Sunday, 27 September 2015

Downpours and Rest Days

Location: Erie, PA, USA
It had rained heavily during the night but it had just about cleared up when we left Ben's. We blitzed it along the road to Orwell where we stopped for donuts and coffee at a little Amish shop. Sat on the bench outside guzzling down half a dozen donuts we had a nice chat with an old Amish guy on a mobility scooter. He was very impressed by our trip and thought it was great we were seeing so much of the country. Having wolfed down all the donuts we set off north along the bike trail that would take us all the way to Ashtabula on the shores of Lake Erie. Here's something you probably knew already - 3 mega sugary donuts is too many in one sitting. I got this weird jittery feeling after only a couple of miles which only abated a little when we were joined by some other cyclists and the conversation distracted me from my sugary butterflies.

The cyclists turned around at about mile 19 and we continued north to the end of the trail and onto the roads. A few miles of faffing about on back roads, some of which were gravel lead us to our sixteenth state of Pennsylvania.

We were ready for lunch but didn't find a suitable spot for many more miles when we opted for a patch of grass under an oak. Ben had given us some lovely apples and a hunk of gorgeous looking Amish cheese for our lunch and it was a particularly delicious roadside meal for us. The wind was blowing quite strongly now and every now and again we'd have to protect ourselves against a barrage of acorns.

We caught our first glimpses of the lake after lunch and it was really hard to not assume it was the sea. Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes but even so is enormous. We rode past fields of grape vines and were surrounded by the smell of Concord grapes, it was quite incredible. The sky had been looking increasingly ominous and then in a matter of moments it was bucketing it down. There was no time to put on jackets, we were wet through within minutes, but it was pretty warm and we had another Warm Showers hosts that evening so we'd be able to get everything dried out. It was the most torrential rain we've been caught out in on the trip and I really enjoyed riding in it. I found it quite exhilarating and amusing watching the waves of rain sweep across the road, feeling it cover every part of my body and hear it beat through the corn fields. By the time we made it to our hosts we'd been riding in it about an hour, it was still fairly warm and the rain had eased a little. 

Jason and Michelle were at a prior engagement when we arrived but had left us detailed instructions about where our room and bathroom were, where the laundry was and had left us food to eat. They came home earlier than expected due to the rain and we had a wonderful evening, eating fantastic lasagne and having fun with them along with Jason's Mum, Jeannie, and their friend JD. We were having a rest day the following day so after a delicious breakfast of sausage and potato pie we hung around a bit, then after Jason and Michelle left to go golfing we wandered down to the lake for a swim. The water was fairly warm, but the wind was pretty cold so we didn't last long. We warmed up back at the house in the hot tub then got ready as they were throwing a little dinner party in the evening. We had another fabulous meal and a very funny evening with the other guests.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Hard to Start

Location: Gambier, OH, USA
Thirteen days off and in one place is a very long time. We needed it and it was wonderful, but it's a long time. Time enough to unpack a lot of stuff and deposit it around the house. Also time enough to lose some fitness and feel a bit out of shape. I had intended to keep riding, just for fun, during our little holiday, but I caught some kind of stomach bug that required me to stay within 100ft of a toilet at all times so I only managed to get out on one ride once my gut regained control. In all honesty though it wasn't the cycling we were lacklustre about prior to our departure from Columbus, it was the packing. Nevertheless Wednesday morning came around and we finally managed to leave at around 9:45am spurred on by the thought of seeing more friends and family. Luckily there is also an amazing network of bike trails in Ohio and we were on one, the Alum Creek Trail, within five minutes of the house and rode this to the north edge of the city which made for a great start to our ride.

There was then a little faffing as the trail signage petered out and we ended up on quiet country roads for a few miles before picking up another trail. From Columbus to the shores of Lake Erie we will be almost solely on the Ohio to Erie trail, a series of bike paths and back roads stretching hundreds of miles. We both agreed it was brilliant to be back on the bikes and I'm sure that getting to ride quiet, picturesque bike trails improved our experience no end.

We stopped for lunch outside Centerburg, 'the geographical center of Ohio', just off the side of the trail. It was a perfect spot, grass to sit on and plenty of shade from a large building. Two riders stopped to talk to us about our trip and asked where we were headed. They were out on a day ride from Gambier, wished us luck and set off down the trail. We caught them up again a few miles down the way, got chatting again and they offered us to stay with them. We'd been planning to camp that night a little further than Gambier, but once we realised we would only be stopping about 7 miles short we were happy to take Ree and Jim up on their kind offer.

