Bicycle Field Notes 7: Our Route, Stepping Stones through Eastern U.S.A.

Hey you kids (the ones I promised to write and miss so much) and everybody else,

Here I am in Guanajuato, Mexico, writing a post about the travel route that we took down the Atlantic Coast and along the Gulf Coast of the United States of America. Today, I calculated the total distance we’ve ridden our bikes so far and I came up with a total of 13,555 kilometers. With buses, trains, ferries and hitch-biking, we’ve travelled much further. It’s hard for me to believe that we have pedalled our bikes so far. But it’s true. Now I know how fast time flies and how easily kilometres add up if we just keep moving towards our goal, one pedal stroke at a time.

At first, our bicycle tour across Canada was going to be a training ride to see if we liked travelling on two wheels without a motor. If our first trip was a hit then our plan was to do another bicycle tour aiming for a route down the western side of North America and South America, in the following year or maybe even later. But sometimes plans change.

We’ve been dreaming about riding our bikes from our house to as far as the roads go in South America for a very long time (since 2007). Just before Lothar retired in December 2015, he proposed we ride across Canada, and then if we liked bicycle touring he thought we should make a right hand turn and ride south to South America.

I think Lothar was excited about seeing our dream come true, as soon as possible. He just needed to get going so that he wouldn’t miss the chance to make it happen while he still could. But I think another good reason to change our plans, is that it would be a better decision for our planet. If we combined two trips into one then we wouldn’t need to fly back home from eastern Canada. The new plan would be better because we would contribute less than our original plan to greenhouse gases that are changing the climate of this wonderful planet we call home.

With Lothar aiming for the door, I needed to scramble to keep up with him. And now almost a year later, and much to my surprise, we are here:

 

Here we are in Guanjuato, Mexico.
Here I am writing this post in Guanajuato, Mexico (yellow star). Lothar likes to tell people “it’s not a race. We’re old and slow.”

 

The odometer that we were using to measure the distance of our travel broke. So from Maine to New York we used Google Maps to the measure distances we travelled.

To avoid cold weather, we stayed close to the coast on our route from Maine to Georgia. I think it would have been fun to ride through the mountains further inland, more wilder spaces and fewer people. But sometimes we need to adjust our plans to fit the situation we’re in. Most importantly in this case, Cricket doesn’t like snow, neither does Lothar’s bike.

Maine

Dates: 17 to 24 October 2015

Distances we travelled:

  • Bicycle to Brunswick: 389 km
  • Bus to Boston: 220 km

 

Maine Map
We crossed the Canada-U.S.A. border from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, to Calais, Maine, on 17 October 2016. Then we rode our bikes to Brunswick, Maine, where we hopped on a bus to Boston.

 

With winter nipping at our heels, we rolled across the border into Maine.
We rolled across the border into Maine with winter nipping at our heels.

 

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We’ve been following stunning fall colours for a couple weeks now.

 

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When we woke up to yet another heavy frost (-7 C) in Brunswick, we decided it was time to skip further south by bus.

 

Our first bus ride was easy.
Our first bus ride was easy. The bus driver helped us load our bikes, no problem.

 

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island

Dates: 24 to 29 October 2015

Distance we travelled:

  • Bus: into Boston (see previous section)
  • Bicycle: 100 km+, around the City of Boston
  • Train: 82 km to Providence
  • Bicycle: 81 km to the Rhode Island-Connecticut state border

On the bus, we left Maine and whizzed through the State of New Hampshire and into Massachusetts.

 

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We arrived in Boston by bus (in red). Then we took a commuter train to Providence, Rhode Island (also in red). And then we rode our bikes to cross the border into Connecticut (in blue).

 

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Getting our bikes onto the commuter train in Boston was easy too.

 

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The conductor gave us a whole car for the bikes, all to themselves. Cricket was a happy free-wheeler!

 

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Connecticut

Dates: 30 to 31 October 2015

Distances we travelled:

  • Bicycle: 86 km
  • Ferry: 25 km (to Long Island in New York)

 

Connecticut
Then we rode into Connecticut to New London (in blue) where we got onto a ferry to Long Island, New York (in red).

 

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New York

Dates: 1 to 10 November 2015

Distances we travelled:

  • Bicycle: 175 km+

 

New York Part 1
We rode the length of Long Island into New York City. First, we visited Brooklyn and then we visited Manhattan. New York is the largest city I have ever visited!

 

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When the ferry doors swung open, I got my first glimpse of Long Island, New York.

 

 

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You are looking at the lights of Manhattan, New York. Cricket and I rode through this maze together. It was crazy!

 

In New York, we bought a GPS to replace our broken odometer that we were using to measure our travel.

Washington, DC

Dates: 10 to 18 November 2015

Distances we travelled:

  • Bus: 436 km from New York City to Washington, DC

 

We decided to take a bus from New York City to Washington, DC, the Capital of the United States of America, for three reasons:

  • winter was still nipping at our heels. We wanted to get far enough south that snow wouldn’t get to us
  • we weren’t all that keen to ride through more densely populated areas between New York City and Washington, DC
  • there was an interesting conference I wanted to go to. I learned about how to help people understand challenging problems and work together to solve them. Presenters talked about problems related to climate change, loss of species and ecosystems, some people not having enough access to clean water, and some children growing up with poor nutrition in countries that don’t have much money.

 

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Seeing the flags of all of the countries of the world hanging in one place, at the World Bank where the conference was, was pretty cool. In respect for all countries, the flags are hanging in alphabetical order.

