Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 145, 9/30/10 - Ticonderoga, NY

Just the Basics: We are taking a layover day in Ticonderoga, due to a forecast for heavy rain. It is raining now and lots more rain is expected tonight and tomorrow, so, reuctantly, we are staying here for another layover day tomorrow - Friday, 10/01/10.

We'll fill you all in tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 144, 9/29/10 - Newcomb to Ticonderoga, NY

Just the Basics: 49 miles and something like 1500 feet of climbing. We only have three days ahead with a greater climb (1600, 1750, and 2000 feet) but each with fewer miles - 33, 24 and 34 miles, respectively.

We left at about 8:30 this morning and arrived at the Super 8 in Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain before 6 this evening.

When we resume our ride we will be taking a ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont and starting on the last of Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier Route maps!

See For Those Who Want More for a few highlights of the day.

Today's Photos: (1) Our house at Aunt Polly's on 9/27 & 28, outside Newcomb; (2) The source of the Hudson River, in Newcomb; (3) Proof that we're not making that up; and (4) More fall color.

We have to say that our camera is not doing the fall colors justice. Although the days have mostly been gray, which makes for more subdued photos, the colors are much brighter and stronger than they appear to be in our pictures. At least twice today Riley announced that just the view at that moment made the entire trip worth it!

Tomorrow: To our disappointment, Thursday will be another layover day. = ( = ( The weather is not cooperating!

When we checked weather on TV last night, Thursday was supposed to be OK, but now they are predicting up to 5 inches of rain, starting sometime tonight and spread over the entire day tomorrow! A couple of folks have even told us that they heard predictions of snow for Saturday - but we have yet to see that online or on TV . . . YIKES!

For Those Who Want More: We have no big stories for today, but here are some interesting bits and pieces.

Leaving Newcomb: In the first few miles today we stopped 4 times on our way through Newcomb - which stretches out for several miles along NY Route 28 North:
(1) At a camp store to buy a paper;

(2) At the post office to mail 21 postcards and buy stamps - when we asked the clerk if the mail gets a Newcomb postmark she said she could stamp them herself - and got our postcards out of the bin where we had already deposited them and hand canceled all 21!

(3) At a very nice city park to use the restrooms - and, as it turned out, to admire a great view with a well-designed display panel which pointed out the 19 mountains visible from that spot!

(4) A stop at the local clinic, staffed by two physician's assistants, to check our directions. The clinic has a PA student doing a 5 week internship rotation there - she is staying at Aunt Polly's B & B which is also where our vacation home was - she came out and met us, too! We gather that the clinic regularly has students seeing practice there and they typically stay at Aunt Polly's.

Weather Reports: At all of our stops in Newcomb we asked what folks were hearing about the weather - they all thought it was changing for the worse, and the clerk at the Post Office had heard that it might snow on Saturday!

Later in the day we met a local cyclist - he said he hoped we weren't cycling tomorrow, as it was going to rain cats and dogs. At that point we called our motel to see if our room would be available Thursday, if needed (it was)!

We had a very late lunch - this is a very sparsely populated area and we foolishly passed up an eatery around noon - the next one didn't appear until Mile 36 - the Paradox General Store in (where else?) - Paradox. So - a "pair a docs" had lunch in Paradox. As we ate we chatted with the guy at the Deli counter - after a bit the other clerk said "You guys know about tomorrow's weather, right?" adding that no one should even drive tomorrow, let alone bike.

We stopped at a Rite Aid as we arrived in Ticonderoga - Becky needed contact lens solution - we buy it in small bottles, to save weight, so have to buy frequently. We also needed toothpaste - ditto on size - and new toothbrushes - we change them every two months on this trip because, among other things, they seldom have a chance to dry out properly between uses and even keeping the travel cases clean is a challenge. The clerk there had also heard that there might be snow on the weekend.

As you can see - folks are watchin' out for us!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Days 142-43, 9/27 & 28/10 - Long Lake to Newcomb, NY

NOTE, 9/28/10: We arrived in Newcomb on Monday, 9/27/10, planning to also be there on Tuesday the 28th as a layover day, as lots of rain and thunderstorms were predicted for Tuesday. Once again we were unable to connect to the Internet and our cell phones don’t seem to work anywhere in the Adirondacks, so we were unable to post on our blog on the 27th.

As we always do on such occasions, we called Becky’s sister Sarah on our satellite phone so she could let family members know that we were safe and where we were.

Today we discovered that our hosts Doug and Maggie have wireless in their house - and they invited us to sit in their kitchen and use our computer there, so we are able to post after all.

They will be off on their own vacation later today, so we will not be able to post again until we arrive at Ticonderoga on the evening of Wednesday, 9/29.

Here’s the Blog we wrote but couldn’t post!

Just the Basics: Monday, 9/27/10: Only 15 miles today – pretty hilly, as it turns out, although we had thought they wouldn’t be. We planned a short day today because it’s chilly and the roads are not only hilly but quite curvy and there was a good chance of rain in the p.m. and if we hadn’t stopped at the 15 mile point we’d have had to go 39 and climb 1130 feet and we weren’t sure we could beat the rain. This turns out to have been a good decision – it’s raining steadily as we type this up just after 3 p.m. on Monday. We are in a vacation-rental house at Aunt Polly’s B & B – the only place to stay in Newcomb. There’s supposed to be lots of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow so we will also take a layover day here tomorrow. It’s fun to be where we can cook.

There was far less traffic today than yesterday – we’re guessing a lot of yesterday’s traffic was folks heading home after drives out to see the fall colors or weekend holidays.

Today’s Photos: (1) Fall colors along the road from Long Lake to Newcomb; and (2) A Beaver Dam and Pond at Aunt Polly’s B & B, Newcomb, NY

Tomorrow (Thursday, 9/29/10): We hope to go about 45 miles to Ticonderoga, with a climb of about 1100 (+or– 200!) feet. We expect to stay in a Super 8 there.

For Those Who Want More:

Aunt Polly’s: Aunt Polly’s and its owners are a great example of the sort of way folks in rural areas cobble together a good living. The B & B is located on 75 acres and also has a single four-bedroom vacation rental. Many of their guests are hikers and bikers. They also have a stable and folks can hire wagon rides – we’re not sure what else is available there. The lady of the house also has a fabric store/quilting shop in the house and a small outbuilding labeled Aunt Polly’s Sweets apparently sells other local products – maple syrup and Balsam Bears are advertised on the sign. There are a couple of apple trees near the house and barn and we are hopefully watching for bear and deer to come by to eat apples – as they are reported to do. We are not sure of these details because our hosts are busy packing up their new RV, as early tomorrow morning they leave for a trip to see relatives in Iowa and Utah and so aren’t around to chat with as they might normally be.

Local Taxes – Local Perspectives: The combination of state and regional bed taxes equal more than 10% here – our hostess was not the first innkeeper who has apologized for this. She is particularly distressed by what we understand to be a 3% regional tax devoted to promoting tourism in the Adirondacks. She says the voters in Lake Placid outnumber the other Adirondack regions and they voted in the tax over objections in areas such as hers. We asked if they at least benefited from the investment – she said they did not but that right now this area was doing better than the more expensive resorts at Lake Placid.

Cooking: Breakfasts will be instant maple and brown sugar oatmeal with raisins and milk and possibly chopped apples, raisin toast, and coffee. Lunch both days: Hot dogs, B & M Baked Beans, B & M Brown Bread, and tea. Dinner both days: Grilled polenta and eggplant with Classico Four-Cheese Pasta Sauce, and veggies – Brussels sprouts one day and mashed yellow turnips (AKA rutabagas) the other. We also baked an apple pie and bought a can of Planter’s Mixed Nuts.

