Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dresden to Camden- 55 miles

I did it.

I can not thank everyone enough for their support.
More to come later...

Friday, September 20, 2013

So we're in Dresden...

...At Jeremy's brother's place!
Charlie the cat just invaded my personal space, and it is a beautiful day. We will spend tomorrow with Jamie, Jeremy and co. at the Common Ground Fair, and then play it by ear the rest of the week.
Maine's hills are relentless and tiring. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Day what the hullabaloo. 1,000,000 miles.

Bloggedy blog blog blooooog.
I'm so close to the end that I feel like I've earned the right to not write anything, which is a load of dung, I know, but....
Some pieces of the challenge have become a bit routine. It's still a load of fun, and there will definitely be some sadness upon reaching the Atlantic, but it's no longer quite as much of a novelty to recount how much food I just ate, how many miles I just rode, what ridiculous situation I just got myself into, and what sort of guardian angel just pulled me out of it. Don't get me wrong, I feel no less awe and gratitude towards the people who have helped us along the way. It's just that trying to recount day after day after day every kind person I met, every incredible view I saw, and every cool amphibious animal I saw squished alongside the road today gets a little bit tiring. There are only so many adjectives to describe something OMG AWESOME, am I right? And there is only so much space in my brain to awe at everything before my head explodes and I have to step back to look at the bigger picture. I still appreciate every tiny gesture of kindness, every little streak of pink in last night's sunset, and every car that gives me more than six inches of space in passing, but the greatness of it all has been a theme, not a bunch of pockets and puffs of niceties.
Jeremy, Jamie, and I spent yesterday chatting with our Couchsurfing hosts, Mark, and Lorie, getting a grand tour of Middlebury by Mark and Lorie's 11-year-old daughter, Te'a, driving to Bristol for ice cream (Curried peanut ice cream? Check.), and then into Burlington to Asiana Noodle House for dinner. We were waiting out a storm, predicted to be nasty and imminent, which never really came. But with bellies full of curry, hearts full of thankfulness, mouths full of midnight chocolate cupcakes (and Jamie's nails sparkly purple thanks to Te'a), we have no regrets.
Of course, we woke up to rain and a headwind, but... no regrets.

Since I blogged last, every single day has been great. I love riding with Jamie and Jeremy. We work well together. Jamie is the big sister I never had, and Jeremy is the big brother I have too many of. The three of us have giggle fests every other mile. When you're living under unusual and challenging circumstances in close contact with another, you get to be good friends pretty quickly. And everything gets hilarious pretty quickly.
I split off from them this morning- they went up and over Breadloaf Pass, and I went north into Burlington to wait for my dad, who is arriving tomorrow at noon. The two of us will depart from Burlington on Sunday, and meet up with Jamie and Jeremy in Dresden, ME, at Jeremy's brother's farm. Depending on how long it takes my dad and I to arrive, what Jamie and Jeremy are up to, etc., we hope to ride to the coast together and spend a day or two there celebrating, relaxing, and eating lobster (and drinking good beer and getting tattoos and pouring champagne on our bicycles and generally having a jolly good time).

That's it for now...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Day 55- Buffalo to Lockport- 57 miles

We met up with Ken and Emi today! I started my trip with them on July 1st, and we travelled together for two days before meeting Jamie and Jeremy. I split off to ride with Jamie and Jeremy because Ken and Emi were going to take a rest day- not because they were evil monsters. It was good to see them. They rode down from Ontario, where they were taking some rest days at Ken's mom's place, and we hung out and picnicked at Niagara Falls together.
Somehow I failed to get a picture of them. 
I did, however, get some mediocre pictures of the day.
Leaving Buffalo.
Crazy bridges with life-saving, albeit narrow, pedestrian paths. 
Not built for wide loads.
The rapids.
The falls.
Devil's hole whirlpool. 

