This is a web page for Pilgrim 2001, also called Pacific Eastward, being the traveling by Avram and Elijah Brown on bicycles from Oregon to Maine in the summer of 2001.
Pilgrim 2001 Home Page
Directions: Since this is a simple web page, please scroll down, or use your browser's "Find in page" feature to get to the day's report you wish to read.
Today is Elijah's twentieth birthday. Avram and Elijah left their brother's house around one o'clock, after he gave them haircuts on the deck in the sunshine. It is not so hot today. Their brother rode with them for an hour or so, to guide them on bike routes through the cities, until they were on a road that was on their map.
Aryae describes the beginning ride of Pilgrim Part II (east of the Mississippi):
I had taken Elijah on a ride into Minneapolis a few days ago, and we rode on those bike paths today. The Minneapolis area has an extensive network of bike paths and parkways, so we were able to stick primarily to these. I'm afraid they had a bit of a north headwind, but that's what happens when riding during the hot afternoon. The pace was measured and quiet, with everyone recalling the nice days we'd had. Elijah remarked, "this is why you pack light" in reference to our four days of riding unloaded bikes. I had encouraged them to lighten their load as much as possible and I would mail it home. Elijah ditched the cd player and his complete works of Shakespeare..(just kidding about the Shakespeare). On the other hand, you can't pack too light. When I first met up with them, I was impressed with all the things they had fit into their bags, and how useful nearly all of it was.
We rode across the Mississippi River, and perhaps that marked a sense of the second segment of the ride ("after all, we've seen all the land West of the Mississippi"). We then rode through the deserted grounds of the Minnesota State Fair and looked for a bathroom. Finding one, we continued East on a nicely shaded parkway. Eventually, we hooked up to the appropriately named Gateway Trail, which was on their scheduled route. We rode a little to make sure they were going the right direction, and then we stopped next to a golf course and bid farewell. I turned to ride the tailwind home, and we shouted as we rode apart.
Dwite again: For their first day back on the road, they chose a short ride, as far as Osceola, Wisconsin. When Elijah called around eight, they had eaten supper in town, and were on their way to pick out a campsite, about a mile past town.
As they were riding along, Avram said, "I miss the kids." Their brother has three daughters and a son. And Elijah said, "You know something, Uncle Avram?" because that is how their four-year-old nephew talked.
Their mother and father fly to California in the morning.
Avram says they stopped at St. Anthony Abbot Parish in Cumberland and prayed for an hour.
The campground was really pretty, and the deer flies were miserable. They ate at a restaurant that had been empty for two hours, but that got crowded after they came.
Avram says the campground was north of town. There were deer on the lawn when they came. It was right on the lake, and they went swimming. He played pool with Elijah.
Avram says they stopped in Butternut at a church and prayed for an hour.
Elijah says they knocked on the door of St. Anne's in Boulder Junction, and asked the priest where was a place to stay. He said they could stay in the parish hall. It was modern and pleasant, but had no shower. Avram took a sponge bath with a cloth, but Elijah went out in front to the lawn, and found a faucet and a hose. The church is a beautiful tan brick, built in 1959, on the main street. Elijah put on a purple swimsuit and a yellow jersey, and sprayed himself with the hose. When people drove by, they looked at him, and he thought maybe they figured it was a kind of penance, some Catholic mortification to spray oneself with cold water. He started watering the flowers when prople drove by.
Elijah says this was a hard day. They had not slept well in campgrounds, and he was in a bad mood that did not change.
They stayed in the America Inn, and ate pasta in an Italian restaurant that was decorated all in red and black, with Christmas lights. The pasta was good and they were starving.
Elijah telephoned from a motel one and a half miles out of town. They tried three other motels looking for a non-smoking room. They have not been sleeping well in campgrounds.
This morning they got up and rode to mass at St. Cecilia's in Caspian. The place was packed. There was a priest and a deacon, who preached a solid homily on the Good Samaritan, today's reading. They changed into their bicycling clothes in the back of the church after mass, and talked with the usher, an old Italian guy. He thought it was great Avram was a seminarian and asked Elijah, "How about you?" They asked where was a good place to have breakfast, and the man recommended a dining car, where they had waffles and crepes. They didn't see the usher and his wife, but the waitress told them he picked up their tab. Then they came by and shook hands.
Elijah says the days before this day were all the same, riding through trees, with miles to go. Today was different. It was raining after mass, and they rode miles and miles in a downpour. The forest is lush, like at Silver Falls in Oregon. Their shells were soaked. Elijah had two flat tires, and Avram one, but they were not unhappy fixing them -- the rain made it fun, an adventure.
Avram says they rode thirty miles in the downpour, and found a closed gas station with an overhang. In the past few days the scenery has been real pretty, and tranquil, the forests a mix of evergreen and deciduous. The towns are closer, so you don't feel you have to get anywhere -- the towns are every ten miles. Avram sounded very tired. They have decided to take a rest day tomorrow.
