Tuesday, 31 August 2010

To-Ron-ToToTo, To-Ron-ToTo

We spent the day chilling out, buying a few bits and pieces that we’ve needed for a while but which you can only find in a big city, getting through a bit of admin, and then eating a yummy meal in Golden Thai, just a block from the hotel. We’re liking Toronto… a lot!

Us x

Monday, 30 August 2010

So far, so cool, so close, yet still so far

Yesterday as planned, we cycled 62 miles into Burlington, so that today’s ride into Toronto would be a short 37 miles, giving us plenty of opportunity to enjoy the views along the lake shore and cycle without urgency. Consequently, our breakfast this morning was very relaxed, so relaxed that we didn’t even have the routes programmed into Margaret and GaGa! Fortunately we were lucky enough to meet Jeff and Alisa over breakfast, who informed us of the Waterfront Trail: a route designed for cyclists and pedestrians with a desire to steer their way around the perimeter of Lake Ontario, and a route that they had followed the day before from Toronto to Burlington. Following their advice, we jumped aboard Trusty and Steed and headed North East on the Waterfront Trail toward Anthony’s favourite city in the world.

It was a very hot and humid day today and ‘sweating profusely’ was on the menu. So much sweat in fact that, half way through the ride, we decided to take ourselves off the beaten track and navigate our way through the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area toward an open bit shoreline on the lake. 30 minutes later, we emerged from the Wood and onto a secluded sandy beach. Before you could say “I’m so hot and sweaty I think there’s a Jacuzzi in my belly button”, we had ripped off our clothes behind a nearby tree, carefully avoiding any accusations of lewd conduct, donned our swimwear and dived head first into Lake Ontario. We swam around for about 15 minutes then hung ourselves out to dry before returning to cycling attire.

Rejuvenated, we made our way back onto Lake Shore Drive for a short 10 mile ride along the main road before getting back onto the dedicated shoreline boulevard that took us all the way into Toronto without a single vehicle in sight …very nice.

We arrived at the Cambridge Suites Hotel (Anthony’s favourite hotel in the world) and, being Kat’s first time in Toronto, she was very happy with what she saw. With lots of time before dinner, we chilled out in our room for a while before heading out to see what was new and interesting in the city. It didn’t take long. 2 blocks from our hotel we found ‘South of Temperance’, a new restaurant that had been open for all of 10 weeks. Gotta say, the food, atmosphere and service were perfect. Thanks to Tom the co-owner and Kate our lovely waitress, we had a great night.

More rest tomorrow.

Us x

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Lake Ontario

A better start to the day is hard to imagine. Anthony woke to find the Belgian Grand Prix on the TV, Lewis Hamilton taking the lead right from the start of the race, and then winning it – go Lewis! Kat found herself able to sleep an extra 90 minutes without being told it was time to get up and, save for a few shrieks and yelps (especially when the safety car was sent out) leading to a few strange dreams, it was all very peaceful and quite a treat.

It was pretty difficult for us to turn our backs on the Falls as we set off today. A view like that should be enjoyed for as long as possible but, without eyes in the back of our heads, we had to set out North and console ourselves with the fact that we were headed towards Niagara-on-the-Lake, reputably the prettiest town in Ontario. We were not disappointed. It’s a cool little place, full of chic little shops, cafes, restaurants etc, and has an amazing view of the Niagara River as well as Lake Ontario.

Stopping to top up with liquid, we met Troy and Ian, who own Customs House Cigars in NOTL. We had a great chat with them, and while Troy gave us the contact details of the owner of the biggest bike shop in Toronto, Ian gave us a few tips for our route into Burlington, ON, which had the result of not only cutting around 8 miles off our 71-mile journey but also sending us right along a bike route, next to the Lake, and dropping us just outside our hotel - thanks guys!!

Heading along the bike route, we decided to leave the road and take try a bit of the off-road trail, and soon found ourselves in front of a gorgeous beach right on the shores of Lake Ontario: a perfect opportunity for us to bag our 5th and final Great Lake Paddle (see photos). While drying off, we bumped into Lorraine, the 2 cutie miniature schnauzers that she was looking after, and some of her friends from the cycling club (a big hello to you all, ladies, we enjoyed meeting you). With a few more tips and details for our route (well, riding without a map for this bit, we can do with all the clarification we can get), we set off again, realising that we were running a little behind time…

Still, we rocketed along, and arrived at our hotel in Burlington by 6.30pm, which all in all was a bit of a triumph. The lovely receptionist, Gabriella, was such a sweetie and greeted us like old friends, also recommending a fantastic Thai restaurant across the street: Siam Dish. We ordered enough food to feed a small town, and promptly devoured it all. It was truly fabulous.

Now we’re chilling out in our room, plotting our route into Toronto tomorrow and watching a few of our favourite shows on TV.

Us x

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Wet n Wild

We reckon it’s fair to assume that in the average person’s lifetime, there aren’t many occasions when you witness something truly, jaw-droppingly magnificent. But on those rare occasions when we do experience a scene that words fail to eloquently describe, 90% of the time its likely to be a Natural World experience rather than a man-made one. However, this inevitability doesn’t stop our narcissism getting the best of us and our endless pursuit to build what we think is more beautiful, on top of natures efforts …often we get it so wrong. So here we are, with a selection of the other 28 million tourists that visit the Falls each year, and were wondering why, with such a beautiful 173ft high, 3600ft wide natural spectacle dumping 202,000 cubic feet of water per second, would anyone want to construct a Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Atlantic City, NJ) amusement park in mockery of such splendour!

Alas, we had to leave the sanctity of our ‘room with a view’ and venture outside into the chaos and disorder of downtown. But before doing so, we took a boat trip on the Maid of the Mist into the belly of the Falls and got very close up, personal and wet. Being so close to the immensely powerful water and getting soaked by the violent spray was awesome (we also met a lovely girl from London who is now living in upstate New York… Hi Meera). As difficult as it is to recount the beauty of water falls, finding the right words to describe downtown Clifton Hill, Falls Avenue and the ‘car crash’ of amusement parks, karaoke bars, fast food outlets and wax work exhibits that lined their kerbs is near impossible. The wax-works were the funniest… filled with Play-Doh figures crafted by the local 5th graders that resemble no-one (the only way you could distinguish the effigies of Tiger Woods from Michael Jackson was by the lines/queues of female tourists bending down in front of said figure #1, giggling hilariously whilst having their picture taken).

Dodging tourists in the manner of walking down Oxford Street or 5th Ave btw 55th & 59th, we found a little Jewel of India, a sanctuary where we could sit down and eat authentic Indian food in a peaceful environment. Needless to say, the restaurant was ¾ empty because it didn’t sell burgers and fries, but we had a great meal, poppadams-and-all, washed down with a couple of bottles of KingFisher.

Back on the road tomorrow ...ooh nearly forgot c'mon Lewis and well done the Arse!

