Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vermont







Currently in Pittsfield Vt., 6180 miles into the trip. As of today I have been on the road for three months with another 2+ months remaining to reach my goal of 10,000+ miles.

Yesterday I completed my ride through the Adirondack Mountains of NY. Rainy, overcast day. Today, I entered Vermont via ferry across Lake Champlain and spent the morning riding through dairy and apple orchard country. Ended the day riding in the Green Mountains. It was a picture perfect bicycling day, sunny, temperatures in the mid-70's with a wind at my back. Plenty of steep climbs and descents, reminded me of riding through the Rockies only the Mountains are not as high and the climbs as long. The ride was definitely a challenge, especially the 12% grades!

Yes, that is a herd of buffalo that I saw yesterday in the Adirondacks.

The Vermont towns I rode through all have a lot of history, most of them dating back to the 1700's. The communities are full of character and charm and are very quaint. Many of the buildings are from the 1800's and very picturesque. Maple syrup available at almost every turn. The French explorer, Samuel de Champlain became the first European to see the Vermont mountains when he sailed from Quebec City Canada down the St. Lawrence and Richelieu Rivers in 1609. Pittsfield was chartered in 1781 and over the years has been a logging and iron ore town. Currently it has about 300 residents, a general store, gas station and a couple of B&B's. The B&B I am at has been open since 1835.

Tomorrow I will complete the ride through Vermont and enter New Hampshire. More steep climbs and small communities.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Aunt Polly's






Currently in Newcomb New York, approximately 6060 miles into the trip. Rained early today and was overcast during the entire ride.

Continued riding East through the Adirondack Mountains. As noted from the pictures above the area has numerous lakes and marshes. Every day brings more Fall colors, although the peak is still several weeks away.

Newcomb is a small community of less than 500 people, very few stores, no motels and no restaurants. It's roots go back to the pre-colonial days of the Native American Algonquin and Iroquois tribes. It was formed in 1828 and over the years was a logging and iron ore mining community. Today it serves as an outdoor mecca for fishing, snowmobiling, hiking and camping. It was also the location where Teddy Roosevelt learned he was to become the President after President McKinley was killed in Buffalo, New York. Roosevelt was in Newcomb to climb Mt. Marcy the highest peak in the state of New York at the time of McKinley's death. Word of McKinley's death reached Roosevelt while he was on the mountain and he immediately left for Buffalo via foot, horseback and train, much of the trip taking place at night on very remote and dangerous roads.

Now about Aunt Polly's, a B&B that I am staying at. It originally was a stage coach stop offering lodging and food to weary travelers coming to the remote Adirondacks in 1830's and has been in business ever since. The original log structure is no longer in place; however, the part of the building I am staying in was constructed in the mid 1800's. The current owners and operators, Doug and Maggie are delightful people and I've had a fascinating time talking to Maggie about the history of the inn and politics.

Tomorrow I will ride to Ticonderoga, my last stop in New York until I head down the East coast. After that I begin the final 400+ mile ride to the coast of Maine riding through Vt. and NH.

I hope everyone is having a great Holiday weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Upstate New York









Currently in Old Forge in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, 6000 miles into the trip. Stayed in Pulaski New York last night. Pulaski is the self-proclaimed "Salmon fishing capital of the U.S." and the community was gearing up for the upcoming prime fall fishing season in September.

Spent yesterday riding along the shores of Lake Ontario through apple and peach
orchard country. Great apple pies and fresh tree ripened peaches! Visited two small lake-front villages, both of which were attached by the British during the War of 1812. A lot of history and pride by the locals knowing that they survived and defeated the British. I continue to be amazed at what people put in their front yards such as the carving of dolphins out of a tree stump in the picture above.

Today I headed East toward the Adirondack Mountains. The ride was through beautifully wooded areas, numerous small lakes and rivers, very hilly and a challenge as I had strong headwinds during most of the day. While the Fall colors are just starting, it is still warm for kids to have fun swimming. Got a couple of great shots of a little girl jumping off a rock cliff into the Moose River.

Tomorrow I continue East through the Adirondacks.

