In an Odd Spot

16 07 2015

It’s been a week since we left our “coast to coast” trip to be with Ken’s mom. She has improved enough to be moved to a regular ward,  but is still very ill and fragile.  We recognize there is no way we can pick up where we left off and wish to remain close to home. This year’s ride is over.

This puts us in an odd spot.

We have no responsibilities or obligations outside of family.  Neither of us has a job requiring our attention.  We are living in our trailer,  on our lawn,  while the people we loaned our house to continue to look for a more permanent home.  Since I wasn’t expecting to be here yet,  my pottery shop remains idle while I wait for my head to stop spinning.

We’re doing our best to make a difficult situation more positive and have decided to participate in the MS bike ride from Grand Bend to London next weekend, July 25 & 26.  It’s a ride we’ve done before; we’ve always been impressed with the level of organization.  Besides being a good cause to support, it’s a fun ride; I’m hoping it will help us transition from cycle life to real life.


If you would like to support us in this, I’ve enclosed the links for both myself and for Ken. Of course, cheques and cash can be given to us, we’d love the chance to visit with you! 



As for next year……maybe we’ll do eastern Canada.


Just Say Thank You

11 07 2015

The call we’ve been dreading for the last several weeks arrived Thursday morning. “Your mom is really sick and you need to come home”.

We were just outside Thessalon,  ON, a small village with not much in the way of services,  but good cell phone reception. We had one contact,  the brother of a friend.  But a single phone call was all it took.

Thank you to Jody,  a fellow long distance cyclist,  who could sympathize with what we were feeling and paid for our tea and butter tarts.

Thank you to the restaurant owner who let us hang out there for a couple of hours,  offered to store our bike and volunteered to find us a ride back to Sault Ste Marie.

Thank you to the customer in the restaurant who offered us a ride to where we needed to go.

Thank you to Craig and Beth, who went above and beyond.  Picking us up,  storing our bike, lending us their car and not worrying about when they’d get it back, offering to bring our bike and gear to southern Ontario on their next trip.

Thank you Glenn and Esther,  for returning the borrowed car and bringing bike and gear home.

Thank you to all those who offered us a place to stay while our house sitters are still there.

Thank you Tim and Karen for graciously sharing space.

It’s difficult to express the range of emotions we feel,  but we do know that at this time,  our place is with family.


8 07 2015

I’ve been asked a few times if we’re ahead of schedule.  It’s a hard question to answer.  When we started the trip, we only had one deadline.  We need to be back before August 15.


Picture taken by Gary, long distance cyclist we met along the way.

But being the somewhat organized planner I am, a route was mapped out and a schedule  was made.  I knew it had to be flexible and the expected arrival date of July 27 in Halifax was not going to happen.  On this trip there were too many unknowns to make any certain plans.

This is what we’ve got so far.  My original plans had us arriving in Sault Ste Marie on the 5th of July and taking a rest day. The revised plan has us arriving in Sault Ste Marie on the 8th, but we’re not taking a rest day.  I think that makes us two days behind the original schedule–a result of reworking the route so we didn’t put in so many long days in a row.

Looking into the future,  we plan to take 2 days when we reach Sudbury,  but there’s no point in taking a rest day in Ottawa (our daughter and her family have moved so there’s less reason to stop there). When we reach Montreal,  actually Brossard,  we’ll be 3 days behind the original plan.  After that,  we’re thinking of changing the route completely and not going through Maine,  but staying in Canada,  we think it will take us 2 days longer, but will be a nicer ride.

The new, expected date of arrival in Halifax is August 1. But still entirely flexible.

Tonight,  we are in Newberry, MI, our last night in the US. Yesterday was a shorter day and we did some touristy stuff in Munising. Beyond being tourists, we were so grateful we made it to our destination before it started to rain.

We’re both looking forward to being back in Canada.

Calculating Kilometers

5 07 2015

We’ve just finished 3 long days of cycling.  In the last 3 days we’ve covered over 400 km.  If you do the math that’s an average of 133 km. Whenever we have a day of over 100 km,  we try to break our  riding into manageable bits.


The first time to breathe a sigh of relief is when there are “only” 100 km left.  100 km is an average day,  we can do 100 km.

The more exciting goal is reaching 100 km.  That means we’ve only got 20-50 km left, should be easy.

At the same time,  we’re looking at how many kms are left.  If there’s only 60 km to go, that’s no more than a ride to the Miller Mall for ice-cream.  40 km left,  a Saturday morning ride for breakfast.  20 km,  a mere, quick trip to St. Helen’s and back, before supper.

In reality,  getting off the bike at the end of the day feels good, no matter how far we’ve gone.

Last night we spent a second night, in a row, in the tent.  We got into the middle of a small town 4th of July celebration,  even though we appreciated the welcome,  it made for a very short night.


Combined with crossing another time zone and losing an hour,  I’m really appreciating our private hotel room tonight.

Looking ahead,  we’ve got 3 easier days of riding,  then we’ll be back in Canada!

Slogging Along

3 07 2015

Today we began what feels like the “next leg” of the trip. This piece is from Duluth to Sault Ste Marie.  We feel like we’re jumping from one major center to the next,  at each spot evaluating whether we continue or head home to be with Ken’s mom. 

