Big Water Bike Journal (Day 21 – 46)
"Zach Chase, 25, and Kris McNeal, 26, of Duluth, Minnesota visited Leamington last week during their 5,300-mile 'Big Water Bike Tour'."
Day 21 – Sarnia (Shantz’s) to Wallaceburg (Baxter’s) ~ 33 miles
We woke up around 8:30 and lazily got going. It was really nice to have slept inside in a comfortable setting. We really didn’t want to go because it was so nice. But we got our things together and headed out back to get our bikes loaded. We interviewed Troy quick on camera about the Turbine issue and then got ready to go. We said our goodbyes and took a couple of pictures with Troy, Dayna, and Porter. It was really nice to have met them and we knew we were leaving with three new friends.
We hopped on the bikes and headed out of town toward our destination in Wallaceburg. We stopped at one of the local Tim Horton’s just on the edge of town and got our caffeinated beverages, a bagel with cream cheese, and a couple doughnuts. We are suckers for Tim Horton’s. We were right next to the Imperial Oil plant so after we ate we went and did a bit of filming. It is amazing how large and intricate the oil plants are. Imperial Oil or Esso is known as Exon in the States. We headed down the road parallel to the plant and ten popped out right next to the St. Clair river. It is a pretty river lined with homes and docks and industrial/ shipping enterprises. And even though it is nice to look at we aren’t to keen on swimming in it due to the level of pollution.
It was another nice and hot sunny day. And the wind was at our backs. We were cruising along and it was even better because we knew we only had a short distance to go today. We both agreed that it was one of the nicest rides we have had yet. We were following the river and it never really left our sight. We were on nice bike path and smooth pavement pretty much the whole day.
We arrived at the Baxter’s home sometime around 2:00 or so and we met Margaret and her husband Ken. They were born and raised in the area and have a nice home not to far from the river. They had read an article about us in the Sarnia Observer and contacted us about offering a place to stay. Right away Margaret offered us a beverage and we sat in the yard and talked and relaxed, enjoying the nice day. Ken showed us around his man palace/ garage and showed us his collection of license plates. He has some really neat and old ones. They even have a hot tub in the garage!
We went inside and Margaret cut up some watermelon and introduced us to Butter Tarts. It was our first experience with the Canadian treat and they are delicious. Then we showered and relaxed with them in the living room and talked. It was great having such nice company.
They both prepared an amazing home cooked meal for us. It was steak, potato salad, salad, asparagus, and watermelon! SO GOOD. We scarfed it down like mad. Afterwards we went and utilized the opportunity to sit in the hot tub. It felt so good and after we got out our muscles just oozed with relaxation.
We went back inside and watched a bunch of episodes of Duck Dynasty and were thoroughly amused. We definitely want to watch more. Kris also got the route figured out for tomorrow because we are going to have to zig zag a bit to avoid the freeways. We hung out in the living room and got some work done on the computer and waited for Mantracker to come on at 9. Kris had told Zach about it a few days earlier and now we were going to get to watch it! Ken made us all popcorn and we sat and waited. Unfortunately Mantracked is sinking into retirement so the whole episode was all about trying to recruit a new tracker. Not worth watching. So we eventually flipped back to Duck Dynasty!
At around 11:30 we headed up to bed. We are so spoiled being able to sleep under a nice warm roof two nights in a row. Almost to spoiled. We aren’t going to want to leave.
We had so much fun with the Baxter’s and hope to see them again when we are on the opposite side of the river about a month from now.
We are headed to Holiday Beach Conservation Area just outside of Amherstberg tomorrow and it is going to be about an 80 mile day. Going to bed content.
Day 22 – Wallaceburg to Holiday Beach Conservation Area ~ 83 miles
We woke up warm and comfortable in the Baxter’s home around 8:45. We got out of bed and pack our things up and headed downstairs for the amazing breakfast that they had prepared. Eggs, bacon (Canadian and American style), toast, and coffee. It was so good. We sat and ate and talked for a bit and then got ready to head out. Margaret even packed us a lunch of egg salad sandwiches, butter tarts, and date bars. We had our bikes stored out in the man palace so after we got our things from upstairs we headed out and packed the trailers. We said our goodbyes and took a picture together. We really had an amazing time with them and can’t thank them enough. We may see them again on our return trip on the otherside of the border.
We took off and headed toward Wallaceburg. The weather wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t raining and the wind was thankfully at our back. About 5 miles out Zach got attacked by a bird that he spooked while riding by. It flew out of the tall grass and squawked and tried to peck him, but it never quite got close enough and eventually gave up. We continued on and biked through Wallaceburg. We had a lot of direction changes throughout the day so we had to stop after every turn and double check our route. It ended up being kind of nice because it broke up the monotony of the day.
We continued on through the farm country and backroads and eventually reached Tillbury where we stopped at a convenience store and ate our lunch. After we ate we changed directions again and headed through town. We were crushing the miles one after another and then stopped at a local berry farm/ greenhouse and had a basket of fresh strawberries. Pretty sweet and delicious.
A few miles down the road we stopped in a small town called Cotham and double checked our directions and asked about a grocery store so we could stop and grab dinner. We headed toward our destination and on our way witnessed someone back up at a stop sign into another car. They were just trying to back up to give room to a semi that was trying to turn, but they forgot the most important thing to remember when backing…look behind you.
We continued on and had our first run in with a dog. It saw us coming and sprinted out of the yard and chased after us. It was barking and we looked behind us to see that it was gaining on us so we put it into gear and booked it out of there. He eventually gave up. Just before our turn to the campground we stopped at a small convenience store and picked up things for a pasta dinner and a snack.
We headed about another mile down and reached Holiday Beach Conservation Area. It is right on the edge of Lake Erie where the Detroit River runs in. There was a note at the check in station telling us where to go and what site we were at, they even had firewood waiting for us! The Essex Region Conservation Authority had heard of our trip and offer a free site for our stay! People have been so kind to us.
We headed to our site and quickly realized that it is the best site in the park! Huge and sitting directly under a gigantic Oak tree. It is also right next to the marsh and just a minutes walk from a bird blind.
We checked out the area and went down to the marsh for a few minutes to check it out. Before dinner we set up the tent under the tree and then went and utilized the showers. Felt great after a long day. After showering we made our pasta dinner and relaxed. After dinner we headed down to the beach for our first encounter with Lake Erie!
Across the water we could see a nuclear power plant on the U.S side of the lake. It really dominated the view and it is amazing that it still looks so big while being so far away. After checking out the lake we went down the shore toward the Detroit River to check out the hawk tower. It is a tower that was built for viewing the migration of the hawks in the fall. Basically there is a bottle neck for the hawks migration path right on the west side of Lake Erie, where the distance to cross the water is short. Very similar to the situation that we experience on the North Shore of Lake Superior, via Hawks Ridge.
While we were heading to the hawk tower we began to hear this very loud humming and we weren’t sure what it was. Once we reached the tower we realized very quickly that is was coming from an enormous swarm of bugs! We learned later that the bugs are known as Midges. They are an insect that spends most or their life in the water and come out mainly to breed and then die. They actually don’t even have mouths, just the organs to breed. It was ridiculous how many there were. Think of a black cloud and you can pretty much see the swarm of bugs.
We then biked back to camp and started the fire. We sat there for a bit and then headed down to the water for one last look at the water. There are an incredible number of different spiders in our camp and at the blind that we hadn’t seen during the day. Some were huge. We watched them for a while a listened to the darkness before heading back to camp and to bed. Tomorrow we have a shorter day to Leamington after making a stop in Essex to meet a city counselor who is going to show us some wineries.
