From June 6, 2010

We Made Our Last Left Hand Turn

Hello, I can't believe we are in the final month of our trip! This is going to be a long e-newsletter as we are trying to get the website caught up as much as we can before we join the Grabaawr (week long ride from north WI to south WI) on June 20th. This newsletter will be listed by area so you can skip around if you would like. Our blog is up-to-date so check it out to see some pictures and brief stories. You can always track us daily though our SPOT which specifies exactly where we are throughout the day. (Go to the home page and click on the globe that states, "click here to see their route".) Also, all of our previous blogs and e-newsletters are archived and available through our website. Just go to the left hand margin of our blog for the icon.

To date: 32,261 miles
94 flats

Here is a link to our TV interview mentioned below in the newsletter. You may have already checked it out.

South Carolina and North Carolina:

We are in the final countdown of our trip, only 30 days left but still some stories to tell. From South Carolina we went to Chapel Hill. Again we stayed with people we had met earlier in the trip, Ken and Marsha Mills. Ken is a writer and Marsha is a dietitian. They both had superb ideas for our book writing. Ken shared that it was his third attempt at book writing that has given him success. We are hopeful that we will be able to skip those first two attempts.

From Chapel Hill we went to Cary, NC to see Jerome and Cheryl Smith. Our many past Ragbrai experiences with this couple made going to their home really special. Jerome likes to ride his bike and also make beer. Lucky for me. Our bedroom was filled with cases upon cases of finely brewed ales. Jerome is a chemist for Dupont and the formulas are all on a spreadsheet. We're hoping he'll come up with a "Wardweiser" beer in the future.

Our time in NC was right during pine pollen season and the air was yellow from the extreme amounts of pollen. Our clothes and panniers were always in need of a good wipe down. The pine pollen did not end until we hit Washington DC.

Historical VA and Washington DC:

Our next major stop was in Ashburn, VA to visit my sister, Greta, and her partner, Susan. But, in route we stopped in Franklin, VA to present at the Rotary Club. We were guests of Doug and Grace Boice (Rotarians) and also of Bill Cummin (warm showers organization). We saw historical Williamsburg and Jamestown. Our travels from there on up the east coast were going to give us a grand sense of Colonial America. We revisited Washington DC and took many great photos with our bikes in front of our nations monuments. While in the Washington DC area I had 2 goals. 1) To take a photo in front of the Capital with the bikes, and 2) to present at the Capital Hill Rotary Club. Both goals were accomplished. The bike ride into Washington DC, Hwy 1, was harry. The hwy didn't have any shoulder and the traffic was moving at 65 mph, unlike our 12mph. Our guardian angels were called into action. However, once we entered the city we were able to navigate quite easily on the city bike paths. The abandoned old Dominican Railway also served as our bike path from the city to Greta's. It was simply amazing to ride 30 miles from the capital to Ashburn with no traffic!.

Ashburn, VA to see Greta and Susan:

Greta and Susan have lived in Ashburn, VA for about 1 1/2 years and it is not always easy for them to make it to Iowa for the holidays and other gatherings. Greta and Susan live in a 55+ age community, named Potomic Green. (Greta sneaked in.) They had our next week planned so full that "rest" was not part of the deal. Between swimming, line dancing, cocktail parties, going to a garden show, pot lucks, shopping at Wegmans, looking at the gardens in Potomic Green and the bunko party...there wasn't much time to rest.

At our request they organized a presentation for us to give. About 60 Potomic Green residents were in attendance to hear our stories. If this was not enough, again at my request, little work projects were organized for my mental therapy. I installed a screen door, put up ceiling fans, created doorways into attic areas and fixed most of the bikes in the neighborhood. I helped fix George's bike (Greta's neighbor) which he got when he was very young. To see a smile that big on a grown man's face was so rewarding for me. We left Ashburn feeling very happy to see Greta and Susan's home and their friends.

