Journals (Start to Finish) Our tours, start to finish

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 11

06/27/2006 03:17:23 by Administrator

From: Lockport, NY
To: Port Colborne, Ontario
Mileage: 59

We headed out of Lockport this morning and the sky was lead gray. Knowing that our luck was about to run out we had our rain jackets within easy reach. Our adventure this morning was to get though Buffalo and over the Peace Bridge into Canada. Noel had obtained a map of bicycle routes in the greater Buffalo area so we had an excellent reference to guide. Too bad the navigator was not as good as the map and as a result we did a little off-roading down an orange dot trail (not complete trail) that unfortunately just lead into the woods. I think Bertha (our very large backpack) knew we were headed the wrong direction because she jumped off twice (could have been the bumps?). Before too long we got straightened out and back onto the correct road. We were having a lovely ride though some very pretty countryside when all at once the heavens opened up. Fortunately, we were able to stop under a big tree for some cover to get our rain coats on. A lady came out of her house and asked if we would like to come in out of the rain. We said thank you, but just asked if she could steer us to a place for breakfast, which she did.

Back on the road after breakfast with the Rear Admiral wearing all of her rain gear on (I decided it was too light drizzel for rain gear) we hooked up with the River trail that runs along the Niagara River down to the Peace Bridge. This is a terrific trail, very pretty ride. It is well marked until the end where it stops in Broderick Park. [Mary] From there we pretty much had to feel our way to the bridge. But Noel's sense of direction saved the day and we went right over. There is a sidewalk along the bridge so we did not have to ride the bridge with the cars.

We zipped right though customs! She did not even ask us our names, just the purpose of our visit. The border guard was so nice, she even took the time out to show us the way to the trail. The rest of our trip today was on the Friendship trail though beautiful countryside. Both bicycle trails today where fantastic. The Friendship trail now reaches from Fort Erie to Port Colborne, with only a little break when you have to go on a dirt track through Erie Park.

We are now drying out in a hotel in Port Colborne. This was a great test to see how water proof everything is.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 12

06/28/2006 03:18:49 by Administrator

From: Port Colborne, Ontario
To: Port Dover, Ontario
Mileage: 63

Another great day of riding! The Adventure Cycling maps lead us out of Port Colborne along Lakeshore drive. We followed the coastline of Lake Erie for 95 percent of the day today. We passed miles and miles of summer cottages (with a sprinkling of luxury houses) as we rode along the water's edge. This was our first full day using the Adventure Cycling maps, and we saw a couple riding east bound on a regular tandem. We met a young man riding from Minnesota to New Jersey while we were eating at the Sunflower CafÈ in beautiful downtown Selkirk. He was doing it solo, I'm not sure I could. I am glad the Rear Admiral is along with me on this adventure.

The Canadian drivers are wonderful. When we were on the roads next to the lake, it was like riding on a bike trail. Once, about every two miles, a car would pass us with a wide berth and a friendly wave or honk.

Outside of Nanticoke two touring cyclists (Amanda and Mike) rode up beside us, and we carried on a conversation all the way into Port Dover. They started in Boston and are trying to make it to Montana in 3.5 weeks. A great couple, and hopefully we will meet up with them again. You can read about their ride here.

Tonight we are right near to lake, and plan to explore the beach and town. SeeMore, the Rear Admiral, and I are enjoying our adventure very much!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 13

06/29/2006 03:21:31 by Administrator

From: Port Dover, Ontario
To: Port Stanley, Ontario
Mileage: 70

Did you know that there are switchbacks on the road that follows Lake Erie on the Ontario side?

We got up early and were packing SeeMore when the gentlemen next door came over for a chat. We are meeting so many amazingly nice people on this tour. They were on a bike tour that was designing maps for Canadian cyclists. One of the gentlemen rides a Rans Screamer (just like SeeMore) with his wife, but not on this trip. They told us of a detour in our planed route today, and advised us to just ignore it and cycle straight through. This saved us some miles. They also told us about switchbacks ahead, and we took it with a grain of salt. But there were two switchbacks!