Us x

Friday, 27 August 2010

Niagara Falls, ON

It was a tiddler of a ride from Buffalo, NY across the Peace Bridge into Ontario, Canada and on to the Niagara Falls (Canadian side). We knew it was only 24 miles or so, so we had a lie in and set off late. Yay!

The sun was shining as we pootled along on the Niagara Trail, a cycle path running alongside the Niagara River, and it was all very peaceful. As we approached the Falls area, we bumped into Jacqueline from Quebec who was doing a loop of the Niagara area and parked up her bike to have a quick chat and take a few photos. Hi Jacqueline! And then, as the river was getting more and more choppy and turbulent, we could suddenly see the mist rising up over the top of the falls. We were shocked but overjoyed to realise that we were going to be riding right next to the Horseshoe Falls, and from there, we could see the American Falls just across the river. For some reason, we thought that it would be a trek from the town to see what we wanted to see, but it was all there!

Nothing really prepares you for a sight like this. It’s so amazing that it almost doesn’t seem real. And being close up, you can actually see how clear the water is as it pours in torrents over the top and then transforms itself into a sea of white foam as it hits the bottom. And, of course, it creates a huge cloud of mist that turns into a big wide rainbow in the sunshine. Stunning.

We spent a little while with the bikes mesmerised by the view before decamping to our hotel for the night. Having done a bit of internet research, we decided to walk a mile to Koutouki Greek Cuisine for dinner. Those who know Anthony well will know that he is a bit of an aficionado when it comes to Greek food, and pretty much all things Greek. Well, he was blown away by the meal and pronounced it the best Greek food he had had outside of Greece. High praise indeed.

We returned to our room just in time to see the fireworks explode over the top of the Falls. Quite a spectacle. A rest day here tomorrow for a bit more oo-ing and ah-ing at the view.

Us x

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Buffalo Wings and Pink Champagne

As you all know we’re now back in New York, the Empire State. It’s strange for us to recall how we felt when we first set off from Manhattan excited, apprehensive and nervous about the road ahead, only now to laugh, smile and fondly reminisce about the journey travelled. Along the way from Dunkirk to here in Buffalo, NY we continue to meet a wide and diverse group of very interesting people, from gangs of kids screaming around on their bikes and hanging out at the local Subway to businessmen cruising the intersections on golf buggies during their lunch breaks, who upon hearing about our travels, ask us “What’s been your favourite place so far?” You would have thought that this question would be very easy to answer by now, but you’d be wrong. Worse still, being back in New York has put the last 10 months (exactly) into a euphoric haze of dreaminess. It’s so difficult for us to single out one specific moment that stands above all others. So to all those out there who want the answer to this obvious question …you’ll have to wait for the book release.

So, we’re nearly home and we’re constantly reminded of the common belief that successfully completing the last 20% of any given activity generally requires 80% of the effort. Physically, this has been true for Anthony as he has been cycling for the past two weeks with a very painful hernia (the cyclists among you may have noticed his average cadence has increased by 5-10 rpm’s) and every day tries not to let the prospect of completing the remaining 2,000 miles powered on ‘1 cylinder’ defeat him mentally. Kat on the other hand is full of beans! Looking forward to Toronto, NYC avec des amis and getting back to Le Crouch End et Soozy Q, and consequently has been cycling along each day with a spring in her step and plenty of gas in the tank …Anthony feels emasculated that he can no longer keep up with her.

Tonight we’re back in a metropolitan city; Buffalo, that sports many wine bars, clubs, restaurants and gentlemen’s clubs. We decided to only take part in the restaurant scene tonight! Fortunately, we’re not having a rest day here, because we’ve heard that hernias and Gentleman’s Clubs don’t mix! Anyway, tonight’s meal was divine; we treated ourselves to a pink fizz aperitif and a limóncello digestif in recognition of successful completion of the loop from New York to New York via San Diego and Portland Oregon.

Before signing off tonight we must say a big thanks to Alison S and Dave & Fran (see you in NYC with the TMGPCH’s) for the generous donations. Niagara Falls tomorrow… we can hardly contain ourselves.

...don't forget to check out the new photos in the New York and Pennsylvania albums

Us x

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

We Will Paddle with them on the Beaches

Today we have reached our Dunkirk. Dunkirk, NY that is. Yes, after a 50-mile ride from Erie PA, we are back in the State in which we started our trip, though we still have a way to go.

We must begin by thanking Chris from the lovely B&B where we stayed last night in Erie: The George Carroll House. We had a lovely chat with Chris over breakfast during which she printed out some details of a nearby beach for us so that we could go and dip our toes in Lake Erie, and also made a generous donation to MS. Thanks Chris.

And then we were on our way in the heat of the day, but blissfully with the wind on our backs. After a quick detour down to the beach, a paddle in Lake Erie, and a bit of skimming stones on the lake, we were back on the road again and crossing the state line into New York… a very strange feeling.

The last part of the day was a bit of an adventure. We had decided to leave it to the Gamines to plot our last few miles of the day, guiding us from the ACA route to our hotel. They did quite well to start off with, taking us down a lovely long straight road with minimal traffic and a bridge over the Interstate. Good work ladies! Then into a quiet residential neighbourhood and over a bridge… ah, a bridge that is closed!! With our usual disregard for such signs, and seeing that there was actually some sort of a structure there spanning the river, albeit one that had obviously only just been covered with concrete and where sprinklers were in operation to prevent the concrete drying out too quickly, we decided to risk it. We’re hoping that we didn’t leave 2 sets of footprints and a couple of tyre marks (actually, we know we didn’t as the concrete was already fully set but we naughtily chuckled at the thought) and we reached the other side without incident. Still, we’re not sure the workers would have been very pleased had they seen us.

Next, the Gamines took us right through the middle of the University. Laughing at how Margaret and GaGa were probably looking around saying “Young maaan, oooh young man”, we pedalled on, feeling very out of place, but grateful for the lack of traffic and interesting surroundings.

We reached our hotel in good time and resigned ourselves to dining in the Applebee’s next door… a bit different to last night’s extravaganza. Buffalo tomorrow.

Us x

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Public Announcement!

On October the 25th 2009, day 1 of 1 we arrived in New Hope, PA. And guess what? Today, day 204 of 304 we’re back in PA. That’s right, who would have believed that after such a seemingly short time, just 11,500 miles later we’re back in Pennsylvania, and tomorrow we’ll be back in New York State. But before prematurely getting our hopes up, we still have 6 states and roughly 2,000 miles to go before completing this Epic Journey in NYC, where we’ll be celebrating our achievements with the TMG’s and the PCH’s …can’t wait!

Getting back to today’s events. We left the unbelievably great hospitality of Lu, Jerry and Lyndsey of the Eagle Cliff Inn, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio this morning. Feeling privileged to have spent time with such a lovely group of people and of course having a great breakfast of eggs sausages, muffins and fresh fruit, we were in moods for today’s ride. Also, a big thanks for the very generous donation.

