Bike Tour 2006 - A Tale of Two Bike Tours


Jim and Tom's 10th bike tour

Prologue

  It was the best of tours, it was the worst of tours,
  it was the tour of beauty, it was the tour of despair,
  it was the tour of light, it was the tour of darkness,
  it was the summer of hope, it was the summer of loss,
  a season filled with then and now, here and there.

This summer I flew to PA for our bike tour in order to reduce travel time and give Jim and I an extra day in the great city of Toronto. The box to ship my bicycle was already in the garage. I wrote about preparing to ship a bicycle on plane in the Tour de Big Smoke Stack Tour trip report.

I received the phone call just a few days before my flight was scheduled to leave for Pittsburgh. Jim's mother-in-law had passed away at age 86 while recovering from back surgery. Ruth Potter lived here in the Twin Cities and often took care of our dog Picket when we were away. Now both Ruth and Picket have moved on to their final resting places.

Picket Ruth and Me
Picket Ruth and Tom watching Thanksgiving Day football

Ruth was a good friend of ours and will be missed. She always seemed to make the most of life. She loved sports and animals. You could always find her watching a big game on TV and for a long time she came over regularly and walked Picket.

Jim's wife Laura (Ruth's daughter) insists we continue as planned with the tour. She tells us that too much planning and preparation have gone into this trip and we should do the ride. So, I fly out to PA as planned. The evening before we start riding, I call home and find out that my father-in-law, Captain Jack, has gone to the hospital and his health is failing. On these sad notes we begin our tour.

Mercer to Toronto map

Here is a map of the route.

Monday, July 17, 105 miles, Avg 13.4 mph, 7h50m riding time, 10 hills
Jim's house to North East, PA

start

We awake at 6:00am on our first day of riding, have breakfast, and start riding about 7:30am. The 70 degree Fahrenheit temperature is quite pleasant, and with no wind, the air feels as dead calm as a Montana star filled night. Initially we ride back roads. This part of the country presents such an enjoyable environment to ride in. There is no traffic, nice roads, pretty day lilies by the side of the road, and a lot of space, time, and scenery ahead of us.

nice tree

We come upon this nice tree when we arrive at Five Points.

leaves

Look at its nice healthy and beautiful leaves. It's a beautiful picturesque morning and it's all ours.

beef

A short distance later, near Mercer, we see this sign on Airport Road. This is quite the marketing idea for beef (real food for real people). It sure looks appetizing. There must be a lot of phony people running around eating phony food like fruits and vegetables. The cattleman's association should talk to these people about updating this sign so that the beef in the picture at least looks edible.

mirror pond

This mirror, that is also a pond, shows this morning's calm.

We get on Highway 19 and head north. In a little bit we come to Sheakleyville and get on Old Perry Highway that soon turns to gravel. This gravel stretch is short, and after we cross County Line Road we reach pavement, and the name of the road changes to Mercer Pike. This road is also lightly traveled and in good condition.

iron bridge

We stop on this Iron Bridge and watch some carp jumping in the water of Conneaut Outlet Creek in the Conneaut Marsh. Yet another beautiful spot in Western PA.

When you spend the day riding, that's all there is. All of the other pieces of your life are put on hold. It's you, the bike, and a destination. Nothing else matters right now because it's a beautiful day and we're biking.

We climb back on our bikes and continue on Mercer Pike. Soon we come to a 400 ft. vertical climb, followed by another climb shortly after that. These are the biggest climbs we will make during the whole tour. It's also starting to heat up when we arrive in Meadville.

flowers1 flowers3

We stop to admire the clever sign sculptures created by Amara Geffen's art students from Allegheny College.

We head for lunch at the friendly neighborhood DQ across the street. As we meander across the parking lot, a good looking young woman gets out of her car while talking on her cell phone - she seems agitated as she barks into her phone. She is wearing a black T-shirt that says, "bad girls suck good girls swallow." She talks on her cell phone, in that agitated voice, the entire time she is in line, stopping briefly to quickly place her order, then she leaves. Something inside of me is saying, "she sucks."

