to walk to the bike a bit. Fortunately this was a journey of less than a mile from Rockwood back to the camp. A couple from Milwaukee we had met earlier joined us for awhile at the camp fire.

Cedar Creek Campground to Kentuck Campground at Ohiopyle, PA September 7, 2009 - We awoke to the pitter patter of rain. I for one did not mind the rain, after the previous day's difficulties it was nice to relax a bit. This relaxation carried on under a pavilion on the campground and there was some discussion of taking a rare rest day. We watched some riders participating in a Labor Day ride going up and down the trail with mud and rain spraying up their backs while we sipped coffee and made observations about the wisdom of riding today. Sometime around 11:30 a.m. the rain let up a bit and we headed for Ohiopyle in a light drizzle. After about 10 miles the rain stopped. It was a beautiful ride along the Youghiogheny [yaw-ki-GAY-nee] River. The locals just call the Yock, awkward name, pretty river with rapids and lots of kyakers. Toward the end of the day I got ahead of some of the group and started looking for our campground. I saw a path leading to a campground but it was called Kentuck and I didn't recall hearing anyone mention Kentuck campground, only Ohiopyle, so I headed into Ohiopyle which was not far down the trail. Ohiopyle is a scenic town and there was a nice information center there, the more I looked it appeared that there was no Ohiopyle Campground. I called Braden and told him I only saw a Kentuck Campground and nothing in Ohiopyle except B and B's, lodges, etc. He said Kentuck was the place and there was a steep climb to get to it. I believe he said "you might want to push your bike". I went back up the trail to Kentuck and cussed for the next 1/2 mile or so as I pushed my loaded bike up a very steep and gravely trail. Once I reached the Kentuck campground I indicated that coming up that trail was one of the stupidest things I had done in many years, I should have stayed on the trail in Ohiopyle and at one of the local lodges. I think most of us were not happy campers after that climb. We heard later that biking to the camp via the local roads was even worse and much longer. Despite the nasty climb the showers were good, I heated up some soup, ate, darkness soon fell and I called it a day.

Neville Island, PA to Cedar Creek Campground September 6, 2009 - The day started off fairly good with an excellent breakfast at the Islander Bar across the street from our motel. Our waitress was the cook as well and she did a great job on my usual - home fries, two up and sausage. Once underway things got very urban and this became a not so routine day. In very short order we were looking at the Pittsburgh skyline from an Ohio River bridge between Neville Island and Pittsburgh. We began our ride into Pittsburgh a little apprehensive in our ability to find fully connected bike paths. The information we were using indicated that some of our route would require several river crossings and one map indicated that we should shuttle our bikes about 9 miles down to where the Allegheny Passage was fully complete and connected. We scoffed at the idea of a shuttle and off we went into the bowels of Pittsburgh after deciding we would ad lib. Off we went into a few sketchy neighborhoods and finally down to the "rivah". Along the banks of the Ohio River we traveled past a prison, some industrial and warehouse areas. Several miles along the path the the landscape started changing and we came upon Heinz Field home of the Steelers, Super Bowl Champs, a new casino and some nice views of the Pittsburgh skyline. We had not seen much city since we left Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA, we were right in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. At the PNC Park, home of the not so successful Pirates we crossed the bridge into the heart of the city. We were running out of bike path and were now on city streets. We stopped at the info center where Don pulled off his pants to reveal his padded bike short liner to the attendant for some reason and had lunch at Wendy's where we heard that it was a good thing we are going to miss the upcoming G-8 summit. At this point we had sort of lost our way but had a general idea. The directions we received at the info center were not bike friendly and both Don and I took spills on a train or trolley track on some roadway that we should not have been on. Fortunately there were no major injuries I came out the worst with some road rash on my elbow and knee but I was more worried about the blow to my shoulder and head on the Jersey barrier I hit while going down. As it turned out my helmet did its job and the shoulder (same one I have had trouble with the past year) only became lightly bruised and the soreness went away after a week or so. The crash really ticked me off, it was unnecessary, we should not have taken the route the info center guy gave us. It was apparent we needed to cross the Ohio River again, which we did, over to the Dusquene Incline (Hot Metal Bridge I think). I read somewhere that Pittsburgh has around 455 bridges, must be some kind of record. We again picked up a bike path along the Monoghlia River which took us a few miles and ended. At this point we walked our bikes in gravel along a rail line to a large parking lot which lead to an entertainment and shopping area -Waterfront at Homestead. This was the site of an old steel mill. We negotiated around this area and decided to get on off of the bike path and onto a highway 837 I believe. At this point it was late in the day and we had only traveled about 20 miles. We took the busy highway 837 south into McKeesport and started looking for a motel. Our search was in vain so we decided to try to get back on a bike path and continue south. After a few dead ends we came upon some bikers who helped us get on the Allegheny Trail. After dodging all the broken connections of the trail system we had finally arrived at the trail. Although it was late we took off for Cedar Creek campground about 20 miles down the trail and viola! arrived at Cedar Creek about 6 pm, had a late supper and retired for the night. Long day-short mileage.