Elijah telephoned on his cell phone late at night to say they were past Strongs. The reception was poor (it is AT&T), and his mother talked with him only a short time. Since they are only about thirty miles from Sault Sainte Marie, they will enter Canada tomorrow.
Elijah called on his cell phone in the early evening and left a message. They are camping on a lake twelve miles east of Sault Sainte Marie. They crossed the International Bridge today, went through town and spent some time at a bike shop getting Avram's wheel fixed. The chain had gotten stuck in the wheel two days ago, and several spokes were bent. The shop replaced a number of spokes and trued the wheel.
Elijah telephoned in the evening
From Tobermory, the route will go south through Ontario to Lake Erie and
Niagara Falls. They are actually only one day behind schedule according to the
original plan, that had them arriving in Maine
The last couple of days they have gotten an early start and made good progess. They found a church that had a good priest, and went to confession last night.
For the report, see July 27
For the report, see July 27
For the report, see July 27
The boys' older brother telephoned their mother early this morning
These four days represent excellent progress, as Avram and Elijah were one day behind schedule at Tobermory, and are now three days ahead. This is partly due to a more direct route, but also to early starts and long days.
Avram called and talked to his mother, and then his father, for a long time. The reason they did not telephone home much from Canada, was that "800" numbers did not always work.
They stayed last night in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and went this morning to the view point to see the falls. There was a lot of mist. If they stood right next to the falls, they couldn't see them, and they had to go downstream a ways.
It's great to be out of Canada. Their roads have no shoulders, and the only roads that are good for bicyclists are farm roads that don't have much traffic. The mechanic at the bike shop in Sault Sainte Marie predicted that Canada would be the worst part of their trip. Highway 17, the trans-Canada highway, had a lot of truck traffic and was very difficult. They turned south at Espanola, which Avram says was a really good idea, as the traffic was lighter.
They went to Saturday night mass and confession. The priest and several parishioners took them for coffee after at Tim Horton's, which is a big chain in Canada.
The scenery to the south was really nice. Manitoulin Island had picturesque bays, pine trees and rocky crags. At South Baymouth they waited an hour for the ferry, a big car ferry that was reminiscent of their ferry ride to Ireland from France in 1995. It was foggy, and they could see the sky above and the water below, but could not see the horizon.
They took a rest day at Tobermory. Avram says it was the first summer tourist place of the whole trip. Everywhere on the ride he had been expecting to see tourists, but they didn't. But here were people eating ice cream and going out on boats. The boys went swimming. The food was great.
Today they rode 50 miles; they have about 600 miles left. On Tuesday
The next day
At Niagara Falls there was a Super 8, and they took a room. They complained because it was a smoking room, and the motel upgraded them at no charge to a fine room that had a private jacuzzi.
This morning they followed the route from the bicycling club, and rode on the bike path six miles on the Canadian side of the Niagara River to the Queenston Bridge. Unfortunately the bicycle club didn't know the bridge was under construction and the pedestrian walkway was closed. There was nothing to do but ride six miles back to the Whirlpool Bridge, a narrow old bridge with a ten-mile-an- hour speed limit but no car was on it at the time they crossed anyway. If they had known, they could have saved twelve miles, a serious detour on a bicycle.
They got directions from their brother, who read to them from the map, and they found the bicycle path that runs along the Erie Canal. They will follow the bicycle path along the Erie Canal past Rochester. Their brother is mailing the maps to them, to a town further along. Their father explained that the Erie Canal was used for heavy freight before the railroads were built, and provided a route from New York City by way of the Hudson River, to Lake Erie, avoiding Niagara Falls.
Later their father left a message in Elijah's voice mail to say that the horses towing the barges walked on the towpath along the canal. The passengers sat on a platform on top, enjoying the leisurely mode of travel. He sang the well-known song to inspire them, "We've hauled some barges in our day," and, "Low bridge, everybody down."
American customs at the Whirlpool bridge was a little booth, where the woman shouted at them, "Stop." She asked where they were from, and that was that. At Sault Sainte Marie, they had to go into the office because they wanted their passports stamped.
Avram and Elijah are staying the night on the floor of a caf‚, and Avram is
calling from the caf‚ telephone after hours. There are no hotels or campgrounds, and
the cafe's owners called around but could not find a place for them to stay.
Remarkably the rest room has a shower! The owners showed them how to make
coffee in the morning. The boys had ridden into the evening, thinking they would
have a rest day tomorrow. But when they rolled into town
They rode all day along the Erie Canal, which has pleasure boats on it. At the old wooden locks, there are little parks. They rode on what used to be the towpath, going much faster than the barges went in the old days.
They will have to ride a few miles on their rest day tomorrow, to get to mass, as there is no Catholic church in Red Creek. Their father looked up parishes for them in the Diocese of Syracuse's web site, and found mass times for Hannibal, about ten miles away, and for three churches in Fulton, eight miles further.