Luckily, there was some sugar in the kitchen - Becky had it on her shopping list but somehow neglected to buy any. We bummed some tapioca from our hostess for the pie – there was none at the store and it seemed ridiculous to buy 5 lbs of flour so as to get 2 tablespoons to thicken a pie. Luckily, there was also some cinnamon in the kitchen – after we shopped Becky discovered to her horror that her prized selection of spices had been sent back to Washington in the last frenzy of load-lightening! This means our Brussels sprouts will not be seasoned with olive oil and cumin seeds as planned – just olive oil!

Grocery Shopping
: Grocery shopping in Newcomb was quite the adventure! There is a little campground store nearby, but on the advice of our hosts, we gratefully accepted the loan of their truck and drove 3 miles or so to the other store in town. It was fascinating. It was absolutely crammed with groceries, hardware, and sundries.

The storage of items reflected the complications of maintaining a diverse inventory in a small town with severe weather: Sacks of flour were in Ziploc bags (Mice? Bugs? Moisture?) Bags of beans were in the refrigerator case. There were a few Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts in a fridge and a few more in a freezer. There were three different chest freezers with a surprising variety of frozen foods, including some of the health-food sort.

We were delighted to find B & M baked beans and brown bread, frozen Brussels sprouts and frozen rutabaga – something we had never seen before. We suspect these are all signs that we are getting close to New England! The store was really overflowing and paperwork and some items for sale were spread all over the checkout stand. We just set our selections on top of the stuff already there and were checked out.

The grocery store had no wine or beer but the bar in town sells 6 packs so we stopped there. When Becky went in she was greeted by a man sitting at the counter. She then stood there for a bit and finally asked if he was the proprietor or a customer. He hollered “Chrissy” into the back but no one appeared. He then asked what she wanted and went behind the counter to get the Labatt’s Blue she requested – pulling the bottles out 1 by 1 from the fridge, observing that he was checking to be sure none were Labatt’s Light, and setting them in a Heineken carton which he pulled out from under the bar.

At that point Chrissy appeared and took over the payment part of the transaction! Becky thanked her and noted that she had a great assistant – she grinned at him and said he was useful to have around.

We Visit A Beaver Dam: When he was showing us around, our host Doug gave Riley directions for a 15 minute hike to a beaver dam. We hiked over in the rain in the late afternoon, along trails beautifully decorated with fallen yellow and scarlet leaves. The dam was amazing – 60-70 feet in length and creating a huge pond about 8 feet above the level of the stream. The small amount of water escaping through the dam had a wonderfully musical sound. It is astounding that animals can create such a structure.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 141, 9/26/10 - Inlet to Long Lake, NY

Just the Basics: 35 very hilly miles on a very busy road without much in the way of shoulders - but we pedaled along and enjoyed the fall colors just the same! Another good day. Tonight we are in Long Lake, NY, on the shores of - you guessed it - Long Lake! The motel has a nice sandy beach, boats for rent and Adirondack chairs to sit in - we went wading so that we could say we'd waded in a lake in the Adirondacks - pretty chilly, but refreshing. We could see the sunset over the lake from our motel room - glorious.

Tonight we are in the Shamrock Motel, which was built by an Irish immigrant in 1925 and is still in family hands. Our hostess, Beate Touchette drove us into town to the Adirondack Hotel where we had dinner - we walked back home, and enjoyed doing so, but it was great to have a lift into town! (Shamrock Motel, 1055 Deerland Road, Long Lake, NY 12847; Earlier today we met an older gentleman in Raquette Lake, NY - he and his wife are staying here tonight; when we mentioned this to Beate she immediately said his name and told us he's been coming here several times a year for more than 30 years!

We had a lovely dinner at the Adirondack Hotel - Riley's meal included fresh spinach, something we haven't seen in months - and our salads had radicchio, and Romaine ; ditto. = ) = ) We also had a nice talk with Pam, our very friendly and competent waitress.

Today's Photos: (1) The Cinnamon Bear B & B, where we spent Saturday night; (2) Fall colors; (3) Blue Mountain (we think!); and (4) Fred & Elizabeth Burt, "No-Paved Surface" Tourers, traveling by canoe, foot and mountain bike (see For Those Who Want More).

Tomorrow: We go less than 20 miles to Aunt Polly's B & B in Newcomb, NY. The short day is a function of weather and the availability of housing options - the weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse tomorrow afternoon, beginning with rain. Tuesday is supposed to have lots of rain and thunderstorms. We clearly want to take Tuesday off - we can't bike in these hills on these roads if it's raining hard - but might not be able to make it to the next available place in time - hence the short day tomorrow.

We aren't actually going to be in a B & B; turns out our hosts had planned a little getaway of their own - but they also rent a vacation home next to the B & B so are giving us that for the same price - and the loan of their truck to grocery shop so we can cook for ourselves instead - a good deal all around! There are no other places to stay there so we feel very lucky!

For Those Who Want More:
Breakfast at the Cinnamon Bear B & B, Inlet, NY: We had a lovely breakfast at the Cinnamon Bear, prepared by our host, Art Brockner: Fresh fruit compote; baked eggs with cheddar, beautifully toasted English muffins with strawberry preserves, bacon, coffee and OJ. The other guests were a family of three - charming 7 year old Emma and her parents (whose names we somehow missed), from Buffalo, who were hiking in the area this weekend.

Before we ate Art said grace - a lovely, eloquent prayer in which he asked God's protection for us as we ride and for the other family as they returned home by car. After breakfast we all helped clear the table and then Art hurried off to church.

Riley and I had our things all packed and quickly prepared to leave. We had hung our coats and reflective safety vests in the front hall when we came in from dinner the night before and forgot to get them when we went out front. We had to use our satellite phone outside to call the motel at which we wanted to stay tonight - our cell phones don't work in this area - so were out in the front yard doing that for a bit.

When we got ready to get on the bikes we realized we'd left the coats and vests inside and Becky started over to the house for them - to be met by Emma's dad who came hurrying out to get the car so he could drive off in search of us - they had just noticed the vests and jackets hanging in the hall! We meet such lovely people.

Fred & Elizabeth Burt, "No-Paved Surface" Tourers: We rode into the little town of Lake Raclette mid-morning, looking for a snack. Nothing seemed to be open so we stopped to ask a small group of folks by the water. They said the local restaurant would open at noon. Two of these folks were Fred and Elizabeth, who had just arrived by canoe. They are in our age range and hail from Newbury, VT. They have done lots of hiking and canoeing and biking - they once biked 1000 miles on the Continental Divide Mountain Bike Route - and are currently on a very interesting trip: They only want to travel on "unpaved surfaces." This means they hike, bike, or paddle!

They started on April 11th and have done some of each. We aren't sure if they have a destination in mind nor a time limit, but it sounded amazing. They also have a truck and have actually gone back and forth a bit while doing this - for example, they will end the canoe portion of the trip (for this year, anyway?) at Old Forge - not far from here - then rent a car, drive back to where they last left the truck and their bikes, go back for the canoe, and then continue by bike - at least that's what we think they said! This made our own adventure seem a little tame!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 140, 9/25/10 - Boonville to Inlet, NY

Just the Basics: 41 miles through beautiful fall colors in the Adirondacks. We climbed nearly 1500 feet and got rained on and generally had a fantastic day.

We celebrated our 4000th mile today - we are so happy to have come this far! We are also thinking of altering our choice of final destination - we may decide to end our trip in Portland, Maine, instead of Bar Harbor, Maine, thereby saving about 160 miles and increasing the chance that we will actually make it coast to coast. Stay tuned!

Tonight we are at the Cinnamon Bear B & B just outside the little Adirondack town of Inlet on the Fulton Chain Lakes. It is utterly charming and we even have an electric candle in the window of our room which we left turned on when we walked to dinner so we could come home in the dark and see a candle lit in our window. When we got back from dinner at a nearby restaurant we found our host sitting in front of the fire with the other guests - a family of 3 - drinking tea and hot chocolate and visiting. We joined in and spent a very peaceful hour or so chatting and blogging and sipping tea with honey.

