New York State: Fall Colors and Back to the Mountains!

A quick side note before I regale you with photos from the Adirondacks and the beautiful state of New York: WE MADE IT TO THE FINISH LINE!

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I know, I know, you’re wondering when the hell that happened. Why is this post about New York if you terds have already finished?! But you’re just going to have to suffer through it, and eventually, I will tell you all about our victory plunge into the frigid Atlantic!

For now, if you’re up for it, here’s how the trip through New York went down…

Our first day in New York actually started in Canada. We woke up on the north shore of Lake Erie and got an early start so that we could take too many photos at Niagara Falls and also get through customs while still managing to pedal at least 55 miles.

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Shortly after we made it through customs, we found ourselves at an orchard stand selling freshly picked honey crisp apples and home baked goodies from the farm.

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We had gone about 55 miles for the day, it was 5:30, and we still had to figure out where we were camping.  Finding a place to stay for the night is always a chore, sometimes easier, sometimes harder, but always a challenge.  This time we knew it wouldn’t be too hard as long as we made it onto the Erie Canal bike path about 10 miles up the road.  Once we were on it, there would be plenty of options for camping.

It was at this point, apple pie and zucchini bread in hand, that we realized this bike path was the perfect place to accomplish our century day! Most people on a bike tour try to get in a century day, or some crazy people do them all of the time, but we are not that crazy.  Getting onto the Erie Canal bike path would allow us to ride at night safely and the temperatures were supposed to be fairly mild for night riding – in the high 40’s. And so we declared, “100 MILES OR BUST!

We got to Lockport, where the Erie Canal starts, and grabbed a big dinner and a beer (of course) at the local pub.  Leaving the pub, we bundled up and hit the road bike path with lights and reflective gear blazing.

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It was all fun and games until I almost got sprayed by a skunk.

Yep.

It was terrifying.

Here’s what happened:

As Mike and I were riding along I noticed him slow down a bit and saw something furry on the edge of my headlight beam. I thought it was a squirrel (so so wrong).  Luckily, the skunk must have been as startled as I was, because the moment I realized what the furry creature was, he was sidled up against my back wheel, completely disoriented and trying to escape. I started pedaling as hard and fast as I could and was fairly sure I had escaped the spray.

Then I realized Mike was behind me (you know, because he’s so much slower than I am on a bike) and hoped to the heavens he hadn’t been sprayed after I almost ran over the crazed black and white critter.

Well, Mike caught up with me and, miracle of all miracles, neither of us were sprayed. I don’t know how or why, but I also don’t ever need to know. I just know that I don’t ever want to be that close to a skunk again.

Our only other siting on the path was a family of raccoons, who ran across safely 10-15 yards out in front of us, and a buck and his deer family along the side of the trail. They didn’t even notice us until we were gone.

I didn’t think about the fact that we’d have a higher chance of seeing wildlife as we rode at night, although obviously in hind sight, it makes sense. On top of the sightings, we also heard lots of frogs jumping into the canal as we rode by, startling them. In addition, the night stars were out and beautiful, but also hard to look at while trying not to ride your bike into the canal.

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Anyways, the going was a little slow on the crushed limestone path, but by 1 am we made it to a campground in Holley. The odometer read 101 miles.

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We celebrated our century day with a bottle of wine we’d picked up at the duty free store at the border and an apple pie from the farmer’s stand.

The next morning, we slept in until the sun was high in the sky. And the park on the side of the canal was peaceful and the weather was magnificent. We sat on the side of the canal and saw a tugboat chugging along, took in the fall colors and generally lazed about.

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Then we remembered we were supposed to be riding our bikes across the country.

We packed up camp and hit the trail at about 2 in the afternoon.

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We made it ~40 miles and WOW were we starting to see some fall colors on our first full day in New York.

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The canal bike path was such a fun ride.  The towns were right along the path, so getting food and water was a breeze, and we didn’t have to deal with traffic.  Plus, it was scenic as hell.

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That afternoon, we found ourselves racing the sunset, but we couldn’t help but to stop at a brewery we saw along the canal in Pittsford.

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And then we carried on into the sunset…

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The next day we were able to catch up with an old college friend of mine north of the finger lakes. Skrobs and Liz treated us like kings for a day. Most people only eat that well once a year on Thanksgiving.  It was amazing.  And I’m totally kicking myself for not getting a photo with them.  If I was good at photoshop I would sneak them into a funny photo, but I’m not that cool…

After a day of relaxation and home cooked meals, we hit the road and started heading north for upstate New York and our first mountains since we left Montana.

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We were totally spoiled in New York, because shortly after Skrobs and Liz took care of us we were able to stay at a friend’s family cabin at Long Lake in the Adirondacks.  It was foggy and rainy day riding into Long Lake, but gorgeous nonetheless.