The ride out of Geneva-on-the-Fake (its nothing like Lake Geneva) was great. The temperature was cool and refreshing (helped by a few clouds in the sky) and the sun was shining with a gentle warmth. Making matters more idyllic were the 30 miles of Lake Shore roads. It’s interesting how the presence of water tends to attract wealth in America, and that’s not just because both words begin with the letter ‘W’, it’s because all the crappy food chains have yet to work out how to build floating ‘drive-thru’s or ‘all you can eat for $3’ food outlets. Once they figure out that conundrum, trailers and project housing will replace all the chic and exclusive 15-bedroom houses. True! So whilst the mechanics and economics of constructing floating buildings evade the likes of McDonalds, DQ, KFC, Hardies, Wendy’s and Sonic, we enjoyed cycling along the quiet tree-lined avenues of Erie, PA.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) our hours in the saddle have been pretty uneventful. No longer do we post pictures of striking colours, magnificent landscapes or wild animals going about their business; and we apologize for this. Today followed similar suit and our pictures consisted of the usual State Line snaps. However, we’re hoping that tomorrow we’ll bring some exciting pictures of us dipping our toes in Lake Erie …an event not to be missed!

Finishing the ride in downtown Erie, PA and arriving at our B&B, the George Carroll House, we freshened up and made our way to the Bertrand’s Bistro. A local French restaurant, which in our view scores 9½ out of 10 for atmosphere, food, wine, service and value for money. We chatted at length with Alison our server who is also a very talented artist and Bertrand the owner who is originally from Orléans (that’s in France not Louisiana) and has been running the only French Restaurant in the city for over 8 years …wishing you all the best Bertrand and thanks for the Ricard or two.

Feeling Excited.

Us x

Monday, 23 August 2010


We woke this morning to the gentle pitter-patter of rain falling on the rooftops outside our window. It’s a sound that we only like to hear on rest days. And when we switched on The Weather Channel and found that, not only would we likely have some rain showers today, but we would also be treated to a headwind of 15-25 mph, we were distinctly underwhelmed about the day ahead of us.

The lovely breakfast crew at the Holiday Inn Express did their best to cheer us up. Especially Shelia, a great lady with whom Kat bonded straight away, when Kat told her that her mum is called Shelia, and found that Shelia’s mother was called Kat. And then we met the general manager, David, the same name as Kat’s Dad. Spooky, but true. And after following down the coincidences with a bowl of raisin bran and a couple of bagels, we were feeling much more like tackling the day.

We were back onto the urban trail for the 57-mile ride out of Cleveland, OH and into Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH. After so many days of glorious countryside, we have found it quite tough dealing with the traffic and dodgy road surfaces that seem to go hand-in-hand with the ‘burbs of most major cities. It’s a predictable formula though. We leave the glitz and hubbub of downtown. We pedal (quickly) through an industrial and slightly run-down area, and then all of a sudden we are in the posh area of town. In this case it was called Lakeshore Drive. It consisted of mega-million dollar house after mega-million dollar house, each in an individual style and inspired by a different period of history. It was an eclectic collection. Then all of a sudden we were on the “wrong-end of Lakeshore Drive” and it was back to McDonalds, Convenience Stores and pedalling quickly again.

You can also tell when you are moving from a challenged neighbourhood into a moneyed area by what you see on the ground. Moving into the new zone, all of a sudden you find a smooth, well-marked bike lane with the odd golf tee tossed nonchalantly towards the kerb, presumably out of the window of a soft-top sports car. Look behind you, and you will see a rough pothole ridden pavement, littered with broken bottles of beer that you have been dodging around just minutes earlier. Oh the joys of our trip!

Anyway… having battled against the headwind all day, dodging rainclouds for the most part, we were overjoyed to arrive at our B&B, The Eagle Cliff Inn, where Jerry was an absolute star, finding us a safe place for Trusty & Steed to rest for the night, and then upgrading us from the cute little room we had booked to a beautiful suite with a 4-poster King bed. Thanks Jerry (and his wife Lu, whom we haven’t met yet).

We weren’t so lucky with dinner. Finding restaurant after restaurant serving fried food, we found ourselves in a winery, which actually had quite decent wine, but a menu and seating configuration that was so confused that it really could have done with Gordon Ramsay to give it a huge kick up the backside.

Ordering burgers (the best of a bad bunch), and munching our way through the tortilla chips and dip that accompanied them (why?), we were alarmed to find that the live music seemed to have been switched with the Karaoke advertised on the billboard next door. At least it sounded like that anyway. But worse, just as Anthony was knuckle deep in a mess of ketchup and mustard, we heard it: dicka deedee dee dee dee dee dee, dicka deedee dee dee dee dee dee… the distant sound of duelling banjos. As a reflex action, Anthony kicked off his well-worn flip-flops and checked his escape route. But luckily it was all over quickly, and we were back to New York, New York and a substandard effort at Eric Clapton’s Layla, and then we managed to escape.

Walking back along the “strip” with Anthony trying to divert Kat’s attention from the amusement arcades, a role that Kat’s sister used to play on family holidays, we were relieved to be back in our haven of a B&B.

It’s bye bye Ohio tomorrow, and hello Pennsylvania, for the second time on our trip. We must be getting close to home!

Us x

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Another relaxing day doing nothing

Well its still raining! Not wanting to have a repeat of yesterday’s involuntary confinement, we took a walk around downtown Cleveland at the first opportunity when there was a break in the wet weather. We wandered around the Tower City Shopping Centre and took a few photos of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Fortunately the rain didn’t return and we had a pleasant day out. Briefly returning to our hotel room we planned our route into Bar Habor, Maine and are now really excited about visiting all the choice locations along the way …especially Toronto!

We had a wonderful Sunday supper tonight and are now looking forward to getting back on the bikes tomorrow and burning some calories.

Us x

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Dull and Overcast in Cleveland

Not that we're complaining but we spent the whole day indoors. The weather was pretty bad outside, the wind was blowing hard and the rain just kept falling. It was wet and miserable and we ventured outside just the once, to eat at a fabulous Vietnamese restaurant around the corner. Hopefully better weather tomorrow.

Us x

Friday, 20 August 2010

A Cavalier Approach

Cleveland, Ohio. The second largest city in Ohio; home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; previous home to LeBron James, prior to his outrageous decision to defect to Miami; and the location for two whole rest days for us. We are cock-a-hoop!

It was a hot day for cycling the 51 miles through a veritable urban jungle into Cleveland, OH. Being a touch dehydrated from our little drinking session last night with our friends in Huron, and knowing that we could have been out on the water in their boat, with the wind in our faces, probably didn’t help our mental or physical well-being. Still, it was a surprisingly pleasant ride at times, with some glimpses of Lake Erie along the way, and then a wonderful view of the Cleveland Skyline and its huge lakeshore beach as we neared the city. And, of course, we had the thought of unpacking our panniers at the other end to keep us motivated.