Today's Photos: (1) Speaks for itself; (2) Ditto - fall is here!

Tomorrow: We will probably go about 33 miles to Long Lake, NY. We have yet to arrange for lodging - if we know before we leave in the morning we'll update the blog.

For Those Who Want More: There isn't really any more - it's just been a day of pretty stiff riding but in a beautiful environment and a generally good day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 139, 9/24/10 - Redfield to Boonville, NY

Just the Basics: 31 hilly but pretty miles today. We had a tail wind much of the day and see more fall colors every day.

We got away from our cabin at the CrossRoads Inn by 8:30, following a great breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, fried leftover potatoes, coffee and Raisin-ettes. We knew we needed to climb something like 1200 feet but made better time than expected and were in Boonville by 3 p.m., where we are at the Hulbert House Hotel.

A highlight of the day was meeting Katie and Scott, a pair of cross-country cyclists from Bozeman, MT. They started at the coast in WA and are headed for Portland, Maine, also following the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier Route. They are going to Portland instead of Bar Harbor because it is closer and they need to finish their trip soon. They are doing 50-60 miles a day and mostly camping and are very inspiring! They have also done lots of backpacking here and abroad. We had dinner together and it was great to hear some of their stories. They have actually booked their train trip home so have a very tight schedule from here on out!

Today's Photo: Scott and Katie - see above!

Tomorrow: We will go about 39 miles with about 1000 feet gain in elevation to Inlet, NY, where we'll be staying at the Cinnamon Bear B & B.

For Those Who Want More: That's all there is.

Days 137 & 138, 9/22 & 23/10 - Pulaski to Redfield, NY

Just the Basics: Note, 9/24/10: As regular readers may be aware, we were unable to post on 9/22 & 23/10. Redfield, NY is one of the very few places where we have been unable to get an Internet connection with our Verizon Wireless. On such occasions we call Becky’s sister Sarah, who emails our kids and sibs to let them know where we are and that we’re OK – just unable to blog.

We did 21 hilly (> 800’ of climbing), and rainy-but-happy miles of biking on Wednesday, 9/22; and a layover day on Thursday, 9/23. We are staying in a wonderful cabin at the CrossRoads Inn and Cabins in the forest by the Salmon River Reservoir in the tiny town of Redfield, NY. We are within a stone’s throw of the area the state calls the Adirondacks Region. We are more than half-way across NY on the route which we are following!

It was supposed to rain around 1 p.m. on the 22nd, but when we got up in the morning at our motel in Pulaski it was already raining steadily and continued to do so while we had breakfast, packed up, and tried to decide whether to go on or to wait for Thursday, when rain was not forecast.

Around 10 we decided to go on if we could get lodging in Redfield, where we wanted to stop. We succeeded in getting a housekeeping cabin (our favorite type of lodging), pulled on coats and rain pants, and set out around 11. We wanted to do a bit of shopping, so it was actually noon when we started our ride.

It drizzled much of the day but was not particularly cold and we did lots of climbing, which warmed us up – we kept our rain pants on but soon doffed our jackets (too hot on the climbs) and rode in shirtsleeves. Sometimes we were rather wet, but then dried off – when we reached our cabin our shoes and socks were wet, but we were pretty dry.

There were lots of dump trucks on the road – we later learned that most of them were carrying sand being stockpiled by local villages for use on the roads this winter.

The CrossRoads Inn & Cabins (315-599-4042; 4760 County Route 17, Redfield, NY 13437) are wonderful, and the Innkeepers, Mitch and Tonya Yerdon, even more wonderful – see For Those Who Want More.

Our cabin has 2 bedrooms, a loft which sleeps three, a bathroom, and a small but complete kitchen. The interior is all wood and it is heated by a gas fireplace – very cozy. We have been having fun cooking – see For Those Who Want More - and Tonya offered us the use of their 2-man kayak so we also went kayaking on the Reservoir Thursday afternoon! = ) = )

Today’s Photos: (1) As we biked past a farm with numerous free-range chickens, we spotted this turkey and duck together; they seemed to be friends and we could swear the turkey was watching traffic as the duck wandered quite close to the road; (2) A very ingenious staircase in our cabin, designed and built by our host, Mitch Yerdon; (3) Salmon River Reservoir, Redfield, NY; (4) Riley paddling a kayak on the Salmon River Reservoir; and (5) Scene from the kayak.

Tomorrow: On Friday, 9/24/10 we intend to bike about 31 miles to Boonville, NY, where we will stay at the Hulbert House B & B. It will be another very hilly day – about 1000 feet of climbing. We did lots of climbing in the West but eastern roads tend to make fewer allowances for grade – they climb more quickly than many in the West.

For Those Who Want More:

The CrossRoads Inn & Cabins: The Inn, itself – which is also Mitch and Tonya’s home – is in a 200 year-old building which, beginning in 1904 was, for many years, a very exclusive men’s hunting and fishing club – members of the public not admitted! It eventually became an Inn, which Tonya and Mitch bought 14 years ago, just as the four cabins were being built – they finished that project. It is open year-round, as this is a major snowmobiling area in the winter, and a fishing and vacation destination in the other seasons. They are about to add a kayak rental business, as that sport has really been taking off in this area.

Meals – As Facilitated by Tonya Yerdon: We knew we were coming to a cabin with a kitchen. When Becky made the reservation she asked about grocery shopping and Tonya said there was a store about ½ a mile away and they were glad to loan their vehicle to cyclists who needed to shop! We stopped on our way through town but the store was really tiny – we bought beer and potato chips, a box of mac and cheese, a can of green beans, a jar of applesauce, 2 Svenhard’s Raisinettes, and 2 ice cream sundaes. We couldn’t even buy a small container of milk for the mac and cheese and for our instant oatmeal breakfast (we carry oatmeal). We weren’t sure we were staying another day and decided to wait before trying to figure out any meals for the following day – hoping there was actually another store nearby!

We arrived at the Inn and Tonya said there was no other store. We told her we might plan to stay another day but mentioned that the store had pretty slim pickings. She asked what we’d gotten – and then what we wished we had. We told her that we had been hoping for some meat and some fresh fruit and veggies but the store had none. She said she had recently had an event (they do lots of weddings and such) and had tons of leftover fresh green beans. She said they’d eaten beans four days in a row and would be happy to make us a gift of some – which we happily accepted. She also offered mashed potatoes but that didn’t sound like something to have with mac and cheese.

In a few minutes she showed up at our cabin with: The beans (enough for two dinners), four freshly-made chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, a cucumber and a tomato – and a pound of bacon which had been a gift from a group of Native Americans there for a ceremony of some kind – she said they traditionally give gifts of food and she already had lots of bacon!!

She also offered to do some shopping for us in Pulaski, where she planned to go in the morning. We brought a short shopping list to her in the morning, telling her we’d like to stay. She looked at the list and said she had everything on it in her kitchen! For $10 we walked out with: 3 BIG frozen pork chops from a pig they raised themselves (but had professionally butchered); a dozen eggs from a local farm; 4 red potatoes; 4 apples from one of Mitch’s Dad’s trees; and a bottle of Montezuma Cayuga White Wine from a winery in New York’s Finger Lakes wine region! In addition, she offered the use of their 2-person kayak and their washer and drier! You can see why we love it here!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 136, 9/21/10 - Fair Haven Beach State Park to Pulaski, NY

Just the Basics: Wednesday, 9/22/10: We have updated Tomorrow to let you know what we are doing today (Wednesday)!

47 miles. Hilly but OK. We took some steps to make it easier to climb hills - we threw away or sent home about 6 1/2 pounds of stuff and then Riley took about 8 pounds of the remaining weight from Becky's bike - it helped. We feel less discouraged - BTW, thanks, Heather, for your words of encouragement!