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It probably also helped knowing that no matter how wet or cold we got, we’d get to sleep in a warm bed that night!

Their cabin was beautiful and just what we needed after a long day out in the elements.  The views from the front porch…

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The only downside to the cabin was not being able to stay and enjoy the cabin for longer. But we had lobster to get to and two more mountain ranges to conquer!

In two days time, we were closing in on Vermont where we’d get to catch up with the outlaws we’d met back in Montana along with our sheriff friend!

And that’s where I will leave it for New York.

Here are some more beautiful pictures of the Adirondacks.  I’m so glad I really got to experience this part of the country that I never knew I was missing!

The Moose River.

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Fall foliage overload.

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Descending into camp on our last night in New York.

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Waking up in Blue Ridge, NY.

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Up next, The Home Stretch: VT, NH, and ME!

Ontario, Friendly Canadians, and Niagara Falls

In Marine City, a small town northeast of Detroit, we crossed over the St. Clair river into Canada.

We rode to the coast of Lake Erie and then headed due east. Mostly, we were riding through farm country and we saw a lot of beautiful old barns with unique barn quilts hanging on many of them…

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…and then we also saw creepy, old, haunted looking farm houses.

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One fateful night, we ended up just outside of a quaint harbor town without a place to stay. Our accommodation had fallen through at the last minute and it was already dark. Being in Canada, we were without cell phone service, so we asked a gentleman standing nearby if we could borrow his phone. His was back in his townhouse, so he told us to walk on over with him so that we could sort something out.

We met his wife and they told us about the BBQ they’d just finished having. We told them what we were up to and as we were chatting they feed us leftover cheeseburgers and ice cream cake!

In the end, they said we could just set up our tent behind their deck so that we wouldn’t have to ride on the roads at night. As we were about to set up our tent, though, they one upped themselves and invited us to stay in their guest bedroom!

I would almost say, “only in Canada!” but I’ve been shocked constantly on this trip by strangers’ enthusiasm for our journey and desire to help us out. In this case, Doug and Lori really came through for us. Thanks again you guys!

The next morning we rolled into Port Stanley and had a wonderful breakfast at a coffee shop. It was such a charming little town.

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We rode along the Lake Erie coast for 3 days and enjoyed the peaceful, rural views of the lake.

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We went through many port towns as well.

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As we rode through Port Colbourne, we saw the St. Lawrence seaway in action.

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More specifically, we crossed over the Welland Canal, which as a part of the St. Lawrence seaway, allows ships to bypass Nigara Falls as they work their way inland from the Atlantic Ocean or coincidentally from Ohio. The boat that we saw in that photo was actually one that runs salt from the mine I used to work at in Cleveland. Go figure!! Such a small world.

Next stop on the road was Niagara Falls! I’d never been and I was pretty excited that we were going to get to see the Canadian side. We rode down the Niagara River from Lake Erie.

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I was so excited, I made Mike take this photo even though we weren’t really there yet.

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Then we did get there and I took so many photos!

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As we were about to leave, the sun peaked out and I grabbed one last shot!

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Later that day, we crossed back into the US of A and I’ll leave this post there.

I’ll be posting again soon to get this thing caught up for the finish!

-Lindsey

Michigan, Crazy Michigan PART 2

So we left off on the UP. Obviously, up next was the “mitten” of Michigan.

Instead of taking the bridge over Mackinaw Strait, we decided to take what we thought was the scenic route, over to Mackinac Island. We had nooooo idea what we were getting in to.

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They don’t allow cars on the island (although we did spy a dump truck through the woods!!). But for real. No cars. We got off of the ferry and were dumbfounded. It should have been heaven for cyclists, but it was strange. There were tourists on beater, rental, beach cruiser bikes and horse drawn carriages everywhere! Which meant horse poop everywhere!

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Madness. But we took the scenic loop around the island, and it was gorgeous nonetheless. The island as a whole wasn’t really our cup of tea, a little too touristy. We’re glad we got to see it, though! You’ve got to try everything once of course.

Here’s a video of the main drag on the island.

A throw back to one of the most memorable days on our bicycles! Mackinac Island. The land of no cars.

A post shared by Mike and Lindsey (@mikeandlindseyontheroad) on

Once we made it off the island and into the mitten the surprises kept on coming.  In 2 days, we were riding along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan past yacht clubs and turquoise blue bays! Didn’t have a clue!

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Just as soon as we got used to the views and impeccable bike paths of the affluent eastern shore of Lake Michigan, we cut east and were right back in farm country!

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One fateful day in central Michigan, Mike’s bike rack decided to throw another fit. The arm attaching the rack to the bike just buckled under the weight.

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Mike bandaged the damage up with duct tape and zip ties on the side of the road, as you can see in the photo, until we could make it to a bike shop the next day. There, surprisingly, everyone decided that it would hold and we didn’t really even need a new rack! Yep. You read that right. And believe it or not I’m writing this in Maine and the duct tape and zip ties are still getting the job done!