Gambier is one of the first places we've stayed in the U.S. that refers to itself as a village. It's the home of Kenyon College a small liberal arts university, the oldest private college in Ohio, and has a wonderful friendly, villagey atmosphere. We wandered up the hill to the coffee shop, met Bob, a friend of Ree and Jim's who is also an avid cyclist. Bob tipped us off that when we get to the shores of Lake Erie we'll likely be there when they harvest all the Concord grapes that they make grape jelly and grape soda out of which would be really interesting. Then we strolled across the road to the local pub and joined Ree and Jim's Wednesday night 'club' which was just a group of their friends that get together every Wednesday evening for a meal at the pub. It was great fun, we both had delicious burgers and enjoyed a funny evening together. Afterwards we strolled through the college grounds, which were very reminiscent of Durham University or other similar establishments, under a beautiful sunset.

After a lovely breakfast we said goodbye to Ree and Jim, with maps for the road ahead, full tyres and Clif bars. We were back on the bike trail in no time heading north east. We'd been warned that on the next section of trail, the Mohican Valley Trail, we may not be able to take it as they were due to start work on paving it. Sure enough when we got to the trailhead in Danville (not the same down-on-its-luck Danville that we were in previously) there were signs up saying as much, but a fairly official looking dude told us that though that was technically true he wouldn't stop us riding it and we'd just have to walk our bikes past the actual machinery down the track. So we set off along the dirt trail, happy we didn't have to navigate our way by road. It wasn't until we were at the far end of the trail that we spotted the machinery and walked by. Soon after we came to a beautiful covered bridge complete with inscription 'The Bridge of Dreams'.

The trail then deteriorated to such an extent that we couldn't follow it and decided to ride the next few miles on the road until we could pick up the next section of trail in Killbuck. On our way to the main road we got chased by a thankfully small dog with a totally uninterested owner. Tom ended up spraying our insect repellent near the dog to deter it and this seemed to work, well we got away unscathed. I was excited about the next trail as it ran through Amish country and the guide had said we could as much expect to see Amish horse and buggies as other cyclists. 

And sure enough we passed a few. The scenery was lovely; woods, fields, wetlands. It was easy riding too and we made it to Fredricksburg in time for lunch. It was a cute little town with a number of buggies and horses parked up and the girls serving in the ice cream shop were in traditional outfits with the shop T-shirt pulled over the top of their dresses. That was the end of the trail for a bit, but the route was still signed, taking us along the back roads past Amish schools, the kids in the playground playing softball, and through fields being tended by horse drawn machinery. It made a refreshing change from the countless miles of corn and soy we'd passed since coming back into the U.S. 

We rejoined the trail and were soon in Canal Fulton our destination for the night where we had arranged a Warm Showers host who despite being tied up agreed to let us stay in their trailer and then made us breakfast in the morning. The towpath trail then took us up through Akron and on to and through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We had picked out a road at the north end of the park to take us east along roads to yet another Warm Showers hosts just south of Chardon but this road turned out to be extremely rough and steep so we had to push the bikes up. We weren't far from Cleveland at this point and the roads were pretty busy and not good quality which made for tiring, unpleasant riding. By the time we rolled into Ben's drive we were on the verge of collapse but cold drinks and snacks soon revived us and we spent a wonderful evening together with his neighbours who are also Warm Showers hosts.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Indiana Jones and the Car Drivers of Doom

Location: Danville, IN, USA
Morning came to Kickapoo State Park heralded with the sound of continual thunder, but no rain or visible lightning. These both arrived as we set off and we were soon pretty soaked, grateful for the slight decrease in temperature this brought and happy in the knowledge we had a roof over our heads that night. We rode on some pretty miserable, busy roads in clouds of spray; me getting extra drenched by the fountain created by Tom's back tyre, throwing not just puddle water but grit and other road debris into my face and everything below it. We arrive into Danville and decide to find the library so we could contact our host for the night. Stood on the sidewalk, trying to find the library on our map, we witness a woman screech into a parking lot, run to the door of the store on the lot and then repeatedly thump and bang and beat on the door as the store was not open. She then ran back to her car and starts violently honking the horn and shouting. It's about 8:30am and the store is a liquor store. Danville is pretty run down. Tom commented "er when did we become extras in The Wire?" But, we located the library, which was lovely and well frequented and passed some nice looking murals so maybe Danville is on the up. After the library we went for pancakes and then got back on the road. The weather improved a little and then there it was - Welcome to Indiana.

