A Travellerspoint blog

It's all about ME

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As in the title, this post is all about Maine ("ME"). If you are connected to us via Facebook, you will know that we finished the ride on July 31st in Bar Harbor, Maine. Unlike so many other state crossings, when we passed from New Hampshire to Maine, there were no rivers to cross and no mountains to climb. We left North Conway, NH on July 28th and rode 6 miles to the east and there we were.....in Maine. Nothing dramatic and only a small green sign beside the road announcing we were in Maine. It was probably the least dramatic state crossing we had the entire trip. We were soon back into some hills and after riding across the state, we can tell you there is no flat land in Maine, at least that we saw. The slogan on license plates in Maine is "Vacation Land" and from the difficulty we had in finding motel and camping spot vacancies, we think it is aptly named. Seems like everyone there was on vacation.

It was a long riding day of 84 miles with our first real food stop at the 56 mile mark, at a truck stop Subway. You know it is going to be a long mileage day when you can make it that far before you feel your stomach starting to eat itself. After having sandwiches and filling our water bottles up with the magic vitamin water from the soda fountain, we decided to walk out back and lay down in the grass under a small tree for a few minutes of rest. On the way, we met the cutest little Chinese girls, sisters 7 and 8 years old. They had on summer dresses with matching black bob haircuts and barrettes. We talked with them for a while, answering lots of questions. They told us their parents ran the Chinese restaurant next to the Subway. When we told them we were going to go out back and lay down under a tree for a nap, they asked if they could come sit with us. So, sweet. They played around us until a few minutes before we were ready to leave. We felt very uncomfortable as we left, knowing they might be unsupervised around a truck stop, but their parents probably had no choices. It was obvious they were cared for, clean and very well taught. Both were fluently bilingual. Lord, protect these little girls.


Thirty miles later we reached Thomas Point Beach and Campground. Unofficially, this is actually when we accomplished the goal of riding from "coast to coast" as the salt water of the Atlantic comes into the bay at this campground. We literally crossed into Maine on the same day we reached the salty waters. We arrived after hours, so we had the pick of where to put our tent and we chose a spot where we could see the water. In the morning, we had our coffee sitting on wooden amphitheater steps looking into the tidal waters as they retreated to sea. We had been seeing boats coming in to the shallow water and just dropping anchor. No fishing was going on and the people in the small boats were yelling across the water to each other in conversation. We left the water for a while and were back at the tent when I noticed a young woman walking through the campground with waders on from the direction of the tidal basin. She went to the bathhouse and then headed back out to the beach. Then I noticed the tide had gone out past the anchored boats, which were now sitting on the muddy bottom. Everyone was out of the boats and had staked out their own territories. They were "clammers"! So cool. I couldn't take my eyes off the little bit of New England coastal culture as these folks worked bent over digging in the mud and throwing the treasures into buckets. Someone had a big radio system playing and everyone was enjoying the time. I was really wishing I could just go out there and experience this myself.

Our next night's sleep would be in Owls Head, Maine. We were looking forward to reaching the peninsula of Owls Head to stay with Warmshowers hosts, Peter and Nancy. But, between here and there were a couple of unexpected surprises. Riding into the edge of South Thomaston, a small rural community, I was in front and happened to look to my left just in time to catch a surprising sight. There was a large man walking up his hillside yard away from me with a chainsaw in his hand. He was not wearing a shirt and his head was shaved bald. You say, not so strange around Southern Illinois to see a bald, overweight, shirtless man with a chainsaw. You are right about that, but this man was wearing a KILT! That's a first for the trip. Then, just a few minutes later, on the other side of town an even more unusual thing happened. Still riding in front, I begin to hear bagpipe music. Sherie yelled out behind me, "Is that you?"....thinking I might be listening to Pandora on my phone. About then, I hit the record button on my GoPro9 video recorder attached to my handlebars. I caught it! As we rounded the grove of trees, he came into view. It was a man standing on his deck playing the most beautiful bagpipe music! Only one other time in my life have I been surprised by unexpected bagpipe music and it was while running on a trail with a friend and coming upon someone sitting in the grass playing. I was motivated to bring out my Irish heritage and begin singing an old Irish song.


As we neared the outside edge of town, we had to stop and send a message to Peter and Nancy letting them know our ETA. Rain kicked in from a quick storm and we waited out the heaviest part under the porch of an old historic structure, the Knox Memorial Mansion. We had only 7 miles left to travel and we would finish the day in the rain one more time. Meeting the Friedrich's was such a treat. We immediately found so much in common and right at home. Nancy is a homeopathic practitioner and Peter is retired. For his 70th birthday, he rode his bicycle coast to coast. By the time we left in the morning, I felt I had found a soulmate in Peter, who had also ridden dual sport motorcycles in Colorado and had put a lift kit on an AWD Toyota Sienna minivan......my dream. Peter treated us with a personal bicycle tour of Owls Head, including the 200 year old lighthouse in the morning before we left.