Mercer, PA to Neville Island, PA September 5, 2009 - This morning we had another hill to start the day. Another fairly steep climb right up to a local restaurant for breakfast. We followed a designated Pennsylvania bike route (Route A) along some back roads out of Mercer heading south toward Pittsburgh. Outside of Mercer we passed some Amish farming areas, Braden stopped and bought some homemade cookies at one farm. We saw a number of very bucolic activities going on but none of us felt like we should impose by taking pictures. One memorable scene was a woman mowing with a horse drawn mower. Our route took us over to New Castle with a pretty good climb into town. We went through Beaver, Beaver Falls, Aliquippa and Coraopolis. This was a pretty scenic ride and we encountered several bridges and the Ohio River has we cycled south. As we rode along it was very apparent that we were moving from a largely rural area into a more industrialized and urban part of Pennsylvania. We had a huge meal at Anthony Jr.'s in Coraopolis. Anthony Jr.'s serves some big portions, Roger had a 16" Calzone that would feed a family, Don had a lasagna of almost equal proportion and consumed the entire thing. The waitress was astounded, claimed she had never seen anyone eat an entire lasagna order before. We waddled out of Anthony Jr.'s and crossed a bridge over to Neville Island for another motel stay. Some of the rooms were pretty wild, Don and Mary's had a jungle theme complete with a shower head embedded the trunk of a huge plastic elephant. My room was a nautical theme with glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. Neville Island is located in the Ohio River just north of Pittsburgh. The motel was pretty weird but worked out fine for us.

Meadville, PA to Mercer, PA September 4, 2009 - We departed from the Mayor Lord's House B & B this morning and immediately were greeted with a steep climb out of Meadville. The weather very nice and sunny but not hot, somewhere in the 60's or 70's. Today was a good ride and pretty much a straight shot from Meadville. We ate at a little roadside diner and both Roger and I were pleased to hear that the special for the day was meat loaf and mashed potatoes. Coconut cream pie was also available much to our delight. The biggest challenge today was trying to find a campsite or lodging. As we neared Mercer it became apparent that camping was not readily available. As it turned out we checked out a couple of motels and settled one that was best located for dinner and breakfast. We all did some bike maintenance and gear organizing in the parking lot. Had a nice evening meal at an Italian restaurant not far from the motel.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back in the USA Via Ontario

Erie, PA to Meadville, PA September 3, 2009 - We left Erie, PA for some of our last views of Lake Erie. Covered about 15 miles through Erie and the surrounding area. Climbed some hills to get into the countryside. After climbing for about 10 more miles or so we had a nice run after the hills and got into Meadville early with no problems other than not being able to find a campsite. The result was not bad, a local woman we met on the street came to our aide and found us a nice Bed and Breakfast just off of the city center of Meadville. Tonight we stay at Mayor Lord's B and B.

