Day 23 – Ballston Spa, NY to Rutland, VT – 78 soggy miles

It rained all day.

I had wonderful hosts last night.  I’m definitely glad the night was spent inside and not in my tent otherwise I would’ve been wet.  It didn’t really matter though because today I biked through the rain all day long.

The first 8 miles or so were fine.  Only a fine mist in the air.  But, after that, every mile entailed some rate of precipitation ranging from light drizzle to heavy rain.

There really isn’t much to say other than the fact I was wet.  Had some good views of the Adirondack Mountains today, but my camera wouldn’t have lasted long before being soaked if I decided to take a picture so I left in inside one of my panniers all day long.

Finally out of New York and into Vermont!

Tomorrow I’ll be hitting some mountains including a pass :)  More rain forecasted though :(

Once again I’m lucky to have a host tonight.  It feels great to be out of the rain.

Day 22 – Amsterdam, NY to Ballston Spa, NY – 23 miles

Rain.

It was 2:00 pm before I finally left for the day. I used the time for some wonderful rest though :)

Stopped at a place called Cappie’s Drive-In for some afternoon food after a long climb out of Amsterdam. Inside, nobody really paid attention to me when they saw me roll in on my bike. It took a while – until I was almost done eating – for someone to jokingly ask about how the day was for a bike ride. I could have just said it wasn’t too good, but I added that I’ve biked from Minnesota.

Instantly all heads in the establishment turned to look at me and I could tell that I had the compete attention of the place. I gave a brief description of the ride and my ride last year. The people inside Cappie’s were flabbergasted. A few of them made the comment that they could never do something like what I’m doing and such.

I should’ve responded to them that they were wrong. With that attitude, absolutely you can’t do it. So much of touring is mental. Also, after all, by myself, I wouldn’t be able to do this trip either. It is God that gives me the strength.

Maybe those good folks will see this :)

I continued on through the light drizzle into the slight NE headwind. It was a rather worthless day. Not much cooperated today.

I was able to find some great hosts for tonight though!

Hopefully I’ll be able to go farther tomorrow.

Day 21 – New York Mills, NY to Amsterdam, NY – 72 miles

The day went pretty well today.

The first part of the day was a little tricky. Biking through Utica (just east of New York Mills) is terrible. No bike lanes and limited sidewalks combined with a substantial detour made it a rather unenjoyable city.

It started getting hilly just before Little Falls. I could definitely tell I’m brushing the southern Adirondack mountains. In Little Falls, the Erie Canal Trail continues east. I followed it through the Mohawk Valley.

Another great people experience occurred today in St. Johnsville. I stopped at a hot dog stand outside of a store on main street. The guy running the stand ended up giving me the food for free.

We talked for a few minutes after eating and I thanked him for the food.

I followed the canal trail all of the way to Amsterdam.

1,503 miles on the odometer for the trip. It is going quick!

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One of the climbs today
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Beautiful historical site along the trail

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Flowers along the trail

Day 20 – Auburn, NY to New York Mills, NY – 84 miles

I am very grateful for the stay in Auburn. It rained last night and I would’ve been in it if I didn’t have hosts.

The canal trail has been calling my name since I left it to get to Geneva and Seneca Falls. Knowing that it was flat biking gave good reason to use the trail, so I headed north out of Auburn and picked up the trail in Weedsport.

The canal trail continued until Syracuse. Against my better judgment, I biked through the middle of Syracuse. It wasn’t too bad. There was a ton of construction downtown, but that almost made it easier on a bike because of the constrained and slower traffic. On the east side of the city, a bike lane appeared and I followed that out of Syracuse.

Intermittent drizzle throughout the day and high humidity made the biking less enjoyable. But hey, I am traveling and seeing the world – I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.

While biking the canal trail in the evening, a large snapping turtle decided to camp out right in the middle of the path.

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I had to plow through the tall grass to get around it.

I continued biking through the drizzle all the way to New York Mills.

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A section of the Old Erie Canal Trail
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Old bridge over Old Erie Canal

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Day 19 – Geneva, NY to Auburn, NY – 28 miles

Only 28 miles today, but that is okay!

I survived the night in the vacant lot last night. The tent, humidity, and temperature did not lend itself well to a good night of sleep. Not getting a shower last night did not help either, but it didn’t take long for 6:00 a.m. to roll around.