One more night before we would reach Bar Harbor and we would spend it in our tent alongside a bicycle trail, 2 miles outside of Belfast, Maine. Belfast was quite a busy community with an active harbor. We tried for hours to find legitimate camping or a hotel in Belfast, but to no avail. We did receive a tip from a waitress that if we would just ride 2 miles out of town on the trail, we would find a spot to pitch our tent and no one would bother us. So, after picking up some food for later, we headed out and sure enough, there it was. There was a surprising amount of foot and bicycle traffic by that spot and at one point, a policeman on a bicycle rode past us and gave us a look. But, he never stopped and we were left alone to eat our hummus and chips. Sounds great, huh! For some reason, I thought this might be a good night for us to watch a movie on my laptop and it would be Deliverance, the 1972 Burt Reynolds movie. We had always heard of this movie and because we had traveled along rivers so much of the trip, we just thought we should watch it. Not the best idea while camping alongside a river 2 miles away from town. I slept just fine that night. Not so for Sherie. The next morning, the last morning before reaching Bar Harbor, was our earliest departure of the entire trip. We were on the bikes ready to move at 6 a.m. and headed to a breakfast place an hour away. We chose the place because it was the first place we would get to that would be open at 7 a.m.

We reached Ellsworth, Maine early in the day and relaxed in town for quite a while. We were energized and happy. We were on the edge of finishing and all we had to do was cross a short causeway on Highway 3, at Trenton and we would be on Mt. Desert Island. A significant part of the island is made up of Acadia National Park with the town of Bar Harbor as the largest town and destination point. Sherie found a really nice motel, which was a miracle in itself, and we headed there. Carried our bags inside and after a short nap, took off on the unloaded bikes for the 7 mile ride to Bar Harbor where we would roll our bikes down the ramp to the crystal clear water of the bay to officially conclude our 3 month journey. God has provided for us at every turn and stop along our path and He did so again. There happened to be a young couple sitting there looking out into the water and one of them was a photographer. Excitedly, we shucked off our socks and shoes and rolled our bikes into the chilly water to pose for our professional pictures. Just like that, we were done.



We would stay two more days to enjoy Acadia National Park, riding a portion of the carriage roads and viewing the porcupine islands from Cadillac Mountain. While there, we ate our "obligatory" fresh lobster and mussels and walked across the land bridge as the tide receded. After a tour of Acadia National Park, dinner and souvenir shopping, we caught a Lyft car back to the campground. There, we stood in the dark talking to the campground owner about his family. He was a former Marine sniper who lived at the campground with his wife and children. He and his family were deeply committed to their Christian faith and were a homeschool family as we once were. I think we were able to encourage him in their family's journey. On our final morning, we rode to town one last time and dropped our bags off at a shipping business and took our bicycles to Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop to have them packaged and shipped back home. One more shuttle ride back to camp to meet Eric, the campground owner, as he had offered to personally drive us to the airport to catch our plane off Mt. Desert Island. No more pedaling and no more porta pots. What a unique flight to Boston as we looked out the windows at the hundreds of islands that dotted the coastline. How in the world did the early travelers ever find their way around? How in the world did we make it to Bar Harbor?


Posted by BTAdventures30 03:17 Comments (2)

Crossing the Green and White Mountains

Vermont and New Hampshire Crossing

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Our first stop in Vermont was the town of Middlebury. The town was just 25 miles from Crown Point Bridge that carried us across Lake Champlain into Vermont. Middlebury seemed like a name we had heard of a lot, but couldn't remember why. As we entered town and climbed the steep hill, Middlebury College greeted us with its regal stone buildings that told you it had been there a long time, the year 1800 to be exact. It is considered to be one of the "little ivies" and boasts a liberal arts education on the level with the big Ivy League institutions. You certainly see its impact on the town.

Like so many towns we have ridden through, this one has a river running through it, too. A beautiful waterfall is right there in the middle of town with a city park built next to it. The common evolution from a source for the local grist mill to power generation we found in so many towns was true of that river, too. Since we had started riding late that day (spent morning in Fort Ticonderoga), we didn't have too many miles left in us and looked hard for a place to camp for the night. Nothing to be found, so we decided we would eat dinner at the local food co-op and head on. It would be "stealth camping" tonight along a trail we would find about 10 miles down the road, a few miles up from the base of the famed "Middlebury Gap" mountain pass. This was the first mountain we would encounter that was part of the Green Mountains. This few mile section had a piece of it with an 18% grade, maybe the steepest of the trip.


