Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 24 - 31. This marks the end of our 1st month on the road.

Day 24 Leamington to Port Stanley ~ 103 miles

We woke up at about 7:30 and went inside and Robbie had made coffee for us. We double checked our route and talked for a few minutes. After coffee we went back out and tore down the tent and packed our bags. We said goodbye and took a picture together.

We headed back the way we had come into town to stop at the Leamington Post. A lady named Pat Bailey interviewed us for an article that will be coming out in a few days! After the interview we biked down to the waterfront where she took our picture for the article. The harbor in Leamington is one location where there is a ferry out to Pelee Island. This is an island in Lake Erie that is know for its wineries. After taking the pictures and filming a bit we headed up to Wal Mart where Zach grabbed a phone charger and a calling card.

We headed up to Tim Hortons and got some breakfast. We had a bagel with cream cheese/ breakfast sandwich, doughnuts, and an iced coffee. To hot today to be drinking hot coffee. After eating we headed out onto the road to begin our 100 mile day!

We got off to a pretty good start heading down highway 3. The road was flat for the most part and the traffic was minimal. We were also within sight of the Lake, so that was a treat! The wind was pushing sideways off the Lake so it was a bit of a battle, but not to bad. We pushed through a bunch of miles and then got into another area with wind turbines. More than we had previously seen. We stopped to do some filming and then continued on.

We reached a town called Blenheim once we had reached about 45 miles. We stopped at our usual Subway routine for lunch and read the paper to see what was happening in the World. After lunch we just had to keep on going.

Zach hit a wall after lunch and just had a hard time going. He sang “99 Bottles of Beer” once through and half way through again to pass the time. We eventually met back up together and talked to pass the time. At around 70 miles or so we both were really struggling so we stopped at a small gas station to get something cold to drink and to get off of the bikes for a minute. Just after we stopped at the gas station we saw a lone tourer that was headed to California.

We got off highway 3 and then continued toward Port Stanley. We encountered a big hill that people had been telling us about. We were skeptical because of how flat it has been the last few days, but unfortunately it wasn't an illusion. It was big but not long...just steep. So we powered up it and continued on. The conditions were brutal. So hot and humid and our bodies were just wrecked. Used to doing about 70 miles a day we just had to convince ourselves to keep going.

We finally reached Port Stanley at 7 pm, we made it 103 miles! A nice small port town, a diamond in the rough known for its fishing (Perch mainly). We met Lynn and her boyfriend Dave at the local convenience store after stopping at the LCBO. They picked up Perch from a local eatery and we followed them about a quarter mile back to Lynn's house.

Her place is amazing! It is about 100 yards from the Lake, tucked perfectly up on a hill. She has an amazingly elaborate deck in the back with a hot tub, bar, eating/ lounge area, multiple levels, and a beautiful garden! We sat outside and met a couple of her friends that were there. We drank a few beers and then ate dinner. We ate the awesome perch, french fries, salad, and pumpernickel bread! It was so good and we ate so much. Had to re fuel after the long ride.
After dinner we showered and then went back out to enjoy the sunset on the deck. To our amazement Lynn and Dave went to spend the night on Dave's trailer and they left us the entire place to ourselves! It was amazing, pure luxury.

We used the computer to figure out our route for the next few days and then we just relaxed, watched some TV and then a movie called Righteous Kill. We were having to much fun doing nothing and we aren't headed to bed until 2 am after the movie gets done. A great way to end a 100 mile day.

We are headed to Port Dover tomorrow.

Day 25 – Port Dover to Selkirk Shores Provincial Park ~ 90 miles

We woke up at 7 to the sounds of an air compressor being started at the home next to Lynn's. They were working outside on the deck and soon after the air compressor stopped they turned on the radio. So we struggled to sleep till 9 and got up around that time when Lynn and Dave returned.

We made coffee and lounged around for a bit. We slowly packed our things and then Lynn took us back into town for a ride in her convertible. She wanted to show us the town so we could do some filming. We went down to the public beach area where most of the local pubs and hang out spots are. Then we drove around and she showed us some of the industry of the town.The two main industrial things in town is the fishing and the asphalt plant. Otherwise it is mostly tourism.