After our delicious DQ lunch it is noticeably hotter. We climb on our bikes and Jim leads the way out of the parking lot. A guy in an SUV speeds up, honks at Jim, and yells, "can't you see a car coming," as Jim leaves the parking lot. Then Mr. SUV proceeds another 100 feet and stops at a red light. I guess Jim really held him up from getting to that red light. We start riding down Dunham Rd. and look back - Mr. SUV is still at that red light.

Dunham Rd first goes through an industrial park but then a pretty wetland appears on our right. We turn on Moisiertown Rd. and then come to Townhomes Rd. Unfortunately it's a dirt road. The drill now is get out the map and look for an alternate route. We are deciders, so we decide to continue on Moisertown to Highway 198. We start noticing a slight wind from the west. There's not much of a wind and it's only a crosswind. No problem!

We follow Highway 198 to Grange Center Rd. where a friendly local stops his vehicle and confirms for us that this is the road we want. We are finding many intersections without street signs, which makes navigating harder. By this time it's really hot - in the 90s and humid. It's also a very pretty July day. We ride Grange Center Rd. to Gospel Hill Rd. and then get on Fry Rd. Fry Rd. goes straight north for many miles and will take us, much of the way to Erie, PA.

Fry Creek

It's time for a rest and we stop near Boise Run Creek. I lie down for a bit and get my shirt real dirty. I tell myself that one should have a dirty shirt on a ride like this. A ride like this was meant for a dirty biking shirt and I'm proud to be wearing one.

After our rest we start riding north on Fry Rd. again. It's a nice smooth road.

When we get to U.S. 6N we ride a little west to I79 and get Gatorade at a Sheetz station. While standing in this air conditioned station, I see an article in the World Weekly News titled, "Super Aliens Target Earth." Some aliens from outer space are out to get us earthlings. That's one thing you can learn by studying the history of the human race over the last ten thousand years - all alien forces (both super and your average run-of-the mill type) that tried to target the earth have failed miserably. They failed so miserably that no human ever knew they even tried.

As we leave behind the World Weekly News and ride back toward Fry Rd., we see a very nice panoramic view of the countryside. We head north on Fry Rd. again and in a few miles the road gets rough. Someone stops to ask us directions to Zessinger Rd. We find it on our map and show him. It turns out he's looking for a lot described as treed and he likes the idea of forested lot. When we see him again he discovered that treed means the good logging trees have been cut down.

Soon Fry Rd. turns to dirt but only for about a mile. When we find Shadduck Rd. we turn right and leave the Allegheny Plateau behind us. This is a nice long downhill that heads into the Lake Erie Basin.

map check in McLean

After a short stop in the town of McLean to check the map, and, because we are the deciders, we decide to follow the old Highway north in hopes of less traffic. But, soon it rejoins Highway 99 and we hunker down, hug the side of this busy road and head toward Erie, PA, which is just ahead of us. Peach St. is our chosen route through this part of Erie, and it seems to contain just about every kind of little store you can imagine. I haven't been to Erie in many years and everything seems new to me. This road is narrow but fortunately there is no glass anywhere and we ride unimpeded through town. After a short jaunt we get our first glimpse of Lake Erie just ahead if us. As we head toward the lake we pass through a slightly run down area.

Perry Square fountain

A short stop at Perry Square is in order, to see their nice fountain, and the local kids running through the falling water to cool off in all this heat. It's a beautiful square in the heart of Erie. Upon leaving Perry Square we arrive in the downtown area and ride through continuing toward Lake Erie.

State St Dock

We ride onto the docks on State St. and get a good view of Lake Erie.

Now it's time to head east and our attempt to take a marked bike trail did not go well. It's hard to follow and in poor condition.

Erie Frog

As we get back on the road (Alt Highway 5) that heads east toward North East, we come upon one of the Erie, PA frogs that are prevalent throughout the city. It's still hot enough that another Gatorade is appealing. The entertainment factor of our Gatorade consumption is enhanced greatly by watching the teens at the table next to us. They are exhibiting typical defiant teen behavior but are also wearing long dark colored pants and coats in this heat. I suspect they don't think Jim and I are very hip.