Day 23 – Holiday Beach to Leamington via Essex ~ 43 miles
We woke up at around 9am this morning and got ready to head out. Kris saw the guy who was secretly camping in the site next to us and he seemed to not want to be seen. After we got ready we headed out of the park and met one of the staff on the way out. After chatting with her for a few minutes we headed back to the gas station about a mile down the road and had breakfast of pre packaged pastries and coffee. After that we headed to essex through the back country roads. When we arrived we went to Canadian Tire and purchased some much needed fuel for our stove. After that we headed into town and tried to reach the city counselor by phone again but he was still not answering. We ended up going to the library to see if we could find a different number for him. When we got on he had written back that he couldn’t make a visit with us because he was in meetings. We were a little discouraged by this but we found out that the Essex Regional Conservation Association was right around the corner. They were the ones that gave us the free campsite last night so we went there to learn some things about the area and their group. We learned a lot about the area and interviewed Kevin Money about the organization. We learned that today we are the furthest south in Canada we will be on our whole trip. Now we will slowly be heading north east until we turn around in Quebec City.
After we left their offices we headed out of town and stopped at a place called Dairy Freeze. It has been open for 50+ years and was amazing. We had burgers and cones and went on our way. We soon were close to Leamington and decided to stop at the Aleksander Estate Winery. We interviewed the owner and tried some very nice wines. Zach had never had this experience before so we were sure to capture it on film. They ended up giving us free wine. Thanks for the amazing wine guys! We learned that Essex County is a rich place for growing, with similar conditions to Northern California and Italy. There are more greenhouses in the area than any other places in North America.
After the winery, we headed into Leamington and went to the grocery store and got more materials for pasta dinner. We made our way back to Robbie’s house where we set up our tent and made a great dinner with great wine. He finally arrived home and we met him and his daughter. We shared stories of the road and then got all showered up. After our shower we headed to Walmart to get Zach a new phone charger as he had left his behind in Sarnia. Off to bed soon after that as we have a huge day tomorrow towards Port Stanley.
Day 24 Leamington to Port Stanley ~ 103 miles
We woke up at about 7:30 and went inside and Robbie had made coffee for us. We double checked our route and talked for a few minutes. After coffee we went back out and tore down the tent and packed our bags. We said goodbye and took a picture together.
We headed back the way we had come into town to stop at the Leamington Post. A lady named Pat Bailey interviewed us for an article that will be coming out in a few days! After the interview we biked down to the waterfront where she took our picture for the article. The harbor in Leamington is one location where there is a ferry out to Pelee Island. This is an island in Lake Erie that is know for its wineries. After taking the pictures and filming a bit we headed up to Wal Mart where Zach grabbed a phone charger and a calling card.
We headed up to Tim Hortons and got some breakfast. We had a bagel with cream cheese/ breakfast sandwich, doughnuts, and an iced coffee. To hot today to be drinking hot coffee. After eating we headed out onto the road to begin our 100 mile day!
We got off to a pretty good start heading down highway 3. The road was flat for the most part and the traffic was minimal. We were also within sight of the Lake, so that was a treat! The wind was pushing sideways off the Lake so it was a bit of a battle, but not to bad. We pushed through a bunch of miles and then got into another area with wind turbines. More than we had previously seen. We stopped to do some filming and then continued on.
We reached a town called Blenheim once we had reached about 45 miles. We stopped at our usual Subway routine for lunch and read the paper to see what was happening in the World. After lunch we just had to keep on going.
Zach hit a wall after lunch and just had a hard time going. He sang “99 Bottles of Beer” once through and half way through again to pass the time. We eventually met back up together and talked to pass the time. At around 70 miles or so we both were really struggling so we stopped at a small gas station to get something cold to drink and to get off of the bikes for a minute. Just after we stopped at the gas station we saw a lone tourer that was headed to California.
We got off highway 3 and then continued toward Port Stanley. We encountered a big hill that people had been telling us about. We were skeptical because of how flat it has been the last few days, but unfortunately it wasn’t an illusion. It was big but not long…just steep. So we powered up it and continued on. The conditions were brutal. So hot and humid and our bodies were just wrecked. Used to doing about 70 miles a day we just had to convince ourselves to keep going.
We finally reached Port Stanley at 7 pm, we made it 103 miles! A nice small port town, a diamond in the rough known for its fishing (Perch mainly). We met Lynn and her boyfriend Dave at the local convenience store after stopping at the LCBO. They picked up Perch from a local eatery and we followed them about a quarter mile back to Lynn’s house.
Her place is amazing! It is about 100 yards from the Lake, tucked perfectly up on a hill. She has an amazingly elaborate deck in the back with a hot tub, bar, eating/ lounge area, multiple levels, and a beautiful garden! We sat outside and met a couple of her friends that were there. We drank a few beers and then ate dinner. We ate the awesome perch, french fries, salad, and pumpernickel bread! It was so good and we ate so much. Had to re fuel after the long ride.
After dinner we showered and then went back out to enjoy the sunset on the deck. To our amazement Lynn and Dave went to spend the night on Dave’s trailer and they left us the entire place to ourselves! It was amazing, pure luxury.
We used the computer to figure out our route for the next few days and then we just relaxed, watched some TV and then a movie called Righteous Kill. We were having to much fun doing nothing and we aren’t headed to bed until 2 am after the movie gets done. A great way to end a 100 mile day.
We are headed to Port Dover tomorrow.
Day 25 – Port Dover to Selkirk Shores Provincial Park ~ 90 miles
We woke up at 7 to the sounds of an air compressor being started at the home next to Lynn’s. They were working outside on the deck and soon after the air compressor stopped they turned on the radio. So we struggled to sleep till 9 and got up around that time when Lynn and Dave returned.
We made coffee and lounged around for a bit. We slowly packed our things and then Lynn took us back into town for a ride in her convertible. She wanted to show us the town so we could do some filming. We went down to the public beach area where most of the local pubs and hang out spots are. Then we drove around and she showed us some of the industry of the town.The two main industrial things in town is the fishing and the asphalt plant. Otherwise it is mostly tourism.
After driving around we stopped at one of the local coffee shops called Village Square Coffeehouse. It was great! They had chocolate croissant, which we have been waiting for a while to get, and some amazing coffee from Nicaragua. We sat and ate a bit and then drove around a bit more. We went down to another small beach and then headed back into town. As we passed the coffee shop again we noticed that there were 3 touring bikes parked outside. We stopped and went into talk to the owners of the bikes. They were 3 guys from Ohio and Illinois. They were about a week in on their tour around Lake Erie. One of the guys plans to bike the Continental Divide (US) in the future. We talked to them for a bit and then took a picture together. After that we stopped at one of the local inns. One of Lynn’s friends owns it and she is also big into bike touring. She has done many trips overseas. We talked with her for a bit and then headed back to Lynn’s place.
When we got back to Lynn’s we did a bit of filming and then took a picture together and said our goodbyes. She invited us to stay with her again if we ever come her way…we would like to do that. Port Stanley is a pretty cool place.
We waved goodbye and left her driveway around noon. We hopped onto highway 3 and rode through St. Thomas and headed toward our destination in Port Dover. The condition of Highway 3 had drastically changed from yesterday. It was nice yesterday with a decent shoulder and minimal traffic. Today it was awful. Old decrepit road with monster cracks and a foot of thick gravel right on the white line.
We kept cruising as best we could. It was really hot and humid again today. We stopped at Wendy’s for lunch. More than anything we just wanted to get out of the heat for a bit. But we ate and talked to a few people and then went back out into the heat and continued on.
We eventually got off the horrible road and onto a few side roads that headed into Port Dover. We stopped at the local RV campground that Dave had recommended the night before.We talked to someone that was staying there who told us it was RV’s only. We called the owner and asked if we could pitch our tent. He told us no because he said it would cause to many problems, but he recommended another park. We think that is really sad that you can’t even pitch a tent for one night in a campground. What is happening to people? So we took our money elsewhere.
We continued into Port Dover and stopped at a convenience store to fill up on fluids. It was still really uncomfortably hot. We enjoyed our beverages and asked around to see if anyone else knew of a place we could camp for the night. Nobody seemed to know anything.