What a night! The rains came in overnight and we had pitched the tent across a mountain rode with 2 wheel lanes of gravel and grass in the middle. Sherie's side of the tent bottom was beginning to get wet by morning and we discovered that a stream of water had been running directly under her side of the tent. We were trapped in the tent by rain until about 7:30. We got out; hurriedly packed up and started a 3 mile ride up the steep mountain to the nearest place for coffee, something baked and shelter at the Ripton Country Store. As we waited for the owner to get the coffee brewing and sat on the front porch, a local man engaged us with conversation about our trip, his choice to retire in Vermont just up the road, and the various things that lay ahead on this road. Jerry shared that his proudest cycling accomplishment was riding in and helping to organize last year's World Naked Bicycle Ride in Montpelier, the capital city of Vermont. If we had ever doubted we were in a different world, now all doubt was over. He told us that immediately after finishing the ride, he was interviewed by a television reporter who asked him where he kept his cell phone.


The pathway up Middlebury Gap continued on and we soon passed the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College, where each summer there is a graduate class on writing. What many people know, though we did not, is that Robert Frost was a faculty member of that college and lived in this area. There is a trail just off the road we were riding that had excerpts from his poems posted along the trail path. It was still raining slightly as we passed by, so we confess we were not feeling poetic enough to stop.

You know you are in trouble when you are climbing a mountain and you are seeing references to ski slopes. When that happens, you know you have more climb left than you want. Then, when you see the slopes, you are encouraged because you know you are nearing the top of your climb. Mid-afternoon around 1:30 - 2:00 pm seems to be the time we often find lunch and on this day, it would be in the town of South Royalton. No joke, rolling into this town I sort of felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone. It kind of just pops up from nowhere and has this old fashioned feel, with a law school on the edge of the town and a lot of college age people milling about and the feeling I was getting was this might be one of the more liberal, or "progressive" as some say, places we had been.

Vermont is not wide at the place we were crossing, so we reached the edge of the state at North Thetford on the 2nd day. We had wonderful Warmshowers hosts for the night with Tom and Paula. This was the 3rd time we had stayed with folks who were simultaneously hosting college age baseball players who were away from home playing in summer leagues. Tom and Paula were cyclists and their Vermont home was so beautiful and comfortable. They really cared for us well and sent us out the next morning to cross into New Hampshire with good information and encouragement that the end of our trip was in sight.


Traveling north up the state line and rivers edge to the bridge across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. We both really love seeing the New England style architecture as we ride through these states. Even in the countryside, you see the most lovely homes dating back to the early 1800's. In New Hampshire, the love-hate relationship would be with the White Mountains. After 45 miles or so of climbing and descending, we would reach the town of Lincoln, which lay at the foot of the "Kanc", as the locals call it. It is part of the Kancamagus Highway and has a 12 mile continuous climb to the summit. OUR LAST MOUNTAIN PASS OF THE TRIP! It was actually an enjoyable climb with a grade that was manageable for us with the exception of a steep final 1 mile or so. I have to be honest here, as we neared the top, I (Brad) began to get emotional. We had crossed so many mountains that mountains seemed to be just part of lives. The thought of no more mountains was a little overwhelming. Stopping to pose for selfies at the top by the summit sign, we met Julie from North Carolina. Julie was traveling by car, alone for two weeks, camping along the way. Julie was 57 and she told us the travel bug bit her while she was a foreign exchange student in high school in the Netherlands. Ever since, she has travelled as much as a month a year and has seen 88 countries so far. She wants to reach 100 and we think she will.

Down the long descent into Conway, New Hampshire was a beautiful coast along multiple rivers. The rivers in these parts contain well-worn, round granite boulders that are sometimes pink. We determined to take a rest day at Conway after 9 straight days of riding and really enjoyed the area going to outdoor stores and during one of the nights we stayed in a hotel and watched Olympics. Again, we were on a state line and about to cross into our final state, Maine.

Posted by BTAdventures30 12:07 Comments (1)

The Empire State - New York

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When you think of New York, as a state, what comes to mind? Prior to this adventure and having only been in the state twice in my lifetime, I was left to thoughts of tall buildings (the Empire State Building), 911 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Towers, Central Park, and maybe Niagara Falls. For me, my thoughts are now different. We were in New York State for 9 days, which is the longest amount of time we spent in any state.
Sherie was initially unaware that our route would take us to Niagara Falls and didn’t know until we were about halfway across the country. We both looked forward to our arrival there and it represented a significant milestone on our trip. Just being in New York meant we were in the “east” and in a state that touched the Atlantic Ocean. The route to Niagara carried us through Buffalo, NY and along the coastline of Lake Ontario and along the Niagara River with Canada just across the water.