Refreshed with Gatorade, we head toward North East again. A nice tail wind now on Highway 5 helps us speed through the pretty countryside dotted with vineyards.

Seaway Trail

We're riding on the Seaway Trail that follows Lake Erie through PA and NY. Today's riding has been very scenic and colorful as we see more vineyards and occasional views of Lake Erie,

We stop by a creek, hike in a short distance and see some nice rapids. Although we are a short distance from the Highway, this feels like a remote area. Shortly after leaving the creek we arrive at our motel at 6:30pm. We are starving as we dine at Johnny B's Italian Restaurant devouring our delicious dinner. We take a quick biking tour of the North East after supper and then head back to our motel.

Today was the day of Ruth's funeral. Jim and I have a moment of silence as we ride back. I call home and find out Captain Jack has stabilized in the hospital but is still not doing that well.

Tuesday, July 18, 90 miles, Avg 13.5 mph, 6h43m riding time, 30mph max
North East to Ft. Erie, Ontario

The temperature is about 70 when we awake at 6:00am and head to Freeport Restaurant, highly recommend by the motel owner. Unfortunately we find the restaurant is closed, and doesn't open until 8:00am (and this is a fishing town). A friendly local in the parking lot tells us about a place in Ripley, NY that is only three miles east on Highway 5, then take a right and head into town. It's a beautiful morning and after we ride about 6 miles, and cross the state line into New York, we see the State Line Truck Stop and decide to eat breakfast there. We have a nice friendly Asian waitress. After breakfast we ride east on Highway 5 again and after another mile we come to the Ripley turn (once again you can't trust people's sense of distance).

NY vineyard

This area has lots of vineyards, and most of the grapes are used to make grape juice. There are also occasional glimpses of Lake Erie with its gray colored water.

Road closed Road closed

after a little bit of riding we reach a "road closed" sign. It appears the detour wants to send us onto a busy Highway so, since we are the deciders, we decide to check out the construction area. The construction workers are quite friendly and tell us they see lots of bike riders. Most riders are coming from New England and headed to Oregon or Washington. They lead us to a small path where we can cross and let us on through.

Lake Erie lighthouse

Our next stop is this lighthouse near Barcelona, NY. We then start seeing America by Bicycle riders. Most of these riders started in San Francisco and are on a guided tour across the country.

http://www.abbike.com

When the first group passes us we wonder if this is a group of guys either without jobs or taking a day off work. A guy named Bob (at least that's what the sign on the seat of his bike says) rides up to us and explains it is an America by Bicycle tour across the country. Bob is from the D.C. area and started in Colorado. He rides with us to Dunkirk on Highway 5, and mostly we talk cycling. This is a nice biking road along a pretty stretch of Lake Erie.

We rest at a park in Dunkirk, and look at maps. I call home only to find that Captain Jack is doing worse. The bad news is he has developed leukemia and is not expected to live much longer. Plans are in the works for the family to go and see him in a couple of weeks.

We're at a pretty park with a wide view of the lake. A train unloads coal at a plant nearby power plant as a train whistle blows loudly. Jim and I watch some local cheerleaders practice their routine. We're on the road again and before long Jim gets a flat tire. We put in a new tube and we're on the road again in no time. A 64 year old woman from Florida rides by and it turns out she is also with America By Bike. We catch her on the next uphill and start talking. She is on sabbatical from the nonprofit where she is employed. She is a decider and decided doing this ride would be a good way to spend her sabbatical. We ride with her all the way to Silver Creek. Jim and I decide to have lunch. The China King becomes our restaurant of choice, although there's not much in the way of choices. After lunch we smell nice odors from the nearby cookie factory.

Silver Creek fountain

Before leaving Silver Creek, we visit the small park in town to see their nice fountain. If you live in Silver Creek, this is the place to be. It remains a beautiful day and it's time to start riding again.

concrete ornaments

Soon we pass this concrete kitsch place on US 20. Hey, we've seen this place before kitsch back on the 1997 tour. Now our journey takes us into the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation as we leave Highway 5 and get onto Lake Shore Drive. After leaving the reservation we pass Evangola State Park and once again catch a glimpse of Lake Erie.