As we finished off Michigan, headed for the Canadian border once again,  we had the pleasure of staying with Lori, who puts up traveling cyclists at her lovely farm in eastern Michigan.

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I got my puppy love fix with her fabulously cuddly and friendly mastiff, Pete.

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It was great to get to finally get to see Michigan on such an amazing trip and check off my 50th state in epic style.

-Lindsey

Michigan, Crazy Michigan PART 1

Michigan was one of the states we were looking forward to the most. It was a lot of hype to live up to and it had a tough act to follow behind Wisconsin!

First of all,  I have to say that I was pretty excited to enter Michigan because I have now been to ALL 50 STATES!!

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I traveled a lot with my dad growing up and we set out these rules:

1. Airports do not count.
2. To count a state you have to eat a meal there.

That’s it. 🙂 And now I can say that I’ve done it!

Anyways.

Here is PART 1 of Michigan. The Upper Peninsula.

The UP was beautiful, but on the route we took, seemed quite depressed. Many towns and roadside motels looked like they’d been hit hard by the economic downturn, and more places had “FOR SALE” signs out than didn’t.

On the other hand, none of that really mattered to us. It was beautiful riding along the north shore of Lake Michigan and the weather was spectacular!

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Even when weren’t looking at the lakeshore, the views weren’t hard on the eye.

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Sunrises and sunsets on the lake were spectacular…

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The food was spectacular as well.

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Maybe I should have named this post, The Spectacular UP…

Ah, well. We had a ball.

Thanks, yoopers! We’ll have to come back to check Lake Superior off of our list next time!

A Love Letter Continued…

So when I left off in my last post, I had failed to complete my Love Letter to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was just as great as Minnesota and maybe even better due to the uptick in craft beer finds :)!

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Our first night in Wisconsin, there was a lot of rain forecasted and as we were donning our rain jackets a guy pulled over and offered us a spot to camp in his yard.  We took him up on it to save a few dollars on camping.  It rained all night, and in the morning Jason and his wife invited us in for coffee to hopefully wait out the rest of the rain. It never did stop, so when we finally decided we were just going to have to go for it, we were grateful to use his garage to finish packing and put on our rain gear. Thanks again Jason!!

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That night was a highlight of the Wisconsin leg of the trip. After starting the day in the downpour leaving Jason’s house, we took refuge in a small cafe about 12 miles down the road.

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According to the locals that we met there, it actually rained about 2-3 inches on us that day!!

Luckily, the storm passed and as the afternoon continued, we started to dry out. Riding into Hayward, we still had no idea where we were going to sleep. We were considering getting a hotel room, but on a whim, Mike called the police station to ask about getting permission to throw up our tent in the city park. The police told us they could do better than that and gave us directions to a canoe launch in town where we could camp! Riverside camping?? Score!

As we were nearing the canoe launch, we spied a bar with a BBQ pit out front. It smelled incredible. After we got the tent set up, we made a beeline back to the bar. To warm up after a rainy day, a beer and a hot dinner that I didn’t have to cook at camp was really the only logical option.

The BBQ did not disappoint and of course, we tried the local brew, New Glarus Spotted Cow. It was such a great ending to a brutal day pedaling in the rain.

The next morning we caught this beautiful sunrise on the Namekagon River at the canoe launch.

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We watched as the sun burned off the morning fog hanging over the river.

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The scenery riding through Wisconsin was beautiful.

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We got to enjoy a few more bike paths.  This one from Mantiwosh Waters to Boulder Junction was so well manicured, it was reminiscent of a golf cart path!

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I took so many photos riding along through the trees because I couldn’t get over how green it was.

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This lunch spot was both enjoyable and picturesque, but also sad. I’d been hoping to catch a fall festival along our route, but it just wasn’t in the stars. We always seemed to be a day early or a day late. Seemingly, we only missed this one by about 12 hours since no one had been by yet to start cleaning up or tearing down after the festivities.

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Our last night in Wisconsin, we camped at Star Lake.  We grabbed an assortment of New Glarus and other beers and enjoyed them on the lake.

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It was a fitting farewell to one of our favorite states on the trip. 

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It’s ridiculous, but right now we’re in upstate New York, only 10 days from finishing! I’m going to try my hardest to get these posts caught up!

On a different note, thank you so much to all of you who have donated on our GoFundMe page!  We’re about to hit a lot of cold, wet weather, so we will be cashing in those chips for some warm nights in hotel rooms!

A Love Letter to Minnesota and Wisconsin

Minnesota and Wisconsin were in such stark contrast to eastern Montana and western North Dakota!! So green! So populated! Lake country! It was a relief to go through more than one town a day, and ride along their beautiful, treed bike paths. Then fall brought gorgeous weather and riding temps!!

