East Coast Wanderings

People like to tell other people what to do because we all mistakenly believe we’re someone else’s expert.  But what is true is regret.  You don’t want to spend the rest of your years wishing you had a second chance at life.

Steve Alaniz &Francesco Marciuliano  ( Sally Forth comics)

It is about time for another bike ride.  Have barely ridden much in past months with  variety of excuses. Hence we are off to ride the Erie Canal going between Buffalo, New York, then a week visiting friends and then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Washington D.C. via the Allegheny trail and C & O Towpath.

The cheap, smart and easy way would be to fly with the bikes, but the idea hit me why not drive cross country.  Jeanne, who is not very keen on road trips, was at first a definite no, but then warmed to the idea if we camped and rode our bikes at least an hour every day.  Ok, sounds good, google shows 4200 miles (6750 kilometres), thus 300 miles a day should be allow plenty of time to bike explore, rest, and enjoy.

Departed Anchorage 4 September, a tuesday with Tok in our sites.  alas a late start meant late into Tok and it was a bit of rain.  Got a motel.  Who wants to put up a tent in rain or take it down in rain, and cooking is another story.  Motel and restaurant were in order.  Morning was still a bit of rain, but OK.  We enjoyed the morning reading news, getting mad at world, because it does not conform to us, going to breakfast and finally departing about 10-11 am.

Made it to Takhini Hot Springs near Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.  It has become a mandatory stop since our first time in January of 1991 when at -20 degrees the ducks had found the only remaining open water, to be shared by us. It was raining again,  hence to the hostel.

Takhini Hot Springs water temp about 85-104 (29-40C)
Yukon river at Whitehorse
Watson Lake sign forest started about 1946 soon after the Alaska Highway was created
Side pool landscape at liars Hot Spring water about 39 degrees C here
Liard Hot Springs a provincial park of British Columbia-delightful
Jeanne on boardwalk to Liard hot springs.
Woodland Buffalo along the Alaska Highway
Alberta Wheat fields and oil
Edmonton, Alberta
rest stop in Riding Mountain National Park an amazing park which includes 3 distinct areas, the rocky uplift of metamorphic rocks, the boreal forest of higher elevations and latitudes here, and the last preserved grasslands of the plains.  (Apparently only 5% of the original plains remain and 3% are here.)
rest day in our one camp
Crossing the Continental Divide separating Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
Fall Colors
Lake Superior coastline (Ojibwa name is Gichi Gamiing) Pictographs on the walls.  Lake Superior is an amazing place.
Walking to the pictographs
forest walk at picnic area.  So many species of trees. Phenomenal to go from boreal forest to the temperate forests of mid latitudes.
Inuksuk                 a rock cairn built by Inupiats in the arctic to guide one through the flatlands.  There are numerous ones all along the roadways of Ontario.  This one stood nearly two meters high.

 

It is now the finish of day 14, and we are but 3 hours from Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York where we begin riding.  We have had the bikes off the car once, in Edmonton where we did not trust the security of the locks on the car and I rode them inside the motel.  30 meters.  It has rained a little every day except today, even snowing for a few minutes over a pass.  We did stop for a rest day at Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba and visited friends driving from Nova Scotia back to California, having been gone 6 months.  It was a great day and we camped for 2 nights, although ate dinner out and I made us breakfasts.

The amazing thing is we have felt rushed.  Google maps says it involves 2 days and 18 hours of driving.  But what of the questions and feeling the area, talking with people along the way,  We wanted to cross Canada and see Canada.  But how much time is enough.  We talked with a ranger at Riding Mountain  who had worked all over Canada (a huge country) but seemed to always return to Manitoba, as “there is so much to explore”. One can spend a lifetime in a place and still not know it.

I had thought Saskatchewan and Manitoba would just be flat boring landscape.  I was very wrong, they are exciting: the country is always changing- which fields are cut, which are piled with brush for what purpose – with geese always seeming to be flying about preparing for routes south, or blackbird flocks hopping out of the cattails, the Iskootuk landmarks along the granite cliffs of Ontario (Inupiaq rock cairns marking the way) .  Sandhill Cranes.  And as I have noted before in flat places there are no mountains blocking the view.

I realized I wanted to be on the bicycle.  That way one can feel the hills, smells the fields, experience the vastness. But that will come in a few days.  Being in a car one still sees that horizon and wonders what is over it, but on a bicycle one can feel it and one works to get there,  although I must admit my gas pedal foot is tired.

We now begin our transfer from sitting and driving to bicycling.  Still sightseeing, questioning, exploring and trying to figure out how we fit in this scheme.

and again for a different view check out Jeanne’s blog at jeanne’s blog

jeannemolitor.wordpress.com

Sometimes Jeanne and I view things quite differently and seems to be interesting that her views are sometimes very different than mine.

Canada has been awesome.  Not everything is perfect, but they do have a sense of taking care of themselves and others, very little trash,  great roads, frequent rest areas, provincial parks and national parks galore. No wonder Canadians are proud of their country, they have every right to be proud.

I did notice that throughout Canada everyone has driven civilly with almost all going the speed limit which makes driving much easier, but as we near Toronto I notice there are those who maintain and then those which are in a hurry to get somewhere.    Begin to ramble.

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