It's late and we're beat so just some highlights:
  • Up at 7:30 for one of our favorite camping/cabin-type activities: A coffee walk. We made our Starbucks Instant while we dressed, then, coffees in hand, strolled around the campground enjoying the emergence of fall, the busy gray squirrels, the sounds of geese taking off for the day and the sight of 2 large white birds floating majestically on the opposite side of the pond - too far away to tell if they were pelicans or swans.
  • Great cabin breakfast: 2 packages each of instant oatmeal (1 each of raisin/date walnut and of maple with brown sugar), to which we added raisins, fresh nectarines and liquid milk - since we had a fridge we could have milk = ) = )!
  • Seven deer crossing the road as we rode out of the park;
  • Climbing hill after hill and just taking them as they came.
  • Second breakfast at Kit's Cafe in Hannibal (?): Corned beef hash, eggs, good homemade bread toast, and coffee - good thing, because we didn't really have lunch - just a couple of snacks.
  • Rushing to beat the rain that never came, although it threatened and sprinkled a bit much of the day.
  • Crossing the Salmon River in Pulaski and seeing a whole line of fisherman hip-deep in water, fishing. There are signs up on many businesses, bars and motels welcoming the fishermen, and the restaurant was full of them at dinner.
  • Admiring the full moon as we walked to dinner.
No Photos Today:

For Wednesday, 9/22: We awoke to rain and it is still raining and a fair amount of rain is predicted for the next couple of weeks. BOTHER! We considered taking a layover day but decided to plow ahead - especially when we found a great-sounding cabin with a kitchen in Redfield, which is where we planned to go today anyway, had it not rained. We will be at the Crossroads Inn and Cabins in Redfield (pop 607).

It is only about 17-18 miles from here, but with about 800 feet of climbing, and it will put us in position for 1000 feet in about 23 miles on the next riding day.

We are in a sparsely populated area and there aren't many places to stay in the next 100 miles or so . . .

For Those Who Want More: There isn't any more!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 135, 9/20/10 - Sodus Point to Fair Haven Beach State Park, NY

Just the Basics: 26 sobering miles. We got a late start and stopped early due to lodging complications - but this is VERY HILLY country and the hills are pretty steep. Tomorrow we HAVE to do about 800 feet of climbing and 44 miles in order to get to the next motel.

We are discouraged.

Tonight we are in a cabin in Fair Haven Beach State Park on Lake Ontario, just past the village of Fair Haven. The cabin has no water but the bathrooms are nearby - and it does have: Heat, lights, a stove, and a fridge. There are 4 single bunks with mattresses but no bedding - we will put a couple of the mattresses on the floor and sleep in our sleeping bags. There are no dishes or pots and pans, but our camping stuff is sufficient. The park is beautiful - very well cared for with spacious lawns, a bay, a pond and a marsh, in addition to Lake Ontario; and wooded areas as well as the grassy cabin area, campsites and picnic areas.

Today's Photos: (1) The Maxwell Creek Inn B & B - a Cobblestone House; (2) Cobblestone House Closeup (see For Those Who Want More for info on Cobblestone Houses.); and (3) Scene from the road.

Tomorrow: We go about 44 miles to a Super 8 in Pulaski, NY. To our shock, the cheapest room is about $133 with tax, even with an AAA discount - seems it's salmon fishing season . . . . Yikes!

For Those Who Want More:

Maxwell Creek Inn B & B: Our hostess Belinda McElroy sat with us at breakfast and told us lots about her remarkable home. Here's a taste of what we heard:

  • It was built in 1846 by William Swale as a wedding gift for his daughter Elizabeth and remained in family hands until the fairly recent past.
  • It is a Cobblestone Home - a building style unique to this part of New York. There were three distinct phases of cobblestone houses - the stones came primarily from the digging which created the Erie Canal. Theirs belongs to the second phase. The inner walls are made mainly of large cobbles and mortar and some bricks, the outer layer is composed of very regular small cobbles (maybe 4 inches across on the exposed side) in regular rows with mortar applied in a very specific way known as "pointing" - craftsman in the area who know this technique do the repairs to this day.
  • It is highly likely that the house was used as a station on the Underground Railroad! The family was active in the abolition movement and there was a secret compartment behind the fireplace in the kitchen with a tunnel leading out into the woods!
Meals: Great breakfast at the Maxwell Creek Inn B & B: Homemade applesauce with a bit of granola, smoked Swiss cheese and sliced apple omelets, bacon, wheat toast, OJ and coffee. Great lunch on the road, sitting outside a farm stand/gift shop: Cheddar cheese, cucumber & nectarines from the farm stand, plus an apple we already had. Dinner in our cabin: Labatts Blue, Sour Cream & Onion Chex Mix, and Dinty Moore turkey stew (stick with the beef!).

Great Folks in Fair Haven: We stopped at a convenience store/gas station in Fair Haven around 4:30, to get a snack and try to confirm lodging in Oswego - we were going off route in order to find any place to stay within a reasonable distance. The folks we met in the store were great and super helpful:

R.L. Murray: R.L., an 11th grade history teacher and enthusiastic biker, came in, asking us if we were riding The Northern Tier (we are) or around the Lakes - and in which direction. He wanted to let us know about a closed road we might encounter! He then gave great advice on a less hilly way to get to Oswego and lots of info about it, and drew us a map. He also suggested several places to stay and to eat in Fair Haven if we decided to stop where we were for the day, and gave us his phone number in case we needed anything! He also took our canister and a can of camp stove fuel - we are sending a bunch of stuff back to WA, including our stove, but can't ship fuel. We offered it to him as a gift but it turned out to be the wrong kind for his stove - he said he'd find someone to use it!

Sheila and Family: We hope we have her name right - it might have been Sylvia and we can't find where we wrote it down. If she reads this and we have it wrong, we apologize! Sheila was also at the convenience store - her daughter-in-law works there and she brought a granddaughter in for some mac & cheese (today's lunch item). We had stopped at the counter to find out where one of the recommended motels was - turned out it was closed for the season. Shelia has lived here all her life. Long story short, she:

  • Recommended a couple of B & Bs and called them on our behalf - no answer.

  • Suggested we stay in a cabin in Fair Haven Beach State Park. Her son is the maintenance man there. His wife (who works in the store) called them, since she knows the staff there very well and they were about to close.

  • Shelia said she'd drive us to the park and back so we could register, if they could wait a few minutes for us. They could and she did - we could never have biked there in time.

  • Once we registered and paid, she drove us to the cabin so we'd know how to find it when we biked back, then drove us around to see the Bay, and then drove us back to our bikes!

  • We took off quickly, stopped briefly for groceries, and biked to our cabin - incredible!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 134, 9/19/10 - Rochester to Sodus Point, NY

Just the Basics: Second Update, 9/20/10: As you will see on the post for 9/20, we didn't go to Oswego after all. We have also added pictures to this post and, in For Those Who Want More, a list of topics we intend to get back to later.

Destination Update, 9/20/10: We are going off route to Oswego in order to find a place to stay at a reasonable travel distance for today. We will be able to get back to our mapped route pretty easily and with little or no additional miles over the next couple of days.

Just the Basics: 51 miles; 2 in Rochester, 22 on the Erie Canalway Trail, and the rest in the hills of upstate NY, ending at the Maxwell Creek Inn B & B just 2 miles east of Sodus Point. We have had a great day and a lovely evening and will be back with the details later.

We love the B & B - great ambiance, great atmosphere, and most of all, great, accommodating hosts, Pat & Belinda McElroy, Maxwell Creek Inn B & B, 2563 Lake Road, Sodus, NY; 315-483-2222

Today's Pictures: (1) An Emergency Gate in the Erie Canal; (2) A Lock where there is a 16 foot difference between the water levels at the two ends of the lock; (3) Canaltown Days Parade in Palmyra, NY; and (4) A lovely farm stand - which was, unfortunately, closed when we stopped by.

