Saturday, July 28, 2012

Go Pahk ya Cah...

Okay I guess that's a Boston accent but it's somewhat similar to Bah Harbah.

If you haven't noticed by now, Hannah and I are the epitome of ice cream connoisseurs. So it would've gone against our religion and been completely un-American of us if we didn't go to the motherland of all that is Holy...the Ben & Jerry's Factory! We packed our local goodies from Burlington and cranked out 30 miles with a giant scoop of "Half Baked" on the brain for motivation. Turns out everyone and their uncle had the same idea, we had to wait over 40 minutes for our dairy delight! We both had the same thought of: is this really worth it? Duh! We would have brought disgrace to our pseudo sister, Liz, if we had come all this way and not indulged. So we did. And it was worth it after all. But by the time we finished crowd surfing, it was getting dark and we had yet to figure out a place to stay for the night (which, in retrospect, seems to be a common occurrence for us). It's tourist season in the New England area and all the campgrounds we call for a site have been completely full. We try all our resources: parks, fire departments, police departments (their job is to serve and protect by the way so they should help a sista out)...nothing. So being the travelling vagabonds that we are we just waited until the local supermarket closed and just pitched our tent behind it. It wasn't the most comfortable night sleep we've had since we were right next to a railroad track but it worked and it was free.

We were desperate once again to wash some clothes so we stayed until noon hanging out in the coffee shop waiting for the dryer to buzz. After putting on the fresh chamois we lathered on the sunscreen and made our way through Montpelier, VT. It was a very cute town and we stopped for lunch at the local Bagitos (Bagels and Burritos) cafe. They make a mean Everything Bagel by the way. We dragged our feet through Vermont because we went probably another 20 miles before stopping at Artesano, a local meadery and ice cream shoppe. I can't believe I'm saying this but they give Ben and Jerry's a run for their money. My guess is because they use all local ingredients and the ice cream never sits more than a few days, so it's as fresh as the cow's udder! There is where we met the owner, Mark, who just so happens to have done some bike touring as well with his wife, Nicole, in South America. After conversing with him about his adventure and ours he invited us to stay with him, Nicole, and their one year old son, RenĂ© (their 4-year old son, August, was with the grandparents). We didn't need much convincing after he said the word shower. It was incredible listening to all they've done in South America, the Peace Corps, and in their community. We've noticed that the word community is frequently used in Vermont because of all the co-ops, farmers markets, and local businesses. It's something that Hannah and I hope to bring back to Utah. After a hearty baked french toast with real Vermont maple syrup, we coasted off to New Hampshire and said Adios amigos to Mark and the family.

We pulled up to the post office in North Haverhill, NH to drop off some packages when we met a local, Paul. He was ecstatic about our trip and warned us about "The Kanc". The Kancamagus Pass stands at a measly 2,588 ft. Pshh...nothing compared to what we've come over already. After about an hour of riding Paul met back up with us and pulled off to offer us some water for when we got to the top of one of the mountains before Kancamagus. We said we were fine but he drove to the top anyway and left us a cooler of water, chocolate milk (the best recovery drink), watermelon, and donuts! What a guy! We stopped to take a picture of the Appalachian Trail and just around the corner is where we met some thru-hikers, Preston and Abbey! They were amazing and it's so admirable to hear about their adventure and to parallel it to ours. Preston said that he'd been through three pairs of shoes already and then asked how many tires we'd been through. They have their backpacks, we have our panniers, etc. We hated to say goodbye but we wished them luck on the rest of their journey and left to tackle "The Kanc". It really felt quite easy and everyone told us it was the worse one yet. "The Kanc" ain't got nothin' on me. Now it's all downhill to Maine! Or so we thought.

We crossed the state line into Fryeburg, ME around 8 o'clock at night and found the nearest campsite we could because there was a storm brewin'. It brewed to the point of fear because the thunder was so loud, the light show was so bright, and the wind was strong. It wasn't very comforting knowing that the only thing that stands between you and a tree tumbling down is some nylon and two fiberglass poles (our tent). 

We made it through the night and pedaled over 100 miles (what we thought was only going to be 85) to our next stay with warm showers hosts Mark and Kitty. The day was long with the majority of it spent in the saddle with the occasional snack. We were beat by the time we pulled up the Wheelers' driveway. They made dinner for us and shared great conversation. 

The next day was a long one again with 80 miles to Belfast. After biking over 4,000 miles we finally got our hands on what we've been working towards...Lobsta Rolls! There was Orr's Food Truck just off the side of the road, it sparked our interest so we took a hard right and split a roll there. It was delicious! We then went another five miles before we came across Red's Eats. Supposedly they've been voted to have Maine's number one lobster roll. So we split one there as well. Oh and FYI...lobster rolls are not cheap! They are at least $15 bucks a claw. But after savoring the two different rolls we actually preferred Orr's more. We cycled off the crustacean while gazing out towards the Atlantic, awestruck by the beauty. 

From Belfast it's only 60 miles to Bar Harbor. What?! We figured we were ahead of schedule so we killed a day relaxing in the co-op, cafe hopping, and roaming around the shops in Belfast. We felt like we had to get some miles in so we biked 2 to a beach front campground, pitched our tent, and called it a night. 