Irving, NY to Erie, PA September 2, 2009 - This was a very nice day of we followed the Seaway Trail and the Chautauqua Wine route. Lots of grape fields as we followed along the shoreline of Lake Erie. We stopped in Dunkirk, NY and visited a relative of one of the Oz Bike Club members who calls Dunkirk her hometown. We averaged 11.6 mph or better for the day, with the bikes loaded at around 45 pounds of gear or so that was a good day, the ride was about 65 miles. After entering PA and heading to Erie we started hitting some traffic, hills and congestion we found out way to Lampe Landing campground for the night. Braden and Lynda went into town to celebrate their anniversary, the rest of called Alfie's Pizza for a delivery at the camp. It was a very nice camp but we were tortured through the night with unusual bells, whistles and odd noises from a nearby Coke plant.

Niagara Falls, Ontario to Irving, NY September 1, 2009 - It is Day 73 time to shuffle off to Buffalo, we were all up early at the hostel today we part company with our friends from Maine. Charley, our Host, posed for pictures in front of the hostel with us and we headed back down through Niagara Falls and to the Friendship Trail heading back toward the US. We went back to Buffalo and the Peace Bridge the same way we came to Niagara Falls. Had a nice brunch ,at a marina just north of Buffalo on the Niagara River. There is no Canadian Bacon in Canada that I could find but had some fine peameal bacon which is essentially Canadian Bacon. On to the Peace Bridge and crossing over to Buffalo from Fort Erie. We had quite a time after we got into Buffalo. After following a bike path we had to navigate through some sketchy parts of Buffalo. When the dust settled we were south of Buffalo along the banks of Lake Erie. Had a nice lunch at Hoak's along Highway 5 (shrimp and scallops for me) followed the Seaway Trail to Evangola State Park-Irving, NY.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh Canada!

Rest Day In Niagara Falls, Ontario August 31, 2009 - Woke up nice and dry in the rustic splendour of the Backpacker's International Hostel, a cozy place with Continental breakfast. Once we got organized this morning we took off on foot to do some sightseeing at the Falls. Roger, Don and Mary and I took the walk "behind the falls" and it was very interesting. Tunnels have been bored behind the falls so that you can actually see and feel the water pouring the falls through portals that open to the falls. There are no windows you actually view the falls from about ten feet from behind them. The portal is about an 8 foot square. The feel part requires a little rain jacket but you also feel the natural power of 34 million gallons a minute of water cascading over the falls. After our trip down to the falls, Art and Jon arrived, were able to stow their bikes at the Police Station and we all bought tickets for the Maid of the Mist. This was the best part of the day. We sailed past the American Falls which includes a smaller falls known as the Bridal Falls and right up to the Horseshoe Falls, the views were incredible with water churning, roaring and rainbows appearing all around. I will post pictures soon. After the falls we headed back to the hostel and another meal with the 8 of us at Basell's. Tomorrow we part company with our Maine friends and head south, over the Peace Bridge back into the US at Buffalo.

Windmill Point Campground on the Quarry at Fort Erie, Ontario to Niagara Fall, Ontario August 30, 2009 - We leave camp laughing about last night's karaoke madness but hope the birthday boy enjoyed himself. Roger and I ended on out in front and cruised along the bike trail heading to Niagara. We were surprised that the trail which bordered a highway was all residential. We expected the ride along the Niagara River to be a pristine river ride with picturesque views, at one point we came out of a wooded area and saw the biggest skyline we have seen thus far-it was Buffalo, NY-what a surprise. We cycled past the Peace Bridge at Buffalo and continued on the Canadian side to the rapids and were nearing the falls. The falls were spectacular and a bit crowded with tourists. The whole scene was pretty disconcerting and I am not sure what we expected but regardless we were at the falls and they themselves were a sight to see. I had not done any research on the falls and learned there are the horseshoe falls on the Canadian side and the America Falls on the U.S. side. Our first order of business was to get the group together and find a place to stay. We found a great little hostel about a mile or so from the falls. The building was built in 1896 and was rustic to say the least but the host, Charley from Quebec, made it the stay quite pleasant . It was overcast with an occasional shower but we had a great dinner at Basell's and hung around for the evening lights on the falls and a fireworks show. We rode bikes down to the falls from Basell's and that was an experience as we went right through the guts of commercialism off of Victoria Street, House of Wax, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, you get the picture. Rode up River Road from the falls after the fireworks and got to bed fairly late for us around 11. Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow and meeting up with Art and Jon from Maine who are on a collision course with us.