We continued on to find the park that the owner of the RV camp had recommended and discovered that is was a community park with ball fields and playground. We couldn’t figure out why he would even send us there. Anyone who lives that town would know not to send someone there to camp. Stupid. While we were there a lady offered us a place to pitch our tent in her yard. Super nice of her, but unfortunately it was back the way we had come and we didn’t feel like backtracking.
So we continued on to Selkirk Shores PP. It was about another 15 miles or so past Port Dover. On our way we passed a massive US Steel plant and an Ontario Power plant. Before we made the turn to the park we biked another 2 miles into the town of Selkirk to get something to eat. The first and only thing we found open was a convenience store so we just got a few snacks as we were still content from Wendy’s.
We headed back to the park exhausted. It ended up being a 93 mile day. Much longer than we intended. Almost 2 100 mile days back to back. We are beat. We headed down to check out the beach after we showered and set up because there was a massive lightning storm over Lake Erie. We went down and enjoyed the show and are going to bed extremely tired.
We are heading to Niagara tomorrow and are really excited!
Day 26 – Selkirk Shores to ACBB Hostel Niagara ~ 55 miles
We woke up around 830 got our things packed up and then headed back into Selkirk to get breakfast. Right away we could tell it was going to be a scorcher of a day.We stopped at a local dinner called the Sunflower I think. We each had the big breakfast. 3 slices of French toast, 2 eggs, breakfast potatoes, and three sausages, with coffee. It was nice to have a solid breakfast for a change.
We headed out of town through farm country again. We went through a town and then got onto some country backroads. We weaved in and out changing directions and roads every so often.
We eventually reached the Welland Canal. It is an important shipping canal that links Erie and Ontario allowing the ships to skip around Niagara Falls. It is rally quite impressive.
Once we reached the canal we didn’t have much further to go to reach our KOA destination on Lundy’s Lane just on the outskirts of Niagara. There are a lot of shut down businesses and hotels along the road, as well as a handful of gentlemen’s clubs. Not what we would have expected in Niagara.
We reached the KOA around 4 and paid for the Value site (tent only no hookups, 40 bucks). We went and biked to the site and immediately looked at each other. It was awful. It was a small patch of grass in the back of the campground with no shade and trash strewn about. We looked at each other and agreed we would rather sleep behind the public library. Zach biked back up to the front desk and told them we wanted to up grade. We paid 4 more bucks and got moved to an equally shitty site. We were not going to stay there or any KOA for that matter. We got out the laptop and immediately started looking for alternate options.
We settled on a local hostel. The ACBB hostel, which is about a 15 min walk from the falls. It was about 5 dollars more per person than the KOA and we got a shower, bed, breakfast, WI-FI, location, and company. Not even a contest.
We biked up there and stopped at DQ to get a blizzard before settling in. We arrived at the hostel and put our things into our room and showered and then went at sat in the communal area. We met a guy named Clem from France and we ended up going to Boston Pizza with him for a bite to eat. After we ate with Clem we parted ways and we went down to see the Falls. It was the first time Zach has seen them and Kris had been before. It was dark by the time we got there, but the falls were lit up. It was a beautiful sight.
We were so amazed by the number of people in Niagara. It is really pretty depressing how built up and tourist centered it has become. It seems like people go down to the falls for 30 min and then get bored and go play mini golf or do other tourist things. We are determined to spend our time near the river as far away from the crowds as possible.
After checking out the falls we headed back to the hostel and watched a bit of Into the Wild. It was nice to sit and relax. We are going to bed at a decent time because we have a rest day tomorrow and don’t want to sleep the day away.
Day 27 – ACBB Hostel Niagara – Rest Day
We woke up around 8:30 and Zach showered and we went down for breakfast. After breakfast we decided to get our laundry done while we had the opportunity. We walked a few blocks to the laundromat and quickly got it done.
After the laundromat we walked back to the hostel and talked to Patrick, the hostel owner, about things we should see around the falls. We set off to head up above the falls to the rapids area. On our way we stopped at a small local pub/ eatery in the small town just south of Niagara. We had a burger and beer and then headed to the rapids.
Our plan was to start at the rapids and move down river and end up at the whirlpool. It is amazing how few people there were above the falls. Everybody just flocks right to the falls and don’t realize that the river is pretty awesome. The rapids are huge and the river above the falls is really wide. The volume of water heading between the two lakes it tremendous. There is an old barge called the “Old Scow” that got cut loose from its tug above the falls back in the day. It floated toward the falls and the two men that were aboard opened the bottom hatches in the boat and were able to get it stuck on some rocks in the rapids. It took them almost a whole night to get off, but they were able to make it to shore alive.
After the rapids we headed down to the falls. Being on the Canadian side we could get right up next to Horseshoe Falls (the more famous of the two falls at Niagara). It was really awesome. We did some filming and then headed inside to check out the prices to head below the falls. We opted not to go down because it was around 3pm and we wanted to make it down to the whirlpool before dark. We stuck around by the falls for a bit longer and then headed down river to get out of the crazy crowd of people.
We biked down to the whirlpool. It is the largest whirlpool in the world. The current looked so amazingly strong from above. We had to hike down a ravine with over 300 stairs to the bottom. We hiked down and talked to a couple that said someone who was fishing the day before went in the water for a swim and hadn’t been seen since. They said the police were down there earlier in the day looking for them. It speaks about how powerful the water is there. It was a really cool area. We saw a couple guys fishing and one of them pulled a decent small mouth bass out of the water. After hanging out for a few minutes we began the long hike out back up to the road. It was so hot! We were dripping sweat by the time we made it back to the top.
We biked back to the hostel and by that point it was almost dinner time. We walked into town and Kris went to a convenience store to get some allergy meds and Zach used a payphone to call home. We started walking back toward the hostel and then decided to try to find the restaurant with the “all you can eat” pasta dinner for $7.99. Kris had seen the sign earlier. We were just about to give up on finding it when we ran into it. We ate dinner and then rushed back to the hostel to get our camera equipment because there were fire works that started at 10 right above the falls.
We grabbed our gear and then headed down to the falls. The fireworks were a lot of fun to see. They were really well done, and apparently they are going all summer long on Friday and Sunday nights. After the fireworks we went back up the hill to Boston Pizza for a beer. After the beer we headed back to the hostel. Kris showered and then we went to bed.
We are heading to Hamilton tomorrow via Niagara on the Lake. We enjoyed Niagara, but are ready to move on to a new place.
Day 28 – ACBB Hostel to Hamilton ~ 60 miles
Woke up this morning not wanting to move. We got packed after some showers and had a small breakfast at the hostel. Once we were all set we got a picture in front of the hostel and some directions and headed out of town towards the Niagara River trail. After stopping at Tim Hortons we made it to the bike path, right where we had been the day before by the whirlpool.
The path was amazing! It took us through beautiful forests, gardens, and very scenic views of the river. We eventually came upon a very large hydro dam and did some filming there. Just to the left of the dam The valley opened up and we could see for many miles around us. We continued on the path and eventually made it to Niagara on the Lake. Here we took a quick look at Fort George, the French fort used in the war of 1812. After that we hit lake Ontario and took a few minutes to take it all in. On the opposite side of the river was Fort Niagara on the US side.
From there we biked through many vineyards, orchards, and berry farms as we headed west for the first time on our trip. Very quickly we made it to the waterfront trail, which took us through neighborhoods and parks along the water. After we passed through St. Catherines we hooked back up with the trail on a side road that followed the freeway towards Hamilton. It was great because the pavement was smooth and there was a large bike lane on it with very little traffic. The problem was that it was getting hotter and hotter during the day. We just couldn’t get enough water in. We passed a marina where we saw an old ship that looked like a pirate ship and we stopped there to film it. We also stood on the beach and tried to make out the Toronto skyline across the lake.
