Climbing Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro stands 19,341 ft above sea level in northern Tanzania.  Despite being the highest point in the African continent, it is not a highly technical climb.  My friend Exavery and I climbed it on the Machame route in July of 2015.  Here are some of the photos.

Why Did I Ride Across the Country?

Many people ask me why I’ve biked across the country.  It hasn’t just been for my personal enjoyment, the main reason has been to raise money and awareness for St. Teresa Orphans Foundation (STOF), a non-profit organization in Tanzania, Africa. STOF works to help vulnerable children and provide for their basic needs. For more information or to donate to the cause, please visit http://www.stofafrica.org/.

Wheeling Wednesdays!

Welcome back to the weekly photo post!  The question this week: Is this picture of Lake Nebagamon in Wisconsin right-side up or upside down?  Vote here on the poll for the monthly drawing of a free 8×10 photo!

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Day 29 – The Final Day – Lincolnville Center, ME to Bangor, ME – 55 miles

It would’ve been easy to spend hours crafting a perfect plan for the final day of touring across North America, but it wouldn’t compare to the extraordinary day God planned for me today.

I left the beautiful cabin after a night of heavy rain and thunderstorms. The woods were foggy with the humidity of the rain from last night and created a picturesque scene that I biked through all of the way to the coast again.

I reached the coast in Belfast and crossed this river:

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Try saying that 3 times fast

From Belfast I continued along the coast to the next town, Searsport. I saw a gas station and thought about stopping. Initially, I went by it and figured I’ll stop at the next one up the road, but something was telling me I should stop and turn around – so I did.

I bought a cinnamon roll for a few more calories and stood outside the Sunoco gas station for a few minutes before getting ready to depart. Just before getting on the bike and leaving, a guy walked by and inquired about the trip. After talking a few minutes, I learned that he was the owner of the gas station. He invited me in his office and we talked for a few minutes. The store was rather busy however and he needed to tend to some things, so he gave me his card and said to give him a call if I needed anything or a place to stay. I thanked him and carried on.

Next priority of the day was to find a place for lunch. I searched and found a café in the next town – Winterport.

While biking into Winterport, I passed by an elementary school where there were some kids outside (Maine schools aren’t over till next week). As I continued by, the kids waved and yelled “Hello biker!”. They were so happy and friendly. The same happened this morning and numerous other times along the tour. There is something about the enthusiasm and general good nature of these kids that just makes me smile. I waved back across the road and playground to the boy who instantly smiled in satisfaction at drawing my attention.

In Winterport, I approached the café only to find a ‘closed’ sign on the door. I looked over to the block kidde-corner (or caddy-corner as people in some parts of the country say it) to the café and spotted the Winterport House of Pizza. Bingo.

I wheeled Rambow over in front of the place and asked the guy by the sidewalk if it was a good place. It happened to be his wife’s business! And, yes he said it was good. I smiled and went inside to order.

While waiting to order, he came back from around the kitchen and informed me that he talked to his wife and that my lunch was free today.

More amazing people.

The hospitality never ends!

I biked my final stretch to Bangor through the sunny afternoon. I stopped at the Greyhound station to see if I could move up my bus ticket that I originally purchased for next week.  The anticipation of the last few days about making it back before my sister’s grad party on Sunday ended with a few quick minutes and a new ticket to get on the bus leaving tomorrow morning!

Greyhound also ships packages on the buses, so I asked them if I could get a bike box to pack my bike in.

They didn’t have any left.

So, here I am at the Dysart’s Travel Stop on the west side of Bangor, ME with my bike and all my gear holding a ticket for a bus that leaves in 20 hours.  I have no box to ship my stuff and no place set up to stay tonight.  I encountered some luck by calling the UPS store in Bangor and discovering that they had bike boxes in stock.  I now just needed a way to get my gear, bike, and bike box to a location to pack it all and get back to the bus station in the morning.

Thinking about my situation, I knew that I still had a card in my wallet with the phone number of the guy I talked with this afternoon.  I gave it a shot.

After two minutes on the phone, my worries were gone.

