Howard writing:

This post comes to you from near the town of Brockville, a beautiful place located on the St. Lawrence River around 150 west of Montreal. We’re resting after four long cycling days from Toronto.

The 58-mile ride from our campsite in Toronto to Darlington Provincial Park on Lake Ontario included one of the worst sections of cycling of the entire tour. Initially, the route took me almost to the center of Toronto, which was fun because the neighborhoods were interesting and I realized that I had developed a good sense of the layout of the city in the short time we had been there.  But soon I entered the endless soulless eastern suburbs, which to my eye are one long strip mall. The roads were filled with speeding cars jockeying for position at the next stoplight.  There were no shoulders for most of the route, and the far right lane was pocked with bike-eating potholes.  Finally, I entered a rural area, and the cycling was good again, with nice shoreline and wetlands views.

The next day, August 13, our destination was Presqu’ile, 68 miles away.  After riding by the Darlington Nuclear Power Generating Station, we were back on mostly rural roads roughly along the lakeshore, passing orchards and farms, and several pretty towns, like Port Hope.

The following day, we rode our final day on Lake Ontario to a town called Adolphustown, and a campsite called “Old Empire Loyalist Campground.”  The name refers to a group of New Yorkers who moved north in the 1780’s, after the American Revolutionary War because they wanted to continue under English rule.  The campsite is part of a national historic landmark district. 

On the way to Adolphustown, I rode by many apple orchards, and of course had to partake.

Some of the countryside in this region is particularly beautiful.

I also cycled through an area managed by the Mohawk Indian tribe.

A roadside sign caught my eye in this stretch of road:

I found myself thinking that Trump could use a little hit of Peacemaker 420 to dial down his sabre-rattling rhetoric.

With 17 miles to go to Adolphustown, I had my first and hopefully last crash of the trip.  The combination of a bad road and an abrupt 6″ drop off on the road edge – plus, as we always warn against on our river trips, one careless moment – and I was pitched off my bike onto the road.  Miraculously, the bike escaped with hardly a scratch; I wasn’t quite so lucky.  All in all, this was a minor mishap, but I don’t want to ever repeat it.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to the Great Lakes, and hello to the St. Lawrence River. This is a major river, but it’s narrow enough that it’s hard to imagine ocean-going freighters sailing along the St. Lawrence from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Great Lakes ports like Chicago.

The final 25 miles of yesterday’s ride were along the wonderful Thousand Island Parkway.  This is the only dedicated bike/ped pathway I’ve seen in Ontario.

We ended our layover day today by exploring Brockville.  This great town has an historic district dating the 18th Century and a beautiful river front with the United States just across the water.

Brockville also has one of the coolest art features we’ve seen in a while – a four-block long former railway tunnel turned into an art walk.  Water seeping from above over the limestone walls has resulted in cave-like formations.  An LED light show synced to music creates very interesting effects in the tunnel.

We also happened on the Brockville Pipe and Drum Corps practicing in a park on the shoreline at sunset.  A couple of the corps members are Americans from New York across the river.

Tomorrow, we look forward to our friend Tom Lockwood joining us for a few days of cycling to Montreal.

Wendy writing:

Wow – what a big change on two counts since our last blog post! After riding Bike Share bikes in urban Toronto for two days, my e-bike feels like a lightweight dream bike! Even without the electric assist turned on, it is easier to pedal than the Bike Share bikes (which are built to be very sturdy – and so that no one would want to steal them). And while we loved our time in Toronto, cycling is SO much nicer and relaxing than urban cycling! We are really enjoying being back on rural roads.

We are moving eastward along the shores of Lake Ontario on the Waterfront Trail, camping primarily at provincial parks. These are huge parks with hundreds of campsites, quite often near train tracks.  

Use of our trailer’s air conditioning or fan as a masking sound has been very helpful in continuing to get good sleep at night.

Presqu’ile Provincial Park was gorgeous – and without nearby trains and highways. It even had a turtle crossing with barriers along the road and an under-the-road turtle tunnel!

 At Presqu’ile, we had another great conversation with Canadians – Don, Laurie, Chris, and Terry (not in photo below) – who came to look at our trailer. When the topic shifted to politics, they said they, too, are very disturbed and concerned with the current US administration.After we signed off, these wonderful folks returned to our campsite to give each of us a Canada pin – very nice…

Another great encounter and connection: At a lunch stop on Monday, we struck up a lengthy conversation with Carol and Richard about family, travel, and politics (they are also appalled by the Trump administration).When we went to pay for our lunch, we were told that they had picked up our tab. What a lovely gesture!

The Waterfront Trail is a route on the roads relatively near, but rarely on, the waterfront. Finally we got to cycle on a road next to the waterfront for some of the miles.

Added to the lake scenery are farmland –and small towns (which seem to be thriving).

I have been very taken by grain silos both here in Canada and in the US, finding them aesthetically pleasing – especially when the silo is next to a red barn. Some individual farms have their own smaller silos to store their grain crops; other farmers store their grain in huge shared silos.

It is also interesting to see crops planted next to some of the first subdivisions that we’ve seen in a long time.

 Our route has also included a couple of unpaved bike paths through some lovely scenery.

Renewable energy sources are still evident in this part of Ontario. While not seeing as many wind turbines, we passed a huge solar installation yesterday as well as many solar panels on various properties.

Ontario also relies on nuclear power. There is a nuclear power plant very close to where we camped in Darlington that is out of sight from the land as it’s placed behind a hill with trees and is quite low-lying compared to other nuclear power plants that I’ve seen in California. I much prefer renewable energy sources.

The chain tensioner on my e-bike broke on Monday, so it was imperative to find a bike store. The only bike store in Brockville does not repair e-bikes and referred us to an electronics store that does. What an experience the electronics store was!With piles of wires and “junk,” it was impossible to step inside the store.The very nice owner, who did not seem to know much about bikes, was ready to start taking my bike apart.

I extricated myself from the store as soon as possible, and went to the Brockville bike store where Scott, the bike mechanic, was willing to give my repair a try. He was able to get my bike back in working order for the short term.  At the moment that I needed to load my bike back into our van, the skies opened up. Scott provided me with a huge trash bag as an impromptu raincoat and suggested that I bring the gear from the van into the store to keep everything dry.

In the meantime, my San Francisco bike store has located a bike store in Montreal and arranged to mail the replacement chain tensioner for installation when we arrive there in three cycling days. I’ve been given the warning signs regarding when/if I should stop riding my bike – hopefully it won’t stop me from riding between here and Montreal.

My driving route yesterday to Brockville involved another ferry trip across an inlet of Lake Ontario. This ferry was much more “seaworthy” and was free because it is viewed as part of the highway.

We’ve also had a few insights to the winter world of the areas we’ve been passing through on our trip. In Minnesota, we passed a factory making icehouse shelters for winter fisherman to place onto the ice. In Michigan and Canada, we’ve passed many snowmobile/no snowmobile signs. One Canadian man said that Canada is a wonderful place to live – except for the very cold winters.  

Canada has certainly been a great place for us to cycle and visit!