From here we kept on peddling until we decided we needed to get out of the sun and really get a lot of water in and a bite to eat. We stopped at Subway and did just that. Kris called Linda and figured out the plans to meet up with her. We were pretty far away form them and they lived on top of a huge cliff (escarpment) so they came and picked us up. We biked to the Husky and waited for them to arrive. Linda and her daughter Rebecca brought their cars and we piled all of our stuff in and they took us home. Having gotten on top of the escarpment I realized that it would have been almost impossible to reach their house in the heat. They also told us that the temperatures reached 94 degrees that day, no wonder we were struggling so much. That was the hottest day by far!
We got showered up back at the house and had dinner with her and her daughter. After dinner they took us around town to show us a few things and to figure out the best route for the morning since the terrain and roads are difficult in that area. They took us down to the waterfront park and we walked around for a bit. After that they took us to the lift bridge that we would have to cross in the morning to make sure that the repairs were done on it and we could cross.
We headed back to their house and watched a really funny old movie called The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes. After this was over we headed to bed exhausted from the heat and long eventful day. Tomorrow we will finally make it to Toronto for exploration and rest.
Day 29 – Hamilton to Toronto ~ 50 miles
We woke up this morning a bit later than we had hoped we would. It was around 9:30. Lynda had made us a breakfast of egg sandwiches and coffee. After breakfast we packed up our things and got ready to head out. We took a picture together and then we headed on down the road. We can’t thank Lynda and her daughter enough for being gracious hosts. Her house is on the top of the escarpment so we got to take one of the access roads down to the lake level. We rode down for about a mile going about 25mph. It was a great way to start the morning.
We navigated our way down to the waterfront trail and started to head west to cross the lift bridge….we got bridged. There was a ship pulling into harbor just as we were pulling up. We went out to the end of the pier and filmed the ship coming in. Its home port is Sault Ste. Marie. After the ship passed through we crossed and were on our way again. We tried to stick to the Waterfront Trail as much as possible. We were heading through suburban area with many really nice houses.
We eventually rounded a corner and the Toronto skyline came into view with the CN Tower dominating the view. We made our way through the populated madness and reached a small park where we sat and enjoyed the snack the Lynda had packed for us, bran muffins and fruit. After eating we continued on into the city. We met up with another guy who was riding into town. His name was Larry and he works for a non profit here that deals with bike events that raise money for cancer funds. He is also an avid cyclist and in 2007 he took 17th in the Race Across America. It goes from Oceanside, CA to Atlantic City, NJ…coast to coast, over 3000 miles. He did it in 12 days. He biked us into town and helped up find our destination. Before we parted ways he bought us a shot of espresso at a local coffeehouse. Supposed to be some of the best in Toronto.
Kris phoned Elena, our contact who is hosting us while we are in Toronto, and got directions to the house. It is a Yogi commune with 13 residents. It was only two blocks or so from the coffeehouse so we biked over and she met us outside. We set up our tent in the backyard and showered. After showering we headed out to see the town.
We stopped at a pizza place in Little Italy and then biked through Chinatown and made our way to the CN Tower. We paid the admission fee and headed to the top! The CN Tower is still the worlds tallest structure. We went through security and got into the elevator. It moves 15 mph and there are windows in the wall and floor so you can watch as you go up! We made it to the observation level and looked around. It was a really awesome 360 degree view! After feeling content on the observation level we headed up to the Sky pod. It is the highest point on the tower that you can go. It goes way above the observation level and we could feel it swaying slightly in the wind.
We headed back down the elevator and then went to the level with the glass floor! You can walk on the glass and look all the way to the ground. We could see our bikes locked up way below! We went to the outdoor lookout and then headed back to the ground once we were content.
Once we got to the bottom we headed to the Distillery District to find the Mill Street Brewery. We found it and went is for a beer. We had the Tankhouse Ale…not bad. After that we headed back across town to the Amsterdam Brewery. We tried some beer there and then headed back toward the commune. We stopped in at the Cloak and Dagger, a local pub, and enjoyed some bluegrass by The Slocan Ramblers. We headed back to the commune and went to bed. Another day of exploration for us tomorrow.
Day 30 Rest Day, Toronto
It was great to sleep in this morning! After we woke up and showered we headed down college st. to find a good coffee shop. We went to Subway and had lunch before going to Manic Coffee and got a bunch of computer work done even though we didn’t have any internet. After that we headed back to our tent and while Zach took a nap, Kris went back downtown and tried to find some internet. The computer wasn’t working properly so he ended up finding an internet cafe there and getting some more work done.
After the computer work was complete he went back and woke up Zach. From there we got ready and went down to the Steam Whistle Brewery for a tour. The tours were almost filled and we had to head to the game soon so we decided to sample some beers and do some filming instead. We learned that the brewery is a green company just like the old round house that it is part of. The old roundhouse used steam from a nearby plant in the early 1920′s to turn the locomotives and was truly one of the first green buildings of its kind.
After the brewery we headed to Kensington Market and had a great burger dinner and checked out a really cool area of town. We quickly headed back to the tent and then raced down to Rogers Center for a Blue Jays baseball game. They were playing the Baltimore Orioles and we had great seats in the lower deck in outfield. Two home runs came within 20 feet of us so that was really exciting as well. The best part was the Jays won!
After the game we headed back to College st. and got a couple beers and watched game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. What a great overtime game! We headed back to the tent to get a good nights rest before a long day of navigating through the streets of this large city. We are off to Port Hope tomorrow.
Day 31 – Downtown Toronto to Port Hope ~ 74 miles
Woke up this morning and didn’t want to move or get out of bed. Its amazing how a cooler night makes you want to sleep as long as possible. We eventually got up and got packed up, stretched, and rehydrated. We opted to get out of Toronto before having breakfast so around 9:30 we took off. We headed through the renowned Kensington Market, China Town, and financial district to get some footage and then slowly made our way out of downtown.
We followed the Waterfront trail and reached a suburb where we stopped at a local bakery for some coffee and a small breakfast. We left a bit unfulfilled, but had to keep pressing on. We were facing a 70+ mile day and just wanted to reach our destination.
We continued to follow the Waterfront Trail but quickly got frustrated by its zig zag nature. It kept going out toward the lake and then back inland following the points of the shore.
We stopped for lunch and tried to get some food at a No Frills supermarket but couldn’t find anything that we wanted. So we went to another local shop and had a sandwich. Again we left unfulfilled. We reached a bike shop and asked for directions and they told us to follow highway 2. So we did and it eventually marked back up with the trail. We followed it a bit further and it led us through some unsatisfactory gravel trail in a provincial park. We stopped at the visitors center and they gave us directions to avoid the trail.
Around 3 or 3:30 we reached a turn in our route we surprisingly met up with Richard from the Oshawa Cycling Club. We had been in contact with him previously and had planned to meet up with him. However we hadn’t heard from him yet today so we figured something had come up. But once we reached that turn he was there waiting for us in his car. He greeted us and parked the car and hopped on his bike to ride a distance with us. He was a very nice guy and he and his wife have done a fair share of touring themselves. He rode with us for over an hour and showed us the good route to follow. We took a picture together and parted ways.
From where we parted we had about another 15 or so miles to Port Hope where we would be staying with Bart at his family home. We arrived in Port Hope right around 6 or 6:30 and stopped at a convenience store for a quick snack and to get directions to his home. Afterwards we made our way to his house and he greeted us outside. He is originally from a small town near Wilmer, MN. Nice to meet a native Minnesotan. He and his family have a great place with a nice view of Lake Ontario.
After showering and getting settled the three of us went to a local restaurant for dinner. It was about a 10 min walk from his place. After eating we walked back and sat and enjoyed a beer and talked for a while. After Bart and his son went to bed we walked out to the lake to enjoy it for a few minutes. We are going to bed in a nice warm home with comfortable quarters.
Tomorrow we are headed to a local bike shop in Bloomington, ON tomorrow, about a 60 mile day. Forecast isn’t looking to good. Rain with 25 mph winds coming from the east…our direction of travel. We take it as it comes. We really enjoyed Toronto and hope to return someday. This day marks the end of our 1st month on the road! It has been great and we know it will continue to be. Thank you to everyone who has got us to this point!