We finally hit a farmers market! We backtracked into Belfast Friday morning before shoving off to Blue Hill. It was a short and quiet 40 miles to the quaint town. We pulled in around 3 o'clock and found yet another co-op to hang out for a bit. An hour and a half later our warm showers host Parker arrived at the store and introduced himself to Hannah. Not long after that we decided to ride the last 1/2 mile to the lovely home of Parker and Susan. It was the first night we'd spent in separate rooms and I think I speak for both of us when I was glorious. I didn't have to wake her because of the snoring and she didn't have to fight me for the blankets. Parker and his wife Susan have been the perfect end to our trip. Susan made a quinoa stir fry and Parker made a toast to our accomplishment. A real spectacular stay with great wholesome people!

It's 30 miles to Bar Harbor and 3 o'clock. Prolonging the inevitable is hard to do. But we went to the farmers market, strolled around town, and seen pretty much all we wanted in Blue Hill. Now we're telling people where we've come from instead of where we're going. At the start of our trip the common reaction in Washington was "ha! good luck" now in Maine it's "wow! congratulations". It's definitely a surreal feeling to know I've biked the whole way here with my best friend. Everyday hasn't been filled with sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns either but it's been the funnest and most rewarding task I've ever done. How will I ever top it? I guess I'll have to go international! Who's in?

Get out there!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Like always, Chloe and I didn't leave Tom's house until after lunch. We turned the corner laughing at the fact that we still had 65 miles to travel for the day. To our excitement we were greeted with our first steep climb, Blue Mountain at 3,759 feet. From here on out we are gaining elevation and Vermont will be no exception. Everyone keeps telling us we have the hardest hills to come. From Blue Mountain we continued to climb East Inlet Mountain, the topographic colors on the map seem to be getting lighter...I don't know how I feel about that. We enjoyed a nice break in Long Lake, about 11 miles away from where we started. Yes, progress!! We are always a little to our goal than before. Sometimes I like to look back when the road is open and free from traffic, I think to myself " wow, I may never be on this road again, with every stroke of the pedal I am moving further east." I like to cherish those moments of peace and quiet.

In Long Lake we saw something awful. It just about broke our hearts. Allow me to explain.
Chloe and I love to people watch. On this day we were resting at the Custard Shack and watching a cute family talk about their vacation and activities for the day. We noticed something strange, one of the daughters was not enjoying her ice cream as much as one typically does with a cone in hand, piled high with creamy custard goodness, and sprinkles. She said to her mother " I don't want all of this."  What my eyes witnessed next was a cardinal sin. She walked over to the garbage can and literally threw half of her ice cream away! I thought I was going to be sick. But, there is a lesson to be learned here. I think all to often we are quick to throw things away when instead we should try to re-purpose them or dispose of them properly. For example: many of the foods we do not finish can be composted, most of the packaging our food comes in can be recycled. When I say most I mean pretty much everything. Just something to think about friends!

Anyway, we continued to climb over rolling hills and were not sure of our final destination for the night. We ended up in a town called Paradox. It's so funny how everything has a way of working out, I'll explain. Tom gave us some contact information for a friend he has who lives in Paradox, unfortunately a violent storm from the night before left everyone without telephone service. We had no way of contacting this infamous friend but I had the words Sally Friedman, Letsonville Rd. scribbled down on a piece of paper. I was determined to find her, even more so because of the fact that it was  nearing dark and there was yet another hill in front of me. We turned down Letsonville Rd and I saw a house connected to a Post Office. I thought, "o.k there is a Post Office and whoever  runs it must deliver the mail to everyone around here, surely they will know Sally, right?" So I knocked on the door, (which honestly isn't as easy as you would think because everywhere you go you are a stranger and sometimes I get plain nervous before I go walking up to someones front door.) The post mistress came out and said "hello." I asked if she knew Sally and to my great excitement she did! I explained our situation and she was curious and asked "well do you know Sally?" I said "no, and she isn't expecting us but we thought we might try to meet her." (little-girl-voice) It was a funny situation but Sally came down to the post office and met us. She was so nice and greeted us with a warm smile and allowed us to stay with her for the night!

We had such a wonderful time with Sally! She is a scenery artist, (which there are only about 200 in the entire world) and was definitely a master of her skill. She had many pieces of beautiful art and made us feel so welcome in her home. As we chatted the night away we discovered that Sally is an amazing swimmer, its also apparent in her decor. Chloe and I fell in love with the aquatic themes around every corner. The next morning after breakfast Sally took us for a swim in Lake Paradox! It was such a wonderful time! I felt like a mermaid swimming stroke by stroke alongside this endurance racer. The three of us swam to the rocks on an island in the middle of the lake. We sat in the sun for a while, it was such a peaceful and perfect moment. The lake was warm and the sun was shinning, its light made the calm waters glisten and we all smiled, happy to be swimming.

After our swim we had a small lunch and said goodbye to Tia Sally. She was wonderful and we fell in love with her, her aquatic house, and not to mention the cabin she is finishing. (Which by the way, Ben & Jerry used to own.) 