Have a great Holiday weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Erie Canal







Currently in Palmyra NY, 5815 miles into the trip. Spent most of the day riding on the Erie Canal, part of the 524 mile New York State Canal System. Most of the Canal Trail is "rock dust" with very little paved sections.

The Erie Canal portion of the system has much history. The original canal, known as "Clinton's Ditch" was completed in 1825 and was 4 feet wide and 4 feet deep. It enabled the rich agriculture areas of New York state to get their produce to markets around the world and really opened up development to the West. The success of the first canal lead to expansion of the Canal and it became known as the "Enlarged Erie", 70 feet wide and 7 feet deep. This expansion was completed in 1862 and followed parts of the original Clinton's Ditch. The present Barge Canal was expanded again in 1918 to enable the Canal to complete with the Railroads. It is 90+ feet wide and 9+ feet deep. While the current Canal can still handle barges it is primarily used for recreational purposes as can be seen in the photos above. A highlight of the day was to watch a "Lock" being used to raise and lower a cruise ship full of passengers on a tour.

Interestingly, the original Canal did not provide access to Lake Ontario as the builders did not want to give Canada access to the trade they expected. Only after the Railroads came into being did the system expand to port cities along Lake Ontario.

After 5800 miles without a flat, I finally had a flat tire near the end of the day. It happened on one of the few paved sections of the Canal and I am not sure what caused it. I had just replaced the rear tire yesterday and whatever caused the flat not only ruined the tube but cut the cords on the new tire. Oh well, I am glad I have the first one under my belt. It happened about 100 yards from a bicycle shop right off the Canal. My good luck continues!

Back to paved country roads tomorrow as I head Northeast on my way to Adirondack Park.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Niagara Falls







Currently in Lockport NY, 5720 miles into the trip. Spent last night in Silver Creek NY after riding through Pennsylvania grape country along the shores of Lake Erie. Began yesterday with an early morning ride through Presque Isle State Park near Erie Pa. Great ride and some fascinating history. Presque Isle was the site where the U.S. Lake Erie naval fleet was constructed during the war of 1812. The fleet was commanded by Capt. Oliver Hazard Perry who defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie. Perry is famous for his sayings of "Don't give up the ship" and "We have meet the enemy and they are ours". Got some great shots of the sky and a lone early morning fisherman.

After Presque Isle, rode through miles of vineyards, some growing right up to the shores of Lake Erie. While the area contains many wineries, the majority of the grapes are processed by Welches for Concord grape juice or jam.

Today, continued the ride along the shores of Lake Erie to Buffalo NY. After Buffalo, entered Canada, visited Niagara Falls then crossed back into the U.S.

Tomorrow the route will be along the Erie Canal. Got a late afternoon shot of the Canal as I entered Lockport this afternoon.

Did you know that Lake Erie is the 12th largest fresh-water lake in the world and that more fish are caught each year for human consumption from Lake Erie then the other four Great Lakes combined?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"It's all about education"







"It's all about education". As I spend time in each community I ride through, I try and understand a little bit about the history of the area. Tonight, I struck up a conversation with someone in Erie Pa. We talked about the local area, the fact that Erie was the largest port on the Great Lakes, the battle of Lake Erie was fought near the area, it was home to a lot of Homeland Security activity, it has a great small college, etc. But most of all I listened to a "dad" talk about how proud he was of his son who had turned 18 today, was starting college next week, had graduated at the top of his high school class, was a national judo champion for four years and on the school debate team. Then he told me about how he had grown up as a "tough guy" with basically a choice of spending time in jail or going to the military. Throughout the conversation he mentioned several times "it's all about education" and "these kids are going to be running the country".

I had an opportunity to meet his son, who had already left the restaurant (remember it was his 18th B-day today) when he came back because his dad wanted him to meet me. I'm not sure I know too many 18 year-olds who would come to meet a total stranger, but as I talked with him it was clear he had a special relationship with his dad and it revolved around their passion for education.

