We have got another nor’easter coming

I’m sorry for the delay! i’ve had a couple of long, pretty cold, days behind me with no possiblity to update my blog. in the meantime, I’m past Boston already and almost in New-York already. Hereby I present you my story of the last week. Some pictures take ages to load, by the way. Hope it’s a temporary issue.

In the morning, Douglas gave me a sightseeing tour through Portland and he showed me the most beautiful parts of the city. Portland is the biggest city of Maine and the biggest city that I’ve been to so far. It is the first city that’s actually alive despite the winter season, in my opinion. In a bicycle shop, I bought new tubes, because I had another flat tire (again, just before arriving at my destination). After fixing my tube, it was time to say goodbye.

After 70 kilometers, I had another flat tire…. Extremely frustrating. I didn’t feel like fixing it on the side of the road, so I decided to go inside the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (what a mouthful). Over here, I fixed my fourth flat tire. After I just finished, a women arrived in the park for a quick hike, Janssen. It’s a common last name in the Netherlands, but she wasn’t Dutch. She gave me two frozen vegetarian burgers to prepare tonight. Nice! When I went to the public toilet of the park, I noticed how big and clean it was. I decided to sleep over there. It saves me a lot of time: pitching up and breaking down the tent. I felt like a criminal, as the park closes when it’s dark. Luckily, the park was so deserted that nobody spotted me. To reach the toilet, you had to walk through a thick layer of snow, so it wasn’t very surprising to stay unnoticed. Two vega-burgers and some energy bars completed my nutritious dinner.

Technical issues, with a beautiful public toilet in the background 🙂

With a refreshed mind, I started the next day full of energy (and with a new tube). I began my journey towards Salisbury, where I was about to sleep one night at Matthew’s place. After only one hour, I had flat tire number 5. This doesn’t make any sense. I decided to replace both the tube and the tire itself, should’ve done that 3 tubes earlier. The weather and view were astonishing, so that was a good compromise for my technical issues. I was looking for a shop to buy some postcards of Maine when I realized that I wasn’t in Maine anymore. Within 30 kilometers, I cycled via New Hampshire towards Masschusetts.

On the last possible moment, I took a picture of the flag of Maine and the US
Although it was only for a short distance, the boulevard of New Hampshire was beautiful

At the end of the afternoon, I met Matthew in Salisbury. He lives in a small but very cosy apartment near the beach. He introduced me to his girlfriend Monica and her son Ian, they both live in another apartment one floor below Matt. Matt took me out for dinner, together with Monica and Ian. The restaurant was very nice. When we returned at his apartment, a snowstorm started that was even heavier than the one I had a couple of days before. ‘We got another nor’easter coming’, is what they told me. During the night and day, it snowed and stormed heavily. About 1,5 foot of snow came down. Impossible to cycle in. I could stay as long as I wanted, said Matt. Because of the weather, we had a lazy day. A kind of Sunday or a kind of day when you’re sick. School had called Ian, he didn’t need to go to school. Despite the lazy day, we enjoyed ourselves with some games and a short walk on the beach. At the beach, you could see how high the pile of snow was:

Ian and I in the huge pile of snow

Matt, Monica, Ian and I could get along with each other very well and there was still a lot of snow the next day. 1+1 = 2. I stayed another day. I arranged accommodation in Boston today and we went out with the dogs again. I don’t know how Matt and Monica did it, but within the 3 days I know them, they really made me feel at home. I was really sad when I had to leave again, but it was time to move on.

Matt, Ian, dogs Pepper and Vader, and I
Monica and Ian

The route from Salisbury to Boston was not very comfortable, because I had to stop in front of 10000 traffic lights. The 75 kilometers consisted of connected towns. Salisbury, the place I stayed the last couple of days, is considered to be Northern Boston. As if the place I live(d) in the Netherlands, Schagen, is considered to be Northern Amsterdam. Unimaginable! The coming nights, I slept in Cambridge, west of downtown Boston. At my first address, I met Grace. She took me to Harvard University, because I really wanted to visit it. It was deserted because if the spring break. It’s cool to have been there, but it was (in my opnion) not very special. It was a collection of beautiful brick buildings, but nothing more than that. Mainly the output of the university is impressive.

Grace and I

The next day, I met Scott, another address of the warmshower community. I really like the concept of warmshowers, because it is more about sharing rather than your individual possessions. I took Scott out for dinner and we talked about his bicycle tour through the US. Interesting to hear how he experiences some things. In the afternoon, I went to the MIT museum, the Boston tea party boats and just walked the entire day through the city center.

De skyline of Boston

On Saturday, on St. Patricks’ day, I went to the city center early. Throughout the city, people were wearing green clothes because of this holiday. Michel from the Netherlands recommended me to walk the Freedom trail, so that’s what I’ve done. I had booked a guided tour. A guide told us enthusiastically about the history of the city with a lot of information about the American revolution. Very interesting. After the tour, I met Scott again in the city. We were about to go to the USS constitution, but eventually went to the Buner Hill Monument, where we walked all 300 steps to the top to get a nice view over the city.

The skyline, while being part of the skyline

Candy en Scott, with Scott’s bike trip through the US in the background

The coming days, it’s gonna be pretty cold with yet another nor’easter coming. I hope to arrive in New York on the 22nd of March. I’ll probably cheat the last part, as it’s much more convenient to do this by train. Forgive me!