Tomorrow: We expect to go about 42-44 miles to Fulton or Volney, depending on the availability's of lodging.

For Those Who Want More:
Canaltown Days in Palmyra - Home of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Church.

Emergency Gates on the Erie Canal:

Dinner at the Steger Haus Restaurant in Sodus Point:

Sleeping in Massachusetts - According to the Premption Line!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 133, 9/18/10 - Albion to Rochester, NY

Just the Basics: 42 miles for a total of 243 miles for the week. We again spent the day along the Erie Canal Trailway - no cars and a great day. We are tired and it's late so here are some quick highlights:

  • Warm and sunny today - no need for gloves or jackets.
  • Nice chat with Sue and Lois who have been riding sections of the Canalway when they have time.
  • Rode along with Scott outside Brockport - he guided us to Mythos Greek Restaurant for lunch and went inside to see if his daughter was waitressing today - she wasn't, but he told us Stephanie (?) would take good care of us - and she did! Riley had a great Gyro salad with pita wedges and Becky had a small Greek salad and an excellent pita with veggies, yogurt and beautifully cooked lamb.
  • Nice chat after lunch with Chris (?), riding from Portland to Bar Harbor - he says there are several other riders nearby.
  • Stopped at the Bicycle Outfitters across the street from Mythos, where Josh filled our tires and gave advice about riding the Erie Canalway Trail. He told us that when the trail is really dry it's very dusty - we're better off when it is a bit damp.
  • Nice long chat with a dad and daughter cycling near a place where we stopped for a peanut butter sandwich snack - she is 10 and named Iz, like one of our granddaughters.
  • Wonderful Japanese dinner at Sakura Home, very near our motel. We both had yakisoba with pork and lovely fresh veggies and a Sapporo beer and green tea ice cream - and Riley also had some steamed rice. YUM!
Today's Pictures: (1) a 2-10-0 Steam Locomotive seen in Hamburg, NY; (2) A Lock on the Erie Canal; (3) A View Along the Canal; and (4) Canal Maintenance Boats

Tomorrow: Not sure yet. There are lots of places to stay ahead and we may stop at 35 miles or try for 45 or something in between - stay tuned. We will still be riding on the Erie Canalway Trail much of the day.

For Those Who Want More: That's all there is!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 132, 9/17/10 - Lockport to Albion, NY

Just the Basics: Updated 9/18/10! See For Those Who Want More.

33 miles today, most of it on the Erie Canalway Trail. Riding the Trail turns out to be slower than riding on roads, due to the surface, which is mainly packed powdered stone - which is still wet from yesterday's day-long rain. Sort of like riding on a not-quite-hard oatmeal cookie heavily dusted with sugar. Not like riding on sand, but definitely sticky - you have to sort of plow through. Also considerable mud and some big gravel. That said - great scenery and NO CARS.

It's been a nice day and we'll be back with more later - maybe tomorrow - but it's Friday night and we're going to watch a movie. = ) = )

Today's Pictures: We've got 'em and we'll get some posted, but not tonight. Note on 9/18: Posted with 9/18 post.

Tomorrow: 35-40 miles on the Trail to a Comfort Inn in Rochester.

For Those Who Want More:
Weather: Chilly - high of 62 predicted for the day. Wore our coats most of the morning and stopped at a hardware store in Lockport and each bought lightweight one-size-fits-all brown cotton gloves for $2 a pair to wear under our biking gloves. AHH! The hardware store was wonderful - old fashioned no-nonsense hardware and lots of it, with a workbench in the middle where a guy was very busy repairing old-fashioned wood-framed window screens.

Erie Canal Interpretive Center: We spent about an hour at the Center before leaving town. It's based in an old stone building near the Erie Canal. There are a nice gift shop and a few historic items but the current focus is a very well done multi-media presentation, based on an enormous historic painting of the celebration which occurred in the town when the canal was opened. The painting shows a large crowd in Lockport standing above the canal with some notable historic persons in the foreground, including the Chief Engineer. A canalboat is below, carrying Gov. DeWitt Clinton, the "Father of the Canal," and barrels of Lake Erie water which he was carrying along the canal to the Hudson River to dump into the river, symbolically "marrying" Lake Erie to the Harbor.

Visitors begin their experience sitting in front of the painting with a staff member reviewing some of the canal's history and the history of the painting. Then the lights are dimmed and in front of your eyes the chief engineer appears to step out of the painting and begins describing the work of creating the canal - it's astoundingly well done!

Encounters: On the way out of the Canal Interpretive Center we had a nice long chat about our trip with Karen and Burnell, a couple about our age. Burnell is also a blogger - he does a sort of daily journal as away to keep in touch with their kids! Later in the day we met Michael and Ronnie, also in our age range, who were out for a bike ride. Michael is one power-biker. He has biked across this country and much of Europe, the former Soviet Union, China, and Africa - and will set out for South America shortly. He bikes to raise money to fight breast cancer - astounding and humbling!

Lunch: We had lunch at the Talk of the Town in Gasport (?? we think??). We had gotten off the trail to look for a place to eat and saw only a bar. A guy rode up on a motorcycle and asked about our ride - turned out he once rode his bicycle from Alaska to California; we told him that Riley once rode his motorcycle from California to Alaska - how's that for symmetry? We asked him to recommend a place for lunch - without hesitation he said he'd lead us to a great place and took us right to the Talk of the Town. Riley had a tuna melt and Becky had a roast beef melt and we shared a salad. Riley then had cherry pie and Becky had tapioca which Riley helped her finish. YUM!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 131, 9/16/10 - Lockport, NY

Just the Basics: We are taking a layover day in Lockport. The weather forecast calls for rain all day, with a significant chance of thunderstorms. No thunderstorms yet but it poured most of the day!

No Photos Today:

Tomorrow: We ride about 31 miles to Albion, where we will stay at Dollinger's Motel. From Lockport we start a 90 mile segment of New York's 380 mile Erie Canalway Trail. Here's some info about this amazing car-free trail which will run from Albany to Buffalo when it is completed (currently about 3/4 done,we understand). The information about the trail is from the website of Parks & Trails New York at:

"About the Erie Canalway Trail
The approximately 380-mile Erie Canalway Trail route runs east-west between the cities of Albany and Buffalo in upstate New York. Along the way, it links the cities of Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Utica, and Schenectady.

The trail is mostly level with an average grade of 1%, since it primarily follows canal and rail corridors. There are a few steeper grades and hills (climbs greater than 400 feet), mostly in the Mohawk River Valley.

The off-road segments of the Erie Canalway Trail route have different surfaces. Most of the trail is surfaced in stone dust, although there are significant paved sections and a few "natural" segments. The stone dust surface is comprised of crushed limestone, which, when compacted and dry, is hard like pavement and is universally accessible. However, when newly installed or wet, it can ‘grab’ the narrow wheels of touring and racing bicycles and wheelchairs. Wheeled users should use caution under the above conditions. The asphalt surfacing is similar to most paved roads.

Because stone dust is the most common surface type, wide tires are preferable for all types of bicycles and the use of a hybrid or mountain bike with non-knobby tires is recommended.

Natural surfacing basically means that the old towpath or rail corridor has been cleared of trees and brush. The trail tread along many of the natural segments is rutted and lined with roots. Persons riding bikes that aren’t equipped with wider tires and shocks or suspension will find these sections uncomfortable to ride at anything much above a walking pace and may want to seek out alternate on-road options. "

For Those Who Want More: This was a stay-in-and-work sort of day - email, work on finances, did some political stuff, etc. We ate a motel breakfast, and had lunch in our room from food we are carrying: peanut butter sandwiches, unheated canned green beans (That's OK - we actually enjoy unheated canned veggies in this sort of situation!), hot tea (there's a coffee pot in our room) and a shared cookie - one of the big ones we got as a gift yesterday from the Two Sisters Cafe in Orchard Park. Snacks: Hot beverages, the other cookie, and our last 2 apples - we gotta grocery shop tomorrow! Dinner at the nearby Mexican restaurant where we ate last night.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 130, 9/15/10 - Hamburg to Lockport, NY

Just the Basics: Note on Day 130, 9/16/10: We have updated this post!

