22 May -
We flew into
Seattle in the early hours of the morning, and what a beautiful
sight it was. The interesting thing was that we arrived in
Seattle before we actually left Beijing. I was, as usual, dead
tired, collected my luggage, hailed a taxi and headed for
downtown Seattle. I dropped the bicycle at the bike shop and
then went in search of the local hostel.
I discovered, with
a shock, that I left my backpack with all my valuables in the
taxi!! Needless to say, I was in a flat spin! I contacted the
“Yellow Taxi Cabs”, I had no number or name to give them but
they had a “lost-and-found” section, where I left my details.
As I did not sleep
on the plane, I was rather sleepy and went for a bit of a
snooze. Upon waking up, I found my bag neatly placed on the
table next to my bed! I was rather pleased about getting the
bag back. But then the taxi driver was the sweetest Somali guy
ever and we chatted non-stop all the way from the airport. I
knew that if someone was going to return the bag, it would be
23 May -
It was time to
explore the city. I had a day or two to kill as I waited for my
bike to be serviced and I was waiting for my cycling maps to
arrive, which I ordered online. Seattle has a lovely waterfront
and market area which was a pleasant place to stroll around.
I stopped for the
obligatory cup of coffee at Starbucks and also took a walk to
REI; big mistake!! What a great store it is. They had just
about everything a person needs for the outdoors and very good
quality stuff as well. I did not leave without buying something
- this time it was a solar panel for charging all my devices.
24 May -
No maps have
arrived but my bicycle was ready, they even fixed the broken
front rack - what a clever man! I was also looking for a North
American map for my Garmin, so I set off to Best Buy which was
on the other side of the city and in the process I got to ride
all kinds of public transport.
I found the map
and it seemed that I just had to download the map from the
internet; easy! Famous last words!
25 May -
I met up with Mike
(a 365-project friend) and we took a walk to the folk festival
which was in town. Afterwards, we took a walk up the hill to get
some night shots of the city skyline.
26 May -
Still no maps have
arrived and I was getting itchy feet and was very keen to get
going. It seemed a bit of a waste of money to leave without my
maps so I decided to stay one more day to see if it may arrive.
In the meantime, I took a rather interesting underground tour.
The maps arrived
and I was set to go. In fact, it arrived the day before already
but no one told me and I did not ask. By the time I got the maps
it was already too late to leave, so I paid for one more night
and got my stuff ready to leave in the morning.
27 May -
Seattle – Shelton - 80 km
I took a ferry
from Seattle to Bremerton and then headed south on Route 3. The
scenery was stunning and quite unfamiliar to me, with the tall
pine trees and the snowy mountains in the background. Although
it was not warm the sun was out and it was a pleasant day on the
road. I did not go very far as it was already late by the time I
got to Bremerton.
It was Memorial
Day and just about every small village I passed had some sort of
festival of fete on, complete with corn dogs and lemonade!!
Shelton I spotted a campground and instead of passing by, only
to find no camping later on, I pulled in and had an early day.
28 May -
Shelton – Centralia - 120 km
It was drizzling
on and off during the day, but it was not too bad. Although
cold, it was still a beautiful ride, past small villages looking
like they belong on a movie set. Centralia came as a pleasant
surprise with its historic downtown section and old murals. It
was a pleasant town. I found a place to camp at a motel and as
there was a nearby food store I was set for the night. I find
these places quite interesting as there appears to be a rather
large amount of homeless, disabled, drug addicts or mentally ill
people around. They are all, however, very friendly and eager to
help where ever they can.
29 May -
Centralia – Longview - 115 km
The next morning I
first cycled through town to have a look at the old murals and
buildings and then headed out of town. It was a great day on the
road, the sun was out and the scenery great as the road
continued past more small villages.
In Longview I had
to take a motel room as I could not find any camping and it was
getting fairly cold towards the end of the day.
30 May -
Longview – Fort Stevens State Park - 115 km
From Longview I
followed Route 4 along the Columbian River, which also turned
out to be the historic “Lewis and Clark Trail”, which is both a
cycle and hiking trail. I followed the river until I reached
Cathlamet from where one can cross the Columbian river to the
state of Oregano. Crossing the river was in two parts, first by
bridge to the island in the middle of the river, and then by
ferry to the small town of Westport.
After crossing the
river, I also met other cyclists on their way down south. They
told me about state camping just outside of Astoria, so I headed
in that direction. In Astoria I stopped and received some really
good information about the road and camping further south. I
stocked up with food for the night and then headed in the
direction of the campsite. Soon the other cyclists arrived and
we made a big campfire to keep warm.
31 May - Fort
Stevens State Park – Nehalem Bay State park - 70 km
I packed up at
leisure, then waved good-bye to the other cyclists, and set off
in the direction of the next state park. These parks were quite
fantastic as they always have a Hike and Bike section where one
can camp for a mere $5 or $6 per night. This suited me just fine
and I had no intention of rushing down the cost.
It was a stunning
ride along the coast and the views were quite spectacular. I
reached Nehalem Bay in good time, pitched my tent, and just
lazed about. Later, the other cyclists (Lam and Jeffery) arrived
and again we made a big campfire so we could keep warm and heat
up a few sausages.
1 June -
Nehalem Bay State Park – Cape Lookout SP - 62 km
2 June - Cape
Lookout SP – Pacific City - 30 km
First thing in the
morning the road climbed up and over the hills to Pacific City.
Once in Pacific City, I chatted to a rather friendly man who
also turned out to be the owner of the Pacific Inn. We chatted
for a while and no sooner was I put up in a lovely room….all for
free!!! Not only was I given a room but he also offered to do my
laundry!!! I must be reeking like high heaven.
I had a lovely day
enjoying my room and charging all my devices and chilling out
watching TV! Oh, the luxury of a room! That evening I took a
walk to the local eatery which was a traditional pub with
country music, serving beer on tap and excellent burgers.
3 June -
Pacific City – Beverly Beach SP - 70 km
I did not think
that I would see Lam and Jeffry again but just outside Pacific
City the road led up a long hill and I found the pair slowly
cycling up the hill. We cycled together for a while, had coffee
at McDonalds, and did a bit of shopping at the local grocery
store. We agreed to meet at the next Hike and Bike, and then
continued on at our own pace again.
Beverly beach SP – Jessie M Honeyman - 70 km
I knew that Lam
and Jeffry wanted to stop at the bike shop so I continued on.
Along the way I spotted a fudge shop and as no cyclist will
cycle past a fudge shop, I stopped and it all looked delicious.
I bought two large pieces and while standing outside the shop
devouring the one, the lady of the shop came running out with
one of her famous chocolate brownies, neatly wrapped for the
road! That was so kind of her.
Fueled by the
fudge and the brownie, I cycled all the way to Bullards Beach.
5 June - Jessie M Honeyman -
Bullards Beach 112 km
Arriving at camp
there were already a few cyclists, some of which I have met
before. The wind was quite strong and in trying to put up my
tent, two more poles broke. Fortunately, some of the other
cyclists could help out with repairing it.
6 June -
Bullards Beach – Gold Beach - 100 km
I flew into Gold
Beach at 45 km/h and was pleased that I was not going in the
opposite direction. The wind was howling and first I looked for
a place to camp, but decided against it and took a room in the
village. I did not think that my tent would withstand the high
winds, and until I found a new tent I will have to be rather
I took a walk down
the main road, and found the grocery store and a laundry. At the
laundry I met Steve, a rather interesting man. He appeared to be
a homeless person travelling by bicycle. The bicycle was not any
kind of touring bike but rather a “trick bike” and he was
pulling a trailer with three grates stacked on top of one
another. He was the kindest person one could imagine and offered
me his last washing powder so I did not have to purchase any
from the machine. How kind of him!
