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Bonjour Quebec et la Route Verte

Day 106: July 29 – Kingston to Brockville

Daily Distance = 89.38km, Trip Total = 3,948.72km

A normal scene of me leaving a hotel is as follows:

1) line up the bike so it is facing the door

2) attach panniers

3) pack everything into the panniers

4) attach tent and bear canister to back rack with bungie cords

5) roll bike into hallway facing direction of elevator while trying to shoo Dash to stay in the room

6) put Dash into trailer and roll it out to hallway

7) attach trailer to bike via trailer hitch

8) if there are people or any noises in the hallway trying to shush Dash from barking

9) roll bike down hallway manoeuvring around cleaning carts while shushing Dash from barking

10) get to elevator and if needed unhitch trailer to allow bike and trailer to fit into elevator (or do the trip in two)

11) scramble and shuffle to get all gear in elevator while trying to keep door elevator open until me and my schtuff are safely inside

12) take elevator to ground floor

13) scramble and shuffle to get all gear out of elevator while trying to keep door open to get all my schtuff safely outside

14) re-hitch trailer to bike

15) exit hotel

16) breath deep sigh of relief

So you can imagine that I must have looked a little frazzled when this morning at step 10 I hear somebody calling me by name.  Who knows me in Kingston?  Turns out Geoff – the gentleman I met and chatted with just as I left my place in Toronto!  He and his wife (Linda) were in Kingston on their way to Nova Scotia (on his way to a charity ride around the calbot trial).  What a coincidence that we were in the same town, same hotel, same floor at the exact same time!  I had to smile when he told me that I’m making good progress.  It really are simple words of encouragement like these that have propelled me almost 4,000km to date.

The first stop after leaving the hotel was a local bike shop to pick up some new gloves.  I tried to do this on my walk yesterday, but the bike shops were all closed on Sunday.  Fortunately there was a Cyclepath just down the street from the hotel and on my way through town.  In the shop one of the employees was quick to give me some tidbits of info about my next couple of days of riding (watch for the turnoff just before Brockville otherwise you could quickly find yourself on the 401, be sure to the Long Sault Parkway near Cornwall, etc).

My spiffy new gloves

My spiffy new gloves

Notice the extreme gel protection!

Notice the extreme gel protection!

Heading out of Kingston I was happy to see that I had a decent paved shoulder all the way to Gananoque.  This stretch (and the whole day) kinda flew by while I listened and (horribly off-key) belted out the lyrics to the following three songs on loop: Simple Man by Lynard Skynard, Sing for the Moment by Eminem and Sister Christian by Night Ranger.  I even managed to work in the occasional on bike dance move.  Although I tried to restrain myself from the dancing part when going through towns – admittedly there were a couple times it took me an odd stare or two before I realized I was amongst other people again.

More windmills across the river in Kingston

More windmills across the river in Kingston

Nice flat road with a paved shoulder between Kingston and Gananoque

Nice flat road with a paved shoulder between Kingston and Gananoque

This motel is advertising colour TV, but looking at the building I'm a bit skeptical

This motel is advertising colour TV, but looking at the building I’m a bit skeptical

Cute cottages on the outskirts of Gananoque

Cute cottages on the outskirts of Gananoque

Gananoque

Gananoque

A cyclist frame in Gananoque

A cyclist frame in Gananoque

I picked up subway in town and headed down to the water hoping to find a public park.  No such luck.  So, lunch was in front of this theatre instead

I picked up subway in town and headed down to the water hoping to find a public park. No such luck. So, lunch was in front of this theatre instead

This is where I was REALLY hoping there would be a park.  Oh well - my first view on this trip of the St. Lawrence River

This is where I was REALLY hoping there would be a park. Oh well – my first view on this trip of the St. Lawrence River

Just outside of Gananogue along the 1000 island parkway I was thrilled to see that there was a dedicated paved bike path that ran along the road.  And it extended for about 50km pretty much right into Brockville!  A very peaceful day: I had a nice tailwind, relatively flat land, dedicated paved path, glimpses of the St. Lawrence and the many islands dotting the river, occasional small towns, another bridge to the States, a park by the water to rest and take a break.  That just about sums up my day.

A bike path!!

A bike path!!

Looking out to the St. Lawrence River

Looking out to the St. Lawrence River

Dash checking out the bike paths bridge

Dash checking out the bike paths bridge before getting to go for a run along side the bike

Dash after her run beside the bike - quickly found the shade cast by the bike! lol!

Dash after her run beside the bike – quickly found the shade cast by the bike! lol!

Another bridge crossing to the States

Another bridge crossing to the States

These rocks started to remind me of northern ontario a bit.

These rocks started to remind me of northern ontario a bit.

A newly paved bike path - even better!

Just when I thought life couldn’t get better it does – a newly paved bike path!

This was near the bridge to the States.  The Seaway trail runs along Lake Ontario on the state side.  I had to take a picture 'cuz it's what I followed on my last tour about 7 years ago around Lake Ontario

This was near the bridge to the States. The Seaway trail runs along Lake Ontario on the state side. I had to take a picture ‘cuz it’s what I followed on my last tour about 7 years ago around Lake Ontario

Island life

Island life

It's crooked, but here Dash and I are enjoying the water view just west of Brockville

It’s crooked, but here Dash and I are enjoying the water view just west of Brockville

What it looks like straight

What it looks like straight

Thanks to my trusty GPS and the Kingston bike employee heads up I took the correct turnoff and did NOT end up on the 401!

Thanks to my trusty GPS and the Kingston bike employee heads up I took the correct turnoff and did NOT end up on the 401!

Statue in Brockville

Statue in Brockville

Day 107: July 30 – Brockville to Cornwall

Daily Distance = 98.79km, Trip Total = 4,047.51km

This morning I left the hotel in Brockville and instead of leaving the key in the room and taking off I actually dropped by front desk to leave the keys.  Mostly because it was a smaller hotel and as I was leaving at 9 instead of right at checkout time I thought it would give the cleaning staff an earlier start to there day.  What a mistake.  The lady at front desk was not the same gentleman as the previous night when I checked in.  The gentleman the previous night saw that I arrived on a bike and told me that because they are an eco-friendly hotel, they offer discounts to cyclists.  This would have been great had I not already booked (and paid) for the room via expedia.  So in lieu he waived the pet fee.  The lady this morning immediately told me that I needed to go get my visa so she could extract the necessary charge.  I explained to her what had transpired the previous night when I checked in, but she was having nothing of it.  Not impressed.

Fortunately I was once again impressed with the roads today.  Although starting out I was cycling on the road (not even a paved shoulder) it was a very low travelled road and what traffic there was, was good about moving over for me.  In Prescott a paved shoulder re-appeared for a good 40km stretch, after which I was back on off-road dedicated bike trails for about 20km and then back to a paved shoulder for the last 20km.  Today I passed another bridge for the States near Prescott (these are becoming a normal day sighting!) and several war of 1812 sites.  But the highlight of the day has to be the trails through Upper Canada Village, with a couple island crossings (only accessible by bike/hike) and then the Long Sault Parkway which is a road capped at 55km/hr (with a nice paved shoulder for cyclists) that hops across 11 islands.  These islands are very quiet and peaceful and primarily used for camping, swimming, diving, sightseeing.  I believe they are part of the St. Lawrence parks and from what I could see have no private dwellings.

 

Between Brockville and Prescott

Between Brockville and Prescott

Between Brockville and Prescott

Between Brockville and Prescott

Between Brockville and Prescott

Between Brockville and Prescott

Little blue church

Little blue church

Prescott

Prescott

Prescott

Ocean liner passing through Prescott

Prescott

Prescott

Fort at Prescott

Fort at Prescott

Info on a railway connecting Ottawa to the St. Lawrence

Info on a railway connecting Ottawa to the St. Lawrence

Another view of the ocean liner heading down the St. Lawrence

Another view of the ocean liner heading down the St. Lawrence

Heading into Jamestown

Heading into Jamestown

Plant in Jamestown

Plant in Jamestown

Another bridge to the States

Another bridge to the States

My view for a good part of the day

My view for a good part of the day

Park in Cardinal

Park in Cardinal – the gentlemen riding the mower later came over and made friends with Dash by giving her treats

Outdoor bbq's in the town park

Outdoor bbq’s in the town park

 

My bike in the park in Cardinal

My bike in the park in Cardinal

Cardinal water tower

Cardinal water tower

Heading out of Cardinal with a canal beside me

Heading out of Cardinal with a canal beside me

A canal beside the river

A canal beside the river

Several war of 1812 sites along this stretch of road

Several war of 1812 sites along this stretch of road

A construction training site

I was a little confused about what was being built here ’till I saw the sign indicating that this is a ‘construction training site’.  That made sense!

Beautiful paved shoulder

Beautiful paved shoulder

Coming across a tiny town

Coming across a tiny town built only on the left hand side of the road

Tiny buildings for a tiny town

Tiny buildings for a tiny town

Heading into Upper Canada Village

Heading into Upper Canada Village

Upper Canada Village

Upper Canada Village

Dash getting some run time again!

Dash getting some run time again!

According to my iphone I would be crossing a couple islands in this next stretch, so you can imagine how much a crossed my fingers that this closing didn't mean those trails (to eliminate the suspense I can confirm it does not - the trails were still open - phew!)

According to my iphone I would be crossing a couple islands in this next stretch, so you can imagine how much a crossed my fingers that this closing didn’t mean those trails (to eliminate the suspense I can confirm it does not – the trails were still open – phew!)

Chrysler's Farm Battlefield (war site of 1812)

Chrysler’s Farm Battlefield (war site of 1812)

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Chrysler's Farm Battlefield

Chrysler’s Farm Battlefield

Dash inspecting the canon

Dash inspecting the canon

St. Lawrence River

St. Lawrence River

Chrysler's Farm Battlefield

Chrysler’s Farm Battlefield

What a war campsite would look like

What a war campsite would look like

I think Dash prefers the modern day tent

I think Dash prefers the modern day tent

Crossing onto an island only accessible by hike/bike

Crossing onto an island only accessible by hike/bike

Lovely trails

Lovely trails

Other cyclists on trails

Other cyclists on trails

Dash and I on the trail

Dash and I on the trail

Crossing off the island and back on to mainland....for now...

Crossing off the island and back on to mainland….for now…

Geese in a field

Geese in a field

On these islands I also learned the story of the Lost Villages, which I have captured some of the information plaques below.  In essence at this part of the St. Lawrence there used to be rapids, but as part of the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway (to allow ocean vessels to reach the great lakes) as well as to capture energy from the rapids there was a 4yr project to flood (controlled flood) the area and create a 48km head pond (now known as Lake St. Lawrence).  This controlled flood caused 7 villages to be relocated prior to being flooded.  Not all buildings where moved and remain under the waters of Lake St. Lawrence to this day.

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Long Sault Parkway

Long Sault Parkway

Long Sault Parkway

Long Sault Parkway

Island hopping

Island hopping

Island hopping

Island hopping

Info on Lost Villages

Info on Lost Villages

Water coverage before and after the controlled flooding

Water coverage before and after the controlled flooding (light blue is the new shoreline and dark blue is the previous shoreline)

Info on the Lost Villages

Info on the Lost Villages

The controlled flood

The controlled flood

 

Where the rapids once existed pre-flood

Where the rapids once existed pre-flood

Another view of the area

Another view of the area

Peaceful campsites - in some cases you may even have an island to yourself!

Peaceful campsites – in some cases you may even have an island to yourself!

Islands of the Long Sault Parkway

Islands of the Long Sault Parkway

Some of the buildings that were re-located from the lost villages prior to flooding

Some of the buildings that were re-located from the lost villages prior to flooding

More buildings relocated prior to the flooding

More buildings relocated prior to the flooding

And more buildings that were relocated

And more buildings that were relocated

The aftermath of going over a large bump on a not so smooth trail heading into cornwall

The aftermath of going over a large bump on a not so smooth trail heading into cornwall

Another look at the impact of the bump to my gear

Another look at the impact of the bump to my gear

Fortunately it was an easy clip to put the luggage back upright and I think I retrieved all my fallen items

Fortunately it was an easy clip to put the luggage back upright and I retrieved all my fallen items

 

Day 108: July 31 – Cornwall to Coteau-du-Lac

Daily Distance = 63.67km, Trip Total = 4,111.18km

After a couple longer distances the past couple days (long for me at least) I was happy to look forward to a short day.  Heading out on the road the first 20km out of Cornwall was a pleasant ride along the river.  Unfortunately it would seem as though I didn’t stop once in this section to take a picture (perhaps I was trying to offset the abundance of pictures taken over the past two days).  About half way through my ride I came across South Lancaster which had a Tim Hortons that I nearly jumped for joy out of my saddle at.  I didn’t really realize I was getting hungry until I saw signs that I was coming into a town and I was craving real food (not protein bars).  This timmies even had picnic tables outside, so I quickly tied Dash up and went inside to get a fruit smoothie (my new addiction for the summer), a chilli and panini to go.  The fruit smoothie and chilli really hit the spot.  The panini oddly enough seemed far too greasy (I think it was the cheese), so I ended up throwing half of it out.

Back on the road I was on a south service road beside the 401 for about 20km before leaving Ontario and FINALLY entering Quebec!  I’ve been in Ontario for ages it seems so it felt good to cross another provincial border!  And I have heard really great things about cycling in Quebec in particular the amount they have invested in ‘La Route Verte’ (The Green Route) which is about 5,000km of bike paths through the province.  I only rode about 15km in Quebec today before setting up camp at the KOA West Montreal near Coteau-du-Lac.  I also called it an early night and was gladly asleep by 9pm.

Yet another bridge to the States (this one in Cornwall)

Yet another bridge to the States (this one in Cornwall)

An outdoor theatre in Cornwall

An outdoor theatre in Cornwall

A plane statue in Cornwall

A plane statue in Cornwall

A look at the path and river from the outskirts of Cornwall

A look at the path and river from the outskirts of Cornwall

Can you tell I love water?  Another pic of the St. Lawrence

Can you tell I love water? Another pic of the St. Lawrence

 

Bike path outside of Cornwall - I'm pretty impressed with the path system in Ontario along Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence

Bike path outside of South Lancaster – I’m pretty impressed with the path system in Ontario along Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence

 

Hmm - those look like big hills looming in the distance.  Good thing they are on the other side of the river???

Hmm – those look like big hills looming in the distance. Good thing they are on the other side of the river???

Heading out of Ontario

Riding along South Service Road

The trail system I've been following since Hamilton

The trail system I’ve been following since Hamilton

Quebec!!!!  (thanks to the lady who kindly offered to take my pic!)

Quebec!!!! (thanks to the lady who kindly offered to take my pic!)

Do you see that tiny sign?  I'm now in Quebec!

Do you see that tiny sign? I’m now in Quebec!

Some of the info provided along La Route Verte

Some of the info provided along La Route Verte

 

Immediate evidence of la route verte

Immediate evidence of la route verte

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I don't think this lock has been used for a while...