Now onto Maryland:

Maryland was very typical in architecture of the early colonial times. Even the farm barns had a colonial look. They had so many windows! Why? No one could answer the question.

The Mason/Dixie Line is the line of division between the northern and southern states. I had always heard of this line but now we were standing on it. As Jacky and I discussed the attitudes of the people in the north and south, we did see a difference. To this day it is not unusual to see Confederate flags in the south. The line had a similar meaning to us as standing on the equator. One foot north, one foot important line in the "sand".


Pennsylvania was beautiful with the rolling crop ground and well manicured farms. We stopped over in Lancaster and we were hosted by Kevin and Janet (from the warm shower organization). Lancaster is the center of the Amish portion of Pennsylvania. Our roads were horse worn by the constant buggy traffic. I even spotted a lost horse shoe embedded into the road. You don't see that everyday. It was quite a site to see all the laundry hung out to dry. By use of a pulley system the laundry was strung up from the house to the top of the barn. The Pennsylvania Amish take great pride in their farmsteads.

Just a little fact about Pennsylvania, if you want to buy beer you can only buy 6 packs from the bars and cases from the distributors. They do not sell 12 packs any where and no stores sell alcohol. Boy, we sure do love IOWA! It is also very expensive for the restaurants to get a liquor license so most of the establishments are BYOB (bring your own beer).

We have more friends to meet. Mark Ploegstra (Grabaawr friend) from Princeton Junction, NJ rode his bike to meet us in King of Prussia, PA. Mark then guided us along a very historical canal to the "City of Brotherly Love". The photo opportunity with Rocky Balboa was a must at the Philadelphia Art Museum. It was very nice to have a guide though this area and into New Jersey. Mark did not get enough of us so he went with us to New York City. And, once again, being with someone who had been there before just relieves a lot of stress.

New York City...The Big Apple:

New York City by bike was actually fairly easy. The city has many, many bike lanes and bike paths. The part I really liked about cycling in NYC was they have a $350 fine for horn honking. We felt no stress from taxis or buses honking their way through the city. With the help of our friend Eric Clement, we were directed to find the oldest Ale House in NYC. "McSorelys" was found and Mark Ploesgstra decided to stay the night in our hotel. He took an early morning train back to New Jersey with his bike in tow.

Jacky and I had goals of being seen on the "Today Show". Our helmets and our "Living the Dream" sign made it easy for you all to find us in the crowd. By the way, Al Roecker is really short and Matt Lower is a very thin small man. Shaking hands with someone gives you a true perspective of their physical stature. We stood in "Times Square" with our bikes and from the later news releases...very close to the spot of the street bomb.

We shed a tear mourning at "Ground Zero" and we cried on Wall Street as our investments had taken a hit as did the rest of America. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island deserve a tear as you think of the freedom given to us. It is a valued commodity and these landmarks are proof.

We used the subway throughout the city when we were not on our bikes and we always felt safe. But we needed to ride out of the city towards Connecticut. Google maps routed us right through Harlem and the Bronx and past Yankee Stadium. I told Jacky, "if I run a red light, just follow me". Many of the areas we passed through were sketchy in the middle of the morning and for sure dangerous later in the day and or night. Many policeman were visible so we felt fairly secure.


We then headed to Connecticut. "Wow", what a difference from Harlem and the Bronx. The houses just got huge and everything was well manicured. I even recall being passed by many Mercedes, BMIs and Lexuses. The area reeked of money. We started to see many traditional style colonial homes and field stone fences were the norm for property lines.

Our next stop was Canterbury, CT. The home of Missy and Snappy (Scott) was our purpose for this stop. Again, travelers we had met previously on the trip and they were offering us a chance to see their lives when not traveling. The beautiful area and a house that Scott had helped to build made it seem like home for us. We were easily persuaded to stay another night. Part of the persuasion also came because of the chance to go rock climbing. Scaling a 85 to 90 degree wall to 90 feet and then sitting back and repelling down, was a first for me. My heart rate was elevated. Jacky was finishing up an on-line class that she was taking at the time fun for her!

