Our most recent “update” post saw us to Michigan in late August. As I write, it’s late September and we are marking time near Manchester, New Hampshire. Let’s catch up.
We blew through Michigan in 4 days, and it was a month ago so it’s a bit hazy. My main impressions are:
- Humidity! It wasn’t horribly hot, but humid.
- Nice (paved) bike paths
- Green, so green.
- The least considerate drivers that we encountered on our trip. Our very first day of riding elicited no fewer than 5 “Dude, really?” exclamations from me. The bike paths were especially welcome.
Our journey took us from the Lake Michigan ferry terminal in Ludington, southeast to the very tip of Lake Huron where we passed into Ontario Canada. The cutest town we saw was Frankenmuth, “the Bavaria of Michigan.” It’s quite touristy but had decent food and good beer.
We did not refill our water bottles in Flint.
We hired a taxi to take us over the St. Clair River into Sarnia, Ontario Canada — the interstate bridge is closed to bikes and you can’t sneak across because (a) it’s dangerous and (b) border control frowns on sneaking. The border control interview was trivial, though I did experience a moment of panic in response to the question “where do you live?”
Ontario was quite pretty — and blessedly flat — and we really enjoyed our short time riding there. We still saw lots of corn, which I mention because Tony seems obsessed by it. But we also saw lots of orchards and other crops, especially to the east. The peaches were ripe and exquisite.
On our second day of riding, just to the east of London, we experienced bike trouble. Tony’s chain de-tensioned, which means that any time he tried to peddle hard (such us up the piddling little Ontario hills), the chain would slip. The bike was unrideable. Despite the bicycle mechanics course that I took before we started the trip, I had no idea how to fix it. (I knew it was one of two issues but didn’t know how to fix either one.) We were only 60 or so miles away from our friends’ house in Hamilton, so we solved the problem by calling a cab. Two taxi rides in 3 days!
Chris and Richard graciously welcomed us several days early. We spent 6 nights with them. Five days with no bicycling (except a short ride home from the bike shop). Our good friend Erik joined us from Seattle, and we had an awesome Labor Day eat-a-thon with Hamiltonians Scott and John. Chris and Richard are awesome cooks and hosts. Erik, Tony, and Joy were introduced to the dominos-like game Mexican Train, which has become something of an obsession for all.
Chris and Richard would like to express the following (not safe for work) sentiment to all of us south of the border during this crazy election year:
After the excess of Labor Day, we set off for Niagara (by way of Niagara-on-the-Lake). Hot! Humid! Unbelievably hot and humid!
This was the first time we’d seen the spectacular falls. We can entirely live without revisiting the towns that bracket the falls, especially the horrid pseudo-Las Vegas glitz on the Canada side. Made me proud to be an American.
New York is a big state. New York is a beautiful state. New York is a hilly state, though we spent a lot of time on or near the Erie Canal trail, which is as flat as can be.
The Erie Canal trail stretches from Albany to Buffalo. The system contains 360 miles of trail — considerably more than the 15 miles of the song that still won’t leave my brain. (That and What the *&%* is wrong with you? have dogged me for weeks.)
We took a diversion through the finger lakes to Watkins Glen at the foot of Seneca Lake. Getting there took a few days, including one Triple-H day (Hills, Headwind, and Heat plus its little friend Humidity). But it was worth it: the walk through the canyon is as beautiful as I remember it from nearly 40 years ago.
Although I know there are good wines from the Finger Lakes, we didn’t taste any. We remain convinced that Concord grapes are not premier wine grapes. On the other hand, the grapes smelled wonderful ripening in the late summer sun.
I was disappointed to see a preponderance of Trump signs even in upstate New York and the Finger Lakes. We even saw a handful of confederate flags, which I find intensely disturbing in the birthplace of abolitionism and feminism.
Tony made pilgrimage to Cooperstown. Joy did laundry.
Although we slowed our pace in New York, we were still ahead of schedule for splashdown on October 1. We were going to do an Adirondacks loop, but decided that we just wanted to head east. So we did.
Vermont is beautiful, though a bit hilly. The weather continued unseasonably warm, which means it was quite pleasant. We dashed across Vermont in two days, but would like to spend more time there some time soon. Perhaps after splashdown, in a car.
And, penultimately, New Hampshire! It is just beautiful, green, lovely towns, quiet country roads, a great place to cycle in September. It’s chock full of historic towns and houses. We stayed in an inn built in 1790. Now we’re hanging out with our friends Karen and Tom Grimmett, whose huge house is near Manchester. (They claim their house is small by local standards, but it overwhelms our California sensibilities.)
Coming up, we have a 60-mile ride to Portsmouth, then Karen organized a 12-mile victory ride up the coast to York, ME for splashdown on October 1. You will read more about that next week, in our victory post. Can you believe it?