Figuring out where you are going to sleep at night is one of the daily decisions you get tired of making. In Niagara, we stayed at the Gorge View Hostel, our first hostel stay of our life. The location was great, just walking distance from the falls. During our 2-night stay, there were people from 9 countries that passed through the hostel and we had opportunity to interact with some of them. The downside of a cheap night of sleep is we were sharing a room with 4 others, everyone on bunk beds. The others might just show up after you were already asleep, causing you to awake again. Niagara Falls is known as the honeymoon destination and we saw people from wedding parties around the falls. But, we would not recommend staying in a hostel during your honeymoon.

The day of our arrival, we stocked up on groceries and later after dark went down to the falls to see the “Illumination”, as it is called. Powerful colored LED lights shine on both the American Falls and the Canadian Falls. The next day, it was raining until well after lunch. But, what’s a little rain? We rode our bikes down the rode a mile to the Underground Railroad Museum. The area played a significant role in the road to freedom from slavery for thousands. At the time, many people in western New York were sympathetic to slaves and actually assisted or chose to keep quiet to authorities. In the afternoon, we boarded the Maid of the Mist and travelled up the Niagara River toward the falls. No question about it, it was worth the time and money.


Leaving Niagara we intersected with the Erie Canal, riding along the Canal Way Trail for part of two days. This is something we had only heard about in history class and now we’re experiencing it. Next we began to enter the hills of Adirondack National Park. This is where my thoughts of New York State begin to be transformed. Our days were filled with beautiful rides along rivers, like the Moose River and beside beautiful lakes. One of our favorite places was Long Lake, where we stayed in a hotel built in the 1800’s along the shore and watched planes with pontoon landing gear taxi around the lake.


Prior to traveling along the Moose River, we took the advice of a local restaurant owner and went to the “Brown Barn” to camp. Such a unique experience as the owner had us put our tent up inside the barn, which had been converted to an event center. So, we kind of had a “glamping” experience with access to the event center resources like a kitchen.


Our last night in New York was in the town of Ticonderoga, just on the eastern border of the state on Lake Champlain. We spent the morning on the day we left touring Fort Ticonderoga with its military history dating back to before the Revolutionary War. Our plan had been to take a ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont. But, just before reaching the town we learned the ferry was not operating. The backup plan was to cycle up the lakeshore 10 miles to Crown Point, NY and cross at the nearest bridge, then making our way to Middlebury, Vermont.

In a surprising and unexpected way, New York has been one of our favorite states. We learned Upstate New York residents are much like Southern Illinois residents. They do not relate to the urban areas, like New York City, and would like to break with that part of the state. In New York, local property taxes go to support statewide programs. Per the motel owner that spoke with us, rural folks are unhappy that 70% of their taxes go to social services, which are highly concentrated in the urban areas.

Posted by BTAdventures30 19:33 Comments (0)

Three States in One Day

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From casual observation, crossing from Michigan to Ohio marked an immediate improvement in economic conditions. We happened to be riding during wheat harvest and one barn caught our attention with the message of remembering 911. Nearing Huron, OH trying to find the address of our warm showers host, we stopped at the home of a women with her two grandsons on bicycles in the driveway. After giving us some direction, I inquired about churches in the area. She immediately offered to pick us up the next morning for church.


At the end of the river road for our warm showers hosts was a cheering section awaiting our arrival. Lance and Pam invited us to stay an extra day to rest. We enjoyed hearing about Lance's bike tour from Huron to California and learning a new card game called golf. Pam took us into Huron on Sunday afternoon for a brief tour of the town, with a distant view of Cedar Point Amusement Park where she works. She also treated us to coffee from the local café. This stay taught us that in spite of challenges, people continue do good in the world.



Much of our time this week was spent following the shore line of Lake Erie. It was lined with beautiful and often extravagant homes. In Geneva-on-the-Lake we finally got the opportunity to try walleye at Sandy Chanty; It was delicious. In the same day, we crossed from Ohio travelling through the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, stopping for lunch overlooking the bay in Erie, and camping just across the New York State line by the end of the day's ride. Another unexpected treat was the view from our campsite and a refreshing dip in Lake Erie.