My bike Rambow was packed by 7:00 a.m. The damp tent dried a little and would dry during the day from the wind.

The Captain’s Café a few blocks away provided breakfast. I spent some time by the lake before going to church at St. Francis deSales church. Going to mass in a different parish is always fun. Meeting new people and experiencing subtle differences in worship is awesome.

From church, I changed clothes at the bathrooms by Seneca Lake and headed off.

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There were some people sailing on Seneca Lake

I biked through Waterloo before getting to Seneca Falls. Seneca Falls is one of the highlights of the trip I made sure to include on the route.

In 1848, the Women’s Rights Convention led by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton occurred here in Seneca Falls. This convention helped spark the Women’s Rights Movement. It took many years with many hardships for women to obtain rights that so many of us take for granted today. In 1878, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted an amendment to give women the right to vote. It wasn’t until 1919, however, that Congress submitted it to the states for ratification. In 1920, after Tennessee declared approval, the states ratified it – the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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Site of the Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848
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Wesleyan Church

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Seneca Falls was great.

I stopped in Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge east of Seneca Falls. I wrote some post cards here while looking across the vast grassland with many birds.
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An ice cream shop made me stop just east of Auburn. While here, a couple people asked about the ride.

I made it to my hosts a little after 4:00 pm in Auburn. I took a shower right away and felt better instantly.

They did their weekly band practice in the basement. It was great to listen to while writing this post and relaxing.

Today was a great day of bike touring despite the short mileage. But, after all, Sundays are the day of rest!

Day 18 – Holley, NY to Geneva, NY – 76 miles

The first half of the day didn’t entail much. I awoke to the early sun shining across the Erie Canal. People were beginning to set up for the town’s summer festival day in the park nearby. After packing up camp, I rode through the park to a diner and had breakfast.

I followed the Erie Canal trail until Pittsford. The trail started to get rough and parts of it had construction.

I then started riding on highway 96 east. This road took me all the way east before turning south for 5 miles to Geneva.

Biking into Geneva, NY, I happened to see a banner that saying the St. Stephen’s and St. Francis Desales church is having an event at the church today. Being Catholic I felt compelled to stop in, so I did. I happened to ask the festival chairperson (what are the odds?) where the food was because I was hungry. After finding out why I was riding my bike, he told me that my food would be paid for.
“Welcome to Geneva, NY”

Another awesome experience that I know God had a role in.

I spent about 2 hours of the evening along the shores of Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes here in New York.

I’m currently writing this post in my tent that is set up in a vacant lot in Geneva (the owner said I could tent here). Fireworks are being shot off over the lake to cap off the city carnival that happened today. The loud explosions interrupt the hip hop music that can be heard faintly from one of the houses about a block down the street.

The finale of fireworks just ended. Let’s hope I can get some sleep tonight.

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A bridge near Rochester, NY
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Seneca Lake
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Bike path around Seneca Lake
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Sunset between trees

Day 17 – Niagara Falls, ON to Holley, NY – 76 miles

Had to say good bye to the falls this morning, and by doing that I also said good bye to Canada.  It has been a great three days in Ontario.

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New York side of the falls

While on a pier overlooking the skyline of Niagara Falls, I decided to check the amount of tread left on my back tire.  Good thing I did because it didn’t have many miles left.  It was no surprise to me.  I knew all along that I would need to replace that tire.  I put on over 1,000 miles on that tire before this tour even started.

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After the bike shop in Tonawanda, I ate at one of the awesome canalside vendors.

It was all designated bike route to Lockport from Tonawanda – meaning wide and smooth shoulder on the road.  In Lockport, I said good bye to the roads and said hello to the Erie Canal Heritage Trail.  This path follows right alongside the Erie Canal and goes from Lockport all of the way to Albany in the other side of New York.  Essentially, this path takes you across the entire state of New York.

The trail is awesome.

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I saw deer, fox, beaver, ducks, fish, turtles, and many geese that hiss at you if you get too close.

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The trail traverses areas of woods, farmlands, and prairies between the elegant canal towns.

In Holley here, I’m set up at a park next to the canal.  It has shower facilities – usually for people who dock their boats here – but the bridge operator (who lifts the drawbridge when boaters call ahead) gave me the code for the showers and I made good use of it.

There were a few decent pictures today.

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Day 16 – Jarvis, ON to Niagara Falls, ON – 108 km (67 miles)

Left the Star Motel this morning and went 4 miles down the road to Jay’s Restaurant for breakfast.