Arriving at our hotel and telling Steve behind the desk what we are doing, we found ourselves being upgraded to a Jacuzzi suite with a lovely polished wooden floor, a fantastic view across the city, and lots of room to spread out – thanks Steve.

Our Huron friends had also recommended a trip to Sushi Rock at some point in our stay. Rather than hang around, after a quick wash and brush up, we headed straight there and gorged ourselves on lots of delicious sushi, edamame and miso soup. Thanks for the tip, guys!

Rain forecast tomorrow, so we might be forced to have a lie in!

Us x

Thursday, 19 August 2010

It’s a bit Erie around here

It was a longish ride today from Bowling Green to the town of Huron located on the south shore of Lake Erie, but the wind was with us, making the 68-mile ride feel relatively comfortable and stress free.

The most memorable part of today was meeting Hayley, Steve, Dawn and Matt at the local hot-spot, I-5's. A Caribbean restaurant situated on the boardwalk in the corner of the Marina at the mouth of the Huron River and Lake Erie that played authentic country and western music all night long! As we sat outside with our new found friends sipping beer, wine and hard liquor, animatedly talking about all those subjects which are considered taboo or ‘un-PC’ in America …you know, politics, ethnicity, rubber, latex, marriage, media, religion, alcohol, parenting, education, studded dog collars, etcetera etcetera the night stealthily moved towards midnight. We sensibly realised it was time for bed and said our good nights, sorry that we wouldn’t be able to accept their kind offer to join them on their boat tomorrow morning for a relaxing day on the lake. Hayley, Steve, Dawn, Matt, it was great meeting you.

Us x

P.S. Sorry for not posting a Blog yesterday. Our hotel claimed to have free Internet access but it wasn’t working.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Bowling Green, Ohio

If you thought the name of yesterday’s stopping point was cool, we think tonight’s is even better. It conjures up images of a perfectly smooth lush green square, and perhaps Sir Francis Drake strutting his stuff. We’re not really sure where the name came from, but Bowling Green itself is a hopping little town, with a huge student population and a really nice feel to it.

It was a good cycling day today for our 49-mile ride from Defiance, OH. A little cooler than the constant heat that we have been facing of late and, despite the threat of showers, the day just got better and better as it wore on. We set off fairly late after a yummy and hearty Hampton Inn breakfast, for which many thanks to Diane, who was on breakfast duty this morning. After pedalling back over the newly opened bridge (good job guys), we cycled many miles along the banks of the beautiful Maumee River through some more curiously named places including Independence, Napoleon and Grand Rapids. We’re not sure what it all means, but it keeps us chattering away for hours on our rides!

Talking of Grand Rapids, this is the 3rd one we have encountered on the trip so far, after the ones in Minnesota and Michigan. Although apparently once this spot boasted fierce, turbulent waters rushing downstream, you’ll see from our photos today that things have changed a little: Petite Calms might be more appropriate. Though it’s still a stunning spot. So much so, we decided to take our lunch break here and get an ice cream from Rita’s Dairy Bar. The ice cream was pretty good, but we can’t say much about the welcome… There was a sign up telling cyclists not to lean their bikes against the building or indeed anywhere else where they might actually be able to stand upright, though we were welcome to “lie them down on the grass”…nice! You’d think that if you get enough cyclists through to cause you to put up a permanent notice, perhaps you might instead think of getting a bike rack and putting up a sign saying “Welcome cyclists: please use the bike rack”. Still, perhaps that’s just too much to ask for.

Anyway… all was redeemed when we went for dinner tonight in Chipotle, Bowling Green, where we were given a warm greeting, and some seriously tasty food. Chipotle is one of those “fast food” chains that really gets it right: ethically sourced ingredients; a small but well-chosen menu; good prices; swift and professional yet friendly and courteous service; and really fresh, flavoursome and satisfying Mexican style food. The folk there were so sweet to us, refusing to take any cash from us for our second round of tacos and chips – thanks, you guys!!

So, we’re now chilling out in our room, rubbing our tummies and watching a bit of TV. More riding tomorrow.

Us x

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Defiance, Ohio

Indiana didn’t last long, just over 100 miles actually! Were now in Ohio after following a really peaceful ride along deserted county roads and under blue skies with big white fluffy clouds.

Before enjoying today’s events, we started with a philosophical breakfast this morning. Sitting around the breakfast table of LaSalle B&B in Fort Wayne, IN with the owners Rosie-Aimee & Clark Butler and a fellow guest Lynda (an antiques dealer from N’awlins who frequents the ‘shires of England to buy her Victorian treasures), we were privy to the sage reflections of Clark who is and has been a Professor of Philosophy for over 40 years. Needless to say, we fixed the issues concerning American federate policies and European Confederacy, identified the problems and inevitable downfall of the human race based on the exponential growth of the desire for instant gratification, predicted Arsenal FC were going to win the Premiership this season and of course Lewis Hamilton will be crowned F1 World Champion 2010.

With the world put to rights and satisfied with our hearty breakfast, we set off around 10:30 this morning. Despite a few short sections of extremely busy highway, we cruised the 53 miles to Defiance, OH at an average speed of 13.2mph. We didn’t meet any cyclists on the road but we did get chatting to a local Pastor who gave us his blessing …thank you local Pastor.

At one point in the ride, we thought we had been dropped into a low budget 1980’s horror movie! On a tranquil stretch of highway sandwiched between thick forest and a field of corn the size of Long Island, we cycled head on into a very large and angry swarm of Bees. With Kat emitting high pitched squeals and Anthony uncontrollably shouting BEES! BEES! BEES! BEES! we accelerated from 14mph to 26.4 mph in 2 seconds, just managing to escape the Wrath of B’s.

1 mile from our hotel the road was closed due to a Bridge Opening ceremony (cutting of the ribbon). Fortunately, the City Mayor and other dignitaries planned on making the grand opening at 4pm, giving us 20 minutes to scarper across the closed bridge before the TV crew switched on their cameras and Security tightened their grip on proceedings.

We made it to the hotel nice and early and had dinner in Buffalo Wild Wings, which was surprisingly quite nice.

Us x

Monday, 16 August 2010

Can We Get A Witness?

So that’s how they really do it… on our 68-mile ride from Shipshewana, IN to Fort Wayne, IN today, we rode away from the Amish town set up for the tourists, and witnessed some of the Amish in their day to day activities. It started when Kat asked an Amish guy at the gas station with a battery on the back powering his bike whether it charged up by dynamo as he pedalled along. He looked slightly bemused and then said quite plainly “No, I plug it into the mains at night”. And forget all that “pimp my carriage” stuff that we saw on Saturday with the tinted windows on the horse-drawn carriage. Today, we saw a couple of Amish guys in a Ford F-350, moving some farming equipment around! Still, we remain in favour of the whole thing. We had such a peaceful rest day, and everyone seemed so happy, it was pretty infectious.