I don’t think this lock has been used for a while…

Along the trails just west of Coteau-du-Lac

Along the trails just west of Coteau-du-Lac

 

Day 109: August 1 – Coteau-du-Lac to Montreal

Daily Distance = 76.03km, Trip Total = 4,187.21km

I don’t do this often, but this morning I actually had my alarm set for 7am.  I still turned it off and went back to sleep ’till 7:30, but the intent was there.  The reason for the alarm?  According to the weather network they were calling for rain all day.  Light rain in the morning with thunderstorms by the afternoon.  So I figured I’d try to get an early jump to the day and get as much of the ride in during the ‘light rain’ as possible.  Not that I object to the rain, but moreso that I would enjoy the scenery around me more if I was riding through a drizzle rather than a torrential downpour.  And the first 30km of my ride today was still new territory to me (the last 45km into Montreal is a ride I have done in the past so I wasn’t as concerned about taking in the sights on this stretch).  Because of the rain forecast I also hauled all my bags into the tent with me last night expecting that I would be packing up in rain this morning.  I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up to see that the rain had not yet started.  Nor had it started by the time I was on the road at 9am.

The first 20km or so I cruised along a trail that followed a canal from Coteau-du-Lac to Pointe-des-Cascades.  From Pointe-des-Cascades I then headed north to hwy 20 (otherwise known as 401) where I would pick up a bike trail to cross the bridge over to Perrot Island.  From here I was supposed to continue along a bike trail, but I may have gotten a bit disoriented and circled around a bit (not for long, maybe a km or so).  It was while I was circling that I realized I needed to stop for food.  And Soon.  It’s amazing how quickly your body will start to bonk and make silly mistakes when it isn’t properly hydrated or fuelled.  I pulled over and ate an energy gel to tide me over until I found something more substantial.  After correcting my navigational errors (with the help of my iPhone) I was able to get back on track and quickly came across a Tim Hortons where I stopped for lunch.

Cycling along the canal between Coteau-du-Lac and Pointe-des-Cascades

Cycling along the canal between Coteau-du-Lac and Pointe-des-Cascades

Hydro dam building along the canal

Hydro dam building along the canal

Part of the hydro dam building

Part of the hydro dam building

Les Cedres - looked like a super cute down from what I saw on the trail!

Les Cedres – looked like a super cute down from what I saw on the trail!

I just thought the trees looked cool and stopped for a picture

I just thought the trees looked cool and stopped for a picture

Passing over a highway

Passing over a highway

Trail, canal and an old lock

Trail, canal and an old lock

Me on the trail, squinting into the sun as I'm wearing contacts today in anticipation of the predicted rain

Me on the trail, squinting into the sun as I’m wearing contacts today in anticipation of the predicted rain

The canal I followed for about 20km

The canal I followed for about 20km

Some old artifacts in the park in Pointe-des-Cascades

Some old artifacts in the park in Pointe-des-Cascades

Pointe-des-Cascades.  Notice the outhouse in the bottom right?  This doesn't sound like much, but I've passed at least 5 of these little stations meant for cyclists along la route verte since entering Quebec.  Ah, to not always have to hunt for a washroom!

Pointe-des-Cascades. Notice the outhouse in the bottom right? This doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve passed at least 5 of these little stations meant for cyclists along la route verte since entering Quebec. Ah, to not always have to hunt for a washroom!

I think this is where the ottawa river and st. lawrence river start to meet

I think this is where the ottawa river and st. lawrence river start to meet

Ottawa river

Ottawa river

Nice paths on Perrot Island

Nice paths on Perrot Island – a shame I was going in the wrong direction

After lunch I got back on the bike and crossed the bridge that would take me into the suburbs of Montreal.  It is this stretch that I have cycled in the past and it was much as I remembered – relatively flat, quiet road/path combination along the river until about 10km from downtown where I would be picking up another canal trail into the downtown core.

Around the 55km mark the winds were picking up, but they were hitting me at a cross so I just had to watch that I didn’t drift into traffic.  I even passed some kite surfers taking advantage of the conditions.  I could tell at this point that I wasn’t going to get to my destination rain free (nor was I expecting to when I set out today, in fact, I was quite pleased with how far I did make it without rain).  So I decided to pull over at a park and have one last break before I was hit with the rain.  It was pretty neat to watch the sky clouding over especially with the expansive views you get along the water.  After about a 15min break I got back on the bike.  About 3km later I glanced behind me to notice that visibility was reducing and I could start to see the wall of rain approaching.  I kept glancing back in awe of how quickly the storm was approaching and within a minute I was caught in a torrential downpour.  Being only about 15km away from my destination I laughed and enjoyed the last hour of my ride in the rain.

Getting to the budget hotel on St. Denis street the front desk staff were super kind.  When I explained that I had a bike with me they originally weren’t sure if they were going to allow it in the room (understandable when I saw how small the room was!), but without any real convincing from me they decided that the bike was probably safer in the room rather than the street, they just asked that I bring the bike in from the back door instead of the front door so it doesn’t ruin their carpets through the hallway.  Because of the small hallways, small room and stairs to get into the hotel I had to leave my bike on the busy St. Denis street while I made 4 trips to bring in my 4 panniers, trailer (after dismantling it into it’s ‘storage’ form) and bike.  Thankfully nothing was stolen and everything is now safely stored my room.

Crossing onto Montreal's Island

Crossing on to Montreal suburbs

Beside Hwy 20 crossing on to Montreal suburbs

Beside Hwy 20 crossing on to Montreal suburbs

This was a fun bike ramp to go down!

This was a fun bike ramp to go down!

Theme of the day - another canal!

Theme of the day – another canal!

Cycling through suburbs of Montreal

Cycling through suburbs of Montreal

 

Montreal suburbs

Montreal suburbs

Boats

Boats

Kite surfers gearing up

Kite surfers gearing up

Taking a break before the storm hits

Taking a break before the storm hits

Guess which way the wind is going?

Can you guess which way the wind is going?

Kite surfer in action

Kite surfer in action

The wall of rain is getting closer....

The wall of rain is getting closer….

Rain!

Rain!

Riding in the rain, riding in the rain...

Riding in the rain, riding in the rain…

I can start to see downtown Montreal

I can start to see downtown Montreal

Mont Royal in the distance

Mont Royal in the distance

With all that rain, Dash remained spotless and dry thanks to the rain cover for her trailer

With all that rain, Dash remained spotless and dry thanks to the rain cover for her trailer

 

I Want to Break Free

Note: Previous 4 posts have now had the pics updated – finally!! :)

Day 101: July 24 – Toronto to Oshawa

Daily Distance = 62.72km, Trip Total = 3,624.93km

I was really hoping to leave my place before 11am today, but that simply didn’t happen.  Around 11:30 I made the two trips needed to get all my gear outside (the bike and trailer don’t fit in the elevator at the same time).  Once everything was outside and loaded up I had a quick chat with the folks at front desk to drop off my key for my roommate who flies back on Fri.  When I headed back outside there was a gentleman checking out my rig.  We chatted for a little bit, turns out he will be doing a cross canada bike trip in early September as part of a charity event (Sears Coast to Coast which is to raise money and awareness for children fighting cancer).  It sounds like this ride is done in two relay teams over the course of 17 days, the team he will be riding on will cycle about 160km per day.

Once on the bike I immediately headed down to the waterfront where I was quickly greeted with construction.  Fortunately the detour was well signed for cyclists and not too far out of the way.  This was not the case when I met construction on Leslie St.  Turning on to Leslie St. I wasn’t able to pick up the trail and instead (accidentally) ended up cycling right through the construction zone.  Once I got to the end of the construction zone a worker asked if I went through a gate to get in, when I told him no that the site was entirely open he muttered some comments under his breath and then made sure the path was clear for me to continue on my way.

Along the water in Toronto

Along the water in Toronto

Bicycle specific detour signage - very easy to navigate!

Bicycle specific detour signage – very easy to navigate!

More bike detour signage navigating the construction on Queens Quay, Toronto

More bike detour signage navigating the construction on Queens Quay, Toronto

And some of the construction itself

And some of the construction itself

I followed the trails until the Eastern Beaches, but because of my late getaway in the morning I decided to hop on Kingston Road as it would be a more direct option over the Waterfront Trail (which is a more scenic and enjoyable ride along the water).  I had been previously warned that there was construction on Kingston Road as well (which there was), but they still had one lane of traffic opened so it was ridable.  I followed Kingston Road (for the most part) until Ajax where I headed a bit further north to Rossland Rd and continued until I got to my friends Ian and Andrea’s place in Oshawa.  I was surprised to find how hilly the stretch along Rossland Rd was between Ajax and Oshawa.  Cycling between Ajax and Oshawa along the waterfront is much more flat!

Eastern Beaches in Toronto

Eastern Beaches in Toronto

Construction on Kingston Rd

Construction on Kingston Rd

What most of my days ride looked like (once I got out of construction zones)

What most of my days ride looked like (once I got out of construction zones)

Andrea had kindly brought home pizza for dinner, so I quickly showered, grabbed a couple slices of pizza and we were off to their ultimate frisbee game where I met Andrea’s mom and son.  After frisbee we chatted for a while over a couple drinks.  Thanks Ian and Andrea for hosting me and Dash as well as for feeding, hydrating and giving me a comfy bed to sleep on!  It was also great to have a chance to catch up too!  Lookin’ forward to seeing ya’s again in the fall.  Wine tour perhaps?!? :)

Ian and Andrea's frisbee game

Ian and Andrea’s frisbee game

All the action shots came out blurry - this was the least blurry

All the action shots came out blurry – this was the least blurry

 

Day 102: July 25 – Oshawa to Grafton

Daily Distance = 83.17km, Trip Total = 3,708.10km

I was on the road just before 9am today and given how sluggish my ride ended up being today it was a good thing I got an early start!

I took Nash Road out of Oshawa and almost into Bowmanville (thanks for the recommendation Andrea – this road is perfect for cyclists – in fact a few passed me along the way!)  Just west of Bowmanville I scooted south and picked up hwy 2 where I came across Watson’s a fruit and vegetable farm.  I had to stop for some fresh raspberries!

Watson's

Watson’s

Watson's

Watson’s

Just East of Bowmanville I headed south on Bennett Rd.  While I was at the top of the 401 overpass on Bennett Road I took a look to my right:

Ignoring the traffic - see all the houses and buildings in the distance?  I'm past the edges of the GTA city limits and FREE again!

Ignoring the traffic – see all the houses and buildings in the distance?

I took a look in front of me:

Ignoring the traffic - water has an immediate calming effect on me

Ignoring the traffic – what a nice calm view of Lake Ontario

And I took a look to my left:

Again ignoring the traffic - see the LACK of houses and buildings in the distance?

Again ignoring the traffic – see all the greenery and LACK of houses and buildings in the distance?

At this exact moment I once again felt FREE again!  And it’s not necessarily leaving the city that has brought on the feeling, but leaving my home and knowing that I’m setting off to explore all new territory again: the East Coast. And I’m doing so with nothing but excitement and enthusiasm.  This was not entirely the case on the West Coast when there was a healthy dose of nervousness blended into the mix.  Now that I am past the half way mark I’m feeling much more comfortable and confident with this journey.  All that I have to worry about for the next 7-8wks is enjoying the company of the people that I will meet, taking in the scenery around me and listening to my body to keep myself alert and healthy while on the road.  What a liberating experience!  I feel as though I have truly broken free of the normal daily grind and am living how I want to live.  Admittedly, I have no desire to be a transient permanently.  In a couple months time I’m sure I’ll look forward to getting back into a normal life.  But I can see myself working 2 or 3 years at a time and then breaking free from the norm for 6-12mths to explore and live however I feel!

Now back to the day’s ride.  After this awesome moment on Bennett Road I quickly picked up the Waterfront Trail.  Around Newcastle I was passed by a group of three loaded up with gear – they didn’t stop to chat so I have no idea where they are going or coming from.  Shortly after being passed by them I passed a couple walking their baby.  The guy shouted out to me and asked where I was going:

Me: Across Canada

Them: You’re biking across Canada?!?

Me:  Yup, on my way to St. John’s.

Them:  Wow – where’d you start?

Me: Victoria, BC

Them:  And you’re on your way right now?  You were just biking across Canada and it brought you to this exact place at this exact time and now we’re talking to you WHILE you’re in the process of biking across Canada?

Me:  Yup, I’m on route right now

Them:  That is SO cool!  I would love to do something like that!

Can this encounter be any more of a reminder of how lucky I am to get to do something like this?

Continuing on my way I went through Port Hope, Coburg and Grafton before stopping at a campground on the east side of Grafton.  Despite the great experiences today, my ride itself was a bit sluggish.  I think the above average amounts of alcohol consumed during my week in Toronto as well as a couple poor food choices were catching up with me.  I cleaned up the eating habits again today so am optimistic that in the next day or two my energy levels will pick up again!

The waterfront trail

The waterfront trail

The gravel wasn't really a problem until I encountered this steep hill.  Not only did I have to walk, but my bike kept skidding in the loose gravel while pushing it up the hill

The gravel wasn’t really a problem until I encountered this steep hill (I know it looks flat, but trust me – that’s a steep grade). Not only did I have to walk, but my bike kept skidding in the loose gravel while pushing it up the hill

 

I'll be following the general waterfront trail route for a few days along Lake Ontario

I’ll be following the general waterfront trail route for a few days along Lake Ontario

A rest area in Bond Head

A rest area in Bond Head

Bond Head

Bond Head

Bond Head

Bond Head

All short climbs today, but there were a lot of them.  Constantly going down to lake level and back up

All short climbs today, but there were a lot of them. Constantly going down to lake level and back up

Farm land west of Port Hope

Farm land west of Port Hope

My old friends the train tracks :)

My old friends the train tracks :)

My bike on an old school bridge

My bike on an old school bridge

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

I was not the only one walking up hills today...

I was not the only one walking up hills today…

River in Port Hope

River in Port Hope

Rafters in the river in Port Hope

Rafters in the river in Port Hope

Another view of Lake Ontario

Another train!  With Lake Ontario in the background

 

Dash taking a breather on the campground picnic table

Dash taking a breather on the campground picnic table

The creek in front of my campsite for the night

The creek in front of my campsite for the night

Dash keeping an eye on the creek.  No sudden movements...!

Dash keeping an eye on the creek. No sudden movements…!

Day 103: July 26 – Grafton to Bloomfield

Daily Distance = 77.50km, Trip Total = 3,785.60km

Today I woke up feeling much better energy wise.  It also didn’t hurt that I was quickly greeted on the road with an arm in the air cheer from another tourer going in the other direction followed quickly by a gentleman in a corvette giving me a big ok sign as he passed me.  Throughout the day I additionally received 2 thumbs ups and a friendly honk.  These simple acts of kindness and encouragement get me every time – I spontaneously smile and get an extra pep in my cycling for a solid 5 minutes.

Seeing other tourers

Seeing other tourers

I got an arm in the air cheer from this group!

I got an arm in the air cheer from this group!