On to Boston:

Meeting Jacky's first cousin, Lisa Spreen, on 195 Marlborough Street, which is in downtown Boston, was our next stop. Lisa and Jacky are very similar in every way except that one is blonde and the other is brunette. We parked our bikes for a week and enjoyed the sites of Boston. (This week break also included a quick trip back to Iowa for my niece, Ann Budweg's, wedding.)

Lisa and her husband, Wayne, gave us an open door and a map. From their condo we could walk almost everywhere. We hiked the Freedom Trail, visited the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides which, by the way, is made of wood), went to Fenway Park, saw Paul Revere's House and went to the Old North Church where Paul Revere had the sexton signal if the British were coming by land or by sea (1 by land, 2 by sea).

Somehow we happen to find the oldest and most notable pubs in an area. We were obligated to visit the " Bell-In-Hand Pub" which is the oldest pub and to also go to "Cheers" (Bull and Finch) which is the most notable bar in Boston. No Sam Malone or Norm to be found.

The history in Boston just overwhelms you. Every corner has something of great historical significance. It was also coincidental that this week was US Marine week in Boston. Many of the parks had US Marines and all of their equipment. To see the CH53, the M-RAP, to sit in a machine gunner turret of a Hum Vee, to hold a M-16 and a 50 caliber makes it easier for us to understand what our sons, John and Ross (Marines) do, but it also makes it scarier. As Americans and parents of Marines, we are proud.

We also presented at the Norwood Rotary Club, just south of Boston. This was because of a contact we had made while staying in Florida.

Thanks Lisa and Wayne for making Boston a great memory.

On the way to Maine:

More friends to meet. Aaron Milburger, a friend and former employee, did not want to be left out of the fun. Aaron and Christen (his wife) are currently living in Portland, Maine. Aaron hopped on a train to Boston and biked back to Maine with us. He wanted to see the "Budweg" daily routine. I offered him the opportunity to pull our burley trailer. He jumped at it. I took Jacky's bags with the idea that all of our speeds would be more equal. After day one Aaron gave the trailer back to me. Now the "alpha male" (me) had the trailer and all of Jacky's bags. Not a problem. Aaron now has more respect for "the diesel". (Jacky's note: I wanted to carry my bags this day and Ward wouldn't give them to me. He wanted to be the token sherpa.) (Ward's note. Jacky did not try that hard to get bags back.)

Whilst in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at the end of our first day with Aaron, we were re-hydrating in a pub contemplating our nightly sleeping arrangement. We were in the process of calling different low cost motels when a man with his 2 year old daughter came in and offered us a place to stay. He saw our bikes outside. Shortly after that we had a man from South Africa come in to see what we were up to followed by yet another group of young men that came in to chat about traveling in South America. They are going to drive a car down to Argentina this next year.

We had heard that New Englanders were rude and not very friendly people. We were also warned about the aggressive drivers. None of these things proved to be true. So, many friendly waves and lite toots of their horns to wish us safe travel gave us a great feeling about the northeast.

At the end of our second day with Aaron, we arrived at his home. Christen and Aaron cooked us live lobster and fiddlehead ferns which are only customary of the northeast. I guess if we have to eat lobster when it is $5.00 - $6.00/lb, why not?

If it seems as though our schedule is just flying, you are correct. We now have deadlines for Rotary talks and to meet people who are taking time off from their work to be with us. So, we are averaging more like 70 - 85 miles a day. Camden, Maine was our next destination. However, as we were biking to Camden we met some families on the side of the road that were gathering to start their home school instruction. They waved us in and asked us to talk to the kids. We spent about 45 minutes showing pictures and telling stories to the kids. That was their geography lesson for the day.