Plus as a bonus an Illinois sign too, which since we'd not got one coming in from Iowa we were happy to snap.

The weather finally dried up, but unlike after we have a thunderstorm in the UK, the humidity was still crazy high and we were back to riding in a sauna. We passed through a number of small towns and by many more miles of corn and soy, but something had changed. Turns out Indiana drivers are the absolute, hands down worst drivers we've encountered in all 14 states and 5 provinces. In that one afternoon we had more near misses and scary 'what the hell are you thinking' moments than in all the previous 6 months. Impatient, erratic, reckless drivers on a mission to get to their destinations as quick as possible and be damned if anything will slow them down. Not sure what everyone in Indiana does that makes them so important and their time so precious it's worth more than our lives but they certainly feel that way.

Thankfully we made it onto some quiet back roads again and stopped fearing for our lives. We arrived at Paul and Kathy's and were met by them snapping photos of us as we arrived, which was a real treat as we have so few photos of us riding together. We hit it off quickly and had a great evening with them the highlight of which was a feast of a meal followed by a fun game. In the morning they made lovely waffles and Paul helped me tweak my saddle position with a fancy laser spirit measure.

More back roads took us to the edge of Indianapolis and we decided to call in at the REI as we had time to kill before meeting up with Tim and April that evening. The ride to REI was on busy, city roads and not a lot of fun, but we had a great time chatting with the staff once we got there taking advantage of their water fountain, toilets and wifi before continuing east towards the bright lights of New Castle. We've known Tim since 2007 when he came to do his masters at Bradford Uni and joined the Ultimate Frisbee club we were both in. Five years ago we came to Columbus to Tim and April's wedding and we were stoked when we rejigged our route and realised we could swing by their place. Then even more stoked when they offered to come pick us up somewhere to knock a couple of days cycling off and give us more time to hang out together, hence the rendezvous in New Castle. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Campground Kindness

Location: Moraine View State Park, 27374 E 900 North Rd, Le Roy, IL 61752, USA
We have had no problem so far finding fuel for our stove. It takes white gas or Coleman fuel which has been readily available anywhere we've needed on our tour. So we were not remotely worried about refilling our fuel bottle when we arrived into Normal, Illinois. We scrounged wifi from the Macdonalds in the student area and could find no camp stores nearby. No matter, we've bought it in gas stations and grocery stores before. There was a Target nearby and on their website they stock Coleman fuel so we're sorted. We ride through busy city streets to the Target on a big retail park on our way out of town.  The Target is massive, I've never been in one before, and it takes me a long time to find the right area but all that was there was Coleman gas; no good. I ask one of the store workers if they stock it, but no they don't. But he pointed me to Dick's Sporting Goods store nearby so we made our way across the vast car park and over a busy road and I started searching around Dick's store. I eventually found the right section and hurray they stock Coleman fuel, unfortunately they only stock it in gallon bottles. That is a LOT of fuel for us, way more than we can carry or will use in our remaining time in the U.S. and Canada. I dejectedly leave the store and tell Tom the bad news. By this time its about 5pm we still have 20 miles to ride to our campground and we really want to get pedalling, but without the fuel we have very little edible food. There's a Walmart in the same retail park so despite the fact I am not a fan of Walmart and find shopping in them utterly un-enjoyable I head in with fingers and toes crossed. Its a cavernous, warehouse-like affair and once again I walk the aisles trying to find the camping bit and lo and behold there it is and in a quart bottle; perfect for us.

So we finally get back on the road, our home for the night is Moraine View State Park, and since its getting fairly late now we pedal hard to make sure we get there before dark. As Tom pitched our tent I got started on dinner, its past 8pm and we are hungry. Two cars pull up and the drivers ask us about the trip and we talk for a short while before they drive off only to return on foot a few minutes later with a tray full of food. They have some incredible ribs, potato salad, bread and butter, chips, cookies, rice pudding, a ziplock bag full of watermelon, and lovely cold water. My couscous salad seems a little redundant and unexciting compared to this feast. After we chat with Ray and Leanne some more we say goodbye again and eat our fill of all this wonderful food.

So much food in fact that we have toast and watermelon for breakfast instead of the usual camping breakfast of porridge and there's enough couscous leftover for our lunch. Amazing. Riding back roads through miles of corn and soya (yep that's still what all the fields are full of) we are confronted with a dead end sign for the road we're headed down, but it certainly looks like a road on our map so we ignore the sign and ride down only to find that it is very much a dead end. Not sure what happened but it looks like a section of road was washed away and is now being reclaimed by the plants. There is no way round, so we backtrack and make a detour.