The weather was beautiful as we continued to Middlebury. We were reluctant to leave Sally so we took it slow, very slow. We crossed into Vermont by way of the cable ferry and started riding through the most beautiful, green farmlands I have ever seen. It was spectacular! After a few miles we rested at a sugar bush. A maple syrup farm! That is what Vermonters call a field of Maple Trees, a sugar bush. We tasted the local syrup and toured the farm, it was a lot of fun and very educational.
We ended up riding into the night due to all of our "short" stops and because we treated ourselves to dinner at the best Thai Restaurant in town. The campsite we were planning to stay at was full. Which left me with no choice but once again to knock on a door, and hope for the best. Which is exactly what I received! Chloe and I stayed the night outside of a beautiful farm house in Vermont. Don and his grandson John were so kind to let us pitch our tent and stay the night. In the morning we visited with John and his other half Julia. They were so fun and energetic, it was a pleasure getting to know them. They talked non stop about the town of Burlington and the amazing Farmers Market. We simply had to go. Detour time! So we made our way to Burlington and had a great time walking along the shores of Lake Champlagne and eating the local fare. We met a wonderful guy named Tom at a stoplight and a steep hill. He was out for a day ride and was very nice, he encouraged us to keep peddling! Later we met up with friends of John and Julia who welcomed us to stay with them for the night in Burlington.

The Farmers Market was amazing! Oh, the food was so fresh and local, Chloe and I were in heaven. We just love food. I love it. Period. We also really like artistic jewelry, which brings us to our meeting with Terri! She is a beautiful artist who hand makes glass art and jewelry. She was so enthusiastic about life and our adventure! It was fun to visit with her and experience the town of Burlington. 

Tomorrow brings us a new day and another adventure! 

I can't wait.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hosin' Around in New York, Eh?

Sherri, the true "Captain" Michael, and Scout.
Hey all you hosers!

After giving up our pepper spray at border patrol we headed for Port Stanley. We all noticed the unfamiliar headwind slowing us down so we stopped on the side of the road at a local farmers stand. The owner gave us some of her farm fresh eggs and continued to ask questions about the trip. She was so sweet and let all four of us make a second breakfast with our eggs on her porch. We reluctantly left and arrived in Port Stanley a lot earlier than our normal 1 a.m. arrival time. To pass the time before bed we walked around the tourist town window shopping and indulging in a little bit of Broderick's ice cream. We set up camp next to a marina where we met some locals, Sherri, Michael, Jerry, and Jill. They offered to take us out on their boat to give us a real view of the port...we couldn't turn the down! It was a real treat watching the sun set out on the water with good friends. It's the moments like these that make our trip worth while. 

We had another early start to the Norfolk Conservation Area, I was of course prolonging the inevitable. To distract myself from the headwind, Hannah and I made nicknames for Brian and John, our new riding buddies. We came up with Mowgli for Brian and Captain America for John since he holds the map. Our campsite was pointed out to us by a nice local that said "hippy hill is over there". We set up alongside the edge of hippy hill and enjoyed another beautiful Lake Erie sunset. 

The Crew!

We've been getting some of the earliest starts since running into Mowgli and Cap. America. That being said I'm ready to ditch them. Just kidding. But we left camp at 6 a.m. in order to beat the Harley heavy traffic that we'd been hearing rumors about in Port Dover. Apparently every Friday the 13th they have a huge bike rally at the port and we were warned to steer clear of the area. But before we peddled out in a hurry we had to stop at the local crepe shop! A nice "Summer Garden"(Lemon curd filled with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries topped with whipped cream) and "The Bikini" (Pesto filled with a vegetable medley topped with pepper jelly) held us over until a quick lunch break. Since entering the Maple Leaf country we have experienced some pretty pricey campgrounds. This night was no different when we pulled up to a privately owned site that wanted $13 dollars per person. It's pretty upsetting when you see the price of an RV spot, which uses electric, water, and sewage, is cheaper or the same price as a tent site for a biker who uses almost no amenities. So we turned that down and searched for a place to pitch camp. We luckily passed a local, that goes by the name of Red Rooster, that let us camp in his back yard. It was much nicer than the campsite and the Rooster kept us company until it was time for bed. 
Pipe and a Crepe?

We set out for Niagra Falls the following day. What an incredible site to see! It seemed like nothing could get our psych level down after seeing that! But the hustle and bustle of coming back into the states was ever present. There was traffic everywhere but we luckily found our way through it and into our campsite in Middleport, NY. A very cute town but we rolled in late and were tired from all the excitement the falls offered that we just called it a night after a nice and well needed shower. 

Brockport, NY was our first stop to replace Mowgli's blown out tire at the local bike shop. Hannah and I wondered off and stumbled upon the Red Bird Cafe where the owner Josephine and Liz graciously donated to our cookie fund with two peanut butter and one white chocolate chip cookies! We really enjoyed talking with them and sharing stories about our adventure. They made a good rep for the citizens of Brockport. Despite all the warnings we heard about Rochester, we decided to take our chances and bike through the city. Why? Just wanted to see the city...and the local Cheesy Eddie's cheesecake and pastry shop! But to our extreme disappointment it was closed! We were twenty minutes too late. Hannah and I couldn't leave without a little something so we dragged the boys to an artisan ice cream shop before leaving the city. Our next stop was Macedon where we were camping for the night. About fifteen miles away from camp we stopped for a bathroom break where we met Kathy of Fairport, NY! She and her husband were so nice and showed us around their  crew rowing boats. Kathy's husband coaches the popular sport and it was pretty amazing being introduced to it and the added cookie they gave us wasn't bad either. 