After driving around we stopped at one of the local coffee shops called Village Square Coffeehouse. It was great! They had chocolate croissant, which we have been waiting for a while to get, and some amazing coffee from Nicaragua. We sat and ate a bit and then drove around a bit more. We went down to another small beach and then headed back into town. As we passed the coffee shop again we noticed that there were 3 touring bikes parked outside. We stopped and went into talk to the owners of the bikes. They were 3 guys from Ohio and Illinois. They were about a week in on their tour around Lake Erie. One of the guys plans to bike the Continental Divide (US) in the future. We talked to them for a bit and then took a picture together. After that we stopped at one of the local inns. One of Lynn's friends owns it and she is also big into bike touring. She has done many trips overseas. We talked with her for a bit and then headed back to Lynn's place.

When we got back to Lynn's we did a bit of filming and then took a picture together and said our goodbyes. She invited us to stay with her again if we ever come her way...we would like to do that. Port Stanley is a pretty cool place.

We waved goodbye and left her driveway around noon. We hopped onto highway 3 and rode through St. Thomas and headed toward our destination in Port Dover. The condition of Highway 3 had drastically changed from yesterday. It was nice yesterday with a decent shoulder and minimal traffic. Today it was awful. Old decrepit road with monster cracks and a foot of thick gravel right on the white line.

We kept cruising as best we could. It was really hot and humid again today. We stopped at Wendy's for lunch. More than anything we just wanted to get out of the heat for a bit. But we ate and talked to a few people and then went back out into the heat and continued on.

We eventually got off the horrible road and onto a few side roads that headed into Port Dover. We stopped at the local RV campground that Dave had recommended the night before.We talked to someone that was staying there who told us it was RV's only. We called the owner and asked if we could pitch our tent. He told us no because he said it would cause to many problems, but he recommended another park. We think that is really sad that you can't even pitch a tent for one night in a campground. What is happening to people? So we took our money elsewhere.

We continued into Port Dover and stopped at a convenience store to fill up on fluids. It was still really uncomfortably hot. We enjoyed our beverages and asked around to see if anyone else knew of a place we could camp for the night. Nobody seemed to know anything.

We continued on to find the park that the owner of the RV camp had recommended and discovered that is was a community park with ball fields and playground. We couldn't figure out why he would even send us there. Anyone who lives that town would know not to send someone there to camp. Stupid. While we were there a lady offered us a place to pitch our tent in her yard. Super nice of her, but unfortunately it was back the way we had come and we didn't feel like backtracking.

So we continued on to Selkirk Shores PP. It was about another 15 miles or so past Port Dover. On our way we passed a massive US Steel plant and an Ontario Power plant. Before we made the turn to the park we biked another 2 miles into the town of Selkirk to get something to eat. The first and only thing we found open was a convenience store so we just got a few snacks as we were still content from Wendy's.

We headed back to the park exhausted. It ended up being a 93 mile day. Much longer than we intended. Almost 2 100 mile days back to back. We are beat. We headed down to check out the beach after we showered and set up because there was a massive lightning storm over Lake Erie. We went down and enjoyed the show and are going to bed extremely tired.

We are heading to Niagara tomorrow and are really excited!

Day 26 – Selkirk Shores to ACBB Hostel Niagara ~ 55 miles

We woke up around 830 got our things packed up and then headed back into Selkirk to get breakfast. Right away we could tell it was going to be a scorcher of a day.We stopped at a local dinner called the Sunflower I think. We each had the big breakfast. 3 slices of French toast, 2 eggs, breakfast potatoes, and three sausages, with coffee. It was nice to have a solid breakfast for a change.

We headed out of town through farm country again. We went through a town and then got onto some country backroads. We weaved in and out changing directions and roads every so often.

We eventually reached the Welland Canal. It is an important shipping canal that links Erie and Ontario allowing the ships to skip around Niagara Falls. It is rally quite impressive.

Once we reached the canal we didn't have much further to go to reach our KOA destination on Lundy's Lane just on the outskirts of Niagara. There are a lot of shut down businesses and hotels along the road, as well as a handful of gentlemen's clubs. Not what we would have expected in Niagara.
We reached the KOA around 4 and paid for the Value site (tent only no hookups, 40 bucks). We went and biked to the site and immediately looked at each other. It was awful. It was a small patch of grass in the back of the campground with no shade and trash strewn about. We looked at each other and agreed we would rather sleep behind the public library. Zach biked back up to the front desk and told them we wanted to up grade. We paid 4 more bucks and got moved to an equally shitty site. We were not going to stay there or any KOA for that matter. We got out the laptop and immediately started looking for alternate options.

We settled on a local hostel. The ACBB hostel, which is about a 15 min walk from the falls. It was about 5 dollars more per person than the KOA and we got a shower, bed, breakfast, WI-FI, location, and company. Not even a contest.