Tonight's conversation made me realize the importance of the early childhood program that the Panhandle Alliance for Education (PAFE) is funding. It is a program to help parents get their children ready for school. If you haven't already pledged please consider doing so. If everyone could have seen the pride and joy I saw tonight on the faces of a father and son I'm sure you would agree that "it's all about education" and family involvement! Pledging is simple, just go to the donation section of this website and make your pledge today.

I'm currently in Erie Pa., 5547 miles into the trip. Left downtown Cleveland early this morning and rode along the shore of Lake Erie most of the day except for several detours and getting lost a couple of times. The weather was warm (high 80's to mid-90's) and everyone was out enjoying the lake today. Got some great shots of the Lake, bees on a flowering thistle and some grape vines in Western Pa.

I plan on riding through Presque Isle State Park tomorrow morning before I head East through the fruit and wine country of Western Pa and Northwestern NY.

Parting thought--"It's all about education"!!!!!!! Thanks for your support of PAFE.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rock and Roll






Currently in Cleveland. Spent yesterday riding through Northwestern Ohio farm country on back-country roads and ended up riding through the center of Cleveland and am staying in downtown Cleveland. Got a great shot of the Cleveland skyline as I was riding into the city.

Played tourist today, visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Saw everything from Jerry Garcia's guitars to Jimi Hendrix's handwritten notes of the song "Purple Haze". You might be asking the same question I did when I first got to Cleveland--Why Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Alan Freed, a Cleveland DJ, coined the phrase "Rock and Roll" years ago and the rest is history!

Also spent time in University Circle touring a traveling exhibit from the Vatican to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Saint Peter's Basilica, Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the establishment of the Papal Swiss Guard.

Will leave Cleveland early tomorrow on my way to Pennsylvania and then Upstate New York.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Historic Canal Country









Currently in Fremont Ohio, 5331 miles into the trip. Fremont, home of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the U.S., is nestled in farm country of North Central Ohio. Temperatures were great for riding today, mid-70's; however, had a strong Easterly headwind all day. Started to notice the change in seasons today. Trees are starting to turn and a few leaves are dropping. The corn fields are getting brown and the temperature this evening as a Fall chill.

Started the day with a great sunrise and riding along U.S. Route 424 that follows the old canal route from Defiance Ohio to Napoleon Ohio. Got some great shots of the Maumee River, one of the old locks of the canal and a dam on the Maumee River that was formed to create "slack" water for the canal. The canal was part of a system that linked Lake Erie in the North with the Ohio River to the South. It carried goods from Ohio and Indiana and from as far away as New York City and New Orleans. At times riding along the canal one could almost visualize barrages loaded with merchandise and supplies being pulled by teams of 4 to 6 horses or mules.

Rode through Florida, Napoleon, Texas, Grand Rapids and Bowling Green today. After a while I began wondering what state I was in. Note sure how all the towns or villages were named, but am certain there are many stories behind them. Rode past an enormous Campbell Soup plant today. You could smell tomato soup from a mile away!

North Central Ohio is farm country and the farm homes and barns are big and well kept as noted in the pictures above. And yes, that is an oil derrick right outside of Fremont in the last picture above.

Changed my rear tire today, the fourth time since I've left to go along with four rear wheel changes.

Tomorrow I will ride through Clyde, Avery, Huron, Vermilion and Lorain before I arrive in Cleveland where I plan to take a day off to do some sightseeing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Amish Country








Currently in Defiance Ohio, 5243 miles into the trip. Today, marked the completion of the North Lakes portion of the ride which took me approximately 1100 miles from Minneapolis through Northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Western and Central Michigan and Northeastern Indiana. I am now back on the Northern Tier route which will take me through Northern Ohio, Northwestern Pennsylvania and Upstate New York, basically along the Southern shore of Lake Erie.

Spent the last two days riding through Amish country in Southern Michigan, Northeastern Indiana and Northwestern Ohio. Stayed in Shipshewana Indiana yesterday. Shipshewana is nestled in the heart of the third largest Amish community in the U.S. It is renowned for it's flea market and 100+ shops. It has become a tourist and shopping destination with Life magazine listing it as one of the top 100 places to visit in the U.S. Had a wonderful home cooked style Amish dinner last night, complete with fresh baked bread, apple butter, all the fresh lemonade one could drink and homemade desert. No wine or beer, Shipshewana is a "dry community" :).