 

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Riding our bikes out of Washington, DC.: At this point, we thought we were far enough south to miss getting snowed on. We were sort of right. A big snow storm came through this area later but by that time we were well south. We haven’t taken any more buses or trains since Washington, DC.

 

Virginia

Dates: 17 to 26 November 2015

 

Virginia
We rode our bikes through Virginia to North Carolina.

 

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North Carolina

Dates: 26 November to 12 December 2015

 

North Carolina
We rode our bikes through North Carolina to South Carolina.

 

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South Carolina

Dates: 12 to 24 December 2015

 

South Carolina
We rode our bikes through South Carolina to Georgia.

 

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Riding in South Carolina was often scary. The worst part was when we were stuck on roads with no bike lanes and fast traffic. Some drivers would drive too close to us, yell at us, or even angrily honk their horn at us. When riding got too crazy, we hitch-biked.

 

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Here’s me, happy and safe, walking my bike down the drainage ditch between highway lanes going one way and the other.

 

Georgia

Dates: 24 December 2015 to 3 January 2016

 

Georgia
We rode our bikes through Georgia and into Florida.

 

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Welican and I crossed into Georgia with a kind man who picked me up when he saw me walking my bike on the side of the highway in South Carolina. Welican accidentally got trapped in the back of pickup truck, so no border crossing photo for him!

 

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Here we are in Savannah, Georgia, on Christmas Eve. I’m so happy that I made it safely through South Carolina.

 

When riding my bike gets too scary, I just take one step at a time, as safely as I can, walking if I need to. It’s a bit stressful sometimes but, eventually, I get through it. We are discovering so many wonderful things out here that the challenges are worth it. When life gets rough, my curiosity about what I’ll learn or find next keeps me going.

 

Florida

Dates: 3 to 28 January 2016

 

Florida 1 & 2 & 3
We rode through northern Florida to Alabama.

 

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The ferry near Jacksonville was not running. This meant we would have to ride more than 40 km back and around another way. So I decided to go for a walk to see if I could find a boat operator that would take us across the river. Soon we had a ride with the boat pilot.

 

Originally, we were planning to ride our bikes to the Florida Keys, at the southern tip of Florida, but we soon got tired of bicycling in this densely populated state so we turned right again to head west along the Gulf of Mexico. It was hard for me to see people living in extreme wealth beside people living in extreme poverty. It seemed like rich people were afraid of poor people and poor people were having a hard time making ends meet. Plus beautiful beaches were blocked by massive hotels and shopping centers that sprawled, seemingly forever. I left Florida feeling sad about how people treat other people and other living things and our environment.

 

Alabama

Dates: 28 January to 1 February 2016

 

Alabama
We rode from Florida through Alabama to Mississippi, along the Gulf of Mexico. I had no idea how narrow Alabama was on the gulf. It only took us two and half days to ride through it.

 

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Another short ferry ride.

 

Mississippi

Dates: 1 to 4 February 2016

 

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Imagine Welican’s surprise: When we stopped to take a photo at the Mississippi sign, we met Jim camped in the forest. He was riding his bike on a big journey too.

 

Louisiana

Dates: 4 February to 18 February

 

Louisiana
We rode our bikes from Mississippi through Louisiana into Texas.

 

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Welican met lots of pelicans in Louisiana, like the one on this sign.

 

Did you know that
Did you know that the flag for the State of Louisiana has a pelican sitting on a nest with three chicks in it?

 

Texas

Dates: 18 February to 10 March 2016

 

Texas

 

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Lothar is looking like he’s in pretty good shape for nine months on the road!

 

Stats for U.S.A.

We enjoyed our ride down the Atlantic Coast of the U.S.A. and along the Gulf of Mexico. We met lots of wonderful people, many of whom helped us along the way. We experienced a lot. And we learned a lot. So even though there were some big challenges, I feel very grateful for and fortunate to have had an opportunity to travel in this way through the eastern U.S.A.

Here are some totals for distances that we travelled in the U.S.A.:

Bicycle: 5,618 km

Bus: 584 km

Train: 51 km

Ferries: 64 km+

Hitch-bike: 178 km

Total Distance Travelled: 6,495 km

Watch for my next posts for Mexico.

We’ve been in Mexico for almost two and half months. I’m happy to report the experience has been extremely rewarding!

4 Responses

  1. Sandi Holst
    |

    Hi Debbie – There is only one thing I will ask? I hope you are going to turn this into a book!!!!!

  2. Deb Wellwood
    |

    Hi Sandi,

    All I can say is, my journal and photos overflow. I wish for more time to write as I go. This journey is a mind boggling experience; a sea of thoughts crash around in my mind; and I love writing. We shall see.

    Thanks for a boost!

  3. George & Marybeth
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    Hello from Southport NC where the ferry captain brought you home for the night. You are an inspiration and we wish you then best in your travels. Next week we visit Maine and on the way back to NC we will see Robert Matson in NYC and pick up a new HP Grasshopper. If it works well then we will order another one. Looking forward to future postings.

  4. Deb Wellwood
    |

    Hello George and Marybeth, I’m so glad you found us. I hope your Grasshopper is treating you well. Lothar and I just did 8 miles or so of the roughest road we’ve done yet on our Street Machines, and we’re so happy with how they held up. We’re still loving the bikes and feeling positive that we picked the right ones for us and this trip. We just left Antigua, Guatemala today. Next stop El Salvador. I’ve been working on some blog posts so hopefully some will be rolling out soon over the next few weeks. Take care! Deb

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