Lake Erie beach

A much needed stop at the beach in Grand View Bay reveals sandy colored water near the shore and green and blue water on the horizon. This is turning into one of our more picturesque bike tours.

There's a nice tail wind as we leave Grand View Bay and soon we come across Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff house. Unfortunately there are no more tours today and we just browse through the gift shop. After leaving Graycliff we quickly reach Highway 5 again. It's later in the afternoon and the traffic is heavy. We stop for a Gatorade at a little gas station on the road and sit where we can see Lake Erie from the parking lot.

We start riding again, the heavy traffic is still there, and even though we are on the right shoulder, we find two lanes of busy traffic coming up on our right that will merge with the two lanes of busy traffic on our left. This is especially exciting because two large semis are traveling 50mph+ on both roads merging at the same time and trying to squeeze us into some biker juice. We dart across the right hand lanes and after that fun experience we decide to try this bike path we come upon. There is a set of stairs leading to a bridge over the Highway, and we carry our bikes up the stairs, across the bridge, down the stairs, and back onto the bike path. Unfortunately this is one of those bike paths that doesn't go anywhere and ends quickly (grumble). We get back onto Highway 5 and into more heavy traffic, and more white knuckle riding.

Steel mill near Buffalo

We take a side road to try and find a route less traveled, and come upon this steel mill. Once again there is no choice but to get back onto Highway 5 which gets busier as we get closer to Buffalo and closer to rush hour. We ride on a sidewalk for a while, and I use the term sidewalk loosely, as it's in a terrible state of disrepair. Finally we come to O'Dell street and find a way to leave Highway 5.

Botanical gardens

We follow Electric St. to these scenic Botanical Gardens in suburban Buffalo. A quick ride on the road around these gardens takes us to the exit. Soon we enter an area with salvage yards. This is an industrial area and an older section of Buffalo. There are lots of people on their porches and mingling in the street. We turn onto Park Ave, a bit of a rough road, and see a mixture of housing and industry. Next is a bridge over the Buffalo River (in fact the city of Buffalo was named after the Buffalo River and not the other way around). This turns into a bike lane, then a bike path that leads to waterfront with upscale residential and commercial developments as well as marinas. Before crossing into Canada we stop for a rest in Front Park and take in the beautiful view of Lake Erie. We follow the bike path toward the Peace Bridge but the route is a bit convoluted. We pass under the Peace Bridge and I observe a number of surveillance cameras on the bottom of the bridge. No doubt someone is trying to figure out if we are terrorists as we ride by. We pass by this neat looking Armory with nice river stone architecture and then ride to the Peace Bridge.

Peace Bridge

We enter Canada on the Peace Bridge, which crosses over the Niagara River, and pleasant Canadian customs officials let us in after just looking at our passports. They point out the way to our motel. Since it's a short distance, we are soon safely at our motel in Ft. Erie, Ontario. We have a nice dinner at a nearby Greek restaurant called Artemus. Since we will be guests of the fine people of Canada for the next several days, I stop by a cash machine and get some Canadian money on our way back to the motel.

My cell phone works in Ft. Erie because we are so close to Buffalo. But, it does not work in the rest of Canada. I call home and find out that plans are in place for the family to visit Captain Jack, most likely for the last time, in couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 19, 91 miles, Avg 12.7 mph, 7h6m riding time, 32.5mph max
Ft. Erie to Hamilton, Ontario

We wake up at 7:00am and head for breakfast at Artemus. Our riding day starts at 8:45am on this bright sunny day, with a temperature around 73 (which is about 23C in Canada). Our first plan today is to follow a bike path along the Niagara River that goes to Niagara Falls. There is a bike path along the river that we follow. First we ride through Old Ft. Erie and pass by the ALL MALE REVIEW theater for ladies.

The Niagara River is only 35 miles long and travels from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, and divides Canada from the USA. It was once part of the Erie Canal.