Avram called Monday evening (July 30) from West Leyden. They went to
mass Sunday at Holy Family in Fulton at
Fulton is a city of
Today Avram and Elijah rode
Avram said they met four Chinese tourists at Guelph, who were visiting Los Angeles, New York and Guelph, where a friend of theirs had lived. They told him he and Elijah should go back to China, because things are very different now. (The boys lived in China for a year when Avram was ten and Elijah was six.)
Elijah called on his cell phone in the evening. The sun was shining in California, but he said it was dark there, and they were in their tent. They are in a campground just past Blue Mountain Lake. Elijah's call was short, because the cell phone minutes are expensive.
They bought sandwiches at the last place, and sat in the campground on a picnic table looking at the evening sky over a lake. The sun had set, but the sky was reflected in the lake which was perfectly still. They ate their sandwiches and drank their beer, and talked about what they will do with their free days when the ride is over [Editor's note: four or five days from now].
Last night in West Leyden they camped out in the field behind the gas mart. It was pleasant, a grassy patch down the hill, but there were no showers. It was uncomfortable getting into the long underwear for the night feeling sticky. The campground tonight has showers that you put quarters in.
The ride today was surprisingly hilly, with lots of up and down. The climbs were steep but not long, and then they coasted down the other side. Sometimes they coasted all the way up the next hill, but sometimes they had to climb again.
The forest is incredibly green, with trees on both sides of the road. There are lots of ferns, like family camp. [Editor's note: Family camp was in Oregon, east of Salem near Silver Falls.] Elijah described the forests of deciduous trees, speckled in the sunlight, leafy green and yellow as far as you could see.
The Adirondacks are touristy, with small towns with shops for tourists. There are lots of people on vacation.
From the Editor: Avram told me a few days ago that the destination of the ride has been revised. (It's still the Atlantic Ocean! A friend of theirs wrote in an e-mail that "they have decided to move the Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic Circle," but I think we can dismiss that as whimsy.) Damariscotta, the original destination from Adventure Cycling, is on an inlet, and the boys want to dip their bicycle wheels in the ocean. The new destination is on the coast, but as with all destinations not from Adventure Cycling, what the road will be like is not known. Our parish priest, Father Rodney Hall, is from Maine by the way, and he says that when he was a boy, if he or his friends felt like swearing, they would say, "Damariscotta!"
Avram called from a pay phone to wish his father happy birthday. Dad is sixty today. The boys are staying in some kind of budget motel, that does not have telephones in the rooms. They had a quiet day riding here, found the motel, searched for a laundromat, and washed all their laundry. The high point of the evening was a Hungarian restaurant across the street from the laundromat -- the food is actually really good. Avram had stuffed cabbage rolls, and Elijah some kind of pasta.
Elijah talked with his dad also. He had a great dinner of Hungarian food. He is getting a cold, so is exhausted.
Both of the boys are starting to think of what they will do when the ride is over. Elijah can hardly wait to go back to Steubenville.
It is also sad that the ride will be over soon. Yesterday they sat at supper looking at the evening sky, talking about it. Elijah says it's been a lot of fun -- it's a great way to live. It will be sad to go their different ways.
Avram telephoned on August 4 from Cornish, Maine. Tomorrow they will
probably go to mass in Cape Elizabeth at Saint Bartholomew's, and then visit the
Atlantic Ocean for the end of the ride. They will have lunch at the Portland airport
with their cousin Lichen Brown, and hope to be able to rent a car. They need a
company that will rent to a driver
They visited Fort Ticonderoga and took the tour, leaving Ticonderoga at one in
the afternoon. Today they rode
In the morning there was a thunder shower, and the boys did stretches on the
porch of a school for twenty minutes until it stopped. They rode
It is a big tourist area and the weekend, so everything was booked except a hotel
Today was their last climb out of the Appalachians,
Avram and Elijah rode about thirty miles early this morning to Cape Elizabeth. It was hard to get to the water to dip their bicycles in the Atlantic Ocean, and they had to carry their bicycles over rocks. There is no beach and there are no breakers here - the water just goes up and down. Avram said you could practically stand in the ocean, without the waves crashing on you, and without fear of being swept away.
It was a beautiful day. The ride is over. Avram said it feels good, and that they are very tired.
They rode to the Portland airport, to have lunch with their cousin Lichen Brown, her friend Glenn and her mother. Lichen and Glenn are flying back to California after a vacation in Maine. But the boys are going with Aunt Meg to her family's cabin on a lake, to rest. Their plans for the next few days have not been worked out yet.
Thank you for following Avram and Elijah on their ride from Oregon to Maine. To those of you who pray, thank you for your prayers.
[Editor's note: The daily reports of the ride will stop here. I hope to interview Avram and Elijah in the next several days, and post the interview on the web site. I also hope sometime to fill in the missing days above.]
Pilgrim 2001 Home Page
The author and web master is their father Dwite Brown.