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July 31, 2010 9:13 am Eastern Time

We’re at Logan Airport in Boston right now, where there is free Wi-Fi.

This morning, at 4:26 am, the alarm on Elliot’s iPod went off. We had to get up for our 6:15 am flight. It was just dawning when we reached the airport at 5 am. Returning the rental car was a breeze.



We had a super-smooth flight to Logan Airport in Boston. The 5 passengers were sleepy.




Next stop, Denver.

July 31, 2010 3:03 pm Mountain Time




August 1, 2010 2:09 pm Pacific Time

We’re back home! In a way, returning home was one of the most difficult parts of the trip for me. Our flight was delayed, and we spent 4 hours in Denver Airport. I wasn’t exercising, so wasn’t drinking, and got dehydrated in the altitude. That gave me constipation, and the final half hour of the flight into San Jose was none too steady, making me feel even sicker. At last, I’m well enough again to post this final entry. I will probably be adding statistics over the next week or more.

Miles Traveled: 2062

Days on the road: 42

  • Camping (KOA Kabin doesn’t count): 6
  • Motels: 36

Times comb used: 0. I told you.

Number of earphones broken: 3. We brought an iPod clone earphone that I got from a flea market for 50 cents. Within days, one side dropped down into the spokes and got torn off. Elliot used the single other side for 4 weeks or so, which was probably better, because he could still hear traffic and conversation. When the remaining side of the earphone finally broke, he bought a new headphone at a discount store. That one broke in a week. He bought another headphone, and that broke in a few days. We were just a few days from the end at that point, so he didn’t get any more earphones or headphones.

Number of Sudoku puzzles solved: 10. This is an estimate. I had printed puzzles 6 to a side, double-sided, and brought 3 sheets, so 36 puzzles. I partly finished one sheet, and did a couple more from local newpapers in restaurants while waiting for our ordered food to arrive. I preferred chatting with locals to doing Sudoku, when there was a choice.

Postcards sent back: about 15.

Number of map errata reported to Adventure Cycling: 12


  • Plane travel, including $400 surcharge for bikes:
  • Motels
  • Camping
  • Other (food)
  • Shipping the bikes back

Flats: Roderick – 7; Elliot – 0.

Flats that were Roderick’s own fault: 7. I had Kevlar tires, but they were more like road tires. Elliot had Gatorskin touring tires. Midway through the trip, I changed tires. The final flat was because I overinflated the tire at a gas station.

Tires used: Roderick – 4; Elliot – 2.

Bike Problems

  1. Toestrap broke
  2. Toeclip came off
  3. Handlebar wrap came off (multiple times)
  4. Handlebar end cap lost
  5. Bolt holding rack lost
  6. Head bearing came loose
  7. Derailleur clicking, needed tightening
  8. Seat came loose
  9. Chains rusty after rain
  10. Derailleur not shifting to some gears, needed adjustment
  11. Wireless cyclometer flaky, then stopped working
  12. Wired cyclometer got wet, stopped working until dry
  13. Sole of cycling shoes came loose
  14. Helmet mirror snapped off
  15. Flat tires (7)

Disasters: 0

Climbing days: 1

Most interesting person met (male): Fred Wilson, at the Corner Motel in Long Lake, NY

Most interesting person met (female): Laura, outside the Ambrose Motel in Cumberland, WI. This was harder to determine. Because of new non-smoking laws, most motels seemed to have resin chairs set up outside the rooms. A common pattern was for someone (male or female) to be sitting on the chairs, and strike up a conversation by asking us about our trip. Camilla in Long Lake, and Mary in Caro were two other examples.

Best Food: Delmonico Steak and Steamed Clams at The Steakhouse in Thendara (Old Forge), says Elliot. I nominate the Gazpacho at the Hardware Cafe in Fair Haven.

Worst Food: Pink Lemonade Drink, from the Family Dollar Store in Caro.

Live animals and birds seen: Whitetail deer, Raccoon, Raven, Rabbit, Field Mouse, Painted Turtle, Snapping Turtle, Buffalo, Cow, Goose, Duck, Chicken, Dog, Cat, Wild Turkey

Types of Roadkill seen: Raccoon, Frog, Seagull, Possum, Porcupine, Snake, Deer, Rabbit, Turtle, Pig, Dog, Cat

Cards handed out: 150 (estimate)

Journal pages used: 84 / 160. The 4.5″ x 6″ notebook from GlyphGuy actually had 80 pages, but I wrote on both sides.

Here the list Elliot and I jointly developed of the best and worst things on the trip:

Best things on the trip

  • Meeting interesting people
  • Kindness of strangers
  • Fruit stands with tree-ripened peaches and nectarines
  • Campfires
  • Exercise
  • Improvement in Elliot’s skin
  • Gatorade and other gas-station drinks
  • Showers
  • Discovering Wi-Fi in unlikely spots

We had a hard time coming up with the worst part of the trip. In retrospect, everything seems to have had a bright side.

Most difficult things on the trip

  • Being away from Merrianne
  • Getting lost on a sandy road
  • Overpriced accommodations (2 days)
  • Black flies
  • Rain (1 bad day)
  • No vacancies at motels (2 days)
  • Headwinds
  • Heat and humidity (2 days)
  • Diarrhea

Things that surprisingly were not an issue

  • Finding Wi-Fi access. It’s abundant. A dial-up modem is completely unnecessary. The iPod Touch was invaluable for locating unencrypted hotspots.
  • Finding power outlets. They were plentiful in fast food restaurants, and even outside convenience stores. I think in that region, people plug in their cars in winter while shopping to prevent freezing. The only time our phones went dead was when we forgot to charge them. Thank goodness we carried a spare charged phone battery in a ziploc, it saved us on occasion.
  • Getting pictures of people we met. With few exceptions, most were fine with it, some even honored and thrilled to be mentioned on our blog.
  • Being too sore to ride. It never happened.
  • Riding on major highways like 2. The shoulder was wide.
  • Riding late into the day. Our pattern of late starts did not hurt us. It was summer, and the days were long. Besides, it was cooler in the late afternoon, and usually more pleasant riding than at midday. At no time did we need lighting, except for an occasional ride out to dinner or errands at night.
  • Cold. Except for that one night in Pulaski when we were soaked, we were never cold. We used our jackets only once during riding, and even then, didn’t really need them, even in rain. I don’t think I’d be brave enough to recommend touring with no jacket, though.