We arrived in Duluth the day before yesterday. After a harrowing ride down the hill into the downtown,  we checked into a Holiday Inn. It didn’t take us long to admit we were tired,  after twelve days straight of cycling we needed a break.  The hotel was happy us to have us stay an extra night,  so we did.  The extra day was spent exploring their waterfront in the morning and having a nap in the afternoon. 

Traffic in Duluth downtown can be a bit crazy, so we planned to leave as early as we could in the morning,  we even set an alarm for 6 am,  was ready to go at 7, and met our first  challenge at 7:45.  After consulting with the woman at the front desk of a random hotel, and the waitress at our breakfast place, it was clear.  The bridge we planned to take was closed. We had two choices.  Unsafe and illegal,  or huge detour.  We chose the detour,  adding an extra 20 km to the day.

When we finally got to the road we originally planned to take,  there was a sign prohibiting pedestrians and cyclists.


This time, we went with illegal.  It never occurred to us we would not be allowed to use the same highway we’ve been following since Grand Forks.  I guess Wisconsin has not considered long distance cyclists, and why would they,  the only other long distance cyclists we’ve met have all been Canadian.

We’re camping tonight,  in the of town of Ashland. Every hotel is full because of the July 4th holiday. The weather is fine,  so I’m OK that,  but I don’t understand why the RV park, gets showers (these huge units have showers) and the tent park does not have showers. I say  “not fair”. The lake was refreshing….

I’m feeling better about our day,  now that it’s almost over, and we’re sitting in a lovely restaurant, but I will admit,  the start of the day has to be one of the low points of this trip. 

Musings in a Laundromat

30 06 2015

We are traveling light. Not sure if you’ve noticed,  but we are wearing the same clothes over and over again. But we still like to start the day with clean clothes. It’s especially important to start the day with clean bike shorts.  If you didn’t know,  one does not wear underwear under bike shorts, anything to prevent chafing! So, to prevent all kinds of nasty situations,  you want them to be clean when you pull them on in the morning.

The laundromat is our friend and we’ve seen all kinds on this trip.  Classy ones with coffee bars, simple ones in hotels,  in some places, machines dedicated to oily work clothes,  dirty ones, clean ones,  expensive and not so expensive. The one we used this afternoon, was not one of the best.  In an obviously poor part of town,  the place was shabby and not very clean. It smelled of poverty.


I couldn’t help but think of those who use a laundromat, regularly.  Those who either can not afford a machine at home, or have no space for one. The hassle of dragging dirty clothes, towels and linens to the laundromat.  The dreariness of the place.  The expense, as the machine swallows precious quarters.

We continue to make progress.  Last night were in Bemidji, MN. We chose to stay in a cabin that was advertised as “historic”.


I will now interpret that as “shabby, old,  crooked”.  In spite of the town drama surrounding Paul Bunyan, ( we found Bemidji to be one of the friendliest towns we’ve stayed in.

Tonight we are in Grand Rapids. Not the holy mecca of the Christian Reformed Church,  but Grand Rapids,  MN. A lovely b&b.


Ken’s odometer passed the 4000 km mark today,  but my GPS tracker only had us at about 3900 km. Not sure which one is closer to being right.

Shadows and Clouds

28 06 2015

Scenery changes very slowly when you travel by bicycle. It feels like it was a long time ago that we left the mountains;  it feels like we’ve been traveling in flat country for a long time. Sometimes the only thing to look at is the shadow of the clouds as it plays with the green of the field.

There has been another shadow on this trip.  Ken’s mom is not well.  We keep in frequent touch with home,  we’ve put a roaming plan on our phone so our familiar number will work in the US, we count days of travel between major centers where car rentals and airports are available.  So far,  we’ve been encouraged to keep going,  if we’re needed, they’ll call.  But it’s hard being so far away,  on an adventure, when all is not well.

We’ve talked about sending our camping gear home, good thing we didn’t.  Two nights ago, in the town of Grafton, all the hotel rooms were booked.  It was Summerfest. Even though we had to tent it, it was worth it.  There was a rib fest in the evening and a pancake breakfast in the morning.  We were certainly well fed!


We spent the next night in Grand Forks,  where our bike got some love and attention at the Ski and Bike Shop.  They even fed us lunch!


Threads are showing through!

Another new back tire and some minor adjustments and it’s good to go.  We stocked up on inner tubes and feel we can tackle the roads with confidence again. We had supper at a really good pizza place and even spent some time walking by the Red River and listening to a freebie blues concert. All that inbetween rain and stormy weather.


Red River floods

Today,  we crossed into Minnesota and began traveling on Hwy #2. A road with very wide shoulders, sometimes even in good shape. 


Minnesota, home of Paul Bunyan and the Green Giant.

We arrived in Fosston, convinced we were going to camp.  The municipality has a small campground, and with a $5 cost, it was hard to go any where else.  So,  we picked out a place,  and did some exploring to find the bathroom. The bathroom is apparently shared with the municipal road workers, and it looks it.  The Super 8 is just up the road,  the kind woman at the desk upgraded us to the king suite, just so there would be room for our bike.  I feel like I’m living in the lap of luxury.