RA73: O Canada!

Sandusky OH to Kingsville Ontario – 11.7 miles

Feed trough breakfast this morning at the Econolodge.  It is always a sight to see significantly overweight people piling their plates high with sugared doughnuts and cinnamon rolls, like it will all be taken away any minute.  I had four bowls of raisin bran (like they were going to take it away any minute).

A roll to CVS for snacks, etc.  Jack had to play sentry for the bikes since a resident had told us that thefts were common here.  A roll to the bike shop where Jack considered buying a new tire to replace his rear one, but they didn’t have anything that thrilled him.  A roll downtown to Daly’s Bar & Grill, where we met Jesse for lunch.  We had an enthusiastic waitress and a waterfront table.  Dessert at Joe Sundae, an old fashioned ice cream parlor across from the bike shop.  They make a good milkshake with real ice cream.  A return trip to CVS for some reading material.  An aborted visit to a Merry-Go-Round museum.

Daly's Bar & Grill in Sandusky OH

And a final roll down to the city pier.  It was interesting to see quite a few cyclists preparing to board the ferry, including a few additional panniered touring cyclists.  The ferry departed at 3:30PM and took us to Pelee Island, about halfway across Lake Erie going north, technically across the international border and into Ontario Canada.  [For you purists out there, this ferry ride does NOT improve our eastward progress and therefore  does not assist us in our mission to go coast-to-coast.]

A meeting of cyclists on the Sandusky town pier

The water on Lake Erie today was very smooth, with perfect breezes blowing.  The route took us fairly close to Cedar Point Park and gave us a final view of the coasters from the water.   On the way we talked with quite a few passengers and the touring cyclists about travels – it was a lot of fun.  For reference, our boat was called the Pelee Islander, a surprisingly small boat taking very few vehicles.  Cost: about $20 – part of this is an additional fee for the bikes.

Sandusky OH from the ferry stern
Jack and I chatted a lot with Dave, a touring cyclist

On Pelee Island we passed through Canadian customs and then had about 2 hours to wait for another ferry.   Jack and Jesse said they did not wish to ride anywhere, so I told them I’d meet them around 7PM at the ticket booth, then jumped on the bike and headed south, intending to circle the island at least partially.  Within the first mile I ran into the Pelee Island Winery, turned back, stopped, and rolled onto the grounds.  People were milling all around the grounds holding glasses.  Hmm…

Tasting bar at the Pelee Island Winery

I settled on Rieslings as my theme, since sugars are what it seems I’m always craving.  I tasted three different Rieslings, each one sweeter than the next.  I actually preferred the one with the least sugar and then bought a glass, and then another.  One of the ferry passengers joined me and soon we were seated outside in the perfect weather overlooking the grape vines discussing life in his home town (Cleveland).  Does it get any better than this?   6:50PM rolled around I thought, heck, I’ll have another glass – this is too perfect.  The ferry doesn’t leave until 8:00PM so if I get there by 7:30PM it ought to be plenty of time.

Pathway to Pelee Island Winery

By 7:30PM I arrived back at the Pelee dock.  Neither Jack or Jesse were to be found.  I decided to wait 10 minutes, but still no Jack or Jesse.

7:40PM I look at the ferry and notice a bunch of passengers already on board, hanging over the top edge.   Well, I thought, they must be on board, and they didn’t call me because maybe our cellphones don’t work out here.  So, I buy a single ticket, roll onboard, and only then when I go to stow my bike do I realize I did not see their bikes.

7:46PM I climb up top, still thinking they might be somewhere onboard, but see no sight of them.  Now unable to leave the boat, I start scanning the pier and street for any sign of them.  What if I depart without them?  Maybe I should jump off the boat?  Finally, I decide to try the cellphone – this is getting to be an emergency.  Jack answers and says, “We’re about 3 minutes away.”  I explain that I‘m already onboard and had paid only for myself.

7:52PM I hear other passengers start murmuring, “Look at those guys.  They’re not going to make it.”   In the distance, I see two tiny but familiar bicycles chugging down the shore road.  About a dozen passengers take notice and start up a running dialog – “This is going to be close…”

7:55PM Jack and Jesse roll onto the loading ramp to a few laughing cheers.  The ramp IMMEDIATELY raises up behind them.  Emergency averted.

Scene from the top deck - will they make it?
By the skin of their teeth...

Explanation: I could try one here, but it would probably be much better if you just go to Jesse’s or Jack’s blogs and hear it from the horses’ mouths.

The ride to Kingston Ontario was, in a word, FABULOUS.  The boat, called the Jiimaan, is a big and beautiful one, and actually costs less too ($11 with bike).  Add in smooth beautiful waters.  Perfect temperature winds.  Seagulls circling overhead.  Vibrant sunset.  Mug of cold beer.  We passed most of the two hour trip meditating on the top deck railing, taking photos, and occasionally talking it up with other passengers.

Perfect breezes and viewing from the top deck of the Jiimaan
View of the Jiimaan heading north to the Canadian mainland
Moon over Lake Erie, looking south

We hit the streets of Kingston about 10:30PM and then had the chore of finding our motel.  With front and rear lights blinking and Jack navigating  we rode through the dark streets, stopping occasionally to check our bearings.  The ride took us through the downtown area and briefly out onto a highway where our motel finally came into view.  Yes!

The Kingsville Ontario pier welcomes us about 10:15PM

About 12 miles today just rolling around Sandusky and Pelee Island.   A GREAT day doing the ferry rides, and spending time at the Pelee Island Winery.  A REMARKABLE day for landing on the good side of a potential problem.