Day 32 – Port Hope to Bloomfield Bicycle Company ~ 70 miles
Let it go on record that today was our worst day so far, but we still made it, just barely. We woke up this morning at Bart’s and he had some coffee made for us. When we looked out the window the weather was really as bad as we had expected the night before. It was going to rain all day long and into the evening with 30-35 mph gusts of wind. We sat there drinking our coffee contemplating if we should go or not. After a few minutes we decided to go for it. We quickly packed up our things as the rain started to fall and Bart helped us load our trailers before we shot a few pictures. Then we were off down the road not knowing what the day had in store for us.
We stopped just a half mile down the road and got coffee and a big breakfast to keep us warm during the day. In that short stretch alone we were completely soaked through. After we got the courage to press on we made some adjustments with some of our equipment so it could all stay dry and that way we would be as comfortable as possible when we arrived in camp that night. We then departed heading into an incredibly strong headwind that made the rain feel like bullets when it hit your face. Within minutes we were completely soaked, luckily we had our rain gear on but it can only do so much when there is that much water coming down on you. We kept following the waterfront trail but at a certain point it took us a couple miles out of our way just to bring us 100 feet ahead on the same road it took us away from. So we decided to get on the highway and try our luck that way. That turned out to be a bad idea because even though it is not used as much the traffic was still bad and that combined with no shoulders and pouring rain was a recipe for disaster. We tried to find the trail again by going down a dirt road and when we got to the end of it, it just dead ended and there was no trail because it was closer to the lake than we had thought. So we turned around and made it back to the highway. Once we got back their everything was coated in mud, our chains, drivetrains, and brakes were all shot. We made it to the next town and vowed to stay on the trail.
Once we made it to Brighton, we stopped and got lunch. It was a good chance to warm up out of the rain and get some much needed fuel. Once we were ready we got back out into the rain and headed down onto Prince Edward county. It is a large island with lots of vineyards and beautiful scenery. Thats when the weather got even worse and we were at our wits end. The wind picked up even more and so did the rain. The gave it everything we had left but finally made it into Bloomfield where we found the bicycle shop and our destination for the night. They showed us back to the bike barn where they had hot soup waiting for us. It was great that they were able to put us up for the night with a busy business. We got all of our wet stuff off and sat down to a great casserole dinner with Rick and KT. They told us great stories about their bicycle travels and then we got showered up and into some warm dry clothes. After dinner Rick got his self made sweat lodge up and running for us to stretch out in and warm up some more. He dug it into a hillside and it was a really great experience. Afterwards it felt great to be out in the rain to cool off again after getting really hot. The rest of the evening we caught up on computer work before we drifted off to sleep. The rain finally let up at around 12am, maybe it will be gone tomorrow. Its a shame that Zach’s phone got wet. It probably wont be working again so we are without a good alarm now.
Tomorrow we head off towards Gananoque and then to Landon Bay campground for the night. It will be a shame to leave such a neat couple who took us in after our hardest day yet.
Day 33 – Bloomfield to Landon Bay Campground ~ 70 miles
We woke up this morning not wanting to move but early for once. KT had a great breakfast made for us of homemade muffins, yogurt, and cereal. Dave and Alli (their two employees) and we all sat and ate over great conversation. We brought our bikes up to the shop and got a few things fixed on them and got them all nice and clean. Zach’s bike fell over and he had to get it fixed again. We got all packed up late, around 11am and headed out after a brief rain. At least today we had a tail wind to help push our soar and worn out bodies forward.
We left around noon and passed Picton and headed towards the free ferry that takes you back to the mainland. The ferry was a short ride but we had a great conversation with The 13th Tribe. They were a motorcycle group that had just got done with a Holocaust memorial ride and were heading home. Once we got off the ferry, we let the strong wind push us towards Kingston. We got some final looks at lake Ontario as the other shoreline closed in and we entered the St. Lawrence Seaway. The scenery was beautiful and it was great knowing we had finally made it to the river.
In Kingston, we stopped and ate a late lunch before biking through downtown and then crossing a bride towards Gananoque. We quickly arrived in Gananoque and got our provisions for the night. Landon Bay campground was not far from there but Kris’ knee was really hurting at that point from pushing to hard in the storm the day before so he took it easy the rest of the way. Once we arrived in camp we realized that we were one of the only people there. I guess people don’t go out and camp in poor weather. We set up camp and hung up our wet clothes to dry. We made Chili Mac, a Big Water Bike staple and enjoyed the rest of the evening. We showered, made some calls, and went to bed probably the earliest yet (10pm). During the night the racoons found our beloved cookie supply that we forgot to pack away. Damn those nasty critters!
Tomorrow we will be heading to Prescott and it seems to be a short day. Hopefully Kris’ knee will be feeling better and the weather will hold up for us. It looks like rain though so we are not getting our hopes up to high.
Day 34 – Landon Bay to Grenville Park Campground ~ 47 miles
We woke up this morning feeling refreshed after a few extra hours of sleep. We got ready to go and tried to figure out if we needed to pay. Last night when we arrived no one was in the welcome center and they did not have overnight drops for camping deposits. After staying at the welcome center for a few minutes we figured they did not care about our money and we took off. Its not our fault no one was there to collect anything on a weekend day.
We headed down the road with a nice tailwind and entered the small town of Rockport. Our breakfast was small and unsatisfactory but there was nothing else in town and we had already come a good distance to get there. We hopped to get something more when we reached a bigger town. After breakfast we got back on the road and quickly made it to Brockville. There we decided to go just a little further to Prescott to get a good meal in. We peddled our way along the river until we reached town. We had a great meal in town with a very nice server. Its nice to have a meal that truly makes you full on trips like this. After that we saw a huge dark cloud moving in but we still needed to get groceries. We hurried to the store and quickly got what we needed but by then it was took late. The rain had found us once again and was headed in the same direction as us.
Luckily we only had about 3 miles to go and found our campsite. They let us camp under an awning so we could stay dry and not have to deal with all of our equipment getting wet. Zach found a surprise waiting for him in his trailer bag, a can of pop had exploded inside and had gotten on lots of his equipment. We spent the next little bit dealing with that and trying to fix his phone. As we sat there watching ships passing through the seaway we saw a tugboat hauling a smaller boat and wondered why they would need a tug. We realized that they were hauling a submarine up the river. We ran down to the water with our camera and filmed it as it passed by. Its funny because earlier in the day we had talked about if there were any subs in the great lakes. Well I guess that answers that. The rest of the evening was spent on the computer, cleaning equipment, and watching more storms roll in.
The weather does not look to good for the next week or so but tomorrow is our last day in Ontario for the trip as we are off to Quebec. We will be in Montreal by Tuesday, and back in the states in less that two weeks. Tomorrow we will be heading to Lancaster for one last night in Ontario.
Day 35 – Grenville Park to Maplewood Acres Campground ~ 75 miles
The alarm went off this morning around 7:50 and Kris immediately shut it off and we fell back asleep until sometime around 9. It was cold this morning and we didn’t want to move. We reluctantly got up and put on several layers and rain gear because it was looking like rain. We packed up and took off and rode about 15 miles or so and stopped for a gas station breakfast of coffee and a pastry. Not too satisfying.
It trickled rain but never really got going…which we were thankful for. Around the 25 mile mark the odometer hit 2000 miles! We are happy to be at that point and still cruising. The Waterfront trail followed the highway for most of the day and the shoulders were pretty spacious. We went through a couple more small towns and then followed the trail out onto a series of islands called the Long Sault Parkway. In the 1950s Canada and the US decided to take advantage of the rapids in this section and built a dam to harness the energy of the moving water and to improve the Seaway. The dam flooded an area and created the islands. They relocated towns and moved homes that would have otherwise been flooded.