I met Bain and Rita, the owners of the gas station I stopped at this afternoon, at the UPS store and they picked me up.  We did some driving in the afternoon, including a stroll by Stephen King’s house:

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Once at their place, I took a quick shower and changed clothes before embarking on the most scenic part of the tour.

After biking 1,953 miles from Avon, MN to Bangor, ME, I found myself in the backseat of a convertible going up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park on the Atlantic Coast of Maine.

This was unreal.  It felt like a dream.  Upon reaching the top of Cadillac, a priceless sunset capped off a tour that further changed my life for the better.

A lobster dinner awaited me down below in Bar Harbor.

 

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There is no question that traveling gives a person a better perspective of the world.  To travel by foot or by bike only deepens the understanding and awareness of the environments that you traverse and better connects you to the world that we live in.

Many people believe that the best part about traveling is seeing the landscapes and beauty of the earth, and if you travel by car or plane or any other form of motorized travel, that may be true.  But when you travel by more primitive means, the best part about traveling, by far, is the people that you meet along the way.  The vast majority of humanity is good in nature – helpful, caring, and giving.  You may not experience this when your travel does not include daily interactions with people in the small town cafes, restaurants, and gas stations.

There are many things biking 4,000 miles across North America has taught me, but at the forefront of these is the undisputed fact that people are inherently good and we should learn appreciate and continue to spread this good to others in our lives. When we waste our time watching television and the filtered news that throws all of the negative aspects of life in our face, we begin to believe that what we see is all that the world is about.  We need to break away from this illusion that we think may be reality and experience the true reality that is out there.

Be loving, be kind, be adventurous.  Get out and experience the world.  Spread the good that is inside of you.  Don’t think that anything is impossible, because it is not.  I’ve heard so many people tell me that they wish they could do something like this tour.

You can.  And, if you don’t, you will look back and wish that you had.

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Nothing is impossible.  Back in Strathroy, ON, I was given this note that I have held onto.  It is one of my favorite Bible verses.

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This couldn’t be more true.  God will give you the strength for any challenge you face.  Keep Him at the forefront of your life, and He will grant you with everything you need.

Day 28 – Bath, ME to Lincolnville Center, ME – 58 miles

Another morning. Another day, and days along the coast of Maine are hilly. Once again though, the weather couldn’t have been better. I snapped a few pictures from the bridge going out of Bath over an inlet from the ocean:
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I rode along the Atlantic Coast Highway all the way until Camden, where I took a short rest in the park and watched traffic become congested as it tried to pass through the downtown area of the rather small coastal town. Tourists were easy to spot and they crowded the sidewalks, walking through the shops and stores.

After some time in Camden, a long steep hill awaited me to climb as I moved inland toward where I’d be staying the night. I stopped at a gas station to grab some food (which happened to be free) while waiting for my host to call and let me know he returned home. After he called, he gave me directions to the cabin in the woods.
It was awesome.

The rustic little cabin in the woods offered a completely quiet atmosphere to live. I thoroughly admire the location.

My host and I talked about my trip late into the evening.

Only 1 more day of biking on this tour. It goes so quickly!

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This type of flower was common around much of Maine and New Hampshire

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Day 27 – Center Ossipee, NH to Bath, ME – 85 miles

Nothing better than a hot breakfast over the campstove in the morning after a cool night in the tent.  I slept very well.

Much of the beginning of the day was easy as the terrain flattened out and the pedaling was easy.  The weather today was spot on.  It couldn’t have been any better.

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New state!  New Hampshire was nice.

It is sad that Maine is the last state of the tour.  That means the miles are winding down, and before too long I’ll be on my way back.  It just inspired me to enjoy every last mile.

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A river I crossed today

I stopped in Standish for lunch and ate at the Main Street Grill.  The wonderful waitress that served my food was interested in my ride and we had great conversation. She mentioned to take a look at Sebago Lake that was just up the road. It was along my route so I took a picture:

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Hit some nasty hills today just west of Freeport, ME.  Some of the roads were pretty poor today as well.  Hopefully my bike can continue to hold up.  I only have about 110 miles to go.

