Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dylan's Summer Adventure

Email from my brother, Dylan, who spent the summer biking from Minneapolis to Boston.  He is going to start a Match tutoring position at a charter school in September.

Hey everybody, I finally am at a computer where I can send a longer update. The iPhones have befuddled me, making me even more hesitant to join the future of efficient gadgetry.

But anyway. I'm now at Kristen's cabin in New Hampshire right on Lake Winnapesaukee which is gorgeous. The cabin was built in the 1800's and not too much has been added since the 1960s. The doors creak, the floor squeaks, and the walls have no insulation. I'm sleeping in the bedroom that shares a wall with the toilet, so I get to here all the delicious sounds of the digestive system very clearly in the morning. But it's actually fantastic. Kristen's family (grandmother, two uncles, aunt, mother, father, and sister) are so nice, and like to play nerdy board games and hearts, so it's a perfect place to relax.

And we even managed to get here without grave consequences! We've biked over 2500 miles in the past 39 days. On days we are biking the full day we average about 80 miles per day, but there have been plenty of short days when we reach a city or other destination. 

Aaron and I started out in St. Paul after donating his van to a vocational school, with our friend Aurora, camping in St. Croix falls, then in a churchyard in Hinckley, and at a Carleton friend's farmhouse in Carlton, MN. We spent a couple days at a friend's mother's home in Duluth for a couple of nights where we swapped out Aurora for Kristen, and moved on through Wisconsin.

Aaron had met a Carleton alum from '87 who we stayed with in Washburn WI, who had biked pretty much the same route, 25 years earlier. Also, he had a bike full of 15 bikes and fixed up Kristen's bike, which would have undoubtedly exploded, disintegrated, or completely dismantled itself before Canada unless he overhauled it and saved the journey. 

So we continued on to the land of the "Yooper" with stable bikes but minds still as unstable as ever. We landed near Ironwood (I think the town was Wakefield) where they celebrated the last day of dependence (July 3rd) with fireworks and such, and then carried onward through mosquito infested campsites until we got to Marquette, where we stayed with somebody we met online through a website, "warm showers" (it's like couch surfing for bikers). So we stayed with and NMU student minoring in Mushroom Management, and then went looking for a campsite near Munising.  But it didn't exist and the Park Ranger recommended we head to the nearest site "only 17 miles away" (it was getting dark at this point). So we made the trip altering decision to knock on a random person's door.

Of course we sent the cute, innocent, and clean(ish) Kristen to the door, hoping they wouldn't be able to see Aaron's and my grungy clothes or scruffy chins. Apparently the couple didn't, because they offered up their empty lot next door for us to pitch our tent, and brought out wine coolers shortly after (along with kayak rides the next morning complete with a waffle breakfast).

The rest of Michigan was great, Pictured Rocks was gorgeous and  both the Superior and lake Michigan Shores were nice and cool. We were given a new, bigger pot in Rudyard to match our ever growing appetite. 

At Sault St Marie we crossed into Canada, and knocked on another door, where we received the spare bedroom and egg breakfast in the morning. That was just about the only highlight between the border and Ottawa, because we had to take Trans Canadian Highway 17 all the way which consisted of hundreds of miles, hundreds of semi trucks and only a 1 foot wide shoulder to escape from them all. To say the least, Ottawa seemed like a glistening utopia when we arrived.

Although we didn't have a place to stay. We had emailed eight people through warm showers but no replies, so we started calling phone numbers listed on the site at about 3 in the afternoon. Somehow, we reached a blessed soul who said we could come use his backyard for the night. And we couldn't have planned it any better (maybe that's why we didn't plan any of the trip). Richard was a solar engineer who had developed (and driven) a solar powered car to race in Australia. He had a garage full of circus style bikes (one double  decker bike, one that looked like a motorcycle, one that he hauled an organ piano around on, and many more). He even let us each ride one to breakfast the next morning where we tried poutine (gravy and cheese covered french fries) for the first time. 

Montreal was a more low key stop, we stayed with another warm showers host who let us know it was the biking capital of North America, so we spent our time biking up the mountain, along the canal, and anywhere else. We also met up with another guy touring solo from Vermont to quebec city and then back down to Maine (possibly even more confused and lost than we were). So we rode with him to Quebec.

We stayed with a couple who showed us around the city our first night, and then let us know they would be leaving the next evening so, obviously, they just gave us the key to their apartment and let us stay there a second night. They didn't even rescind the key after Kristen flooded the bathroom and the entire downstairs apartment at 1am the night before they left. Our host just laughed at us.

On the way to Acadia we found two places to stay by people walking up to us in convenience stores and asking us if we needed to crash somewhere. We must have looked pretty pathetic at this point. So we stayed with a Canadian platinum record winning drummer from a band Silence Noir, and another guy who lived on an island in the middle of moose lake (he also had shore side property where we stayed).

Acadia was beautiful but touristy. We saw tide pools, "thunder hole" and a sea anemone cave. We ate lobster flavored chips and ran into the owners of the campsite we had stayed in the previous evening (they let us stay there for free because another group of campers said we could stay on their site in a tent with a TV and cots). 

We worked our way down the coast of main, waking up to see a sunset over the ocean, and seeing more Carleton friends' parents. and finally made it here to the cabin.

And that's just the short version.

Well, I'll talk to you all soon, I'm having a grand adventure out here,

Dylan

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