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:
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:
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.
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.
Back in Strathroy, ON, I was given this note that I have held onto. It is one of my favorite Bible verses.
I personally found this quote to inspire and assure me. For you, it may be something else.
So don’t sit on the fence any longer. Take initiative and experience the world and the people in it to the fullest.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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 :)
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seneca Falls was great.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I saw deer, fox, beaver, ducks, fish, turtles, and many geese that hiss at you if you get too close.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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!