On my way back to
the room, I also found a store selling rather interesting bits
and pieces as well as tarot cards! I have been looking for a
pack for ages and could not believe that I found it in this tiny
June - Gold Beach – Crescent City - 116 km
The next morning I
set off again, and low and behold would I not find Steve along
the road (collecting cans) he was quick to offer me a muffin
which he bought that morning. He also presented me with a
beautiful feather, but I was most impressed that he remembered
We chatted for a
while before I waved him good-bye and left him to his job of
collecting cans. I crossed the state line into California and
cycled past farmlands and small villages. Along the way I met a
guy cycling north, and not only did he have all his stuff with
him but also a crate in the front with a little dog!! The
little thing seemed quite happy just sitting there enjoying the
scenery. In Crescent City, I enquired about camping along the
coast. The closest one was a wild camp with no water or
facilities and the next one seemed too far away. I weakened and
took a motel room!
June - Crescent City - Palm Café & Motel - 70 km
Crescent City I met another cyclist, this time a lady. She was
not only equipped with four panniers but also with a trailer
with two dogs!!! I can hardly get myself up the hills, let
alone with two dogs as well!!
It was a beautiful
day on the road, the sun was out and the road ran through
forests and from time to time along the coast. It was, however,
up and over a big climb. My legs felt tired and although I had
a few short days, I have not yet had a day of rest since leaving
Seattle. No wonder my legs did not want to cooperate.
I also ran into
Casy, another cyclist whom I have met before. We chatted for a
while and I decided to stay put as I spotted a motel across the
road! It was way too expensive for what it offered but I was
tired and prepared to pay the money. The café had spaghetti
bolognaise as their daily special which suited me just fine.
9 June - Palm
Café & Motel - Clam Beach State Park - 40 km
I passed the small
and pretty town of Trinidad with its picture perfect harbour and
lighthouse. I did some shopping at the local store and then
followed the road further south. I met a local cyclist and we
cycled together for a while until we reached Clam Beach
campsite. It was still early but I felt tired and decided to
make it a short day. It was not the best camping place, as it
was very exposed and sandy but good enough for me to pitch a
June - Clam
Beach – Humboldt Redwood State Park - 95 km
I followed country
roads and was surprised at just how rural the country is outside
the big cities.
I stopped in
Eureka to look for a new tent and found one at Adventures Edge,
an outdoor store with quite a good supply of camping stuff. With
my new tent strapped to the bike I was eager to try it out. I
soon reached the turnoff for the Avenue of the Giants, and what
a spectacular site it was. These trees were massive and said to
be the tallest trees in the world. Apparently, they can get up
to 2000 years old! Most of the trees in the park are between
400 and 600 years old; that is pretty old for a tree, if you ask
I stopped at Red
Crescent to do some shopping but found that there was no grocery
store. I was pointed down the hill to the previous campsite
where I was told there is a small grocery store. I shot down the
hill just to find that there was no shop and had to cycle all
the way up the hill again and onto the next campsite. I,
fortunately, had enough food to see me through so it was not a
problem. I was eager to try my tent and was surprised at the
ease of pitching it. It was like moving into a new house!!
I decided to stay
in the park for the day and do a bit of hiking. First thing, I
cycled the four miles up the road to the shop, stocked up with
food, and then returned to my spot in the woods. I was
surprised that I was the only cyclist camping at this spot as it
was so pretty. Later that day more cyclists arrived, as well as
Kat (the lady with the dogs). We chatted until late as she was
such an interesting person, being a Yoga teacher who lived in
India for a while.
12 June -
Humboldt Redwoods SP – Standish-Hickey SP - 80 km
It was time to
pack up my tent and in the next village I met a family cycling
in the area. They told me to camp at Standish-Hickey SP as there
was a large hill to cycle over and that it would be best to
tackle the hill on fresh legs. That sounded like sound advice,
so I cycled to the campsite and pitched my tent. I was the only
one camping there, and I got so used to camping with people that
it felt quite lonely.
13 June -
Standish-Hickey SP – Mendocino - 88 km
The next morning I
cycled up and over the mountain (which was not as bad as
expected) but not before stopping at the drive-thru tree and
snapping a picture or two. I soon came out at the coast again
and from thereon it was a hilly ride to the next Hike and Bike.
14 June -
Mendocino - Manchester Beach KOA - 66 km
It was a short day
but I needed to get an Internet connection and I spotted one at
the KOA. I pulled in as they normally have Wi-Fi and laundry
facilities. The Wi-Fi was a bit of a disappointment as it was
only for an hour after which you had to pay. My own phone seems
to be quite useless as I never seem to have a connection. The
laundry came in handy and I quickly did my laundry and was good
for another few days.
15 June -
Manchester Beach KOA - Bodega Bay Dunes State park - 120 km
It was a rather
hilly day but somehow I just put my head down and cycled all the
way to Bodega Bay.
16 June -
Bodega Bay – San Rafael - 134 km
I turned inland to
Bodega City where I stopped to look at all the interesting bits
and pieces in town. This small town has been the film location
for The Birds and the old school house is still in use. It
turned out to be a rather long day as I encountered some road
works and had to take a detour, which seemed to last forever!!
landed up in San Rafael where I took a motel room due to a lack
of camping. I was very close to San Francisco but it was already
too late to continue and, besides that, I had enough for the
17 June - San
Rafael – San Francisco - 35 km
It was a short
ride over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco.
Along the way I met a local cyclist and he accompanied me all
the way to the hostel. The first one was full so we continued
on, past the waterfront to the next one, but not before stopping
for coffee and a bagel. The Adelaide Hostel turned out to be
very nice (a bit pricy but so are all hostels in SF), with free
breakfast and with a very central location.
I made use of
their Internet to catch up on some online work, but found, to my
horror, that I have saved over my daily journal! I tried
whatever I could, but could not retrieve it.
I also discovered
that the SIM card slot on my phone was faulty; no wonder I never
had an Internet connection along the way! Not only that, the
Garmin map I bought in Seattle never loaded on my device so I
sent Garmin an email to inquire what to do about the situation.
As if that was not enough, my camera lens got stuck (after
dropping the camera) and although it still worked I had no
auto-focus. I mostly use manual focus but there are always times
when auto-focus comes in handy, so I bought a new lens. Not the
best quality but it was an 18-200 and therefore just one lens
instead of the two I had previously.
18 June - San
I handed my laptop
in at the computer shop to see if they could retrieve my lost
file. It was a glorious day in San Francisco so I took the
streetcar to the waterfront. Besides wondering about and
blending in with the other tourists, I also found out about a
train back to Seattle. The news was good as it seemed that there
was a train everyday at around 22h00. I still had to box the
bike, which was available at the station for $15 and $10 for
handling. I understood that all I had to do was go down to the
AM track office, where they would then take the bike and my bags
from me and load it on the train. Although the train is from
Emeryville, the ticket included a bus from the Amtrak office to
the train station.
So, the plan was
to go back to Seattle and cycle from there, either to Canada or
east, until I get the Canadian visa and can cross into Canada.
Failing that, I will just continue east through the USA. In the
meantime, I have asked my sister to forward my new passport to
the hostel in Seattle where I will collect it.
19 June 2014 -
There was no phone
call or email from the computer shop so I took a walk to the
shop to find out what was happening. Unfortunately, they could
not recover my document and I would therefore have to live with
a big blank in my journal. They were already busy reloading all
my settings and hopefully the laptop would at least perform a
I also did not
hear anything from Garmin about what I could do about the map
that did not load on my GPS. I sent them another message, not
that it made any difference as they never came back to me.
I was kind of
eager to get going but I could hardly leave without the laptop.
I also desperately had to try and apply for the Canadian visa,
which seemed more trouble than what it was worth. It was an
online application and rather lengthy. I lost interest in the
whole process before even registering! What a mission!!!
20 June 2014 -
I took a break
from my boring doings and went on the free walking tour of San
Francisco. It was fun and informative. Afterwards, I popped in
at the computer shop but they were still busy reloading it and
advised that I come back the following day. As the following day
was a Saturday they only opened at 12h00 which meant that I
would have to stay one more day in San Francisco.
