Greetings from "Moonbeam, Canada!" (Craig Allen photo archives).

He made it! My father is back home in New Jersey!

But, I am getting ahead of myself, and his bicycle story

Taking a break along a well-maintained road... (Craig Allen photo archives).

When we last heard from my father, through his e-mails from the road, he was just outside of North Bay, in Canada. That was late in the day on August 25th. Click here for his previous (short) update.

While "passing through North Bay Canada, on August 26th, I began to think more about an (earlier) incident.

A blonde woman walked up close to me and stared directly in my eyes but said nothing. Finally, she asked “Where are you going?” After talking awhile, she told me of a really great route to get into Ottawa easily by bicycle.

After visiting Ottawa, she also advised me returning to Route 29 to reach the Thousand Islands Bridge where I could return over the St. Lawrence River into the US!"

My father pedaled all day, before reaching Cobden, where he had planned to find an open space to stay for the night. Just outside of town, at a county visitor's building, he makes note of an electric sign promoting "Whitewater Region Area Events Renfrew County Plowing Match. Cobden Sat. Sept. 13th" So...if you're Canada-bound this coming weekend, you now have plans!

That evening at Cobden, he was invited into another private home for the night. Lucky star, indeed! Returning to his email notes of August 27th:

"Left Mike and Julie's home 6:15-6:30 am, just east of Cobden. Made 2 cups of instant coffee & enjoyed 2 pieces of toast smothered in maple sugar spread, before mounting my bike that was all packed ready to go, except for pumping up tires to100 lbs pressure for most efficient rolling capability.

(Biked) 10 Km to Haley Station before taking Rt.4 over a ridge (without stopping while crossing the highest ridge) before reaching Rt. 1 into Arnpior, 26 Km further.

Route 1 was the worst road I biked in Canada!

Except for a few new patches, the vehicle lanes and shoulders were cracked!  Broken surfaces, holes, horrible macadam patches and long macadam road snakes! One could compare the road surface to the coarsest piece of sand paper!

This meant hard, slow, dangerous biking to Arnprior. I even needed to rest uphill on some of the smallest hills, before arriving around 10:30 am.

I stopped at a small, homey looking restaurant run by two elderly ladies. The restaurant was originally a shoe store, around 1900.  When ordering breakfast, the lady asked If I would like some homemade jam, instead of the commercial jam packets. Rhubarb-strawberry jam. Fantastic! She grew the rhubard and strawberries, and made the jam!

 Hustling out of Arnprior, the road was good and the scenery looked a little more like Wisconsin and northern NJ. There was also the smell of dairying. Signs along Rt 29 in Lanark county touted that they were the Maple Sugar Capital of Canada. I pumped as hard and quickly as possible, with alternately light side and head winds.

Bridge marker at Pakenham. (Craig Allen photo archives).

I passed through Pakenham in 2012 (during my first cross-Canada attempt). Yeah! I was hoping to find this again!

Just a portion of this one-of-a-kind stone bridge. (Craig Allen photo archives).

1901 – "Pakenham 5 Arched Stone Bridge." This is the only stone bridge of its kind on the North American continent. Length 268' – width 25' -height 22' - 40' arches -piers 8 ' thick – largest stone 5 tons.

39Km later, I reached Carleton Place. I wasted some time there in misinterpreting the notes. But, I did pick up some important info for my advance, plus a big cup of Mt. Dew. At the convenience store, (I was told about the) trail to Stitzville, and that I would find less expensive motels in Belle Corners.

29 KM later, I reached Belle Corners. Coming off the ramp at the landmark bridge, I should have turned right into the small town. I turned left, and was headed out of town. Oops! Turned around. Soon, I found a convenient place to stay (for the night) and it cost me nothing. Knocked on a door, and the elderly gentleman said that I could stay on his property. No rain...and now I'm only 20 Km from Ottawa. Quit at 7pm. I had biked 145 km, or 87 miles for the day, over many road conditions. The worst were in the morning."

Thursday, August 28th: Up 5:45 am, had breakfast at a fast food place.

On part of the TransCanadian Bike Trail, outside Ottawa. (Craig Allen photo archives).