The trail went right through the islands and it was a nice ride. We were super hungry at that point though and by the time we made it to Cornwall we were really struggling. We eventually made it through Cornwall and stopped on the opposite side for some much needed lunch. That was at about 3:00 or so. After lunch we headed out of Cornwall towards Lancaster. We arrived at about 6 and stopped again to pick up what dinner we could scavenge. After stopping we continued on down parallel to the 401 and pulled into Glencarry Park (one of our options for camping for the night). We decided to keep going and take our chances with the next site, Maplewood Acres Campground. We had no idea that it wasn’t on the Seaway. We found out after talking to someone down the road who told us it was across the 401…at least the riding was smooth. We crossed the freeway and headed into farm country and eventually made it to Maplewood Acres. It ended up being a 75 mile day. We are exhausted and are showering and then going to bed.
Tonight is our last night in Ontario and tomorrow we will be crossing into Quebec and staying with Laura, from the West Coast trip, in Montreal. Should be about a 60 mile day. The rain held off today and it looks like a partly sunny day tomorrow. We’ll see.
Day 36 – Maplewood Acres to Downtown Montreal ~ 68 miles
We woke up this morning and got ready quite quickly as there were mosquitoes everywhere! We left the campground to the sun which was a very warm relief. We got breakfast at the nearby gas station and it just wasn’t quite enough but we headed on anyways. We kept following the Waterfront trail until we crossed over into Quebec. Just at that moment Zach realized that he had left his phone behind in camp. After some extensive searching we found it in his trailer. So off we went again and quickly got turned around by all of the criss crossing trails. We had a hard time finding directions but soon a nice gentleman started talking to us in French. He realized we had no idea what he was saying and started talking in English. He pointed us on the right path that took us along a very long canal. We had a few detours on the trail but soon we were about to cross the bridge onto the island of Montreal. Right before that we met a couple of cyclists from the area and they showed us they way into the city. It was cool learning about the city ad what we were in store for. Richard had to turn back early but Gaetan kept going with us even past his own house.
We stopped for a beer and lunch in Point Claire and then said our goodbyes to him. It was so nice having help through part of the city. It would have taken hours for us without them. We kept following the trails around the edge of the water and passed by Old Montreal. We decided to head up into town a little and follow another canal. When we reached the shipping area in downtown we gave Laura a call. Laura was one of the cyclists we had biked with for part of our journey down the west coast of the US. She gave us some directions and we headed up hill through the heart of downtown Montreal. It was crazy busy and im surprised we made it out ok. Zach accidentally fell over waiting at a stoplight but he was ok. We kept heading uphill when all of a sudden Laura showed up and found us. She showed us they way back to her place. On the way we passed McGill college and some other wonderful sights. We rushed back to her place and locked up our bikes. We had to lug our stuff to the top floor of the apartment but at least we had a place to stay after a very long and trying day.
We had hoped to catch the Transit of Venus at 6pm but right as we got to a window to view it the clouds got in the way. I guess we will never see it in our lifetime now. It is where Venus passes in front of the sun and can be seen with eclipse glasses. It happens on a cycle of 8 years, 8 years, then 117 years. The old astronomers used it to figure out the size of the solar system based on its orbit. Pretty bummed we didn’t get to see it but oh well. After we got showered up we headed down to a mexican place and the food was awesome. After that we went to a Dep (local corner store) and bought some stamps and then headed to a micro brewery. It was great to finally have a good beer for a change. After that we got a beer at the local beer store and snacks then headed back to the apartment where Laura told us about the protests that were going on in Quebec. Students are unhappy at the tuition hikes and are out in the streets in masses every night. It is great to see that the people of Quebec have so much pride in their provence and that they can stand together against (colonialism). We had great conversation then it was off to bed on the floor for another long day in the morning.
Tomorrow we will continue heading east towards Quebec. We will spend the night in Louisville at a marina and campground. Hope we can get by with the little french that we know. Its not going to be pretty, it feels like we are in another world.
Day 37 – Montreal to Camping et Marina, Louisville ~ 70 miles
We woke this morning after spending the night on the floor of Laura’s apartment. Might not sound to luxurious to most, but to us it was amazing. Having a roof over our heads and a warm place to sleep makes all the difference. Laura went to class at around 8 or so and we got up not to long after she left. We packed our things, checked our route for the day/ emails, and then brought our trailers down to street level and headed off to find breakfast.
It was our plan to find one of the famous bagel shops in Montreal, but we couldn’t find it so we headed to the closest one we could find and got coffee and chocolate croissants. Very tasty, but we are starting to learn that pastries alone are not sufficient to keep us going if we are going to have a later lunch. We headed northeast-ish out of the main part of the city and went right past the Olympic Stadium. Montreal played host to the 21st Olympiad in 1976. It is a very interesting looking stadium.
We really wished we could have spent more time in Montreal, but are using our rest day in Quebec City instead. We will hopefully return to the city someday though. It took us a while to get out of the city and suburbs and didn’t really get out until well after the noon hour.
It was pretty slow going and we still hadn’t found a decent place to stop for lunch by 2pm. We were getting pretty tired and cranky and we both knew it. We stopped at a small gas station and went in and looked for something to eat, but being sick of gas station food we opted out of getting anything there. We were stopped by a lady in the parking lot who was interested in what we were doing, she was a touring cyclist as well. We gave here our card and chatted for a bit and then parted ways. We finally reached Berthierville around 3 and stopped at a grocery store, well ready for some food. Since our French is extremely limited we just went into the store grabbed what we wanted and payed and left, almost without and words spoken. It is unfortunate, but that is the way it goes. We feel quite lost and alone in Quebec not being able to speak their language and it is very mentally taxing.
After eating in the sunshine we continued on toward Louiseville. We knew it was only about 15 miles away at that point and pushed out the miles pretty quickly after being refueled. We reached the city and again stopped at a local grocery store to pick up dinner. We were not in the mood to spend the time to fire up the stove tonight so we just got items to eat cold.
We headed out to the campground for the night called Camping et Marina. It sits right on a small channel that runs into the Seaway. We got here around 6 or 630 and set up camp and then showered. After showering and eating we headed back to town about 2 miles and got detergent to do laundry. We haven’t done it since Niagara and it was much needed. We also wanted to take advantage of the facilities here and not have to do it on our day off in Quebec City.
We are headed to Portneuf tomorrow to set ourselves up for a nice short day into Quebec City on Friday. Today was mentally taxing and we are just exhausted. We are doing our best to stay in high spirits and we know the rest day will help. The fact that we will but turning around to head back west on Sunday is also a big boost to our morale. We will be back in the States in less than a week!
Day 38 – Louiseville to Portneuf ~ 75 miles
This morning we got packed up and said our goodbyes to the french cyclist who was camped next to us. She didn’t say much but neither did we. We headed up to a grocery store where we had breakfast outside on a table out in the sun. After that we were off towards Portneuf along the river. The sun was shining and the wind was in our faces but it was lite. We kept peddling all day long and kept each other occupied with conversation. We passed by many really neat churches today that were really old. In fact many of the towns we passed through today were founded in the 1600′s. The churches had a really neat silver glow to them on their steeples.
We stopped for lunch at a supermarket and were really full afterwards. We didn’t want to move, all we wanted was a nap. We reluctantly got back on our bikes and headed the 20 more miles towards Portneuf. When we reached the town we had a hard time finding a grocery store but we eventually did after climbing a big hill and asking for directions at a gas station. We had to cross over the freeway and up a huge hill that we almost had to walk up. We got stocked up for the night and then headed back down the hill, up another one, back down and finally up another huge hill to get to Camping de Panoramique. This place is a glorified retirement home where everyone lives in lavish trailers and drive golf carts around. We are literally the youngest people here and surely the only people in tents. Its a little uncomfortable being here but at least it is quiet. We took showers and then checked the email to see if anyone had responded to us for a place to stay tomorrow in Quebec city. No one had so we found some phone numbers on the Warm Showers Network and gave them a try. After much searching we found a place to stay tomorrow night and for our rest day on Saturday. We met some really nice people who spoke to us in english and asked about our trip so they could go tell their non english speaking friends about us. We definitely stick out like sore thumbs here. The rest of the evening was spent making calls, walking around this giant trailer park (with its own streets), and avoiding the rain.