Back at the hostel
I made a serious effort to complete the rather lengthy and
complicated online visa application for Canada. My word, it was
like applying to become the president of the country!! They
wanted all my family information, both dead and alive!!! It was
rather late at night by the time I finished the application. As
usual, there were a few hiccups to overcome as not all the forms
loaded as they should.
21 June 2014 -
After breakfast I
took a walk to the computer shop to pick up my laptop which was
reprogrammed and would, hopefully, be operating a bit faster
Back at the hostel
I reloaded all the visa forms onto my laptop and completed the
last bit of information. I still had to load a photo and do the
payment of the fee. I still had no idea where I would collect
this visa or how long it would take. I could not find the
correct information on their website. It gave the estimated
processing times for the various offices but not for an online
uploaded the photos and paid my fees; now it was just a matter
of waiting. It appeared that it was going to be a long wait, in
the region of three weeks or more.
22 June - San
There was nothing
more for me to do in SF so I checked out of the hostel and
headed down to the Amtrak station. The bike boxes they sold were
quite large and it was easy for me to fit the bicycle into the
box once I had removed the pedals and turned the handlebars
sideways. I put all my stuff into one bag (which I bought for
cheap in China Town) and handed everything in. The train was not
due until that evening so I had the whole day to kill.
I took a walk back
to the hostel and used their lounge and Wi-Fi to try and redo my
lost journal. Afterwards, I took a stroll downtown to the Amtrak
office where I got a bus to Emeryville at around 9pm.
Then it was on the
train to Seattle - it was a rather strange set up, being in a
double story train! I have never seen a train like that. It was
very comfortable with loads of legroom, which was a good thing
as I sat next to a rather large person. I also realized how
difficult it must be to be that large; everything is double the
trouble and one constantly needs to feed the body to maintain
such a size.
23 June - On
the train to Seattle
I had the whole
day to try and redo my journal, not an easy task for me as I
have the memory of a gold fish! Between my photos and the help
of the Google map I sort of reconstructed the evens of the last
month. It was not exactly perfect but I lost interest long
before I got to the end. Fortunately, there was nothing to do on
the train and I could not go anywhere.
The train ride was
very scenic and it was quite a novelty to sit back and watch the
scenery go by, without having to peddle one stroke.
We arrived in
Seattle rather late. Fortunately, the hostel is basically across
the road from the train station. I put the bike together again,
loaded up my belongings and cycled to the hostel.
24 - 25 June
First thing in the
morning I took a walk to the Canadian Consulate, just to find
that they had no information on visas and could not tell me how
one goes about collecting a visa from an online application. I
have now made up my mind to continue east across the northern
states of the US until such time as I can collect the Canadian
visa. If that never happens then it is also fine.
It was the most
glorious day in Seattle and I, for one, made good use of it. I
joined the free walking tour of Seattle and had their world
famous clam chowder while feeding the seagulls and watching the
sun set. I then headed back to the hostel to organise a last few
26 June -
Seattle – Riverbend Camping - 90 km
It was time to
start my trek east, and the plan was to first head south to
Portland and then east via the Columbian Gorge. I did not study
the terrain but, just by looking at the map, it appeared to be
the easiest way.
Although it was
cloudy, it was not cold at all. The strangest thing is that it
was warmer in the state of Washington than in San Francisco! I
cycled past the Boeing factory and it all looked very
interesting. They did not only have a Museum of Flight but also
one of Light…… it all looked very fascinating and I was sorry
that I did not do the Boeing tour.
It was cherry time
and one could buy cherries all along the road. I found it
difficult to cycle past these stalls as the cherries were sweet
I headed south on
the old Pacific Highway and soon got to my destination. The
campsite was rather expensive at $25 and one still had to use
quarters to get a hot shower! The most expensive shower I have
27 June -
Riverbend Campground – Lewis and Clark SP - 98 km
throughout the night and when I woke in the morning, I could
still hear the rain dripping on the tent. I curled up and slept
for another hour or so. Upon waking the second time, I found
that the rain had abated so I quickly packed up, donned my rain
gear and headed down the road. It was not a bad ride and I even
found a bike path which lead through the woods for about 15 – 20
miles. It drizzled from time to time, but nothing to complain
In Toledo I
stopped at the supermarket, bought some food for the night, and
then headed on down the road in search of a camping spot. I
found the Lewis and Clark SP, which was a lovely place to camp
amongst the woods. I must admit that there were some mighty
strange noises in the woods…. I just closed up the tent and
hoped that nothing would carry me away during the night!!
28 June - Lewis
and Clark SP – Vancouver - 108 km
It rained on and
off all day with the result that I did not stop much and hardly
took any photos. There is not much one can do, so I pulled my
cap down low and headed down the road! Along the way I stopped
at a Burger Hut and sat staring in amazement at the people
coming and going. Some had, obviously, already had a few burgers
too many and the last thing they needed was a LARGE milkshake!!
When it started
raining again, I turned into the first inexpensive-looking motel
and had a fairly comfortable room for the night.
29 June -
Vancouver – Portland - 60 km
I was going to
visit Vicki, a 365-project friend, so took my time in packing
up. It was a short ride to their house and no reason to rush. I
stopped in Vancouver to look at the Old Fort and then looked for
a bicycle path across the river. My map and GPS did not show any
bike paths, but I eventually found one.
It was a glorious
day and the bike path next to the river was jam-packed with
cyclists. I stopped at Blue Lake Park, a very large and scenic
area. Everyone was out in the park, kids were swimming and
people were enjoying the good weather.
I cycled to Johan
and Vicki’s place and was treated like royalty by these two
amazing people. They did not just offer me a bed for the night
but also treated me to supper (clam chowder on the floating
restaurant). Back at home we chatted away while my laundry was
30 June -
Portland – The Dalles - 123 km
It was a stunning
day, the sun was out and I could even wear my shorts as I waved
goodbye to John and Vicki and continued my journey along the
Columbia River. The road ran through the Columbia River Gorge
and for most of the way I followed the Historic Highway. It was
a stunning ride past plenty of waterfalls and scenic areas.
Vicki packed plenty for me to eat along the way; it must have
been those chocolate chip cookies that gave me the energy as I
felt good and I cycled all the way to The Dalles, a small
village along the way.
1 July - The
Dalles - 32 km
I woke with a sore
throat and could feel a fat cold coming on. I had no patience
for these minor illnesses and was kind of hoping that it would
just disappear again, sigh……I’m not superwoman after all!! LOL.
On my way out of town, I stopped at Safeway and loaded up with
some stuff that claimed to clear a cold in record time (yes,
I felt rotten and
only cycled 30 kilometres to the next campsite and thought it a
good idea to stay put for the rest of the day. It was a real
pity as it was a fantastic day and it would have been a great
day on the road. It was also a wind-free day and I understand
that the gorge is a notoriously windy area.
2 July - The
Dalles – Boardman - 114 km
I was wondering if
I should stay for another day, but my restlessness got the
better of me and I packed my belongings and headed out. I picked
up a strong tailwind and it was an easy ride to Boardman. Good
thing too, as I was not feeling all that well.
In Boardman, I
found a beautiful campsite with a most luxurious lawn right on
the river. I cycled to the shops and got myself a whole lot of
food, but I had no appetite and only ate a salad.
The pedal or
bottom bracket of my bike was making the most ungodly noise, but
there was no bike shop in town and I hoped that it would see me
through to the next town, which was about 30 miles along the
3 July -
Boardman – Pendleton & Shuttle bus to La Grande - 100 km (&
45miles by shuttle bus)
I cycled to the
bike shop and was surprised at the well-stocked shop in such a
small village. I replaced the pedals and set off with a good
tail wind. After leaving the Columbia River, I was in amongst
the wheat fields. I was still suffering from a cold and did not
feel too energetic but pedalled on over the hills until I could
see Pendleton way down in the valley.