Times Elliot complained: 0

West Lebanon, NH

July 30, 2010 9:53 pm

The morning person at the desk at the hostel recommended the Polka Dot Restaurant at the end of the block, since I was looking for a local diner. The restaurant had been closed sporadically, but had been taken over about a month ago by Rob and Jen, a couple from Missouri. There was a fair amount of traffic in the restaurant, but I was still able to visit with them. They have 3 children, and still work 20-hour days. The restaurant is open long hours, starting at 5 am. The fancy coffee shops nearby don’t have hours nearly as long.






After breakfast, Elliot went back to the room to rest. I biked across the river about 3 miles, to the airport. Hertz was the only agency that had anyone at the counter at this small airport. I asked Barbara whether she had a small car, and she said that one just came in, but it wasn’t clean. I assured her that we had been on a bike tour, and were sure that it would be fine. She said she was so embarrassed, as the previous person ate a muffin in the car and left crumbs, and kept apologizing, about 10 times. She tried to get us into a full-size car instead at the compact rate of $35, but discovered that the “dirty” Ford Focus was only $24. I was glad to take it. We were only going to drive it about 10 miles, anyway.




I put my bicycle into the car (it fit just fine with the seat folded down), and drove a mile back, to the UPS store. I left the car there, and biked back to the hostel to fetch Elliot. While we were outside packing up, we ran into several people Standing outside a hostel is a good place to meet folks. Nancy commuted 10 miles on bike each day. She said she would like to do an extended tour sometime. I repeated my father’s admonition: “Why not now?” I gave her a card, and took the picture to the left.

After that, another person walked up to us. He asked if we were the ones biking from Fargo (I suppose someone with a card must have told him about us). When I answered in the affirmative, he gave us a book of beat poems by Robert Nichols, and woodcuts by a local artist. Peter Money has his own publishing company, the Harbor Mountain Press. He also taught from time to time at the Cartooning Academy.

Peter flagged down Casey Bohn, who happened to be passing by. Casey had just graduated from the academy, and was living in the Hotel Coolidge, just across the hall from us. I thought he looked sort of familiar. He said to wait a minute, and ran into a nearby coffee shop to get a couple copies of his work, which he gave to us. There was a poster right in the window with Casey’s name on it, and also the name of Katherine Roy, from Cupertino, California. That might have been the daughter of someone I know.



We finally got on our way, and biked over to the shopping center where the UPS store was located. We were hungry, so ate first at the 99 restaurant there. I got a Haddock fillet on linguine, full entree, for $9.99. Elliot got chicken tenders, tri-tips, and fries, also for $9.99. There was so much, he took most home in a box.

At the store, the people there helped us box up the two bicycles, and all the gear we could ship. The charge was $440 or so by the time we were done, so slightly more expensive than the airline, and it would take a week by UPS ground. If we had found our own boxes, it would have been substantially cheaper, and if we had carefully crafted max size carry-ons as before, we could have dispensed with one box. But the convenience factor was worth it. We were done in an hour.

I did a few postcards, then we drove back to the hostel. It was the first time Elliot had ridden in a motor vehicle (not counting boats) in six weeks.

Elliot was not hungry in the evening, but I had a craving for a milkshake. Most of the restaurants were closed, except for the pizza place, Elixir, and the Polka Dot. I didn’t want pizza – I could get that any time. I went back to the Polka Dot. There was a sign showing all the homemade pies that Jennifer had baked. She made everything from scratch, from recipes passed down from her grandmother. When she made lemon pie, she squeezed fresh lemons. Vinegar pie was something I had never heard of before, so I decided to get that. But since there was Haddock on the menu, I got a full dinner first. Rob said that they got fresh Haddock every Friday, and it went fast. He also told me that Vinegar Pie was by far their most popular.




The vinegar pie was absolutely incredible. It was not sour at all. It was kind of like a lemon bar, with strawberries and whipped cream. I scraped every crumb from my plate.

So if you’re in the vicinity of White River Junction, VT, or Lebanon, NH a mile away, do stop in at the Polka Dot Restaurant, and order a slice of vinegar pie.

Miles for the day: about 10 (cyclometer broken).

White River Junction, VT

July 29, 2010 11:23 pm

This morning, we went downstairs at the Hancock Hotel and had breakfast. Diane was cooking. Actually, I should say the Old Hancock Hotel. According to Diane, there is actually a Hancock, NH also, with a lavish Hancock Hotel. She said that once a man walked in, and she could see by the look on his face that the Old Hancock was not at all what he was expecting. He said he couldn’t let his wife get out of the car, or else he’d never get her to Vermont, again. Diane called her friend at the other place, and got him a room.

While Elliot and I were eating, Diane’s youngest daughter, Anna, joined us at the counter for breakfast. She had an unpaid internship at a Center for Equitable Healthcare (or something like that, I don’t remember the exact name), and also worked at the Big Town Gallery in nearby Rochester. I could hear the passion and excitement in her voice as she described some of the artists and their work that was presently being displayed. She will do well. When she said there was a display of custom harmonica cases, I knew I had to visit.


Unfortunately, Anna blinked as this picture was taken, but I assume she has the same beautiful steel blue-gray eyes as her mother.


The Big Town Gallery in Rochester, VT. Right next to the bike shop.


This was one of dozens of custom harmonica cases. I liked the smooth lines of this one, and metal inlay.


This artist addressed interesting envelopes to his friends, then the friends gave them back to him later.


A garden spider outside the gallery. Good! Keeps the flies down.

We were about to leave Rochester, but it was noon, and the next food was supposedly 20 miles away, so we decided to stay for lunch at the Rochester Cafe. It had Wi-Fi, which was a plus, since there wasn’t any where we were staying in Hancock. I synced the blog, which I had written offline.


The Organic Peach Iced Tea was FABULOUS!!


The day was pretty easy riding. Cool and humid, and almost entirely downhill.


Near Bethel, VT. Shortly thereafter, I started to get stomach pains, so Elliot pulled all the way into White River Junction.


Most small towns have bulletin boards outside the main store. Bethel was large enough to have more than one main store, but here is the board outside the Central Market. Your Invited!