Rock Point Provincial Park south of Dunville, Ontario to Fort Erie August 29, 2009 - With last night's rain and this morning's rain our day has been delayed by about 3 hours or so. We finally take off through the muddy park roads out onto the pavement and of all things sunshine. We turned up along the Lake and rode along some nice and not so nice homes along the shore. We mostly were seeing residential development all along the lake with a few really nice estates all the way to Port Colborne. From Port Colborne we debated how far the day's ride would be and decided to make Fort Erie our next destination and go from there. At Port Colborne we ate at the Le Creperie and while eating a huge ship sailed past our window toward the aerial bridge at the Port, it was cool to see the ship sail by so close while we dined. At Port Colborne we got onto a nice bike trail that took us to Fort Erie. We debated about pushing on to Niagara Falls but wisely decided to call it a day in Fort Erie. We stayed at a somewhat pricey RV park on an old quarry called Windmill Point. The park was nice and we did some laundry and continued to dry things out. The downside of our stay was a birthday party and event tent set up about 50 yards from our campsite. I met the birthday boy, an 80 year old local at the washroom. Somehow karaoke was part of the night's festivities and as we tried to sleep a karaoke contest carried on until late-around 11 pm. The last straw for me was a rendition of Mack the Knife. I put in my ear phones and played some Los Lobos to drown out the sounds. I was told later I missed the Elvis songs done later in the evening. Braden complained that night to the management but to no avail as it was winding down about the time he headed to the camp office.

Port Boothe/Boothe Harbour to south of Dunville at Rock Point Provincial Park August 28, 2009 - Good Morning Lake Erie and hello big hill. The wonderful downhill into the park became yet another steep ugly climb first thing in the morning. Once we all pushed or rode up the steepness it was off into the Ontario countryside sometimes along the shore and other times down hilly, wooded country roads. Roger, Lynda and I were really enjoying one such road until we heard the commotion of a horn honking and Don yelling, seems we missed a turn. Don got one of the crew trimming trees to honk at us from his big Volvo tree trimming truck. Back on the right course we hit Port Dover and a great breakfast of French Toast and little sausages at Betty's Bakery and Cafe. Roger and I also bought some chocolate eclairs and fudge for the road. Betty's gets a gold star for good eats. On our way to Dunville we passed a huge US Steel Plant that was on strike and got a shot or two of the picketers. We had a headwind all the way to Dunville and our fun meters were bottoming out. Finally at Dunville we turned out of the wind and made good time to our camp which was the Rocky Point Provincial Park about 11 kms from Dunville. The park was muddy from the rains and we got more during the night and next morning. We went to sleep with our neighbours playing music and partying until the rain started. We all slept well with the pitter patter of rain on our tents.