Heading into Brighton I was passed by two more tourers.  Once in town I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some raspberries, yogurt and a turkey wrap which I immediately took to the park across the street from the grocery store and enjoyed my lunch.  Carrying on my way from Brighton I came to a swing bridge in Carrying Place that was turned to allow a couple sailboats through.  Once the bridge swung back into position I allowed the long stream of traffic behind me to go through before crossing myself.  Shortly afterwards I saw 3 cyclists gaining ground on me in my rear view mirror.  I was looking forward to chatting with them, but they must have turned off somewhere ‘cuz all of a sudden they weren’t there anymore!

Scenery along Lake Ontario

Scenery along Lake Ontario

I'll have to go up that hill?  It actually looked far worse than what it was - the grade was pretty mild

I’ll have to go up that hill? It actually looked far worse than what it was – the grade was pretty mild

Passed by two fellow tourers just heading into Brighton

Passed by two fellow tourers just heading into Brighton

Town of Brighton

Town of Brighton

Where I had my grocery store lunch in Brighton

Where I had my grocery store lunch in Brighton

A swing bridge in Carrying Place

A swing bridge in Carrying Place

Letting the sailboat through

Letting the sailboat through

The bridge swinging back

The bridge swinging back

It's a road again!

It’s a road again!

Traffic accumulating at the swing bridge

Traffic accumulating at the swing bridge

Back in business!

Back in business!

View of the channel from the swing bridge

View of the channel from the swing bridge

In Consecon I headed along the north shore of Lake Consecon instead of staying on the waterfront trail route (hwy 33).  The road along Lake Consecon was incredibly peaceful and a great alternative to the busier hwy 33.  In Bloomfield I caught back up with the waterfront trail and then headed to my campground which was about 5km off my intended route.  This is one of the most off route campgrounds I have stayed at so far.  Fortunately the terrain was flat and the scenery was pleasant so the 5km sailed by.

Follow the wine route?  Don't mind if I do...

Follow the wine route? Don’t mind if I do…

Lake Consecon

Lake Consecon

After getting my camp setup and showered I was sitting down to eat when a neighbour camper swung by and invited me to their campfire.  I finished dinner and then immediately headed over!  Darren and Sue live in the area (near Cobourg), and where just out for a weekend of camping.  We had a great conversation and I actually took up the offer of a beer – AND I drank it!  This doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve never been able to acquire the taste of beer.  I actually liked this one (maybe has to do with the 75km biked that day???)

A video of Dash entertaining herself at the campground: IMG_0361

My campground right on the lake

My campground right on the lake

Just before the sun went down

Just before the sun went down

Day 104: July 27 – Bloomfield to Kingston

Daily Distance = 73.74km, Trip Total = 3,859.34km

I woke up this morning to this:

Dash stuck in the sleeping bag?

Dash stuck in the sleeping bag?

Dash’s response when I unzipped the sleeping bag:

She doesn't quite look awake yet, does she?

She doesn’t quite look awake yet, does she?

And a couple minutes later:

Guess she's still tired

Guess she’s still tired

And about a minute later:

Such a tough life

Such a tough life

And a last picture about 3 minutes later after I rolled up the thermarest:

Back to sleep - apparently 8hrs wasn't enough...

She just wanted to go back to sleep – apparently 8hrs wasn’t enough…

After packing up my stuff and getting Dash into the trailer, I rolled out of camp and headed the 5km we had to backtrack.  It really wasn’t bad.  Still flat land so it rolled by pretty quickly!  Within no time I was in Picton where I picked up some strawberries and headed to a park in town to eat.  After that quick snack I continued along hwy 33 about 9km outside of Picton to the Glenora Ferry.  This is a super short ferry that connects hwy 33 between Glenora and Adulphstown.  On the ferry I was approached by a couple different groups and asked about my travels.

I might have to replace my cycling gloves soon.  The one on the right has the gel coming out which is key in helping reduce potential nerve damage in the hands

I might have to replace my cycling gloves soon. The one on the right has the gel coming out which is key in helping reduce potential nerve damage in the hands

Farmland in Prince Edward County

Farmland in Prince Edward County

What I will be following 'till Kingston

What I will be following ’till Kingston

Picton

Picton

Picton

Picton

Picton

Picton

Picton

Picton

Horse riding farm between Picton and Glenora

Horse riding farm between Picton and Glenora

The Glenora ferry

The Glenora ferry

Loading the ferry

Loading the ferry

Dash and my bike on the ferry

Dash and my bike on the ferry

Another ferry shot

Another ferry shot

To the mainland!

To the mainland!

View from the ferry landing area

View from the ferry landing area

Some info on the Loyalist Settlement

Some info on the Loyalist Settlement

The ferry in action

The ferry in action

The next 50km I followed along the Loyalist Parkway (hwy 33) right into Kingston.  I cycled this exact route about 7 years ago when I biked around Lake Ontario (where I crossed over to NY state via Wolfe Island via Kingston).  I am quite impressed with the improvements that have been made to the paved shoulder on this route.  In fact I have to say the entire stretch from Toronto to Kingston has had some pretty significant cyclist friendly improvements over the last 7 years.  The last time I covered this stretch there were definitely a couple white knuckle sections (in particular areas on hwy 2 around port hope, colborne, cobourg), but this time I didn’t feel that at all.  It doesn’t have a paved shoulder the whole way, but the areas that are heavier trafficked have a paved shoulder.  This was a particularly pleasant surprise!  I am also happy with the number of other tourers I have crossed paths with over the past 4 days.  I have seen at least 5 other groups of cyclists, whereas last time I covered this ground I didn’t see any other touring cyclists.

The terrain on the Loyalist Parkway from Adulphston to Kingston is relatively flat (very minor hills) and for a large part of the ride you are cycling pretty close to the waters edge.  Just west of Bath I stopped at a park for a quick bite to eat and to use the washroom.  When I was walking back to my bike from the washroom another cyclist was checking out my bike and trailer.  Richard (as well as his wife) is currently in a group of 6 who are cycling from Oshawa to Quebec City, they have a support van to haul all the gear and between the 6 of them are taking turns on ‘support duty’.  Richard gave me a couple suggestions of places to check out on my way up the St. Lawrence River (sounds like he has cycled this route before).  Thanks for the tidbits of info Richard!

My next stop wasn’t until the hotel in Kingston where I quickly unpacked and enjoyed some down time!

View along the loyalist parkway

View along the loyalist parkway

A solar farm

A solar farm

Loyalist Parkway closer to the waters edge

Loyalist Parkway closer to the waters edge

Swimming in Lake Ontario

Swimming in Lake Ontario

Part way through the ride I was noticing my gears kicking.  When I looked down I saw this unwanted branch stuck in my gears.  Thankfully it was an easy fix!

Part way through the ride I was noticing my gears kicking. When I looked down I saw this unwanted branch stuck in my gears. Thankfully it was an easy fix!

A ship being loaded up

A ship being loaded up

Same ship being loaded up

Same ship being loaded up

Pavilion in the park just west of Bath

Pavilion in the park just west of Bath

Richard

Richard

Construction in Bath - this one was easy to navigate through!

Construction in Bath – this one was easy to navigate through!

 

Another view from the Loyalist Parkway

Another view from the Loyalist Parkway

Collin's Bay heading into Kingston

Collin’s Bay heading into Kingston

Kingston Penitentiary

Kingston Penitentiary

Apparently the mosquitos liked me at the campfire the previous night.  Sooo itchy today.  It pays to be popular.

Apparently the mosquitos liked me at the campfire the previous night. Sooo itchy today.

Day 105: July 28 – Kingston

Today I took a rest day in Kingston where I had a chance to update the previous 4 blogs pictures, update this blog and stroll around Kingston for a couple hours.

Restaurant in Kingston

Restaurant in Kingston

Downtown Kingston

Downtown Kingston

Church in Kingston

Church in Kingston

Church in Kingston

Church in Kingston

Queen's University

Queen’s University

Queen's University

Queen’s University

Home, Temporary Home

Day 93-100: July 16-23 – Hanging out in Toronto

It feels pretty darned good to be at home and see so many friends, but it will feel SOOO much better after I’ve conquered the East Coast.  I guess I’m still in a bit of a cycling ‘zone’.  I also know there were many, many more people that I wanted to see on my way through town but I didn’t have the time, so my apologies to those that I missed.  I promise I will catch everybody when I’m done the whole trip in the fall!

A few of the highlights from my week in Toronto:

1) My first glaring observation is that I found the city to be a sensory overload for the first few days, which quite honestly took me by surprise considering it has been my home for 8 years.  Fortunately this feeling started to diminish over the course of the week.

2) My bike was treated to a tuneup from the wonderful folks at Urbane Cyclist.  This has been my bike shop for the past several years and they have always done good work, including the re-build of my bike before the trip.  As soon as I rolled my bike in they recognized me and asked how the trip was going – so they have good memories too!

3) There were many nights spent on the patio with a few marathon catch up sessions as well as lunches, coffees, after work drinks, a Jays game and catching a couple friends baseball games.  To everybody I was able to spend some time with (I’m not gonna list all the names this time, but you know who you are!!) – thanks for finding time for me, the good laughs and all of the encouraging words!  I look forward to catching up again in the fall.  To all those I wasn’t able to meet up with – soooo sorry, I promise I’ll catch you in the fall tho!!

Before the Jays game (my only Toronto pic - I took off the tourist hat while at home for the week!)

Before the Jays game (my only Toronto pic – I took off the tourist hat while at home for the week!)

4) My laptop was taken into the Apple store where it spent an hour being looked at by a technician.  After several comments about how scratch free and clean the laptop looks (pretty impressive considering its journey so far) they had to take it in for further work.  I received the laptop back yesterday and it is working again!  Yay!  Even better – the repair was covered under warranty.

5) Internet and cable – Sue told me this stopped working about two months ago.  The Rogers technician was able to determine that the individual in the unit above me cut my wire.  The joys of condo living (please note sarcasm here).  Fortunately Rogers was given access to the unit above me yesterday to fix the problem.  I’m connected to the world again!  At least for a day before I leave! lol!

6) Re-stocking and re-packing – some time was spent at MEC re-stocking the normal food supplies, but I also took the opportunity at home to go through all of my luggage again and get rid of any supplies I felt I can do without.  Here’s what I downscaled:

Instead of carrying rechargeable batteries, spare batteries and a charger I swapped out to regular batteries with no spares

Cable and locks for my panniers

A sweater

Wind jacket (my fleece rain jacket is staying with me and will triple as a rain jacket, sweater and wind jacket)

Wool socks

3 ttc tokens – I mistakenly took these out to Vancouver with me in April, it will be a huge weight saver not carrying them on the East Coast! lol! (sarcasm again)

7) Mail!  2 or 3 hours were spent going through mail that has accumulated over the past 3 months (doesn’t look like I’ve missed any bill payments so that’s good news!).  I toyed with the idea of updating my company books, but ended up pushing this off ’till the fall.

8) Laundry – my stuff has been getting a pretty good smell on for the last couple of weeks especially now that the weather has gotten warmer, so it was GREAT to get it cleaned in a machine again instead of hand washing!

9) Dash – every time I touched or came near her trailer over the past week she would run over, jump in the trailer and sit down ready to roll.  I guess she doesn’t mind the trip too much!  Although I do have to admit, she has become VERY territorial of me over the past three months.  This was even more obvious the first couple days that I was home and she was snappy at people she usually greets with excitement.  Fortunately later on in the week this behaviour started to revert back to her normal self.

Horrible red-eye in this picture, but here was Dash's response anytime I got near her trailer!

Horrible red-eye in this picture, but here was Dash’s response anytime I got near her trailer!

The Sibling Tour

Note: Pics are now updated!!

Day 89: July 12 – Brantford to Waterloo

I was able to get on the road around 10:30 today and started heading north to Waterloo.  For about 10km I was on hwy 24 where I did have one holy fuzz moment when a transport refused to either slow down or move over.  Luckily I saw this playing out in my rear view mirror as the transport approached so I was able to get onto the gravel shoulder unharmed.  After taking a couple minutes to calm my nerves I continued along without any further issues.

Pedestrian path crossing hwy 403

Pedestrian path crossing hwy 403

Looking over hwy 403

Looking over hwy 403

 

Getting to the ‘T’ where hwy 24 meets East River Rd I was under the impression that I would be able to pick up a rail trail that runs along the Grand River.  However on my original scan of the area I could not see either the trail or an access point to the trail.  Just as I started taking a closer look at google maps on my iPhone a lady with her dog came out from the trees.  I quickly asked her if there was a trail to which she kindly pointed me in the right direction (I had to head a bit south, turn into a driveway and pick up the trail from the driveway).  Boy was I glad to be off the road!!!

Part of the Grand River Rail Trail just south of Cambridge

Part of the Grand River Rail Trail just south of Cambridge

I was able to follow the trail for about 5km (with Dash running beside me) where it ended and I had to rejoin the road (and put Dash back in her trailer).  Fortunately at this point there was a paved shoulder for cyclists and I was on the southern outskirts of Cambridge.  The rest of my trek to my brother’s place in Waterloo was spent on city roads or trails (Grand River trail, Iron Horse Trail, Laurel Creek Trail).  I had to stop many times when following the trails to make sure I was still heading in the right direction.  Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge have an abundance of trails (which is great), but when you’re not familiar with them it can be easy to get lost!

Getting into Cambridge

Getting into Cambridge

Cambridge

Cambridge

Grand River in Cambridge

Grand River in Cambridge

 

A train!!!  Reminds me of the prairies again when a train passing through was the only difference in scenery for hours! :)

A train!!! Reminds me of the prairies again when a train passing through was the only difference in scenery for hours! :)

A Museum in Waterloo (or Kitchener - I've always struggled with the border of these two cities)

A Museum in Waterloo (or Kitchener – I’ve always struggled with the border of these two cities)

I made it to Ben’s place around 3:30 and had a quick snack at a nearby park while I waited for him to finish work.  I didn’t have to wait long, by 4:15 he was home and we had a great evening of catching up, running a couple quick errands and going out for sushi (I haven’t had sushi for months so it was a nice change from dehydrated food and subway!)

Day 90: Jul 13 – Waterloo to Hamilton

Ben and I had breakfast, chatted some more and by 11:30 I was on the road for my other brother’s place in Hamilton.  Because Ben and Ashley were going to be coming to Hamilton the next morning I had the pleasure of leaving about 3/4 of my gear with Ben, so I didn’t have to slug near as much stuff on today’s ride which allowed me to cover ground much quicker.  Thanks Ben!!

From Waterloo to Cambridge I pretty much backtracked the route I had taken the previous day.  The only difference was that I didn’t have to keep stopping to make sure I was going the right way so I made better time.  Out of Cambridge I took hwy 8, which was busy but because it was a Saturday there were very few transports and fortunately the road was wide enough to accommodate a cyclist and two cars crossing at the same time.  Regardless, when I got to the towns of Sheffield and Rockton I took the old hwy 8 which went through these small towns and had very little traffic.  It was a nice reprieve from the highway cycling.  Rockton was actually hosting a classic car competition, so I stopped for a few minutes to absorb.