We were awakened in Macedon by drops of rain through our tent which made us quickly seek shelter before we headed out for Fulton. The day was pretty consistent with a drizzle but it was refreshing after multiple weeks of scorching heat. It was a pretty lax Sunday and we took our time especially when we hit the Candy Kitchen! There we met our new Greek family Mary, Peter, and their daughters. They've been in the restaurant business for a number of years and have quite the cute spot in Williamson. After listening to what our plans were and how we got to the small town, Peter paid for all four of our breakfasts'! We pedaled on pulling into Fulton where there was an ice cream waiting for us at the Sweet Inspiration diner. Pitched our tent, dodged some mosquitoes, watched the lake view sunset, and turned in for the night.

Due to the desperate need to wash our clothes we didn't leave for Boonville, a good 80 mile ride, until one in the afternoon. But it was time well spent because we had a nice conversation with Tom, a Fulton local, at the laundromat. He told us about Arcadia National Park in Maine and how we should ride up the mountain to see the view and overlay of the land. I'm pretty sure that will be unavoidable for us so we'll take him up on that suggestion. Before saying good bye, Tom put a few dollars in my handlebar bag and wished us well. New York has been one of the friendliest states we've been through so far and we are eternally grateful for the generosity we've encountered. The generosity didn't stop there either, the local bike smith, Terry, trued my wheel and tightened my spokes free of charge. We finished at Stysh's Brown Barn Campground around ten o'clock that night . It was a long day but the temperatures were nice and we had a good tailwind.

The owner of Stysh's, Dan, suggested a cafe for us to have breakfast and later on an ice cream shop for lunch. His suggestions did not disappoint with a grilled blueberry muffin for breakfast and an amaretto gelato scoop for lunch. But before stopping at Inlet where the ice cream was Hannah and I stopped at the bike shop where we had to get my wheel trued again...or so we thought. The bike mechanic clearly pointed out that my spoke was broken. It wasn't as drastic as the one before this but we were still surprised that I was riding on it. I guess I should have passed on the gelato at Inlet but we only have two weeks left...give me a break. After a nice lake side siesta we pedaled off the ice cream into Blue Mountain Lake. We were stopped for a second when a truck pulled alongside us and said "you know there's a tornado warning with hail and strong winds coming?!" why no we did not know that. Luckily up ahead Cap. America was talking with Tom, another Blue Mountain local. Tom owns an ice cream shop (jackpot!) and offered us a place to stay for the night. It was bittersweet spending the night in Tom's beautiful home nestled in the woods because the four of us knew the next day we'd be parting ways. But we cherished the moment exchanging stories with Tom and flowering his two girls (Tinker and Keezy, two huge New Foundland's) with attention.

After almost a week and a half of riding together we finally said good riddance to the guys! Finally we can start riding at the decent hour of 11 o'clock. Just kidding. The mood is definitely somber today but we hold dear the memories and wish them well with their fundraising and finding a real job (dirty hippies ;)). 

We'll be done with map 10 today and moving onto our 11th and last map of the trip. Where has the time gone?!

Seek Adventure,

Monday, July 16, 2012

Better Late than Never

Wow, how quickly time flys! I can't believe we are in Canada, again! Before talking about that we have some catching up to do.

Chloe and I decided to go through Wisconsin and blaze our own trail instead of following the ACA (Adventure Cycling Association) route. Our first stop was in La Crosse, where we were fortunate enough to have a host for the night. Ed was wonderful, he even met us out on the trail and bicycled back to his house for a 40 mile ride! Ed is planning to finish the Northern Tier Route later this summer, Go Ed Go! We were so happy to have a nice air-conditioned place to rest our tired bodies. Ed even treated us to pizza for dinner!

Once again we were quite slow in the morning leaving the comforts of a nice house, our departure time: 12:00 p.m., no big deal. Ed helped us plan a safe route to our next destination and through Wisconsin. We decided to take mostly rail-trails, which are old rail road track lines that have been "paved" (more like covered with dirt) over and turned into convenient trails. We were happy to take a safer route and be off the road for a while. This day in particular, the sun was beaming more brightly on our faces than usual. As a way to cope for the extreme heat, and in addition to the normal sun block routine, we thought we would try something different to cool ourselves while riding. I think we took the "sun's out, gun's" method a little too far. To say the least, Chloe and I have been lathering the aloe vera on for the past few days and have suffered what I think, is the worst sun burn I have ever had. Lesson learned: fewer layers are not better, but the lack of such will make cars more aware of your presence on the road...bit of a catch 22.

We made it to Sparta WI where we stopped for a bite to eat. The temperature was 102 degrees. Gross.

The funnest part of the day was traveling on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. The trail is 32 miles in length and runs on the abandoned Chicago & North Western Railroad bed. It passes through three limestone rock tunnels, the Kendall and Wilton tunnels are 1/4 mile long and the Norwalk tunnel is 3/4 mile long. The temperatures changed and became cooler the closer we got to the tunnels. It was a nice repreve from the hot heat! The tunnels were pitch black and we needed our headlamps to get through them. Both Chloe and I felt like Alice in Wonderland spinning down a rabbit hole, the tunnels were so dark you could barely make out any light at the end, I experienced complete "tunnel vision".