I biked the 20 km into Ottawa 9am, with the intention of visiting Parliament bldgs and the locks of the old military canal from Montreal to Ottawa.

No, its not Venice...its Ottawa. (Craig Allen photo archives).

The Rideau Canal was built during the War of 1812. It was to be a war-time supply route for troops and supplies from Montreal to the settlements of Upper Canada. The canal was completed in 1832. Canadian Parks maintain and operate the continuously operating canal. One may pass through the locks just as they did in 1832. There is one exception: 3 electrically motorized locks.

The canal is still used for tourists and property owners who use all types of motorized boats to enjoy the historic tourist towns along the way connecting 2 large lakes. People come along the canal, and return home going down the St. Lawrence Seaway. Talked with the canal lock tenders asking questions about the canal and Parliament Hill.

As I headed up steps of Parliament Hill, I heard bagpipes. The piper was part of the Capitol's tour guard group.

honor guard
Snappy uniforms and precision. (Craig Allen photo archives).

Very snappy English style of foot and rifle handling by the guards. I was the only civilian there!

Canadian Parliament. (Craig Allen photo archives).

You need a ticket to tour the parliament bldg. But, if you just want to go up the clock tower and view the city, plus visit the Memorial Room, you just need to go through security like at the airport. So that is what I did.

A view of Ottawa from the Parliament Tower (Craig Allen photo archives).

It still took time, but probably saved me 1.5 hours that I could then use to get out and beyond Ottawa.

 As I returned the way I came in to Ottawa, I took a wrong ramp. It didn't feel right, so I stopped and turned around. Oh Oh! That zigzag along the St Lawrence Seaway sign says I am headed 12 Km back toward the parliament complex!

I waved down Peter to help me. After asking a few questions, he said: “Follow me and I will ride a ways with you to show you." Since we were near his home, he offered me some lunch.

He talked thru a window, and I kidded him about being at a drive up window. Shortly, his wife came out with a glass of milk and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Earlier I had said I would follow him and trust his decisions. I actually rode along side of him, and I guess he figured I was a much better rider than he expected of an old geezer! He then put me on a busy road with no compunctions, and I was back at Belle Corners in 10 minutes. I was happily back on my rail trail.

Peter's wife is a nurse, and he is a stay at home father looking for a job as his children will now all be in school. Thanks Peter! You saved my day! Believe it or not, I retraced all my distance and more, stopping near Franktown on Route 29.

It was here, that Margaret allowed me to sleep under a spreading tree. It kept the dew off me and my gear. Her husband Tom is a long haul truck driver. Margaret was waiting up late for her daughter, who is a truck driver for a circus.

I was up, and off  by 6:15 am (on Friday August 29th), to begin the long Labor Day weekend.

I continued on Route 29 to Tincap, where I had a can of chunky soup for an early lunch, after biking  47 KM. Traffic was getting heavy and the shoulders small.

Another 14 Km, just short of Brockville, I stopped for info at a gas station and convenience store. The woman attendant told me how to bypass the traffic and downtown area.

Easy directions. At the first stop sign turn left. At the 2nd stop sign and I would be on the road I wished to take to leave Canada and re-enter the US!

What I was not told was the distance, hills and not always good wheel-rolling road!

Luckily, bad things often have silver linings. I wanted to check if I reached to the correct old Hgwy #2. A man at a landscape business asked if wanted east or west. Go 5-10 km west and the road goes under the super hgwy 401 (Bicycles are forbidden). I waved down an exiting car and was told: “Go maybe 5 km and you will see large signage to Parkway to US Bridge.”

The bikeway was brand new macadam with a painted line to separate the 2 bike lanes. Most hills were small, as the St Lawrence Seaway is bordered by a local road, then the new bikeway, then private homes and marshes.

Boy, did I whip along the bikeway to reach the bridges!

usa sign
Still In Canada, but barely. (Craig Allen photo archives).

Bikes can only cross the St. Lawrence bridges between dawn and dusk. I had to walk the bike sidewalks that were so narrow, that I could hardly squeeze through with my bike and pannier! It was easier to walk the bike up the high bridge, than to hold the bike from running away on the downhill side of the bridge!