In Minnesota, we saw a bit more  ranching and I had to pull over and take a photo of all of these horses and their foals. So adorable.

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As the number of lakes really started to pick up, we saw all kinds of birds and ducks. We even saw a pelican (didn’t expect that in a land locked state), but I couldn’t get the camera out in time. This was the best photo I could get of some swans even though we saw quite a few of them.

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Cruising through Minnesota, we headed pretty far north to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park. It also happened to be pretty dang close to our half way point of the trip, so we counted it!

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What a silly, tiny stream to be the Mississippi River, huh?

From Itasca, we started trending south and caught the amazing Paul Bunyon State Trail.

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We had the pleasure of riding on this trail for over 100 miles.

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We came across charming lakeside towns almost every 20 miles.

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When the weekend came and we were still on the trail, we got to stop at a Saturday market that was pretty much set up on the trail.

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I was elated when I found local maple syrup in a plastic jug! The plastic container was key, since it weighs much less than the typical glass receptacle.

I also found homemade, fleece lined, wool mittens. Since the weather was getting cold (and I lost my favorite pair of mittens last year) I couldn’t have been happier!

I made good use of both purchases the next morning.

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As we continued through Minnesota, we had to stop in a small town called Walker for our last post office drop. We grabbed our last set of maps and sent home anything we weren’t going to need for the rest of the trip.

We were going to Subway for a quick, cheap lunch and instead happened upon this little BBQ joint.

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Mike, having gone to college less than an hour away from Memphis can be a huge BBQ snob, but The Piggy even passed his test! The owners were incredibly friendly and wanted to know all about our trip, because the husband had wanted to do something similar for a long time. Thanks for a killer lunch stop guys!

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Since we were on the Paul Bunyon State Trail for so long, this photo op seemed like must :).

Anyways, before we continued into Wisconsin, we had an amazing night at the Cyclist Bunkhouse.

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After a chance meeting with two traveling cyclists, Donn started putting up people like us in the family farm’s old dairy cow barn. It’s evolved into the cyclist bunkhouse, where weary travelers can get some rest under a roof and sit on a couch to enjoy some R&R if they so choose.

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Click on the link in the text above to see our brief blog post mention of Donn and a video that another cyclist made about the bunkhouse!

I’m going to leave this post at that because it already feels too long and I want to do Wisconsin justice, doncha know??

…to be continued…

-Lindsey

7 Days in North Dakota

We made it through North Dakota in 7 days.

We were in Montana for 18 DAYS! That was 20% of our 90 day trip!

Anyways, math lesson aside, it felt like it passed in the blink of an eye, and nothing crazy happened in North Dakota. No wildfires, no pink hanker chief wearing sheriffs, and it only took 7 days ;).

Here are a few highlights though.

Dickinson, ND:
We got our first hotel room of the trip!

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It was a long push and we checked in as the sun was going down. We ordered pizza, picked up a six pack, and lived like kings for a night.

Richardton, ND:
I took my first spill.

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I was freaking trying to put chapstick on. So unnecessary. And I was only going 2 mph. But I was too stubborn to just stop and put it on.

I got a good goose egg on my shin, but as luck had it there was a tiny town a mile down the road and I stopped into the bar to fill up a bag with ice and secured it to my leg with an ace bandage!

Crisis averted.

World’s Largest Holstein:

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Yep.

Dinosaurs on the Prairie:
Some farmers museum-worthy collection of old farm equipment out in the plains of North Dakota.

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Made for an interesting pit stop, and a cool photo, I must say!

Agriculture…

There is obviously a lot of open land and agriculture. Here are some pretty pictures.

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Most Patriotic Farmer Award:
We have no idea what was going on here, but it was on Labor Day in eastern North Dakota.

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Our First Bike Breakdown:
Pretty much in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota, one of the bolts holding Mike’s back rack on decided it had had enough and sheared off.

Alas, our first legitimate equipment failure…

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Luckily, Mike was able to jury rig it back together until we could make it into Fargo the next day and visit a bike shop.

Fargo, ND:
The most unexpectedly cool town ever.

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All I knew about this town was that a creepy story made into a movie was set here. 

The shame!

The bike shop was our favorite since Portland. Mike said that this is hands down the best bike shop of the trip. While the guys were fixing up Mike’s bike, we enjoyed a great local beer and burger for lunch.

Other miscellaneous shots from North Dakota that didn’t fall into any of those categories…

I don’t remember the last time I saw a Monarch butterfly, but we’ve seen many on our ride.

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Waking up to stormy skies in New Salem.

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Lake country in North Dakota?!

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A pretty panorama of some weather rolling in.

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Planning out what the day will entail.

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And that’s my overdue post on North Dakota!! 

We’re heading into the upper peninsula of Michigan the day after tomorrow and we’ve already started to see some vibrant fall colors in the trees!

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