FINISHED!

 

4pm, Wednesday, September 4th — we sight the Atlantic ocean from the top of a hill and coast down to Revere Beach just north of Boston, MA.

3,804 miles, 74 days, we’ve made it.

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Pure joy.

 

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A clean beach (the first public one in the US), what better way to end?!

 

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Asking strangers to take our picture for our required ending photo.

 

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Took some days off in Boston and saw the sights, including the Freedom Trail. We may have had showers each night, but wearing the same clothes made the trip seem somewhat inconclusive.

 

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Caught the carnival in Cambridge on Sunday. A great way to spend our last day exploring the area.

Boston was a blast – so glad we decided to end our trip there!  We did face some trouble getting our bikes shipped out, but that was eventually resolved. (BIG shout-out to Joe who helped us from afar in getting everything settled. Just goes to show how real and supportive the touring bicycle community is.)

 

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Train layover in Chicago led to downtown exploration, even thought the weather happened to be in the 90s (ugh).

 

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The train ride home! About 3.5 days total, over the Northern part of the US. Literally crossed over our bicycle route several times, which was incredible to see and remember. It’s amazing to see how much of the US is so sparsly populated.

 

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Gorgeous sunset before entering Glacier Park in Montana. 

It’s good to be home. And having finished this epic of a journey, it’s exciting to think about future possibilities.

 

New York (Bike Route 5)

This is admittedly belated, but definitely needed. We enjoyed New York, though it’s hard to adjust to the idea of being so close to the end. Followed the Erie Canal for most of the way, as well as Bike Route 5. There worked well – though getting lost in Utica was a bit hairy. But all’s well that ends well. Onto the photos!

 

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Following the Erie Canalway Bike Trail, we ran into a thunderstorm and found this bridge to sit it out under. Met another touring cyclist while waiting for the rain to die down which made for a welcome diversion.

 

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Steep hills in New York. Also, we’ve noticed that people seem to honk more frequently here than in other states.

 

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Some of the steepest/longest hills we’ve had since Wyoming! At only 600-800 feet though, they were simply fun to climb and gave very rewarding views at the end. We camped up here – looking out over the valley – near a cornfield. A perfect night – no need for a fly and an incredible sunset.

 

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Rode out of Albany with a good friend for a good 15 miles or so…until she got a flat tire. We tried patching it, but it didn’t hold and we soon had to part ways. But in any case, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Albany area.

 

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INTO MASSACHUSETTS!!! Our last state! A big climb up into it – through the Berkshires. Massachusetts had some great climbing; it was great to get to have big hills to coast down again. There’s nothing like hitting 40mph on a long hill.

 

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Impressive church in the middle of an unincorporated Massachusetts town. The history in this area is crazy – we’re used to just hearing about Lewis and Clark all the time.

 

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Taking care of final tire/tube troubles. Erin’s tires are both in need of replacing…amazing how 3,800 odd miles will shred a tire.

We’re so close now – incredible to think about.

A century, state fair, and Canada!

It’s been a little while since our last update, so here we go. We’re now in New York, having crossed through downstate Michigan and southern Ontario. Waiting out a storm under a bridge on the Erie Canalway Bike Trail as we speak. We should be able to take the trail all the way to Albany. So, for the photos!

20130826-122930.jpgManaged to catch the tractor pulls at the UP State Fair while in Escanaba. ‘Murica.

20130826-122939.jpgJames enjoyed the rides at the fair – while Erin enjoyed the safety of the ground. A classic, American fair. Glad we happened to be in the area on opening day!

20130826-122950.jpg Our first Century (100 mile) day!!! Here, Erin attempts to sign out ‘100’ and more than fails at doing so. Although it was pretty flat, we faced consistent head and cross winds, making it a challenging ride.

20130826-123023.jpg Biking along the upper coast of Lake Michigan, we passed some gorgeous sandy stretches.

20130826-122618.jpgWe took a rest day in Capac, Michigan. It was our first true rest day – we hung out with this cute dog and were treated to fabulous food and conversation by our hosts!

20130826-122631.jpg Into Canada! We took a tiny ferry over (the size of the Puget Island one). Watched a semi truck break off a little bit of the landing on the Canadian side and successfully made it through immigration (though we did have to give up our pepper spray).

20130826-122646.jpg A glimpse into our life via the handlebar bag – power bars, wallet, hand sanitizer, and phone. Pretty much everything we need while on the road.

20130826-122706.jpg Stopped at a Tim Horton’s in Canada – of course Canadian fast food would be sandwiches and soup. Pretty delicious.

20130826-122718.jpg Lots of windmills along Lake Erie. Many people had signs both in support and opposition of wind turbines nailed to fences. Does anyone know if windmills cause cancer or other health concerns? Apparently that’s the word going around.