Starting in Pennsylvania and continuing into New York were approximately 20 miles of vineyards. Due to increased rain and difficulty finding camping in convenient places along the route, we have found ourselves in motels more often. In the Orchard Park suburb of Buffalo we stayed next to the Buffalo Bills stadium. From here we ride to Niagra Falls.


Posted by BTAdventures30 15:53 Comments (0)

From the USS Badger to the Buckeye State

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One of the highlights of our trip was our friends Ed and Anita meeting us in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on July 3rd. They tracked us down at the laundromat. Strange place to meet friends, huh. As we rode into the last town in Wisconsin that we would see on this trip, our first destination was the YMCA, where we were able to take a shower and change clothes before finding a place to eat that night with Ed and Anita. Manitowoc has a rich naval history as submarines for WWII were built there. There is a submarine docked there for tours next to the Maritime Museum.

Ed and Anita drove their car on the USS Badger ferry and we crossed Lake Michigan (4 hours) to Ludington, Michigan where we would watch fireworks together over the lake that night. Ed was so excited to see fireworks this year! Fireworks are late in the north and you have to stay up late to catch them.


On the ferry ride over the lake, we met another touring cyclist, Gin. Gin is a 20 year old junior in college and we were able to camp with her one night and have a great pizza together. When she was 18, she walked the length of the United States, taking 9 months. She has finished her bike ride by now as Detroit was her destination. After pizza, we were able to listen to a group of musicians in the Osceola County Fairground Campground. It was an annual gathering of dulcimer players. Our first two days in Michigan included many miles on rails to trails, both paved and crushed stone. The primary trail was the Pere Marquette Rail Trail.

Our ride is taking us to several of the Great Lakes. After leaving the shores of Lake Michigan, we went straight east to Lake Huron and camped at Bay City, very near the water. You feel compelled to swim in these lakes, so Sherie and gave it a whirl. Not so nice......the lake water literally stunk and had algae floating everywhere in it. We waded up to our necks, but neither of us wanted to dunk our heads under and get algae in our hair, nose or ears. That night, it rained over an inch, but our tent kept us dry. We broke camp very early and rode to Panera Bread for a great breakfast. There are always folks that want to ask what we are doing and at breakfast we met, Jack, an 85 year old cyclist. He had his knee replaced 6 times and had now converted to a hand powered tricycle. The day before he had ridden 46 miles and in the last 6 years, he has ridden 44,000 miles. People, there are no excuses for a sedentary life! Leaving Bay City, we crossed the Saginaw River via another trail system as we headed south. A female cyclist stopped to speak with us as we exited the Saginaw bridge; she aske, "Are you on a great adventure?" It was a good reminder that even after 69 days into it, we really are still on a "Great Adventure," and to treat it as such.


Sometimes you get wonderful surprises that are completely unexpected and this happened in Michigan. While cycling we came upon the town of Frankenmuth, founded by a group of Bavarian immigrants in the middle 1800's. We pulled into the parking lot of a magnificent Evangelical Lutheran Church built in the 1860's by these people. If you can zoom in on the picture enough to read the mission statement of the church, do take a look at it. The church offered self-guided tours, basically letting you go into the sanctuary. It was inspiring to say the least. My description would not do it justice, so I won't try. But, tears came to my eyes as I looked at the craftmanship and story of Christ and the gospel as told through the stained glass windows. All I could think say was, "He is Worthy!" Leaving the church feeling like we had the best of the day behind us, we soon found ourselves in the middle of a tourist area that reminded us of the Epcot Center at Disney, except more like the real thing. Brad was able to purchase freshly cut blue cheese from a Cheese Haus, we enjoyed a German meal and accordion music before we left.

Our plan was to reach Flint, Michigan that night, which we did. But, we found ourselves riding through very bad parts of town, with GM car plants that told the story of days gone by. Then, the RAIN! Our last 45 minutes were in a downpour and Sherie cannot see well when it is raining. She is kind of riding blind. We were soaked to the bone and happy to stay in our $50 per night hotel. "Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet." We will let you decide if it was Bob Dylan who first said that or not.

Our route took us through Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we were blessed by being able to stay with our Warmshowers hosts, Michael and Kelly. They were world travelers and had cycled through Ireland, which Sherie and I would like to do someday. Seems like Michael had cycled on about every continent. He was a retired chemist/scientist from a pharmaceutical company and we learned much about the COVID-19 vaccines, which gave us a lot to think about. Kelly[s occupation involved researching patents. Really nice people.

Ohio was just one day's ride away. As always, we were happy to reach another state and as we entered Sylvania, our cell phones both welcomed us to Ohio!

Posted by BTAdventures30 20:52 Comments (0)

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