Folk Bicycles

handcrafted bicycles that fulfill a need of function and grace

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tour to Connecticut

Hey folks, I'm back. Sorry about the six month absence from this page.

I just returned from a month long trip to Connecticut. One of Leah's best friends, Jordan, from back home was getting married, and we thought it would be an excellent reason to do a cross country tour. A few months before we were to leave we found out about some friends in Boston, Frank and Jade, that were getting married a week before Jordan and Zal's wedding. So we upped the start date a week and started counting the days.

We left on the 19th of June and headed for Milwaukee. The first night we spent at the Kettle Moraine State Forest in a nice secluded walk-in site. We had a stiff tail wind the whole way there, and we felt great. The next morning we made our way into Milwaukee and caught the ferry to Muskeegon, Mi., though not before stopping at an Italian grocery and stalking up on fruits, bread, meat, and cheese. After the ferry we rode about thirty miles til we found a campground to rest. That night was the first of two thunderstorms that we encountered the whole trip and made me glad we brought a huge tarp to cover our bikes and gear.

We headed straight east to Port Huron, avoiding Detroit, and crossed into Canada two days later. From there we headed to Niagara Falls, camping in provincial parks, industrial parks, and church lawns. Five years ago, I did this trip in reverse by myself, passing through Niagara Falls. What I remember about that part was getting thoroughly lost. This time around, we found out that you have to ride up some very steep and long hills to get into Niagara Falls from the west. Once we were up there, albeit in a round about way (again, got a little lost), we rode through the carnival atmosphere of Canadian NF and crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, catching a magnificent view of the falls.

So we didn't have much rain, but I would have gladly accepted some for all the heat we had to ride in. It was in the 90's for most of the trip. Leah and I must have drank around two gallons of fluids a day. My guess is that the worst heat was the first day in New York. We managed to mix things up a bit, though, by getting on the Erie Canal Tow Path, a quite ridable dirt path that was originally used by mules to haul barges up and down the Erie Canal. For the last ten years the state of New York has been restoring these paths for non motorized use. We stayed on it for a good hundred miles or so, a little slower going, but a welcome change from road traffic. I think I didn't drink enough fluids that first day in New York because the next day I drank over a gallon of water and gatoraide before noon and didn't have to pee until about five p.m.

That afternoon we made it to Syracuse, and to the house of David and Dorita Reyen, old friends of Leah's family. What a welcoming place for us to be. David and Dorita make exquisite clothing from felted wool blended with hand dyed silk and their house is one big studio. After a great dinner with locally made mead and some catching up, we got a tour of their jewelry and felting workshops (David being the person who taught Leah's dad jewelry making some thirty years ago). Then we passed out in a little air conditioned trailer that the Reyen's use when traveling to fairs and shows (ahhhhhh...).

Now, we would like to blame it on the heat (and maybe we can!) but the fact was that we were behind schedule. We wanted to make it to Ulster Park (between Kingston and New Paltz, NY) by the 30th of June to meet friends for the weekend, and it was now the 28th. So David took us to the bus station and we caught a ride to Albany, thus avoiding the Catskills and at least a few days of riding. From Albany we rode south along the Hudson, camping in a park, and then having a leisurely fourty-ish mile ride to our friend Pete's house.

I'll recount the rest of the trip in another post or two.