Port Stanley, ON to Port Boothe/Boothe Harbour, ON (Fin Feather RV Park) August 27, 2009 - Our tents were only slightly wet this more so we guessed we might have a 50% chance of rain. Left the The Campground and went into Port Stanley a quaint little port on Lake Erie with a number of shops and a few inns. In the center of town was a huge hill going our direction so our first climb of the day was a short but steep crawl up from the port to our route. We headed east along the lake shore in and out of several small villages and arrived at Copenhagen for a rest stop at a general store. I called back to Wichita and spoke with Elizabeth a bit about upcoming fall semester class and our environmental project. Back on the road we headed to Port Burwell for lunch and some celery bread we had heard about from other bikers. No rain yet and lunch was good, fish and chips for most of us, along with some celery bread. The celery bread was OK but not sure we got the good stuff in Port Burwell. Had a nasty road outside of Port Burwell and decided to detour and after some tasty ice cream in Port Rowan we found Fin Feather RV park. We had a huge downhill into the park and vowed that we would dread tomorrow's exit and climb back up. The park was beautiful and we were able to camp right on the shore of Lake Erie. Our neighbor was very nice and told of his love for hockey. He was 70 and still playing organized hockey and claimed his league had an 80 year old still playing. The RV neighbors were nice and we enjoyed our camp although most of us retired early that night due to chilly winds and mosquitoes.

Rondeau ON to Port Stanley August 26, 2009 - "Dry tent in the morning, bikers take warning" or so I am told by Roger. Today's ride started with breaking camp and very dry early morning conditions. As we leave Rondeau we ride along the Lake Erie shoreline with lots of nice homes and nicely landscaped and manicured lawns. This residential area slowly turned back to agricultural land with blueberries, apple orchards, more corn and soy beans. About half way out for the day we hit lots of rain several miles outside of New Glasgow. We stopped at New Glasgow at, of all places, the Sunnyside Restaurant, ate and waited out the rain to no avail. We resumed the ride in rain all the way to Wallacetown. The rain finally let up there and we cruised into Port Stanley. Although it was general consensus that we find a motel for the night to dry out we ended up (except for Don and Mary who wisely stayed at a motel) at a free camp called the "The Campground". We had a nice dry campsite and after hanging my hand washed laundry on a fence to dry the owner advised me that I had put it on an electric fence. Fortunately he helped my move it and we both avoided getting shocked.

Algonac, MI to Rondeau, Ontario Canada August 25, 2009 - Left Algonac State Park in Algonac and we made a run to the local Kroger's for food. I bought too much and have the biggest food box on the truck. I have not weighed myself but think I have lost some weight regardless of how many cheese danishes I consume. From Algonac we took a ferry across the St Claire River to Walpole Island, Ontario. In Canada we had about a 45 miles of biking through Wallaceburg had lunch at Crabby Joe's. Saw lots of corn, beets, tomatoes and tobacco. We had some head wind but arrived at Rondeau Provincial Park. Campsite was not the best during the night we thought Don and Mary were out cooking but the noise was racoons invading their panniers for food. Not too impressed with the park but it met our needs and had the services we need. To date we have been on the road for 66 days and cycled about 3000 miles.

Emmett, MI KOA to Algonac, MI August 24, 2009 - Nice ride from our campsite and a short day to the St. Claire River and along a bike path, on which we got lost for a bit, as we headed to Marine City. As we finally got on the right bike path we saw a huge water tower that said East China. Fortunately we were not that lost and found Marine City for a nice lunch at a place on the St. Claire River. I spent 3 hours or so catching up the blog and pedaled solo down to Algonac SP from Marine City arriving about 7 p.m.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Leaving UP and heading through the Thumb of Michigan

Emmett, MI to Algonac, MI August 24, 2009 - Great ride today, the sun's shining on us and we have arrived at the end of our Michigan ride. Have been in this state since August 11 or so I think. Ate breakfast about 10 miles out at Mom's in Memphis, MI, cruised through Rattle Run and St. Clair, MI and I have finally updated the blog here in Marine City, MI. I still need to hop on the bike and pedal on down to Algonac but feel relived to have the blog back up to speed. I have left out a lot of things but will do some edits in the future. You have heard the main points and the bottom line is that we are doing well and will head to Canada tomorrow. More adventures to come I am sure.