We arrive at Kickapoo State Park (childish I know but it makes me giggle every time, especially when I think that we also stayed in Shakopee!!) and since its been like riding in a sauna all day we head straight for the cafe for cold refreshments, sadly as alcohol is banned in state parks it's not beer, but it's cold and refreshing and they sell ice cream too. We then head to the campground and are assigned the only  spot almost devoid of grass and about as far from the showers as possible. As we're halfway through dinner a guy approaches and we ask him to join us. Michael is riding his Vespa from Colorado back to New York City. We share what's left of our dinner with him and spend time chatting about our trips. I wish we'd fed him more, I'm not sure he had any other dinner.  Anyway w really enjoyed talking with him and he offered to put us up if we made it to the big city. After dinner we hiked the 200 miles to the showers and by the time we made it back to the tent were well ready for bed.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Familiar Place Names in Far Off Lands

Location: Peoria, IL, USA
We set off from Massey Marina bright and early but were drowning in sweat in no time after the road turned to gravel and then presented us with by far the steepest grade we'd seen since Duffy Lake Road. Despite my instincts telling me to get off my bike I forced myself not to give in and did initially attempt to ride it, but pedalling a loaded bike up a 15% hill in loose gravel is way beyond my capabilities and after very nearly stacking it I got off and began the sweat-inducing effort of pushing a heavily laden bike up something I'd find hard to walk up. Tom followed suit shortly after and we both heaved and huffed, sweat dripping freely as we battled against gravity to shove our pack mules to the top. As soon as it flattened out a bit we hopped back on to give our aching arms a rest, then, thankfully, order (and tarmac) were restored. From there on it was pretty easy riding through rural towns and rolling farmland. We reached Sabula, 'Iowa's Island City', where we took a long, low causeway across the water, past fishermen and huge clumps of lily pads. We both thought it felt like the Everglades in Florida, not that I've ever been. The causeway led to a large blue truss bridge over the river proper.  I would have liked to get photos of the bridge, which was probably the biggest truss bridge we've been over, but unfortunately the driver behind me had no idea how to deal with cyclists and so I just had to pedal as hard as I could to get up and over the bridge so I could then pull over on the other side and let them finally pass us.

Crossing the river meant crossing into a new state, Illinois, our thirteenth, but sadly no sign. Savanna, the town on the Illinois side, had a sweet little train car museum where we ate our lunch, but they didn't have wifi so we crossed the road to the KFC to scrounge internet access from the car park to let our host for that night how we were getting on. From Savanna we were able to get onto the Great River Trail which would take us the remaining 45 miles to Port Byron. Its not all a segregated bike path, but even when you're on roads they are very quiet back roads. It felt very different from what we'd ridden through so far; the houses were much smaller, quite a few trailer homes, it felt poorer, and actually the lady in the train car museum had said that Illinois is a very poor state, which surprised us both. We then cycled towards a very large group of buildings which as we got closer became apparent was a prison. It was huge, it can house 1800 prisoners. Turns out its also pretty much empty and always has been; there's one reason the state of Illinois is broke, they spent over $170 million on a prison that doesn't get used. Not long after that a cyclist rides towards us and it turns out its our host, Bruce, come to ride the last twenty or so miles with us. We got into Port Byron, home of our hosts, Will B. Riding, a giant rider on a penny farthing, and the annual Tug Fest, a tug of war across the river between Port Byron and LeClaire! Wish we'd been in town for that!

Bruce and Becky were prolific cyclists in their day, fitting tours in around working full time and raising kids, often taking the kids along too. They have also ridden the Paris-Brest-Paris which I am now tempted to attempt myself. They were kind enough to let us stay for a rest day so the following day we had a very lazy day and did close to nothing. Bruce rode out with us the following morning, despite the fact it looked very likely to rain, and then did rain, very heavily. We said goodbye to the Mississippi and rode east along the Hennepin Canal which was wonderful, though the trail was in varying conditions from asphalt to overgrown dirt. We parted ways after a bite to eat in Annawan where we left the canal trail and instead rode the back roads south. We passed through both Sheffield and Bradford, and past a sign for Castleton, all of which made us chuckle, and made it to our Warm Showers hosts earlier than we had expected.