In Pendleton, I
found big road signs indicating that the road between Pendleton
and La Grange were off limits for bicycles as they were busy
working on the road. There was, however, a shuttle bus service
between the two towns. The bus was only at 17h00 so I had some
waiting to do.
In the process, I
missed out on a big climb and was happy that I did not have to
slog up that long hill!! Once in the pretty town of La Grange I
found myself a motel room and kicked back for the rest of the
4 - 6 July - La
Grange – Baker City - 72 km
I was hopeful that
my cold would be gone in the morning but, in fact, I felt even
worse. I cycled down Highway 84 until I reached the top of the
hill. I could see the road stretching out for miles in front of
me, all the way to the small historic town of Baker City. I had
a strong suspicion that it was going to be the last flat road
for a while.
I felt positively
rotten and booked into the Eldorado Inn and went to sleep. It
was a pity that I felt as miserable as I did, as it was
Independence Day, and although all countries celebrate their
independence, there is no country that celebrates it with as
much gusto as the Americans.
I woke in the
morning feeling all blocked up, my head felt heavy and my chest
tight. I knew there was no point in cycling when feeling like
that, so I stayed one more day. I took a walk to the shop, got
some more flu tablets and went back to bed.
The following day
I did not feel much better so I stayed one more day.
7 July - Baker
City – Ontario - 135 km
I felt a million
times better and was ever so happy to be back on the bike. The
road followed what is known as the “Old Oregon Trail". The
trail was an old wagon route and emigrant trail that runs from
east to west across the country, very similar to the “Great
Trek” in South Africa.
The landscape also
reminded me of South Africa as it resembled the Karoo. The road
passed through sleepy settlements with abandoned train stations,
a railway line, a pub and church!
I followed the
Snake River and with a name like that I was unwilling to camp on
the river bank. I have been extremely lucky with the weather as
it was around 30°C during the day – perfect for cycling. I was
on a bit of a downhill run and continued to Ontario - my last
stop before crossing the state border to the state of Idaho.
8 – 9 July -
Ontario – Boise - 97 km
I crossed the
state border into Idaho and continued on until I reached the
turnoff for Boise. I headed downtown and followed the cycle path
along the greenbelt until I reached the city centre. From there
it was a short ride to Rachel and Patrick’s home. I have never
met them and only knew them from Facebook as they have done a
fair amount of cycle touring. Not only did they have a beautiful
home, they were also the nicest people one could imagine. We
chatted and chatted and I was easily convinced to stay another
Patrick was born
and raised in The Nederlands and as Holland was playing in the
semi-finals of the World Cup Soccer we went to the local pub to
watch the game. Unfortunately, Holland lost but we still had a
10 - 13 July -
I was invited to
join Rachel and Patrick on a river rafting trip down the Wallowa
and Grande Ronde Rivers. It was a long drive to the start where
we camped the first evening. The following day we started our
trip, I went with Bobby (and his dog Trixi), Gordy was on his
own, Rachel and Patrick were in one boat, and Bob, Ivy and Eve
(and Bob’s dog) in another boat. They were all incredibly nice
people and we had a total blast on the river.
The weather played
along and it was in the high 90’s but nice and cool on the
river. Bob and Bobby fished from time to time and whatever was
caught went back into the river.
In the evening, we
camped along the riverbank and I was rather impressed with their
conservation efforts as not a single scrap of anything was left
behind at the places we camped. They were rather well-organised
and I could see it was not the first time they did a river trip
- even the dogs had lifejackets!
The time passed
far too quickly and soon it was time to load the bikes and drive
back to the city.
14 July - Boise
I had all
intensions of using my day in Boise productively and do
something useful, like washing my sleeping bag; instead I played
with my camera in the garden and just enjoyed being in a real
home. Rachel and Patrick is also a Warm Showers host and that
evening Sarah (another cyclist) arrived. We had supper together
and then it was time for me to pack my bags and get ready to get
back on the road.
15 July - Boise
– Glenn’s Ferry - 125 km
It was time to say
goodbye to Rachel and Patrick. I had all intentions of turning
off at Mountain Home and following Route 20, but the wind picked
up and as soon as I turned off I was straight into the wind.
Just there and then I decided to turn around and rather continue
down Route 84.
It was an
extremely desolate area, not much was happening along the way
and with a strong tail wind I was blown all the way to Glenn’s
Ferry. I reached the “Three Islands SP” early but (as Patrick
had warned) the price for camping was so high that I turned
around and left again.
turned out to be a rather interesting place, as it was one of
the most famous and treacherous river crossings on the Oregon
Trail. Not only was it steeped in history, it also turned out to
be the home of Equine Dentistry!!
16 July -
Glenn’s Ferry – Truck stop - 109 km
It was the first
day since leaving Seattle that I had a head wind. I was hoping
that it would change, but it stayed east-north-east all day,
with the result that the going was a bit slow. I slowly
continued on and stopped at each and every gas station to fill
my water bottle. There was not much happening along the road,
except for the Snake River Gorge which was an interesting
17 July - Truck
Stop – American Falls - 135 km
I picked up a nice
tailwind and it was an easy day on the road, past farmlands and
wind farms, indicating that it was a notoriously windy area.
Route 84 (which I have been following for a long time) turned
south and I followed Route 86, which veered north in the
direction of both Canada and Yellowstone National Park.
18 July -
American Falls – Idaho Falls - 130 km
Again, I had a
really good tail wind and again it was an easy day on the road.
From Pocatello, the road headed north through the Indian
reservation of Fort Hall and past Blackfoot with its potato
In Idaho Falls I
stopped at Dave’s Bike Shop. They changed the inner tube and
also found what was causing the slow puncture. Not only did they
change the tube they also did not charge me for it!! What
happened to Capitalism??
I then set off in
search of a cheap room which turned out to be more difficult
than expected. Once I found one, it was way out of town and
after off-loading my panniers I had to cycle back into the town
to look for food.
19 July - Idaho
falls – Warm Waters campsite - 110 km
Along the way, I
listened to a book I downloaded and what a sad book it was!! I
passed vast fields of seed potatoes and even larger fields of
I met a French
family cycling around the area. Unfortunately, their holiday was
soon coming to an end and they planned on hiring a car to tour
Yellowstone National Park where I was heading.
I reached Warm
Waters campsite in good time and lazed about for the rest of the
day. It was a very popular site and campers where floating on
inner tubes downstream, then running back to do it again. It was
a great spot with plenty trees next to the river. There were no
showers but I guess that is what the river was for.
20 – 21 July -
Warm Rivers Campsite – Western Yellowstone - 95km
I crossed the
continental divide and entered the state of Montana. I
understand that the state's name is derived from the Spanish
word ‘montaña’ (mountain); I guess I can expect a few hills. I
also read that Montana is ranked fourth in size but only 48th in
population density, out of the 50 States in the US. The western
third of Montana contains 77 named mountain ranges, all forming
part of the Rocky Mountains. I sincerely hoped not all 77 were
on my path!
I reached West
Yellowstone and found a good campsite and supermarket in the
I also stayed the
following day, did my laundry, and was just hanging around the
campsite. Good thing too, as a storm passed through, complete
with thunder, lightning and hail.
22 July - West
Yellowstone – Norris campsite - 52 km
I had a slow start
to the day as I knew it was not going to be a long day on the
road. I paid my $12 entry fee to Yellowstone National Park
(valid for an entire 7 days) and cycled down the road. I soon
entered the state of Wyoming as most of the park is situated in
Wyoming. It was the most remarkable day, the scenery surpassed
all expectations. Yellowstone is truly one of a kind, a place
where the earth bubbles, splatters and steams! Geysers erupted
in front of my eyes; truly one of the most surreal places I have
I camped at Norris
and met a British family travelling in the area; I learned from
them that an on-line visa application for Canada takes two
months!! I now have little hope of getting the visa in time to
23 July -
Norris Campsite – Gardiner - 42 km
It was a short but
interesting day through the Park and I stopped at many sites to
have a look. I stayed in Gardiner for the night to rethink my
route. The wind picked up and the forecast was 35 miles an hour
in an easterly direction. My idea of going to Glacier National
Park went out of the window as there was no way I was cycling
into that wind.