I wanted to stay at the Shady Lawn Motel, or at least see a room there. The rooms were supposedly only $53. It was right on our way in, so at least I snapped a picture. Here is a review.


The Shady Lawn Motel in White River Junction, VT

We instead continued to the Hotel Coolidge, a hostel, which was slightly more expensive at $55 for two people in a shared room. The Hotel was right in the middle of what was once a vibrant area, but we passed deserted storefront after deserted storefront on the way in.

Hannah checked us in at the desk. She said that the area was starting to come back, ever since the Cartoon Academy went in across the street a few years ago. There were signs of revival. Lots of artsy stuff, like a theater company, pottery gallery, bagel and coffee shops. Still a lot of vacant stores, though. The hostel was accustomed to cyclists, and had a bike room (a creepy cellar) in which to store our bicycles. And there was someone at the desk 24-7. And they had good Wi-Fi.


Hannah at the Hotel Coolidge. She was laughing seconds ago, but turned serious for the picture.


The place seems to have about 100 rooms, and must have been the luxury spot of the city in its heyday I wonder what someone who stayed at the Coolidge 60 years ago would think of it now?


No problem getting power here. There was a transformer and street light right outside our window.

Hannah recommended the Elixir for fine dining, but said that I would be fine dressed in a T shirt. As I was walking down the street, I saw 5 people just sitting in camp chairs outside an empty store. It was kind of chilly, but they didn’t seem to mind. Cheryl, the one on the end, started talking with me. She used to be a taxi driver, and had quite a few stories. She had lived there for 40 years, and seen quite a few changes on that street. As for the social club, it started a few years ago with just a couple people sitting on the curb, but more and more people started coming, and they were up to about 10, now. They came out every night. If it was raining, they put up the awning.

As we were talking, one more person came along, and pulled up a chair. The group seemed to know just about everyone passing by. Kathy, next to Cheryl, ran away when she heard the word “picture,” but the others convinced her to come back. Lisa and Rob were abusing each other, but the others said that was just a husband and wife playing.


L-R: Cheryl, Kathy, George, Lisa & Rob, Jason (late joiner)

The Elixir had top-notch food. I met the owners, Jane and Skip. They use all fresh, local ingredients for their dishes, with few exceptions. I had a lovely black bean gazpacho there, and some stuffed shrimp. I sat at the bar and talked a bit with Chris, a dialysis technician. There was SuperCross playing on ESPN at the bar. The LA coliseum had been filled with dirt and made into a motocross track.


Chris, Dan, Jane, and Matt. I don't know where Skip, Jane's husband, went.

Back at the hotel, there was some kind of giant fan outside near our room, so we were lulled to sleep by it. There was also occasional raucous conversation going on in the alley below. We slept well, just the same.

Mileage today: 50.2

Hancock, VT

July 28, 2010 8:56 pm


We made it into the Hot Biscuit for breakfast. Larry was there at the counter; he said he ate there every morning. We sat at the counter as the regulars filtered in. Our server was Kathy, and next to us on the right was Pastor Maxson from the local Baptist Church. Good spirits all around.


Kathy and Pastor Maxson

DSCN1109s.JPG We came to a river called Lake Champlain. I wasn’t sure why it was called a lake, as it was flowing. There was this cord to pull that raises a flag to call the ferry from the other side It was $2 for each bike.


Ferry across Lake Champlain


Elliot noticed a smell on the other side. The road was covered with manure for a mile, as if a cattle drive had gone through.


We came upon a gas station that still offered free air and water. I filled my back tire.


Elliot went in for a slice of pizza.

Just before Cornwall, I hit a pothole, and noticed a squeaka-squeaka-squeaka sound coming from my wheel. I stopped to investigate. While I was stopped, BOOM! The rear tire burst. My fault for putting too much air in it at the gas station. While I was squatting to pump air into the tire, rrrriip! The sole of my left shoe tore off. I would have much preferred it been my shorts, because we had the toughest climb of our trip coming up.



Cornwall was small, and unlikely to have a new shoe, or stuff to fix my existing shoe. At a produce stand called the Levalley House Farm Market, Earl offered me some epoxy, but also said that there was a hardware store in Middlebury down the road. He sounded like a Kennedy; he had a Massachusetts way of talking. I was thinking that epoxy would still take an hour to set, so we would go to Middlebury. I just wouldn’t pull up with my left foot.

In spite of the name, Earl and Beth were not the Levalleys. They had bought the place from the previous owners. Business was steady. They had three children, who were away at camp at the moment.


Earl at the Levalley House Farm Market. His pretty wife Beth was off helping other customers.

They had wonderful tree-ripened fruit. We got 3 peaches initially. Elliot only wanted one. Then he went back and bought 2 nectarines. Then I went back and got a nectarine. As I stood in line to pay, Earl said not to worry about it.


At the hardware store in Middlebury, I got some contact cement to fix my shoe. The instructions said to allow 1 hour for full cure, so we hung out for a while. I sent some stuff back at the UPS store. Mailed a postcard. We got a foot long at Subway. It was 4 pm by the time we hit the road again.


In the distance, Bread Loaf mountain looms, the first and only big climb of our trip.

When we got to the hill, there was road work going on. Although the road was rough, we did not lose traction. Funny thing, pictures don’t capture the steepness of the road. This hill is like Page Mill Road where we live, nothing spectacular. But our whole trip had otherwise been relatively flat. There was a Robert Frost something near the town of Bread Loaf – maybe this is where the poet lived? There were actually two climbs – to Ripton, then again from Bread Loaf to Middlebury Gap.






After Middlebury Gap, it was all downhill. I didn't get any pictures of the descent, because I was too busy grabbing my brakes on the unfamiliar curves. That, and wetting my pants.

We reached the town of Hancock, and looked at the Adventure Cycling map. Our original goal for the day was Bethel, but as it was already 6:28 pm, that looked too far. Rochester was just 4 miles away, but only showed B&B’s. There was the Old Hancock Hotel in our present town, so we decided to stop. One of the customers at the general store across the street said that the hotel had really good food.


The Old Hancock Hotel in Hancock, VT

Diane, the owner, checked us in. She had an interesting life, went to school at Georgetown, got married to someone there, moved to Manhattan, then later to Vermont. She also has lived in LA and Houston. She has been running the Old Hancock Hotel since 1989. Her ex, who is a musician, still works together with her.


