Half the fun of adventurous travel is figuring out where to go. Although I don't plan to do an international trip in 2020, never say never. A long-time-coming return to the Methow Valley is coming up in February 2020. I wonder if I remember how to skate ski!
Thinking about options for long bike tours - Missouri has some interesting options including the famous Katy Trail, an old rail trail about 200 or so miles long, all of which is a State Park now. A modified Selkirk Loop, previously done by my friend Stasia (click here to check out her blog), a trip from Vancouver WA to anywhere, part of the Southern Tier route? Plenty of time and suggestions welcome via comments or contact.
Stanley and I took the train to Centralia, WA then took a ride to the coast, on the Willapa Bike Trail which is a work in progress but passable most of the way.
For the first time in almost a month, I used a real towel; a true luxury! I am kicking back in Cleveland and exposing Stanley to a little culture. The natural history museum and the art museum are must do's if you find yourself in Cleveland. The anthropologist who discovered Lucy (the hominid) is from Cleveland and because of this they have an extensive Lucy exhibit.
I sampled Souse today at a deli, not knowing it was head cheese in a loaf. I was advised it is better with cheese. No, it isn't. I am looking forward to trying Amish fry pie, though. Anything with "pie" in the name can't be bad.
June 25...Geneva State Park
In spite of what the host claimed, I again got assigned a mog site. I could tell when I got to it. Fortunately, I've learned from my experiences; I pitched my tent in the gravel car parking spot.
The rain came, thankfully, after I was fully set up and ready for it. It poured for hours, but I stayed dry and so did most of my gear. Most everything I brought has been stored in dry bags and I've been using my treated backpack covers as rain covers for my panniers. It has worked well. Power is not impossible to come by, walking to the shower/rest rooms, just up the road.
Since I could not go a day without a ride, I inquired as to where the library and coffee shop was. An 8 mile ride without baggage is a welcome treat, so here I am in the library of the Geneva (not to be confused with Geneva on the Lake) town. Riding through the neighborhoods has also been a treat, admiring the many older homes, which, if they could speak, would likely have some good stories to tell. The town was established in 1805 and the founder and his family were taken by the local Native Americans, but released the next day....
June 24...53 miles
Man, I'm burning through the calories! According to my Garmin, 2,989 today alone!
The road seems easy after all the trail riding during the first phase. Still, it was a long haul with rolling hills and head winds. The rain did not happen...at least during my ride.
I took a break in Conneaut for that bike touring special - second breakfast. I had been craving toast, so I had that with a decadently sweetened ice tea. Stopped again, in Ashtabula, at a beautiful park. Apparently, at one time Ashtabula was a bigger iron ore port than Cleveland.
Arrived in the tourist area called Geneva on the Lake, to the hordes of tourists strolling the streets in search of their personal favorite foods and souvenirs. Or possibly inspecting the many lakeside cottages for a place to stay. I stopped as well, several miles short of the state park, to enjoy a so-so ice cream. Beggars can't be choosers out here in the wilds of northern Ohio.
June 23...35 miles
Making my way to Campground Sara, just outside Erie, near Presque State Park and adjacent to the largest waterpark I've ever seen, not that I've seen many. Arriving on a sunny Sunday meant everything was going full bore; the roller coaster rides and screaming people, the cars, inching along looking for a treasured parking spot and the best smelling fast food joints ever.
Campground Sara is, so far, the only place I've encountered where arriving by bike gets one a discount, like half price. Every site even has electric outlets and water faucets. The place is an eclectic mix of gargantuan trailers staying for just a day or two, and obviously long term trailers that have taken up residency, complete with wood decks, tool sheds, and landscaping.
As I was unpacking two "neighbors" , Chris and Terry, came over to welcome me and ask about my travels. They had never met anyone who had been traveling by bicycle. They quizzed me endlessly about the bike and my experiences, all with an innocent curiosity. They advised me to build a fire to keep away the mosquitoes which would surely eat me alive if I did not. They loaned me some bug repellent (about the only thing I forgot to pack) and offered me an ice cold bottle of water after I turned down the offer of a beer.