44 miles, mostly on very busy roads along the outer edge of the Greater Buffalo area, many with inadequate shoulders. Our "urban biking skills" were definitely tested. Our son Hank, who, weather and kids' schedules permitting, commutes by bike in Boston (where we don't even like to drive) says he would rather bike in Boston than in "The Burbs," and we are coming to have the same feeling!

This will be a brief blog - partly because we mostly just biked today, and partly because we are taking a layover day tomorrow and will have more time for blogging then.

We are only about 765 miles from Bar Harbor!!

No Photos Today: Too busy fighting traffic!

Tomorrow: Holding in place at the Comfort Inn in Lockport - rain and thunderstorms predicted all day. YIKES!

For Those Who Want More:

A Confession: As regular readers know, we are following Adventure Cycling's map series for their Northern Tier cross-country bike route. Our current map is #10 of the 11-map series. Although we looked quickly at the entire series as we began planning this trip, we did not read most of them in detail - certainly not Map 10.

BIG MISTAKE: The route takes us into Canada just outside Buffalo, NY. We didn't bring our passports and by the time we realized this would be a problem we were only a few days from needing them. It would have been quite complicated to get them, so we decided to re-route ourselves for a day to avoid Canada and get to a place where we could re-join the route. It means we miss Niagara Falls and, of course, an excursion into Canada, but we will also save about 25 miles. Doing this is one reason we've had some not-so-great riding conditions, as we are essentially riding through the edge of the Greater Buffalo urban area.

Meals: We breakfasted in the motel today and stopped for coffee and pastry in the charming town of Orchard Park, at the Two Sisters Cafe, where we shared a delectable cinnamon roll and a lovely apple Danish. We got to chatting with one of the owners about our ride - as we left she presented each of us with a giant chocolate chip cookie!

We had brought cold pizza left over from last night's dinner for lunch, but stopped at a farm stand to augment our meal - we got two lovely pears, a can of birch beer (like root beer - Becky learned to love it when she lived in Pennsylvania), some veggie chips (which we are saving for later) and a delicious apple turnover. We sat in the farm stand's greenhouse and had a lovely meal.

We took an afternoon break for an apple cider donut and coffee at a Tim Horton's - local fast food. Right now they are selling giant chocolate chip cookies with Happy Faces to benefit a children's hospital fund. = ) = ) The break was not particularly for the snack as much as it was for a chance to get off the road and soothe our rattled nerves - and have access to a restroom.

Dinner was at a Mexican restaurant near our motel - we had a great time using our Spanish and learned that the restaurant is owned and operated entirely by a family from Guanajuato, Mexico. The salsa for the chips was rather mild and Becky asked if they had anything stronger. They did. BIG mistake! Riley had a coughing fit after one chip and a laughing waiter soon showed up with two glasses of ice water, innocently asking if it was spicy enough . . . .

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 129, 9/14/10 - Dunkirk to Hamburg, NY

Just the Basics: 41 miles - not the cheery sort we had yesterday! The roads mostly had no shoulders and were somewhat busy but it was a pretty day and we still had a good time. Our route took us through a part of the Cattaragus Indian Reservation and was never far from Lake Erie. Near the end of the day we started seeing the end of Lake Erie, with Buffalo on its shores, in the distance ahead.

No long stories to tell today, but see For Those Who Want More for some short ones!

Today's Photos: None today.

Tomorrow: About 45 miles to Lockport, where we will pick up the Erie Canalway Trail which we will then follow for about 90 miles in the days to come.

For Those Who Want More:

Lyle, in Silver Creek: We stopped at a grocery store in Silver Creek and met Lyle in the parking lot. He had lots of questions about our ride and told us about his first good bike - he bought a British-made black 3-speed Indian for $25 he'd earned helping his grandfather do some sort of farm work that involved horses pulling the equipment - he said it was the Rolls Royce of bikes in those days. We also learned a great saying from him: "A yard is hard but an inch is a cinch!" Lyle says this applies to both life and bike rides.

Muffins & Coffee in Silver Creek: We stopped at a little cafe for muffins and coffee. We had a great chat with the owner about the history of her small business which a daughter and son-in-law started about a year ago. She babysat for the kids until it became clear that it might make more sense for the parents to resume their old jobs in management with a chain restaurant - which allowed them to care for the kids themselves - and for her to buy and run the restaurant - so that's what they did! She told us she's wanted her own business since she was 13!

Lunch in Evangola State Park: We stopped on the shore of Lake Erie for our picnic lunch. A large group of folks was picnicking together - mostly young people but not entirely. One of the picnickers came to ask about our trip. Turned out she is a nursing instructor in a Job Corps program which trains Licensed Practical Nurses. She said the group is nearing graduation and she decided they really needed a break - so she invited the whole class to the park for a picnic day! Pretty neat.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 128, 9/13/10 - Near PA Road 89 to Dunkirk, NY

Just the Basics: 39 miles, almost all of them on NY State's wonderful roads. We reached NY this morning - our 13th state of the trip. Our Adventure Cycling map says: "Almost all of the state and U.S. highways and many county roads in New York have wide paved shoulders," something we also heard from a couple of cyclists we met in Erie, PA on Sunday. That was certainly true today - great shoulders, pleasant temperatures, and the wind at our backs. The riding was somewhat hilly but basically delightful. A few highlights:

  • Instant oatmeal topped with chopped apples and cups of Starbucks instant for breakfast in our cabin;
  • While Becky washed dishes and packed up. Riley cleaned and oiled our chains.
  • Nice chat with Kelly and Demaris, owners of the Lake View on the Lake Motel before we left. In the motel office they have an amazing child-sized airplane which they built from blueprints they got from one of their sons - using sheet metal, curving the wood, great paint job, etc. They made it for their first grandchild when he was a year old and it can actually be pedaled and is really gorgeous.
  • Wonderful lunch in the tiny town of Barcelona, NY: We shared a roasted veggie pannini and a delicious salmon patty sandwich with seafood cocktail sauce, and nice cups of fruit salad lightly dressed with cream or yogurt and honey. YUM!
  • Great rest stop at Lake Erie State Park where we ate a snack of concord grapes and snickerdoodles and took a nice nap - no mosquitoes!
  • Our first free beer - see Dawn Medley Buys Us a Beer, below!

Today's Photos: (1) Speaks for Itself; (2) Lighthouse, Barcelona, NY; (3) Dawn Medley, Riley & Becky; and (4) The Gang at the American Legion Bar in Dunkirk: Velvet (behind the bar), Carol, Bill, Dawn and Riley (See For Those Who Want More for details on #s 3 & 4!)

Tomorrow: We go 37 miles to Hamburg, where we'll stay at the Comfort Inn.

For Those Who Want More:

Dawn Medley Buys Us a Beer: As we cycled into Dunkirk today we were going by the American Legion when a couple drove up on a motorcycle and the guy dropped the woman off out front. She saw us and called out to ask where we were going and started walking towards us. When she heard what we were doing she invited us in for a pop or a water. Once we were inside it developed that our hotel, the Clarion, was less than half a mile away so we agreed to having a beer, instead.

This was a real old-fashioned neighborhood bar - Velvet, the bartender, automatically brought Dawn her usual drink, and Dawn signed for her drink and our beers in an old-fashioned lined ledger! There were 3 women and two guys in the bar and from the conversation it was clear that the ladies were all friends - knew each other's birthdays and ages, even! Dawn is a photographer - with a day job working in the toll booth on New York's toll road - and three daughters in college or recently graduated.