Tomorrow we are off to Quebec city where we will explore and catch up an doing nothing. We may even have a radio interview on CBC radio so stay tuned!
Day 39 – Portneuf to Quebec City ~ 70 miles
This morning we packed quickly and had breakfast. We left and hopped back on the 138, spirits were high. We had the wind at our backs but it looked as though it might rain on us. We made our way along the river and caught sight of the bridge in Quebec City. After about 20 miles we stopped and got some coffee at Tim Hortons. Luckily we were inside because thats when the rain started. It did not last long and then we were on our way again nearing the city. When we were about 6 miles away we had to take a detour. We decided to stay on our path and see if we could walk our bikes around it. We found out that it was possible but they had fenced everything off so we had to turn back. We decided to look for something else after realizing that the detour would put us on the freeway. We headed down a small road that took us through a tunnel under the freeway. This led us to a small dirt road that eventually brought us to the train tracks. We crossed them and followed a dirt road into a neighborhood. We eventually found our way back onto our route.
Once in town we stopped at a grocery store for lunch and then headed to Marianne’s house where we were to stay for the next 2 nights. She was a very nice person with a brand new cat. Kris called the bike shop where we had a package sent and then she showed us the way through downtown where we got our external hard drive that Mona had been so kind to send us with a hand made yarn owl that she had worked on as well. She went back to the house to get ready for dinner while we explored old downtown and the naval ship museum. We headed back to the house where dinner was running late. We decided to head off to the circus as that was the plan and have dinner afterwards. The circus was great! It was very small and intimate but hilarious even though it was in french. We had an amazing time and would have gone to see it again.
After the circus we went back and made stir fry before heading out on the town for a while. Marianne took us to a close by bar where we had great conversation as the night went on. On our way back home we went to a local snack bar and got some poutine to bring back before bed. It was delicious!
Tomorrow we have a rest day and plan on exploring as much of the city as possible after a morning of shopping at the local street days garage sale.
Day 40 – Quebec City Rest Day
This morning we woke up and got ready for the garage sales. We headed out and went down the block for espresso and chocolate croissants. We then spent the next few hours looking at all the stuff in the alleys for many blocks. Marianne found lots of stuff for her new apartment and Zach found a small painting. We helped her carry all of her stuff back including two new living room chairs. After that we said our goodbyes to her as she was leaving for the evening to go to a friend’s cabin. We left and headed into downtown and our first stop was at the grocery store for some late lunch. After that we went up and up and up until we reached the top the the hill where downtown and old Quebec were. We saw so many old buildings and a beautiful streets. We went by parliament and talked to some protestors about the student protests and the ongoing pursuit of Quebec trying to become their own nation. It was very interesting talking to those people about these issues.
We then headed into the walls of the old city and explored for a while. Kris got a couple of gifts and then we got ice cream. After that we went down to the overlook where you could see for miles in every direction. We shot some footage and reflected on how this was a far east as we will come on our trip. What a turning point both figurative and literal. We will be turning around and heading west for the first time on our trip back towards the USA, and eventually Duluth. It is a huge milestone for us to be here. We have been thinking about this city for the last month of the trip, but words cant describe how it feels to have made it. Getting here had gotten us through so much and now we have new milestones to reach. The USA, large cities, and then back home to Duluth!
We biked back to Marianne’s house after checking out a couple more sights on the way. We caught her just before she left for the evening. After she was gone we walked to the grocery store to pick up dinner and breakfast for tomorrow morning. We got a decent frozen pizza so we could utilize the opportunity of the oven and had a mediocre hot meal. While the pizza cooked we worked on planning out our route for the next few days. We are adjusting some things so we wont have to do another 100 mile day when we head into Montreal on the South side of the river. After figuring out the route we are going to get organized before we clean up and go to bed.
Even though today was a rest day we are exhausted. But we have to keep pushing on and stay on track. You could spend so many more days in Quebec and not see it all. We hope we are doing enough filming…it is really difficult to keep up with it all, but we are doing the best we can.
Heading across the river and back West tomorrow!
Day 41 – Quebec City to Camping a la Roche ~ 65 miles
We woke up this morning at Marianne’s place at around 9:30. We slept in a bit because we were up a bit late last night chasing down the protesters and enjoying our day off. We made some coffee and had our fruit and bagels for breakfast. We packed up our things and made our way into town. We headed down to the dock area because we wanted to avoid having to bike up and over the hill. It was busy and difficult trying to deal with the traffic and people, but we made good time and enjoyed biking next to the river.
As we made our way out of town we we able to see the bridge in the distance that we we going to cross. We made it very near the bridge and then had to climb the hill to make it up to the crossing level. The bridge is enormous and beautiful, but the path for bikes is very narrow so we crossed slowly in order to be safe. We made it across and were officially on the south side of the Seaway and on our way back home!
We stopped for lunch in Ste. Croix at the local grocery store and sat out in the Sun and enjoyed our food. It was a very nice day weather wise and had a decent tailwind to help us out. After lunch we reached a detour and decided to try to pass it. We reached the town and found the detour and realized it wasn’t passable. We tried to communicate with someone before the detour and we thought they told us we would be ok. This is where being able to comprehend French would have helped. Luckily a family in the town saw us and noticed we were trying to pass. So they showed us a way around the detour and walked us through a field and got us by without having to bike out of our way to pass.
We got clear of the detour and continued to bike along the river. We reached Saint Pierre led Becquets around 6 or so and stopped at the grocery store for dinner. We picked up dinner and headed to the campground. Pretty normal day. We showered and ate and relaxed while we enjoyed the sunset. We walked back up into town to the local Dep to get prepaid phone cards and then went back and headed to bed. We have been leaving the fly of the tent open to keep it cool while we sleep.
Day 42 – A la Roche to South of Sorel-Tracy ~ 92 miles
We woke up around 9 or so feeling rested, but wanting to sleep longer. We slowly got up and ate our usual breakfast of fruit and bagels. We packed up and headed up the steep hill from the camp up to the road. We stopped about 10 miles down the road when we reached a payphone. We had to call into CBC radio because we had an interview that we were supposed to do over the phone. We did the interview and it aired at 4:00 today internationally. Really humbling to be a part of.
After the interview we continued on. We could tell early on that it was going to be a hot day. We bike at a pretty good pace until we reached Nicolet where we stopped for lunch. When we stopped for lunch however we really noticed the heat. After we ate we really slowed down and struggled to keep going. Now that we are headed west the sun is in our face for most of the day and it is really noticeable. The road quality also got worse which made the day even more stressful. We stopped a few times along the way in the shade to get a brake.
We reached Sorel-Tracy around 6:30 or so and stopped at a local pizza place for dinner. At that point we were exhausted and had already done 70+ miles. We ate and enjoyed the cool indoor temps. It didnt last long though and we had to continue on to find our site for the night. We were trying to make it to a campsite that had no water or toilets, but they said we could stay. We passed another campground on the way, but they wanted to charge us $50 dollars for the night! It was already 8:30! That was absurd so we continued on and tried to reach the campground that we had decided on prior.
We never found it. We ended up stopping at a Historical site which was a canal/ dam. We found a square of tall cedar bushes that was covering a power box and pitched our tent inside the square. It was protected from view, but not from the heat a mosquitos. We quickly set up our tent and hopped in to avoid getting eaten alive. We laid in bed and sweated for a while before we fell asleep. Not ideal but we had gone 92 miles and didn’t want to go any further.
Day 43 – South of Sorel-Tracy to Montreal ~ 56 miles
Woke up very early today to all of the park workers arriving and looking at us in our hidden abode. We quickly threw everything together and left onto the road. On the road we packed up our stuff properly and then we were off. It was quite a ways before we found a town where we could get something to eat and refill our water bottles. Yesterday really took it out of us and we were feeling it, especially dehydration. Once we found a town we got huge bottles of juice and milk and then ate our other pizza that we couldn’t finish last night. After that we were off into the strong wind towards Montreal.