Niagara River

The bike path gets a bit rough so we leave the bike path and ride the road that travels alongside the river. Here the river is wide and very "lake-like" (at least today) in that is very calm. It's very scenic and peaceful, but has been listed as an area of concern for Homeland Security because it seems easy for terrorists such as Al Quaida to cross. Homeland Security wants you to live in fear so they can get a larger budget each year.

The road is nice and smooth with very light traffic this morning. Jim's bike develops an annoying clicking noise and we try to adjust his cable tension but it doesn't seem to want to go away. Then the chain starts rubbing against cage, so we spend some more time trying to fix it but eventually decide Jim can easily ride these flat roads as is and we'll fix it later.

027Space_Needle

We see the Niagara Falls skyline and this is a good place for me to hold the Space Needle (called Skylon Tower) in my hand. The last time I was at Niagara Falls was in July, and it was so busy that you could not find a place along the wall to view the Falls. People were lined up four deep waiting their turn to see the Falls. Today it's not busy at all and it's such a beautiful sunny day.

Canadian Niagara Falls

Some serious mist obscures the view of Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

Jim American Niagara Falls

Today, the US side of the Falls has a clearer view.

Tom American Niagara Falls

I get to show off the US Falls too. As I look at the other tourists here, no one seems to have a smile on their face. How strange is that? Are they not having any fun? At least Jim and I are having lots of fun. It's such a beautiful day too.

The falls are effectively shut off from 11:00pm - 7:00am every day for additional hydroelectric use. Before the Falls was used for hydroelectric generation, there was twice as much water flow during the day. We leave behind the spectacular Niagara Falls and head toward the city of Niagara on the Lake, still following the Niagara River. There are rapids and an (overrated) whirlpool that is advertised by many signs along the road, and we are suckered into stopping and looking. We pass by a nice floral clock, though not as nice as similar ones I've seen in Europe.

Niagara River Gorge

Next stop is a hydroelectric plant that provides a nice view down the Niagara River gorge. Then there is a nice downhill on the Niagara Escarpment. At the bottom of the hill we get on a nice well used and smooth bike path called the Niagara River Recreation Trail. Some of this path travels by the river and some is heavily wooded. It's a busy bike path along a very pretty route. This path takes us the rest of the way to Niagara on the Lake.

Niagara on the Lake

Niagara on the Lake is well preserved and very much a resort town. It has a marina and lots of shopping. We have lunch alfresco style on a patio at the Epicurean, where they're offering a buffet lunch. The food is very good. After lunch we ride through the town a bit to explore, and then head out of town on Lake Shore Drive. We are now on a recreational trail called the Waterfront Trail.

The Waterfront Trail will take us all the way to Toronto as it follows around Lake Ontario. We see many vineyards after leaving Niagara on the Lake and we reach the city of St. Catharines. We pass a petting zoo filled with children petting all sorts of farm animals. The Waterfront Trail is proving to be a tad difficult to follow through St. Catharines as we find ourselves traveling in a circle and returning back to the petting zoo. After a bit of exploration we find the trail and continue on our journey. Jim goes over a bit of a hidden rough spot on the trail and goes down on his bike after his pannier falls off and gets caught in his back wheel spokes. We pick up his bike check it over. This seems like a good time to take a few moments and fix his shifting too. First shifted the gears into a position where the cables are loose, tighten the cable with the barrel adjusters, shift the gears back to the problematic position, and voila, no more clicking. Guess we should have done that sooner.

This part of the Waterfront Trail is an unpaved bike path and still hard to follow. We go through some overgrown areas and eventually get on a road that takes us to the Welland Canal and Locks.

Welland Canal

As we pass over the lift bridge we see a ship ready to pass through and stay to watch the lift bridge rise to allow the ship to pass through. Then, once again, we find ourselves riding on a gravel path. We get to a beach on Lake Ontario and look to see if more of Welland Canal is visible (nope). We ride some more of this gravel path, but, since we are deciders, we decide to get off the gravel path and get back on a paved road. We stop for a pastry snack at a Tim Horten's but it turns out to be a bit stale.