We had a really good time visiting with folks and drinking the first beer anyone has bought us on this trip!

Nature Notes:
Grapes: As we wrote yesterday, this is a grape-growing area. They grow both wine and table grapes and in the farm stands we see white, red flame and Concords, but in the fields, mainly Concords. It is harvest time and the smell of grapes is so heavy on the air that we smell them as we cycle by! The roads are full of truckloads of grapes and there are trucks being loaded with giant boxes of grapes. Today we saw a mechanical harvester picking what must have been grapes for juice, jelly or wine. The machine drove down a row with a sort of comb that raked through the vines - the leaves seemed to stay on the vines but the grapes went up a conveyor belt and then came shooting out of a pipe grape-by-grape and poured down into a truck driving a row over at the same rate as the picker. It smelled heavenly!

Caterpillars: We have been meaning to mention caterpillars - if we already did, sorry! For months we've seen lots of the "woolly bear" type - about an inch long, brown, fat and furry. We also see some similar ones that are sort of a rusty orange. However, we occasionally see some that are about the same length but much thinner (albeit furry) and are a pleasing pastel yellow! The first couple that we saw we took for bits of fluff, not living creatures!

Cooler Temperatures: Yesterday we wore our jackets most of the morning - it was sprinkling from time to time but usually not enough to justify jackets - but it was cool enough that we wanted them on anyway! The next couple of days, at least, the highs will be in the 60s. Yikes!

Monarchs: Monarch butterflies are everywhere right now. Today we passed a large field of goldenrod just covered with them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 127, 9/12/10 - Conneaut, OH to Near PA State Roads 5 & 89

Just the Basics: 43 miles on generally great roads with excellent shoulders, and some bike trail - although we experienced some confusion trying to follow our map through Erie, PA.

Tonight we are in a cute little cabin on Lake Erie at the Lakeview on the Lake Motel, about 5 miles west of the intersection of PA State Roads 5 and 89. We're rather far from any restaurants so had a "motel picnic" for dinner. Appetizers: Fresh local Concord grapes we bought at a stand about a mile before we got here, almonds, and Starbucks instant de-caf, which we enjoyed sitting in Adirondack chairs looking out over Lake Erie. Main Meal: Backpacking Mac & Cheese and a lovely fresh tomato given to us yesterday by Cousin Deb; Dessert: Fresh peaches (also a gift from Cousins Deb and Larry), cookies, and Peach-Spice Herbal Tea. = ) = )

We saw a cardinal today when we stopped for lunch! It was either a female or a juvenile, but definitely a cardinal. Lunch, by the way, was great. It was at a bar & grill but we shared a wonderful vegetable pannini (eggplant, tomato, peppers, onions, cheese, etc.) and a great bowl of homemade potato-bacon soup. YUM!

Today's Photos: (1) Speaks for itself; (2) Our Quaker Heritage!

Tomorrow: About 40 miles to a Clarion Hotel on the outskirts of Dunkirk, PA

For Those Who Want More: That's it for today.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 126, 9/11/10 - Ashtabula to Conneaut, OH

Just the Basics: Just 20 miles today - riding conditions similar to the challenging ones we've had for the last several days - windy, hilly roads with no shoulders and lots of traffic. In addition, there's a big gathering of Harley-Davidson riders in Geneva on the Lake, a town in this area, and there have been lots of them on the roads in the last couple of days. Nice folks, careful of cyclists, and, as we've noted in the past, folks with whom we have some things in common - we love the outdoors, love to tour, and love the freedom of our chosen ways of travel. Indeed, a case in point - we stopped by a road to let traffic pass and consult our maps and a motorcycle rider saw us, turned around and came back to see if we were OK - he was on a very elegant Honda. That said, Harleys are SO noisy, especially in large groups if you are riding a bike as they pass!

This was really less than a half a day of riding. We didn't leave Becky's cousins until late in the morning, having had a wonderful visit, and barely got our rental car back to Enterprise in Ashtabula before they closed at noon.

We then took off for Ashtabula's Hubbard House, a museum focused on the Underground Railway - William and Catherine Hubbard, its owners, built it to house their family and business, but also with hiding places for runaway slaves who then went on to freedom in nearby Canada, embarking from the Hubbard family's warehouses on Lake Erie and carried by sympathetic ship captains - a really inspiring place.

According to their website ( "It may never be possible to know how many slaves William's family helped on to Canada, as no written account has been located to date. However, it is known from an eyewitness account, that, at one time, there were thirty-nine slaves in hiding, as the gentleman stated 'thirty-nine slaves made short work of a barrel of pickles.' Other observers made note of the fact that fugitive slaves arrived day and night, looking for William and Catherine's assistance and protection."

We then headed out of town around 2:30 p.m - only to be stopped by a raised drawbridge over the Ashtabula River, which we had to cross. We took a picture and then stopped at a coffee house to wait for the bridge to be lowered and enjoy coffee, and shared treats - a cranberry muffin and a Russian Tea Cake with apricots preserves and almonds. YUM!

Right after we crossed the bridge we passed an amazing coal-loading station involving boats, trains, heaps of coal, and a huge overhead conveyor system - we really wish we had seen it in action. We then biked along under the conditions noted above, arriving in Conneaut around 6, where we are settled into the Days Inn and have just had dinner. Now we need to use the computer to work out lodging and such for the next few days.

Today's Photos: (1) Open Drawbridge over the Ashtabula River; and (2) The Coal Transfer Station at the Ashtabula Harbor - note the heaps of coal, and the bridge-like coal conveyor system.

Tomorrow: We expect to go about 42 miles to the Lake View on the Lake Motel on Lake Erie, about 10 miles past Erie, PA, where we will stay in a little cabin with Adirondack chairs on the porch.

For Those Who Want More: That's it for today.

Day 125, 9/10/11 - Mentor to Ashtabula & Chagrin Falls, OH

Just the Basics: Special Note: This is a quick update written on the evening of Day 125, (9/11/10) for reasons that will become apparent! We are falling behind on blogs so are going to leave it brief again!

41 miles of mostly tough riding. Lots of traffic, roads that tended toward hills, curves, and no shoulders - required lots of focus and urban-type skills.

Arrived in Ashtabula in time to pick up a reserved rental car and leave the bikes, and headed basically south to Chagrin Falls, OH, about an hour and a quarter away by car, where we spent the night with Becky's cousin Deb and her husband Larry at their lovely home in the rural outskirts of Chagrin Falls.

Becky and Deb had never met, so as you can imagine we had lots to talk about! We had a lovely, leisurely dinner and talked until after 11 p.m. In the morning we got up and took up where we left off, over breakfast at their favorite diner in town. It was a wonderful visit and a real privilege to find we very much liked cousins whom we had never met!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 124, 9/9/10 - Cleveland to Mentor, OH

Just the Basics: 36 miles, mostly difficult - varying kinds of urban riding, lots of traffic, windy, sometimes chilly, with a few hills. There were also some miles on bike trails but the overriding theme of the day was definitely highly-focused somewhat stressful urban riding. We passed Mile 3500 today and have less that 1000 to go!

We also came our closest yet to getting lost, only about 4 miles from our motel - rain was threatening and we missed a turn and a very busy road with no shoulder stretched before us and it was getting closer to dusk. Then a kind motorist gave us alternate directions and we started off. However, the alternate route looked sort of dicey at first so we we pulled off and consulted our big Ohio atlas. Then Cyclist Bob pulled up to see if we needed help. He agreed with the route recommended by the passing motorist and accompanied us through the first two steps of it - the rest was easy. What luck!