We biked up there and stopped at DQ to get a blizzard before settling in. We arrived at the hostel and put our things into our room and showered and then went at sat in the communal area. We met a guy named Clem from France and we ended up going to Boston Pizza with him for a bite to eat. After we ate with Clem we parted ways and we went down to see the Falls. It was the first time Zach has seen them and Kris had been before. It was dark by the time we got there, but the falls were lit up. It was a beautiful sight.

We were so amazed by the number of people in Niagara. It is really pretty depressing how built up and tourist centered it has become. It seems like people go down to the falls for 30 min and then get bored and go play mini golf or do other tourist things. We are determined to spend our time near the river as far away from the crowds as possible.

After checking out the falls we headed back to the hostel and watched a bit of Into the Wild. It was nice to sit and relax. We are going to bed at a decent time because we have a rest day tomorrow and don't want to sleep the day away.

Day 27 – ACBB Hostel Niagara – Rest Day

We woke up around 8:30 and Zach showered and we went down for breakfast. After breakfast we decided to get our laundry done while we had the opportunity. We walked a few blocks to the laundromat and quickly got it done.

After the laundromat we walked back to the hostel and talked to Patrick, the hostel owner, about things we should see around the falls. We set off to head up above the falls to the rapids area. On our way we stopped at a small local pub/ eatery in the small town just south of Niagara. We had a burger and beer and then headed to the rapids.

Our plan was to start at the rapids and move down river and end up at the whirlpool. It is amazing how few people there were above the falls. Everybody just flocks right to the falls and don't realize that the river is pretty awesome. The rapids are huge and the river above the falls is really wide. The volume of water heading between the two lakes it tremendous. There is an old barge called the “Old Scow” that got cut loose from its tug above the falls back in the day. It floated toward the falls and the two men that were aboard opened the bottom hatches in the boat and were able to get it stuck on some rocks in the rapids. It took them almost a whole night to get off, but they were able to make it to shore alive.

After the rapids we headed down to the falls. Being on the Canadian side we could get right up next to Horseshoe Falls (the more famous of the two falls at Niagara). It was really awesome. We did some filming and then headed inside to check out the prices to head below the falls. We opted not to go down because it was around 3pm and we wanted to make it down to the whirlpool before dark. We stuck around by the falls for a bit longer and then headed down river to get out of the crazy crowd of people.

We biked down to the whirlpool. It is the largest whirlpool in the world. The current looked so amazingly strong from above. We had to hike down a ravine with over 300 stairs to the bottom. We hiked down and talked to a couple that said someone who was fishing the day before went in the water for a swim and hadn't been seen since. They said the police were down there earlier in the day looking for them. It speaks about how powerful the water is there. It was a really cool area. We saw a couple guys fishing and one of them pulled a decent small mouth bass out of the water. After hanging out for a few minutes we began the long hike out back up to the road. It was so hot! We were dripping sweat by the time we made it back to the top.

We biked back to the hostel and by that point it was almost dinner time. We walked into town and Kris went to a convenience store to get some allergy meds and Zach used a payphone to call home. We started walking back toward the hostel and then decided to try to find the restaurant with the “all you can eat” pasta dinner for $7.99. Kris had seen the sign earlier. We were just about to give up on finding it when we ran into it. We ate dinner and then rushed back to the hostel to get our camera equipment because there were fire works that started at 10 right above the falls.

We grabbed our gear and then headed down to the falls. The fireworks were a lot of fun to see. They were really well done, and apparently they are going all summer long on Friday and Sunday nights. After the fireworks we went back up the hill to Boston Pizza for a beer. After the beer we headed back to the hostel. Kris showered and then we went to bed.

We are heading to Hamilton tomorrow via Niagara on the Lake. We enjoyed Niagara, but are ready to move on to a new place.

Day 28 – ACBB Hostel to Hamilton ~ 60 miles

Woke up this morning not wanting to move. We got packed after some showers and had a small breakfast at the hostel. Once we were all set we got a picture in front of the hostel and some directions and headed out of town towards the Niagara River trail. After stopping at Tim Hortons we made it to the bike path, right where we had been the day before by the whirlpool.

The path was amazing! It took us through beautiful forests, gardens, and very scenic views of the river. We eventually came upon a very large hydro dam and did some filming there. Just to the left of the dam The valley opened up and we could see for many miles around us. We continued on the path and eventually made it to Niagara on the Lake. Here we took a quick look at Fort George, the French fort used in the war of 1812. After that we hit lake Ontario and took a few minutes to take it all in. On the opposite side of the river was Fort Niagara on the US side.