20130826-122737.jpg Niagara Falls! We’d been looking forward to this stop for a while. Hit it much earlier in the day than anticipated, so we headed into the US a day early. Sad to leave the legitimately friendly Canadians.

20130826-122801.jpg We accidentally missed the pedestrian path and got to sit in traffic to cross the border. Fortunately our spirits were high at the excitement of reaching a new state and we enjoyed chatting with other waiting drivers.

20130826-123047.jpg About ten days left – we’re aiming to hit Boston around September 5th. Hard to come to terms with the fact that this is almost over.

Into the Northern Wilderness

Since Minneapolis, we’ve worked out way across northern Wisconsin and into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the UP). It’s been incredibly delightful to get away from the city and onto back-country roads. We’ve also come to deeply appreciate trees — anything besides arid, flat landscape. The hills are picking up, but now they’re fun (South Dakota took all the joy out of flat roads).

Seven weeks into our trip, it’s hard to imagine doing anything besides pack up and bike each day. These next weeks are sure to be bittersweet as we get closer to our final destination. Now, onto the photos!

 

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Heading out of Minneapolis, our host pointed us to this long bike path. Few people on the path and no cars made for a neat exit from the busy city. While the Twin Cities were great, biking around new urban places is always a tiring adventure.

 

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James’ relationship with mosquitos is strained, to say the least. We found this sculpture by the side of the road (sign reads: average size mosquito in Wisconsin) and the photo-op was too perfect to pass us. Don’t worry though, we recently stocked up on some pretty intense bug spray in preparation for the woods ahead.

 

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We saw this storm approaching and at first thought: what interesting clouds! A few minutes later we found shelter under the overhang of a garage just in time to avoid torrential rain. Within fifteen minutes it had all passed and we were able to hop back on the road. That night, we had decided to stay in Rice Lake at the last minute with a warmshowers host. We were so thankful to be inside when a giant storm passed right over! Looking at lightening from inside a house is a little different than from inside a tent.

 

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We’ve loved all the lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin – they make for some pretty scenic rides. Also of note, Erin picked up new bike shorts in Minneapolis to try to hike her tan line up. She’s been trying to walk the line between letting it tan and slathering the newly exposed skin with sunscreen to avoid massive burning. So far, so good!

 

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Happened upon this giant lumber yard in northern Wisconsin. The logging trucks look different here than back home — interesting. Also of note, snowmobile/ATV routes are everywhere up here! Looks snowmobiles are actually a primary mode of transportation in the winter.

 

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We encountered a bit of tire/tube trouble this week. Wire on the shoulders punctured one of James’ tubes. Erin managed to pop a tube while getting her bike off the road when finding a place to stealth camp for the night. Fortunately, that happened near Minnocqua, WI which had a fully working bike shop…though it didn’t carry tubes in the right size. We lost nearly a full day sorting out all that business and figuring out how to make do.

 

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James takes on the position of Chief Navigator. We’ve found that free county/state maps are highly helpful in showing back roads that are lightly traveled and much more pleasant to bike.

 

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Taking a break by the beach. The weather has continued to be in our favor — mid seventies and eighties. Perfect for biking, but not necessarily for taking a dip in the water.

 

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We stopped at a farmers market in Phelps, WI. This little town was really struggling, and the two farmers at the market show up more as a service to the community than for profit (the grocery store just shut down). We chatted a bit, and they forced some free produce upon us. We had fresh onions in our chili that night!

 

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Even more tire trouble. About 75 miles out of Escanaba, MI, Erin woke up to another flat tire. Completely out of tubes, and with the nearest bike shop in Escanaba, we managed with our last official patch and a jury-rigged one (from some rubber cement and a plastic bag). We weren’t on the road until 11am, but still managed to crank out the miles and get into Escanaba for the night!

 

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Entering into the Eastern Time Zone! We started in Pacific, so this seemed a little surreal. We’re starting to get to the last legs of our journey.

 

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Arriving in Escanaba on August 11th, we discovered that the UP State Fair was going to start on the 12th! Since we had already decided on taking a full rest day in Escanaba, this was perfect timing! We’ve already been to the bike shop this morning — new chains (especially with the miles we’ve put on), new bike shorts for James (otherwise his would have fallen apart in the next couple days), and tubes (the first bike shop with exactly the right size!!!). Now off to the beach to fly a kite that James picked up, and then we’ll explore the fair.

And tomorrow, we start the final countdown. Three weeks.

Back to Civilization

We’ve made it to the Twin Cities – largest urban area since Portland! A couple days ago, when we passed THREE towns with populations over 1,000 within the course of one day, we knew we were back in civilization.

Now six weeks into our trip, the end seems to be approaching quickly (sadly). But before we think about that too much, here’s an update on our most recent travels!

20130804-194629.jpg Tractors are giant out in South Dakota! We had to get off the road several times over a couple days to make way. They’re even larger than semi trucks, if that helps put their size in better perspective.