We made a friend, Andrew, and rode with him for the rest of the day. We all camped together in
A small town, the name escapes my memory. After riding together for another day we parted ways. Chloe and I headed for Madison. We had some difficulty finding our way through Madison, which was a quaint college town, but we finally found our warm shower for the night with a Madison local, Abbey. She was so much fun and very energetic about cycling.

Bound for Milwaukee the next day was much harder than we had anticipated due to the heat and humidity. We had a little trouble navigating our way out of Madison as we were in search for a new butane/propane fuel canister. We were not lost, simply turned around. Somehow in search for REI we ended up outside of a Home Depot instead. Of course, no luck. The fuel canisters are hard to come by and we only find them in specialty outdoor stores. Anyway, that's where I met Tim. He was curious about what we were doing and stopped me to chat for a minute. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me. Even when it is just a word of encouragement, it makes all the difference to us. Tim was so excited about our adventure, without knowing me he said he was proud of what Chloe and I were doing! It put a smile on my face and left me feeling uplifted. We finally found our way out of Madison and looked up yet another warm showers host for the night and found the lovely Marty and Dave. We had been keeping in contact with Marty the whole day with our whereabouts and our ETA. Well by the time 5 o'clock rolled around we were still 40 miles away. We started up at a slow pace and after some quick calculations I turned to Chloe and said that we need to pick up the pace. Well she was on the same brainwave because not long after I said that she popped in those earbuds and didn't stop spinning the lightening legs until we pulled up Marty's driveway at 9 o'clock. Marty and Dave were phenomenal hosts! They are very familiar with touring and have done a handful of tours themselves. So it was like second nature for Marty to help us plan out our route through Michigan to see our family because she had been through there already. We are so grateful for their hospitality and wish them well on their future tours they'll undertake...hopefully an international one!

How many people can say they spent the 4th of July in two states? Well I'm sure a lot actually, but that's what Hannah and I did! We left Marty and Dave's around 5 in the afternoon to catch the ferry across Lake Michigan, but not before we had homemade waffles for breakfast, and a grilled cheese and falafel for lunch. Riding to the ferry was such a fun experience. We were weaving our way through Milwaukee's summer music festival so we got an earful. We fell asleep once we were on the ferry. But the closer we got to Muskegon, MI the louder the "boom" of fireworks became. It was a spectacular scene biking through the night with the firworks lighting up the sky. But as soon as the grand finale was over the sidewalks and streets became cluttered with people. We dodged our way through looking for our campground but of course we got "turned around" and had to stop at a McD's to utilize their wi-fi. We thankfully made it to the Wolf Lake Campground (which we found out in the morning wasn't anything but a petting zoo) at one in the morning. Before going to sleep I asked Chloe..."what if we just rode like this the rest of the time, you know at night, without any traffic and cooler temperatures?" she didn't find that very amusing.

From Muskegon we went to Saranac where we met Maggie, Matthew, and their family at the local Baptist Church. We were looking for a place to stay and escape the heat when they so kindly offered up their place to house us. We made dinner at the Church and waited for them to complete their decorating for their sisters surprise birthday party...we hope it was a success! Unfortunately the hour grew late and with a hundred mile day ahead of us we decided to pitch camp behind the church and call it a night.

Our earliest morning yet, we were on the bicycles at 6:00 in the morning! It was nice to see the sun rise and we were quiet for the first 30 miles into St. John. We stopped for a quick bite at the local cafe and soon after were on our way to see Cousin Diane, Michael, Tessie, and Eliza. The heat was the worst we rode through. We didn't break for almost 4 hours that day and when we finally stopped for lunch it was 105 degrees outside, we had 20 miles left. Luckily we found a place to quench our thirst with a rootbeer float! We had a wonderful time with our family and spent the rest of the day cooling off in the lake with a picnic. We are so grateful for the hospitality of our new friends Michelle (Tattoo Barbie), Scott (Ken), and their children. They were so welcoming and their excitement for roller derby was contagious! We spent the night laughing, eating pizza, and catching up.

The next day we went to meet our Uncle Warren and Aunt Martha in Algonac, MI. Another hot day to say the least, but the ride wasn't terrible. We were greeted with love and a lake front view of the St. Claire canal was a sight to see! We enjoyed swimming in the water, and Aunt Martha did not stop feeding us the whole time. Talking with family is so nice and the visit was encouraging to our spirits. We were definitely happy to be taking a day of rest in the comforts of their home. It is amazing what a nice bed, clean clothes, and a full belly can do for you!

Before leaving Uncle Warren and Aunt Martha we snapped a few photos and waved goodbye from the Marine City Ferry where we crossed into Canada with our new cycling buds, Brian and John. We were happy to have some new company, the boys are from San Francisco CA, (hippies). They are cycling to raise money for a Clean Water Charity which provides clean water to third world countries. So far, they have raised $3,000. We enjoyed the rest of the day riding and sharing stories about our experiences on the road. The four of us arrived in Summer's Place Campground where we set up camp and had an ice cream to top off the day. 

Our adventure continues through Canada, next stop Niagra Falls! 