The hotel had 4 rooms, and we got room number 1. It was just $65 for two people, and could easily have slept six. There was no air conditioning, no TV, no phone, and no Wi-Fi. The mountain air was moderate, though, and A/C was really not needed. Without the distraction of TV, Elliot got to sleep early. There was a radio to play music, and a reading library.


To the left of the picture was a kitchen where we cooked dinner. Up the stairs was a loft with 2 beds. There were also rollaway beds, and a whirlpool bath, which we didn't use.

Later on, I walked half a block down highway 100 to see the Gathering Inn. It had hostel beds for just $25, and Wi-Fi. It was unfortunately located, just barely off the Adventure Cycling route, which turns right on Highway 100 instead of left.

I think I should adjust my thinking. In Vermont, B&B doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.


The Gathering Inn. A small sign on the left said Hostel Beds $25

I have no regrets about our choice of lodging. $65 was a great price, and a thunderstorm started after we got in. Here we are inside our comfortable room, dry and warm.

Miles for today: 41

Ticonderoga, NY

July 27, 2010 11:37 pm

This morning, we went into town, as breakfast was not included with the motel. We ended up at the following place.


They were out of breakfast stuff, and weren’t ready to make lunch yet (it was almost 11 am), but I was able to get a double-size blueberry scone and coffee, and they said it would be all right if Elliot ate his food from Stewart’s Shops (a convenience store) at the table. As we were finishing up, a woman commented on the Sukodu shirt I was wearing. She was a big fan (a fact her husband attested to), and tried to explain how it worked to the cafe owner. At first, they used my shirt as a model, but I handed them a Sudoku that I was done with for closer examination.



Their helper, Alexandra, was watching from the sidelines while doing some food prep and cleanup. She was from Romania. She had found an ab machine on the internet for $14, and was about to buy it with her debit card. I pleaded with her not to do it. Not only are infomercial items generally ripoffs, she didn’t need it. My suggestion was to either do ordinary crunches, or ride a bike. What do you think, does she need an ab machine?


The others in the room mildly suggested she not do it, but what could we do? She’s an adult. Shortly after the above picture was taken she used the laptop to order it, to find that the actual price was something like $289. But she had already put her number in. The others at the table sprung into action, finding the 800 number for the company. Small town folks help each other. I’m sure she’ll get it straightened out.

On our first hill after breakfast, we came upon a lemonade stand. It was more expensive than most stands, but the cups were big. They also sold cookies, which we bought. 9-year-old Maria was running the stand, Lydia was babysitting her, and John is Lydia’s boyfriend.



The trading post was also a country store that sold produce and baked goods. In addition to our usual drinks, I got a couple French Crullers, which were not the donuts I expected. They were hollow, like croissants. There were also antiques, handmade crafts, and other souvenirs. We picked up a few small things. The woman there said there would not be much left at North Hudson, the next town. I thought it would be a major town, but it was almost deserted. Lots of For Sale signs.




About 10 miles out of Ticonderoga (or “Ti,” as the locals call it), I started to feel a stomachache. There were no bathrooms to be found, so I thought I might stick it out until the city. That turned out to be impractical, so I told Elliot I was going to turn down a road that led to a campground. I didn’t know how far the campground was, but after a quarter mile, we came upon a fire station. I asked the firefighters how far it was to the campground, and they said 3 miles, over a hill. How far to Ti? 6 miles. In that case, was there a bathroom there that I could use? Certainly. I made it just in time. The radio went off while I was in the bathroom, and when I came out, one of the engines was gone, and only Larry was left. While we were talking with him, the siren on the station went off. He said it was all just a drill. Larry recommended the Circle Court Motel in town, and The Hot Biscuit restaurant owned by his friend who lived just down the road from the firehouse.


In gratitude for the toilet, we bypassed a number of cheaper motels in town, and went straight to the Circle Court, where I am now. We went to the Hot Biscuit at 8:15 for dinner, but were surprised to find that it closes at 8 pm. We’ll catch it for breakfast on the way out.

Miles for today: 67.5

I expect turmoil in the next few days, as we scramble to plot a route to an airport to get back home. The Adventure Cycling Route does not go near any major cities in the few riding days we have left.

Long Lake, NY

July 26, 2010 11:41 pm

Breakfast was decent at the motel.

After we left and headed down the street, we saw about 7 more motels within blocks. We had only seen the 3 the previous night, due to the darkness. It seems that we picked the most expensive motel in town. And yet, I didn’t feel cheated. I would have felt bad at $135, but $115 was fair for a premium motel.

Thendara/Old Forge was a real resort area, so had a well-stocked bike shop. We got Elliot a replacement helmet mirror, as his had snapped off a few days prior. We also got a set of toestraps. The one I had patched would probably have made it to the end of the trip, but better safe than sorry.



I asked Elliot whether he wanted to have lunch in town. It felt to me like we had just eaten breakfast, although it was noon by then. He said he was a little hungry, so we went to Tony Harper’s Pizza and Clam Shack. Our server Bethany, had broken her arm in a fall. Three more weeks, and the sling would come off. We ordered a small House Salad, which was not small at all. We shared it. There was also Shrimp Scampi Pizza on the menu, which I had never seen before, so we got one of those. The salad was loaded with bleu cheese, so was filling in itself. I had 2 slices of pizza, and Elliot ate the remaining 4.


Typical view for the day.

The scenery was beautiful, but pretty much the same for the whole day. Flat to rolling terrain, with shade about half the time.


This deer was not afraid of me, so I took his picture.



Late in the afternoon, I turned into Raquette Lake. After we passed through the tiny town, Elliot said he was feeling a little hungry. It was 13 miles to the next town, and he said he was fine with that. But then, the road stopped matching my map. It seemed that Brightside Road was the larger road, so I considered taking it. Think about it, how often have people said, look on the Bright Side? A few feet down the road, we saw the second sign. It was God nudging us to go back half a mile into town to get a snack.


The general store in Raquette Lake.

The store featured fresh-baked breads, cookies, and muffins. See if you can find the fly in each. There weren’t many flies around, actually, just a few in the case. Elliot got a cookie, and I got a muffin.