20130804-194612.jpg Erin demonstrates an efficient way to eat yogurt. No need to dig around in our bags for a spoon, the foil top makes a perfect scoop!

20130804-194533.jpg Some of the more interesting road kill (though we have seen a total of three road kill turtles). Other species include: badgers, rabbits, skunks, coyotes, cats, deer, ground squirrels, birds, bees, and even butterflies! Too many to count – we’ve gotten pretty good about telling when one is coming up just by smell.

20130804-194750.jpg We’re still stealth camping, but sometimes we manage to catch gorgeous sunsets and sunrises – when we aren’t hidden in the trees.

20130804-194724.jpg We passed through DeSmitt, SD – the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder! Erin was a bit more excited than James, but we both took the tour (along with a ton of little girls).

20130804-194716.jpg Into Minnesota! It was nice to finally get out of the flat, dry, tree-less stretches of South Dakota.

20130804-194738.jpg We found three (THREE!!!) new kinds of Cliff Bars in this grocery store! Words cannot explain how oddly excited we were. After going through about 2 bars each per day for six weeks, any variety is welcome.

20130804-194811.jpg And into Minneapolis! The weather has been gorgeous (though maybe not for pictures), and we’re loving the many bike trails in the cities.

Now we’re headed off to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and more remote roads.

Isn’t it Supposed to Flatten Out?

We passed into the Central Time Zone today! As exciting as that landmark is, we’ve had a couple others that rival it. From Cody, WY to the capital of South Dakota, Pierre, we’ve made good time across this past section. We’re now six whole days ahead of schedule — which gives us a nice buffer should we need it for rest days or sightseeing later on. So, here’s a little glimpse into the past 10 days of our trip.

IMG_0811 James spots his first cactus — not an exciting moment unless you’d been hearing him complain about the lack thereof for days.

 

IMG_0868 We passed over the Bighorn Mountains via the Powder River Pass. Our biggest climb yet, we climbed virtually straight up for 5,460 feet before reaching an all-time high elevation of 9,666 feet! These incredible rock formations were scattered about, making the climb undoubtedly the most gorgeous.

 

IMG_0946 We took a rest day while staying with fantastic folks in Gillette, WY and were treated to a drive out to Devils Tower — which we would have missed otherwise! On the path around the base, we met Frank Sanders, a local climbing legend and part-time bicycle tourer himself. All in all, an entirely satisfying rest day!

 

IMG_0967 Biking home from our first (?!) steak dinner, we hit this spectacular sunset. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

 

IMG_1007 For as much food as we need to fuel these rides, it’s been getting kind of old. Everything in restaurants is more or less the same (which is why I was so excited for this taco salad!). Eating without a fridge is tough. We’ve eaten cold canned food for many lunches, especially since finding good grocery stores is tough in the sticks.

 

IMG_1103 Crazy Horse Memorial. Check it out if you get a chance — seriously, 100x better than Mt Rushmore! (This picture is from quite a distance, Mt Rushmore is insignificant compared to the planned completed size of Crazy Horse.)

 

IMG_1117 And Mt Rushmore. Hitched a ride to the top because of the windy road and tourist traffic. Relatively underwhelming, and we both felt crowded by the masses of people after days on the road.

 

IMG_1202 Hitting a bit of flat land, though we’ve been disappointed to find that ‘flat’ often includes lots of small hills. It’s pretty shocking to think that we’ve already passed over the toughest passes!

 

IMG_1214 No need to worry about South Dakota heat! It’s normally 100+ degrees through this stretch, but today we had a cool 55 in the early morning. With wind chill, it was enough to drive James into his sleeping bag while stopping for breakfast on the road.

 

IMG_1216 Pressing on from Pierre, we are about a week from Minneapolis! We pledged to find free camping for a week (paying $20+ for a piece of land each night becomes old quickly) and day six just passed successfully! Here’s to continued low temperatures in South Dakota!

Crossing the 1,000 Mile Mark

Our third week — how time flies. This week held all sorts of adventures, from crossing the Continental Divide three times, to reaching new heights (literally), to touring a section of Yellowstone. As usual, a couple photos to show you the trip through our eyes:

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Shortly out of Missoula we hit the real Rockies — with a 3,000 foot climb to Chief Joseph Pass. Little food on the way, so we had to make do with cold spaghetti and meatballs from the can. Still, we had a great time, especially as we met a 70 year old man who has been solo biking for the last seven year. What stories he had!

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Big Sky Montana –truly lived up to its name during our time in the state.Image

We happened to past through Montnana National Forests at the tail end of the Rainbow Gathering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Gathering). The local people were not too happy about it. However, from what we heard, the real problems arising from these gatherings are the people left behind, without cars, who are hitchiking back home.

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Passed Virginia and Nevada Cities, both ghost towns. Virginia City has been preserved since the 1950s, when it went bust after the gold rush.