P.S We will update more often from here on, I promise!
Thanks for all of your support and patience!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Half Way There...Livin' On a Prayer

As we hit our halfway mark, Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi was the tune that we sang a capella since neither one of us has the classic on our iPods. Let's look at some stats shall we:
  • Miles traveled: 2,240
  • States/Countries: Washington, Canada, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin
  • Days on the bike: 42
  • Number of flat tires: Hannah-5, Chloe-0
  • Number of broken spokes: Hannah-0, Chloe-1
  • Jars of Peanut Butter: 7, Papa Rice helped us with two of those.
  • Tubes of Butt Butt'r: 1...why bother anymore.
  • Number of ice cream cones: 42...that's one for each.

We didn't leave the comforts of Jan and Jen's house until around 3 o'clock. I tell you what, these late days are starting to become a bad habit. We had a good reason this time though, I promise it wasn't because of food either.

We have to go back a couple of weeks to Shelby, MT...Hannah and I spent around five hours in a library there proof reading, formatting, and correcting resumes, cover letters, and pieces of original work. Why on Earth would we be doing this? Not for sheer pleasure that's for sure. Hannah was recommended to a job opening on the Sustainability Committee at Weber State University, a perfect fit for what she has been looking for. So we worked (I say 'we' but I mean mostly Hannah, I was just the proof reader. I ended up reading, napping, and walking around town in search for goodies...none were found.) all day until our brains hurt and our vision was blurred from the constant stare at a computer screen. She finally sent in the application and we hoped for the best. A little less than a week later Hannah got a phone call from an unfamiliar 801 number. Turns out they were very impressed with her application and scheduled an over the phone interview in a week at 1 o'clock. She couldn't have been more ecstatic and thrilled...until she realized she wouldn't be able to make the person-to-person impression she had hoped for. However, she took this opportunity to prepare so that she could be just as impressionable over the phone as she is in person. Which, for me, meant more napping, reading, and roaming around town.

We tried to plan to be in a quiet place with adequate cell phone service for her interview. That place just so happened to be Jan and Jen's house. Jan and Jen were so kind to leave their house open for us when they left for work and it was sad saying good bye. When one o'clock rolled around and Hannah had yet to receive a phone call we couldn't help but wonder what the hold up was. Duh...they meant one o'clock Utah time, not Minnesota time. I know I'm biased but I personally think Hannah nailed the interview and the questions she was asked weren't easy. What does sustainability mean to you? Uhh...what? They said they'd call back in a few days with their decision. After the interview we quickly finished packing and cranked out 60+ miles to Don's Bycicle Bunkhouse .

Since that movie he has added a kitchen and two fridges filled with all kinds of goodies including homemade strawberry preserves! You can guess where Hannah and I spent most of our time. It was a real treat to stay at Don's and we highly recommend staying there if you're in the area. He has so many maps and knows about a lot of bike routes throughout Minnesota that he helped us figure out the way we should take into Minneapolis. "Are you early risers?" Don asked, we glanced at each other and replied "yeah...we usually try to head out around 8:30/9." he said "well okay I'll see you then and get a picture before you leave". Well to have the luxury of a T.V., two stocked refrigerators, and a comfy bunk, we didn't end up going to bed until 1 a.m. Don checked on us twice the next morning hoping he didn't miss us and each time he found a dark room with one of us in the bunk and the other in the recliner. Why Hannah chooses to sleep on a couch instead of a real bed is beyond me, but if you know Hannah you know this isn't an uncommon thing. That chica can fall asleep anywhere.

We finally woke up at 9 and were out on the road by 11. We stopped at the golden arches in St. Francis for some wi-fi to find a warm shower for the night. It's a good thing we stopped when we did because not too long after, Hannah got a call back...she got the job! It couldn't have come at a better time too because Honey Boo Boo gotta have some money to do her bikin' with! And as the wise one says "that dolla make me holla, honey boo boo". Holla we did in the Mickey Dees. Nothing could get our psych level down until we entered the big city of Minneapolis.

Now Minneapolis is ranked the second most biker friendly state in the U.S., Seattle being first, but it was hard navigating through their bike trails and streets. Maybe it was just us. Luckily our warm showers host Jenny called when she did and another biker came to our rescue and was kind enough to personally take us to our destination. We were so happy to see Jenny and she welcomed us with open arms. We decided to live the big city life and take a rest day which consisted of walking around to local bakeries and co-ops. We had an amazing salad with Jenny and Dean later with greens grown from their very own organic garden. There was talk about the new Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom and how it was done so well. So Hannah and I along with Dean rode our bikes to the local theater and caught the late night showing. It is now one of my favorites. Go see it!

After relishing in our rest day we set out for a campground a little outside of Afton. We went through Stillwater. Cute town with an amazing library. We found it though...the hill that made me get off my bike and push. We biked into camp and checked in with the host where he told us "y'all better hide your food well 'cause them damn racoons will sure as hell get it". Well at 4 a.m. I woke up and spotlighted a few rumaging through my snacks! After a minute of yelling "hey, get out of there, hey!" Hannah finally awoke from her slumber,  fumbled out of the tent, took her "Stick" and slammed it on the picnic table. We went back to sleep laughing at my helplessness.

We cut over to Wisconsin for a bit and experienced some mid-day heat. It was a scorcher! The humidity made our sunscreen useless too. In fact it was so hot Hannah had to frequently stop to pick up the pounds I was dropping. Ha! We went through the awesome town of Red Wing and ended the day in Wabasha with a double scoop to share.

The question now we go off route and cut through Wisconsin, America's Dairyland (that has ice cream written all over it) or stay on route through Iowa?