The island between the bridges held a few tourist stores. I still had $ 3.50 Canadian change so decided to treat myself to an ice cream cone. It was delicious!

2 country bridge
The (narrow for bikes) bridge linking Canada and the US, as seen from the NY side. My dad walked this bridge with his bike... (Craig Allen photo archives).

The US side had a New York Welcome Center, which I reached shortly before dusk. I rolled out my sleeping bag for the night in a picnic pavilion, and was not kicked out.

On Saturday August 30th, I was back on the road by 6:15 am. I had only a few munchies as I started, because I thought I would find a restaurant within an hour. I eventually found two. Both were out of business!

What to do now? I had two road options. Highway 12, or NY Route 180. A park showed two routes to Watertown, NY.

I gambled on Route 180, and I encountered south head winds, and poor pavement. Entered Fargeville. Several men were outside. I asked questions about the road, and if there was a restaurant in town. The restaurant was right in front of us, so we all had a good chuckle!

After breakfast, I pedaled the 15 miles to Watertown. Continuing hills, head wind, and dairy smell. I proceeded through via Route 12 bike trail to avoid the downtown area. As to interesting things? Just lots of pedaling and a blur. Oh yes, there was some light mist during the day, and the threat of showers, so I wore my new raincoat.

Near Glenfield, I approached a fruit complex in that I had seen on my east to west partial trip (last year). I had heard that there was a 40% chance for a T shower after 10 pm. Maybe they have a spare shed where I could protect myself and gear?

The owner's name was Violette. I talked with her by phone, and she gave instructions for shed # 8 where I could have more privacy. Violette asked if I had a meal, and I told her that I keep a 1 day supply of food all the time. She said I sounded very organized and knowledgeable, and offered me an apple. I had some apples I had picked up along the road, so I asked for a peach. That peach was so delicious and juicy!!

Violettte had also asked if I had soft ground cover. I told her about my sleeping bag. Entering #8 I could see why she asked: the canvas covered floor had row after row of shallow holes left by her pots used to grow tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.

I fit my body to the depressions, and had a good night sleep. Around midnight, the wind kicked up and down came a torrent of rain. Rain also happened around 5am, so I rolled over and slept more. After deciding that it was time to get up, the skies were still threatening, so I waited awhile before finally deciding to move on, as maybe it was just haze.

Originally, I was going to be off around 6:30, and wait out some rain while having breakfast maybe an hour later. A quarter mile over the small hill was a restaurant that opened at 5:30. My plan would have worked. Even tho I had some munchies, I went in. Since I had seen it on earlier menus, I decided on biscuits and meat gravy. It was good, and filling. I biked up and down hills all day. This day, Sunday, is a blur.

Monday, September 1st, "Labor Day," I labored on my bike. It was another rather uneventful day of big hills and slow progress...with one exception: Showers threatened all day, so on and off with the raincoat!

Tuesday September 2, brought more big hills and slow progress. There were times where I had to get off my bike, and walk the steep grade. This sort of thing really cuts down my mileage for the day.

On my partial Canada attempt last year (when I started in New Jersey and pedaled west), I passed through the town of Long Eddy, New York. It was early in the morning, and I was looking for a place to eat breakfast. I came across an elderly woman on the nearly empty streets, and when I asked directions to a restaurant, she told me that she owned the hotel, and if I would wait for her to open, she would be happy to serve me. I had the most delicious blueberry pancakes! I decided then, that if I came through the area again, I would like to stay at this 150 year old hotel.

150 year old hotel, near a train, and the river. (Craig Allen photo archives).

So, its near dusk, and I'm biking into a small town, and it starts looking familiar. It was then that I saw the hotel, and knew that this was where I was meant to stop. Besides, I really wasn't looking forward to spending another night under the stars.

I enjoyed talking with the owner of the hotel, and telling my story from last year. It was here that I called Craig to give him an update, as I was allowed to use the phone at the hotel."