From there we biked through many vineyards, orchards, and berry farms as we headed west for the first time on our trip. Very quickly we made it to the waterfront trail, which took us through neighborhoods and parks along the water. After we passed through St. Catherines we hooked back up with the trail on a side road that followed the freeway towards Hamilton. It was great because the pavement was smooth and there was a large bike lane on it with very little traffic. The problem was that it was getting hotter and hotter during the day. We just couldn't get enough water in. We passed a marina where we saw an old ship that looked like a pirate ship and we stopped there to film it. We also stood on the beach and tried to make out the Toronto skyline across the lake.

From here we kept on peddling until we decided we needed to get out of the sun and really get a lot of water in and a bite to eat. We stopped at Subway and did just that. Kris called Linda and figured out the plans to meet up with her. We were pretty far away form them and they lived on top of a huge cliff (escarpment) so they came and picked us up. We biked to the Husky and waited for them to arrive. Linda and her daughter Rebecca brought their cars and we piled all of our stuff in and they took us home. Having gotten on top of the escarpment I realized that it would have been almost impossible to reach their house in the heat. They also told us that the temperatures reached 94 degrees that day, no wonder we were struggling so much. That was the hottest day by far!

We got showered up back at the house and had dinner with her and her daughter. After dinner they took us around town to show us a few things and to figure out the best route for the morning since the terrain and roads are difficult in that area. They took us down to the waterfront park and we walked around for a bit. After that they took us to the lift bridge that we would have to cross in the morning to make sure that the repairs were done on it and we could cross.

We headed back to their house and watched a really funny old movie called The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes. After this was over we headed to bed exhausted from the heat and long eventful day. Tomorrow we will finally make it to Toronto for exploration and rest.

Day 29 – Hamilton to Toronto ~ 50 miles

We woke up this morning a bit later than we had hoped we would. It was around 9:30. Lynda had made us a breakfast of egg sandwiches and coffee. After breakfast we packed up our things and got ready to head out. We took a picture together and then we headed on down the road. We can't thank Lynda and her daughter enough for being gracious hosts. Her house is on the top of the escarpment so we got to take one of the access roads down to the lake level. We rode down for about a mile going about 25mph. It was a great way to start the morning.

We navigated our way down to the waterfront trail and started to head west to cross the lift bridge....we got bridged. There was a ship pulling into harbor just as we were pulling up. We went out to the end of the pier and filmed the ship coming in. Its home port is Sault Ste. Marie. After the ship passed through we crossed and were on our way again. We tried to stick to the Waterfront Trail as much as possible. We were heading through suburban area with many really nice houses.

We eventually rounded a corner and the Toronto skyline came into view with the CN Tower dominating the view. We made our way through the populated madness and reached a small park where we sat and enjoyed the snack the Lynda had packed for us, bran muffins and fruit. After eating we continued on into the city. We met up with another guy who was riding into town. His name was Larry and he works for a non profit here that deals with bike events that raise money for cancer funds. He is also an avid cyclist and in 2007 he took 17th in the Race Across America. It goes from Oceanside, CA to Atlantic City, NJ...coast to coast, over 3000 miles. He did it in 12 days. He biked us into town and helped up find our destination. Before we parted ways he bought us a shot of espresso at a local coffeehouse. Supposed to be some of the best in Toronto.

Kris phoned Elena, our contact who is hosting us while we are in Toronto, and got directions to the house. It is a Yogi commune with 13 residents. It was only two blocks or so from the coffeehouse so we biked over and she met us outside. We set up our tent in the backyard and showered. After showering we headed out to see the town.

We stopped at a pizza place in Little Italy and then biked through Chinatown and made our way to the CN Tower. We paid the admission fee and headed to the top! The CN Tower is still the worlds tallest structure. We went through security and got into the elevator. It moves 15 mph and there are windows in the wall and floor so you can watch as you go up! We made it to the observation level and looked around. It was a really awesome 360 degree view! After feeling content on the observation level we headed up to the Sky pod. It is the highest point on the tower that you can go. It goes way above the observation level and we could feel it swaying slightly in the wind.

We headed back down the elevator and then went to the level with the glass floor! You can walk on the glass and look all the way to the ground. We could see our bikes locked up way below! We went to the outdoor lookout and then headed back to the ground once we were content.