24 July -
Gardiner – Big Timber - 152 km
forecast turned out to be spot-on and the wind got stronger and
stronger. I flew down the road reaching speeds of 60 km/h!! From
Gardiner I headed north to Livingston and was dreading the
change, as from Livingston the road veered east.
Amazingly, once in
Livingston the wind changed and again I had it behind me. I
reached Big Timber in good time and booked into a motel as I
could not see a campsite in town. If the wind stayed like this I
will have little choice but to move with it, wherever it may
That night I sent
an email to the Canadian visa office, enquiring exactly how long
the visa would take and how I would receive it. In the meantime,
I planned on heading east and staying fairly close to the
border, just in case the visa came through. I thought of giving
it another week and if I did not hear anything from them, I’m
would change direction again.
25 July - Big
Timber – Laurel - 112 km
There was truly
not much happening along the road. I was still following the
Yellowstone River, which I understood is the longest undammed
river in the US. The wind was not as strong as the day before
and my legs felt a bit tired after the previous day’s long
I pulled into
Laurel and got myself a room. I could easily have carried on to
Billings (another 22 miles) but I did not want to pull the ass
right out of the chicken (as the saying goes in Afrikaans), so I
decided to stay and relax for the rest of the day.
That evening I had
another look at the map and decided to head for Mount Rushmore
National Park. I have given up hope of ever getting the Canadian
26 – 27 July -
Laurel – Hardin - 105 km + 52 km
My room was cheap
as it was next to the railway line. It was a real good deal as
it included a good self-serve breakfast. My neighbours
complained about the noise from the trains, but I must admit I
never heard a thing!
I continued on to
Billings and then turned slightly south-east in the direction of
Mount Rushmore. It was a dreadfully boring road; it was hot, dry
and rather lonely. Wheat fields stretched as far as the eye
could see. The only bit of excitement was a flat tyre from all
the tyre debris along the road.
The first village
I reached was Hardin with a good campsite and a few places to
eat. I suited me just fine - I got myself a beer and a packet of
crisps and set up camp for the night.
morning I packed up and left, but an hour or so down the road I
realised that I left my solar charger and phone behind. There
was not much I could do but turn around and go back. Upon my
return at the campsite, I found the owners frantically phoning
around trying to locate me. That was so nice of them!! I was
also invited for a lunch BBQ.
28 – 29 July -
Hardin – Ranchester - 120km
The going was slow
as it was slightly uphill and into a slight breeze. The scenery
was unchanged as I cycled past more vast areas of wheat fields.
The interesting part is that harvesting was not done by the
farmers but by harvesters. The harvesters working in this area
employed no less than six South African youngsters to drive the
Although it was
not far it took nearly the entire day to reach my destination
and I was dead tired by the time I got there. One of those
days!!! I pitched my tent, got some food and a beer, and that
was me - done for the day.
It rained all
night and it was still raining as I woke, so I thought it a good
idea to stay put and relax for the day before tackling the
(anticipated) hills ahead. The rain abated and I took a walk
down to the river and the old battlefield. I always find it sad
when a whole tribe has been wiped out; it is so final and cannot
I spent the day in
the small town of Ranchester. It had no shop, except for a small
store and the gas station, but it had a gunsmith and a
taxidermist and no less than two churches! It also had the
Cowboy State Bank; I’m not sure I want to put my hard earned
money in a bank with a name like that. In my walkabout town, I
had two people praying for me!! I must look a wreck!!
30 July -
Ranchester – Buffalo - 95 km
I felt miles more
energetic after a day of rest and it was a pleasure to be on the
road. I followed the old “Black Diamond Trail", referring to the
coal mining of yester year. Although the peak mining years are
long one, there is still coal mining being done in the area.
The road climbed
slowly to Buffalo and once there I cycled all around town
looking for a camping spot. There were no less than two
campgrounds, but all were rather expensive. In the end, I
settled for “Indian Campground” as they gave me a bit of a
discount. Then it was off to the shops for my nightly beer and
31 July -
Buffalo – Gillette - 115 km
I was dreading the
ride as the weather forecast predicated a headwind. It turned
out not be too bad and around midday the wind changed in my
favour. It was a rather barren landscape, with not even a small
town or farm to be seen. Thank goodness for a rest area where I
could fill up with water before continuing on to Gillette.
1 August -
Gillette – Upton - 89 km
I woke to a
southerly wind - the forecast predicated that by 10h00 the wind
will be in a westerly direction, so I took my time in packing
up, whiling the time by chatting to the other campers. I had an
Egg McMuffin and coffee at McDonalds and by the time I finished
the wind was westerly, as predicated.
It was an easy
cycle to Moorcroft where I swung left onto Route 16. First, I
stopped at a small local museum to have a look and then
continued on down the road.
and I could hear distant rumbling and I pedalled as quickly as
my legs could manage. The sign at the entrance of the next town
stated: “Upton, best town on Earth”! I guess it was a bit of an
exaggeration as the population of Upton is a mere 1000 and I
guess that was for the “greater” Upton area!!
falling I pulled into the local motel in Upton. The owner
offered me a room at half the price, making the room the same
price as camping!! He also offered me the use of the laundry.
What a wonderful man (or was it perhaps due to the smell?)
2 August -
Upton – Custer - 103 km
I cycled past the
local oil fields, apparently also the oldest oil fields in the
area. The oil must be very shallow as the drills were
half-sized! I headed in the direction of Mount Rushmore and
once past Newcastle the road swung east and headed for the Black
Hills. Needless to say, it was a hilly ride and into the wind on
top of that. Along the way I got attacked by horse flies, or the
like, and was going too slowly uphill to cycle away from them.
I carried only
slowly until I got the KOA campsite just outside of Custer. I
thought it a good enough place but was utterly shocked at the
price…. $42 for a campsite. Apparently, there was a huge bike
rally on at Sturgis and all the places were full. It was even
sadder to find that they only sold beer in 24 packs!! So no
beer for me!! At least the shower was good but what a price to
pay for a shower!!! I was tired and in no mood for talking to
anyone in the campsite. (As if it was their fault that the
campsite was expensive and that beer was only sold in 24 packs -
3 August -
Custer – Rapid City - 87 km
I cycled along and
firstly stopped at the very impressive Crazy Horse Memorial. The
memorial consists of a mountain carving of Crazy Horse (an
Oglala Lakota warrior).
The monument is
being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, land considered sacred
by some Oglala Lakota. The sculpture's final dimensions are
planned to be 641 feet (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high.
The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet (27 m) high; by
comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount
Rushmore are only 60 feet (18 m) high. The monument has been in
progress since 1948 and is very far from completion.
Then it is off to
Mount Rushmore where one can see the colossal statues of
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.
The Sturgis bike
rally was on and around 500 000……. that’s right, 500 000 bikers
attended the rally. The roads were packed with bikes and all
campsites and motels in the area were all filled to the brim!
The bikers came in all shapes and sizes. The riders were both
men and women, all seemingly tattooed from head to toe, and some
of those mammas were big; they sit on a Harley that it looks
like a 50cc. The reason for their size soon became obvious as
one saw them sitting with a large ice cream cone in one hand and
a large Coke in the other.
4 August -
Rapid City to Wall - 89 km
I had a quick bite
at McDonalds and then followed Route 90 in an easterly
direction. The road stretched dead straight for miles ahead;
unfortunately, the wind came up and it was an unpleasant ride
into the wind. At the tiny, but interesting, town of Wall I
called it a day and found a campsite for $10 which is considered
cheap at this time.
Wall is not only
situated opposite the entrance to the Badlands National Park but
it is also home to “Wall Drug”, a popular road side stop/shop
along the way. Wall Drug started off as a Drug store and grew to
what it is today; a large and popular roadside attraction. Wall
is also home to a large and funky Harley Davidson shop - so the
town was bustling with bikers on their way to Sturgis.