A few hours later we stopped to get some more water and then started to enter the busy city. We were actually on the south side of the river and the city is on the north side but it still a very populated area. Right as the rain started to fall we stopped at a grocery store for lunch and took refuge under the awning as we ate. It started to rain harder and we had to go back out in it. We made our way over a bike ramp that took us over the freeway and found a really cool bike path that was actually out on the water. We were not sure if it was a breakwater or what but we biked along a dirt path out on the water looking out at the city on the other side of the river in the hazy rain. About ½ mile before we reached a bridge Zach got the first flat tire of the trip. It was pretty impressive since we have biked over 2500 miles but it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Zach walked his bike to the bridge where he found the source of the problem, a small but very sharp thorn shaped rock. He tried to repair the leak but it was wet so he just put on a new tube and we were on our way in the rain again.
Bike paths are always a blessing as they get you away from traffic and tend to be quieter, but as you bikers know a dirt path in the rain causes havoc on your chain and shifting systems on road bikes. By the time the trail turned to pavement, everything was caked in dirt and grit. We will definitely need to clean our bikes and trailers tonight or tomorrow. Once we got off the trail we had to find our warm shower spot for the night. We got a little mixed up but eventually found the right roads that took us there. We arrived at Domanique’s house right as he got there. We sprayed off all the grime with the hose and then went inside to get showered up and ready for dinner. He had a great salmon dinner made up in no time and soon we were engaged in conversations about past trips and his bicycle journey throughout south america. The rest of the night we sat out on the porch with his dad and had Cuban cigars and flaming Sambuca. We went to bed watching Te Dark Knight, hoping that the rain will end by tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will head to Camping le Dauphin, which is very near the US border. We are very excited to be entering back into America in the next two days!
Day 44 – South Montreal to Camping le Dauphin ~ 53 miles
This morning could not have come at a worse time, all we wanted was to sleep the day away. But got ready and brought all of our things outside. We pumped up our tires and made some quick adjustments before saying our goodbyes. We headed to a grocery store for breakfast and then we were off west towards St-Anicet. The wind was pretty bad and we were so tired so it was slow going. We passed through a reservation and couldn’t believe all of the smoke shops, literally 50 or so in a mile! After that we found a random DQ in the middle of nowhere and stopped for some Blizzards. That definitely made us feel better. After that we kept following hwy 132 and slowly making our way west. We should have gotten lunch a few hours before but there really wasn’t much until we made it to St-Anicet. There we got lunch and dinner and then made the final 2 miles to the campground. We showered and then Zach headed back into town for some more supplies, while Kris made some phone calls back home. After Zach returned we both extensively cleaned our bikes and that took so long but it was so needed! The rest of the night we looked at our route for the next few days and marveled in the fact that the US is so close. The border is only 10 miles away and we will strike early in the morning.
Looking back at our time in Canada, we have seen so much in such a short time. It was an amazing experience but what we will come away with the most is how wonderful people were to us. Everyone was interested in what we were doing and were so willing to lend a hand or a place to stay. The people who put us up at night were so incredibly friendly and hospitable, they really made us feel at home. We cant thank them enough and will never forget what they did for us. Canada it has been a pleasure, Quebec it has been interesting but great. USA here we come, you better be ready because we wont be looking back!
Day 45 – Camping le Dauphin to Jacques Cartier State Park ~ 90 miles
Woke up late this morning to the mosquitoes waiting for us on the edges of the tent. A bit tired after having to deal with our first pesky raccoon of the trip. It came right up to our tent and we had to get out and hit it with a stick. It came back a second time and we had to hit it even harder and chase it up a tree before it decided to leave us alone. We got ready quickly and headed out in high spirits towards the USA! We stopped about 8 miles down the road and tried to get rid of some of our canadian money and get some snacks. About 10 minutes later we were at the US border, crossing into New York, something we have been waiting 45 days to see. We crossed the border and then had to go through customs. They had a lot of questions for us and then wanted to see our footage that we had just filmed. In the end they gave us a lot of grief for two guys being on bicycles. We finally were on our way again and stopped in Messena for some lunch and Zach went looking for a Sprint store to get a new phone. He didn’t find one and then were on our way along the Seaway trail that will take us along all of the NY shorelines.
We made it to our destination by 3pm and decided that we would keep going as it would make tomorrow shorter. Tomorrow we will be staying at a lake home and having a good relaxing rest with good people form Duluth. We ended up continuing on and headed towards Ogdensburg. On the way there we stopped for a snack at a gas station and then were off again. We then stopped at a campground and found out if we went 20 more miles we would find a state park. In Ogdensburg we stopped for dinner and then were off again with the wind at our backs and shoulders that were 10 feet wide at times. We quickly made it to Morrisburg and got some beer and then made it to the campground before the sun went down. It was the cheapest site yet but the most beautiful and well groomed. We had the site all to ourselves, which it meant it was quiet. We went down to the shoreline and watched the sunset and filmed the 1000 islands and Brockville across the river. We went back up to the campsite where we showered up and then went off into the woods and found a abundance of firewood and then made a great fire and had great conversations of life. We went to bed a few hours later to the sounds of the woods in peace.
We are so happy to be back in the USA where we don’t have to speak French to survive and everything is cheap. Tomorrow we have a short day to Cape Vincent where we will be staying with a couple from Duluth at their lake home where we will have a nice rest and some time to explore, reset, and get ready for the second half of our trip!
Day 46 – Jacque Cartier SP to Cape Vincent, NY ~ 40 miles
We woke up this morning to the sound of a lawn mower at 7 am…luckily that is what time we had the alarm set for. We fell back to sleep until about 8 and then got up for our last day on the Seaway. We packed up our stuff and ate our breakfast of an apple and bagel with Nutella. We wanted to get going ASAP because we knew that it would mean a longer time to relax once we reached our destination 40 miles or so away.
We headed out of the park with the sky blue and sun beating down. We headed west towards Alexandria Bay. We continued on pretty uneventfully, but making pretty good time considering we had a bit of headwind. We stopped at an overlook that looked out on the Seaway and we could see the Singer Castle on Dark Island, which is one of a couple big castles on the Seaway in the Thousand Islands region. It was paid for to be build by one of the early Presidents of the Singer Sewing Machine company. It is a beautiful building from a far and we would love to tour it someday.
We continued on through the countryside until we reached the town of Clayton. We stopped at a gas station and got a snack and sat outside and watched as a bunch of cigarette racing boats pulled into the gas station to fill up. Being Friday people are headed to the water to relax.
After we stopped it was a pretty quick jaunt to Ken and Joanne’s home along the river just outside of Cape Vincent. The wind switched a bit a so it was great as made our way to their place. We arrived around 1:30, so it was a quick day for us.
They came out to greet us as we arrived and we stood out and talked a bit. After we went inside and enjoyed the sloppy joe sandwiches that they prepared for us. After we ate we showered and then hopped in the car and we drove up to Cape Vincent to check out the town and the Tibbet’s Point Lighthouse. We drove around to Clayton and Alexandria Bay and they showed us around the area and explained some of the history of the area.
We made our way back to the house and had a happy hour with Gin and Tonics and some snacks. At about 8:30 we sat down for an amazing dinner prepared by Joanne and Ken of Beef, Pork, Mashed Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Bread, and Salad with the “Original” Thousand Island Dressing. The dressing was invented in the Clayton area and named after the Thousand Island region of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Right in the middle of dinner a few of Ken and Joannes friends stopped by and said hello. They arrived here last night at 7 and haven’t had a chance to really settle in yet.
After dinner we sat and watched the guy tight rope over the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara. It has been a relaxing afternoon and we have really enjoyed their company and can’t thank them enough for opening their home to us.
Tomorrow we have another short day to Selkirk Shores SP and should be going through Rochester, NY on Monday!