Day 44: Media, NY to Newark, NY

It was another beautiful day along the always interesting Erie Canal. This morning I was greeted by the usual gatekeepers of the bike trial, the Canadian Geese. I then stumbled into another long distance biker on the trail. It turns out he works at Cornell and also works for the American Cycling Association (ACA). To clarify, this was one of the people who helps to make my maps I follow! He was so kind in explaining his research and what he does for the ACA. He studies radio waves in our atmosphere so he gets to travel all over the world. He does his research near the earth’s poles and the equator, in places like Alaska and the Marshal Islands. He also helps find routes and guide tours for the ACA in his spare time. I also got to interview him as we rode. Here are my three big take aways. He is a family man. He believes we are lacking proper leaderships at a national level. He says the most important thing you can do is to be in the present. I learned so much more from him, but I really wanted to share those three things. We parted was around Freeport and I enjoyed the company of the geese (who do bite) for the rest of my ride. Once I got to Newark, I chatted with locals about the whole situation with Iran and we came to the conclusion that it’s in our best interest to stay out of that region. Overall today was fun and I look forward to more New York!

Some fun stairs!!

The pretty canal

Steven from the ACA, he also uses a Trek 520. He had plans to ride from Seattle to Fairbanks!!!

A sweet sign!

The sunrise over the canal

The patriotic shipping pallets!

 

Day 43: Port Colborne, ON to Medina, NY

I will admit that it feels nice to be back in the States. It was a lovely and quite navigationally challenging ride from the farms of Canada to the forests of upstate New York. I woke up extra early today to get the 30 miles to the border out of the way. I didn’t see a single wind turbine as I watched the sunrise. I thought that was odd, but it turned out to be a little bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the day. Crossing back into the US was pretty easy. I had a great chat with a motorcyclist from Canada heading my way. He was super interested in my ride and thought I was doing a great thing with my time. He gave his pro environmental views, which were fascinating. I was having a great time until I left the customs gate. I struggled for at least an hour to find the correct roads in heavy traffic. Once I got on the right road, I met another nice person at a convenience store. He asked me all about my ride and wished me the best of luck. Then, about 5 miles down the road, I made another wrong turn and went all the way down a small mountain. That took me a while to fix and I was very happy to be back in the forest. As I rode through the almost opposite landscape, I saw a lot of anti solar signs. Entire towns seemed to be against this form of renewable energy. That really struck me. I also noticed there were huge factories for companies like GM right next to these towns. I then got lost again in the town of Lockport. It was quite an adventure finding an unmarked bike trail in the middle of a public park. Once on the trail, I met two more cross country cyclists! They started in Lander, Wyoming and work for the wildernesses medicine school connected to NOLS. As a NOLS grad, it was super cool to meet folks who worked there in the middle of New York! We had a wonderful chat about their time on the road and I learned so many great lessons from them. They taught me of the power of love and believing in oneself. Later, I explored the historic town of Medina. It was a world capital for sandstone and shipping was made even easier when the canal was built. The downtown is quite impressive and each building is from the late 19th century. Everyone I met in town was so kind. I went to the local pub and sat at the bar and met some wonderful people while listening to great Irish music. Steve told me about growing up nearby and wished me the best of luck with my trip. Betsy told me the local history and explained the sandstone related signs all over town. Medina is a town build of sandstone and of Irish and German immigrants. In my opinion, it is as American as it gets. Lastly, the bartender told me about the town’s recent renaissance. These were some of the most warm and friendly people I have ever met. They all wished me safe travels as I went out the door with a full belly and happy soul. I look forward to exploring more of New York along the Erie Canal!

The sunrise!

The falls

Looking at the American side

The Canadian side

A very, very helpful sign!

Breakfast of Champions!

The line

Forest Reservation selling tobacco

Anti solar

Underground Railroad

An even larger sign

The largest farm I saw

The canal

My gravel path

Me with one of the cyclist from Lander, WY Here is their blog: https://www.craw4awareness.org

Town!

Even more History!!!

Day 42: Port Dover, ON to Port Colborne, ON

My time in Canada has been absolutely fantastic and fascinating. First off, the people are so kind and have a genuine curiosity in what I’m doing. Literally everywhere on my route almost every person has said hello or greeted me with a warm smile as I pass on by. Over the past few days I have also met some incredible people and heard some amazing views on pressing issues. The views of America that I have come across are eye opening. Last night, I talked with locals about both American and Canadian politics. Most people I have met have been critical of America, but for the first time I listened to some be critical of Canada’s political system. Mary, from Port Dover, told me about Canada’s own problems. For example, the government is split over what to do with regards to climate change. Many of the central leaders view it as a threat and are instating policies to reduce emissions and protect our planet. On the other hand, many of the provincial leaders do not think climate change is a real threat and push for expanding the oil, natural gas, and timber industries. Overall, many Canadians have been sympathetic and like most Americans (that I’ve met) wish for a bridged political divide and that we will be able to agree on important issues such as climate change. Energy seems to be the center of debate. On a local level, I sensed a strong divide between those who are in favor of the wind turbine and those who are against them. I came across a lot of different signs everyday telling me the benefits or harms of wind power. Most of the locals I’ve talked to have been pro wind energy, but every now and then I meet a skeptic. Mary was for wind energy because she wants a healthy planet for her children and their children to live on. Feel free to post your opinion in the comments. It was odd today to pass through a town called Serlkik that had its own natural gas festival in the middle of an area filled with wind turbine and solar panels. It was a beautiful ride along the lake and I came across a lot of Saturday morning yard sales. Apparently that’s a big deal here because there was a lot of traffic. I also met a nice lady who ran a bike hostel on the lake. She was super nice and gave me extra water. Once I got to town, I had a great chat with the motel owner. He was a very spiritual man and thought it was great I was biking because he said that was a great way to learn about oneself. To him, the three most important things in life were nature, knowing oneself, and family. I love learning about new perspectives everyday. I later ran into some nice bikers at dinner who thought my trip was very cool. I look forward to crossing through Niagara Falls tomorrow!