In Camden, Maine we had another Rotary presentation. We were hosted by Gary and Roberta Walker whom we met while we were in Florida. After the 7:00 am Rotary talk they took us around the city. This area was typical Maine with mountains, bays, woods, fishing boats and of course, Lobster Pounds. (A lobster pound is a restaurant where you order your live lobster, they cook it for you and then you sit out on picnic tables and enjoy it.) I took time to visit with a lobster fisherman just to understand the business.

The lobster season is based on water temperature, normally March/April to October. Lobster over 3 lbs or under 1 lb must be returned to the sea. The most edible lobsters are 1.5 to 2 lbs in size. The traps may have 8 - 10 lobsters per trap or, they may be empty. To fish lobsters you must be licensed and to get a new license you must wait until 3 other fisherman relinquish their licenses. This is gradually working down the number of lobster fisherman so as to protect the fisheries.

Free camping in Calius, Maine was a night to remember. Mike Mclean rescued us from sleeping in the park and having the police hassle us. His back yard was a safe haven.

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada:

Next stop was Fredericton, New Brunswick to see Stacey McLean and give a Rotary presentation. We met Stacey in Bolivia when I climbed a 20,000 ft mountain with her.

This past week we biked 500 miles (800 km). Our legs were getting fried from the hilly terrain and the consistent headwinds. A day off in Fredericton was very welcoming. Stacey and her boyfriend, Jerry, were very nice. We spent many hours recounting our Bolivian trip together. To thank her for her great hospitality I started to overhaul her bike. However, I noticed the frame was broken. Luckily she knew someone that could weld it so that my work would not be in vain and so that she could get back on her bike.

On our Way to Quebec:

Re-entering Canada brought the grim reality of our weak U.S. dollar and the high taxes the Canadians pay. Most food in Canada cost 50% more than in the U.S. and beer/wine were almost double. We had to decide which way to go to Quebec. Should we go through through Canada or through the U.S.? We choose to go through the U.S. so that it would be less costly. As luck would have it we had a TV station stop us en-route to do an interview. We made the 6:00 pm news. After it had been broadcast on the 6:00 p.m. news we had many people tooting at us and wishing us safe travels.

At this time we were wanting to camp but most campgrounds didn't open until Memorial Day weekend. We found ourselves free camping in parks, in people's back yards and even being invited into the homes of Elk members. The Elks has been a very good organization for us. In Houlton, ME, the Elks Lodge fed us a spectacular grilled chicken dinner and then Donald, Dunn took us to his home and provided us a bed. The Potsdam, NY Elks Lodge had some very friendly members as well. Jim Musau had us camp in his back yard. He is a very creative fellow. He had a tiki bar built off of his upstairs master bedroom. Now that's thinking! The next morning John White (also an Elks member) took us out to a local diner for breakfast. A word to you all....join the Elks!

We re-entered French speaking, Quebec, Canada and headed to Quebec City. About 25 miles from Quebec City we encountered a lady walking her bike. She had a flat tire. I helped her fix it. Our French was minimal as was her English. But, through charades she still invited us to her home for dinner and to spend the evening. Unfortunately, we had to decline. We were still a distance from Quebec City and we really wanted to spend the night in the city since we only allowed ourselves one day to tour it. But, as luck would have it, another Quebecer (as they term themselves), Jean-Luc, whom we had gotten directions from earlier, had tracked us down and had us spend 2 nights with him in Quebec City.

Quebec City:

Jean-Luc, through prompting from his girlfriend, Lucy, provided us with a very comfortable place to stay. His balcony overlooked a beautiful park and his location was only a few blocks from the "Plain of Abraham." (This is at the edge of the historic, Quebec City.) Jean-Luc is a retired businessman in the field of computer technology. His passion now is for cycling. In 2008 he had visions of joining a group that was going to be biking to the Olympics that were held in Beijing, China. They would have passed through 78 countries en-route to Bejing. He didn't end up going but definitely has the worldly adventurous spirit. We enjoyed conversations and shared ideas regarding the next portion of our trip and life after wards. Our original plan was to only spend one night at his place and then move to a hostel for the second night. We did not want to impose on him and we wanted to experience some Quebec night life. Jean-Luc told us not to move and expressed that he didn't care what time we would wander in.