We were away from the lake for the most part of today's ride. We saw lots of farms and birds, with glimpses of the Lake here and there. Not as pretty as yesterday, but then we stumbled on to the land of giant windmills, which provided interesting scenery. Miles and miles of electric generating wind turbines. We asked a couple of people about them. Now this is word of month, but each wind turbine cost between 1 and 2 million (Canadian) dollars to construct. The land they sit on is leased from the farmers for around $7500 per year, with a 40-year lease. We were told that there are approximately 70 wind turbines that line the coast of Lake Erie between Port Royal and Port Bruce (30 miles). . . but we think the number is higher.

Now the smart reader would probably be thinking right now. . . wind turbines. . .wind turbines. . .millions of dollars. . Hum. . must be a little wind blowing around here. Yes, and it was in our face for most of the day! Even with the headwind we still averaged above 10 mph, which is pretty respectable, the Rear Admiral must have been working hard.

We pulled into Copenhagen to have lunch, and as soon as we parked SeeMore under the porch the heavens opened up. As the idiom goes, it rained cats and dogs, right up until the Rear Admiral finished her last bite of cherry pie. We shared our weather and meal with Amanda and Mike (the couple we met yesterday), they too just missed getting a free shower.

The rest of the day was more farmland, and out running the black clouds. We did very well, and only got a little wet once (not enough for rain gear). Tonight we are off to explore Port Stanley.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 14

06/30/2006 03:25:03 by Administrator

From: Port Stanley, Ontario
To: Wallaceburg, Ontario
Mileage: 85

As you can tell by these two beautiful photos, today we were in the middle of Ontario farmland. There was corn to the left, there was corn to the right, there was corn to the north, and there was corn to the south. Toss in some soybean, wheat, lettuce, and potato fields and you can picture our views today.

We had a good ride and there was plenty to see, even though there were no Kodak moments (the bluebird was too quick for the photographer). The mainly flat roads were pretty busy today, but the Canadian drivers really look out for us cyclists. We find them very courteous.

We had a very filling meal at breakfast at the Windjammer Inn. Fresh rhubarb and strawberry jam, chive scrabbled eggs, fresh fruit, and home made breads. So when we pulled into Morpeth (population maybe 20) we had ridden 46 miles and only needed a little something to eat, but not much. The combo gas station / grocery store / hardware store / restaurant was all that was available. The Rear Admiral ordered a hamburger, but said, "I can only eat half, and you can eat the other half. Then she proceeded to find the powder room. Now I knew she meant for me to order my own hamburger, and I could have her other half. But I wasn't really hungry, and the way she said it sounded like I could ONLY eat the other half of her hamburger. As Mary disappeared, the lady behind the counter said, "How many miles did you ride today so far?" I told her. "And she is only going to let you have 1/2 a hamburger?" I nodded, then I grabbed a small bag of potato chips and said, "I don't care what she said, and I'm eating these too!" The woman at the counter eyed Mary the whole time we had our lunch.

I had a laugh for about 10 miles after our lunch stop. Heck, I'm laughing so hard now, as I type this, that I'm crying (maybe you had to be there).

We stopped again in Dresden for some ice cream, and a stretch. Then on to Wallaceburg where we pulled into the fire station to ask for directions to our lodgings for this evening. If you ever need directions, go to the fire station. Not only will you get good information, the firemen are super nice people.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 15

07/01/2006 03:58:01 by Administrator

From: Wallaceburg, Ontario
To: Capac, Michigan
Mileage: 60

What a ride this morning! We diverted from the Adventure Cycling maps for a few miles so we could ride along the St. Clair River as much as possible (on both the Canadian and USA sides). The St. Clair Parkway on Ontario side was just picture perfect. There were parks with bird sanctuaries on the riverside, and summer cottages on the right side of our view. There was "next to zero" traffic, so we felt like we owned the road. People were enjoying their morning coffees on their front porch, and waving at us as we rode by. SeeMore is quite the ambassador.

We took the Blue Water ferry (2 dollars Canadian per person) across the St. Clair River to Marine City Michigan. The elderly US customs gentleman was kind, and only asked us for our birth certificates and licenses. Again, we have to thank SeeMore for being such a conversation starter. In Marine City, the Rear Admiral DEMANDED breakfast; and I watch her devour her favorite breakfast, the Lumberjack special, at the local diner.