Caught a great sunrise early this morning while riding on back country roads through Amish farm country. The setting was surreal and somewhat idyllic. One could smell the fresh baked goods from farm kitchens, people were riding bicycles to work, working mothers were taking children to to be cared for by others in buggies, children were working in gardens, fresh fruit and vegetables were for sale at roadside stands, men were milking cows, tending to hay in the fields or working numerous cottage furniture shops that dot the countryside. And, everyone was friendly, calm and content, eager to smile and wave at the unusual sight of a cross-country bicyclist. For several hours I saw more buggies than cars. The roads were great to ride as the shoulders are wide for the horse and buggies, although one has to deal with the horse droppings!

Defiance is named after Fort Defiance, a Fort constructed by General Mad Anthony Wayne in 1794. Upon completion of the Fort, the General defied the Indians and British to take his fort, something they didn't accomplish. Later, Defiance was a stopping point on the Miami-Erie Canal making it possible for people and goods to travel by boat to Toledo, Fort Wayne, Dayton or Cincinnati.

Many have asked that I let everyone know the various communities I am riding through. Tomorrow I will begin by riding U.S. Route 424 from Defiance to Napoleon Ohio, an 18 mile stretch through Independence Dam State Park that the follows the Maumee River and uses the old tow path of the Miami-Erie and Wabash Canal systems for its road bed. Harley Davidson has named this roadway one of the ten best touring roads in the U.S. I also plan to ride through Grand Rapids (Ohio), Tontogany, Bowling Green, Pemberville, Gibsonburg and Fremont. Conditioning permitting, I will be riding through Cleveland on Thursday or Friday, my first major city since Minneapolis. Looking forward to touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Battle Creek Michigan






Currently in Battle Creek Michigan. Today marked two major milestones for me. First, Claudia and I celebrated our 35th anniversary. She is clearly a saint for putting up with me for all those years including indulging me on this trip. Second, I crossed the 5000 mile mark of the trip late this morning and am now at least half way done with the trip having ridden a total of 5060 miles through today. I've been on the road a little over 2 and 1/2 months and am thinking that I will likely be in Key West late this year rather than in early 2009. No matter when I finish I still plan on riding at least 10,000 miles in total.

Went off my regular route today and rode on a major state highway. There are only so many small communities, county roads and farms that one can take! I will rejoin the route tomorrow afternoon in Indiana.

More farm country as noted in the pictures of barns and corn fields. As I have mentioned in the past, one of the real joys of riding is you see things you just wouldn't notice while driving. For example, note the person on the tower in the picture above. I took a close up and a expanded view to give a prospective on just how high the person was on the tower. At first I thought it was a dummy hanging on the tower and then to my surprise it began moving and became clear it was a person working on the tower. Not sure you would get me up there! Lastly, rode by a Detroit Lion football fan's yard. They take their football seriously in Michigan!

A little history of Battle Creek. It started out as a village over 150 years ago and was named for a dispute between a land surveyor and two Native Americans. It started out as a trading community for wood and agriculture products, evolved into a manufacturing city making everything from violin strings to threshing machines and is probably best known for being the cereal capital of the world. The cereal business has it's roots in a sanitarium ran by Dr. John Kellogg in the late 1800's. Dr. Kellogg prescribed a diet of vegetables and grains for those with digestive problems. In the 1980's C.W. Post visited Dr. Kellog's sanitarium for health issues and ultimately formed his own clinic and developed Post Grape Nuts. Dr. Kellogg's brother than founded Kellog's cereal in the early 1900's after working at the sanitarium. At one time, there were over 80 cereal companies in Battle Creek with Post and Kellogg remaining as the two dominate players in the business today.