5 August - Wall
The plan was to
cycle through the Badlands National Park but the wind was
howling and it was a rather miserable day. I decided to stay put
in the campsite and enjoy Wall for the rest of the day.
6 August - Wall –
1880 Town - 105 km
There was no
change in the weather and not much I could do about it, but I
packed up and carried on. It was drizzling as I left Wall, and
it was another day into the wind. There was not much happening
along the way, so I entertained myself by taking selfies!
Towards the end of
the day, I caught up with another cyclist, cycling around the
USA. He was trying to cycle in all 50 states, which sounded a
bit monotonous to me, going around and around in the same
country, while the whole continent is there to be cycled, but
each to his own. We chatted for a while, and I waved him goodbye
and went on my way again.
At the end of the
day, I ended up in a small roadside town, with its only claim to
fame that it was one of the film locations for the movie, Dances
7 August - 1880
Town – Kennebec - 105 km
It was a long
monotonous day on the road. There was no change of scenery and
the road stretched on for miles through farmlands. Still the
road was packed with bikers to and from the Sturgis Rally.
I followed the old
highway which ran parallel with the interstate, making it much
quieter. Eventually, I pulled into the KOA at Kennebec but it
was so frigging expensive I could just as well have taken a
8 August -
Kennebec – Chamberlain - 55 km
There was no
change in either the weather or scenery, and I had no energy to
deal with the boredom. As soon as I crossed the Missouri River,
I called it a day and set up camp. It was a pleasant campsite on
the banks of the river.
As it was still
early, I cycled to the shop, did a bit of shopping, and had a
long shower. I chatted to a few people in the campsite but as I
felt tired (and it started drizzling) I retreated early to my
I was rather snug
and decided to stay another day. There was not much to do but
relax and eat. I did at least cycle up the one and only hill to
take a few pics of the river.
10 August -
Chamberlain – Mitchell - 117 km
I felt energized
and set off down the road and across the last of the Great
Plains of the US. The plains are an enormous expanse of steppes,
in some places nearly as desolate as in the frontier days.
happened along the way except that at one of my fuel stops I met
the local priest who bought me a cup of coffee. I guess there is
not much for him to do in such a small place which, judging by
the large signboards along the way, are rather conservative.
boards along the way indicated that the area was pro-war but
anti-abortion! I don’t know how one justifies killing grown men,
but God forbid one should choose to have an abortion!! I guess
it is all right to kill people from a different race, culture
I continued on
until I reached Mitchell, a fair size town with no less than
three campgrounds. I pitched my tent and then went in search of
food in the village.
11 August -
Mitchell – Sioux Falls - 115 km
I first had coffee
with one of the other campers and then chatted for ages to two
bikers travelling around the USA. Finally, I left and cycled
through the village of Mitchell, which turned out to be quite
interesting. It even had a “Corn Palace”!! I guess this is corn
country - LOL.
All the murals
were made of cob and inside they were selling all kinds of corn
related things, including racks and racks of T-shirts and other
curios. I had a quick bite to eat, and it was 11h00 by the time
I left Mitchell.
I followed a side
road past the small and interesting towns of Alexandria, Emery
and Bridgewater. I love these small towns, as they all look like
they are straight from a movie set, to such an extent that I’m
sometimes quite surprised to find actual people living there.
12 August -
Sioux Falls – Luverne - 60 km
At first I cycled
around Sioux Falls. The city is surrounded by parks and a cycle
path runs all the way around the city; what a pleasure it was. I
stopped at the falls, took a few pics, and then continued along
delightfully odd country this is! I have arrived in the Midwest,
which is clearly not even close to the “Midwest”, no matter how
I turn the map it remains more North / North East. A place where
a pie refers to something sweet and dessert-like, instead of the
savoury, meaty main meal I'm used to. A place where a scone is a
biscuit, and not eaten with jam and cream (like I'm used to),
but with egg and bacon or gravy. I love travelling!!
I felt lazy and
stopped at the small village of Luverne, got myself a room as I
needed the internet, and spent the rest of the day on the
13 August -
Luverne – Jackson - 113 km
It was the most
glorious morning as I set off. There was hardly any wind, the
sky was a brilliant blue and the temperature was perfect. I
cycled past small villages with a population of approximately
200. All was well in the Midwest, the corn was high in the
fields, the cattle were fat and the soybeans looked ready to be
harvested…...One cannot ask for much more.
I also discovered
that somewhere along the way I gained another hour - quite
miraculously these things happen from time to time.
14 August -
Jackson – Blue Earth - 84 km
I woke to a
beautiful sunrise, packed my tent, had a cup of coffee, and
ventured further east. The road led me past more cornfields,
soybeans, pig farms and small villages.
Not much was
happening along the road so I stopped and watched the dare-devil
crop-sprayers at work. There was, however, such a strong smell
of poison in the air that I only snapped a few pics and then
moved upwind to watch for a few more minutes.
Once I reached the
small village of Blue Earth, I decided to stay there for the
night. It was not entirely necessary, but I jumped at the
opportunity of a room. The next village was about another 40
miles away, which would have made it a very long day.
15 August -
Blue Earth – Albert Lee - 75 km
It was one of
those days that dragged on forever. I took one of the back roads
and there was nothing of interest along the way. Saying that;
there is always something happening along the way. On this day,
a farmer stopped and gave me $5, saying I must have a cup of
coffee. That was so sweet of him and I did exactly that!!
There is not much
point in cycling if it is not enjoyable, so I pulled into a
lovely campsite on the outskirts of Albert Lee.
16 August -
Albert Lee – Preston - 115 km
I felt more
energetic and it was an enjoyable day on the road. The weather
was perfect and hardly any wind to speak of. I was on a dirt
road through farmlands for most of the day and was very
impressed by the farming activities; it all was so neat and
well-organized. The homesteads all looked well-maintained and
the fields immaculate and well-tended.
Minnesota is a
rather “roomy” state and I hardly saw anyone, except for a few
small villages along the way. In Preston, I discovered that one
can camp at the fairground for a reasonable price (sometimes it
is even free).
I did my usual
shopping for food and beer and set up tent. I hardly ever cook
in this country as it is very convenient to get food from the
17 August -
Preston – La Crosse - 106 km
I waited, but no
one came to collect my camping fee. I discovered a cycle path
which ran all the way from Preston to Houston. It was a lovely
path that followed the Root River. Again it ran through the
quaintest of villages and I was happy for a change of scenery.
Along the way, I
met Alex and Jill, a wonderful couple, out for the weekend with
their 2-year old son, Lennon. They cycled from La Crosse to
Lanesboro, camped there and were on their way back home when I
met them. They invited me to camp in their garden for the night
and what a great time I had. Jill made a lovely supper and we
had a beer or two. I also did my laundry and had a real good
18 August - La
Crosse – Norwalk - 70 km
All good things
come to an end and after a lovely breakfast I was on my way
again. I received loads of information from Alex and Jill, and
after I visited the outdoor store and computer shop, it was
nearly midday by the time I cycled out of town.
I soon found the
bike path which ran all the way to Reedsburg. It was an
interesting trail as, for the most part, it followed the old
railway line, now converted into a bike path. Building the
railway line through the Wisconsin hills must have been quite a
task. Low laying areas were filled in and tunnels dug through
the hills, making it a very nice even 3-degree grade.
extraordinary thing was that the tunnels were real cold inside.
To such an extent that condensation was flowing out of the
tunnel like smoke! It was a real scary and spooky tunnel as it
was long and pitch dark (without being able to see the light at
the other end). Water dripped down from the ceiling and bats
skirted around my head…..I was pleased to get out on the other
Shortly after the
tunnel, I cycled into the small (and I mean small) village of
Norwalk. There I found free camping in the village park with
toilets, water and showers.
thunder made me take cover and I pitched my tent under the
covered area in the park. After a shower, I felt like something
sweet and walked across the road to a small shop selling
milkshakes. Unfortunately, Lisa was closing up just as I got
there and instead she invited me for a beer at the local pub. It
turned out to be a rather interesting evening!!
