Monday, September 23, 2013

Canada F%*k Ya! ....

On Wednesday the 11th of September we began the last leg of our journey. With the help of our CS host Janine we crossed the US Canadian border from Port Huron, Michigan into Sarnia, Ontario.

From Sarnia we road on east to London. Just as we hit town when though there was a torrential down poor and an apparent looming tornado and we ended up soaking wet and hold up in a local high school. When we finally arrived at our CS hosts Dave and Celina's place  you could say we were more than happy to be there :) Dave and Celina were great hosts hosting us along with another couchsurfer they already had staying. We all shared a delicious curry dinner made by the other surfer Min and fondue for desert made by Dave. The next day they fore casted more storms so we decided to wait it out in case it was a intense as the day befores rain had been. Of course there was only a few spits from the sky that day. Though I took the day to do some well needed bike maintenance especially after the rain we had see of late and enjoy a walk by the river. 

On Friday the 13th  there was no more mucking around we were only two days out from the end and we needed to get some miles in that day. We headed off to Hamilton in the 5 degree temperature only to be met with strong head and side winds the whole day. Not to mention the high numbers of trucks that were blowing us around the first half of the day on the 2. After Paris we took some lovely back roads it was still cold but not having those semis rushing by was a nice reprieve even though we got chased by a few dogs. We made it to Dundas/Hamilton by 6pm with our knees knocking from the cold and wind burnt faces. That night we stayed with our last couch surfing host of the trip Renee and her boyfriend Sean. We shared a lovely warm meal with them and some great conversations before we hit the sack hard from our days exhalations. 

Saturday the 14th of September we rose early to begin the the final riding day of our tour from New Orleans to Toronto. To be honest I couldn't believe we were so close only 50 miles to go. When we left Renee's place it was another cold day 5 degrees but less windy than the day before. We had a bit of a climb out of Dundas but it was actually welcomed as it warmed us up a little. The rest of the day we wound our way along the Waterfront trail all the way to the Toronto Harbor Front. We road up to the centre of down town the Younge and Dundas square where we crossed the finish line of our awesome summer Odyssey from the gulf of Mexico to Canada. 

You beauty ! We did it !!! 

Riding through 11 US states and one Canadian Province. We road through the steaming heat of the south and the windy plains of the mid west. Taking in some breathtaking scenery as we followed along the mighty Mississippi and road around the Great Lakes. More stunning than the scenery though would have to be all of the wonderful folks we met along the way and the hospitality they showed us. A huge thanks goes out to all of you!! We couldn't have done it without you l!! :)   

Until next time .... ;)

Michigan continued ...

On the 3rd of September after some well needed rest in Travese City at Jen and Jordan's we got back on the road headed south towards Grand Rapids. We took some lovely winding country roads for 30 odd miles until we got to a town called Cadillac where we hooked up with the White Pine trail, another rails to trails bike path. We followed the trail for another 50 miles or so until we reached Reed City where we met Caitlyn Louchard a fellow cycle tourist who is cycling from California to Maine (check her out at ). We held up with Caitlyn at Saint Paul's Lutheran church in Reed City for the night.

The next Morning we hopped back on the white pine trail for a short while then we jumped onto the old 131 to avoid a 30 mile gravel stretch before getting back on the WPT at Sand Lake to take us into grand rapids.

We stayed in Grand Rapids for a few days with my dear friends Eve and Chris. We enjoyed some good vegan fare at the local restaurants and sampled some locally brewed beers and ciders too. We also got to hang out with  another mate of mine Kate who helped me with another one of my hair experiments :) We were lucky enough to be in town on the weekend of the celebration on the grand getting to enjoy a wonderful fireworks display by the river.

On Sunday the 8th though we hit the road again this time headed east 50 something miles. Taking the beautiful and bike friendly Grand River drive to Sarnac then the David Highway to Westphalia where we spent the night at the Daniel Doroste Memorial park.

Monday we headed for Flint almost 80 miles east of Westphalia. We ran into some rain about 20 miles in which was compounded by the fact that it was only around 15 degrees Celsius. Though in the end Mitts with here thermals and rain jacket and me with my over sized Poncho flapping around we kept on trucking through the rain and cold winds at about 9 miles an hour. Luckily by the time we hit outer Flint the rain had disappeared and the sun came out to greet us :) We road into Flint a bit soggy but so happy to meet our CS host Amy who opened up her loft in down town to us. A dry place of refuge for the night. Thanks again Amy :)
Tue the 10th of September would be our last day in Michigan and definitely the hottest around 35 degrees Celsius. We road further east headed for the boarder city of Port Huron. On our way we stopped for lunch in Imlay City for the best Pizza of the trip by far at Pizzamachine a locally run joint where they make your pizza and crust fresh to order bloody delicious. When we finally hit Port Huron that stinking hot afternoon we headed straight for our CS hosts joint to shower. Janine and her Husband William we great CS hosts taking us out for tea at a local pub by the water and giving us a tour of the highlights of there beautiful city. The next Day Janine even offered to take us across the bridge to Canada which we gladly accepted as the Blue Water bridge is a no bicycling bridge.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Michigan so far...