L-R: Tom, Pat, Kristin, Gabby (Gabrielle), and Drew Schnepf

Outside the store, I met Tom and Pat Schnepf (the ‘p’ is silent in their German last name). They were from Atlanta, GA, and visiting the lake on vacation. Their son Drew, Daughter-in-Law Kristin, and granddaughter Gabby sat down a few minutes later. Tom and Pat actually have 5 grandchildren. I gave them a card, which one year old Gabby, a bright and inquisitive baby, thought would be a fun toy to put in her mouth. She got a pacifier instead.


We passed a dead fawn right in the bike lane near Blue Mountain Lake. A minute later, Elliot cried out in pain. He said it felt like a pliers pinched him. I looked up and a HUGE deer fly was buzzing around his back. It was brownish-orange, the same color as a deer, and it seemed to be about the size of a bumblebee. This monster was buzzing around, keeping pace with us. Elliot stopped flailing his arms around his back, and it landed on his left shoulder. I told him not to stop waving. The fly took off and started circling me, but we sped up and left it behind. A smaller fly bit me on the left leg shortly thereafter. We stopped to put on repellent.


This is the first mountain we've seen on our trip. I think we're starting the Adirondacks

As we approached Long Lake, we started to see motels and cottages lining the highway – some with vacancies, some with none. We continued on into town, and came upon the Corner Motel, which seemed just the place.


The Corner Motel in Long Lake, NY

I met the proprietor of the Corner Motel, Fred Wilson. He was 87 years old, and legally blind (macular degeneration). Even so, he was still running the motel, all on his own. His wife passed away 3 years ago, and he said he missed her dearly. The cards on the counter still say Marge and Fred Wilson.

He had a video magnifier to help him read things, but knew all the buttons on his charge card machine by heart. The credit card company was going to do a mandatory replacement of the machine with something simpler, which was unfortunate, because he knew his existing machine well, even if he had to manually dial the card company every time.

Fred was a bomber pilot in WWII. At the time, he had 20/10 vision in one eye, and 20/15 in the other. It saved his life on more than one occasion. He ran missions in the Aleutians, then he and his friends decided all the excitement was in being fighter pilots, so they went to California to train. When they were deployed, they were surprised that they were going to England, and not flying fighters, but B-17’s. The missions that early in the war were hard, because they didn’t have fighters to protect them. At the time, the fighters didn’t have the range to get all the way to Germany.

He was the last survivor of his group, but the 100th airborne still had reunions from time to time, the last about 15 years ago. Luftwaffe pilots were invited too, and everybody got along. There were no sides, anymore.

His friend wanted him to speak at a community group, but he refused. He said he had spent the last 66 years trying to forget the war.

Germany was still the most beautiful country in the world to him, and he had been all over the world. He loved the food, the people, the culture. He said that there are very few German alcoholics compared to the US, because they sip their beer over hours rather than chug it like we do. In the background of the office, there was even German polka music playing.

After the war, there was a deluge of pilots, so he couldn’t get a pilot job. He got into trucking, but it was hard on his wife, as he was away from home for long periods. Finally, in 1978, they took over the Corner Motel, and he’s been there ever since.

Last winter, a hiker dressed only in summer clothes came up to the motel during an unusually cold early fall. Fred had arctic survival training, and recognized near hypothermia. He told the man to go straight over the #4 and get in the shower, they would talk about it later. The man turned out to be writing a book on hiking around the country, and showed Fred his rough draft. The book is supposed to come out in a few months, and is dedicated to Mr. Wilson, the man who saved his life. The man wanted to pay Fred for this trouble, but Fred refused. It was an emergency, he said.


Fred Wilson


He gave us the “family room” with 3 queen beds for the price of a double, just $64.20 including tax. This was a bargain in a resort area. There was no Wi-Fi officially, but we found 3 unsecured access points from the room. There was no air conditioner, but it would have been unnecessary, as the temperature around the lake was absolutely perfect. I rode 400 yards into town to get some dinner to bring back, and when I returned, I met Camilla from Denmark, who was staying in the room next to us. She was reading a book, enjoying the last bits of sunlight. I would guess the temperature was about 70 at the time, which she didn’t consider cold. For a few months, she was in the US on a program to learn about organic farming. It was a volunteer program, but room and board were provided. From time to time, she got a few days off to travel, as she was doing now. She also said the people she worked with were fabulous. What an adventure! Camilla was also a cyclist, having biked around New Zealand and Tonga previously. She thought it would be cool to do the USA at some time.



Mileage: 50.0

Thendara, NY

July 26, 2010 1:05 am

Yesterday morning, we woke up at 6 on account of the hard ground and wariness that someone would come and kick us off our campsite. No one ever showed up, although many cars drove by on the highway. Perhaps the Academy was not in session. We got out of the place at 7, and got some breakfast at the Dunkin Donuts in town. We were told there was a laundromat down the street, so we got our food to go. It would not have been a normal laundry day for us, but we wanted to dry out our clothes. There were tons of flies at the laundromat. I caught a few and put them outside, but realized it was a lost cause after a few minutes. They were not biting flies, so we simply shooed them from our food. The place could really have used a flypaper strip.


At a table in the laundromat, I was updating our blog. There was no internet access, unfortunately. As I was working, another cyclist walked in to do his laundry. Peter O’Keefe was from LA, but started from Buffalo. He was headed to Boston, where his daughter was in a community theater production. His wife was not with him; she would fly and see the show later. I noticed this pattern, that wives don’t seem to come along. Bev back in Dunsport was the only one. Merrianne (my wife) would probably have hated yesterday, come to think of it.


Peter O'Keefe with his bike. He was doing a lot of camping, including the previous night during the downpour.

We finished laundry at a reasonable hour, and headed onto main street. Since we were off route, I stopped at the curb to try to figure out how to get back on track. A man in a lime green Pearl Izumi jacket walked up. I knew he was a cyclist. Pete (not to be confused with the Peter we just met) was a retired NY State Trooper, and often did rides in the area. He said that all we had to do was turn right at the intersection we were at. That would have taken me a while to figure out, because Maple St was not marked as route 2. He said that there was a wonderful country restaurant in Orwell, and that our biggest climb was just after that.



The morning was cool, and the hills rolling. At Orwell, we found the Village Restaurant.. It was barely 11, and we would not have stopped had Pete not spoken so highly of it. Inside, Teresa was the waitress. A fun and warm woman, she greeted everyone that came in by name, and sometimes with a hug.