Battle Creek was also home to Sojourner Truth, a nationally known ex-slave who traveled the country speaking out on women's rights in the late 1800's.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Michigan Countryside









Spent the last three days riding through the Michigan countryside. Lakes, trees, farms and hills. Stayed at Boyne City, the one-time logging capital of Michigan two days ago and in Mesick, the self-proclaimed Morel Mushroom capital of the world yesterday as evidenced by the fact that I stayed at the Mushroom Cap Motel and ate at the Mushroom Bar. Currently in Harmon City, 4950 miles into the trip. Couldn't find anyone in Harmon City that could tell me anything about the area other than it has a number of small lakes and summer homes. Not many motels or much internet access in rural Michigan.

Yes, that is a giraffe in the above picture. It was in someone's yard in the countryside yesterday. I am amazed at what I see as I ride. Rode two days ago on M-119, the tunnel of trees road. It was truly like riding in a tunnel as the trees seem to close in the road and block out the sun. Continue to get great pictures of old farm buildings as well as other unusual pictures such as the bears in a field.

The Michigan countryside is rolling hills, heavily forested with occasional hay and corn farms. I have been riding mostly on lonely county roads with very few cars or anything else. Very peaceful and plenty of time to reflect.

Had an opportunity to stop at a Colorado friend's Michigan summer home yesterday and have breakfast. Jack's (his son) scrambled eggs were some of the best I have had during the trip! It was nice to see familiar faces and talk to someone other than a stranger. Finally have started seeing some other cyclists who are doing regional tours around the Great Lakes area.

I have also learned that Michigan roads are not always well marked, having gotten lost on several occasions during the last week. I'm getting real good at asking for directions.

Finally, I hope everyone in Sandpoint is enjoying the annual Music Festival. I understand the performers and the weather have been great.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Touring Mackinac Island








Spent the day touring Mackinac Island. The only mode of transportation allowed on the Island is via horse, foot or bicycle. Went on a great horse drawn carriage tour this morning learning much about the history of the Island and seeing it's natural beauty such as Arch Rock pictured above.

The Island has an interesting history, not the least of which is it's name. It was originally a summer fishing ground for the Anishinaabe-Ojibwe Native Americans who named it Michinnimakinong because they likened the shape of the island to that of a turtle's back. French settlers arrived in the area around the 1715 and for over a half-century traded and peacefully lived among Natives. They called the area Michilimackinac or Mackinac for short with the "ac" being pronounced "aw". The British then took control of the area and begin spelling the name Mackinaw. Today, the Island retains the French spelling but both Mackinac and Mackinaw are prounced "aw". Everyone agrees it is very confusing, but that it's just the way it is!

Spent several hours touring Fort Mackinac and it's totally restored original buildings complete with various re-enactments of daily events such as firing of cannons, changing of the guard, etc.

Went to the Grand Hotel and sat own it's famous porch overlooking the Lake and it's beautiful flower beds. The porch is the largest covered porch in the World and has been visited numerous dignitaries, world leaders and U.S. presidents.

Currently staying in Mackinaw City, on the lower Peninsula of Michigan and will be heading South tomorrow on my way to Northeastern Indiana. Ever wonder why Michigan has Upper and Lower Peninsulas? The states of Ohio and Michigan were where the boundary would be drawn around Toledo and a decision was made to include Toledo as part of Ohio. As compensation for losing, Michigan was granted the Upper Peninsula!

Went to the new Batman movie tonight. Good flick!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mackinac Island








Currently on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan, 4650+ miles into the trip. Rode through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan yesterday and today along the Northern shore of Lake Michigan. The weather continues to be cool with temperatures in the 40's at night and in the high 60's to low 70's during the days. Great for bike riding. Took a ferry to the Island late this afternoon.

The history of Mackinac Island goes back hundreds of years as a place that was visited in the summertime by Native Americans several hundred years before the first white man, Jean Nicolet visited the area in 1634. Nicolet visited the area as part of a trip commissioned by the French. Over the years the island has served as a outpost for fur traders and currently is a popular summertime tourist destination. John Jacob Astor established a fur trading outpost on the Island in 1810, around the same time his agents were establishing a trading outpost in Western Oregon after the expedition of Lewis and Clark.