It is here that I (Craig) will jump in for a paragraph or two. Seeing as my dad was in a sparsely populated area, with little or no internet (as mentioned in an earlier installment of the bike odyssey), I had not heard anything from him for a week. I could only guess where he might be. He also did not receive the e-mails that I had sent him. Hearing his voice, I instantly knew that he was in the states, as he didn't take his seldom-used cell phone (no service in Canada). Luckily, he called just as I was getting ready to turn in for the night. He had no idea that I am getting up at 3:15 am to engineer the morning show with Jim & Eric & Alan & Bob & Jill...

He told me that he thought he would probably reach Milford PA, and Port Jervis by Wednesday evening. I told him to borrow a cell phone and call my cell on Wednesday afternoon after 3 (after I got up from my power nap), and keep me updated on his progress, as I was hatching an idea for the end of his trip...

Back to my dad: "Wednesday morning, I was told I could have anything that I wanted on the breakfast menu. So, I had 2 eggs, fries, toast, and several cups of coffee. And, I asked if I could have a small pancake on the side, because the pancakes I had last year were soooooo good. The chef-owner said sure. And, that pancake was really good, and BIG, but I was a little disappointed that it was a plain pancake. No blueberries this time.

I got an early start, with the early breakfast, because the hotel owners had to get up early to get their kids on the school bus, for an hour-long bus ride to school. I found out, the historic hotel has been in the same family since 1938.

Again, it was another day of big hills, and times when I just had to get off my bike, and walk. Until late afternoon, I was worried I might not make Milford or Port Jervis by dusk. A ways after Pond Eddy NY, the hills weren't so bad.So, when I could, I really pedaled by butt off, and made it to my destination with about 45 minutes of light to spare.

port jervis
Between Milford, PA and Pert Jervis. (Craig Allen photo archives).

I treated myself to a carton of ice cream. One more night under the stars.

He has made it back to the great Garden State! (Craig Allen photo archives).

Thursday morning, I crossed over into New Jersey!

It would be a sunny, warm day for the last day on the road. I biked a winding Route 206 through the hills of North Jersey like I have many times before on day-trips. There was no question in my mind that I would be home before the end of the day. Yeah!"

I (Craig) will jump in again. My father had called me from Pond Eddy NY Wednesday afternoon. I congratulated him on his progress, and told him to call me when he got near Somerville. As I have mentioned before in this series, I would have loved to go on this cross-Canada bike journey with my dad. We had last biked together, cross-country from New Jersey to Wisconsin when I was a senior in college.

Here was my bright idea: I would get on my mountain bike, and meet him in Somerville, and we would do the last few miles of his last cross-country bike trip, together. And, the timing would be good...afternoons are available to me, as I am pulling morning radio duties!

A cross-country bicycler, and your author. (Craig Allen photo archives).

We met up at the Somerville Circle (as the above photo shows), and started pedaling south down Route 206, back to his home in Hillsborough.

Here comes the irony that even I couldn't/wouldn't dream up, in my most creative moment...

About a mile from home, I hear a rubbing sound. He does too. I think that his pannier is rubbing on his tire. He thinks that my shoe is rubbing on my bike tire. I say: "Its not me...the sound is definitely YOU."

We stop on the shoulder, and he checks his pannier, and its fine. I'm watching as he checks his back tire. Its fine...

He had biked all the way from Vancouver, across Canada, into New York State, a little-bitty piece of Pennsylvania, and into New Jersey...

...and got a FLAT TIRE within a mile or so of home!


You CAN'T make this stuff up!

It would have taken at least 20 minutes to take the front tire off the bike, replace and inflate new/spare inner tube, and put the tire back on the bike. So, this close to home, he kept re-inflating the flat front tire, as needed, as we (very) slowly pedaled the last leg of his Canadian odyssey together.

My father crossing the "finish line." (Craig Allen photo archives).

My rider extraordinaire... pulled into his driveway...on a flat front tire!

You can't make this up...the front tire is flat at the very end! (Craig Allen photo).

As the late (great) Paul Harvey would say: "And now you know...the Rest Of The Story!"

A light moment, moments after finishing the ride...Dad showing the use of his "Camelbak" water pack on his back... (Craig Allen photo).

Congratulations, Dad!

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