Teresa models her fresh catch - a new purse she just acquired at a sale.


Hot dog, hot turkey sandwich, and a generous helping of fries with gravy.

As we were about to leave the Restaurant, we met Neil. He was from Roseville, near the twin cities of Minnesota. He had taken the train to Toledo, OH, then started his ride from there. Baggage charge for a bike on Amtrak: $5. Like the guy Phil we had met earlier, Neil’s plans were to go to Ticonderoga, then cut north to Montreal. At the time we met him, Neil had already logged 40 miles in the morning (we had done more like 15). His target for the day was Boonville, 31 miles away. That was our stretch goal. Our fallback city was West Leyden, which was somewhat closer.

I recommended the Hot Turkey Sandwich to Neil, and we said goodbye.


Neil Olszewski

We stopped at a gas station in Redfield to refuel at 1:30. Outside, I discovered that there were electric outlets (maybe people plug their cars into there in the winter), so started charging Elliot’s exhausted iPod. I was surprised to find an active Wi-Fi access point. The gas station is apparently also the Reservoir Inn and Restaurant. I did a partial update of the blog. When Elliot came out, he burned the entire few minutes charge on the iPod checking facebook. It was dead again when we left. Neil pulled up as we were leaving.



The terrain consisted of small hills all day. Still, the air was moderately cool, so we made good time.


We did not stop in Osceola, but saw this place for sale.

At 4:30, we arrived at West Leyden, our easy-day goal for the day. It was clear that we could easily make Boonville, just 6 more miles. But another possibility presented itself. Should we go for Old Forge, 36 miles away? Neil pulled up, and said that he was definitely stopping at Boonville. In the gas station, the people told me that the road was much of the same ahead – rolling hills. Highway 28 was high traffic, but probably not on a Sunday evening. And there was a good shoulder. Elliot wanted to make miles, so we went for it.


This is on Mouse Creek Road, just after Boonville. Notice how long the shadows are getting.

Fortunately, it was not raining, and not hot. In fact, as we got near our destination, it started to get cold in a few places. We didn’t bother to stop to put on jackets, though. Highway 28 turned out to be absolutely smooth, with a wide shoulder. We got into Thendara, just before Old Forge, right around dusk. There were 3 motels clearly visible. Can you guess which one was the only one with vacancies, and likely the most expensive?




The Adirondack Lodge was nice, and we got a slight discount at $115 including tax. It was 8:40 and dusky. Even though Old Forge was just a couple miles away, I didn’t want to fuss with finding another motel, or the KOA there. Just a quarter mile away, there was The Steakhouse. We raced over in the cold to get there before it closed, and had a celebratory dinner.


Elliot had the 12 oz. Delmonico steak (that was the smaller one). I had a Rib Bake, which was BBQ spareribs and a dozen steamed clams. Each dinner came with 3 sides.

The mileage for the day was 78.5, hilly.

I’m awed by how events link together.

  • If we had been able to find a motel room the previous night, we likely would have had a later start.
  • If we had not gotten soaked, would not have done laundry.
  • If we had not done laundry, would never have met Peter.
  • Without the delay of the laundry, we would never have met Pete on the street at that exact moment.
  • If Pete had not recommended the Village Restaurant, we would not have stopped, and would never have met Teresa.
  • If we had not eaten a full lunch at the restaurant, we would never have met Neil.
  • Without the early start (see the first bullet above), we would never have arrived in West Leyden so early, making Old Forge a viable destination.

Pulaski, NY

July 24, 2010 10:12 pm

This was the first B&B that we stayed at. The hostess, Vivian, cooked ham and eggs to order. One of the highlights of a B&B is meeting the other guests at breakfast. The first picture is Bill and Holly from Buffalo. They’re just taking a few days off. In the middle picture, from left to right, Lynne and Art Serig, myself, Cheryl and Ed. All four of them are from Miami, and came up to escape the heat. In the last picture, our hostess Vivian in the flag shirt, and her sister Beverly (Bev), who is visiting.





The day was hot and humid. I thought about those 4 people from Miami at the B&B, and their lack of success at escaping the heat. Although the thermometer only said low 80’s, the lack of wind and humidity was a killer, Elliot said he had not sweated so much on the entire ride. I concurred. We stopped at a country market at the top of a hill, and got cold drinks, and tree-ripened peaches.



Our lunch stop was Fair Haven. Going down the street, I saw the Hardware Cafe. Since I’m a Hardware Engineer, it seemed very appropriate. It was a converted hardware store that had fine coffee, ice cream, and yes, Wi-Fi. It was very California.



Our server was starting to feel tired, as she was ending her shift. I got an iced mocha, and a bowl of Gazpacho, the first I’d seen offered on this ride. After she left, Rhiannon took over for her, but told me that her name was Britney. We also got some souvenirs from this store.




At New Haven (New York, not Connecticut), there was road construction and we had to take a detour. I just couldn’t find route 104B. So I went into the first place that seemed open to ask. The friendly folks at Hazzy’s were more than helpful. Bartender Kasey gave us a couple bottled waters and refused to take money. I got a chance to chat with the other people there for a few minutes, and passed out a few cards. Thanks for the directions, you guys!


As we left Hazzy’s, it was starting to rain. We reached Port Ontario, and saw a motel with the vacancy sign up, but decided to travel the few short miles to Pulaski (pull-ASS-sky), where there were several motels. It was pouring rain, and near sunset, when we arrived at the Super 8. All full, except one smoking room for $145. Elliot went across the street to Arby’s, while I mulled our options. Christie (who had a charming accent like Fran Drescher, The Nanny) at the desk had just called the Travelodge on behalf of some people on motorcycles, and they had taken the last room there. I asked about the Fishing Lodge, but she had never heard of it. I gave her the number and she called. Packed full. The closest thing she could find was a campground down the highway. The address of the Super 8 was 43xx, and the Stony Pineville campground was at 2904. She called but there was no answer. I decided that it would be better to head for the campground, even in driving rain, rather than circle around and around in the dark hunting for a motel.