Camp BER-WA-GA-NA to Emmett, MI KOA August 23, 2009 - This was another good day of riding. Saw a lot of signs indicating we were in the Thumb. We arrived a Caro, MI in the early afternoon all along the way were many nicely kept farms and vast verdant fields of corn and beans. This was a very rural area, country music playing in the convenience stores, I was quite surprised. Of note is that we also a lot of farms, homes, cars, wheels, even engines for sale. Saw one sign that said I Ain't Got Nothing for Sale-Keep Moving. Outside of Caro we headed toward Emmett KOA for the night. Jim from Detroit drove and spent the evening with us. It was good to see Jim again as he had ridden all the way from Washington with us but had to head back to work and parted with us back outside of Moorhead, MN. Lots of mosquitoes here and after Jim left we did some more planning for the rides ahead as we are still ad libbing our route. Tomorrow Algonac, MI and we will leave the Thumb for Canada.

Midland, MI to Camp BER-WA-GA-NA near Caro, MI - August 22, 2009 - Left Midland and had a fast ride to Bay City. Spent some time cruising through Bay City streets and made to the local bike path which a local said just got paved at a cost of 16, 000 dollars. We are told we are now officially in the "Thumb" of Michigan. Of note is that we passed thru my namesake town, Brown City, which among a few other things, touts itself as being the Birthplace of the Motor Home. No rain today but it seemed threatening all day long and we did have some drizzle. Overall it was a pretty uneventful day as we pressed forward into the Thumb.

Lazy K B&B (Harrison, MI) to Midland, MI August 21 - This was quite a day also but at the other end of the spectrum. We did start out with some rain and had to head down Old Highway 27 with its narrow shoulder, cracks and potholes. Just outside of Cooperton on OH 27 we were treated to a traveling car show. Hundreds of vintage auto were being escorted down the highway by the local police as part of the OH 27 car tour. The cars were from the 30's to the 70's from customs to restorations. Braden stopped in Claire to look at tents at the local outdoor store and we all took a break. At Claire we said farewell to OH 27 and entered Nirvana, that being the Pere Marquette bike trail. This was an absolutely almost perfect bike trail (rail to trail). The sky cleared the path was smooth, the wind blew from behind us and we sailed quite smoothly to Midland, MI. This was one of the most perfect sections of riding we have had and no rain. At Midland we ran into a local biker another Tom who lead us from the end of the trail at Riverfront Park and the Tridge (3 bridges over the two local rivers) to a motel. I took Dana to the regional airport MBS by Bay City so she could get back to Wichita. We all had another dry night in a motel in Midland and dinner a Pi's Chinese buffet. Dana will be missed by all, and most of all by me but she will join us again at the end of the ride.

Happy Days (Fredric, MI) to Harrison, MI August 20, 2009 - What a day! We take off on Old Highway 27, the highway from hell, to Harrison. Getting around Grayling on the Military Road was a little dicey as we were not sure of our way points and distances but we finally made it around the interstate and back onto that damned Old Highway 27. We have not had much rain the entire ride all 60 plus days of it. We got rain, outside of Houghton Lake, MI we pulled into a bait shop and party store for shelter. The owner was a retired "Generous Motors" employee who quite kind to us. Once we thought the rain had subsided we took off in full rain gear regalia. Old Highway 27 had no shoulder, the rain came down, there was limited visibility, cars were honking at us and we pulled off and road in a gravely, muddy shoulder for several miles until the rain eased up and we go back on the treacherous highway. It was still a nasty ride and we had serious safety issues associated with the road and weather conditions. At the town of Houghton Lake we got a break from the rain and had lunch. It was windy when we left but we were out of the rain. Just outside of Harrison we met up with Lynda and Dana who had found us a B&B just outside of Harrison. This was a great find, it knocked a few miles of the day and the owners Wayne and Kathleen were outstanding hosts. We treated ourselves to big screen TV, nice new showers and indoor plumbing at its best. The hosts drove us to and picked us up from a local restaurant. A nice end to a nasty day. Braden and I fought over the lounge chair and ottoman and decided to share, sort of. A dry and quiet night.