One of the RIM buildings (I think)

One of the RIM buildings (I think)

A train along the trails in KW (Kitchener Waterloo)

A train along the trails in KW (Kitchener Waterloo)

I appreciated both the bicycle path and crossing sign on the Homer Watson 401 overpass

I appreciated both the bicycle path and crossing sign on the Homer Watson 401 overpass

Along the Grand River trail

Along the Grand River trail

Car Show in Rockton

Car Show in Rockton

Car show in Rockton

Car show in Rockton

At the corner of Orkney Rd and hwy 8 I stopped at a fruit stand where I picked up some strawberries and savored every last one!  I love that we are now in fresh fruit season!!  After about 1/2hr I was back on the road, heading south on Orkney Rd and then East on Governors Rd where I was able to pick up a rail trail for a few kilometres and Dash was once again able to get out of the trailer and run alongside me.  The rail trail led me to Mineral Springs Rd and Sulphur Springs Rd where I followed along the edges of the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.  This area was quite scenic to cycle through and also pretty hilly, but because I had less gear to lug today I had very little problems climbing.  It would have been more of a struggle with all of the gear.

Fruit stand and market in Rockton (I passed on the LCBO this time)

Fruit stand and market in Rockton (I passed on the LCBO this time)

Looks like there was a farm crawl going on today

Looks like there was a farm crawl going on today

On the rail trail for a couple km's just outside of Hamilton

On the rail trail for a couple km’s just outside of Hamilton

Dash running on the rail trail

Dash running on the rail trail

Me biking on the rail trail - I LOVE rail trails!!!

Me biking on the rail trail – I LOVE rail trails!!!

Dash cooling off after her run

Dash cooling off after her run

Passing through the edge of Ancaster I crossed over the 403 and had the pleasant surprise of coming across a paved bike shoulder on Stone Church Rd.  I made it to Dave and Marijana’s place around 6pm – much earlier than my originally estimated ETA of 8 or 9pm!

Bike lane on Stone Church Road in Hamilton

Bike lane on Stone Church Road in Hamilton

Day 91: Jul 14 – Hamilton

Today was a super mellow day.  I had a chance to catch up with Dave, Marijana and Marco both last night and this morning.  By the afternoon the house was full as Ben and Ashley as well as a couple of Marijana’s friends (and their two kids) joined the festivities.  Overall it was an afternoon of great company, food and drinks! :)

That night after everybody had left Dave, Marijana, Marco and I (along with the dogs Dash and Bagheera) packed in the car and headed for a walk along the waterfront trail.  About 40 minutes into our walk Marijana was nearly attacked by a redwing blackbird that flew within a foot or two of her head.  We didn’t think too much of it and kept walking.  After another 15 minutes or so we turned around and headed back the way we came.  As we got close to where the redwing blackbird had made an appearance we noticed a sign taped to a bench stating ‘beware of bird – it will peck you’.  As we were laughing at the sign a couple on rollerblades approached telling us that this bird has made it’s nest in the trees by the trail and seems a little territorial of its turf.  Apparently it had successfully attacked one person the previous week and will often times fly within a foot or two of somebody’s head.  The rollerbladers carried on unscathed by the bird, however as we looked ahead we saw the bird take a dive at 1 person and then swoop around and target another person.  I regret not having my camera or phone on me for this, ‘cuz it is quite funny to see when you’re not the one being terrorized by the bird! lol!  As we walked through the bird’s ‘area’ it did fly at Dave but didn’t make contact.  Too funny!

Day 92: July 15 – Hamilton to Toronto

After packing up my gear, a quick breakfast and saying bye to Dave I was on the road around 9:30-10.  I made my way down the escarpment and met up with the waterfront trail where I quickly came to a blocked off section of the trail.  It looked like there was a crime scene of some sorts, but I have no idea what.  Within minutes I was back in the redwing blackbirds area where I pulled out my camera and took some pictures of the warnings people have posted (in addition to the sign taped to the bench, there are also several warnings written in chalk on the pavement).  Because it was a Monday the trail was not nearly as busy as the previous day so I eventually put the camera away and continued on.  As I started cycling again a jogger approached from the other direction.  As he was jogging he kept a very close eye on the sky and low and behold the bird flew at him.  Darn it!  I’d just put my camera away!  As he jogged past me he said the following to me: ‘That’s the 2nd time that bird has done that to me, BE CAREFUL!’.  I continued on unscathed.

Hamilton from the top of the escarpment

Hamilton from the top of the escarpment

On my way down the escarpment

On my way down the escarpment

Pedestrian/cycling path over the QEW

Pedestrian/cycling path over the QEW

Not sure what happened here, but it doesn't look good

Not sure what happened here, but it doesn’t look good

Trail closed for a short section due to the crime scene

Trail closed for a short section due to the crime scene

It's hard to see, but says 'BIRD WILL ATTACK'

It’s hard to see, but says ‘BIRD WILL ATTACK’

This one says 'the evil bird will peck you' with a stick person being attacked on the head by a bird

This one says ‘the evil bird will peck you’ with a stick person being attacked by a bird

BEWARE OF THE BIRD

BEWARE OF THE BIRD

Beware of bird - it will peck you

Beware of bird – it will peck you

And here's the devil bird scoping out it's next victim (I was not deemed a worthy opponent! lol!)

And here’s the devil bird scoping out it’s next victim (I was not deemed a worthy opponent! lol!)

See the tiny spec in the upper right tree?  That's the cause of all the warnings!

See the tiny spec in the upper right tree? That’s the cause of all the warnings!

In a few more minutes I came to the lift bridge and was incredibly happy to find that they have opened a cycling path on the sidewalk of the lift bridge as well as a trail that takes you to an underpass to cross the road and put you back on the waterfront trail.  I was originally thinking I would have to unload my bike at this point and take my bike up the stairs, across the bridge, down the stairs on the other side of the bridge and then come back a couple more times to get the trailer and 4 panniers.  Boy was I glad I didn’t have to do this!  Instead it was a very easy and smooth crossing – yay for cycle friendly improvements!

Lift bridge in Hamilton (or Burlington?)

Lift bridge in Hamilton (or Burlington?)

There is a little rail on the side of the stairs to roll your bike up (and down) the stairs.  This would have been a tough task with a trailer and 100+ lb geared up bike.  Fortunately there was a paved route as well!

There is a little rail on the side of the stairs to roll your bike up (and down) the stairs. This would have been a tough task with a trailer and 100+ lb geared up bike. Fortunately there was a paved route as well!

Part of the cycling/pedestrian underpass to cross the lift bridge

Part of the cycling/pedestrian underpass to cross the lift bridge

Sailboat waiting to pass the lift bridge

Sailboat waiting to pass the lift bridge

Lift bridge almost down

Lift bridge almost down

Lift bridge up and two sailboats passing through

Lift bridge up and two sailboats passing through

The rest of my trek today was relatively uneventful mostly because it is a trip I have ridden a few times (as such, I took far fewer pictures than I have been so far).  I stayed largely by the water and was riding on a combination of paved trail and sharing the road with traffic that is used to seeing cyclists.  It was a hot one today (reaching 40 degrees with the humidity I believe), so I took a couple 1/2hr breaks but otherwise I was actually surprised how little the hotter temperature slowed me down.  I was able to finish the 80 odd kilometres by 5:30pm.  Arriving at my place I talked for a few minutes with the folks at front desk who were very impressed by my trip.  Getting into my condo I had a quick shower, left my bike, trailer and panniers in the somewhat limited space available and headed out to grab a pita and over to watch a friend play ball.

Was taking a picture of the ship, but there's a cool action shot of two seagulls flying too!

Was taking a picture of the ship, but there’s a cool action shot of two seagulls flying too!

Lake Ontario near Port Credit

Lake Ontario near Port Credit

Dash taking a nap strategically placed mere inches in front of my front tire so I can't leave her behind!

Dash taking a nap strategically placed mere inches in front of my tire so I can’t leave her behind!

Toronto skyline

Toronto skyline

A ship on Lake Ontario near Toronto

A ship on Lake Ontario near Toronto

 

Dash's first reaction when we got to our condo - sleep on the couch!  Notice the darker patches down the middle of her back?  That was her original color pre-trip...she has become quite sun bleached over the past three months...

Dash’s first reaction when we got to our condo – sleep on the couch! Notice the darker patches down the middle of her back? That was her original color pre-trip…she has become quite sun bleached over the past three months

This is what it looks like when two people are transiently living in a 400sq ft condo

This is what it looks like when two people are transiently living in a 400sq ft condo

Hot, Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer

Note: Pics are updated!

Day 83: July 6 – Sarnia to Wallaceburg

I rolled out of Sarnia around 11am wanting to enjoy every last minute of my spoiled luxury accommodations!

Heading South out of Sarnia on Vidal St. S I quickly came to a closed road sign.  Looking ahead I didn`t see any gaping holes in the road so I decided to ride through.  It looks like they are in the process of re-paving the road for about a 3km stretch, so although the road was rough (they had already scraped off the previous pavement), it was rideable.  And I had the advantage of not having to worry about any traffic!  This road leads to the St. Clair Pkwy which cruises along the St. Clair River for 40km to the town of Port Lambton.

Ouch!  That does look like a dangerous outcome.  Fortunately I was able to cross safely!

Ouch! That does look like a dangerous outcome. Fortunately I was able to cross safely!

One of the many petrol companies with branches in Sarnia

One of the many petrol companies with branches in Sarnia

Another pic of the Sarnia petrol industry

Another pic of the Sarnia petrol industry

I was able to safely cross this closed road.  The advantages of riding on closed roads?  No traffic!

I was able to safely cross this closed road. The advantages of riding on closed roads? No traffic!

I thoroughly enjoyed today`s ride which was a combination of paved shoulder or separated paved trail.  I passed through a few small towns along the way – Corunna, Courtright, Sombra and Port Lambton.  Between the small towns the river was populated with homes on the east side of the road and yard space with docks on the west side of the road (I actually had a picnic break in somebody`s front yard right by the river, thankfully nobody noticed!).

The scenery for about 40km along the St. Clair River

The scenery for about 40km along the St. Clair River

The majority of the homes had docks.  Some of the docks were pretty spiffed up with BBQ's & roofs

The majority of the homes had docks. Some of the docks were pretty spiffed up with BBQ’s & roofs

Somebody's front yard where I took a break - whoops!

Somebody’s front yard where I took a break – whoops!

Watching a steamliner on St. Clair River

Watching a steamliner on St. Clair River

Swimming in the St. Clair River

Swimming in the St. Clair River

Great thing about cycling on weekends?  Seeing other cyclists out for a spin!!

Great thing about cycling on weekends? Seeing other cyclists out for a spin!!

Another little beach area on St. Clair River

Another little beach area on St. Clair River

And another steamline ship!  Lots of activity on the river today.

And another steamline ship! Lots of activity on the river today

Chillin' at the park in Port Lambton

Chillin’ at the park in Port Lambton

More docks on the river

More docks on the river

I don`t know if it was the heat, the slight headwind, laziness or the combination of all three but I found I had to take a break every 10km or so.  And because I was enjoying my breaks so much I decided to change my original destination of Mitchell`s Bay and instead just target Wallaceburg (taking about 15km of cycling off today`s total).

Getting to the hotel in Wallaceburg the owner was quick to greet Dash and when she found out I wasn`t carrying any treats for Dash she immediately gave me a bag (that`s right, a whole bag) of treats for Dash.

Day 84: July 7 – Wallaceburg to Morpeth

Heading SE out of Wallaceburg I took country road 40 into Chatham.  This road was relatively light traffic and really good about moving over or slowing down to pass.  In Chatham I stopped at a Wendy`s to have a berry, chicken, almost salad – yum-yum!  I then continued SE out of Chatham on Charing Cross Rd to Middle Line which landed me in Blenheim where I came across a slo-pitch tournament in progress so I obviously had to stop and watch a game!  Several folks asked questions about Dash, but not a single person asked about my loaded down bike.

This area is dotted with windmills

This area is dotted with windmills

Scenery between Port Lambton and Wallaceburg

Scenery between Port Lambton and Wallaceburg

Crossing the Thames River in Chatham

Crossing the Thames River in Chatham

Crossing the 401 just south of Chatham - feels like I'm getting closer to home!!

Crossing the 401 just south of Chatham – feels like I’m getting closer to home!!

Downtown Blenheim - very small town promoted as a shopping area (I can't verify this as I didn't stop to shop)

Downtown Blenheim – very small town promoted as a shopping area (I can’t verify this as I didn’t stop to shop)

Catching a slo-pitch game in Blenheim

Catching a slo-pitch game in Blenheim

I took Talbot Trail out of Blenheim and made my way into Morpeth where I was going to turn right down a small country road that would lead me to my campsite for the night.  As I got to the intersection I bumped into another cyclist heading in the opposite direction.  He (Frank) had been fighting a headwind all day and was looking to call his day short and head to the same campground as me, so we decided to ride together and split the cost of a campsite (Ontario campgrounds are a bit pricey, usually starting around $40 – even for a non-service site).  Frank is travelling what is called the Northern Tier, starting in Bar Harbor Maine and heading to Seattle.  It sounds like Frank`s ride has been riddled with rain, but today was the first day he had a headwind (I was uber jealous of this!).  You can check out his blog here.  It was great to have another tourer to chat with while we setup our individual camps.  I was also happy to see that my 1.5 to 2hr setup and take down time seems to be par for the course!

View of Lake Erie from my campground

View of Lake Erie from my campground

My first sighting of Lake Erie

My first sighting of Lake Erie

Me on the shore of Lake Erie

Me on the shore of Lake Erie

Lake Erie

Lake Erie

 

I'm not the only tourer at camp tonight!

I’m not the only tourer at camp tonight!

Frank - doing the 'northern tier' tour through the States with a Lake Erie connection

Frank – doing the ‘northern tier’ tour through the States with a Lake Erie connection

Thomas the tank engine at the campground

Thomas the tank engine at the campground

The folks at this campground (including the owner Colleen) were very friendly.  Several people came by and chatted either to Frank or I and to hear about our travels.  As it started getting dark a couple of the seasonal residents (Debra and Sue – I think those are the right names, sorry if they`re wrong!!) showed Frank and I an area of the park where fireflies hang out by the hundreds and create their own little light show!  I`ve seen fireflies before but not so many of them in one spot.  Pretty cool!  I tried to take a video on my iPhone, but unfortunately it wasn`t able to pick up the light.  After admiring this little show for a few minutes Debra and Sue (along with Murray) invited me to a campfire.  My first campfire invite of the season!  I wasn`t going to turn that down!  Unfortunately by about 11pm I was zonked so I had to turn in.  By 11:10pm it was pouring rain, so it looks like I called it a night just in the nick of time!

Day 85: July 8 – Morpeth to Port Bruce

Continuing on the Talbot Trail heading NE out of Morpeth following the shores of Lake Erie I was happy to find that the road was very quiet and what traffic did come by was very considered of cyclists.  It turns out that the shoreline of Lake Erie really promotes cycling and hiking sharing the Talbot Trail, Waterfront Trail and in parts the TransCanada Trail.  It`d be pretty hard to get lost when you have 3 trails signing the way for you! lol!  As hoped the terrain was pretty flat all day (as it has been since leaving Sauble Beach).

