Friday, 24 February 2012

Round Lake Ontario: Day 3

August 22, 2011; distance covered today: 118 km; total: 352 km

Day Three: Can You Cross a Bridge When You Get There?
In the morning, on my way out of the campground, I paid the fee, and hit the road. I rode in between corn fields and fruit gardens with no passing cars. Absolutely beautiful.
The View from my Campsite
My Campsite in the Morning
The Road in the Morning
My Road in the Morning
Just Before Rochester
At about 3 o’clock, I reached Rochester, where I had to go across a bridge to continue my route along the Lake. I found the bridge, but it was closed. It was only open in winter. Then I had to go 6 km south to the other bridge. When I got close, to the bridge, I realized that the only way to get to it was an expressway which, of course, was only for cars and trucks. After asking for direction, I rode south of the town and then north of the town where I decided to stay in Webster Park.

Now, I am in Webster Park. I don’t have much to eat, so I devoured whatever I had and sneaked into my sleeping bag. It is raining outside. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Round Lake Ontario: Day 2

August 21, 2011; distance covered today: 90 km; total: 234 km

Day Two: Riding into the US of A
It was raining cats and dogs last night. I was happy to have been safe and dry in the sanctuary of my Mountain Hardware tent, but this happiness didn’t last long when I unzipped the door of the tent in the morning to be overwhelmed by the sight of my poor bicycle covered with mud. The chain, cassette, derailer, and all parts close to the ground were muddy. Since lawn was a royalty on this campground, the humongous drops of torrential rain had splashed mud all over the lower part of the bike and the tent.   

I had breakfast and left the “mudsite”.  The storm had brought in some cool fresh air.  I rode along the Niagara River toward the Falls. To cross the border, I had to go past the first bridge because it was for cars and trucks only; bicycles and pedestrians were not allowed. I rode over the second bride. I didn’t have to wait in the long line of cars to cross the border, or maybe I should have, but I didn’t anyway. I rode past the cars and waited behind the first car. When it was my turn to get though the border, the rain started to come down again. Crossing the border was very easy. The officer asked a few questions then I was in. “Stay dry”, the officer said handing me my passport.  

As soon as I entered the US side of the border, my GPS stopped showing the details of the Canadian side, and revealed the map of the US side…interesting, eh? I had been really worried about finding my way in the US because my GPS had not been showing the map of the US when I was in Canada. And now it does show everything in the US while hiding the details in Canada. Anyhow, it was a relief to see my GPS working.
Niagara River
For some reason I felt really hungry as soon as I crossed the border, so I got myself a hamburger; I sat outside the hamburger stall enjoying the peeking sunshine when I noticed a guy on a bike looking at my bicycle with such an envy. I waved at him hi and he came to me for a chat. I asked him some questions about the route to the lake. He happened to be riding toward the same direction because he had parked his truck somewhere up head. So we biked together and we talked about politics and what not. His name was Micheal. He used to be a professional model travelling around the world, a fashion designer in Europe, and now a painter. Mmm… must have been a very interesting life.
Micheal and I

The ride on the American side of the Niagara was very peaceful. The road was beautiful, the weather pleasant, and the scenery awesome. I enjoyed it a lot.
Niagara River: The US Side
My ride in the afternoon was along the lake. There was a strong wind from my eight o’clock. It actually pushed me forward a little bit, which was fine by me. At the same time, I could see terribly ominous clouds moving fast toward the land over the lake from the Canadian side. Was it a hurricane? I hoped not, but it looked very much like one.  
Ominous Clouds
It was about seven o’clock when I rode in Golden Hill State Park. I stopped at the gate where the park office was to check in, but the office was locked. The instruction on the board outside the office wrote I could pick an unoccupied site and pay the next morning when the office is open. So I did. 

The campground is right by the shore; it is leafy, grassy, clean, quiet, and the shower is free with no lock!! Maybe the Canadian campgrounds can learn from their southern brothers. I pitched up my tent, had a long shower, washed my clothes, had dinner, and sneaked into my tent.