As mentioned, we had rode along the St Clair River instead of taking the bicycle path from Marine City to St. Clair, more car traffic but still great views. In St. Clair we did some banking and visited the library. We talked to a number of people at the library about this adventure.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cycling through Michigan farm country. More twists and turns, ups and downs that made it a tad more interesting. We stopped at the KOA for the night and did laundry. We are not fans of KOA camping but we are traveling during 4th of July weekend, so we take what we can. The hosts at this KOA were fantastic. We believe it was a Grandma, Grandpa, Father, Mother, and kids team.

Two additional points of interest; Amanda (Mandy) and Mike, the young couple who are cycling from Boston to Montana, set up their tent next to ours (I hope I didn't keep them up all night with my snoring!). They had stayed in the same hotel in Wallaceburg as we did, the night before. Also, we tried our first "camp" food. Heated up water in the Jet Boil, and had a gourmet meal of black bean taco casserole with mocha mouse pie. It was really quite tasty. Thank you Dustin and Katelyn for providing your folks with an excellent dinner!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 16

07/02/2006 04:00:00 by Administrator

From: Capac, Michigan
To: Caro, Michigan
Mileage: 64

The Rear Admiral did not sleep well last night. With my snoring, trains, DJ playing music until 10:30, being hot, and the normal not-so-quiet camping at the KOA, her energy level was next to zero for the first half of today's trip.

This was a perfect day with temperatures in the middle 80's and sunshine. The wind helped us when we traveled north, and cooled us off when we rode westerly. We zigzagged all day, first going north, then going west. SeeMore is moving like a champ, he and I are having some rear fender discussions; but other than that he has been a pleasure.

After breaking camp, and riding into Capac for breakfast; we rode the next 45 miles into Michigan farmland. The road signs outside of Capac tried to detour us around two bridges that were under construction, but we took a gamble and stuck with the route. Riding a bike has its advantages. The first bridge was almost complete and we were able to cross with only some minor lifting. The other bridge however, was completely gone, but there was a skinny (one person) metal walking bridge over the river. We took the packs off of SeeMore and made it easily to the other side. Because of the detours, we had the road to ourselves for about 10 miles!

We had lunch in Mayville at the local grocery store. The grocery store had a GREAT salad bar, which we took full advantage of. They also had a Subway inside, and we both made Subway lose profit on the diet cola refills. The Rear Admiral's spirits were lifted after lunch. Amazing what a little caffeine will do.

The last 20 miles reminded us of New Hampshire. Some farms, more trees, and very quiet roads filled the afternoon agenda.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 17

07/03/2006 04:01:55 by Administrator

From: Caro, Michigan
To: Clare, Michigan
Mileage: 91

We ate continental breakfast at the Woodyzzz hotel. This did not satisfy the Rear Admiral, she really needs her lumberjack special. So when we got to Bay City, we stopped at the 7-11 for a power bar. Our trip from Caro to Bay City was fantastic. Michigan did not wake up all morning, and we had the roads to ourselves. We rode along flat country roads passing lots of farmland. Blue herons and egrets took refuge in the drainage spillways on the side of the road, so we had quite a show. The Adventure Cycling map took us through the old part of Bay City Michigan, with older style homes and quiet streets. When we got downtown we started to follow the bike trail through town, but it really wasn't very good and we made our own route though town.

The next large city was Midland. This is the home of Dow Chemical, and has a population of 40,000. Dow Chemical is HUGE. We again found our own way through town. In Michigan most of the roads run north to south, or east to west; so it is very hard to get lost. We had lunch at a local diner, and got directions to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail from an elderly couple that was sitting next to us at the diner.

And then there was the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, WOW; this trail starts in Midland and ends 30+ miles in Clare. Smooth 8 foot paved trail all the way! Still in Midland and on the trail, we stopped at the Dow museum. The museum is closed on Mondays, but we were able to explore the outside area, time well spent. There was a lot of activity (bikers, walkers, and inline skaters) on the trail, which we LOVE to see! In downtown Colemen we stopped at Kay's ice cream shop(right off the trail) that set us back a whopping 2 dollars for two very large ice cream cones.

Tonight we walked the town of Clare, and had GREAT Chinese food at Panda's (downtown).