We had a fantastic evening with Amber and Florin; we went out for an amazing steak dinner and then got a tour around Peoria. They both work at Caterpillar and took us to see the D10, a massive digger, and then we wandered around downtown, listening to open air live music and watching the beautifully lit paddle boat, the Spirit of Peoria, come in to dock.

The next morning, Amber and Florin rode out of town with us after cooking us an amazing waffle breakfast. It was really foggy when we left but luckily we got to ride on bike trails through the city and by the time we were across the river and on the edge of Peoria we were out of the fog.

After saying goodbye to our new friends we called in at the Aldi. I am genuinely excited that I can shop at Aldi. Not only do they stock the same delicious chocolate they do in the UK, they are also organised in the same way so shopping is so much easier for me than in the standard, large American grocery stores. We were soon back on the trail stocked up with goodies on our way to the city of Normal where we needed to get some fuel for our stove which was running very low and, since we were camping for the next couple of nights, was therefore essential if we wanted to eat more than granola bars and jerky. Sadly this did not go as smoothly as one would hope.

Monday, 7 September 2015

The Righteous Ride Down (and up) Old Man River

Location: Dubuque, IA, USA
Despite the fact the route from Tory's towards the Mississippi was pretty straightforward we missed our turn and ended up riding through some pretty built up areas with busy roads and a couple of detours due to roadworks so not a great morning's ride, but the wind was mostly behind us and we were soon over the Mississippi River and into our eleventh state, Wisconsin.

That night we had a Warm Showers host who lived on a smallholding near the town of Stockholm. It was a beautiful spot and after I bottle fed their calf we helped in the kitchen while Martha made mozzarella right in front of us and Geoffrey made us a delicious dinner of spaghetti and sauce that we tore the fresh mozzarella over. It was fantastic. After a breakfast of fresh eggs, homemade bread and hand churned butter we rode off to follow the river south to La Crosse. We had a wonderful tailwind which made the riding fast and easy. We met a pair of credit card tourers en route and had a fun chat. We stopped for lunch at Midway where another cyclist came and talked with us. He'd just done a tour in the summer and asked if we had somewhere to stay in La Crosse, which we did, another Warm Showers host.

We got onto a nice bike trail after lunch and rode into La Crosse. After getting showered and sorted at our hosts we walked into town for a beer where our host John joined us. Then we went for ice cream and wandered back to the house. Our hosts were out at a prior engagement so we chilled out and had an early night. We had coffee with John and their daughter Alexa the next morning before making our way to Rosie's Diner for an awesome breakfast. John had highly recommended we stop in at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque so we altered our route slightly and planned to cross the river at Prairie du Chien into Iowa, our twelfth state.  Outside the visitor info centre in Prairie du Chien we met another cyclist or as he referred to himself 'a drunk with a cycling problem'. He claimed to have rode the roads either side of the river over eighty times and could tell us anything we needed to now about the area. But proceeded to not tell us anything at all about the roads really, though he did tell us our journey was 'righteous' so that was nice. Then he left to buy more booze.

We camped at Pike's Peak State Park after climbing our first major hill since the Icefields Parkway. The hill afforded the park a stunning view over the river and we enjoyed a gorgeous walk as the sun set. Friendly neighbours came and chatted with us in the morning and we left feeling buoyed up and encouraged. It was great to be riding through hilly terrain! Though the prairies hadn't been as flat as everyone made out the gently rolling terrain doesn't lend itself to the highs and lows (metaphorically and literally) that you get with hilly terrain; to the panting, sweating, straining ascents, the feeling of achievement at the summit and the liberating, exhilarating, joyous descents. We were loving the hills.

We got into Dubuque just after lunch time and went straight to the Museum. It's big, it has two halves, lots of info about the river and aquarium exhibits of both river and sea creatures. We really enjoyed taking our time, reading all the boards, interacting with the interactive bits and staring at the aquarium tanks. You would be totally amazed at the size of some of the fish in the Mississippi River, they are whoppers. We learnt about the pearl button industry that sprung up using the shells from fresh water clams, how much barges can carry compared to trains or trucks (1 barge = 15 train cars or 58 trucks!) and how dynamic the river was and how its been tamed and straightened causing issues at its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. It's a great museum and if you're in the area you should check it out.