Now, after studying my route for tomorrow, I am prepared to hit the pillow,  wishing good weather for tomorrow. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Round Lake Ontario: Day 1

August 20, 2011; distance covered today: 145 km; total:145 km

Day one: It’s Hard to Kick the Habit
At 7 o’clock in the morning, I started my trip to make a loop round Lake Ontario. As always, when I set off on a trip or an adventure, I feel kind of hesitant about doing it. I ask myself, “God, why am I doing this?” And each time I remember my late mother who would shake her head and complain in Persian, “Mag e Majboori Akhe?”, which literally means, “Do you REALLY have to do this? Or “Are you out of your mind?” or something like that. Maybe my buddy, Medio, an official linguist/translator, could help me with this. Anyway… the hesitation usually is for a few minutes or an hour. Like always, soon I was excited and happy to be on the road.

I biked all the way down to Lake shore Road and biked on the bike path which, I thought, would take me to the Niagara Falls. There were a lot of cyclist on the path, many of whom on the opposite direction—toward Lakeshore in Toronto, but no one was on a loaded bike.

Soon I reached Oakville where two cyclists caught up with me and started a small talk. One of them signalled me to ride right behind him to give me a little boost against the somewhat strong headwind. Then we rode together for the next 30 km or so. I double checked the route with them and then somewhere close to Hamilton, they left for home. I was biking alone again. It was very hot, so I would seek shelter every 15 km or so in the shade to cool off and had a sip of water.

Somewhere close to St. Catherine, I had to detour and go West, away from the lake due to road construction. I am pretty sure this change added another 20 km to my original route. Well… I had no choice.

I kept riding and riding not knowing whether I could reach Niagara on The Lake. Given the fact that I had had an early start in the morning, I arrived in Niagara on The Lake at about 7 pm. I first checked thepossibility of wild camping, but I knew it would be impossible. I was in a resortarea with expensive cottages. So I went to a campground which happened to be“the worst ever”. It was very much like a refugee camp, but fancy and flashy.There were RV’s parked in rows next to one another like row houses on narrowalleys. Each alley was named after flowers; Red Rose, Camellia, and so on. Butthe names could not by any means change the picture of the ugly campground. Thestaffs were very unfriendly and I had to pay 20$ as a deposit for the bathroomkey on top of 40$ for the site!! I am absolutely sure the staffs were hopingsomeone to lose the key then they would cut another one for 2$ and pocket 18$.I mean… Who on earth…, which campground on earth would lock the bathroom andask for a deposit for the key? Give me a break. Oh! The campsite itself waslocated on mud—no grass what so ever.

Every cloud has a silver lining. My next-doorneighbors in the campsite were really nice people. The ones on my right, anAmerican couple, slowly walked to my site. We had a little chitchat about travellingby bike and all. They told me that the campgrounds in the States are a lotcheaper and nicer than the one we were staying at. They were very encouragingand said that they wanted travel by bike too. They seemed very serious aboutit. I suggested they read a few books or a couple of Websites before investingin any equipment. Later on, when they wanted to go to the town for a spin, theyasked me if I needed anything they could get me. Oh.. Well… In situations likethis when I am offered something, my Persian side takes over so I decline akind offer. We, Persians or better say Iranians, have something in our culturecalled, “Ta’arof”. It is an unwritten contract which involves extreme “face-saving”actions and reactions. If you want to know more about it, you can read about ithere: suffice to say that according to “ta’arof” the American couple should haveinsisted once or twice. It’s too complicated for non-Persians. This kind ofoffer and decline is everywhere in our culture even when two people are goingthrough a door or an entrance. They, as an act of showing respect, insist onthe other party going through the door first. This offer and decline go on fora couple of times. Once a cute observer asked me if we Iranians are afraid ofdoors!!

In front of my site, there is a very friendly familyfrom Toronto in an RV. They agreed to charge my cellphone and my batteries.  

Now I am in my tent, getting ready to sleep. Tomorrowis a big day. My first time crossing a border by bicycle...yoo-hoo. Let’s seeif my birth place on my passport causes me any trouble. 

Round Lake Ontario: Introduction

It's been eight weeks since I did my trip to Tobermory and back. Now once again I have some time off work to take another trip before the new academic year kicks off. I have ten days or so to be on the road. My off work time is not long enough to go somewhere remote or take the trouble to book a flight. So I decided to make a loop round Lake Ontario. It is about 1000 km. It should be fun. Below is the link to the route round Lake Ontario. 

This trip, like the one before, is going to be a solo with a loaded bicycle. I am thinking of 100 km a day, but it depends on many factors.