**uploaded yesterday’s photos!

 

The Saturday yard sale traffic!!!!

Local history

I guess summer is road work season

Such a beautiful lake

Solar!!!

Two cyclists going around all of the lakes

The other side said “turbines harm kids”

Yummy lunch

The great Chip Witch!

Another anti turbine sign

The Canadian side

The canal in town

More wind turbines!!

There is a solar farm in the background

Sorry the lake is super pretty

Day 41: Port Stanley, ON to Port Dover, ON

Today was another great day on the road. The clouds and trees provided a much appreciated cover from the hot Canadian sun. The black cat from a few days ago hit me with a few navigational challenges, but I worked my way around closed roads and bridges. It was spectacular along the lake and a little surprising to see so many farms right off the beach. I even came across a fennel farm today. When I stopped in a gas station I was told of the fennel farms and also how they employ refugees. I’m a huge fan of fennel so that was pretty cool. It was also really nice to pass through a bunch of cute little lakeside towns on the route. I kept expecting to smell a salty breeze because Lake Erie looked just like the ocean. Over the course of the entire route, there were hundreds of wind turbines and no shortage of pro wind energy signs. In town, I met a nice couple who had just moved from Quebec to Seattle. They were both into biking and were quite jealous of my trip. They were hopeful of America’s future, but said our nation needs to make some drastic social changes. To them, we are not taking climate change seriously enough and we need to be able to bridge our bipartisan divide. It was great hearing their insight. After another great meal of lake perch, I met a couple from Port Dover. They thought my trip was really cool and like everyone else I’ve met wished me the best of luck. I still am struck by the kindness of strangers everywhere. I look forward to another day along the lake.

 

Port Bruce

Detour time!

The lake

Another detour

A lucky way around

Interesting sign

Fennel

This does not look like an effective or efficient irrigation method

Environmental sign

Birds, birds, and more birds!

Canada’s national bird center

Yes, I’m in Port Dover not Florida!

The port

The awesome B&B!!!

Downtown Port Dover

Day 40: Port Huron, MI to Port Stanley, ON

What a lovely start to the Canadian leg of my trip. After crossing the border, it was a nice ride through the corn fields along Lake Erie. I have never seen so much corn and so many wind farms. I even came across anti wind farm signs again today! About halfway through my route I stopped at a blueberry stand. As anyone else would do at a blueberry stand, I bought cherries. Seriously, I bought cherries at a blueberry stand because the owner said they were better. They were some of the best cherries I’ve ever had! A little bit later I came across two other cross country (or now cross continent) bikers. They turned out to be the Be Loud Sophie group from Chapel Hill. We enjoyed the last 20 miles into town chatting about our experiences on the road. There, I met a very kind local named Jean and we had a fantastic chat about biking, sailing, and America. She is from Nova Scotia but moved to Ontario. She had biked all across the globe and had wonderful stories from India and Cuba. She told me of fun storms on Lake Erie. She also had an interesting view of American politics. She wishes there was more concern for the environment in both American and Canadian politics. I then enjoyed a great meal with the Be Loud Sophie bikers. We went over the people we have met in depth on our rides and our favorite places. I had a blast today and look forward to the rest of Canada.

Unlike oil rigs in the fields, wind farms in the fields

A sign that I wish I saw more frequently

I liked the bike part

Cool old home

“Stop the wind turbines”

Brian and Evan

Another town with fantastic lake perch

A proper desert

Day 39: Frankenmuth, MI to Port Huron

From where I sit right now, I could throw a tennis ball into Canada. It was a great last full day in Michigan. Although my route was full of complicated directions and wind, I had a lot of fun. I saw so many pro wind farm signs! I also saw a ton of far right signs. Lastly, I did come across two confederate flags near Yale, MI. Michigan has been the only state with confederate flags and I’ve seen them everyday. I know this is can be a murky topic with arguments for both sides. So fell free to weigh in below in the comments section. It was nice to get out of the corn and wheat fields and be back in the forest. It was a pleasant ride into Port Huron from Yale, and everyone was really nice about passing in the busy streets. Once I got to town I met two locals. They both had great stories and interesting views. Gary was hopeful for America’s future and was a fellow cyclist. Howard made it clear that our education system needed to improve and told me how much he enjoyed Vermont and New Hampshire in the fall. Overall today was fantastic and I can’t wait to be in Canada tomorrow. I know I’ll be feasting on Coffee Crisps!