I went across the street to join Elliot, and dripped a trail of water all over the tile floor. The A/C was cranked up high, and I was soaked. There was a hot air hand dryer in the bathroom, and that helped a little. I ordered a Beef and Cheddar, and the girl at the register rang up a senior discount for me. It’s true that I’m over 50, but this was the first time that I had ever gotten a discount without showing ID. Elliot was talking with Jake, a worker there who was having his dinner. Jake said that Harborfest had likely filled all the accommodations, and that we might have better luck down the road at a neighboring town. As it was almost dark, I decided this was a bad idea.

Katie, another worker there, came over to ask us about our trip. She was the same age as Elliot, and had just started at Arby’s a few days ago. Sammy, a college student, joined us a minute later. We gave them cards with the url of this blog, and took their picture.




I found out later that Elliot had gotten the senior discount, too, because he was drenched and the girl felt sorry for him. I guess he actually is a Senior. In High School.

The problem with getting even a little warm is that it’s worse to go back into the rain, which is exactly what we needed to do. We went down the highway, and saw this sign. It said Open All Year and Vacancy.


There was no one there. On the office, there was a sign with the number to call. Unfortunately, the cabins there didn’t even have overhangs on the eaves, so I couldn’t even keep the cell phone dry when calling An answering machine picked up. My theory is that all the lodges that were normally open closed down so that people could go to Harborfest.

Remember the story of Joseph and Mary getting turned away at the inn in Bethlehem? No touring cyclist needs a sermon to explain it. We all understand.

The campground was still distant, but we came upon a place that looked like a motel, but deserted. It was our stable. I went up and called out, hoping someone would be around. No one. It was a tough decision to stay there without permission, but I figured that if anyone asked what we were doing, I’d say that we were near hypothermia, and needed shelter. There was a concrete pavilion there, that even had grills for charcoal. There was even an electric outlet, but I was determined to leave no trace, down to not drawing any electricity, nor even leaving trash in their dumpster.

It was hard to move, as we were so cold, but I got the tent set up, and miraculously, we each had at least one set of dry clothes. The plastic laundry bags had done their job! Elliot crawled into his sleeping bag almost immediately. We killed a few mosquitoes in the tent. I set up my camp stove on the charcoal broiler, and made some hot tea. Elliot didn’t want any, so I drank both cups. I spread out some of our things directly on the concrete to dry. There was no wind, so little possibility of anything blowing away, The rain continued for some time. There was no internet access, of course. I did a little blogging, but went to sleep early.



Mileage for the day: 68.5

Sodus Point, NY

July 23, 2010 11:55 pm

This was one of the harder days for me. In the morning, it was raining.


View out our motel room door.

I thought we could save 20 miles by staying on highway 104, instead of getting back to the official route. Phil told us that he was planning to take the canal path trail through Rochester, as he had heard it was paved, and that 104 sucked, besides. We said goodbye to him, and headed off to a McDonald’s on 104. The McDonald’s was more like a living room than a fast food restaurant. When we had just about finished eating, Phil walked in. He had seen our bikes, and wanted to tell us that he confirmed with the motel manager that we should not take 104. But I was thinking, how bad could it be?


Ridgeview McDonald's

104 became an actual expressway, where bikes were prohibited. I’ll need to notify Adventure Cycling – they should advise of this on the map. After we exited 104, I had trouble figuring out which way we were going, as the sun was obscured by clouds. I saw a sign that said “bridge,” so followed the road to there, knowing that there were only two bridges crossing the river, and that one was the expressway. After crossing the bridge, I turned off into a downtown area to ask for directions. Several people were having a discussion outside a store, so I engaged them.

One of them, a man named Dale, asked where we were headed. When I said “Pultneyville,” 1-2-3, they all simultaneously gave me a look that said, “you idiot, you’re WAY off.” Dale said I was headed the wrong way, but he would go inside and draw me a map. Pultneyville was far.


The picture is hazy because of condensation on the lens from the rain.

Dale was apparently the owner of the store, called the 7-day Flea Market. It was quite unique, part thrift shop, part dollar store, part antiques. Elliot got some souvenirs. There was a gold locket from the early 20th century, with a swastika pattern on it. Only $10. Dale said that it wasn’t Nazi, because it said “patent” in English on the back. The symbol was a good luck talisman before the Nazis took it. The trouble is, if we gave it as a gift to anyone, they couldn’t wear it, because people would assume it was Nazi.


I gave some cards to the people, and asked if I might take a picture. Dale’s daughter was there, and literally ran away. I don’t know why some people are so shy.


Elliot, Dale, Nikki, and Stan.


Dale spent a lot of time drawing a good map. We had to go back over the bridge, though Rochester, so stopped at Salvatore’s Pizzeria for some lunch. By the time we left, it was 4 pm. Dale’s map got soaked in the rain, and a corner tore off when it pulled it out of my front pack, so I took this picture of it.

We easily followed the map, and got to the other side of the river, taking highway 404. That was an ironic designation, considering that on the internet, 404 is what you get when you’re looking for something but lost. At Webster, I saw a sign that pointed to route 104 – hopefully, the old 104, which does allow bikes. We followed that for about half a mile, but came to a 104 entrance that said bicycles were prohibited. It was still the Expressway. We had to backtrack. A mile or so down the road, there was another sign directing us to 104. I ignored that, waiting for highway 250, which Dale told us to take up to the old 104. Unfortunately, even 250 led to the expressway. But since there was a bike path paralleling the Expressway there, we followed it. I was hoping that Expressway 104 would turn into Old 104, and we could hop on somewhere down the road. We ran out of bike path, and it was still Expressway, so I decided we should turn north on Salt Road, and try to get to the shore of the lake.

It might have been 10 miles, but I was overjoyed to see Lake Rd, which was on the Adventure Cycling map, although not part of the route where we were. By that time, it was 5:45. By 6:45, we reached Pultneyville (actually signed as Williamson), and were once again on the official route. There was a B&B in town, according to the map, but Elliot said he was willing to go another 10 miles to Sodus point, where there was supposedly a hotel.

We passed a Nuclear plant along the way. I had to read the sign twice, because it didn’t seem like a reactor at all. When we rounded the bend, I realized that this was just the road leading to the plant in the distance.


Nuclear Facility

We reached Sodus Point around 7:45, and passed this house.


The Reel Inn had rooms for $25!

We called their number, 315-483-9600, and got an answering machine. I left a message with Elliot’s cell number, and we continued to search. Just down the street was the Carriage House Inn, a nationally recognized B&B.