Wind generators blanketed some of the fields on my way east.  They are a beautiful sight!  I don’t know what the deal is with the people who are against these wind generators.  It creates clean energy, makes energy cheaper not just for residences but for businesses too, and it creates jobs by manufacturing the turbines, constructing the turbines, and maintaining the turbines.  I suggest that people think about all these benefits before they complain about having to look at the turbines.  Why don’t they complain about yards and property that are messy and filled with junk?

I hit a couple stretches of road construction today.  One stretch I wanted to bypass by going around.  After missing a turn and going down a dirt road that slowly transitioned into a muddy creek and having to turn around, I decided to just go through the road construction from now on.  I simply walked the bike when I needed.

I biked through the Wellen tunnel:

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I found a host in Niagara Falls.  He was pretty cool.  I was even treated to a ride down by the falls to get some pictures :)  Here they are:

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It is hard to get a grasp on how much water actually goes over those falls unless you are there.  It if easy to capture an image on camera, but you cannot capture the power of water plunging against rocks and spraying mist in the air.

Day 15 – Strathroy, ON, to Jarvis, ON – 156 km (97 miles)

It almost felt like leaving a second family this morning.  It was truly a wonderful stay in Strathroy.

The rest of the day was pretty good.  The wind was at my back, the land was flat, and the temperature was perfect.

I had a sandwich and an awesome smoothie at a Tim Hortons today.  I used a gift card given to me by my hosts last night :)

There were not any hosts remotely close to where I would end up today.  Camping spots were all also out of the way.  I decided to stay at a motel.  Got a decent price on it so I was happy.

Sorry, no pictures for today!

Day 14 Croswell, MI to Strathroy, Ontario, Canada – 106.2 km (66 miles)

In the spirit of being in Canada, I had to list the distance in kilometers :)
What a day!  I left Croswell pretty early and took the bike path that my host mentioned to me.  It took me to Lexington on the shores of Lake Huron. From there I headed south along the lake.  My tire, still with the broken spoke, wobbled on.

I had a quick mid-morning snack about half way to the bike shop in Port Huron. The bike tire wouldn’t have lasted another 5 miles after Port Huron. Another spoke broke about 3 miles from the bike shop.  It made it though :)
I took some pictures of the Blue Water Bridge first:
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After spending a little time along the waterfront gazing at Canada on the other side, my bike made it to Alpine Cycles bike shop where the rear tire was replaced.  It wasn’t long after before I was at the bridge. A 15 minute wait at the bridge authority toll booth gave me time to think about my route through Canada before I could load my bike in the back of a pickup truck to get driven across the bridge to the Canada customs.  After showing them my passport, a few brief questions ensued.

Before I knew it, I was free and clear in Canada. The first stop was currency exchange. The second stop was Subway to use some of that cash. Canadian currency is much more interesting and colorful than U.S. currency!

An awesome west wind developed, allowing me to roll out of Sarnia with some speed. Sustained speeds of 18-20 mph were common for a couple hours.

When I rolled into Strathroy, a few things needed to happen. Because I now have no mobile data or calling capability from my phone, wi-fi needed to be found to find a place to stay tonight – either a campground or a host.

On the west side of Strathroy, while biking into town, some people in a car that passed by cheered out their window at me. I waved and was pleased that if nothing else, there were some cycling enthusiasts here :)

I stopped at an intersection to get my bearings and asked an individual if there was a McDonalds or something with wi-fi in town. He pointed right up the street.

I ordered a drink to have while searching for hosts or campsites. As I was sitting down, I looked over to be greeted by the people who drove by me on the other side of town.

A woman named Sharon and her two daughters Becky and Emily were the ones from the car. They sat down by me and inquired about my trip. We talked for a few minutes until they asked where I would be staying. I asked them if there were any good places to camp around Strathroy – which there really wasn’t – but they invited me to their place. They even said they would have food for me!

How amazing that was.

They gave me directions to their place and departed.

I couldn’t believe it. I needed a place and was unsure all day what I would do for tonight, but God put these people in my path.

When I arrived at their place, I was greeted warmly and met the rest of the family – John and Josh. We had great conversation over dinner and all evening long. It was great to learn some of the little differences between Ontario and the U.S. Where I was earlier today.

It couldn’t have been a better first day experience in Canada.

