Hello from Ottawa, Ontario Canada,
Our apologies for being so tardy in updating everyone but time with family and friends has taken priority over the Internet.
Mary and I have been in Ottawa for the past week and have had a great time catching up with the past five months activities of our entire family. My mother who will celebrate her 85th birthday in a few weeks is looking great and was relieved to see two healthy souls on her doorstep, she was sure we would look like to refugees from a famine plagued nation. Based on the amount of food that mom has put on the table over the past week she is bound and bent we will remain well fed in spite of the best efforts of the tour organizers.
The children as well as their children came up for a few days and it was great to have four generations around the dinner table. The three grandchildren are their usual high-energy selves and it was great to see how they have grown over the short period we have been away.
Also met up with my brother and his wife who were on their way to the Maritimes in a rented motor home.
The last time we wrote we were in Washington enjoying the accommodations at the Washington Hostel (joke). The one redeeming fact about our stay was the food offered up by the company contracted to cater the meals and the weather (TK&A cannot take credit for the wx) The food was good and varied and the weather was cool and sunny.
On May 18th we departed Washington for what was to be Freeland MD but turned out to be Hereford MD. Seems things got changed again at the last minute and the route guides did not reflect the route best suited to get to the new location. As a result our mileage was higher and the hills more numerous than planned. Since we have grown accustomed to surprises we were not surprised to find out our campground was not a campground but a schoolyard (could it be they cost nothing to secure?) As we were reluctantly hauling out our camping gear two angels arrived in the form of George and Mary Drake who are also tandem riders. When they most graciously offered to provide room and board for us weary road warriors it took us all of a nanosecond to accept. We had a great evening, supper dinner and were delivered to the school grounds next morning to begin the next leg of the trip.
Herford MD to Lancaster, PA,
The day started off with light rain followed, heavy rain then downpours for much of the day. The campground where the group stayed was in fact a real campground and from what we saw toilets and for the first riders in, hot showers. Being the wimps that we are, we stayed the night in a bedroom in a private home rented out by Naomi Glick, had a super nights sleep and woke to a breakfast of fresh baked coffee cake and coffee.
We did join the group for dinner and while the meal was hot and reasonably good, the quantity was not up to supplying the calories a ride of 74 miles in a cold rain. I guess having spent time in the Lancaster region we are aware of just what kind of meals are possible and in what quantities they are usually served up.
Lancaster PA to Valley Forge, PA,
It was up and off this morning in you guessed it RAIN, started out as mist and then once Mother Nature realized it was a TK&A ride, the skies opened and the rains came down in torrents only tapering off as we were in sight of our nights accommodations.
The accommodations, which were originally to have been in the open fields surrounding a Variety Village, turned into indoor camping in the gym (thank you) along with about 90 others. This challenged the two toilets and four showers but we are getting to be a resilient group.
Dinner was to say the least interesting. While our caloric requirements for a short 60-mile ride in the rain was less than needed for our 100 mile marathons, barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers just did not cut it, to top it off the charcoal content of each tasty morsel was approximately 80%, as they had been burnt to a crisp. Imagine our surprise when Karen Ann was bubbly about the quality of the meal, I guess perception is reality.
TK&A chose today to reduce their operating expenses by turning in two of the support vehicles used to sag and support the riders. In the eyes of those who fell and were injured (broken ribs and punctured lung) they couldn't have chosen a worse day to do so. Those in the group who rented the vans however were extremely happy as it allowed them to jump ahead to NY.
Valley Forge PA to Cheesequake NJ,
After a reasonable filling breakfast it was off to NJ on a mainly cloudy, and near the end, rainy day. It would have been a good ride on a sunny day. We even got to do a portage as the road was out (not indicated on the route guide). Luckily there was a little path to circumvent the outage, otherwise we would have had to back track many miles.
Arrived at the Cheesequake State Park, which turned out to be a day camp not normally frequented nor designed to accommodate campers. The field where they set up tents was to say the least soggy and wet. But once again the bicycle gods where smiling, as Rocky and Maria Rothrock came to our rescue and most graciously transported us up to their house, offered us bed, dinner, breakfast, laundry, great company and returned us next morning for our final day into NY.
Cheesquake NJ to Manhattan NY,
The day started off cloudy and believe it or not DRY. The day's route had us going over a bridge that the organizers learned would not accept bicycles! This necessitated all riders being ferried across the bridge from midday checkpoint where we resumed our ride into NY.
We rode to the Staten Island ferry where we rode across the river to Manhattan. The ride took us by the Statue of Liberty, which was quite a sight. On disembarking from the ferry we were faced with a ride to 110th Street along what are some of busiest streets we have encountered. To add insult to injury we had the misfortune of doing a slow speed crash narrowly missing a fire hydrant and luckily inflicting no serious damage to our bodies, the ego is another thing.
Finally arrived at the Park View Hostel, which provided us with our own room, which was much appreciated. The building looks like it got a deal on paint as the colours are to say the least loud, interesting to note no smoke detectors in any rooms, five showers to serve 30 rooms per floor and one elevator to serve 6 floors, no drapes on the window and no electrical outlets in the room. It was clean and no critters were seen running up the walls or along the floor.
The meals in NY were by far some of the best we have had in the past five months, Emily's Restaurant is highly recommended for those willing to venture into Harlem.
In an effort to get our bike fixed and to free up time to spend with our family's we decided to rent a car and jump ahead to Ottawa via Elmira NY. Richard & Lindy at Gear to Go Tandems were our hosts for a couple of days and we had a great time sharing trip notes, fixing bikes, looking at routes for our Japan leg and in general having a good time living a normal life for a few days. The bike is running better than ever, and Rich has not lost his touch in cooking great ribs.
The roads in NJ and NY are the worst we have encountered on the trip and the amount of broken glass rivals that from other countries in fact we had four flats in one day (a short day to boot)
We leave Sunday 4th for Quebec City to catch up with the group and are supposed to fly out either on the 5th or 6th, apparently the organizers have not finalized the date, hmm.
Trust we have not bored you to death we hope to write again from Paris. Stay tuned.
Dave & Mary