So many shared trails to lead the way (the transcanada also runs through this area, but it appears I missed a pic of those signs)

So many shared trails to lead the way (the transcanada also runs through this area, but it appears I missed a pic of those signs)

Dash was VERY intrigued by the noise from the campground on the other side of this fence

Dash was VERY intrigued by the noise from the campground on the other side of this fence

It has been interesting to watch the crops (such as corn) grow over the months and all this time I'm still cycling! :)

It has been interesting to watch the crops (such as corn) grow over the months and all this time I’m still cycling! :)

Strawberries!  Yum yum!

Strawberries! Yum yum!

Local farmland

Local farmland

Nice quiet country roads

Nice quiet country roads

This has been my view of Lake Erie for most of the day  - the land drops at the edge of the trees down to the lake

This has been my view of Lake Erie for most of the day – the land drops at the edge of the trees down to the lake

Bright flowers along the side of the road

Bright flowers along the side of the road…

...in a row

…in a row

The first 60km or so I didn`t really pass through any towns (but I was forewarned of this by Frank before hitting the road in the morning).  I arrived in Port Stanley around 3:30pm and quite frankly didn`t want to leave.  It was definitely a touristy town, but I could have easily killed a few hours there checking out the shops, beach and port.  So after grabbing lunch (fish and mashed potatoes) I decided to look for a place to stay (even though my destination today was originally meant to be Port Bruce).  Unfortunately I couldn`t find anything within my price range that was pet friendly on such short notice so around 5pm I decided to push on the 20km or so to Port Bruce.

Geese crossing in Port Stanley (I have also watched the geese grow from goslings, to getting their colored feathers to almost full size geese.  All the while - I'm still riding my bike! lol!)

Geese crossing in Port Stanley (I have also watched the geese grow from goslings, to getting their colored feathers to almost full size geese. All the while – I’m still riding my bike! lol!)

Old train in Port Stanley

Old train in Port Stanley

Port Stanley

Port Stanley

Watching a sailboat come in the river in Port Stanley

Watching a sailboat come in the river in Port Stanley

Anything that makes noise (such as a lifting bridge) draws Dash's attention.

Anything that makes noise (such as a lifting bridge) draws Dash’s attention

And the bridge is back to a road!

And the bridge is back to a road!

The climb heading out of Port Stanley

The climb heading out of Port Stanley

I got into Port Bruce around 6pm and while I was sitting at my sites picnic table working up the muster to set up camp (I had ridden 95km today and it was VERY hot and humid!), my neighbour came by to ask what I was up to.  We exchanged the normal banter about my trip and as he left he thanked me for talking to him – so sweet!  Word quickly spread around the campground about what I was doing so I had a couple visitors who came over to ask about my trip and another campfire invite (as long as I didn`t mind spending the night with “old people“ – there words not mine! lol!)

Docks in Port Bruce

Docks in Port Bruce

After I was cleaned up and set up, Dash and I headed over to the campfire.  After a few minutes of trip chat the group of 8 people quickly picked up on there normal banter.  It was a very enjoyable evening listening to a bunch of friends kindly rib each other! :)  So to Anne, Ruth, Brad, Clay, Pattie, Tony, Bob and Penny – thank you for a pleasant evening!

I went back to my tent around 9:40pm where it started raining around 9:50pm.  I`m noticing a trend here!!

Day 86: July 9 – Port Bruce to Turkey Point

Upon awakening and heading to the washroom I was greeted by a worker who was removing the sanitation waste.  He quickly asked me where I was headed on my trip when I responded “across Canada“ he said “I already know that, where are you headed today“.  Man, word spreads fast – he only arrived at the campground that morning! lol!

Getting all my gear packed up I spent the first 1.5hrs riding in a glorious mist!  That`s not even sarcastic – I think mist is my ideal summer riding condition `cuz it keeps you nice and cool.  I arrived in Port Burwell around noon where I did a quick tour of the town looking at the beach, lighthouse and the 1960`s submarine (HMCS Ojibwa).  There is a tour you can do of the submarine but it wasn`t something I could take Dash on so I passed and instead had lunch on a patio (where I could take Dash) that overlooked the submarine while having a high-class rum mixed with blue slushy beverage!

The windmills through the glorious, glorious mist!

The windmills through the glorious, glorious mist!

Submarine in Port Burwell

Submarine in Port Burwell

Another submarine shot in Port Burwell - it'd be interesting to come back and do the tour (sans Dash of course)

Another submarine shot in Port Burwell – it’d be interesting to come back and do the tour (sans Dash of course)

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Engine as per previous pics sign

Engine as per previous pics sign

Lake and river view from Port Burwell

Lake and river view from Port Burwell

Beach at Port Burwell

Beach at Port Burwell

Lighthouse in Port Burwell - can you see my spec of a bike at the base of the lighthouse?

Lighthouse in Port Burwell – can you see my spec of a bike at the base of the lighthouse?

Shortly East of Port Burwell on Lakeshore Rd I came to a road closed sign.  Oh no!  I couldn`t see anything that indicated the road was closed for a reason, but looking at potential bail out options on my iPhone it was very possible I could cycle 5km or more to come to an impassable obstacle and have to backtrack.  I decided to follow the detour that would take me off track about 3km.  About 10km later I was back on Lakeshore Rd with no inclination as to why the road was closed.

Do I or don't I take my chances on this closed road?  This time I decided not to take my chance and followed the detour

Do I or don’t I take my chances on this closed road? This time I decided not to take my chance and followed the detour

Farmland along Lake Erie

Farmland along Lake Erie

My first job growing up was picking cucumbers, so I had to stop and take a pic of this sign!

My first job growing up was picking cucumbers, so I had to stop and take a pic of this sign!

Cherry trees!

Cherry trees!

And another picture of a cherry orchard

And another picture of a cherry orchard

Another view of Lake Erie (the treeline is where the land drops down to the lake)

Another view of Lake Erie (the treeline is where the land drops down to the lake)

Peaceful quiet country roads to bike along

Peaceful quiet country roads to bike along

Continuing on my way I stopped at a park just west of Port Rowan.  After grabbing a snack, some pics and having a break a couple cycling from the other direction pulled into the park.  They quickly stopped pulled out a couple beers (asking if I wanted one – I declined as I have unfortunately never been able to acquire the taste of beer) and we swapped stories.  They were headed from Toronto to Port Bruce where the lady has family.  They were doing this 200+ km ride in two days.  This is when I found out why Lakeshore Rd has a detour just East of Port Burwell – apparently the road is completed washed out at one point and down at lake level.  All that remains is swamp and an impassable hole.  Good thing I followed the detour although it sounds like the non-road would have been cool to see!A watershed area just west of Port Rowan

A watershed area just west of Port Rowan
Dash continues her tireless task of burying kibble across the country

Dash continues her tireless task of burying kibble across the country

Two tourers that I chatted with just west of Port Rowan

Two tourers that I chatted with just west of Port Rowan

After parting ways, I quickly pushed on to Hidden Valley Campground on the East side of Turkey Point where the manager insisted on giving me a $15 discount (from $42 to $27 – thank you manager!!!).

Me in Port Rowan!

Me in Port Rowan!

View of Lake Erie from Port Rowan

View of Lake Erie from Port Rowan

Some of the interesting things you see along the way

Some of the interesting things you see along the way

A glimpse of Long Point

A glimpse of Long Point

Cycling through Turkey Point Provincial Park

Cycling through Turkey Point Provincial Park

While setting up camp I noticed that I was starting to get a rash and irritation under my left arm where it meets my tank top.  Hmmmm – maybe having three shirts all of the exact same brand and cut wasn`t wise.  I put some cream on it and hoped it would clear up by morning.

While using my MacBook Air to check my route for the next day it suddenly went black.  I tried several times to turn it back on, but there was nothing.  I`ve added a reminder to my calendar to have this looked at when I get to Toronto.  If it had to die at some point on the trip, this was probably about the best time for it to go bust.  Fingers crossed they can have it replaced or fixed before I leave Toronto for the East Coast!

Day 87: July 10 – Turkey Point to Brantford

The first thing I noticed when I exited my tent this morning is that one of my panniers (the one with the food in it, to be exact) was moved about 6` from where I had left it last night.  Hmmmm – I guess that`s why Dash was pacing and giving out little warning barks last night!  I really should start paying attention to those.  Or maybe putting my food in the bear canister over night instead of leaving it in the panniers.  Altho I`m not in bear country, it seems as though the raccoons (I`m assuming it is raccoons) are hungry.  Fortunately my pannier has strongly withheld its second critter attack with not a scratch on it and also kept all my food safe!  Thank you Ortlieb panniers you were well worth the investment – not just waterproof, but apparently critter proof too! :)

That pannier was with the other three when I went to sleep last night...

That pannier was with the other three when I went to sleep last night…

Getting on the bike and rolling out of camp I noticed the folks at the tent site somewhat near me starring (I get this a lot actually), I`ve learned to just smile and give a little wave or nod and they usually wave or smile back or use that as an opening to come over and chat.  Back on the road the first song on my iPhone was Michael Jackson`s You`re Not Alone – sooooo true!  It reminded me again of all the support and encouraging words I have had from so many people while I tackle this unforgettable adventure!  I can`t say it enough to friends, family and strangers that I`m meeting along the way – THANK YOU for all the support!!!

It was a relatively quick journey NE to Simcoe, the first 10km continuing along the Talbot Trail and Waterfront Trail and the next 10km on the more busy country road 24 (motorists were kind tho so I didn`t mind the extra traffic!).  In Simcoe I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some yogurt, raspberries and chocolate milk and then I headed to the public library where I found some much needed shade and ate lunch on the grass.

Tree along Spooky Hollow Rd (has a wheel rim inside it!)

Tree along Spooky Hollow Rd (has a wheel rim inside it!)

Spooky Hollow Rd (I had to take this picture purely because of the name of the road!)

Spooky Hollow Rd (I had to take this picture purely because of the name of the road!)

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More farmland!

More farmland!

Terrain is getting just a tad more hilly

Terrain is getting just a tad more hilly

Info plaque in Simcoe

Info plaque in Simcoe

Courthouse in Simcoe

Courthouse in Simcoe

After lunch I picked up the rail trail in Simcoe that runs between Brantford and Port Dover.  This was a blissful ride!  40km of farmer`s fields, crossing the occasional low traffic country road, some of it paved, some of it packed gravel.  Because it was so isolated I even let Dash out of the trailer to stretch her legs and run for a bit.  About 5km in she had had enough (the first indication is her tail starts to droop, then the head hangs a little lower, then she slowly gets further and further behind).  So I took mercy on her, poured her some water, put her in the trailer and continued on.  In the spring and fall Dash can usually run beside me for a good 15 – 20km, but today was a HOT one (I want to say high 30`s with the humidity), so 5km was enough.  I was feeling the heat as well, so I took as few breaks as possible and got to the lovely air conditioned glory of the hotel room in Brantford as quickly as I possibly could.  The clerk at the hotel must have been able to read my thoughts because this was the quickest check-in in history.  Within 10 seconds of rolling my bike into the lobby she had my card keys ready and told me the AC was already on in the room and waiting for me! lol!

40km of wonderful trail between Simcoe and Brantford

40km of wonderful trail between Simcoe and Brantford

Dash stretching her legs (but only for 5km 'cuz it was a HOT one today)

Dash stretching her legs (but only for 5km ‘cuz it was a HOT one today)

What Dash looks like after running 5km in 30+ degree temperature!

What Dash looks like after running 5km in 30+ degree temperature!

Me riding the rail trail between Simcoe and Brantford (for a small stretch it was even paved)

Me riding the rail trail between Simcoe and Brantford (for a small stretch it was even paved)

View along the rail trail

View along the rail trail

Crossing a bridge on the rail trail

Crossing a bridge on the rail trail

This doesn't look like much, but these gates require me to slow down A LOT to make sure I clear my bike with all the panniers and the trailer

This doesn’t look like much, but these gates require me to slow down A LOT to make sure I clear my bike with all the panniers and the trailer

The only motorized vehicle I saw for 40km (I think it was a farmer checking his crops)

The only motorized vehicle I saw for 40km (I think it was a farmer checking his crops)

An old tobacco kiln

An old tobacco kiln

Info on tobacco and tobacco kiln's in the area

Info on tobacco and tobacco kiln’s in the area

 

Info on the tobacco kiln

Info on the tobacco kiln

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An underpass along the rail trail

An underpass along the rail trail

Day 88: July 11 – Brantford

I would like to say I saw a lot of Brantford, but to be quite honest after 5 consecutive days in the hot, humid heat of southern Ontario I took shelter in my hotel room and lobby (where I hogged the hotel computer as my MacBook has not miraculously come back to life yet).  I stepped out for about 1hr to re-stock supplies, get a little food for lunch and dinner but otherwise it was a hide from the sun day for me.  I would normally feel guilty about this as this summer is about exploring the great country of Canada and I wouldn`t want to waste a day of it, but Brantford is soooo close to my home of Toronto I can easily come back!

Fireworks galore

Pictures are now updated for this post…

Day 78: July 1 – Sauble Beach to Kincardine

Daily Distance = 76.94km, Trip Total = 2,806.72km

I reluctantly packed up all my gear this morning and dragged my heels in packing my bike, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I didn’t get on the road until just before 1pm.  Needless to say it was tough to say g’bye to my family.  However I took some comfort in knowing that I’ll be making visits with each of my brothers in the next week or two and that it will feel that much better seeing my parents in a couple months after I’ve conquered the East Coast!

Dave taking a test ride on my loaded up bike

Dave taking a test ride on my loaded up bike

Ben taking a test ride as well

Ben taking a test ride as well

And finally I'm off!

And finally I’m off!

Today’s route was one I have biked more than once – the majority of which is paved trail, paved shoulder or low-traffic road, flat terrain and by the water.  While cycling south of Port Elgin on a quiet country road another cyclist pulled up beside me.

Other cyclist: ‘Where you headed with that contraption?’

Me: ‘Across Canada’

Other cyclist: ‘Whoa!  How far have you gotten?’

Me: ‘About this far’

Surprisingly enough I’ve been asked the ‘how far have you gotten’ question more than once.  I always wonder if it’s a trick question but I guess some people think I’m out for a practise or trial run.

Downtown Sauble Beach

Downtown Sauble Beach

View of Lake Huron from Southampton

View of Lake Huron from Southampton

 

Downtown Southampton

Downtown Southampton

Just walking my canoe...

Just walking my canoe…

Shores of Lake Huron

Shores of Lake Huron

Paved trail along the lake

Paved trail along the lake

Not so paved trail

Not so paved trail

Me on the not so paved trail

Me on the not so paved trail

Getting closer to Bruce Power

Getting closer to Bruce Power

Nice country roads between Port Elgin and Kincardine

Nice country roads between Port Elgin and Kincardine

A glimpse of Bruce Power

A glimpse of Bruce Power

Gated communities are easier to get into on a bike!