Tim Horten's has supplanted McDonald's as Canada's largest food service operator. It has nearly twice as many Canadian outlets as McDonald's, and its system-wide sales surpassed those of McDonald's Canadian operations in 2002 (Wikipedia).

As we rest we check our maps to get our bearings.

Port Dalhousie Pier

We ride out to Port Dalhousie Pier and see their lighthouse. Most of the off road Waterfront trail around here is gravel and crowded with walkers and beach goers. It's slow going. We are choosers so we decide to follow Lake Shore Road and then get on the North Service Road of the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way). We start riding faster as it's getting later in the afternoon. Time to pick up the pace. The signs on the QEW are telling us that this ride is longer than the 65 miles planned for today. So, we ride pretty nonstop for 15 miles on the Service Road and see some nice views of Lake Ontario from time to time. It's another beautiful clear day in Ontario. Every now and then we can see Toronto across this part of the lake. We turn onto Glover Road which takes us to Barton Road. Barton Road goes for about 10 miles to Hamilton and then through Hamilton. We stop at a city ball park and rest a bit. A friendly local guy gives us some directions and we get to our hotel about 8:00pm.

Soon after we get into our room the fire alarm goes off. Jim checks with the staff and they tell us not to worry about it. Well OK then, we don't worry about it and head to dinner where we have a pleasant meal in the hotel's dining room. We ask our waitress about the fire alarm but she doesn't seem to want to talk about it. She just says, "it's over," and runs away into the kitchen.

Thursday July 20, 57 miles, Avg 12.1 mph, 4h3m riding time, 26mph max
Hamilton to Toronto

We wake up around 7:30am and have breakfast at hotel restaurant. As we are dining, we read a headline in the local paper that says "Americans Bomb Canadians Again." Apparently this is the second time that Americans have dropped bombs on Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. The first time was April 18, 2002 when 4 soldiers were killed. Unnerving thing to read when you are a guest in a country where everyone has been so friendly. Fortunately no one was killed or seriously hurt, according to the article. Apparently this happened again on September 4, 2006. I hope it doesn't happen again.

We start riding at 9:10am and the temperature is about 70 degrees. It's a nice sunny day with no wind, though it is humid. We take a brief riding tour of downtown Hamilton and noticed that we didn't see any pedestrian areas. Perhaps we missed it - it's time to move on. Our direction out of Hamilton is northwest on York.

Hamilton Harbor

We come to this nice view of Hamilton Harbor. The trail takes us to some stairs where we walk down 150 steps on a stairway. We wander around Hamilton Harbor and Cootes Paradise, and eventually end up in the Westdale neighborhood looking for the Waterfront trail.

We see a loon swimming in the harbor. We ask someone for directions to the Waterfront Trail and discover we have to go back up the 150 steps and over a bridge (sigh and lots of sweat). I guess the bright side is that Hamilton Harbor and Cootes Paradise were a pretty sight to see.

After crossing over the bridge we turn on Village Inn Road that turns out to be a rough downhill. We pass by 2 cemeteries and get on Plains Road. Somehow we missed a turn and end up going under the QEW. We check the map and decide to follow Brant Street to Lake Shore Road that goes around Lake Ontario. We get back on the Waterfront Trail (once again it proves hard to follow). Lake Ontario is on our right side and we follow Lake Shore Road. Sometimes this road hugs the lake and other times it goes through residential or commercial areas that are between the lake and us. The road is not too busy here but gets busier as we approach Burlington.

DANG STEEP PANK

We stop at Window on the Lake and see this ``Dang Steep Pank'' sign that someone has cleverly modified from ``Danger Steep Bank'' to amuse us. Some small boys are foot racing each other for amusement. We eat a few snacks in this pretty park. Then we continue along Lake Shore Rd to the city of Bronti and have lunch at Delingers. A nice ice cream desert at Licks completes our lunch.

After lunch we start seeing some big houses on Lake Shore Road. The traffic is steadily building all the way to the city of Oakville. As we head towards Oakville we pass by 12 mile creek, then 14 mile creek, and finally 16 mile creek. Three creeks, each increasing in length by two miles - how interesting. There's a busy main street in Oakville with lots of trucks. The road is smooth now but the shoulder is rather bumpy. Once again the Waterfront Trail is hard to follow and first leads us to a dead end, and then goes in the wrong direction. We get back on Lake Shore Road for another 5 kms and head to pretty Lake Side Park.