Monday, June 25, 2012


It seems that Hannah has been occupying most of this blog so I’ll relieve y’all for a bit.

Here are some facts about Minnesota:

  • Pronounced “behg” not “bag” and not “out” but “oot”.
  • The state with a thousand lakes. All of which are swarming with mosquitoes.
  • State Fish: Walleye. That being said, I intend on finding me a fish fry to hit up.
  • State Flower: Pink and White Lady’s Slipper. I’m sure I’ll find Hannah off taking pictures of it.
  • Hard to find some high quality H20! 
Our entry into the North Star State was a bit more stressful than we had hoped for. In order to get the full jist of how these events came to be I’m going to give you little background info.

For the past few weeks Hannah has experienced four flat tires, two of which were both in the same day. She rides on WTB All-Terrain(asaurus) tires and rode on them her whole trip last summer. She raved and raved about them so of course our whole family had to furnish our bikes with no other tire but the WTB All-Terrains. Since my bike is sport specific the wheel forks are smaller and there wasn’t a size small enough that would fit. So I had to make due with some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. They don’t have a lot of grip or aren’t as beefy as the WTB’s (which make gravel roads and any other loose sand/gravel my arch nemesis, as I’m sure you read in the last post). Anyway, after all of these flat tires Hannah has been experiencing, we’ve re-evaluated and decided that little ol’ Schwalbe is a quality tire. There’s more…as a courtesy to riding close together it’s the leaders’ job to point out potholes, glass, metal objects that could make you eat it, etc. So whenever Hannah is leading and points out an object sometimes I just don’t have enough time to move or I’ll just go over it, Schwalbe style. Nothing I know the Schwalbes can’t handle though. Now you’re well informed for me to continue…

We crossed the Red River which is the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. We’re about fifteen miles out of Fargo, riding along this really nice state highway with a great shoulder. Well there were some evenly spaced tiny unavoidable bumps and after about two miles I heard a loud “pop”. This wasn’t the kind of “pop” that I knew my tire made after I just went over a small pebble or a piece of bark it was like an oh fudge “pop”. My back wheel immediately started to wobble but it wasn’t flat. I stopped, unloaded my panniers, and flipped the Phoenix to get a better idea of what was going on. We spun the wheel and it was rubbing against the fork…I had un-trued my wheel. Or so we thought. A quick call and we soon found out that I had a broken spoke but luckily no cracked rim. There are two things that could have made this happen: I’ve been eating way too much ice cream or Schwalbe can’t handle as much as I thought. I don’t know which one I want to believe. I just wanted to keep riding and not turn back but the next bike shop was a good two days ride and the likelihood of breaking another spoke was definitely possible. So we caught a ride back into town by a kind Minnesotan, Dave. He was kind enough to take a detour on his way to go fish (a very popular sport. We’ve found leeches and bait at almost every convenience store) at the lake. As it turns out when I was getting my spoke fixed, Hannah was doing some maintenance work as well…changing her fifth flat.

After all of the running around we picked back up where we left off and celebrated our crossing into a new state the only way we saw fit…a pineapple strawberry old fashioned soda. We then set out for Pelican Rapids which was a very cute town but in order to get there we had to go through a construction area. Just my luck, loose sand and dirt roads for three miles. We got about half a mile in before it got too deep and I was fish-tailing all over the place. We ended up walking/pushing the bikes but were able to get back on once the construction ended. We found a little treasure in Pelican Rapids, besides the world’s largest Pelican, Kettle Corn! Hannah picked up a bag at the grocery store and we ate the whole thing that night. Well Larry’s Market saw us the next day with a bag of Angie’s Kettle Corn in each of our hands (we were asked later “what’s up with the kettle corn?” our response was “it’s sooo good”). We were recommended to take a Rails to Trail route from Fergus Falls to Sauk Centre and then catch back up with our route in Bowlus. We decided to give up the rolling hills we had the day before in exchange for nothing but a…head wind. But we found the local Cafe 116 that made it all worth it. We finally got the delicious sandwiches we were looking for and more…Beignets (ben-YAY! emphasis on the YAY). 

I think we were getting too comfortable with the tail wind we were having all throughout North Dakota because we started our last 60 miles at oh around 4 o’clock. We figured that was plenty of time to crank out some miles. Funny joke. We ended up only going 40 to camp at Chippewa Park in Brandon. 

We set out the next morning for Bowlus where we had a warm shower waiting for us with Jan (yawn, German) and Jen. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and instead of making our regular oatmeal we decided to bike 10 miles to Alexandria for breakfast where a cinnamon roll held me over until around 3 o’clock. Once we were done Hannah asked if I needed to fill up my water bottle and I said no. This struck her as odd seeing as how she had already gone through both of hers. Well for one she can drink water like a camel (seriously) and I just have not been a fan of the H2O here. So in order to quench my thirst, honey boo boo gets some of her special juice (i.e. Simply Apple juice, Bolthouse Chocolate Protein, or a crystal light packet when I can’t down the water). 