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Becky, Emily, and Josh – This Rocket popsicle picture is dedicated to you!

Day 13 – Vassar, MI to Croswell, MI – 60 miles

After a steak dinner last night, clean laundry, and a comfortable bed to sleep in, the stay was definitely a wonderful one. My dad’s friend in Vassar has a great family. I’m grateful for the stay.

After sending me off with some food and numerous offers for hot breakfast, I wanted to get going early in case of rain – which was forecasted later today. I figured on biking southeast toward Marine City, but a strong south wind changed my plans.

I ended up deciding to bike almost exclusively east to Lake Huron, then going south and taking the Blue Water bridge to Sarnia.

I ate at an excellent café in Brown City. The pork steak dinner was served quick and it was very flavorful.

The afternoon brought more bad luck – another broken spoke. The decision to once again not carry extra spokes backfired. The extremely rough roads I traversed in the northern part of the Michigan lower peninsula almost definitely can be attributed to the spoke breaking. Again I found myself using the spoke wrench to straighten it out as best I could and began limping along. I’d need to make it another 40 miles before another bike shop.

I made it to Cromwell without any rain :) My host for the night is part of the Cromwell EMS unit. We had great conversation. He bought me dinner at the restaurant in town as well.

I saw the one attraction Cromwell has:
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A swinging bridge!

My host has interest in hiking. After watching a video about the Continental Divide Trail, I think I may be hooked. Maybe my next adventure…?

Day 12 – Midland, MI to Vassar, MI – 49 miles

My hosts made me breakfast!  Very grateful for that.  They also set me up with a local guy at the Bicycle Headquarters bike shop in Midland who took time out of his day to go in to the shop and get my bike tuned up.  The wire for shifting was replaced, the chain was cleaned, and I also had him put on new rear brake pads as the old ones were getting pretty worn.  We had a great conversation.

Once the bike was tuned up, I was ready to rock and Rambow (my bike) was ready to roll.

The hottest day of the tour so far proved to be nasty in more than one regard.  The wind decided to be out of the southeast today – the exact direction I happened to be travelling.

A few miles from Vassar, I happened to cross an unopened bag of Doritos!  One of the very best roadside finds I’ve had while on tour.  It doesn’t quite match the quantity of Goldfish crackers I found on my 2013 tour (a 24 pack box), but it definitely matched in quality.

I bucked the wind all of the way to Vassar.  Thankfully it wasn’t a very long day planned today.

One of my dad’s work friends agreed to host me tonight. He and his family welcomed me nicely and gave me a great meal.

It’s looking like rain tomorrow…

We’ll see what happens. Maybe tomorrow will be the first rest day.

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We need more of these!
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Definitely less hilly now!
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Found an unopened bag of Doritos today!

Day 11 – Higgins Lake, MI to Midland, MI – 81 miles

A rather boring day today.  I don’t even have any pictures for it!

The first 40 miles of the day were rather hilly.  I took a break from the hot sun and ate lunch in a small town called Meredith at a pizza place.  The calzone I had was quite large – and quite good.
After Meredith, I headed south through Amish country.  They are great people.

All day I had to battle an east wind.  The only time there is an east wind it seems is when I’m biking.

In the town of Coleman, a bicycle trail called the Pere Marquette trail went east.  This trail is definitely the nicest bike path I’ve ever been on.

I took the trail all of the way to Midland.
Midland surprised me.  As a Community Development/ Urban Planning major, I often look at the design and layout of the cities I go through.  The houses in Midland were set far back from the streets with plenty of green space between the roads,  sidewalks, and houses.  The city also had many designated bike paths.  Very nice!

Staying with hosts again tonight.

Day 10 – Cheboygan, MI to Higgins Lake, MI – 98.8 miles

An early, cool start paid off today.

Ate a quick breakfast with my host before heading out.  I traveled south from Cheboygan on Old Highway 27.

The most interesting stop of the day came just south of Indian River at Cross in the Woods Shrine.

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This is an integral part of the tour.  Without God, there is no way I could do a ride across the country.  All that He has provided me both before and during the trips is what gets me through.
Because Jesus died on that cross and rose again, it gave us hope and frees us from our sins.  He died for us.  We need to live for Him.  I hope I can continue to live out that mission on this journey.

After Indian River, I encountered some hills and some very poor roads.  In Gaylord, before stopping at Arby’s for lunch, I had the first negative experience with a passenger of a car yelling out the window at me.  I didn’t really care and just kept on pedaling.

