Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 50 - Ride into Syracuse, Our Journey Ends Here


We’re losing our SAG driver Ann, who has to leave us in Syracuse. This amazing adventure will have to end here. We drove the RV out of Buffalo and up to the coast of Lake Ontario where we unloaded the bikes and began our last day of riding. 
As with Lake Erie, the south shore of Ontario was beautiful.  However, instead of vegetables, tobacco and corn, there were acres of orchards; apples, peaches, cherries and various berries. At a local farm stand we found peaches that actually tasted like peaches.
Passing though Bill and Ron's hometown of Cato, we stopped for a quick visit with Bill's brother Don and wife Nancy. Because we had been slow to update the blog, they were a bit surprised. "The last we read, you were somewhere in Wisconsin." 
We met Ann and the RV just outside of Syracuse and rode it into the city, first to Jody's home and then Ron's. Bill will drive home to Yonkers tomorrow.  Spent the evening at J Ryan's, beer and last meal together.
It's been a great adventure across a amazing country. The diversity of terrain, enviroment and climate is remarkable. Ours is a rich and productive country with a remarkable infrastructue of roads, dams, power plants, bridges, parks and buildings. But all is not well. We passed through areas of stark poverty, not far from palacial estates.  We saw the homeless, we talked with the jobless. We saw and felt the impact of a national budget focused more on warfare than on human well-being.  The vast and growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of our country must shock any traveler in the US. It used to be that the wealthy had to pay taxes. Mitt and his friends have proven that is not the case anymore.  There are a little over two months until the November elections. We're going to do all we can in that time to see if we can elect folks to office who will:
-End our wars of aggression and domination, which are waged on behalf of corporate interests and do not make us safer;  
-Take a firm stand against the effort to portray government as the problem; 
-Terminate the budgetary and tax policies that benefit multinational corporations that transfer jobs out of our country and implement policies to encourage job development here at home
-Establish a true Jobs program similar to the New Deal programs that put thousands to work;
 -Insist that the 1% pay their fair share and acknowledge that if they did so and we dedicated the savings from ending our militaristic “foreign policy” there would be no budget deficits and no need for austerity budgets;




She didn't squeeze it, honest!

Bill's brother Don, wife Nancy and grandsons Nathanael, Joshua & Isaiah.



At the end, tired but still smilin!




Ron and Jodi with friends Sue and Dennis at JRyan's




Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 49 - Selkirk Provincial Park to Buffalo

We must be anxious to get home. This will be our 8th straight day on the bikes and another 60 + miles. Made it to Old Fort Erie and then drove over the Peace* Bridge and into Buffalo.  Another beautiful riding day along the Erie shore.  Met Carol, an Ontario forensic social worker who filled us in on local prisons and whereabouts of the provinces worst serial murderers. People like to talk about their work.
Stopped to ask directions from Scott, an auto parts plant worker whose factory recently closed.  He lacked enough years for a pension, but said the union (Steelworkers) had negotiated a lump sum payment.  He commented, "We don't make anything here anymore."  It's a familiar refrain on both sides of the border.
We rolled into Buffalo and made a bee-line for (Gene) McCarthy's Pub (not the former WI Senator), but the bar owner who ran this South Buffalo pub for over 50 years. It was and remains a classic Irish bar.  It was purchased a few year ago by William Randolph Thirst (aka Bill Metzger), who kept all the old ambiance but updated the menu and beer selection. It now offers products from the region's best micro-breweries and still has Guiness and Genessee for older loyal patrons. A must stop if you're in the area.
http://www.mccarthysbuffalo.com/

Spent the night at Bill's home/office just up the street. He publishes numerous regional papers, i.e. The Great Lakes Brewing News. Our thanks to him for hosting us and maintaining this great old Irish Pub.

Carol - social worker who filled us in on the bad guys 

Sure looked like one

Served fish right off the boat - perch or walleye. Best we had!


*Peace - do your part - Support the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Please go to their website: http://ourjourneytosmile.com  We hope that you will consider a donation by sending a check payable to Voices for Creative Non-Violence, http://vcnv.org/, at 1249 W Argyle Street #2, Chicago, IL 60640 and note Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers in the memo section of the check. Thank you!





Friday, August 10, 2012

Days 47 and 48 - North Shore of Lake Erie


Day 47 - Rondeau Provincial Park to Port Burwell Provincial Park
We arose early with the plan to do a long ride, over 70 miles and it was NOT a dark and stormy morning. We set off with mostly clear skies with some intermittent clouds for welcome cover and temperature in the mid seventies. It was truly a wonderful day for a ride and, hold your hat Cecilia, we had south westerly winds.  We stopped for a late breakfast in Wallacetown and met a gentleman (George) out for a ride on his incumbent bike. Turns out George does more than cruise around town; he has ridden his bike in both Vietnam and Cambodia. He remarked that the people were very friendly but he could only ride on main roads because the back roads were not passable.  During breakfast the Olympic coverage was on the overhead TV; we watched Beezie Madden (central NY rider), perform in the equestrian competition. The afternoon ride was equally pleasant through lush farmland and along the northern coast of Lake Erie.  Clearly Ontario Province has taken global warming seriously; many homes and businesses had installed solar panels and there was a large wind farm with numerous incredibly tall windmills. 
Day 48 - Port Burwell Provincial Park to Selkirk Provincial Park
Another absolutely gorgeous (not to be confused with the various horses Jody (nick name chatty Patti), conversed with each day of the ride) day for riding. Another day of riding along the north coast of Lake Erie with little traffic and beautiful views of the lake.  More local eateries featuring local produce and supporting local artists. We should note one thing about touring on a bicycle, as opposed to a car,  the aromas in the air.  At one point we were surrounded by smell the ripening peppers in the fields around us. Corn, soybeans, peppers, tomatoes and tobacco fields are abundant. Lunch in Normandale at an old Inn and a 3:30 arrival at the park.  Tomorrow is our last day in Canada and then back home to New York state. 

