Let’s begin with yesterday, actually. We loaded up the car with bikes and bags and people and pulled out of St. Paul about 5:40 AM and headed east on Interstate 94. And then we drove 940 miles and arrived in Buffalo at 11:00 PM. It was a beautiful day to drive across Wisconsin but driving around the Chicago/Gary region is NEVER beautiful. Lisa took that shift since she is a Chicago native. The traffic seems to always be dreadful, and you find yourself trapped between huge trucks in the heat and sun, and hardly moving, ugh. Then we blasted through Indiana and to Toledo and Cleveland with Paul at the wheel. Dan took over for the last hour, when the rain started and it was very dark. It was a huge relief to arrive at the hotel with its big rooms and wonderful beds.
Lisa and I woke up and drove the car to a ramp across the street from the Buffalo station where our train from Penn Station will drop us off in ten days. We walked back to the hotel and had breakfast before heading out on our first day’s ride. The weather was perfect and we rode down to the shore of Lake Erie and then along the Lakeshore Trail and the mighty Niagara River up to Tonawanda to the western end of the Erie Canal.
The Erie Canal in its day was an amazing engineering triumph which began to open up the interior of the North American continent and made New York City the main seaport in the nation as well as one of the most important centers of trade in the world. The Canal is still beautiful, lined with trees and lovely homes, and boats, including large sailboats making their way to Lake Erie.
It was a perfect day – 50 miles of lovely cycling, ending in Medina, where we settled in a three bedroom shared bath hostel. Oh, I should mention that Lisa did have her first flat of the trip about a mile out of our destination. After removing the tire, I dipped the tube in the Erie Canal and located the leak, then found (I think) the cause in the tire – a tiny splinter. We fixed it and rolled into town where Paul and Cindy were already all cleaned up. We will be sleeping in bunk beds tonight (it is the Bunkhaus.) After Lisa and I showered we walked uptown for dinner at Zambistro and then strolled around Main Street. We ended the day with a sort of improbable mead/chocolate tasting. (I never really knew what mead was and now I know it goes well with chocolate.)
It was a wonderful day – tomorrow will be a bit longer and maybe hotter.