Arrived in Lockport where we hit up a Rite Aid for groceries, because apparently if you don't shop at the hip food co-op that closes at 5 o' clock, you have to choose between Kwik Stop and Rite Aid. Rolled down to the public marina, having been told yes, you can camp there, to find what would have been an excellent campground, had the bathrooms been unlocked. And so with full bladders and only a few tablespoons of water left in our arsenal, we called the police department and asked if they could unlock them for us- not an uncommon request in many parts of the country. 
"No, I'm sorry, that's just not something we can call the parks department in for."
So we begrudgingly began setting up our tents by the pavilion, and I rolled back down the trail to where we'd spotted a faucet earlier. I pulled up on the handle, and not even a sputter of water appeared. I looked around indisgust and   desperation, and a van pulled up and honked. Out walks a cute lady. "Are you looking for a place to stay?" 
After explaining our situation to her, she gave me her address, and insisted we come on over. I booked it back to our site, spread the good news, and we packed back up and rode carefully in the dark and rain to Marie's house. She had showers, fresh water, tea, toast, and a beautiful backyard for us to camp in. 
After cooking up our Rite Aid loot and taking showers, we all crawled into our tents and crashed. Thank you, God, thank you, Marie!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 54- Lake Erie State Park to Buffalo- 70 miles

Today's weather was beautiful. Cloudy, drizzly, a tailwind, cool (a little too cool at times), puffy clouds in all shades of gray...
You can't see it here, but we stopped at the top of a hill and could see the skyline of Buffalo, sinister and black under the clouds. It was really cool. 
Traffic really began to pick up 10-15 miles from Buffalo. Drivers don't know what to do with cyclists. They don't realize we're going more than two miles an hour. They don't respect us as a slow-moving vehicle. We're just people on bikes, and they need to be somewhere RIGHT NOW. 
Stopped in Hamburg, for taco salad and a delicious broccoli pizza. Called a Warmshowers host in Buffalo who appeared on his profile to be okay with short notice. So we called him up and scored the backyard of our dreams. After winding our way through downtown, not without confusion, we arrived to meet Cliff and Carol, set up tents, went to the grocery store, and enjoyed supper on the porch.

Thanks, Cliff and Carol!

Day 53- Fairview to Lake Erie State Park (New York)- 50 miles

On the road again! Jamie's brother and dad, Brian and Ron, joined us for the ride today, after breakfast and goodbyes. 
The wind was at our backs and a beautiful day was before us. 
Acres of grapes in the breeze had us breathing a sweet scent all day.
A brewing storm kept it cool. We stopped for a bit when it started thundering and lightning-ing. The wind was incredible. 
Then we crossed into New York!

Rolled into camp at 3 o' clock. Jamie's mom, Debbie, arrived shortly after to pick Brian and Ron up, so with the car, we all rode to Dunkirk and enjoyed dinner out. 
Back at our campsite, after goodbyes, the three of us enjoyed throwing rocks on the beach (guess who hit the beer can several yards away on her first try?), a gorgeous sunset over the lake, showers, and conversations. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013


We've been partying, lazing about, eating food, drinking beer (mostly Jeremy), sleeping, sight-seeing, and generally having a grand old time for the past several days. 
Eating popcorn.
Pittsburgh was awesome.  Jeremy's aunt and uncle are hilarious. I wish there had been a voice recorder on the entire time. Laughter was plentiful. 
Pierogies in Pittsburgh. 
Cool bridges. 
These cutie patooties. 
Peanut butter milkshakes and curly fries.
Jamie and me. With pink toenails. In Lake Erie. 
Presque Isle. 
Jeremy getting his luscious locks chopped off by his hottie wife. 
Tomorrow we are back on the road. 

Day 52- Cleveland to Fairview (to Erie)- 96 miles

After waiting out a mean rainstorm in Cleveland Heights, with two breakfasts and lovely conversation with our gracious hosts, Edie and Marty, we were on our way at 11:15. We had hemmed and hawed, considering taking the day off, doing fifty miles, or trucking all the way to Jamie's grandma's  house in Fairview, Pennsylvania. The latter didn't seem very likely, as it was already late, and Fairview was "84" miles away. Well, obviously, we went for it. It was epic, and it was more than 84 miles. Along the lake we rode, the terrain fairly flat and enjoyable. 
Rode through the charming establishment of Geneva-On-The-Lake, a 1950's-style tourist destination. 
Stopped at a farmer's market stand for peaches and plums. Stopped at Subway and wolfed down sandwiches, trying to beat sunset. Sunset came, and we were movin'. At the top of an exhausting hill, Jamie's brother, Brian, was pulled over with Gatorade for our burning legs. Six more miles, and dusk was turning into darkness, but with our lights flashing and legs trucking, we pulled into Fairview in record time. 
After chicken stir fry, rice, rolls, peach pie, and a Bud Light (thanks Grandma!), we threw our panniers into Jamie's mom (Debbie)'s car, and rolled out to her house in the Erie area. 
Ah, PA. Ah, sleep. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 51- Avery to Cleveland- 63 miles

We are in Cleveland. This place is RITZY. 
Today's ride was good. We are all looking forward to 4 days in Erie, PA, where Jamie's family lives. So we were all a little tired. 
We are in a home in Cleveland heights. I have never seen a house so neatly packed with color and character. 