Getting here was comparatively fast for a loaded touring bike and someone who was not in a great hurry anyway. I rode through countless vineyards and small towns (what's the difference between a town, township, hamlet, and village??) with names like Portland, (home of Marmaduke) Ripley, North East, Schuyler, and Cherry Creek.
June 22...36 miles
I opted for a KOA; not much more expensive than NY state parks and staff much more friendly and accommodating. While packing up, I ate my breakfast in motion, as I often do. I was starving an hour later and I must admit I have eaten more fast food lately than probably the last 20 years!
It was a pleasant ride, continuing on Hwy 5, which will eventually take me back to Cleveland. Navigating through the town of Erie was quite easy as there's a lovely bike way that skirts the lake most of the way, making for an easy route. This area is rife with marinas, huge power boats, and all sizes of homes, backing up to their personal beaches along the lake.
June 21...54 Miles
The rain that was not predicted to occur caught up with me, about 10 miles from the State Park. Drenched but only on the outside. Here at the State Park, another site in the "mog", muddy bog, much like Seneca Falls. The ride was good except navigating through Buffalo, NY. Thanks, Sheriff Larry, for your navigational tips!
There is a bike path that skirts the town, mostly, which while on it, was pleasant riding with views of Lake Erie. This lake seems huge, in that one cannot see across it, and most of the time, there are 1 foot or so waves crashing on the beach. Riding along Hwy 5 West was a pleasant change from the Canal bikeway, with adequate shoulder, good pavement, and low traffic.
June 20...A little more about the town. Atleast two movies made here, Niagara, starring Marilyn Monroe and Canadian Bacon, starring John Candy. The city has been on the decline for the last 10 years or so. Steel, auto and Whirlpool left the area, causing serious economic hardships. Tourism has sort of put Niagara back on themao, as a state park. So much of the revenue goes to the state and the city gets no benefit.
The Indian population is growing, as people discover the great deals on housing. This large population is most evident by th many Indian restaurants and food carts. Investors are beginning to notice the area and I do hope the local economy turns around sometime soon.
June 19...Buffalo to Niagara Falls, 29 miles
Arrived via Amtrak in the wee hours of the morning, yesterday. Slept in the station until daybreak, then rode to the town of Niagara Falls. Away from the bustle of the tour buses, food carts upscale restaurants and hotels, as well as a casino, I saw countless historic (read old) homes on the local streets, many of which were empty, abandoned, and boarded up. Real estate opportunities abound here. But it's cold in the winter, like zero degrees, is a good day.
Made my way to Wanderfalls Hostel on a quiet residential street just a few blocks from the Niagara River and the Falls. It's a homey, comfortable place and reasonably priced. Due to the heavy rain predicted for Thursday, I decided to stay here for two days. They make pancakes for breakfast!
Due to more rain predicted starting the middle of next week, I may shorten my route and ride the southern side of Lake Erie but I'm still researching that. Today, I'm a tourist.
June 18. . Schnectady to Albany, 33 miles.
Miles are much harder to come by on Stanley. He's about 30 lbs without bags. I am adjusting to a slower-than-road-bike mentality.
Arrived Albany via the nicely paved Mohawk Bikeway. Signage much better out this way but I did manage to get my daily bonus miles by not easily getting to Amtrak.
Finally a photo! This is before the rain, along the Mohawk River, which feeds into the Hudson River.
June 17...Fort Plain to Schenectady, 44 miles
I had hoped to camp at Lock 8, expecting they had facilities for camping, like tables, maybe a shelter, and bathrooms. Nope. The locks, with one or two exceptions (I believe there are 35 or so), do not have camping facilities, but one is allowed to camp anywhere along the canal or at the locks if one wants to really rough it.
Weather has been great today, and I've been able to finish drying out a few things, as I flew along the mostly paved canal trail. More turtles, bunnies, and those cute nutrias. The lush greenery created welcome shade as the day heated up.
So, I proceeded to Schenectady, searching for a park. I found a very nice, very large park and will return there to camp this evening, after I find some ice cream.
Tomorrow is the last day on Canal trail. I'll ride to the Albany train station and return to Buffalo before heading to Niagara Falls and north side of Lake Erie.