Gated communities are easier to get into on a bike!

Inside the gated community (clearly still under development)

Inside the gated community (clearly still under development)

When I pulled into the Green Acres Campground just south of Kincardine the hosts and I had the usual chat about my trip and immediately knocked $10 off the cost of the site!  Woohoo!  They even made it a point to escort me to my site.

While setting up camp a fellow camper Doug dropped by to ask some questions.  When he heard about my trip he said he always thought that people who did these kinds of things were driven from city to city and really only got on the bike in the bigger towns and cities to feed the media.

While reading in my tent I started to hear the somewhat distant sound of fireworks.  I had assumed most beach communities would have had their Canada Day firework displays on Sunday.  I guess this was a display I would only hear and not see.  Good thing I had already seen a very worthy display of fireworks the previous night over the Sauble River.

Day 79: July 2 – Kincardine to Bayfield

Daily Distance = 69.89km, Trip Total = 2,876.61km

Upon walking up this morning I decided to explore the trails leading off the campground.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they connected to local community trails and extended for quite some distance.  What a great way to start the day and I’m sure Dash enjoyed it as she got some decent off leash time!

Back at the campground while I was packing up a few people dropped by to wish me safe travels on my journey (I guess word had spread! lol!)

Getting on the road around 11am I was able to follow quiet lake side roads for about 15 more kilometres before turning on to hwy 21.  Before getting on to Hwy 21 however I stumbled across a diner in Point Clark where I was warmly greeted by the waitress.  She quickly brought out a bowl of water for Dash and presented my lunch with a flourish saying that they normally aren’t allowed to use real plates for patio patrons, but given my journey I deserve the queen treatment! Too cute!

Farmland along the way.  It's interesting to watch the corn get higher and higher as the days go by (and me still cycling! lol!)

Farmland along the way. It’s interesting to watch the corn get higher and higher as the days go by (and me still cycling! lol!)

Diner at Point Clark

Diner at Point Clarke

View of Lake Huron between the trees

View of Lake Huron between the trees

From Point Clarke to Goderich I was on Hwy 21, which was a busier road with no paved shoulder, however traffic was really good about moving over and it was not nearly busy or scary as the Trans Canada between Sault Ste. Marie and Massey.  In Goderich I found a side road that ran fairly parallel to hwy 21 (orchard line road).  Rolling into my campground just north of Bayfield I was immediately greeted (or should I say ambushed?) by the seasonal campers across from the site I was headed to.  They were a friendly group of about 8 campers who immediately started drilling questions at me simultaneously.  It seems like this crew has a lot of fun, they were quite humorous background noise as I setup camp and when we later bumped into each other at the park office I was once again flooded with about 10 questions at once.  After dinner and a decent swim in the pool I was out for the night!

Farmland along Hwy 21

Farmland along Hwy 21

Entering Goderich

Entering Goderich

Goderich town square

Goderich town square

 

Anybody missing their clogs?

Anybody missing there clogs?

A bicycle windmill

A bicycle windmill

Day 80: Jul 3 – Bayfield to Grand Bend

Daily Distance = 51.50km, Trip Total = 2,928.11km

I woke up in my tent around 8:15am (I think this is the latest I’ve slept in while camping!) to the sound of the neighbours talking about my trip ‘The worst thing about a trip like that is, what do you do if somebody steals your bike overnight?  I mean that’s your means of transportation!  You can’t go anywhere then.  What do you do?’

I finally pulled myself out of the tent and headed to the washrooms.  On my way the neighbours said they were just making breakfast and they had put some on for me so they said they would holler when it was ready.  How incredibly SWEET!  I’m not about to turn down free food!  Breakfast wraps with sausage, lamb and potatoes as well as a banana and yogurt.  So yummy!  They even had a dish of extra lamb for Dash.  How spoiled are we?

Dash enjoying a home cooked breakfast

Dash enjoying a home cooked breakfast

Well fed I packed up camp and got back on the road.  My first stop of the day was Bayfield where I hung out at the Pioneer park for a while, dipped my feet in the lake and spent about an hour reading.

Country road on the way to Bayfield

Country road on the way to Bayfield

Park in Bayfield

Park in Bayfield

A shipwreck in Lake Huron near Bayfield

A shipwreck in Lake Huron near Bayfield

The shores in Bayfield

The shores in Bayfield

About 15km south of Bayfield I came across a small town called St. Joseph where I stopped for a hagen daz ice cream and checked out a very cute little park that explained some of the history of the town.  I’ll post the pics of these plaques when I can, but in essence St. Joseph if one of the few Quebec French settled towns in the area with one pretty dominant pioneer who had many ideas for promoting and expanding the town (a summer destination port town, the creation of a great lake seaway system).  St. Joseph is now known as ‘the town that never was’.

Park in St. Joseph

Park in St. Joseph

Some info on St. Joseph

Some info on St. Joseph

 

More info on St. Joseph

More info on St. Joseph

Heading out of St. Joseph I noticed that the sky looked pretty ominous and grey ahead of me.  About 8km from Grand Bend the skies opened up and mother nature displayed her form of fireworks (thunder and lightening with the addition of a torrential downpour!).  For my own safety I thought it best to ride on the gravel shoulder.  About 3km north of Grand Bend I couldn’t be more happy to find a wide paved shoulder!  When I managed to get into Grand Bend I found a handful of people taking shelter under a building porch.  I immediately parked my bike on the sidewalk and pulled Dash out of the trailer and into the hands of  a local who was taking shelter from the rain.  Dash immediately curled up and spent the next half an hour contently waiting out the rest of the storm in this ladies lap.  This lady (I never did get her name), along with her two kids and mom, had biked into town for ice cream and a drink and were also caught off guard by the rain.  When that family decided to venture out, two other gals came over and held Dash while asking about my trip.  They were quite fascinated with the fact that Dash was travelling across Canada! lol!

Dash happily curled up on this ladies lap for 1/2hr while we waited out the rain

Dash happily curled up on this ladies lap for 1/2hr while we waited out the rain

Seeking shelter from the rain

Seeking shelter from the rain

When the rain stopped I went for a little cruise down the main strip of Grand Bend, dropped by a patio for a late lunch/early dinner and a daiquiri.

Grand Bend

Grand Bend

Grand Bend

Grand Bend

Not a great beach day in Grand Bend

Not a great beach day in Grand Bend

But some peeps toughed it out!

But some peeps toughed it out!

The river in Grand Bend

The river in Grand Bend

Around 5pm I pulled myself away from the beach and headed a few more kilometres south to the Pinery Provincial Park.  There is a paved trail running along hwy 21 from Brand Bend to the Park which made for a peaceful ride.

Trail between Grand Bend and the Pinery Provincial Campground

Trail between Grand Bend and the Pinery Provincial Campground

Trail between Grand Bend and the Pinery Provincial Campground

Trail between Grand Bend and the Pinery Provincial Campground

After setting up camp, showering and having a bagel with peanut butter, Dash and I headed to the Park’s outdoor ampitheatre for the 9pm show ‘rum and spirits of Pineries past’.  This was a great way to pass a couple hours and I found it quite interesting to learn some of the history of an area so close to where I was born and raised, including the history of Brewster’s Mill – the mob who burned Brewster Mill to the ground and chased Benjamin Brewster out of town (the individual who played Benjamin was hilarious) and the Great Storm of 1913.

Making my way back to camp around 11pm I was quick to fall asleep.  Unfortunately Dash did not sleep so well.  Several times throughout the night I woke up to her pacing in the tent but I wasn’t really able to get her settled until about 4am.  When I woke up at 9am and stepped out of the tent I understood what Dash’s pacing was about.  Apparently I had left her food and water bowl out and a critter had eaten the food that was left out.  Whoops!!

Day 81: July 4 – Grand Bend to Sarnia

Daily Distance = 65.11km, Trip Total = 2,993.22km

You can’t go to the Pinery and not explore some of the trails within the park, so I spent a couple hours in the morning doing just that.  It was just before 1pm before I finally got on my bike.  Another late start to the day, but I didn’t have a lot of ground to cover so I wasn’t too concerned.

Hiking the trails in the Pinery Provincial Campground

Hiking the trails in the Pinery Provincial Campground

Fishing at the Pinery

Fishing at the Pinery

Peaceful river view in the Pinery

Peaceful river view in the Pinery

Dash checking out a tree in the Pinery

Dash checking out a tree in the Pinery

River in the Pinery

River in the Pinery

Active waters at the Pinery

Active waters at the Pinery

About 20km south of the Pinery Provincial Park I came to the point where hwy 21 heads south and Lakeshore Rd continues to SE along the shoreline.  I was kindof really expecting traffic to reduce on this road, but no such thing!  And to add insult to injury the road became more narrow than hwy 21.  Fortunately for the most part traffic was still decent about moving over, but there were a few occasions that I had to bail to the gravel shoulder.  It was on this stretch of road that I received my first two ‘angry’ honks of the trip.  There was an 8km stretch that did have a paved shoulder which was a welcome surprise.

The intersection where I counted traffic trying to determine whether traffic would be lighter or heavier on my next stretch of road

The intersection where I counted traffic trying to determine whether traffic would be lighter or heavier on my next stretch of road

Heading just out of Bright’s Grove I passed an intersection and saw a ‘bicycle crossing’ sign to my left.  My immediate thought ‘I’m on a bike – why aren’t I crossing there?’, so when there was a break in traffic I u-turned to check it out.    What joy to find a nice gravel packed trail that ran parallel to the road!  Ahhhh – I could unwind and enjoy the rest of the ride into Sarnia!

The glorious off-road trail leading into Sarnia

The glorious off-road trail leading into Sarnia

Arriving at the hotel in Sarnia they immediately upgraded me to a suite so I ‘would have enough room for all my gear’.  Soooo nice!  It doesn’t take much, but the suite is quite a bit larger than my condo with a separate bedroom, living room, walk in closet, jacuzzi tub, sauna light.  After settling in, I headed out for a walk around 9pm.  I immediately started hearing some sporadic fireworks.  Weird I thought – is somebody celebrating Canada Day all week?  Around 9:30pm the fireworks became more consistent and that’s when it dawned on me – it’s July 4th and the US of A is just across the river from Sarnia.  After having a late Harvey’s dinner I headed down to the Sarnia waterfront and watched the fireworks across the river.  The sound was continuous – like popcorn popping for at least an hour straight and the fireworks were going off at at least a dozen different locations (not just from one or two locations as is usually seen in Canada).  I was too tired to watch the entire show, so around 10:30 I headed back to the hotel and went to dreamland.

It doesn't take much, but this place is bigger than my condo!

It doesn’t take much, but this place is bigger than my condo!

A hallway with a separate bedroom?  Soo much space!

A hallway with a separate bedroom? Soo much space!

Oodles of room to air out my tent

Oodles of room to air out my tent

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Day 82: July 5 – Sarnia

Today was a rest day in Sarnia.  After enjoying the continental breakfast I spent a couple hours trying to figure out why pictures aren’t uploading to the blog.  After a couple hours I had to admit defeat and come back to this on my next rest day.  In the afternoon I went out for a walk for a few hours along the waterfront and then headed to a grocery store to re-stock on a few supplies.

Dash just can't get enough of the sun

Dash just can’t get enough of the sun

Sarnia

Sarnia

Sarnia

Sarnia

Sarnia - with the evidence of the petro industry

Sarnia – with the evidence of the petro industry

Some info on the great lakes (I have been and will be following the shorelines of 4 of the 5 great lakes on this journey)

Some info on the great lakes (I have been and will be following the shorelines of 4 of the 5 great lakes on this journey)

A fountain I decided to run through.  VERY refreshing!

A fountain I decided to run through. VERY refreshing!

Sarnia along the waterfront

Sarnia along the waterfront

Sarnia along the waterfront

Sarnia along the waterfront

Some info on Sarnia

Some info on Sarnia

The bridge over to the States

The bridge over to the States

 

Time with friends and family

Note: Pictures are now updated!

Day 67 – 77: Jun 20 – Jun 30

The week and a half in Sauble Beach passed by in a bit of a whirlwind.  The first couple of days were spent sleeping in (apparently I had some sleep I wanted to catch up on!), updating the blog and planning out my route from Sauble Beach to Toronto.  My parents also let me borrow their car so I could catch my brothers playing baseball in London, re-stock some supplies and visit some friends (thanks Emily, g’ma, Joe, Heather and Beth for the company – it was GREAT catching up with each of you!!)

The rest of my time was spent quite leisurely reading, walking on the beach, kayaking, talking to my folks and over the Canada Day weekend hanging out with my brothers again!  It really did feel great to see family again, but it will feel soooo much better once I’ve conquered the East Coast! :)

 

More pictures will come later – unfortunately I’m having issues uploading pictures to my site :(

Dash running on the beach

Dash on the beach

Cyclists going through the lake instead of around?

Cyclists going through the lake instead of around?

Sauble River Marina and Lodge as seen from the public boat lodge (my parents place - check it out!)

Sauble River Marina and Lodge as seen from the public boat lodge (my parents place – check it out!)

 

Taking the plunge in the Sauble Falls

Taking the plunge in the Sauble Falls

Sauble Falls

Sauble Falls

Lots of people at the Sauble Falls

Lots of people at the Sauble Falls

Dash keeping a close eye on the Sauble River

Dash keeping a close eye on the Sauble River

 

And people wonder how she falls in the water from a kayak...

And people wonder how she falls in the water from a kayak…

 

Activity on the Sauble River

Activity on the Sauble River

 

Cottages along the Sauble River

Cottages along the Sauble River

Another shot of my parents place of business

Another shot of my parents place of business

My dad giving a lesson on the personal watercraft

My dad giving a lesson on the personal watercraft

 

Family!

Family!

 

Another family shot (my mom was the one taking the pic - hence her absence)

Another family shot (my mom was the one taking the pic – hence her absence)

Canada Day fireworks

Canada Day fireworks

Canada Day fireworks

Canada Day fireworks

 

 

And then there were three!

Day 64: Jun 17 – Espanola to south of Little Current

Daily Distance = 68.66km, Trip Total = 2,492.50km

The four of us headed to Tim Horton’s for a leisurely breakfast at 8am.  Around 9 o’clock we dragged ourselves out of Timmies to start getting ready for the day.  Doug was going to drive to our arranged accommodations for the night and drop off any of the gear we would need to get us back to Sauble Beach.  Doug also kindly logged the mileage between Little Current and the cottage so we would know what was ahead of us!  The gear that I wasn’t going to need for the next three days (such as tent, stove, extra clothing, chargers, spare batteries, extra food, etc) was going straight back to Sauble with Doug – much appreciated! I noticed a HUGE difference in my ride when only carrying about a quarter of the gear!!