On Sunday the 25th of August we crossed into our last US state for the tour Michigan. We headed east to Runkle Lake campgrounds, where we spent a night by the campfire with some friendly Michiganites, eating s'mores and burning fairy lights.

On Monday we headed for Gladstone, clocking up over 90 miles. Once there, we stayed with Scot, a very hospitable Warmshowers host, for the night.

The next day we had a slow start due to some rain, but we got underway after lunch and headed about 60 miles further east into the UP to Manistique. That night we shacked up in the garage of the local police and fire station behind the fire trucks... ah got to love the smell of diesel when you're napping :)

Wednesday the 28th we headed east 97 miles to St Ignace, finishing our crossing of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We camped at the state park there where we could see the view of the Mackinaw bridge and the two lakes, Huron and Michigan, either side of it.

The next day we took a sight seeing day, crossing into the lower peninsula by way of Mackinac Island. We caught a ferry over to the island and spent the day soaking up the sun and sights of the island -- by bike of course, as the island allows no motor traffic, only bicycles and horse-drawn carts. We took a dip in chilly Lake Huron and cycled up to the highest point on the island to take in the stunning vista. That evening we hopped another ferry over to Mackinaw City and camped out for the night in a park with a stunning view of the bridge.

The following morning though we sought refuge in the Mackinaw City Bakery from the morning storms. We managed to get on the road after lunch, making it a further 30-odd miles down the trail to Indian River where we stayed with Warmshowers host Dorothy and John at their place on Burt Lake. They cooked us a fabulous meal and took great care of us.

On the 31st we rode on to Charlevoix along the Lakeshore Trail, taking in the beautiful sights of Lake Michigan along the way. We stopped in Petoskey for lunch and some much-needed supply shopping. We then camped for the night at Fisherman's Island campground and had dinner on the beach while we watched the sun set.

The following day was the first day of September and we arrived in Traverse City that afternoon. We took in the local beach and enjoyed cider at the local brewing company before heading over to meet our Couchsurfing hosts, Jen And Jordan. They cooked us a delicious meal made from fresh produce grown their garden, followed by homemade ice cream to die for.

Then this morning it was rainy and they are forecasting more rain for the afternoon, so I imposed a rest day before tomorrow when we will begin to head south to Grand Rapids.

Crossing Wisconsin's North ...

On the 17th of August we headed out from the twin cities Wisconsin bound. This would be our final farewell to the mighty Mississippi river as we crossed it for the last time heading out of town. We were headed to Hannah's parents' place, just over the border in New Richmond Wisconsin. We stopped in Stillwater for a burger and a malt before crossing the Croix river into our 9th state for the trip, Wisconsin.

We stayed out at Hannah's parents Jeff and Fran's place for the weekend, and on Tuesday the 19th Hannah gave us a lift in her Dad's truck north 30 miles to Amery to get us back on our route. We camped in Amery for the night at Pike Lake.

The next day we were off to a bit of a slow start as we tried to get back into the habit of getting up early, but we managed, heading northeast to Rice Lake. We stayed that night with Warmshowers host Kyle and his family in their beautiful home by the lake. Kyle even took us for our first pontoon ride to view the lake.

Wednesday the 21st we made it to the tourist town of Hayward, famous for Musky fishing. We went to a bizarre bar that doubled as a taxidermy museum, which Anna thoroughly enjoyed. Then we ended up camping in a lovely local family's yard for the night.

Thursday the 22st we rode on to Glidden Wisconsin, whose claim to fame is that there in a glass box in the middle of town housing the world's largest black bear -- stuffed, of course -- weighing in at 665 pounds and shot November 23rd 1963. In Glidden we camped out in a picnic shelter and even though I was afraid of the black bears coming to our camp I still managed to forget that the bottle of honey was in a back inside of my tent :/ go figure :)

Friday the 23rd we rode through the Wisconsin wind to Manitowish Waters, where we stayed with another Warmshowers host, Jessica. We stayed in the boathouse on her family's lovely property on the shores of Rest Lake.

On Saturday we made it to Phelps, a town near the Michigan/Wisconsin border. Not much was open, and we ended up at 'The Great Escape', a local watering hole. The folks that ran the place offered to have us stay in one of the cabins by the lake free of charge. It was an offer too good to pass up. Then we were able to shower and enjoy the sunset on North Twin Lake.

Overall northern Wisconsin was pretty memorable -- so many lakes and so many sunsets. Thank you, Wisconsin :)