Carriage House Inn

The Carriage House was $135, but a $10 discount was given for cash, which we had. $10 of tax was added back in, so essentially, by paying cash, we didn’t have to pay tax. After we checked in, Elliot realized that there was a message on his cell phone. Elaine from the Reel Inn had called back, and had space. Just missed her. Note to cyclists: call ahead a few hours to be sure.

Mileage for the day: about 63 (can’t tell, my bike is in the garage at the Carriage House Inn).

Spencerport, NY

July 23, 2010 1:02 am

This morning (technically, yesterday morning), I went back to the laundromat. They had a motion sensor that opened the door for approaching customers, who would otherwise have to go through contortions to hold the door and bring in their laundry at the same time. I was able to wheel the whole bike in. The wash was only $1.50, and I was able to dry our small load for 2 more quarters. In a small way, it compensated for the expensive motel.


After we checked out of the motel, we went back to Mighty Taco for some food.

Just down the road, in downtown Lockport, there was access to the Canalpath Trail. It’s a bike and jogging trail that follows the Erie Canal. If you look at the background behind Elliot, you can see the spillway for a lock. When we got to the bottom of the ramp, we found that access to the trail was closed for construction. We went down the road a mile or so, and picked up the trail at Upson Park.




The Erie Canalpath Trail was generally hard-packed fine gravel. We tended to go 10 to 12 mph on it. Very Scenic. People were fishing and having picnics all along it, on both sides of the canal. The water is brownish in most places, like the Ala Wai Canal.


At Gasport (all the towns seem to be named something-port), we stopped at the unassuming Canalside Inn for lunch. Our server, Darcy, gave us all kinds of useful information. She said that there was a good store called Wilson Farms in Middleport, the next town. She also said not to go beyond Brockport, because then, we would have to go all the way to Rochester for a motel. Their specialty was Beef on Weck. For those who are not followers of Diners and Drive-ins, Weck is a regional roll that is crusted with salt and caraway seeds. It’s packed with roast beef, and generally eaten with horseradish. An Arby’s sandwich is somewhat like it, but to make the comparison would be to insult the Weck. Beef on Weck is really good.



We visited Wilson Farms at Middleport, and got our usual cold drinks. Outside of the store, we ran into Phil. He was cycling from Dayton, Ohio, and had been on the road six days. He figured another five to reach his friend in Montreal. He did the Transamerica trail twice – once in 1980, and again six years later. Soon, he would reach 80k touring miles. At 64, he had been retired for 6 years. There was very little on his bike. He was built for speed, not for contingencies. We had the same destination in mind – Spencerport, which Adventure Cycling said had motels. As we left the store, he sped off into the distance.


Phil Hinrichs

As we were headed back up Main street in Middleport, Elliot’s stomach didn’t feel right. We looked at several stores for a restroom, but even the laundromat didn’t have any. I suggested the internet cafe across the street, which admittedly, I would never have noticed unless we were searching for a restroom. The Alternative Grounds Caffe turned out to be a find.


The Alternative Grounds Caffe

DSCN0961s.JPG They had ice cream, pastries, and hot and cold coffee. The table surfaces were coffee beans under glass. It was just a very pleasant place, with soft alternative music playing in the background. At 4 pm, I was surprised that the place wasn’t packed. I sipped on an iced mocha while checking the internet. They did have Wi-Fi, of course, but I didn’t need it, as Beth, the barrista, booted a station for me.


Chanise (L) and Beth (R)

While Elliot was checking his email and facebook, I chatted with Beth, and her co-worker (or possibly just a friend?) Chanise, who walked in. Beth had been working at Alternative Grounds for 2 years, and had just graduated high school. She would be attending the local community college in the fall, 3 days a week. Chanise had already completed her first year of college. Like Beth, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, either. She liked children, but didn’t want to be a teacher. Both of them were musical – Chanise on the clarinet since 4th grade, and Beth on piano (by choice, not forced), but neither had touched their instruments since high school.



Just after Medina (rhymes with Vagina), the trail was closed again, so we turned back. Elliot hit a patch of mud while turning, and fell for the first time on the trip.

As we passed through Brockport, we saw an Econolodge right on the road. On the word of the Adventure Cycling map, we continued on to Spencerport. As we neared the town, a man riding in the other direction on a folding bike made a U-turn and rode alongside us. His name was Duane, and he rode about 2000 miles a year to keep in shape after a heart operation. I asked about the Motel, and he escorted us for a mile or so toward it. At the junction, he said to go up 2-3 miles, to 104, and ask at the Gas Station there. It was twilight by that time, and I wished that the map had marked the motel as off-route.DSCN0971s.JPG Darcy had been right – I think we should have stopped at Brockport.


The map said that there were two motels, but one of them had closed down. There was only the Friendly Motel. They had Wi-Fi, which I’m on right now. John at the office said it was lucky we arrived when we did, as there was some sort of festival at the canal on the weekend, and he was likely to be full. For $50 plus tax, I counted the room as good. Warning to cyclists, Ridge Road is highway 104, and the motel is off route. And all the rooms at the Friendly Motel are smoking. Elliot coughed when he first entered the room. We turned on the A/C (set at 73 degrees), not to cool the room, but to filter the smoke.

I went to the broiler a few doors down, but by then, it was past 9, and they had turned off all the equipment. I inquired about other nearby food, and they said there was a Chili’s two stoplights down the road, less than a mile. It was actually 1.5 miles, by my cyclometer. Darkness was falling, but I had a headlight. At Chili’s I was directed to the bar for takeout. I asked the bartender whether they had any Chicken Enchilada soup left, and she said yes. She put in the order and swiped my card. Then I waited. And waited. After what seemed like 40 minutes, someone who looked like a manager came out of the kitchen and advised me that the Enchilada soup was still frozen, but she could give me an alternative soup, and not charge me for it. The two soups left were Baked Potato and Chili, so I took the former. Since my card had already been charged, the manger gave me a $5 gift certificate. I informed her that I had also ordered an Asian Salad, and she straightened out with the bartender where that was. On the way back, a car honked at me, in spite of my headlight.

I got back to the room at 10:12 pm.


Our very hard won dinner at the end of a long day.

Miles for the day: 64.7