Day 55 Cornwall, ON- Ellenburg, NY

We spent our time off of the bike today wandering around random towns’ graveyards in the uppermost part of New York State looking for long-passed relatives. We had heard that we would be going through the town where my mom’s dad’s grandparents owned a farm at the turn of the 20th century, and remembered that at least one very old, distant cousin was still in the area in the 1980’s. All we knew were a couple of possible last names and that they would be buried in the Protestant graveyard. We wandered around three graveyards carefully reading the oldest grave stones. We found a few possibilities but weren’t sure about any of them. Anyway it was pretty cool and a different way to use our break time!

The War of 1812 and its impact were very prominent in the towns we rode through today. There were countless historical markers and memorials. After having learned a lot about it in school this past year it was cool to see some of the locations it took place.

We re-entered the US today, and every time I do so, it shocks me. I think I saw 5-10 signs that read ‘gas, groceries, guns.’ It’s very interesting how the whole gun culture changes so drastically even 5 minutes past the border.

We luckily avoided a storm today and it looks pretty clear for the next few days (seeing as we also only have a few days left!!). Tomorrow, we will ride to Port Kent, NY where we will take a ferry across Lake Champlain to Burlington, VT where we will stay for the night.

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Day 54 Ottawa-Cornwall, ON

Cornwall, what an interesting name. We heard from our inside, Canadian, sources that this town is very frequently made fun of. We feel sad for Cornwall because of this; it really was a ‘big’ town. Even though our motel room door was banged on and screamed at at 9pm (basically midnight for us), for forgive Cornwall because our adventure at the Bulk Barn made up for it.

At the Bulk Barn, I was pleased when purchasing my half kilo of sour candy strips. I have no idea how and when I will eat all of these, but I’m not worried, I will find a way. We debated going to St-Hubert, a very Canadian chicken restaurant for dinner, but then decided against it because it was a whooping 800m away and it was absolutely pouring rain. We eventually settled on another very Canadian place, Boston Pizza, for our final night in Canada until our return to Vancouver.

Tomorrow we cross the border into New York State and make our way East to Ellenburg. It’s quite rural yet pretty historic so we will see if we happen to find anything exciting!

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Day 53- Ottawa Rest Day

It was great to wake up in a home today and not a motel for once! We were eager to get out and explore. After heading downtown and walking around the ByWard Market for a bit, we had a delicious lunch and then headed toward the Rideau Canal and parliament. We took an obligatory selfie and headed out after five minutes as it was crazy busy.

After a night at one family friend’s house we headed to the other side of town to visit with Amy, a good friend of my mom’s from Holland. My mom and I were quite committed to seeing Quebec. So, on the way across town, Amy drove us to a lookout so we could at least see Quebec! Same thing, right? After posing with Quebec, we had a delicious dinner and it was great to catch up.

Tomorrow we are headed to the border town of Cornwall, ON. There are supposed to be big storms so we will have to see how we get there.

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Day 52- Sharbot Lake-Ottawa, ON

Ottawa, finally! We’ve made it to the nation’s capitol! We seemed to be going a lot quicker today, which was a nice change! It wasn’t increadibly hilly and we were on nicely paved back road for the majority of the day. We’re staying with friends of ours from Holland tonight and tomorrow we will spend the day here in Ottawa with another friend we knew from there. Good conversation, a delicious home-cooked meal, and the comfort of a well-loved home have left us feeling very welcome and grateful.

It’s crazy to be so close to the end of our trip. We only have eight more days left of riding and 10 total until we arrive!

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Day 51 Campbellford-Sharbot Lake, ON

So slow so very slow, once again, today. We tried to ride the Trans-Canada Trail but it was an absolute mess. It had stormed the night before so there were ditches filled with half a meter of water that we had to try our best to avoid, which was near impossible, so we abandoned that plan after 10km and found our way back to the road

We stopped in the town of Tweed for lunch; we had a delicious meal at the local coffee shop. After eating, a lady came up to me and asked about our journey. I told her what we were doing and she suggested that we should head over to the local newspaper and she would introduce us. She explained that the town doesn’t get much excitement. This was also the town where I saw a man riding his lawn mower down the main street with his dog on his lap; it was pretty exciting.

Sharbot Lake was also a pretty special town. My shoulder had been bothering me quite a bit so my mom made a spontaneous appointment at a massage therapist whose office is adjacent to the motel. When Annette (the masseuse) heard that we were only in town for the night, she went out of her way and made an extra trip to schedule us in. During the treatment, we told her the story of our ride and the fundraising for Katcham School in Cambodia. Then, Annette made a connection that really brought this entire effort and journey to life: Annette has a friend, living locally, who was born in Cambodia in 1974 and lived in Canada House, an orphanage run some amazing Canadian women, when she was a tiny baby. In 1975, these women rescued Annette’s friend and more than 50 other orphans from the troops of the Khmer Rouge. Through a daring escape, they and brought the orphans to Canada where they were placed with and raised by Canadian families. You can read more about this incredible story here. Although a tragedy that it ever happened, it was incredibly moving and in some way fulfilling to hear about this Canadian-Cambodian connection from Annette, right here in rural Ontario. Thank you for sharing, Annette — and also for helping to relieve my shoulder!

Tomorrow we head 130km North to Ottawa!

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Day 50 Bowmanville-Campbellford, ON

Rain, rain, so much rain. It was absolutely pouring by 7pm when we arrived in Campbellford for the night. I think this was the slowest day of riding we’ve had to date. It felt like we were riding through molasses and we couldn’t speed up. One thing that may have contributed to this slow riding was the fact that we were on bad (mostly dirt) road a lot of the time. It was also extremely hilly which did not in any way add to our happiness.

A highlight of today was food. We stopped for a great lunch along the lake on the way. I had a delicious chocolate milk shake and a wrap. When we got to our motel, for dinner I had two frozen meals we had purchased on our way into town and about 1000 (actually) calories worth of swiss rolls, it was absolutely delicious.

A weird part of the day was that the GPS kept routing us through random subdivisions. We would be taken off of the highway to ride through constructions zones and weirdly, a small foot path which had a gigantic tree across the path. We had to carefully manoeuvre around that one!

An epiphany I had (–we really have too much time to think!!) was about the holy Triscuit, my new favourite snack. I truly believe they are named what they are because of two factors: (1) they are made with three ingredients, which make up for the ‘tri;’ and (2) they are biscuits, when you combine these two things, you get Triscuit. This is why I’m also convinced the world is pronouncing the name wrong. Let’s figure this one out.

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Day 49 Toronto-Bowmanville, ON

Formerly, I had believed that walking through drive-thru restaurants was illegal. As it turns out, it’s not. We happily discovered this at a drive-thru doughnut shack in Bowmanville tonight. We were craving frozen cake, but sadly, the gas station didn’t have any today. The doughnuts were mediocre are best but the excitement of procuring them made up for their lack of taste.

We were pretty hungry after traveling 100km in the heat out of Toronto today. As any city would be on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the streets were littered with pedestrians, dogs, cyclists, rollerbladers, beach goers, boaters, joggers, wanderers, cars, trams, busses and much more. There were over a thousand directional cues when leaving so I had to listen to the GPS on my phone. We made a lot of wrong turns.

The next few days headed towards Ottawa will hopefully be a lot less busy and more straight forward. We only have 13 days left, which is crazy! We had to say goodbye to my dad and brother today and they headed back on the lake sailing. We will see them again when we return to Vancouver in a few weeks. Tomorrow, we head North-East 110km to Campbellford, ON.

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