At 9:30 Doug took our ‘pre’ pictures and we were ready to hit the road:

Mom, Dash, me and Bev

Mom, Dash, me and Bev

The first 30km heading south of Espanola on hwy 6 had some decent rolling hills, but with the reduced gear we were able to climb all of them easily enough.  The 20km before reaching Little Current flattened out quite a bit and we were able to reach a pretty good speed.  Weather wise it was another almost perfect day – about 15 degrees, a bit overcast and a light tailwind.  I spent the entire day drafting off of mom and Bev, so it was a pretty relaxing day for me!  I should note that there is also a decent paved shoulder the entire ride from Espanola to Little Current.

Rolling hills south of Espanola

Rolling hills south of Espanola

Loved this view as we turned a corner heading up a hill south of Espanola

Loved this view as we turned a corner heading up a hill south of Espanola

The scenery along hwy 6 btwn Espanola and Little Current

The scenery along hwy 6 btwn Espanola and Little Current

Lots of water views

Lots of water views

These solar panels just north of Little Current power sensors that detect deer at night and flash a light to deter the deer from going on the road as well as alert drivers

These solar panels just north of Little Current power sensors that detect deer at night and flash a light to deter the deer from going on the road as well as alert drivers

Flat terrain just north of Little Current

Flat terrain just north of Little Current

The arrival into Little Current involves crossing a swing bridge.  Unfortunately we didn’t have the privilege of seeing the swing bridge swing, but we still stopped to take pics.  My mom’s ability to cycle a straight line was also tested as we cycled across the narrow pedestrian path.  Fortunately she made it across the bridge without injury!

Swing bridge in Little Current

Swing bridge in Little Current

Me and Bev

Me and Bev

Mom and Bev about to cross swing bridge

Mom and Bev about to cross swing bridge

View of Little Current from the bridge

View of Little Current from the bridge

It doesn't look like that cyclist made it across the bridge!!!

It doesn’t look like that cyclist made it across!!

We grabbed some takeout lunch in Little Current and ate in the park so that Dash wouldn’t be left on her own.  From Little Current we headed SE on 540 for about 17km to our destination for the night.  Unfortunately we no longer had a paved shoulder, but traffic on this road was relatively light.  When we arrived at our cottage for the night around 4:30pm we had a quick chat with the owner Rachel, who was kind enough to offer to pick up dinner for us.  We quickly took her up on this offer and all ordered fish and chips.  While settling into the cabin we noticed a massive spider in one of the corners.  Spiders don’t usually creep me out, but this one was 10x the size of any spider I had seen before!  Apparently it was a dock spider – I am introduced to another creepy crawler! lol!  My mom quickly took the bug spray and emptied 1/4 of the bottle on the spider.  We then each grabbed a drink and headed down to the water.  After finishing our drink our food had arrived – perfect timing!  After dinner we took a walk down the road and then had a dehydrated dessert – chocolate cheesecake – yum!

Park where we ate lunch in Little Current

Park where we ate lunch in Little Current

Downtown Little Current

Downtown Little Current

View from hwy 540 - gorgeous!

View from hwy 540 – gorgeous!

 

Day 65: Jun 18 – South of Little Current to Tobermory

Daily Distance = 61.84km, Trip Total = 2,554.34km

Our intention today was to be on the road by 9am so we would have a comfortable amount of time to bike the 60km to South Baymouth to catch the 3:50pm ferry.  Unfortunately the morning did not start off particularly smoothly.  While doing my morning pre-ride checks I noticed my front tire was completely flat.  At first I wasn’t sure whether this was a tire issue or a tube issue, so I wasn’t sure whether I should toss the pretty-bare tire out and go with a foldable tire ’till Sauble or just replace the tube.  After I pulled the tire off the rim and put some air in the tube mom and Bev kindly filled the sink with water and started investigating for a leak in the tube.  I did a quick scan of my tire and although it certainly looked rough I didn’t see any spots where it had a hole so I bit the bullet and started the process of replacing just the tube.  While I was changing the tube, mom and Bev were able to find a small leak near the valve of the tube.  Phew!  Just replacing the tube should resolve the problem!  My tire changing skills are not the quickest so it ended up being about 9:20 before we were on the road.

As we left the cottage we had a domino effect of a couple bikes tipping over.  Fortunately no damage or injuries though, just another sign of our clumsy start to the day.  Because we were running a bit behind schedule and we did have a timeframe to meet today we weren’t able to stop and have coffee with Rachel in the morning, however she did come out and have a quick chat with us and wish us well on our journey – super sweet lady!

On the gravel road out of the cottage back out to road 540 we encountered two brutal hills!  They weren’t incredibly long, but the grade was quite steep.  Needless to say, we had to walk these hills.  Again – not a great start on the one day that we had a timeline to meet!  The next 5km were definitely more climbing than descending.  I was starting to get a bit worried about whether we would make it to the ferry on time.  Fortunately the second 5km was much more downhill than up so we made up some time.  Good thing!  About 20km into our ride we made it into Mindemoya where we stopped at Mum’s bakery and grabbed a quick coffee and a baked good.

Getting back on the road we agreed that we should try to up the pace a little bit.  I got a splurge of energy so I ended up taking the lead to set the pace around 19km/hr.  We took breaks every 10km to grab some water and a light snack to maintain energy.  By the time we reached Sandfield we were sitting in pretty good shape so we took a longer break and enjoyed the park and water view.

Views from Manitoulin Island

Views from Manitoulin Island

Cycling rd 551 on Manitoulin Island

Cycling road 551 on Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island

Bridge at Sandfield - the river was running high!

Bridge at Sandfield – the river was running high!

Mom on the bridge in Sandfield

Mom on the bridge in Sandfield

Dash and our bikes taking a rest in Sandfield

Dash and our bikes taking a rest in Sandfield

Dash exploring some of the flooded river area in Sandfield

Dash exploring some of the flooded river area in Sandfield

Road 551 on Manitoulin Island

Road 551 on Manitoulin Island

We continued to make great time after our break in Sandfield and we rolled into South Baymouth around 2pm – we had 2hrs to spare before the ferry departs!  We immediately headed down to the ferry terminal where we noticed two other tourers sleeping on the lawn – I guess they were killing time ’till the ferry crossing! lol!  We used the ferry terminal washrooms to clean up a bit and get into warmer clothing.  Once done we purchased our tickets, put our bikes in line and headed across the street to a patio restaurant where we again had fish and chips and mom and I also indulged in a pina coloda.  It was an ideal afternoon – a good ride for the day under our belts, food, drink and overlooking water!

When we finished our lunch we headed back to our bikes where we were shortly joined by the two other cyclists we had seen napping.  Turns out they were a father and son who had spent the last 3 days cycling around Manitoulin. It was the sons first tour, but the father seems to be a seasoned tourer.  The father actually crossed Canada on bike in 2006 with the Tour du Canada organization.  He was very interested in talking shop and we exchanged stories about cycling against the prairie headwinds.  He said that I was doing the ride right by going solo, he said when they travelled as a group (Tour du Canada had 38 riders the year he did it) that they didn’t meet many locals because they would come into an area and swarm it.  They were also riding about 150km a day, so exhaustion definitely set in and limited the amount of sightseeing you could do.  Anyway, it re-affirms my decision to not join an organized group for my adventure across the country, although I wholeheartedly endorse friends and family to join me along the way where they can! :)

Our bikes in line to get on the ferry

Our bikes in line to get on the ferry

The Chi-Cheemaun arriving at port

The Chi-Cheemaun arriving at port

 

Me in front of the Chi-Cheemaun

Me in front of the Chi-Cheemaun

Mom and Dash on the Chi-Cheemaun

Mom and Dash on the Chi-Cheemaun

 

South Baymouth from the ferry

South Baymouth from the ferry

A pretty empty ferry!

A pretty empty ferry!

 

Mom and Bev in front of our bikes on the ferry

Mom and Bev in front of our bikes on the ferry

Dash was very intrigued by all the sounds the ferry made as we pulled into port

Dash was very intrigued by all the sounds the ferry made as we pulled into port

When we arrived in Tobermory we immediately headed to the motel.  At first the owner wasn’t there, but there was a board outside which indicated which rooms were available, how many beds were in each room and what the rate was.  From this info we picked a room that worked for us and began taking our bikes into the unlocked room.  I found this a rather trusting system!  After we had gotten our bikes in the room the owner made an appearance, so we did the formal check in process and settled into the room.  As we headed out to grab some dinner the owner noticed that I didn’t have Dash with me and quickly ‘scolded’ me for leaving her in the room unattended.  Most hotels have a policy where you can’t leave the pet in the room unattended at all or for an ‘unreasonable’ time, but I have never, ever, ever been called out on it before!  I assumed this policy was only called out if the pet became a nuisance, but not here!  Oh well – it just means we had to find a patio (which we were able to find) and eat in a slightly chillier environment.  We all ended up ordering an individual 10″ pizza and I have to say it was delicious!

Tobermory

Tobermory

 

Day 66: Jun 19 – Tobermory to Sauble Beach

Daily Distance = 87.01km, Trip Total = 2,641.35km

We successfully scooted out of the hotel this morning at quarter after 8 to avoid another scolding from the owner and headed to a coffee shop for breakfast on a patio.  After breakfast we were back on hwy 6 heading south.  This is a route that the three of us have cycled together before and if memory serves us correctly there was a lot of rolling hills.  As we got out on the road we all agreed that the terrain was what we remembered, but we were all having a much easier time with the hills than the last time we had tackled this route about 5 or more years ago.

About 10km north of Ferndale I noticed the wind pick up a bit and that my energy levels were draining, so I asked Bev to lead while I dropped to the back to draft.  Another joy second to coasting is drafting!  This is not a pleasure I have had given I have been solo for most of the trip, but boy did I noticed the difference over these past three days – so thank you both Bev and mom, not just for the company between Espanola to Sauble Beach, but also letting me draft off of you!  We arrived in Ferndale (just shy of 50km into our day) around 1pm and stopped at a diner where we had a scrumptious lunch of soup and a sandwich.  Dash patiently waited outside.  Although we all agreed that we didn’t need to rush home as we didn’t have a time limit today, I was feeling pretty good on the bike so I may have pushed the speed a little bit.

At Mar we made a right onto Red Bay Rd where we had a couple tough climbs, but we were able to bike up both of them.  Mom was even able to get back on the bike after her chain locked part way up the second hill – that’s impressive!  A few kilometres later we turned left onto a road that runs straight and flat right into Sauble Beach.  From here it was pretty easy cruising.  A couple kilometres short of my parents place we stopped for a celebratory ice cream where Doug was able to join us.  After the ice cream we parted ways with Doug and Bev.  As soon as we got home I let Dash out of the trailer and she BOLTED for dad.  It was quite funny!  After getting the gear, bikes and trailer in the house we headed down to the docks for a drink!

Tobermory

Tobermory

Tobermory

Tobermory

Mom, Bev and I in front of our breakfast spot

Mom, Bev and I in front of our breakfast spot

Hwy 6 between Tobermory and Sauble

Hwy 6 between Tobermory and Sauble

Taking a break - the girl in the background actually has a summer job to study reptiles and turtles in the area and when possible move them out of harms way.  She figures she will cycle 40km/day

Taking a break – the girl in the background has a summer job to study reptiles in the area and when possible move them out of harms way. She figures she will cycle 40km/day

Windmills near Ferndale

Windmills near Ferndale

Sky Lake

Sky Lake

Dad and I having a drink on the docks

Dad and I having a drink on the docks

I will be taking a break in Sauble Beach ’till July 2nd or 3rd to spend time with family and map out my plans and route from here to Toronto.  Given I drove a great deal of northern ontario I will make up some mileage by taking the scenic route back to Toronto along the lakes before tackling the East Coast.

Finding my broomball roots…

Day 60: Jun. 13 – Sault Ste. Marie to Bruce Mines

Daily Distance = 65.58km, Trip Total = 2,249.27km

It felt good to get back on the bike today.  The sun was shining and although the wind was strong again (about 40km/hr) it was from the north.  I was going to be spending most of my day heading south.  A TAILWIND at last!!!! :)

About 10km into the ride I picked up highway 17B.  What a glorious ride!  The traffic was incredibly light, terrain was relatively flat and there was a nice wide paved shoulder.

My first view of Hwy 17B just East of Sault Ste. Marie

My first view of Hwy 17B just East of Sault Ste. Marie

In Echo Bay I stopped to admire the Loonie statue and walk some of the boardwalk.

A big loonie in Echo Bay

A big loonie in Echo Bay

Leisurely stroll on the boardwalk in Echo Bay

Leisurely stroll on the boardwalk in Echo Bay

Just south of Echo Bay highway 17B unfortunately ends and joins up with highway 17.  For a while hwy 17 is a 4 lane divided highway – this at least gives traffic (in particular the transport trucks) an opportunity to move over a lane when they pass me (the paved shoulder is a bit limited at this point).  After about 20km on highway 17 it became a two lane undivided highway.  Still with a limited shoulder.  I spent a large part of this ride watching my rear view mirror and bailing to the gravel shoulder anytime I felt a vehicle was getting to close.  This became particularly tricky after a sudden, intense (but quick) downpour of rain struck.  Fortunately I was only about 10km from Bruce Mines, my destination for the night.  During the quick rain a lady in a green jeep pulled over and asked if I’d like a ride.  When I politely declined she then offered me a towel to dry off, which I also politely declined given it was still raining! lol!  Still a very sweet gesture!

I checked into the Bavarian Inn around 4:30.  All the lower room floors were taken so I had to lug my bike, trailer and gear up the stairs to the second floor.  For this effort I felt I deserved an ice cream so I headed over to the ice cream shop across the street where the owner immediately asked if he could give Dash a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  While Dash and I were eating our ice creams the owner filled me in on all the local dogs in town.

Next stop was the grocery store where I picked up some chocolate milk and fruit.  I then headed over to the park behind the hotel and let Dash run free for a while.  Afterwards I cooked up one of my dehydrated meals, did some light reading and went to sleep.

Highway 17 south of Echo Bay

Highway 17 south of Echo Bay

Rolling hills on highway 17

Rolling hills on highway 17

Farmland just west of Bruce Mines

Farmland just west of Bruce Mines

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Town of Bruce Mines

Town of Bruce Mines

Park behind Bavarian Inn, Bruce Mines

Park behind Bavarian Inn, Bruce Mines

Dash getting some free time

Dash getting some free time

Day 61: Jun. 14 – Bruce Mines to Blind River

Daily Distance = 74.95km, Trip Total = 2,324.22km

Continuing my journey east on hwy 17, it was another ideal day for cycling: clear sky, limited wind and temperature hovering in the high teens.  I veered off highway 17 for a couple kilometres and headed into Thessalon to pick up some lunch at the grocery store – turkey sandwhich, yogurt, raspberries and chocolate milk.  While I was eating lunch on a bench on the main street of town a lady came over and told me that I wasn’t very visible while cycling on the highway.  This was a bit of a surprise to me considering I have an orange flag that stands about 5 ft off the ground, Dash’s trailer is covered in a fluorescent yellow vest with orange reflective stripping and my panniers are yellow with reflective stripping.  Regardless, I did have a fluorescent yellow wind vest buried in my panniers so I dug it out and fastened it around the tent and bear cannister that I keep strapped on top of my back rack.  I should now be visible from MILES away.