19 - 21 August
- Norwalk – Reedsburg - 73 km
Today the tunnels
were not as long and scary. I found the large doors intriguing
and read that double doors were built to seal in warmer
temperatures during cold weather (and keep the snow out). Tunnel
watchmen were hired to open and close the doors.
It was an easy and
relaxing ride to Reedsburg. I spotted a computer shop and found
myself a room close by. I was, however, too late for the
The following day
I took the laptop in to see if they could sort out Skype (which
stopped working). While they worked on the computer I took my
sleeping bag to the laundry for its yearly wash!!! It is not the
washing, but the drying that takes most of the time.
there was nothing they could do about Skype; it looks like I
will have to buy a new laptop again.
On the morning of
the 21st I woke to bucketing rain. I waited a while but it never
lit up. At midday, I decided to stay another day and relaxed in
front of the TV.
22 August - Reedsburg – De
Forest KOA - 80 km
It turned out a
very interesting day. My first stop was at the Reedsburg Pioneer
Village. The Pioneer Log Village is a representation of early
Reedsburg and the immediate Sauk County area. It consists of
nine original log cabins, some having been moved intact from the
surrounding area and others rebuilt from the original logs.
Three pioneer homes, an 1873 one-room school, a 1873 log church,
a general store and post office, a library and the blacksmith
shop, make up the village. Unfortunately, the buildings were
closed due to the heat!! Or, at least, that is what they said.
It was only 25ᵒC, but I must admit that it was incredibly humid.
My next stop was
at beautiful Devil’s Lake. Not only does it have a beautiful
lake but it is also home to some stunning rock outcrops. I read
that “Devil's Lake State Park’s bluffs are part of the Baraboo
Range, which scientists believe were formed 1.6 billion years
ago, making them one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North
I kept crossing
the “Ice Age Trail,” a thousand-mile footpath, entirely within
Wisconsin. It is said that more than 12 000 years ago, an
immense flow of glacial ice formed the landscape here. The
glacier retreated and left behind a variety of unique landscape
Next, I arrived at
the Merrimac Ferry, across Lake Wisconsin. Nowadays, it is more
of a tourist attraction than anything else. It is more a barge
than a ferry as it gets pulled across the river by cables.
Once on the other
side, I continued on past the small towns of Lodi and Dane. Just
past Dane a friendly man stopped and offered to take my panniers
to my next destination; how very kind of him.
It was incredibly
humid as I pitched my tent at De Forest. Unfortunately, I soon
had to retreat into the tent to avoid the biting things.
Although hot it was fun to lie in the tent watching the
fireflies dart around the tent.
I can, for the
life of me, not imagine winter in Wisconsin. I understand that
the average temperature for December, January and February is
around 5F!!! Hard to believe that right now it is hot and humid
and it looks very tropical.
23 August - De
Forest – Waukesha - 135 km
I took my time in
packing up and cycled along back roads past houses displaying
their produce for sale on the pavement…. it all looked rather
It was an easy and
interesting day on the road, as soon I found myself on a bike
path which led me all the way to Waukesha. It was already late
by the time I got to Waukesha; I could not find any campground
and the only motels were way on the other side of town.
24 August -
Waukesha – Muskegon - 22 km (ferry)
It was a short
ride, partly on a bike path, to the ferry terminal at Milwaukee.
I met Bob, another cyclist, along the way and he accompanied me
all the way to the ferry terminal. I was just in time to board
the ferry, which came at a hefty $100 fee. It was, however, very
comfortable and fast - two hours later we arrived at Muskegon,
Michigan. By that time, I was too lazy to continue and found
myself a room for the night.
25 August -
Muskegon – Holland - 50 km
It was another
short day on the road; it rained for most of the day but it
cleared towards the end of the day. I took a room at a motel in
Holland as I wanted to reload the map on the Garmin, and for
that I needed not only an internet connection, but a fast
internet connection. Something went wrong, and once switched on
the screen just remained blank.
The town of
Holland came as a bit of a surprise as it was truly a small
Holland, complete with windmills and wooden shoes! They were
even selling apple strudel at the supermarket.
26 August -
Holland – Covert - 78 km
It rained for most
of the day and I was plain miserable. Fortunately, it was not
cold and once the thunder and lightning started I took cover in
a roadside shop. With the worst over, I set off again but called
it a day when I spotted a KOA campsite in Covert.
27 August -
Covert – Vicksburg - 80 km
I slept well and
it was after 8h00 by the time I woke up. I slowly packed up, had
some coffee from a small store at the campsite, and it was 10h30
by the time I cycled out of there.
It was time to cut
across the state of Michigan towards Lake Erie. There was no
clear road heading across the state, so I zigzagged through
farmlands on country roads. Just before crossing the border into
Ohio I met Sharon Wimple who was running for state
representative and I wished her well in the elections. Before I
left she put a few dollars in my hand and told me to go have a
meal. This is the second time this has happened; I must be
getting thin… ha-ha.
arrived at Vicksburg with a campground on the outskirts of town.
It was a rather costly site, but a friendly guy invited me to
share his site. He had a friend who also pulled his van there
for the night and we made a nice fire and sat around having a
few beers. My hosts (unfortunately) proceeded to get completely
pissed and I went off to my tent early. While laying there I
could hear them chatting away, getting more and more pissed as
the hours went by. I fell asleep but woke in the middle of the
night with one of them sitting outside my tent telling me how
much he liked me and suggested that he lay down next to me!! I
told him to fuck off, that he was crazy and that it was in the
middle of the night. I have never seen a drunken man scuttle so
28 August -
Vicksburg – Jonesville - 93 km
It was another day
of zigzagging through farmlands. I preferred cycling through the
small towns as they are quite interesting. There was not much I
could do as the roads running through the villages were narrow
and busy, and the lack of a shoulder made it very uncomfortable.
As I cycled into
Jonesville I spotted a roadside motel, and as they were very
reasonably priced I took a room and updated my photos and
journal while watching TV.
29 August -
Jonesville – Twin Acres Campground Swanton - 115 km
happened along the way and I was happy to find a trail through
the forest just for a change of scenery. As soon as I crossed
the border into Ohio I was back amidst the corn fields and the
customary red barns. The day dragged on but, finally, I arrived
at Swanton, bought some food in the village and then cycled off
to the campsite. It was Labor Day weekend and the campsite was
chock-a-block full. Fortunately, they had space for a small
30 - 31 August
- Swanton – Stony Ride KOA - 33 km
I did not feel
like cycling and was stuck on the outskirts of the camp and
(although nice) the site had no water, electricity or Wi-Fi. I
packed up and cycled the short distance to Stony Ride.
Being Labor Day
weekend, everything was again chock-a-block full (and nearly
double the normal price). I decided to lay low and wait for the
storm to pass before continuing.
Times like these
always give opportunity to haul out the macro lens. What I like
about this lens (Canon Macro 100 mm 1:2.8 L) is that when I get
the focus right I can zoom in and crop to my heart’s content
without losing detail.
1 - 2 September
- Stony Ride – Norwalk - 92 km
I found a cycle
path that followed the old original railroad between New York
and Chicago. I cycled past the interesting villages of Elmore,
Lindsey, Fremont, Clyde, and Bellevue and finally landed up in
the little town of Norwalk.
I also stayed in
Norwalk the following day as the weather report predicted heavy
storms. Nothing, however, came of the bad weather except for a
3 September -
Norwalk – Motel 6, Middleburg Heights - 77 km
I woke to a
beautiful morning and it was good to be on the road again. It
felt like each and every dog in the district wanted a piece of
me today, especially the little ones, and they are the most
dangerous! I did not go very far as I soon reached the
outskirts of Cleveland. As I didn’t want to stay in the city I
took a room at Motel 6.