Just before reaching my hosts in Bath while going up a hill, I noticed a lady with car trouble so I stopped and asked to make sure everything was fine.  She mentioned, through the smoke coming from the engine, that she was having issues before.  After talking a few minutes and ensuring that she had a cell phone and had a plan, I continued on.

Once again I encountered fabulous hosts.

Day 26 – Lebanon, NH to Center Ossipee, NH – 82 miles

A solid day today. The nice weather gave me something to smile about :)

After saying farewell to Scott, I headed off.

There were many hills today but they were mostly rolling hills.  The weather was beautiful for the entire day.

Early in the day, I began to notice many motorcycles on the roads.  When I reached the town of Meredith, I understood why.  It was bike week and it culminated today.  There were motorcycles everywhere.  Noise noise noise.  To top it off, road construction narrowed the roadway and gave me little room to breathe as swarms of motorcycles and trucks passed by.  At least I got to enjoy a view of Lake Winnipesaukee while in Meredith:

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Lake Winnipesaukee

The ride from Meredith to Center Ossipee was an alright one.  There were some hills with long grades, but nothing that gave me too much trouble.

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One of the many views of the mountains

I camped at a wonderful campground called Deer Cap Campground.  The girls in the office were quite surprised when I told them I biked from Minnesota.

I set up camp, took a shower, and concluded the evening with some wonderful ice cream at the ice cream shop next to the campground office.

An ideal day of bicycle touring :)

Day 25 – June 14 – Bike Recovery Day – Lebanon, NH

My bike took a beating the last few days in the rain. The chain needed to be cleaned, my rear tire needed to be trued, and the brakes needed to be adjusted and cleaned. My host, Scott, had a bike stand that lended itself well to my needs.

This day also provided the opportunity to dry out all of my stuff that has been drenched. My shoes especially.

Scott is a great host. We had great conversation about his many travels around the country and the world.

I also visited Dartmouth today! Very cool. Maybe I’ll transfer here :)
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Day 24 – Rutland, VT to Lebanon, NH – 55 miles

I thought yesterday was a wet day.

My shoes were still wet leaving Rutland.  The climbing began immediately heading east.  Fog hovered over stretches of the Green Mountains as I climbed up and into the fog.  Rain began to fall through the foggy air after climbing about 1,000 feet.  By the time I reached the top of my climb (2,200 feet or so), near the town of Killington, the rain had picked up to a steady fall.  At least my climbing was largely out of the way for the day.

I stopped in at a gas station/deli to grab a bit of food and take a break from the rainfall.  Inside, I met 2 hikers who were hiking the Appalachian Trail.  We talked for a few minutes and I gained some insight on what I really believe will be my next method of adventure – hiking.

After seeing that the rain would be getting worse in about an hour, I hopped back on Rambow and continued on riding.  It didn’t take long before the rain started falling in sheets.  I had to slow down at certain points just to keep the rain from getting in my eyes.  My clothing was drenched and I was soaked to the bone, but with few other options I carried on mile after mile sopping wet.

It was at this point that I really started to embrace the situation.  Sure, it was wet. So what?  It’s all part of the adventure.  I had a host lined up for tonight so I knew that all of my stuff would be dried.  I would even get another shower to compliment my long shower outside today!  It’s all about enjoying the situation, so I did.

People gave priceless reactions to seeing a smiling cyclist biking through mountains in a rainstorm.  People’s heads turned in their cars, gawking at the sight of someone actually embracing the rain.  Did I really think it was fun?  Not really.  But, I will have the memory of today for the rest of my life.

I ate in Woodstock, VT and continued the rest of the way down the mountain into New Hampshire.  A new state already!  Vermont isn’t very far across, but it still makes it seem like progress is being made when moving into another state.

Hosts cannot be thanked enough for the hospitality they provide.  Another night inside tonight is invaluable.  I don’t even want to think about camping in the rain.

Hopefully the rain quits soon.  The last 155 miles have entailed some form of precipitation.