Quebec City was very beautiful and we had perfect weather to walk about the city. We took in all the historical sites and enjoyed the quick flash back to Europe. Our tour was highlighted with a baquette, brie cheese, and a bottle of wine and a park bench. We watched people out strolling and enjoying the 75 degree day. As the day turned to evening we headed to a less touristy part of town to see what Quebecers do at nightfall. As we were walking to this part of town we met Sebastian and his girlfriend, Annais. We met them on the ferry as we passed from Levis to Quebec City. They took us to their favorite watering hole and we had a nice evening with them. The world is small so be careful who you are nice to.

Jean-Luc guided us out of Quebec City and we headed to Niagara Falls. Our days were long and tiring. We kicked our mileage up to a minimum of 70 miles per day. This didn't allow much time for sightseeing other than the landscapes that we rode through.

Back into the US. Upstate New York to Niagara Falls:

As our previous experiences had told us, that Canada was more expensive than the U.S., that still rung true. Both currencies seemed to be at par. But, the Canadian taxes seem to put a lot of extra cost onto everything from fruit, to crackers, to meat, to wine and beer. As we were planning our route from Quebec City to Port Huron, MI we calculated how quickly we could pass through Canada. We knew the 220 miles from Niagara Falls to Port Huron would take three days and two nights. Our plan was to stay in Lewiston, NY, prior to entering back into Canada, and to purchase enough food to make the three days of riding. Lewiston had no campgrounds and severe weather was imminent. So, we were looking for an inexpensive motel. Lo and behold, an elderly man spotted us and tracked us down and invited us to stay at his home. Dave Kimball was a world traveler also, some by bike and some by other modes of transportation. His family understood backpackers and travelers and, therefore made their home a free will donation hostel. Dave was superbly well read and also very keen on worldly issues. He shared some of his collections with us. He had a couple of vintage cars in remarkable condition. People are still looking out for us.

Niagara Falls, Canada:

Niagara Falls was just as remarkable as Jacky and I had recalled it to be. This was my fourth time and Jacky's second time to this area but our first time riding our bikes to the "Falls". At the Canadian border the Canadian Guard never even opened our passports. Strange, I guess. She was more interested in our trip and of the decoy duck I carry on the front of my bike. Our bear spray even got more attention than our passports.

Dave Mitchell (from the warm shower organization) hosted us in London, Ontario. He only recently had purchased a scooter with a gas engine. Prior to this he only rode his bike. He has been on three different trips overseas and is planning various cycling/hiking trips to different parts of the world for the future. Warm showers has again been a great organization for us to use to meet people and have a roof over our heads.

Back in the Good Old U.S.A.!

June 5, 2010 we re-entered the U.S. at Port Huron, hopefully for the last time on this adventure. They don't allow bikes on the Blue Water Bridge so we had to get a ride across it by the Canadian Border Patrol. As compared to our entry into Canada, three days earlier with no hassle, re-entry into the U.S. at this checkpoint was much different. We were questioned for 45 minutes by our own U.S. Border Patrol. Maybe we should clean ourselves up so we don't look so dangerous. Actually, I am glad they are so thorough and Jacky and I are very glad to be in the U.S. for the last 25 days of our trip.

Last Final Days:

From here we will bike up to Sault Saint Marie with a plan on arriving there on June 12th to visit my good friend, Dave Swick. Then we will proceed over to Eagle River, WI to start the Grabaawr (week long bike ride) which goes through WI and ends in Prairie du Chein. If you recall, we started our three year trip by cycling the Grabaawr in 2007. We will be biking into Decorah, IA on June 30th. We do have a house to go to as we have purchased a house in downtown Decorah over the internet.

Life is good and people are fantastic! See you all soon!

Jacky and Ward Budweg