Getting back on the highway I did notice that vehicles were giving me a wider berth than before.  It probably helped that the newly added fluorescent wind jacket flaps in the wind, so I’m sure it draws the eye pretty easily! lol!

I took another break in Iron Bridge where I chatted with a lady who was doing some lawn maintenance at the park.  This lady was quick to comment on my ‘highly visible getup’.  She was also quick to talk about how dangerous it is cycling on the highway and how unfortunate it is that a wider shoulder hasn’t been put in place (I couldn’t agree more).  She told me how she panicked when she found out her 20 year old son had cycled on the highway into town one day (they live 1km west of town).  After chatting for about 15min she wished me a safe journey and continued on with her lawn maintenance while I explored more of the park.

The ride from Iron Bridge to Blind River was an absolute joy – about 25km of relatively flat terrain with trees and rocks on one side of the highway and the Mississaugi River on the other side of the highway.

The motel in Blind River overlooked the river and a small waterfall – I was actually going to be able to sleep with the sound of the waterfall in the background!  That is bliss! :)  While struggling to get my bike and trailer into my room the couple in the room next door came over to give me a hand.  Much appreciated!  They told me they had bumped into another cross Canada cyclist this morning, but that he was going the other way from East to West.  It’s always fun getting updates along the way about other tourers currently on the road!

Me in front of some of what makes up the Canadian Shield

Me in front of some of what makes up the Canadian Shield

A big red chair

A big red chair

Trees, trees and more trees

Trees, trees and more trees

I really slowed down traffic at this bridge in Iron Bridges where it was reduced to one lane for construction

I really slowed down traffic at this bridge in Iron Bridge where it was reduced to one lane for construction

Part of the original Iron Bridge - I think the first iron bridge built in Canada?

Part of the original Iron Bridge – I think the first iron bridge built in Canada?

Mississaugi River at Iron Bridges

Mississagi River at Iron Bridge

Park at Iron Bridges

Park at Iron Bridge

Hwy 17 from Iron Bridges to Blind River - about 25km of following the river!

Hwy 17 from Iron Bridge to Blind River – about 25km of following the river!

An abandoned house along hwy 17

An abandoned house along hwy 17

Another moose - just before he took off into the woods...!

Another moose – just before he took off into the woods…!

 

Mississauga?!?!  Did I fall asleep on the bike???  Oh....first nations....not the one in the greater toronto area....

Mississauga?!?! Did I fall asleep on the bike and almost end up back home??? :)

Mississaugi River

Mississagi River

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My view from the hotel - glorious!

My view from the hotel looking north – glorious!

My view from the hotel looking south!

My view from the hotel looking south!

Preparations in Blind River for dragon boat races

Preparations in Blind River for dragon boat races

A blue heron visited us while having dinner on the balcony at the hotel

A blue heron visited us while having dinner on the balcony at the hotel

Day 62: Jun. 15 – Blind River to Massey

Daily Distance = 71.19km, Trip Total = 2,395.41km

My first objective today was to go check out the dragon boat races in Blind River.  I headed to the river at 10am and there was no indication that the races where anywhere close to getting started, so I opted not to stick around and instead headed out of town.  About 30km into the ride I came across a roadside chip truck and decided to make a stop.  After a quick chat with the chip truck lady about my trip I enjoyed my small fries and took the opportunity to pull out the e-reader and read for about 1/2hr.  Breaks are so much more enjoyable when you can sit and enjoy them instead of worrying about whether you’ll make it to your accommodations for the night due to the headwind you’re riding into!  However the fries were maybe not the wisest food selection at that point – they certainly did sit with me for the next hour or two on the bike.  Note to self – if greasy food must be had, save it ’till AFTER the riding is done for the day!

About 20km later I rolled into the town of Spanish where a local informed me that I better get settled for the night before the storm hit.  I grabbed a banana and a 1/2 pint of raspberries, chowed them down and headed back on the road.  Just as I arrived in Massey around 4pm it started pouring so I quickly ducked into the motel and checked in.  As I was getting settled into the motel the rain temporarily cleared.  About an hour later I saw 3 gals rolling by with their loaded up bikes – I’m pretty sure these are the same 3 girls that I was hearing about from the locals through the prairies!

At the main intersection in Massey there is a plaque describing Massey as the ‘home of broomball’!  And the welcome sign claims the same – pics below for the broomball players out there! :)

I also took a walk around Chutes Provincial Park – certainly worth a peak if you are in the area.

These little rock piles are everywhere in north eastern ontario

These little rock piles are everywhere in north eastern ontario

A quick break in Spanish - notice the fluorescent vest now strapped on the back of my bike

A quick break in Spanish – notice the fluorescent vest now strapped on the back of my bike

Plaque in Massey describing their broomball past

Plaque in Massey describing their broomball past

Massey embracing their broomball heritage

Massey embracing their broomball heritage

Chutes provincial park

Chutes provincial park

Chutes Provincial Park

Chutes Provincial Park

Chutes Provincial Park

Chutes Provincial Park

 

Day 63: Jun 16 – Massey to Espanola

Daily Distance = 28.43km, Trip Total = 2,423.84km

I was on the road by 9:30am today and was happy to find an alternative route between Massey and Espanola that did not involve being on hwy 17!  Lee Valley Rd is a pleasant country road and although it has more than a few potholes, it is paved the whole way and very quiet when it comes to traffic.  Much less risk to dodge potholes than traffic! lol!  I once again lucked out on the weather.  It had rained all night, but was dry by the time I was on the road in the morning.  While on Lee Valley Rd I did get chased by a total of 3 dogs – this is always my fear when cycling on country roads.  However with all three of them when I stopped my bike and yelled at them to go home they eventually slunked off and left me alone.

In Espanola I checked into the Queensway Motel after having a somewhat lengthy chat with the owner.  Very sweet lady who was curious about my trip and more curious about Dash (dog-lovers are easily identified! lol!).  After having a shower my mom, Doug and Bev arrived.  It was GREAT to see familiar faces again!  After getting settled we headed to Wendy’s for a salad lunch.  After lunch we made a quick stop at the LCBO and indulged in a drink while catching up and doing some minor errands (airing out my tent and rotating my front and back tires – the back tire is going bare again).  After the chores of the day were done, we went for a quick walk and then out to the Pinehouse for a delicious and filling (none of us could finish) pasta dinner.

When back at the hotel we noticed that the sky was clouding over.  After checking the weather network we noticed that there were tornado warnings issued in the area!  We kept a close eye on the clouds whilst having a drink and chatting and within 1/2hr the most daunting of the clouds had passed.

My non-hwy 17 route!

My non-hwy 17 route!

Cruising along Lee Valley Road

Cruising along Lee Valley Road

Some of the scenery along Lee Valley Road

Some of the scenery along Lee Valley Road

Just a sample of the pot holes on Lee Valley Rd - still WAAAAY better than traffic on hwy 17!

Just a sample of the pot holes on Lee Valley Rd – still WAAAAY better than traffic on hwy 17!

Tornado warnings near Espanola

Tornado warnings near Espanola

 

Road Trip!!!

Day 55: Jun 8 – Winnipeg to Kenora

I left the hotel nice and early at 9am (early for me on vacation mode at least)!  And headed over to the Winnipeg airport to pick up a rental car.  This is the part where my cycling adventure becomes a road trip because quite frankly, cycling Northern Ontario solo TERRIFIES me for the following reasons:

1) Very remote – some towns (and accommodation options) are 100+ km apart.  Given I am only tracking about 70km a day, this means I would have had to guerrilla camp (camp on the side of the road) several times.

2) Narrow or non-existent paved shoulders on a highly trafficked road

3) Wildlife!  Pre-trip this fear was of bears, however mid-trip it has shifted to ticks! lol!

It took about an hour to pack all of my gear into the car, after which I ran some quick errands – groceries, food for dash, bank machine – and started heading east to Kenora!  About 100km out of Winnipeg the scenery started changing with more trees, rolling hills and rocks (signs of the Canadian Shield).  Another 50km or so and lakes started mixing in with the trees, rocks and hills as well!  This would have been a fantastic stretch to take in the scenery at the much slower speed of a bike and the shoulder was still relatively decent to ride on at this point (even though the highway does change from a 4 lane divided highway to a 2 lane highway).  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any one-way car rental options out of Kenora.  Oh well.  The scenery was still quite amazing to take in.

When I arrived at Kenora I quickly ditched my stuff at the hotel and headed down to the lake to dip my toes in and just absorb the view around me.

Dash's response when I tried to pack up her trailer in the rental car....it's a good sign that she still likes her trailer! lol!

Dash’s response when I tried to pack up her trailer in the rental car….it’s a good sign that she still likes her trailer! lol!

Ontario Border!

Ontario Border!

Trees, rocks, water - amazing scenery!

Trees, rocks, water – amazing scenery!

Dash finding a friend in the mirror...

Dash finding a friend in the mirror…

Lake of the Woods - Kenora

Lake of the Woods – Kenora

 

Day 56: Jun. 9 – Kenora to Thunder Bay

I spent a pleasant hour walking the waterfront of Kenora.  After this walk I then got back in the car and continued heading east.  In Dryden I stopped for a picnic lunch.  My only other real stop of the day was Kakabeka Falls before heading into Thunder Bay for the night.  The scenery really is phenomenal.  Trees, rocks, water and hills everywhere!

Husky the Musky in Kenora

Husky the Musky in Kenora

Kenora waterfront

Kenora waterfront

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So far I have only seen bears in statue form

So far I have only seen bears in statue form

Seaplane docks

Seaplanes at dock

Lack of the Woods in Kenora

Lack of the Woods in Kenora

Kenora wouldn't be complete without a train running through town

Kenora wouldn’t be complete without a train running through town

Dryden

Dryden

Ignace Fire Tower

Ignace Fire Tower

Bald Eagle statue in Ignace

Bald Eagle statue in Ignace

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

Me at Kakabeka Falls

Me at Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

 

Day 57: Jun 10 – Thunder Bay to Wawa

I spent the first hour walking along the waterfront of Thunder Bay while listening to the sound of a ship slowly coming into port.  I say listening, ‘cuz it was very foggy this morning so I could only faintly make out the outline of the ship in the distance but I could certainly hear its horn! :)

After checking out Thunder Bay I was back in the car.  Next stop – the Terry Fox Statue.  It was just East of Thunder Bay that Terry Fox had to stop his cross country marathon due to a reoccurrence of cancer.  The statue stands on a bed of amethyst (found locally in the area), the determination that they have captured in Terry’s stance through the statue is quite spectacular.  I spent about 10 minutes here absorbing and reflecting in the moment.

Next stop for the day was Ouimet Canyon.  This was a recommendation from my parents and was pretty impressive to see – even if my view was somewhat limited by the fog around me!!

My next highlight of the day was seeing not one, not two, but three moose!  They were all on different sections of the highway, grazing.

My stop for the night was Wawa which is a cute little town inland from Lake Superior just a bit, on Wawa Lake.

My first view of Lake Superior - the haze in the middle is a ship slowly coming into port

My first view of Lake Superior – the haze in the middle is a ship slowly coming into port

Thunder Bay Port

Thunder Bay Port

Terry Fox statue

Terry Fox statue

Oiumet Canyon - through the fog!

Oiumet Canyon – through the fog!

River does a 90 degree turn at the falls

River does a 90 degree turn at the falls

A Moose!!!!

A Moose!!!!

A closer view of the moose

A closer view of the moose

So much green

So much green!

Now green with the highway running through it...

Now green with the highway running through it…

Wawa is ojibwa for 'wild goose' - they have a few goose statues in Wawa

Wawa is ojibwa for ‘wild goose’ – they have a few goose statues in Wawa

Here's another

Here’s another

Wawa lake

Wawa lake

 

Day 58: Jun. 11 – Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie

There were a few pull offs along the highway that called to me today, so I made a few stops.  The first stop was a beautiful beach view of lake superior, the second stop was at Agawa Rock which has some Indian Pictographs on the cliff – unfortunately the edge to this cliff is slanted and goes into Lake Superior – had it not been raining all morning I would have gone out to take a look at the pictographs, but with the slippery conditions I thought it best to pass this one over.  This decision was further supported when I slipped on a wet slanted rock on the trail back to the parking lot – fortunately there were other rocks to stop me from going into the lake! lol!  Another stop was at Aloma Bay pull over (a view of lake superior) and another stop at Chippewa Falls.  The stretch between Chippewa Falls and Wawa is known as “the gap” because it was the last stretch of the Trans Canada highway to be completed due to the rugged terrain and hard granite rock.  This stretch was completed in 1960 – I didn’t realize it was so recent that the trans canada highway was finished.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior with the fog coming in.  The fog actually made the scenery more dramatic!

Lake Superior with the fog coming in. The fog actually made the scenery more dramatic!

A family heading out on the canoe

A family heading out on the canoe

By Agawa Rock

By Agawa Rock

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Agawa Rock - this is the cliff edge that I opted not to walk out on to see the Indian Pictographs

Agawa Rock – this is the cliff edge that I opted not to walk out on to see the Indian Pictographs

They had three of these warnings along the 400m trail to Agawa Rock - third time means it's serious...

They had three of these warnings along the 400m trail to Agawa Rock – third time means it’s serious…

Here's the part of the trail that I slipped - the camera is straight, the trees and rocks are slanted...

Here’s the part of the trail that I slipped – the camera is straight, the trees and rocks are slanted…

Northern Ontario with the scene setting fog

Northern Ontario with the scene setting fog

Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls

 

Day 59: Jun. 12 – Sault Ste. Marie

I dropped off the rental car at the Sault Ste. Marie airport and got back on my bike for the 20km ride downtown.  It felt SOOO odd riding my bike without all the gear (just Dash with me for this ride)!  Getting downtown I headed over to Mary’s Island and Whitefish Island to check out the canal and lock.  This is the channel where Lake Superior and Lake Huron connect.  On my walk I learned that Sault Ste. Marie has an Emergency Swing Dam, one of only 9 that were built in the world and the only one that was actually put to use in an emergency:

Information on the Emergency Swing Dam in Sault Ste. Marie

Information on the Emergency Swing Dam in Sault Ste. Marie

Front page of the Toronto Star when the Emergency Swing Dam was used in 1909

Front page of the Toronto Star when the Emergency Swing Dam was used in 1909

Canal in Sault Ste. Marie (with bridge crossing to US in the background)

Canal in Sault Ste. Marie (with bridge crossing to US in the background)

Lock in Sault Ste. Marie

Lock in Sault Ste. Marie

Creek on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste. Marie

Creek on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste. Marie

Another pic of the bridge to the States

Another pic of the bridge to the States

Dash sitting tall beside a statue dog

Dash sitting tall beside a statue dog

Bears fishing! :)

Bears fishing! :)

A loooooooong ship

A loooooooong ship

Now that my blog is up to date I’m going to head down to a patio on the water and have an early dinner and perhaps a daiquiri or two :)