Day 50- Bowling Green to Avery- 69 miles

Delicious breakfast.
 Homemade donuts at a small town bakery with Jamie and Jeremy's friend. A nice, flat ride with a tailwind. It was a good day.
$6 food

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 49(?)- Paulding to Bowling Green- 66 miles

I'm way behind on this whole blogging thing. Don't judge. 
Today was weird. Got a bit of a late start. Had some headwinds. 
We went to an ice cream shop (oh, excuse me, it was an Olde Fashioned Ice Cream Shoppe), where a nice lady gingerly balanced a few tablespoons of ice cream atop a plain old cake cone and charged us $2.25 for it. 
^this is after exactly 2 licks 

Plans to meet a friend of Jamie and Jeremy fell through, after we booked it to Bowling Green.
But our very hospitable hosts got us pizza, tomato bread, and stuffed breadsticks for dinner. 
I'm really tired. 
$8 groceries
$2.25 ice cream

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 44- Wales to Grand Rapids- 70 miles

I am so done with Wisconsin bike paths. They're great, but WHERE ARE THEY? AND WHERE THE HECK AM I?
Fortunately, a guardian angel on a recumbent met me at a crossroads (as I stared in disbelief at an unlabeled map trying to figure out where I was) and rode with me 10 miles to the ferry terminal. He even got a flat tire a few hundred yards before we got there, the dear heart. 
Thanks, Chuck! 
I was at the terminal at 10:30- plenty of time to spare. Checked in at 11, my bike was cleared, and rolled through the terminal in all its dirty glory. I was loaded up by 12:10, and we were off by 12:30. 
It was pretty cool, but I had been waiting for the ferry to eat lunch, and that was a mistake. A greasy hamburger from a package served on a white roll with a slice of American cheese dripping down the sides was going to cost me $9. I was starving, though, so I paid a ridiculous amount for a banana, a cup of yogurt, peanut M&M'S, and a chocolate milk. At least it didn't make me puke. I'm used to Washington ferries, where there are nice refrigerator cases full of snacks, and soups and salads and awesome sandwiches... Also, there was no wifi. I could swear I read somewhere there was going to be wifi. 
On the other side of the lake, in Muskegon, I checked in with my mom, who had said we had connections there. But Jamie and Jeremy, my old riding buddies, texted me and said they were in Grand Rapids, with dinner and a place to sleep. I double-checked my map to find I was only 40 miles away. It was 4:30, and I was hungry. But I decided to go for it. I raced through Muskegon, hoping to a. find the bike path that went from Muskegon to Marne (near Grand Rapids) and b. find something to eat. Well, I soon learned that when you are in Muskegon, you do not stop. For anything. Finally I got to a patch of grass not on the edge of the 'hood (okay, it wasn't that bad),  ripped open a package of fruit snacks with hungry-shaking hands, and shoved them all into my mouth. I followed this up by eating some peanut butter with my finger. Don't judge, cars. 
Then Google maps said there was a grocery store three miles away, so I kept on trucking, ran inside, grabbed a yogurt, bananas, and Raisin Bran, checked out (the checker was definitely checking me out, if you know what I mean), and scarfed down in the parking lot. 
I was in beast mode for those last 30 miles. I was a little worried about it getting dark, and so far, Google maps hadn't done a great job of taking me through neighborhoods I'd want to live in. So I was Wild Woman, Racer of Daylight. I actually growled a few times, to get my adrenaline pumped up. 
I arrived just as dusk began, was fed dinner, enjoyed s'mores around the fire, and ESPECIALLY WAS REUNITED WITH MY PRECIOUS CHUMS; JAMIE AND JEREMY. 
Trail pass $4
Food $12

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 43- Blue Mounds State Park to Wales- 90 miles

Man, today was hard. The last 20 miles were rough. All my ride today was on the bike trail, which was pretty cool. 
Arrived at my host's by 6:20, showered, was fed Farmer's Market Stew and ice cream, and had an awesome time chatting with Mary Jo, and Pat, who plays the tuba and invented and patented a tuba stand. It's awesome! We got along just fine. 
Saw these crazy big heron-like birds with red bands on their beaks. 
Ahh, my bedroom. 
$4 trail pass
$13 food