After an afternoon well spent we hit the grocery store for supplies and then rode up a very steep hill on our way to our campsite for the night in Massey Marina.  We rode through the Mines of Spain State Park, which seemed lovely, and rolled into our campground as the sun was setting. It was pretty buggy but a great spot right on the river with free showers all for $12, bargain!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Twin Rest Days in the Twin Cities

Location: Shakopee, MN, USA
After getting dropped off by Bonnie at Osakis we continued following the Lake Wobegon Trail south east to meet up with Tory. The riding surface was nice and the weather was great so we kept a good pace. At one point a fallen tree blocked our way and it seemed easier to man handle the tree rather than our bikes, so we pushed and pulled the branches to get an opening and carried on our journey.  We had a rendezvous organised with Tory and didn't want to be late so we pushed pretty hard to cover the 98 miles. Soph did an amazing job considering see was feeling so full of cold. We actually arrived slightly early to the gas station and treated ourselves to sports drinks and ice cream.  When Tory arrived we loaded up the car and headed towards the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul's. Tory and Steve had a beautiful home with amazingly soft carpets and a fantastic guest room for us to stay in with a brilliant assortment of pillows to choose from, none of which required preparation. We showered and got sorted round to wait for the rest of the family to arrive. Tory's husband Steve brought the kids, William and Christina, home. We had tours of the kids' bedrooms and were shown their toys and favourite things. While still on the tour the doorbell rang and the pizza arrived so we all headed down for food.  Being a school night we all headed to bed fairly early.

The Friday was a lazy day for us. While Tory worked from home we sat on the sofa and watched a film and planned our next 10 days of riding. When the Skyfall credits started to roll I headed off to do the oil changes on our Rohloff hubs and clean the chains so we'd have a lovely smooth ride when we got back on the bikes. The afternoon was even more relaxed with us doing next to nothing until everybody arrived home again. The evening though was full of fun. We ate a beautiful chicken casserole (although I think us Brits might call it a chicken pasta bake) before heading out to have a bonfire on the front drive way. The kids ran round as the adults sat by the fire. While I ran around William asked me to roll down the hill in the back yard. Having developed motion sickness on a Waltzer in Sheffield last year I was apprehensive but peer pressure won out and I found myself lying face down in the grass praying for the world to stop spinning. It was a very similar feeling to waking up in the tent in Harrison those many months earlier but thankfully much less messy. After pulling myself together I assumed my rightful seat around the fire, now with added neighbours. We drank, chatted and drew chalk pictures on the driveway. As the light faded Tory added a packet to the fire to change the orange flames to green and blue. When this faded Mike, one of Steve and Tory's neighbours, added a ball of Christmas lights. The effect was similar to the packet but with the added black ball of smoke billowing down the street. When order and orange was finally restored we headed to bed.

The Saturday morning everybody was a little slow to kick into gear but when our fasts had been broken we headed into Minneapolis to check out Cultivate, a free festival centred around local, sustainable food. The park was extremely busy and we waited in line to enter and then again for beer. After the adults had drinks we headed to the kids zone to paint on a wooden silhouette of a cow and draw designs on T-Shirts. The atmosphere was fantastic and we spent a while just soaking it up.

Next we headed back to the car and had a drive around the city. There are tall high rise corporate buildings, cute little boutique shops and everything in between. Minneapolis was the first major sized city we had experienced since Vancouver and I loved being back in such a huge conurbation. There is even an old derelict, exploded flour factory. We got two bites of the cherry with this one as we drove right past it then parked up the car on the other side of the river and walked down by the water front to get views of the skyline, the waterfalls and the blown out old factory.

As we turned to head back towards the car the thunder and lighting that had been entertaining us for the last 20 minutes finally brought the rain and we rushed back to the car and headed off to find some indoor activities. The first of which was a pint in a very Irish pub.  It had been where Steve and Tory had first met and the pub was actually a really good example of what a good pub should be like.  Both the Americans and Canadians do try and have a traditional pub but they seem to fall short because they are too brightly lit, everything is too new or far too clean.  Keegan's Pub however was in fact a pub, the main reason being that they shipped the interior of the pub across from Ireland and rebuilt it.  Next we tried to get food at Brit's but being Saturday night there was an hour wait on the table so we headed over the road to The Local (there is a bit of theme going on) to have fish and chips and an European Shandy (made with lager and Sprite whereas as Summer Shandy is made with actual country style lemonade and lager).  After the food we headed back across to Brits to check out their bowling green on the roof.  We headed back to Tory and Steve's home to watch a few minutes of American Football (they just call it football, weird) but soon we found ourselves in the beautifully soft bed heading off to the land of nod.