Waterfront Trail
Waterfront logo About waterfront logo

We take picture of the Waterfront Trail sign that we have followed around Lake Ontario.

"http://www.waterfronttrail.org"

This part of trail is very pleasant with nice shade trees and pretty parks.

Jim skipping stones
Tom skip stones start Tom skip stones end

We stop to skip some stones on Lake Ontario. Next we get on South Down Road and see a power plant and a petrochemical plant (Petro Canada).

Carbon dioxide

This Carbon Dioxide Production sign at a Praxair plant, in the city of Mississauga, catches our eye. Does Al Gore know about this place?

We turn on Orr Road and follow a well marked trail through an affluent subdivision. There are many curves and turns here. We go through Jack Darling Park and then get back onto Lake Shore Road again. Soon we come to the very pretty Ben Machney Park, then go through a residential area, where the trail is once again poorly marked. We ride through a series of parks and then come to a water treatment plant in an industrial area with several baseball fields with all gravel infields. I hope no one slides into second base.

It's starting to get cloudier now. As we ride through Marie Curtis Park we find the trail is poorly marked again - the paved path just ends and we have to turn around. Now we enter the Toronto City limits and the bike path connects a series of parks along Lake Ontario. This part is well marked.

Jim and Toronto

We stop at a park and take this picture of Jim with Toronto in background. Jim tells me he thinks we'll miss the rain. We sit on a bench in the park and just then a drop of rain falls on my hand.

We get back on Lake Shore Road and head towards Toronto. Soon there is a guy walking backwards into the street between two cars while talking to someone on the sidewalk. I almost hit him, but see him just in time and yell at the top of my lungs at him. He stops inches from my bike, turns around quickly, and gives me a really nasty look. Oh well, at least I didn't hit him.

A light drizzle has set in and the pavement is getting a little damp. We climb onto a very nice bike path that hugs Lake Ontario and goes for a few miles. The trail stops at Queens Quay Way, which we follow to Bay St. and then to the Bus Depot. We buy bus tickets that we'll need to get to Buffalo, NY and then head to our hotel.

Bond Hotel

We have a nice Thai dinner to celebrate another successful bike tour.

Total Miles: 343

Epilogue

The last time I talked to Captain Jack I was in the Pittsburgh airport and he was in the hospital getting ready to be moved to a hospice. All I could think about was how he lived his life.

Captain Jack

Captain Jack was an adventurer, nonconformist, and proud atheist. He loved it when someone came preaching at his door so he could debate that person. 'All wars were over religion' was a long standing theme of his.

He always told me he wasn't like those normal people, those nose pickers, those gnomes (gah-NO-mees). He loved people watching though, and used to make up stories about people just walking down the street and tell them to me.

He loved sailing, traveling around the world, and drinking (not necessarily in that order). The next martini you drink, make sure to toast Captain Jack. I can't remember which Muslim country he visited, but he made sure the customs agent found some pornography first, so he could tell him to just keep it, and that way they'd tell him to just move on and they wouldn't find his bottle of vodka.

He was in the advertising field during his career and had to have his own business as, he often told me, ``I can't work for anyone else.'' He certainly had a creative flair and his own style. He invented games, wrote a book, painted pictures, and used to design cereal boxes that appealed to kids. He even learned how to program a Commodore 64 computer and how to generate graphics on Windows 98 and Windows-XP. Not many people of his generation mastered a computer as well as Captain Jack.

Jack enjoyed movies, playing board and card games, and often worked crossword puzzles, cryptograms, and all those other games that appear in the paper.

He was definitely a unique individual and will be missed by all of us.

The only appropriate burial for Captain Jack is to have his ashes thrown into the ocean. Davey Jones' Locker is where Captain Jack will spend his eternal rest. Captain Jack would definitely not have wanted a funeral like those normal people have.

Send email with any comments or corrections to:
tmacd1@gmail.com