Continue to get unusual photo opportunities as evidenced by the "scare cow" and birdbath and beyond" above.

The Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula of Michigan are joined together by the Mackinac Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge that spans the Mackinac Straits. The bridge includes 42,000 miles of steel cable, 931,000 tons of concrete and 4.85 million steel rivets.

Mackinac Island is the home of the Grand Hotel, the renowned tourist destination.

Tomorrow I will be touring the Island and will head to the lower peninsula of Michigan late tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cheese, Friday Night Fish Frys and Beer











Currently in Escanaba Michigan, 4504 miles into the trip. Spent Friday night in Glidden Wisconsin, the self-proclaimed "bear capital" of Wisconsin and last night with some friends near Iron River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan , just across the Wisconsin border. Unfortunately, I did not have internet access either day. The route through Northern Wisconsin and Michigan has been very remote with very little cell phone coverage. It is an area rich in the history of logging and iron ore mining.

The weather has a touch of "Fall", with temperatures in the 40's at night and high 60's to low 70's during the last couple of days. It has been windy but generally I've had a cross or slight tail wind. As a result I have made good time during the last 4 days, riding almost 450 miles.

Claudia and I went to work in Wisconsin after college and both our children were born there. Riding through the state brought back fond memories of traveling through the state, cheese, Friday night fish frys and beer. I managed to eat plenty of cheese curds, attended a Friday night fish fry of Walleye and Lake Perch and last but not least, I continue to "carbo" load on beer.

Rode through dairy and lake country on tree-lined roads most of the last two days. As I ride, I am always looking for the "unusual" photo opportunity. While I wasn't surprised by the fishing lures caught on electric lines above a bridge, I didn't expect to see a long-horn bull in the dairy country of Wisconsin. And no, I wasn't standing on my head attempting to take a picture of trees with an out of focus camera. I just couldn't resist the reflections of the trees on a lake early yesterday morning.

Will be spending tomorrow morning visiting Escanaba before I take off for Mackinac Island where I plan a couple of days off to take in the rich history of Northern Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Contact Information

Many have asked the best way to contact me during my trip. I would prefer to receive email and can be reached at [email protected] Many thanks to those who have sent me emails and other messages during the trip. It is always great to hear from friends and other interested parties.

Mel.

Wisconsin








Currently in Cumberland Wisconsin, 4160 miles into the trip. Left the Minneapolis/St. Paul area this morning and rode through Eastern Minnesota along the St. Croix River Valley and then entered North Central Wisconsin farm and lake country. Weather was some of the best on the trip, temperatures in the mid-70's, relatively low humidity and only a slight head/cross wind.

The Cumberland area got it's start in the timber days of the 1870's and was known as one of the toughest lumber camps in Wisconsin, at one time boasting 24 saloons. Today it is known for it's farming and vegetables. Note the green beans being processed at the local canning plant in the photo above. It is also the site of a rutabaga festival in late August which features a rutabaga (type of turnip) hunt, bands, entertainers and a parade. Unfortunately, I will miss the festival!

Had a great time with two long-time friends (Dave and Dave) in Minneapolis. Fishing was great, caught a 8 lb. Northern Pike and a 2+ lb small mouth bass, in addition to several other fish. Managed to rest the body and did some serious carbo loading! Also had a chance to spend some time with a former partner (also Dave) who was a mentor during my early days in business.

Riding through Southwestern Minn last Sunday, I had an opportunity to get a photo of one of the largest wine bottles in the world. Didn't expect to find a winery in Southern Minn.!!!

More of Northern Wisconsin tomorrow.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Time to fish

Arrived in Maple Grove Minn yesterday, 4055 miles into the trip. Yesterday marked a milestone of 4000+ miles. For those of you who pledged a penny a mile, that equals $40 to the Panhandle Alliance for Education's early childhood literacy program. Thanks for your pledges.

Rode through more Minnesota corn country yesterday. Strange weather, cloudy and cool all day, yet no rain. 240 miles of corn fields the last two days!!!! I am looking forward to heading to Northern Wisconsin and a change of scenery.