Once we got to the bottom we headed to the Distillery District to find the Mill Street Brewery. We found it and went is for a beer. We had the Tankhouse Ale...not bad. After that we headed back across town to the Amsterdam Brewery. We tried some beer there and then headed back toward the commune. We stopped in at the Cloak and Dagger, a local pub, and enjoyed some bluegrass by The Slocan Ramblers. We headed back to the commune and went to bed. Another day of exploration for us tomorrow.

Day 30 Rest Day, Toronto

It was great to sleep in this morning! After we woke up and showered we headed down college st. to find a good coffee shop. We went to Subway and had lunch before going to Manic Coffee and got a bunch of computer work done even though we didn't have any internet. After that we headed back to our tent and while Zach took a nap, Kris went back downtown and tried to find some internet. The computer wasn't working properly so he ended up finding an internet cafe there and getting some more work done.

After the computer work was complete he went back and woke up Zach. From there we got ready and went down to the Steam Whistle Brewery for a tour. The tours were almost filled and we had to head to the game soon so we decided to sample some beers and do some filming instead. We learned that the brewery is a green company just like the old round house that it is part of. The old roundhouse used steam from a nearby plant in the early 1920's to turn the locomotives and was truly one of the first green buildings of its kind.

After the brewery we headed to Kensington Market and had a great burger dinner and checked out a really cool area of town. We quickly headed back to the tent and then raced down to Rogers Center for a Blue Jays baseball game. They were playing the Baltimore Orioles and we had great seats in the lower deck in outfield. Two home runs came within 20 feet of us so that was really exciting as well. The best part was the Jays won!

After the game we headed back to College st. and got a couple beers and watched game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. What a great overtime game! We headed back to the tent to get a good nights rest before a long day of navigating through the streets of this large city. We are off to Port Hope tomorrow.

Day 31 – Downtown Toronto to Port Hope ~ 74 miles

Woke up this morning and didn't want to move or get out of bed. Its amazing how a cooler night makes you want to sleep as long as possible. We eventually got up and got packed up, stretched, and rehydrated. We opted to get out of Toronto before having breakfast so around 9:30 we took off. We headed through the renowned Kensington Market, China Town, and financial district to get some footage and then slowly made our way out of downtown.

We followed the Waterfront trail and reached a suburb where we stopped at a local bakery for some coffee and a small breakfast. We left a bit unfulfilled, but had to keep pressing on. We were facing a 70+ mile day and just wanted to reach our destination.
We continued to follow the Waterfront Trail but quickly got frustrated by its zig zag nature. It kept going out toward the lake and then back inland following the points of the shore.

We stopped for lunch and tried to get some food at a No Frills supermarket but couldn't find anything that we wanted. So we went to another local shop and had a sandwich. Again we left unfulfilled. We reached a bike shop and asked for directions and they told us to follow highway 2. So we did and it eventually marked back up with the trail. We followed it a bit further and it led us through some unsatisfactory gravel trail in a provincial park. We stopped at the visitors center and they gave us directions to avoid the trail.

Around 3 or 3:30 we reached a turn in our route we surprisingly met up with Richard from the Oshawa Cycling Club. We had been in contact with him previously and had planned to meet up with him. However we hadn't heard from him yet today so we figured something had come up. But once we reached that turn he was there waiting for us in his car. He greeted us and parked the car and hopped on his bike to ride a distance with us. He was a very nice guy and he and his wife have done a fair share of touring themselves. He rode with us for over an hour and showed us the good route to follow. We took a picture together and parted ways.

From where we parted we had about another 15 or so miles to Port Hope where we would be staying with Bart at his family home. We arrived in Port Hope right around 6 or 6:30 and stopped at a convenience store for a quick snack and to get directions to his home. Afterwards we made our way to his house and he greeted us outside. He is originally from a small town near Wilmer, MN. Nice to meet a native Minnesotan. He and his family have a great place with a nice view of Lake Ontario.

After showering and getting settled the three of us went to a local restaurant for dinner. It was about a 10 min walk from his place. After eating we walked back and sat and enjoyed a beer and talked for a while. After Bart and his son went to bed we walked out to the lake to enjoy it for a few minutes. We are going to bed in a nice warm home with comfortable quarters.

Tomorrow we are headed to a local bike shop in Bloomington, ON tomorrow, about a 60 mile day. Forecast isn't looking to good. Rain with 25 mph winds coming from the east...our direction of travel. We take it as it comes. We really enjoyed Toronto and hope to return someday. This day marks the end of our 1st month on the road! It has been great and we know it will continue to be. Thank you to everyone who has got us to this point!

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