It was a great day’s cycling through the farm roads and lanes of Indiana. The temperature was up there in the 80s but we were breathing a huge sigh of relief for the reduced humidity and the tail wind. Talking of which, as we rolled into the small town of Huntertown, we spotted Mike on the other side of the road, a lone tourist doing his own version of the Northern Tier from East to West … we haven’t seen many (if any) of those type around here… he must be getting a headwind every day, and we can’t even think about how he is going to feel about North Dakota. Reminds us a bit of ourselves on the Southern Tier!

Tonight we’re in one of Indiana’s big cities: Fort Wayne. It was pretty busy getting here in rush hour, and we’re hoping that our departure tomorrow morning will be a bit less frenetic. We had a good meal at a Ft Wayne institution tonight, Henry’s, just a few blocks from our B&B. Somehow our bodily cells, starved of alcohol for the last 2 days, found themselves soaking up the white wine like sponges, and before we knew it, we were 2 bottle of unoaked chardonnay down. Oops.

Oh well, we’ll be ready to face tomorrow’s ride into Ohio once we’ve had a hearty breakfast…

Us x

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Pizza

The problem with most non-cycling days is that they generally don’t provide enough material for an interesting blog! We like to have the odd uneventful day but realise it doesn’t make for a piece of literary genius. With that in mind, we are writing another short one.

Today we sent a few emails, planned our route into Buffalo, did some laundry and watched Tyler Perry movies on TV…very funny! Oh and one last thing! We had pizza for dinner and even sampled a Peanut Butter and Jelly Pizza …whose bright idea was that?

We’re setting off tomorrow morning for a longish ride into Fort Wayne, IN.

Still lovin’ y’all

Us x

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Shipshewana-Shape & Amish Fashion

We woke this morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after the best night’s sleep in a long time. It must have been the huge and insanely comfortable bed in our B&B. Ambling downstairs, we were treated to a delicious breakfast prepared by Terry and, while we were eating it, enjoyed talking with Lance, who is originally from North London, but grew up in the US, and is now a high-flying doctor here. Before we left, we chatted again with the lovely owners, Laurel and Terry. They packed us off with chocolate chip cookies, lashings of ice-cold lemonade, and a wistful tear in our eyes: we were sorry that we had to leave. Kalamazoo, and especially Kalamazoo House B&B …we likey a lot!

After yesterday’s journey, which was more like an 8-hour session of Bikram Yoga than a cycle ride, we were secretly pleased to find that it was overcast today and, as a result, considerably cooler. Following a brilliant route out of town suggested by Laurel and Terry, we tripped along a number of quiet roads and bike paths, before rolling over the state border into Indiana.

There was no grand welcoming sign or indeed any sign at all that we had left Michigan, save for the change from a lovely smooth road surface to one swirled with what we affectionately call “tacky tar”, since our tyres stick in it on hot days. We also realised that we were nearing Amish country when we started to see their eco-friendly, but not very bike-friendly, vehicle emissions splatted on the road! And then we saw our first horse and cart. It was no ordinary pony and trap though. This one had an enclosed cab with windows of blacked-out glass (no joke) and an extremely sleek thoroughbred upfront. After we had exhausted as many jokes as we could think of about Amish hip hop stars, excessively tinted windows and being pulled over by a horse-drawn vehicle where the horse has a flashing blue light on top of its head, we found ourselves at the end of our 52-mile jaunt and at our destination for tonight: the small and touristy, but seriously Amish town of Shipshewana, IN.

There’s something incredibly peaceful about an Amish town. Don’t get us wrong; there are still a few cars on the road, but in general it’s a procession of well-turned out horses and carts clip clopping past, the occupants seemingly incredibly happy and friendly, as we exchanged a lot of waves and nods both on our way into town on the bikes, and also en route to and from dinner.

Dinner was an interesting affair. We ate traditional Amish style, including a sampler plate of succulent slow-roasted beef, squealingly scrumptious ham and the most delicious fried chicken we have tasted (sorry Louisiana), all washed down with… a glass of iced water. Yes, as we expected, the whole town is “dry”. Still, with memories of our behaviour in Escanaba fresh in our minds, we figure that we can happily live without the grape and the grain for a couple of days. A rest day here tomorrow before we head off towards Ohio.

Us x

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday the 13th in Kalamazoo

Not since 26 July have we left before 10am to begin a cycling adventure. Well today we had to get back to being early birds because on this day, Friday 13th, we had over 80 miles to cover …and it was damn hot and insanely humid. So leaving our hotel at 09:54:58 we pointed our trusty steeds south and set off at a steady pace toward Kalamazoo (honestly, that’s not made up).

We passed through many quaint little villages along the way, no longer avoiding Chevy Trailblazers in fear of bumping into the resident serial killer, and just enjoying the people and places of Michigan. Being Friday the 13th, today could have been another difficult day, but for those of you who like to hear good tidings, we were smiling all day and felt even better when we met a guy called Tim, who said, quote “…every day is a good day”. Tim’s positivity strangely stayed with us, as when we stopped for a second rest 30 miles later, the lady in the shop provided us with free towels to dowse in cold water and wipe our faces …she was obviously shocked to see us bright red/deep purple and sweating with the heat.

The final few miles into Kalamazoo were energy sapping, but we made it to our comfortable B&B and were greeted by the owners Laurel & Terry, their assistant, Kim, and a spread of cheese & wine…perfect.

We had an awesome meal tonight at Epic Bistro and are now ready for bed. It’s going to be a warm and sticky night tonight!

Exhausted Us x

Thursday, 12 August 2010

A Blog for the Sake of a Blog

It was a short 34-mile ride today from Howard City, MI to Bedling, MI, where we are staying at a golf resort (!), it being the only accommodation for miles close to our route. It would have been a great ride: sunshine, no rain, light wind, no mechanical failures, were it not for the fact that we spent the whole day arguing! Still, that is part of the trip. Spending 24/7 together is not always easy.

One good thing that happened today was that we met a lovely man called Jon who, with his wife Katie, are running an organic small-holding, where they are self-sustaining and also sell quite a bit of chemical free produce. We were inspired by our discussion with Jon and pleased to find that there are these good people in the world doing amazing things.

Anyway… tomorrow is another day, and we will try to start that in a more positive light that we finish today.

Us x

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Another milestone reached, 11,000 miles!

Yes that’s right folk’s we have passed the 11,000-mile mark, and it wasn’t all that bad really.

We left the Day Star Motel and our hosts Tony & Lisa Zoulek late this morning, 11:48 am to be precise. We’re not quite sure why we have been making our rides more difficult than they need to be, of late. Maybe we’re just getting fitter and completing a 64-mile ride in less than 5 hours is now de rigueur for cyclists of our experience …or maybe we like to sleep a lot and getting out of bed is becoming more and more difficult as we pile on the miles!