The sun and heat continued to fry me today.  I definitely do not need to work on a tan anymore.

The roads in the Lower Peninsula have been despicable.  Old Highway 27 and numerous others had no shoulders and severely damaged and patched road surfaces.  It made for very tough riding.

I also hit road construction that led me on a 4 mile detour just South of Gaylord.  Had to do about a mile and a half of additional, steep climbing.

After the town of Grayling, I couldn’t find a route to get to Higgins Lake without taking the freeway.  I tried both sides of Interstate 75 but to no avail.

I decided to bike on the interstate despite the no bicycle signs.  If the police did stop me, I would just tell them I couldn’t find another route to my destination.

I made it without a problem.

Made it to my hosts by the Higgins Lake area at a reasonable time.  They prepared dinner and we ate before going on a sunset pontoon ride with some friends of theirs.  The pontoon ride was wonderful.  Great people all around.

Hosts like the ones I’ve had really make bike touring as fun as it can be.

Day 9 – St. Ignace, MI to Cheboygan, MI – 36 miles

After a restful night of sleep, I pedaled down to St. Ignace and bought my tickets for a ferry boat ride to Mackinac Island.
The boat ride included a view under the Mackinac Bridge:

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After seeing the bridge, the boat took us out to Mackinac Island.  One of the best parts about the island – no cars!  Just bikes and horse-drawn carriages.

I took my bike to the bike shop to have them fix the broken spoke and straighten out the tire.  While the bike was at the shop, I ate at a pizza place and walked up to the fort on the island.

My bike was ready to go in an hour.  I then pedaled around for a little while to explore further.  This island is pretty cool.

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The coast of Mackinac Island

 

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Mackinac Bridge in the distance

 

After looking around the island, I headed back to the dock and took the ferry to Mackinaw City.  From there, I rode a bike trail to Cheboygan where I’m staying the night.

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Park next to Lake Huron

 

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Crushed limestone trail to Cheboygan

 

Day 8 – Munising, MI to St. Ignace, MI – 114 miles

What a day.
Started out pretty early from Munising and saw my last sight of Lake Superior for the tour.
I began what I knew would be a pretty long day.  A short climb out if Munising transitioned into many miles of flat land, crossing creeks perpendicular to the road.
After about 50 miles and only one small town between, I stopped at a restaurant to eat.
About 5 miles after the restaurant, I turned to head south on a road to connect with U.S. highway 2.  These 15 miles were tough as the south wind developed, especially as I approached Lake Michigan, blowing right into my face.
About 3 miles from a town called Engadine, there were two younger individuals, brother and sister I’m assuming, that were sitting under a tent at the side of the rural road selling treats.  I stopped and bought one of their homemade treats.  Great stuff.
From Engadine, only two miles remained before the highway which I took and started east again.  About 10 miles down the road, through terrible intermittent stretches of black bug swarms, my rear wheel started to wobble.  I immediately thought broken spoke – and I was right.
I wheeled the bike to the next driveway off the highway, unloaded the gear, and took out my spoke wrench.  I was able to get it straightened out relatively well, so I carried on.
The next state forest campground was only 4 miles from the spoke repair site, and that seemed like one of the only feasible spots for tonight.
Upon arrival at the empty Hog Island campground, the bugs swarmed me and the hefty camping price without showers made me decide to get back on the road and go another 12 miles for the next campground.
My eyes continuously glanced down at the rear wheel, hoping the slight wobble wouldn’t get worse.  Highway 2 remained flat, and the weather remained good; eventually I made it to the Lake Michigan campground.
$18 for a night in a tent with swarms of bugs and also no shower here made me think twice.  With only an hour and a half of daylight left (about 8:15 p.m.), I called 2 of the closest motels.  The first one wouldn’t budge on the rates, but the second one did.  Pointe La Barbe Inn, just west of St. Ignace was my destination.
So, as daylight dwindled, I rode my bike 13 more miles along the coast of Lake Michigan to the motel.

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Sun over Lake Michigan

$30 (just $12 more than a campsite with no electric or showers) got me a room with a king size bed.  I was very grateful.

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Those black, hazy extensions off of the trees are swarms of the black flies
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Overlooking Lake Michigan
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Some stretches of the shoreline looked like coastal shoreline of an ocean