4 September -
Motel 6 – Geneva state park - 95 km
It was an
interesting ride through the city of Cleveland. As I cycled into
the city centre, I passed underneath the Hope Memorial Bridge
with its “Guardians of Traffic”. Each of the eight guardians
carved on the bridge pylons holds a different vehicle in his
hand. Apparently they represent the history of ground transport
— from a stagecoach, covered wagon and hay rack, to a 1930’s-era
automobile and four types of trucks. In the process, I also got
a wonderful view of the city itself.
Lakeshore Road that was in a very poor condition (except for a
bit through the well-off areas) and going was a bit slow.
Fortunately, I was soon out of the city and riding along Lake
Erie. I pitched my tent at Geneva State Park - this time I paid
for my own site, no more sharing!!
5 September -
Geneva State Park – Erie - 95 km
The weather was
stunning as I set off along Lake Erie. No sooner was I on the
road or I crossed the state border into the state of
Pennsylvania. The state was founded in 1681 as a Quaker
In the town of
Erie, I called it a day and camped at a campsite right on the
water. It was a lovely spot but that night a storm came in and I
feared that my tent was not going to withstand the high wind. I
crawled out into the rain, pegged in the guy ropes as best I
could, and waited for the storm to pass. Fortunately, it passed
quickly although it rained throughout the night.
6 September -
Erie – Dunkirk - 87 km
The rained passed
and again it was a beautiful day on the road. It was too far to
cycle to the falls in one day, so I decided to rather make it
two short days. It was, therefore, an easy ride to Dunkirk
through the vineyards. And just like that I left Pennsylvania
and crossed the state border into the state of New York!!
7 - 10
September - Dunkirk – Buffalo - 87 km
It was a beautiful
day again, the sky was blue and there was no wind to speak of. I
did not get very far as I spent most of the day talking to
people I met along the way.
Along the way, I
passed a large wooden statue of a Native American. I read that
(sadly) only about 1% of the current American population is
Native American. This is even less than Asian Americans,
Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans. It somehow does not
sound right to me, but that is what I read.
Buffalo I spotted a very professional looking bike shop and
decided to take my bike for a much needed service. I found
myself a room and checked in.
The next morning I
was off to the bike shop, just to find that they were closed on
a Monday!! In the meantime, I ordered myself the Canon EF
24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, something I have been eyeing for a
long time and could, therefore, not leave my abode until it
morning I was off to the bike shop and left my sad-looking bike
in their capable hands. The bike was going to take a few days
and not just one as I thought. Seeing that I had to wait for the
lens to be delivered, I could just as well do the whole lot in
11 - 14
September - Buffalo – Niagara Falls - 50 km
I packed my bike
and cycled along the river to Niagara Falls. It was quite an
amazing site - as I got closer the water started flowing faster
and I could see “smoke” rising in the distance. I was surprised
by the many features of the falls. First, it was not a
“waterfall type” area. Nothing lead up to the falls, it was as
if the earth just opened up and the water spilled over the
precipice to the river below.
I found a nice
hostel and stayed for three nights.
15 September -
Niagara Falls – Albion - 88 km
It was time to
continue my journey across the country to the east coast. My
bike was newly serviced and ran like new (albeit $550 later). My
new lens was on my camera, the sun was shining, and there was a
slight tail wind. Life was good!
16 September -
Albion – Newark - 117 km
It was another day
along the canal; I met interesting people and watched boats
cruising up the canal. It looked very nice and made me want to
do the same. The Erie Canal, which opened in 1825, is a waterway
running 363 miles from Albany, New York (Hudson River) to
Buffalo, New York (Lake Erie) allowing for a navigable water
route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
17 September -
Newark – De Witte - 105 km
The Erie Canal has
an interesting history. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries,
the lack of an efficient and safe transportation network kept
populations (and trade) largely confined to coastal areas.
Explorers had long searched for a water route to the west. In
1807, Jesse Hawley, a prisoner in the Canandaigua Jail, wrote a
series of essays proposing a waterway from Lake Erie to the
Atlantic Ocean. He described in great detail the route, costs,
and benefits of what would become the Erie Canal.
It was another
pleasant day along the canal, squirrels darted across the path,
grey herons waded in the shallows and I passed numerous old
locks along the way.
18 September -
De Witt – Rome - 60 km
I did not feel
like cycling and had a short day. It was lovely, as always,
along the trail with beautiful views of the woods and the canal.
19 September -
Rome – St Johnsville - 87 km
I cycled along the
trail passing many locks, some old and some still operating. I
watched as they let boats through and chatted to the operator
for a while. In St. Johnsville I camped at the Marina - a nice
place on the canal.
20 September -
St Johnsville – Schenectady - 87 km
Again I felt lazy
and was slow in packing up. I cycled along and soon stopped at a
McDonalds for breakfast. I followed the canal, sometimes flush
next to it and sometimes further away.
Although it was a
beautiful day, I again did not feel like cycling and stopped
early in Schenectady. The Imperial Motel was a real dump and not
cheap but there was no other option, so I took the room.
21 September -
Schenectady – Waterford - 40 km
It was a short
ride to the end of the Erie Canal Trail; I could not make up my
mind what to do next. I could follow the Hudson River north to
see some of the fall colours, or I could head straight to Boston
and fly out from there. I was a week or three too early to see
the leaves change colour and I was not sure that the detour
north would be worth the effort.
I found myself a
room with internet and had a good look at the map before
deciding what to do next.
22 September -
Waterford – Pittsfield - 76 km
Not much happened
along the way, except that I was not all too energetic. The best
thing was that I picked up $20 along the way and put it towards
a room at the Berkshire Inn, which made for a cheap room at the
end of the day.
23 September -
Pittsfield – Northampton - 70 km
I was not much in
the mood for cycling. There was, however, not much I could do
but load up the bike and head in the direction of Boston. I
always seem to feel a bit lethargic when it comes to the end of
a long ride. At the end of the day, I pulled into the Knight
Inn, just outside of town and just off the cycle path.
24 September -
Northampton – Worcester - 105 km
It was a slow day
on the road as it was slightly uphill all day, making for rather
slow going. It was, however, still beautiful as the fall colours
were starting to show themselves. I crept up the hills at a
rather slow pace and it was already late by the time I reached
25 - 30
September - Worcester – Boston - 70 km
It was a much
easier day than the previous day and it was slightly downhill
into Boston. I sped past small villages and trees in full autumn
colours, down cycle paths and right into the heart of Boston. I
soon found the hostel I had in mind, which was located in
Everett and on the outskirts of the city limits. Although
situated on the outskirts, there was a shuttle to the nearest
station which made it very convenient.
I was happy to
reach Boston as it marked the end of my trip through the
Americas. It was now time to relax, put my feet up, and see if I
could get a flight to another part of the world. Hopefully, to a
place where it will be nice and warm.
I spent the
following day in Boston doing absolutely nothing. I took a very
short walk to the local shopping plaza to look for a large and
cheap bag, in which I could pack all my belongings (except the
bike, of course).
I heard rumors
that one can get a bike-box at the airport, but I phoned two
airlines and the Boston airport, none of whom had boxes for
sale. I thought it a bit risky to buy a ticket, cycle to the
airport and then find that there was no bike box to be had.
I could also not
locate a nearby bicycle shop which could box it for me.
Eventually, I found Back Bay Cycles, a little further afield,
and left the bike in their capable hands for me to box.
As always, the
longer I stayed, the more I liked the city. Boston is much older
than I had expected, founded in 1630 by the English, it is also
the place where, between 1765 and 1783, the citizens revolted
against the British. Fed up with the high taxes levied by
Britain, the Boston Tea Party was formed. I found this all very
Steve, the owner
of the hostel, offered to give me a ride to the bike shop, pick
up the bike and bring it back to the hostel. He also offered
(can you believe this?) to get up at 4h00 and take me to the
airport, so I could be in time for my 6h00 flight to Jamaica. I
was immensely grateful for his generosity as it is always a
hassle to get me and my bike to the airport.