Anyway, we managed to get out of bed, eventually, then headed SE toward Howard City into a very strong headwind, rolling up and over the many hills of the Manistee National Forest. It was a lovely ride today. Despite the sun being out in full force, the tall forest trees and the vale of thunderclouds above kept us sheltered from its ‘death rays of heat’, and we managed to find some safe shelter (under a lone tall tree) when the thunderstorms and lightning struck!

We wish we had more exciting news to tell you, but the truth is our recent days have been pretty same old same old …you know …cycling hard, sweating much, having lunch in gas stations, peeing at the side of the road, dodging big trucks, getting caught in thunderstorms, being chased by dogs, … just a normal day in the office, sorry.

Before signing off …thanks to David & Ramona for their generous donation and thanks to Tony for the bottles of Hot Sauce!

Us x

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Cry Wolf

When we started this trip, we had expected that on occasion, one of us would be feeling ill, and we’d have to take a sick day or two out of our schedule. It’s true that we’ve had to do it a couple of times: Kat’s fall in Billings; hangover day in Escanaba (!), but generally, we’ve ridden through the sniffles and sore throats and come out the other side. We’re doing that again now, as we both have been suffering from some sort of summer cold, giving us headaches, blocked noses and the scratchiest throats you can imagine!

So, neither one of us was volunteering to get up when the alarm went off this morning, and got pushed back at least a couple of times. We decided that we needed the sleep however, and didn’t give ourselves too much stick when we eventually departed our hotel at 11am, stopping in town for breakfast and to do a few chores before eventually hitting the road around 12.30pm for our 64-mile ride into Wolf Lake, MI.

It was a hot hot day, but we kept ourselves well hydrated. We stopped for a short break around half way through the ride in a town called Mesick, thinking to ourselves that maybe we should just stay there, given that it was a place clearly showing empathy for our situation. But instead, we simply popped a couple of DayQuil down the hatch before pedalling off again.

We met a few interesting people today as well. During our stop in Mesick, we bumped into Dick and Arlete, who are cycling from Seattle to Maine, though taking a slightly different route to us. We also offered assistance to a couple of guys who found themselves with a flat tyre and a pump that did not fit their inner tubes! Luckily for them, our pump worked, and they’d also been rescued by a Good Samaritan called Jim, who agreed to drive them to a nearby bike shop to buy a new pump for their trip. They reminded us of ourselves on the first few week of our trip on the Atlantic Coast…

Rolling into Wolf Lake, we were pleased to check in to our comfortable motel, the Day Star Motel, where we cooked ourselves dinner in our kitchenette and had a lovely chat with the owner, Tony. A big thanks to Lisa and Tony for being such wonderful hosts, and especially for doing a load of laundry for us… you know the way to our hearts!

Us x

Monday, 9 August 2010

Relaxing in TC!

Going to keep it brief for today. We’re here in Traverse City relaxing and soaking up the joys of this playground for the rich and famous. Similar to the Hamptons of Long Island, NY, Traverse City and the surrounding Grand Traverse Bay area is a place where the people of Detroit and other Michigan metropolitan cities come to unwind, relax and party …it’s safe to say, “we like Traverse City”.

Whilst performing a variety of chores, which surprisingly didn’t include doing laundry, we’ve met loads of very nice people today. First of all a big thanks to Jeff of the City Bike Shop owned by Steve & Julie Baesch, for giving Trusty and Steed a once over and getting them back to supreme working order. Secondly, whilst having dinner tonight at Amical, a lovely French restaurant on Front Street, we struck up a great relationship with Nate, one of the chefs and our waiter/server who we think was called Shane (sorry Shane if your name is something completely different). We also got chatting to Sue on the table next to ours, who upon hearing about Our Epic Journey donated to MS after hearing about our story …thanks Sue.

We’ve really enjoyed this rest day and are excited about getting back on the road tomorrow to experience more of these ‘little jewels’ dotted around the shores of Lake Michigan.

FYI - we have no Internet connection tomorrow.

Us x

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Carrying a Torch

We think we’ve found our perfect summer destination: Torch Lake, MI. 19 miles long, 2 miles wide, it’s beautifully clear and is the most stunning shade of turquoise. Apparently National Geographic have named it America’s most beautiful lake and, having Googled it on reaching our destination, we see that a few celebrities including Michael Moore and Eminem have houses there. So, maybe it’s not quite the secret find we thought we had discovered, and perhaps there are not going to be many cheap places on offer, but we are really smitten.

Waving a fond farewell to our lovely B&B this morning, full of a yummy breakfast and having had a great chat with the owners Philip and Marci, and the other guests, we found ourselves travelling the terrain of a receded glacier. Up and down, up and down, truly like a roller coaster, for miles and miles. The route eventually flattened out a bit when we reached Torch Lake, and we pedalled along with our heads permanently turned to the right trying to catch as many glimpses as we could of the gleaming turquoise water. Eventually finding a path to one of the few public access areas, we parked Trusty & Steed up and took off our socks and shoes. The water was surprisingly warm but still gloriously refreshing. We took a quick paddle, snapped some photos, and hung around in the water longer than necessary, not wanting to leave… ever. Oh well. We can dream.

It was a lovely but physically demanding 57 miles into Traverse City, MI, probably due to our being tired after 6 days of cycling on the trot, and the combination of the terrain and the head/side winds. We were glad to arrive at our hotel right in the middle of downtown, within walking distance of several restaurants and pretty close to the water’s edge (West Arm Grand Traverse Bay), especially as we have a rest day here tomorrow. Yay!

Us x

P.S. Special thanks to David & Ramona, guests at the B&B this morning who took some photos of us all and emailed them to us.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

All go, no quit, no boundaries

Depending on your natural tendency toward life, optimism and karma, we either had a very late start this morning or an extremely early start this afternoon! Last night we went to bed comforted in the knowledge that we only had to cycle 34 miles into Ellsworth today. A consequence of which being that getting out of bed this morning was not a hurried affair.

Eventually mounting Trusty & Steed (without having breakfast, we add) and completing our first 2 miles along the cycle path at the edge of Little Traverse Bay, we checked the time and realised it was already past lunchtime! Fortunately we were still in downtown Petoskey where the famed eatery, Roast & Toast served simple but sublime creations for many a hungry cyclist and the uber-rich clientele. Propping up our bikes against the outside of the building, we wandered in to see what treasures we could consume. We weren’t disappointed! An Avocado BLT sandwich, two chocolate cookies, a very nice Latte and a bottle of apple juice later we had found that 60 minutes had passed by without much complaint and we were now sitting outside soaking up the sunshine chatting with a great couple Pete & Chris about our adventures around America. Chris then produced her iPhone to show us a picture of her, Pete and none other than Lance Armstrong. Pete then explained how he had once ridden with the “God of Cadence” for 28 miles, which was a humbling experience…very cool.