Indian River to Happy Days Campground just south of Fredric, MI August 19, 2009 - We rode down Old Highway 27 to the Happy Days camp which was not our original plan but it worked out much better than we had planned which was to stay at Hartwick or some such place. The folks at Happy Days were very accommodating. While sitting around the campfire in the early evening we were surprised by a visit from Tom D' who we had met the night before. Tom was in the area and somehow found that we had diverted our camp destination to Happy Days. Tom gave us more advice and was helpful in pointing out how to get around Grayling, MI and back to Old Highway 27. This reason this is so important is that we have abandoned the Adventure Cyclist maps for awhile and are making up our route as we go. We had rain that night but the skies cleared by morning. Old Highway 27 has some bad stretches and they will get badder as we head south.

Mackinaw City, MI to Indian River, MI Campground August 18, 2009 - Right across the highway from Camp Tee Pee we took a bike trail that would lead us to Indian River. The trail was not paved but nicely packed gravel so it was not bad cycling. Down the road several miles we came to Cheboygan, MI and stopped in at Libby's Cafe, Don and Mary took a different route and ended up at Alice's Restaurant also in Cheboygan. Libby's served some great food and I had an awesome Belgium waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. I was wearing a KU cycling jersey and a women at Libby's asked if I was from Kansas. She was a native Michigander but here husband was from Kansas and they live in Derby during the winter, we had a nice chat and it was back to the road. Somewhere about 5 miles or so back on the trail a huge tree had fallen over the trail so we had to do a little work to get the bikes and the BOB trailers over the tree, this happened twice this day. Overall it was a good cycling day and the small community of Topinabee was a lovely place for a break at the local library. At our destination-Little River we camped at the Burt State Park. A great day, no rain, but it will come. It was at this camp that we met Tom D'Ambrosia a local cyclist who gave us considerable local information about the road ahead.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Going Down That Long Lonesome Road Babe

St. Ignace, MI to Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City, MI August 17, 2009 - Today is a short biking day, in fact we make no progress at all. This morning we took the ferry from St. Ignace to the touristy Mackinac Island for some sightseeing and a trip around the island. It is nice, no cars are allowed on the island so the primary transportation modes are walking, biking and horse drawn carriages. We will be taking the ferry to Mackinac City, MI later this afternoon. We will be heading for central Michigan tomorrow, sightseeing will be over until we get to Niagara Falls in a week or so. Got back to Mackinaw City, not sure why we have Mackinac and Mackinaw but all are pronounced Mackinaw - I think. We camped at the Tee Pee RV park. When Dana joined the ride I told her we would try to stay at motels but we haven't been in one yet!!

Hog Island Campground (near Naubinway, MI) to St. Ignace, Michigan August 16, 2009 - Had some rain off and on during the night. The Waite's, Keith and John are leaving to go back to Kansas. Our core group heads to St. Ignace. The route took along Lake Michigan and sandy beaches, the area was reminiscent of the California coast with the exception of Palm trees. Along the way we met a cyclist and although we did not get his name he was a fun guy and we ran into him several times. He told of his ride around Lake Michigan, see fro more information on this. A bridge was out on the highway and all traffic was detoured along a narrow, but paved, country road. I think we backed up traffic pretty good but most of the motorists were patient. It was during this detour the young couple we met in Manistique pulled up to Braden and said hi. Once we got on the main road ran into some construction work and the shoulder was extremely rough for about 3 or 4 miles. The road smoothed out and we were treated to a UP speciality the pastie (pass-tee) at Lehto's. Lehto's has been selling pasties since 1946. A pastie by the way is a pastry filled with beef, rutabaga, onion and potato. I would have to say Lehto's makes a good pastie. On to St. Ignace and camping at the Straits State Park.

