Posts made in August, 2012

Whirlwind Tour

Before leaving Wallaceburg last Thursday, I had a nice chat over breakfast with Ronnie and Zoe, a delightful couple from South Carolina who were part of the sag-supported ACA ride across the country.

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I hesitate to add this bit but they were doing the ride on a tandem and were quite enjoying themselves (maybe Rachael won’t see this post). They were very friendly and a lot of fun to talk to; hopefully I’ll see them again someday – perhaps in DC or maybe out on the open road!

And then, for the last time, I headed out of the motel ahead of Roger. Our leave taking was brief as befits men of our generation but it still felt sudden and unsettling as I pedaled away knowing that the next time we saw each other the trip would already be inscribed in the past, which felt wrong because there was yet so much more to come before either of us was home again.

Happily, physical exertion annuls introspection, so within a few miles I was merrily cycling away through the Canadian countryside. I took a route that led me along the (other) Thames River:

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and by this charming church:

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and cemetery:

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The river flows into Lake St. Clair:

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before reaching Lake Erie:

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My destination for the day was Kingsville, where I would take the ferry across Lake Erie to Sandusky. As I approached the town, I was surprised and happy to see this sign:

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After checking into the King’s Inn:

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I wandered down to the dock to check on the next day’s sailing and then decided to try the local wine:

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Coincidentally, Pelee Island Winery was right off a bike path:

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and there was a meritage that proved more than satisfactory to my sadly degraded taste:

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After a self-catered dinner in my room, I descended to the lower depths of the inn to squander my remaining Canadian dollars in the basement pub where I met Brenda:

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She was funny and brassy and flirtatious in a good-natured way and we got along well. Her luck or taste or choice in men seemed suspect given her five marriages – I cannot guess what Samuel Johnson would have had to say – but her spirits were undiminished. She and her son are close and each has the other’s name tattooed upon them in Russian – in keeping with her heritage.

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It remains to be seen if there is a coda to this story as, at her request, I gave Brenda our address because she wanted to write a note to Rachael…

And the next morning, I was on the ferry first to Pelee Island and then to Ohio. On the first leg, I met Stanley, John and Clarence, who had biked some 200 miles in a couple of very long days in order to spend the weekend camping on the island.

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Over the course of a rambling conversation touching upon the US election, the rise of China and the eternal lament of young men without women in their lives, the lads told a curious tale about their common experience with the part time job of chicken catching in the area where they lived. It is a job that is reviled and done out of necessity because though it pays well it is done by hand in the wee hours of the night in the dark when the chickens are docile and not easily disturbed. The job consists of walking silently through the “Chicken Run” concentration camp and seizing up by the legs two chickens in each hand and packing them into crates. This goes on for hours and evidently reduces the worker to a zombie-like state through its repetitive tedium. It seemed almost a rite of passage with them – before any of them were old enough or had the connections for more skilled work this was what they did because it was one of the few things on offer.

I left them on the island, and while I waited for the next ferry, I took a few pictures of the boat that had brought us from the mainland:

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The trip over to Sandusky took us past Cedar Point, which I had never seen before let alone from this vantage point:

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With that, I was Back to Ohio:

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I took this picture for my friend Dan as it is an old warehouse for the winery we worked for decades ago in the other end of the state.

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I rode out of Sandusky along the south side of Lake Erie

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and spent the night a few miles west of Vermilion where I watched the sun go down:

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Sheesh!

So I lost a blog post and lost the will to go on; ha, ha – just kidding!

But it’s been a long time since I put up a real post; in fact, it was when I was up in Wallaceburg before Roger and I set out on our separate paths toward home. He has written eloquently of our ride together and I urge you to seek out his post.

Setting aside our different riding styles, Roger and I had an amazing adventure, which I will continue to talk about at great length given the slightest opportunity so consider yourself forewarned! The ride has simply not been the same without him even though I’ve had a grand time ferrying across Lake Erie (that’s two Great Lakes if you’re keeping count), biking to Cleveland to stay with Bitty and Thomas and getting down to Pittsburgh, where Rachael will join me to close out this grand trek along a connected series of bike trails back to DC.

I am not ready to be done yet so, when I get somewhere with better connectivity, I’ll put up some posts tracing my steps from Canada to Cleveland and Pittsburgh – the interlude between biking with Roger and biking with Rachael!

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St. Clair to Wallaceburg

(I’m still trying to get caught up; we rode from St. Clair to Wallaceburg on (Wednesday)

The beauty of the St. Clair river makes the area an inviting place to live – at least in the summertime. A local woman told me that the US side has been dredged for shipping, which means one gets a good view of the 1000′ ships that ply the waters (or at least you can during the day!)

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There is also a long sandbar that kids can stand on out in the middle of the river. But as much as she enjoyed living there, Pam cautioned that “you have to detoxify yourself” because of the power plants on either side of the river:

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At the last minute, while on the ferry to Canada, I hurriedly bought the data package I’m using to post this. Our crossing was quick but gave us the opportunity to marvel over the blueness of the water.

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I rode down the Canadian side of the river before cutting over to Wallaceburg and decided the locals had a pretty sweet set-up:

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Wallaceburg is a pretty small town, but I met some interesting people. Karen runs a do-it-yourself winemaking shop where customers buy concentrated grape juice varietally sourced from around the world:

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and then add yeast and water and let the magic of fermentation begin:

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Afterward, you can even age the wine in wee oak barrels:

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Not sure this has much potential in the US, but Karen says it’s quite popular in Canada because the cost of wine is so high.

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Karen recommended a place called Dimitar’s for dinner, and I went over to check it out, which is how I met Randy, who is the luckiest unlucky person I’ve ever met. After a tour in the Canadian military in Afghanistan and Iraq, he did a stint in the French Foreign Legion in some of the troubled spots in Africa. Upon returning to Canada, he decided he needed to spend some time away from people so he did a solo backpack across the country stopping to work the occasional odd job (bar bouncer was a standby) along the way.
After his trek, Randy was working an industrial job in Windsor when a forklift driver lost his load sending a crushing three tons down the right side of Randy’s body. He was in a coma for nine months, the last two of which were medically induced. He has a steel plate in his skull, 8 screws holding the right side of his face together, 15 screws holding his right arm on and an artificial hip and femur. He is quite lucky to be alive and says the only effects are some nerve damage in his hand.

As general manager, he runs a nice place at Dimitar’s, and Roger and I ate well together for a final time:

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About Me

Born in Baltimore and raised in Cincinnati, I have lived on both coasts and driven back and forth across the country a number of times. I now have the "midlife opportunity" to do so on two wheels.