Fun Stuff: We had Polish sausages with sauerkraut from a downtown cart and spent a couple of great hours at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. = ) = )

Tonight it's late and we are beat so we're going to sign off with what is likely our shortest blog ever!

No Photos:

Tomorrow: We go about 40 miles to Ashtabula, where we will rent a car and drive down to Chagrin Falls to visit one of Becky's cousins - whom she has never met! We'll have dinner and spend the night there, go out to breakfast in the morning, and then head back to trade the car for the bikes and head for Pennsylvania - which we will reach sometime in the afternoon!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 123, 9/8/10 - Cleveland

Just the Basics: Almost no miles. We rode to an Enterprise car rental place near our TraveLodge and rented a modern white VW bug. We have been to the natural history museum and the history museum and wandered through the Warehouse District of Cleveland and had a fabulous expensive dinner at Sans Souci. Tonight we are in a downtown Holiday Inn Express on the 13th floor (according to the desk clerk they are the only hotel which admits to having a 13th floor!) with a fabulous view of downtown Cleveland. More later!

Today's Photos: (1) Becky & our Rented VW; (2) Cleveland's Terminal Tower in the City Center at #1 Public Square
For Those Who Want More: Note on 9/9/10: Still to come!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 122, 9/7/10 - Vermillion to Lakewood, OH

Just the Basics: 37 miles. The weather is warmer but OK. We had a helpful tailwind much of the day – but UN-helpful gusts to 42 mph! We had LOTS of traffic much of the way but we made good time and arrived at our motel in decent shape but more tired than usual due to the intensity of the riding. That said - Riley no longer thinks it necessary for Becky to skip riding through Cleveland, as her cycling-in-traffic skills and comfort level have really grown of late - we had originally planned to rent a car and have her drive through while Riley cycled through. This makes both of us happy!

Aside from the riding itself, there is not a lot to report today. We had a nice visit this morning with Dick, our host at the Lakeland Lodges, and then made a quick visit to the Inland Seas Maritime Museum in Vermillion, where we particularly appreciated a series of displays on major shipwrecks in the Great Lakes and a very nice mural-with-narration focused on the last 100 years of boat types sailing on the Great Lakes.

We had lunch in Sheffield Lake at what looked like a hamburger stand but turned out to be a mini-French restaurant. We shared delicious crepes (one roasted vegetable and one ham and cheese), served on real china plates, for $5.29 each; and good strong coffee in real cups. The veggies were locally grown and organic. We also enjoyed one of the periodic conversations we've had with motorcyclists. You might guess that cyclists and motorcycle riders might not have much in common, but we find an overlap of interests: Both groups enjoy the outdoors, the freedom, and touring.

No Photos Today.

Tomorrow: We will stay in place here in the Cleveland area to celebrate Becky’s 64th birthday. We plan to visit museums, stay in a downtown hotel, and have a nice dinner out. Consequently, we may not blog tomorrow.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 121, 9/6/10 - Clyde to Vermillion, OH

Just the Basics:
NOTE on 9/7/10: We still have more to say about this day - but not tonight!
39 miles, mostly on fine roads at a reasonable temperature under cloudy skies. Tonight we're at the Lakeland Lodge just south of Vermillion, in a little duplex cabin not more than 100 feet from the shore of Lake Erie. We have a kitchenette and plan a fine dinner.

NOTE: Our Internet connection is having problems - Becky just finished a nice report on the day only to lose the connection and everything she'd written. = ( = ( We'll try again later, but right now we're going to go sit by Lake Erie and drink some Rose wine from Mon Ami Winery on Catawba Island, which is off the north coast of Ohio.

Today's Photos: (1) Becky in front of Lake Erie; (2) Riley in Lake Erie; (3) Becky kicking it up in Lake Erie.

Tomorrow: We go about 33 miles to Lakewood, which is quite near Cleveland. We plan to have a layover day in Cleveland to celebrate Becky's birthday on the 8th.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day 120, 9/5/10 - Bowling Green to Clyde, OH

Just the Basics: 44 miles in lovely weather. Early in the day we had a fair amount of traffic and then a lot of twisty-turny riding on roads along rivers which required frequent stops.

We stopped at a roadside farm and bought honey crisp apples and had a nice chat with the farm family.

We reached Pemberville, the first town after Bowling Green on today's route. There began one of the wonderful adventures that this trip continues to offer us. We were pointed to a great new route by a non-biking couple in the restaurant where we stopped for a mid-morning snack, then met Mike and Melissa who personally guided us along the first 10 miles of that route. Shortly after, we met Dave Lindstrom, who took us the next 8 miles or so. See For Those Who Want More for the details!

Dave actually rode in the first cross-country bike trip organized by Bike Centennial in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. Centennial! Bike Centennial eventually became Adventure Cycling, the folks who made the maps we use on this trip!

At the end of our biking day we stopped at Hall's Farm Market - a sort of farm stand/gift shop/garden store across the street from our motel. We bought some leaf and pumpkin cookies (Yikes - more signs of fall!) and a little package of Hall's honey candy (good to suck on while biking). When the owner/cashier heard what we were doing he insisted on giving us each an apple, saying "Bless your hearts!"

Today's Photos: (1) Mike and Melissa, of Toledo and Pemberville; (2) Dave Lindstrom, of Fremont - see For Those Who Want More for details!

Tomorrow: We go to Vermillion, OH on Lake Erie, where we will stay in a housekeeping cabin on the Lake and probably cook our own dinner and breakfast. Arriving at Lake Erie feels like a major milestone, somehow.

For Those Who Want More:

Going Off-Route: In Pemberville (around Mile 12) we stopped at Janelle's Cafe for a snack - coffee and a shared bread pudding and cherry Danish. A couple breakfasting at the next table asked if we were biking, where to and from, et cetera. Turned out they lived in the little town of Elmore, about 10 miles away.

Our Adventure Cycling Bike map called for us to bike from Pemberville to Gibsonburg and then on to Fremont, where we could pick up the North Coast Inland Rail Trail for about 8 miles to Clyde, where we'd be spending the night. They were really enthusiastic about having us instead bike first to Woodville and then to Elmore, so that we could ride on Elmore's recently-completed rail trail to Fremont. They told us how to get there but we were dubious - the road they suggested was the curvy one we'd just left. Then we noticed a secondary road running parallel to that one - yes, they said, that worked too and would be curvy but very lightly traveled and very pretty.

We set out but were a bit uncertain about getting to the parallel road. We were biking across a bridge in search of it when Mike and Melissa rode up on their bikes. They were headed that way and would guide us, they said! We rode along together all the way to Elmore and had a wonderful time. The road was curvy and there was some traffic but it was absolutely beautiful - farmland to our right and the lovely winding Portage River to our left. Mike is an electrician and Melissa is a nurse. He has done a great deal of biking, she is an enthusiastic beginner. We talked about our lives, about biking, about our work, this trip, health care reform - it was great. We all stopped for lunch in Pemberville, then they headed home and we started on the bike trail to Fremont.

After a couple of miles we stopped to get our bearings - and couldn't seem to locate where we were on the maps in our Ohio atlas. Feeling vaguely uneasy, we continued on to Lindsay - where Dave Lindstrom saw us again looking at maps. When he heard we wanted to get to Fremont and then to a different section of trail he announced "I will be your guide." He had been heading the other direction but simply turned around and led us back to the end of that segment of trail in Fremont and then on a tricky route through Fremont to the next segment of bike trail which would take us on to Clyde.

En route we learned that he had lived in our own Orange County, CA for some years and was familiar with biking there. He also told us a bit about the original Bike Centennial bike ride across the country. Folks rode in groups, some from east to west and others from west to east. He was part of a group of about 15 riding the west-to-east route - the group included an 11 year old girl and her mom! He also said he'd attended a 25 year reunion of the group in Missoula, MT, where Bike Centennial/Adventure Cycling has its headquarters.

What a wonderful day!