Car trip Hog Island to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan August 15, 2009 - 9 of us went by van to see the locks at Sault Ste Marie, it was a rest day. The Waite's were so kind to let us use the van to make the trip. We spent a good portion of the day visiting the locks and got to see a 1,000 foot ship come through the locks.

Indian Lake to Hog Island Campground August 14, 2009 - We head to Hog Island today and our first stop was in Manistique for breakfast. Met a young couple from south Michigan who were vacationing by car. We saw them again later in the week while we were holding up traffic on a detour. Hog Island campground is right on Lake Michigan and so was our camping spot. It was beautiful but we are getting some cloudy and rainy weather. We will be here at Hog Island for two days. The one thing missing at Hog Island was showers so we rigged up some solar showers and used the Waite's shower tent to take showers, it worked fine.

Escanaba to Indian Lake Campground near Manistique, MI August 13, 2009 - This was another great biking day, once we got off of the main thoroughfare we bike through some beautifully forested areas and quiet country lanes to Indian Point Campground which was about three miles westerly of Manistique, MI in the UP. The campsite was well maintained and right on the lake. Braden, Lynda and Dana took advantage of a nature presentation that evening on Bats. I went to bed early.

August 12, 2009 Hardwood to Escanaba - The three day's rest has done me good, I felt very rested and stronger on the bike. With the Waite's joining us and Dana driving the support truck our number of bikers has grown by 5, so we are 10 strong on the road. At a rest stop we ran into a Kansan from Larnard who was vacationing. The day's ride was great and Escanaba is right on Lake Michigan. We are headed to the UP or Upper Peninsula of Michigan the whole UP thing is another story, seems like it should be part of Wisconsin not Michigan. If you live in the UP the residents are referred to as Yoopers (UP'ers). The UP has it's own State Fair and we stayed at the fairgrounds in Escanaba. The biggest event of the day was a hair cut from nice lady at the Ritz Hair Salon on the main street. Braden and I both needed a hair and beard trim.

Gaastra, MI to Hardwood, MI August 11, 2009 City Center building campsite out in the woods is where the day ended. Dana and I flew from Minneapolis to Iron Mountain, MI, Braden and Lynda picked us up and took us to Hardwood so we could rejoin the ride.

Conover, WI to Pentago Park near Gaastra, WI August 10, 2009 City Park campsite. I am in Rochester, MN with Dana and all went well at the Mayo Clinic except we learned no "magic bullet" to cure sinusitis.

Mercer, WI to Conover, WI (Buckatabon Camp) August 9, 2009 Muskie Festival at Boulder Junction, WI was the major event that the riders ran upon today.

Ashland, WI to Mercer, WI (Loon Lagoon Campground) August 8, 2009 The Waite's of Wichita came to join the ride for a week. Tom and Helen Waite brought some other biking friends from Kansas, Keith and John. Author's note I am in Minneapolis to pick up Dana in preparation for her visit to the Mayo Clinic, I did manage to visit the Mall of America and cruise around Minneapolis this day.

Duluth, MN to Ashland, WI August 7, 2009 - Ain't no use to sit and wonder why babe where I'm bound I can't tell, good bye is too good a work babe so I'll just say fare-thee-well.
Well I'm thinking and wandering biking down the road I got to leave this town before it gets too cold, Duluth your the reason I'm traveling on, don't think twice it's all right. The Moniger's(Gene and Earlene) formerly of Wichita and now living in Northfield, MN came up to join us. The Moniger's kindly agreed to give me a ride to Minneapolis to meet Dana, my wife. I rode to Maple, WI from Duluth and then we headed by van to Minneapolis. The main thing I recall from the ride is that we crossed the bridge over to Wisconsin in violation of traffic laws and that Superior, WI was in great need of some major street repair. We took a bike trail from the edge of Superior onto a major highway for the rest the ride, at least my share of it.