Time was now pressing on and we knew we had to get on the road if we wanted to arrive in Ellsworth before dark. Saying bye bye to downtown Petoskey we pushed off into the head wind and some very steep hill climbs, which was pretty much how the rest of the ride panned out. Yeah, of course the weather and temperature were perfect for cycling, the wooded and lakeside scenery was calm and peaceful, and the roads where smooth and not very busy; but the hills just kept rolling and the head wind just kept blowing. But it was only for 34 miles and we did plummet down a very steep hill at one point hitting over 44mph (into a headwind)…awesome.

Halfway through the ride, we stopped at a bike/outdoor adventure shop in Boyne City, NO BOUNDARIES to buy some Chamois Cream aka Butt Butter and energy bars. It’s a great little shop with a good selection of quality items, which was opened by Bob (the owner) and Ben (the manager) in April this year. They certainly seem to share our philosophy of life (credit to Bob and Ben for the title of the blog today), and we wish them well in their venture, which we are sure will be a success. Describing our epic journey to Ben, Bob and Meryl (their trusty assistant), Bob kindly gave us some free t-shirts and advice for our trip…Thanks again Bob, Ben and Meryl.

Arriving in Ellsworth, we cycled past a nice-looking restaurant in the village, where we planned on eating tonight (good job Kat for making the reservation last week) and just 0.3 miles further we pulled into our B&B, “The House on the Hill”. That’s not “Amityville”, the House on the hill sang by Lovebug Starski on “Now That's What I Call Music! 7 (disc 2)”…a classic eighties hit! But the picture perfect one run by Marci and Philip perched atop a hill over looking Lake Saint Clair Lake. Marci and Philip showed us around their estate (trust us, it’s an “estate” complete with acres of woodland, gardens, sun porch and kayaks for messing about on the water) and then to our lovely room with a view. It’s a shame we’re not staying here an extra day, because there’s loads of relaxing things to do.

After freshening up, we took a leisurely walk to the restaurant, had a great meal and then strolled back to the B&B to retire.

More cycling tomorrow, and then a well-needed rest day! Talking of tomorrow, many happy returns to Kat’s super-cute nephew, Leo, who is celebrating his first birthday!

Us x

Friday, 6 August 2010

Lake Mich-again

What a day! We jam-packed so many things into yesterday that we were too tired to write the blog by the time we got in, and we forgot to charge the Gamines! Unheard of…

We set off pretty early from our super comfortable motel in St Ignace, MI (we wrote earlier this week about our accommodation criteria and the Moran Bay Motel ticked all the boxes, as well as being fantastic value for money – we can’t rave enough). After stopping at a nearby restaurant to grab a couple of breakfast sandwiches, we hopped aboard the ferry to Mackinac Island.

Mackinac island is a place where the bike is truly King. No cars or other motorised vehikkles are allowed: only horses and bikes. We rode the 8-mile loop around the island, which was stunningly beautiful and surprisingly unspoiled, given that the island was teeming with tourists. It was definitely necessary to keep your wits about you to avoid the “steaming road debris” (gotta love those horses) as well as the people who were on bikes but didn’t seem to have ever learned how to ride one…

By around lunchtime, we were ready to depart and caught another ferry to Mackinaw City, putting us back on the mainland and across the other side of the Mackinaw Straits that join Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. And then our brief but enjoyable flirtation with Lake Huron was over, as we will now be skirting down the East side of Lake Michigan for the next few days heading south to Indiana.

We’ve discovered that this part of Lake Michigan is a bit of a playground for the rich and famous. We cycled through a couple of really chi-chi little towns, where the houses were big, the views amazing and the cappuccinos plentiful. We took full advantage of this, stopping at a little café in Harbor Springs to sip a couple of lattes with another cyclist called Scott, who we’d met earlier in the day at a gas station. Arriving along a bike path into Petoskey, MI, our destination for the night, we overshot our motel by quite some distance, ending up in downtown and having to double back. Not the Gamines fault this time, but Google, who had put the hotel in the wrong place on the map!

This also contributed to us having a rather long walk into downtown for dinner, which we ate (late) at the City Park Grill. We had a ball talking to our waitress, Catherine Stakoe, who is having a great summer cavorting with said “rich and famous” in the area (her words!!) At the end of the night, Catherine offered us a lift back to our hotel to save us the 2 mile walk, which we gratefully accepted – thanks Catherine!

Us x

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Lake Huron

It was only 45 miles from Naubinway to St Ignace, but it was a weather extravaganza of a ride! We left at a reasonable time this morning with the sun high in the sky and a cool breeze blowing in from the west. We were travelling east, so everything was good. Good that is, until we hit Moran Township, a place just 15 miles outside of St Ignace. It was truly weird! One second the wind was blowing from the north west then the next second as we had an unobstructed exposure to Lake Michigan’s vastness, the wind suddenly switched, blowing hard from the south east. To make matters worse, looking high over our right shoulders we saw what could only be described as a big black sheet the size of Wales hanging from the sky. With blue cloudless skies ahead of us and the fast approaching vale darkness to the right and above us, we upped our speed to try and out pace the wind, blowing in this massive thunder cloud …we lost, and 10 seconds later we were soaked and cycling in rain drops the size of golf balls.

Our fully dressed Power Shower lasted a short, but very long! 30 minutes. Abruptly stopping to allow the clouds to peel back and reveal blue skies, sunshine and rainbows. Unfortunately, we weren’t out of the woods just yet. Replacing the torrential rains were orchestral claps of thunder and blinding lightning that crackled ferociously as it zapped the ground beneath. We were scared riding upon our trusty Lightning Conductors, but risked the last 5 minutes cycling out in the open, knowing that we had only 1 mile to go before reaching our destination.

Safe to say we’re now in St Ignace, which is just around the corner from the Mackinac Bridge that spans the straights where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. It’s beautiful around here! Words don’t quite describe the atmosphere and ambience of this place. We can’t explain it but it’s magical to witness these two huge bodies of water meeting underneath a bridge whose span is wider than that of the Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately, we arrived at our Motel early in the day and managed to clean the bikes, do the laundry, paddle in Lake Huron, take a few photos and eat dinner all before 9pm.

We’re back on the Ferries tomorrow to witness the Famous Mackinac Island

Us x

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Blazing Saddles

Last night was what you might call an experience. The sort that people would probably refer to as “character building”. Having met the owner of the hotel at 4.30pm to get into our room, we were not best impressed with the state of it. Still, at least the owner had shown us his loaded gun while we were checking in to reassure us that we, and the bikes, would be safe in his establishment…at which point Anthony switched his muscle reflex mode onto “ultra fast-twitch”!