We were so glad we took the Rails to Trail route because we were completely secluded and didn’t have to worry about traffic. Around ten miles before we got to Jan and Jen’s we ran into a couple of cute kittens that we stopped and fed some tuna. They were so cute and we hated leaving them but there wasn’t a whole lot we could do except for strap them on and hope they didn’t jump off. We figured they’d be better off with a bell full of tuna. Jan and Jen met us at the local cafe Jordie’s where they found Hannah and I sharing a lemon meringue pie. I know I know…yes we were eating again but we were told that we had to go there and try their pie! Jan and Jen are avid cyclists and have taken a few week long trips themselves and aspire to one day do a cross-country tour. They even started a bike club here in Central Minnesota that has over 150 members! Very cool. We of course ate the grilled salmon, shrimp, Israeli cous cous, and salad they had waiting for us. It was all soo delicious. We sat and exchanged stories with them and their friends, Jason and Beth. Such a nice end to the day, good company and really good food. 

-Chloe (aka Honey Boo Boo Child)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Truckin' it through North Dakota

Blessings were abound at the Sacred Heart Monastery! This past Monday we rode 100 miles to Richardton North Dakota! Finally, a new state. The terrain has been much of the same but we are excited to be making progress east.  

 A little information for those at home, The  Northern Tier has been re-routed due to oil development in the northern part of the state. Along with it there has been a huge increase in traffic, especially semi-trucks which we have seen on a daily basis.  The worst we encountered was through Dickinson. There was housing construction everywhere along with truck after truck fully loaded with who knows what. Luckily we made it out of there and were welcomed with open arms to the Sacred Heart Monastery! We arrived promptly at 6:30. Just minutes before we saw a group of three cyclists traveling west! Adam, Dana, and Andrea all met through "companions wanted"  on the adventure cycling website. Before the trip they didn't even know each other, but seemed to be the best of friends.   

Back to the monastery, Sister Renee showed us to our room and gave us a tour of the entire grounds. The monastery is very involved with stewardship. It has two wind turbines that have worked to provide clean energy since 1997 along with geothermal and natural gas the monastery was very up to date on clean efficient energy. Two green thumbs up! The place was beautiful, we could see all of the prairie valley. The changing color of the sky told us there  was a storm coming. We walked and talked, saw the llamas, and the sisters would not stop feeding us home made bread! I know, life's tough. We had a wonderful night and slept very well. The next morning we woke up and ate breakfast with the sisters. Chloe and I just adored them, sister Patti gave us a really nice card and sister Kathleen blessed us and our bicycles before we left. 

Unfortunately about ten minutes after leaving the safety of the monastery we found ourselves in a rain storm. (By the way I ran into Chloe while looking at the map. She was stopped at a stop sign putting on her rain coat. The wreck did more damage to me and my bum knee, I had to laugh to keep from crying. In the end I don't think enough holy water was splashed onto my bicycle.) The storm lasted   all day and really slowed our progress. After riding in the down pour for over two hours we took a break in a rest stop area. It turned out to be a nice break but we dreaded going back outside into the cold. However, I was looking forward to the warm showers host we contacted but wondering how will I ever get there?? Oh wait,  that's what I have legs and a bicycle for…  

So we waited for a break in the storm and got back in the saddle. A few more hours ticked by and just when I thought   I had enough there was Bob! He pulled over in his pickup  (I have learned there is apparently a difference between the words pickup and truck) and said "you must be the cyclists!" I cannot begin to explain how happy I was to see him. We made it to Bob and Kathy's house just outside of Bismarck. I was so relieved and happy to be inside for the rest of the storm.  

We showered and got ourselves cleaned up while Kathy made dinner. We ate a delicious pasta dinner with salad, cheese, and Kathy's homemade bread. Bob and Kathy were so much fun to visit with! They are both  avid cyclists and just finished a weekend touring around Turtle Mountain. After talking about bicycles, life, school, and traveling Kathy asked us if we would like some ice cream for dessert. I said " Kathy, I never turn down ice cream!" She also treated us to chokecherry syrup and homemade green tomato jelly! Delicious! Well what started out as one scoop for me slowly turned into three bowls... I couldn't help myself! In my defense it was a huge tub of ice-cream, Bob and Kathy would have never finished it on their own. I was merely helping. It's funny because the ice cream started to melt and Kathy finally said "well I better put this away, but don't worry if you want more it's just right here in the freezer." I honestly think she was afraid to take it away from me.  We  slept very well and are so grateful for our new friends! I hope everything goes well for Bob and Kathy, they are in the process of moving right now. After they get settled into their new place I'm sure it won't be long before they go on their own grand tour! 

Bismarck to Jamestown 102 miles. Tired. Slept next to the buffalo at the Frontier Village CG.  

Next day, Jamestown to Fargo. Another 107 miles. We took a break  halfway at a rest stop, a kind lady stopped to talk with us about our trip. She left and came back with $10 and said "here girls buy yourselves a treat later." So nice! Chloe was mapping and decided I-94 was to busy to stay on. She found an alternate County Road 10 for us to cycle on. It's strange how roads look so nice on a map but then you reach  them and find out they are just a gravel stretch of rock nothing! Chloe's favorite. Although I have to admit it made me laugh on  the inside that she chose this terrific terrain for us to cross. Only because earlier in the week  I took us through a gravel stretch of road so I could see a wetlands and bird refuge! She really enjoyed that detour.  Continuing on the dirt road was only 10 miles long. We finally reached Fargo at 3:00 p.m and had plenty of time to walk downtown and explore the city! A great way to end our day.   

Next up Minnesota!  

Thanks for keeping up with us!