Southern Ontario Residents take their fish seriously 
If you can read the text, it's about a historic rescue of US fisherman by a local rescue crew

George, the intrepid biker through Southeast Asia

North shore of Lake Erie

One of the many lighthouses along the Lake Erie Coast


A field of dill - at least enough for the Carnegie Deli's pickles

Day 46 - Rose Campground, MI to Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario Canada

Cold front with wind, rain and thunderstorms loomed as we left camp in the RV for the border crossing at Port Huron/Sarnia and into Ontario. Drove south as we waited for the front to pass and had breakfast in Wallaceburg, Ontario.  As the sky began to clear we hopped on the bikes and rode down to Rondeau Provincial Park on Lake Erie’s north shore. Passed a number of flags and signs commemorating the bi-centennial of the War of 1812.  They won and preserved Canadian independence.  A number of the battles occurred on and around Lake Erie. The land is rich and productive. It’s clear why they fought to keep it.
In the little town of Dresden we saw signs for Uncle’ Tom’s Cabin. Had to check this out. Turns out Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the pre-civil war classic, Uncle Tom’s Cabin,  had roughly based her story on the early life of the Rev. Josiah Henson, an escaped slave. After making his way to Canada and freedom, Henson founded a free colony of African-American’s in Southern Ontario and became an active abolitionist. His oral history inspired Stowe’s tale, however his life’s story was far richer and truly herocic. Like Harriet Tubman, he had made a number of trips back to the slave states to help lead other escapee’s to freedom along the underground railroad. Most of the routes led to Southern Ontario. Folks in the area were clearly proud of that history, as evidenced by the large and extensive museum and grounds preserved to commemorate Henson and the community of free Blacks he helped found.


Rev. Josiah Henson's home in Southern Ontario

Underground Railroad routes, most leading to Southern Ontario

Rev. Henson's bike - check out the wooden frame

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 45 - Bay City to Rose Campground


Made our way through the streets of Bay City (with the help of a local bicyclist who had turned around in his Subaru on a busy road to help us once again with our maps) and then out onto some very flat and very rich farmland. There were some serious fields of vegetables, turnips, green beans,  potatoes, squash, and cucumbers as well as tobacco.
Stopped in the little town of Yale and found we had just missed the bologna festival. Bailey at the local ice cream shop filled us in on the details which included an outhouse race down Main Street. The local bologna factory sponsors the event and apparently has a very popular product. Unfortunately we did not find any to sample. The afternoon ride was hot as the temperature and humidity were both in the mid-90‘s.  Managed to do 62 miles and ended the day at the Rose Campground about 15 miles from Port Huron. 
A mountain bike race was scheduled the next day around the campground. We were camped next to  a young competitor, Trevor, his girl friend Mikayla, and his father Rick.  Trevor came by with dessert, a coconut cake cooked by his father in a dutch oven over coals. We found out it was one of many desserts Rick enjoyed cooking outdoors.  We got the recipe and Rick told us a bit about his local community, Petoskey, MI, another small town but with a big heart for music. The local high school, total enrollment 700, has a 250 member marching band. Trevor plays the tenor sax.  Great to hear about a school where music is far more than just an "extra-curricular" activitity.

Rick, Trevor and Mikayla with dessert


Day 44 - Clare to Bay City, MI

The morning began on the Pere-Marquette Rail-Trail, a beautifully maintained rail-to-trail path with bathrooms every 10 miles. Along the trail we encountered a dozen or more riders in grey t-shirts. They were starting their own ride, "Journey for a Cause," raising funds for a local women's shelter. We exchanged best wishes.
Not far up the trail two black Angus cattle had wandered out of their pasture and onto the path. Maybe the grass was greener. The cattle and a warren (really,we googled it) of rabbits kept us on our cleats, so to speak.  But it was a welcome break from the vehicle traffic.  It was a short riding day with a quick lunch in the Minnie. We were looking forward to an early evening in Bay City. We heard there were some decent brew pups in town. We camped at Finn Road Campgrounds on the shores of Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay. We found one of those pubs, Barts’s, which had a decent Helles and IPA.

On the road in Michigan


Day 43 - Leroy to Clare, MI

We have been out of computer/internet access for several days - so we're catching up on blogs, including Day 41 which we posted after Day 42.

Day 43 began at Rose Lake Campground outside Leroy, MI with some threatening clouds and light rain that lasted part of the morning. Weather cleared and we ended the day with 56 miles behind us. Spent the evening at a campground sheltered within a stand of pines, eerily planted in rows that extended neatly in all directions.