It was one of those places where the more you looked, touched and experienced, the more uncomfortable you started to feel. We won’t go into details, save to confirm that the silk sleeping sock made another appearance and that we woke this morning to find a spider on the ceiling near the bathroom (we weren’t really surprised since there was a whole family of them just outside the door to our room). It was lowering itself down, Little Miss Muffet style, and then shooting back up again with alarming speed. Kat kept her beady little eye on it throughout observing the age-old cyclists’ proverb: “a watched spider never crawls into your pannier”. Oh, and it would be remiss of us not to mention that we were woken up at 7am this morning with the not so gentle sound of a tarmac machine right outside our window, mending cracks in the car park… like that was the most urgent thing that needed fixing in the whole place?

Anyway, the whole experience had us pondering over breakfast about the complexities of finding suitable accommodation on this trip. When it’s raining outside, or it’s a ridiculously hot, humid and mosquito-ridden evening, we count our blessings for whatever roof we have over our heads, nodding at each other and saying “better than a tent”. But the truth is that we take quite a lot for granted, and get all squirmy when even the basics are not present.

As cyclists, our needs are a little different to your average tourist. At times, we have taken the estate agent’s view that the three key factors are location, location and location, but that’s not really the whole story. For us, an ideal location means: being within walking distance of a restaurant which cooks hot food from scratch using fresh ingredients; a gas station or grocery store to buy the gallon of water we consume every day; and of course somewhere not too far off the cycling route. On rest days, we need a Laundromat (always), a bike shop (often) and a post office (sometimes). But on top of that, it’s essential for us to know that we can either take our bikes into our room or keep them secure somewhere else on the property; and also that we can get a decent WiFi signal or other internet connection in our room for blog-posting and the myriad of other things for which we rely on the lap top. And of course, we’re on a budget, so we need to get all of the above for a bargain price!

We’ve been pretty lucky so far, and we identified a number of places on the trip that would definitely go in our Top 10. Last night we’ll definitely place in the Top 2 Worst Places, but you can’t win them all.

On the positive side, we had a fabulous, hearty breakfast this morning at the Cedar Street Café and Coffee House, an absolute gem of place. We had lovely chats with a couple from Pennsylvania as we let our eggs and bacon settle, and also with Scott and Pacific who were on vacation in the area. And, as we were putting our helmets and gloves on outside, we were caught by Sheryl, a Manistique local, who was interested in our trip and told us a bit more about the town. Hi to all of you guys!

With full tummies and our spirits lifted, we rocketed the 45 miles from Manistique, MI to Naubinway, MI in a little over 3 hours. We’re now in a café just round the corner from our motel in order to get WiFi access to post our blogs. We’ve managed to pack away a bowl of meatball soup and an extra large salad in the process…yum. Hurrah for the Michigan Cafes!!

Us x

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hot & Humid

Well! Umm…umm. Nothing much happened today. We got up, ate granola and fruit in our room for breakfast and began cycling in 85°C heat and ‘sauna like’ humidity. Our first 10 miles were along a busy highway with a very narrow hard shoulder and a population of drivers who seemed to be unable courteously to give us a wide berth when speeding by.

The journey back down to the northern coast of Lake Michigan was only 45 miles, dropping to approximately 580ft above sea level. It’s crazy to think that we were once in New Mexico writing Blogs explaining how we were elevating to dizzy heights in excess of 8,000ft or completing 3000ft climbs in one day, and now we’re impressed with a being 580ft above sea level …we guess we’re coming home!

Feeling hot but not tired, we arrived at our motel at 3:20pm to find the owner was not in. He left a note saying he’d be back at 4:30pm, so we took the opportunity to wander up Main Street to find somewhere to eat, which we did, and you guessed right …chips, crisps, burgers and BLT’s.

Thought for the Day: “It’s strange how one can eat fresh grilled fish with salad and baked potatoes as we did last night, and then the next day just 45 miles away on a different body of water, the only choices for food are fried food and sandwiches”.

Us x

Monday, 2 August 2010

Truer, Madder, Deeper…

We’re pretty impressed with Lake Superior, especially now that we’ve seen it up close and personal. Today we took a boat trip along the shore to see the Pictured Rocks, an area where the bluff along the lakeshore has become patterned with the vibrant colours of many different materials bedding down over millions of years: beautiful. Check out the photos.

It also brought home to us how enormous this lake really is. Our trip was a mere 37 miles… a teeny tiny little corner of the lake. Lake Superior is over 30,000 square miles in area, the same size as the whole of Scotland. It is the largest body of fresh water in the World: the widest, cleanest, deepest of all lakes... at least according to the Captain. Before wandering back to our motel, we took a quick paddle in the lake. It would have been rude not to. It was much warmer than we expected, given that its surface is 600ft above sea level and its deepest point (just 40 miles from Munising) is 700ft below sea level. Incredible! It was also crystal clear, partly because only 2 million people live around its 2,727 miles of shoreline… about the same population as Greater Manchester. Fortunately for Lake Superior, Yoopers live on its shores and not Mancunians; because if they did, we’re sure one would see all sorts of kebabs and chips floating on its surface!

After some fresh fish for dinner, we’re back in the room contemplating our next 6 days of cycling… yes, 6 days until another rest day this time. Bring it on…

Us x

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lake Superior

Now that we’re in Great Lake territory, it only makes sense for us to try and dip our toes in all 5 of the lakes. We’ve already swum in the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific so why not try to complete the “large body of water, I’ve been there” experience. So thanks to Bob and Kris’ recommendation we left Escanaba on the shores of Lake Michigan and headed north this morning toward Munising, MI, on the south shores of Lake Superior. Needless to say, we felt very delicate this morning (thanks again Mat & Heather and thanks for the donation) but having another rest day was not an option. Therefore we packed up, drank loads of fluid and set off in the glorious sunshine on our 68-mile uphill ride through the picturesque Hiawatha National Forest.

The ride through the Forest was tough at times but great fun. It was very peaceful and full of surprises. We cycled for some 54 miles before taking our second stop at a General Store 14 miles south of Munising, where we met a couple groups of very interesting people. The first group were sitting outside on the porch of the General Store, having just finished running a marathon, then swimming across a nearby lake (we think it was Town Lake) to eat ice creams. The ice creams looked very yummy, so instead of embarking upon our usual consumption of energy bars, we too tucked into a couple of very scrumdiddlyumptious ice creams. Whilst tucking into our frozen treats, a group of Parish Bikers thundered into the car park with one thing on their minds…eat ice cream. We all sat and chatted over ice cream and before leaving they kindly offered to bless our bikes.

Refreshed and still wanting more, we reluctantly tore ourselves away from the store and completed the remaining 14 miles with a lovely downhill finish to the front door of our motel, where we met Alain, another Epic Adventurer from Québec. His English was of course far better than our French but our French is atrocious (where’s MG when you need her) so communicating was a bit difficult. We did manage to get his blog address [www.routard-en-velo.blogspot.com] and he kindly donated to the cause.

We’re having a non-cycling day tomorrow to see the sights of Lake Superior.

Us x