Will be spending the next 3-4 days staying with friends and fishing buddies. Plan on doing a little walleye fishing, playing on the water and carbo loading with "barley pops".

Sorry, no pictures today. Don't have access to my computer and there are only so many different ways to take pictures of corn fields.

I will be back on line later this week, probably Friday or Saturday. Until then, have a great week.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

On the road again






Left South Dakota early this morning during a great sunrise and managed to get a shoot of a curious horse. I am amazed at the the reaction of horses when they see someone on a bicycle especially early in the morning. Most put on quite a show of running, prancing, posing, etc.

Currently in Granite Falls Minn., 3947 miles into the trip. Rode through the "corn country of Eastern South Dakota and Southwestern Minn. Very windy as evidenced by the numerous wind turbine farms throughout Southwestern Minn. After the winds of Wyoming, Colorado, Neb., S. Dak. and now Minn. I am in total agreement with Boone Pickens, wind energy can provide a significant source of energy for the country and we need more wind energy development.

Along the lines of the unusual and curious, early this morning I rode by a farmer's fence topped with old cowboy boots. Not sure the significance of "topping" fence posts with boots but have seen this before in one of the Western states years ago.

Enjoyed my time off in South Dakota visiting family and friends. Many memories of a time long past and a life much different growing up on a farm. Many small farms have been replaced by ever increasing large farming operations driven by technology and massive equipment. Small plots of oats, corn and hay are all but gone, replaced by corn, wheat and soybean fields that go on for as far as the eye can see and in many cases blend in with the horizon. At the same time, many of the operations are family ran and the friendly, hard-working, good natured neighbors I remember as a kid are still there, some of the names are the same, simply a different generation. Many of the small towns have changed with few small stores or mom and pop operations, having been replaced by major stores in larger cities. And yes, the price of gas dominates every conversation. Energy is a major component of our farm economy, from gasoline to ethanol. Be ready for higher food prices come this fall!!!!

Finally, thanks to my South Dakota hometown newspaper, the Canistota Clipper, for a wonderful article on my ride and the early childhood literacy program.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Two Month Review



arge herds of

Well, I've now been on the road for two months, June and July. The trip continues to go well and it is wildly exceeding my expectations. The scenery has been awesome, the people I've met have been great, seeing old friends and family has been enjoyable and best of all, I can eat and drink whatever I want and still lose weight. A few of the highlights for the month of July:

--Rode 1800+ miles (3800+ for the entire trip). Rode through fog, 104 degree temperatures, rain, humidity, thunderstorms and more headwinds than I ever thought possible.

--Visited 5 national parks, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain, Wind Cave and the Badlands. Visited Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. Also visited Custer State Park in South Dakota, the second largest state park in the U.S., and a rival to any of the National Parks in the country.

--Saw large herds of buffalo, deer, pronghorn antelope and elk.

--Met many other interesting other bicyclists including two brothers that sometimes rode together and other times seemed to be riding separately, one pulling his dog in a trailer with the dog jumping out of the trailer and running up all the hills or climbs.

--Visited my best friend from high school, my father, brother, and numerous other friends, partners and family in Colorado and South Dakota.

--Captured over 500 images on my camera (967 from the beginning of the trip). The pictures above are part of the collection of old barns, homes and other buildings that I have been shooting as I ride along the back roads of America.

--Continued to stop and read every historical roadside marker along the way. Rode in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, settlers traveling West on the Oregon Trail, Chief Joseph and riders of the Pony Express.

Tomorrow I leave for Minneapolis to visit best friends and fishing buddies.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has graciously pledged or donated funds for my cause, the early childhood literacy program of the Panhandle Alliance for Education. There are many causes and programs you can choose to support and all worthy of consideration. However, few can have such a profound impact on our future and generations to come than getting our young children ready for a life of learning. If you haven't already pledged or donated I encourage you to do so. Simply go to the donation or pledge area of my website and make your contribution today. You will touch more lives than you can imagine and it will be much appreciated by all.

Advice for the day--"If you don't want to do something one excuse is as good as another"--clip from a local newspaper.