Some oddly low looking wheat

Just your average stretch of road in Michigan

“Harvest the wind!!!!!!!”

Today’s bike trail

Day 38: Clare, MI to Frankenmuth, MI

Today was great! Just another awesome day under the Michigan sunshine. It was kind of scary seeing a black cat pass my path in the morning. Despite the cat, it was a pleasant first 30 miles on a bike trail, but then it got complicated as I worked my way through Midland and Bay City. Both are home to large facilities for Dow Chemicals so they are quite busy towns. I also came across oil wells and wind farms outside of both towns. It’s always an odd sight seeing an oil well in the middle of corn fields, but that means the farmer sold the mineral rights of their land. It’s also a similar case with many wind farms, some even have oil wells nearby. For the first time, I came across an anti windmill sign! There were a few of those signs and they were all at farms. After another bike trail through corn fields, I made it to the German themed town of Frankenmuth. I’ve never been to Germany, but it feels like I’m on the Rhine. There’s even a lovely river right next to the town! I met a nice local named Rebecca in town. She grew up in the area and wasn’t really into politics. However, she is worried about our nation’s future. To her, family is the most important thing in life and she wants her family and her friends to be happy. I love meeting kind folks like her and I look forward to more Michigan!

A classic Oil Well in a corn field

Interesting stickers

Vote Obama sticker

“TOO TALL, TOO CLOSE, TOO LOUD”

Cops and Donuts (amazing btw)

Day 37: Ludington, MI to Clare, MI

Today was a fantastic day! It was a lovely ride from the coast to the forests of Michigan. I made it out of the tourist towns and into the occasional farm field in the first thirty miles. That’s where I started to come across the “real Michigan” – – the working towns and the places that seemed to be forgotten. I went through many smalls towns that seemed to be abandoned on a Monday morning. The town of Baldwin was full of re-employment centers, a sight I had hadn’t seen on the trip yet. I thought it was interesting that there we both public and privately run centers. I also saw an inmate cutting the grass outside the local jail. After that, I had nice ride through the forest to the town of Clare. Compared to the first 30 miles, the last 60 were relaxing as there were very few cars. Just outside of Clare, a popcorn stand caught my eye. I met the two fantastic ladies who run the popcorn stand and I learned so much from them. They talked about the importance of role models and families. They are worried that the next generation lacks role models and therefore is becoming lazy and disrespectful. Their popcorn was delicious, but the lessons from our conversation were invaluable. I then ran into a fellow cyclist. He was not on the Northern Tier, but had done some of my route that day. He also mentioned some very interesting views. He had worked at Kay Jewelers for 20 years and then worked in health insurance for another 20 so he definitely had some opinions on the political changes in America. Obama greatly impacted his job, but he didn’t seem resentful. It was also interesting to hear that to him, “young people are being brainwashed with socialism”. What an interesting perspective! I had a lot of fun today exploring our great nation.

Day 36: Hilbert, WI to Ludington, MI

I am writing this as I sit on the bow of the mighty SS Badger. She’s a car ferry that runs across Lake Michigan twice a day. Fortunately, I did not have to catch the 1:30 am ride. It was a nice ride from the corn fields of Hilbert to the shores of Lake Michigan. I have met so many kind folks in Wisconsin and I met a very nice man named Ron on the border (on the lake). He is originally from Indiana, but has lived all over and was on his way back from visiting family for the Fourth of July. We both didn’t love the fact that the ship was powered by coal, but for different reasons. He thinks coal is just kind of gross and I don’t like it because it is harmful to our planet. I understand the SS Badger is a historical landmark (there are placks all over the ship), but does it still need to be coal powered? What do you guys think? I have hope that America will find an energy source other than coal that is safer for our environment today as well as our future.

Day 35: Shawano, WI to Hilbert, WI

I’ve passed through Maine! Well it was actually the town of Maine, WI and not the state of Maine. Today was a lovely ride out of the forest and back into the fields. I have noticed that the corn seemed to be low because it was only at ankle height. I had always heard the saying “knee high by July” and none of the corn I have seen thus far has been knee high. I stopped in the town of Leeman and quickly learned it was a wet spring, so the corn farmers have had a bad year. Many of the farmers replanted soybeans instead. I learned all this from Mary, the owner of small gas station that was built in 1930. She moved to town from southern Wisconsin only two years ago, so she did not have an opinion on how local life has changed since the last presidential election. I am a dog person who doesn’t really like cats, but I met a wonderful cat today while I was talking to Mary that acted just like a dog. I also asked Mary if there were many family farms in the area and I was pleased to learn that most if not every farm in the area is a small family run operation. I’ve learned there is still hope for the family farm in America. Once again, I was amazed by the kindness and curiosity of folks I met along my route today and I look forward to passing into Michigan tomorrow.

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