Let us make America great again

Gary and Helen both had appointments on Sunday, so we said goodbye early in the morning. Not much later, I left their house, fully equipped, and went twoards the US border. About 2 minutes cycling… Like 150 feet before the border crossing, I realised that I forgot my helmet. Luckily, I was still able to return. When I got my helmet and returned to the US border for the second time, I parked my bicycle at the CBP office and went inside. A sullen customs officer greeted me and I gave him al my documents. As expected, he asked me a lot of question. I showed him my maps of the American Cycling Association, my vaccionation passport and told him that a lot of people could verify my story. I could see that his co-workers were kind of convinced a.nd made gestures to the man to let me in. He didn’t seem impressed. He asked me how I could support myself financially. I told him about my savings, but couldn’t proof it because there was not wi-fi in the building, and I didn’t bring any printed evidence. Obviously, they’re paranoid for potential hacks. Furthermore, the guy thought that my route was very unclear. It actually is unclear, because I don’t know yet where I’m going to cycle and where I will stay. They sent me back to Canada. I had to bring more evidence about my financial position and think of a more concrete route. Especially the financial thing was very important. Less than an hour later, I returned with some printed evidence. A young women greetedme this time. She looked much more relaxed than the other guy. I showed her my printed evidence of my savings and that was sufficient. They barely checked my baggage. Finally in the US! This has taken me almost half a day, so I couldn’t cycle a lot. I didn’t really care, at least I made it to the states. Obviously, the first thing you do when you enter the United States is going to a McDonald’s to get a hamburger, so that’s what I did. When I started cycling, I immediately noticed that Maine is much more open than New Brunswick or Nova Scotia. There are still a lot of trees, but it looks more spacious. At the end of the afternoon, I pitched up my tent in the middle of a random forest, part of the moosehorn national wildlife refuge.

I had the honor to see this sign three times!
Random Forest

The next day, I was planning to cycle only a short distance to Machias, but the wind was very beneficial so I just had to continue. Eventually, I cycled like of 90 kilometers without a lot of effort, with a couple of nice views of the blueberry fields. I ended up in Cherryfield, at an organic blueberry farm. I met Mark and Lisa here. Because of the winter, it wasn’t really crowded this time of the year. They told me that in the summer, up to 15 people would live in their house. Enthusiastically, they told me about their blueberries. Because there is a surplus of blueberries, a lot of small-scale farms go bankrupt. Only the large-scale companies survive. Mark and Lisa, however, are really successful with their organic blueberries. However, Mark told me he knows that market will be flooded as well. That’s the way that farmers are, he told me. Before the farming life, Mark used to be an academic. He used to develop scientific research projects for which he successfully granted subsidies. He even almost got his doctor’s degree in evolutionary biology, but then realized that this wasn’t the kind of job that suited him. He took a gap year and decided to become a blueberry farmer, together with Lisa, without any knowledge. Lisa showed my where I was going to sleep tonight and I could join them for dinner: wraps! After dinner, they told me about their obsession to live a healthy life. They’re both vegan, go to bed at 8 and go out of bed at 5 for an hour of yoga. Furthermore, they exercise every single day. They’re extremely dedicated! Interesting people. They predominantly have this lifestyle becuase it makes them feel good, but the fact that they don’t have access to good health care insurance was also one of the reasons. That’s very good and sad at the same time…

Mark en Lisa

While Lisa and Mark where already awake for three hours, I eventually wokeup at 8. They had already completed their yoga and they were preparing to run. I had to have breakfast alone, as they had this new experiment where they would only eat between 11 and 5. Don’t ask me why, but it must have something to do with living healthy. We said goodbye to each other and off I went. It’s still pretty strange that I meet all these interesting people for only one day, before I move on and probably never see then again. After 15 minutes of cycling, I got a flat tire. I didn’t matter to me that much, it was sunny and dry. Half an hour later, I was cycling again. I wanted to cycle to Belfast in two days, since it was going to snow pretty badly later this week. I cycled across a lot of Dunking Donut’s and decided to buy a donut at the store. I really had the intention to buy just one donut, but I ended up buying a box of them. Just too tempting… At the end of the afternoon, I asked to pitch up my tent in someone’s backyard. They proposed to sleep in their garage, so that’s what I’ve done. I noticed that there are more differences in Canada and the US than just the view. The garage, bigger than most houses in the Netherlands, were stacked with bulllets. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of bullets. Everywhere were you looked, bullets, it was insane!

The next morning, I heard that a heavy snow storm was starting at the end of the afternoon, so I had the entire day to cycle a very snort distance to Belfast. On the way to Belfast, a guy shouted to me that I should come to have a coffee. He offered me a sandwich and coffee at his gas station. He was impressed about my cycling plans and gave me some advice about potential bicycle routes. 15 minutes later, I left again. I wasn’t surprised about the fact that the maritime museum, that I wanted to visit, was closed. Maine is a vacation state and people have told me that there are a lot of people here that have two houses. One in maine and one in Florida. During the summer, they’re in Maine. In the winter, they’re in Florida. So Maine looks pretty deserted to me with all their closed shops. Luckily, the nature doesn’t have a keyhole.

Before it started to snow, I was already at my Airbnb address. I met Austin and Will, both creative and eccentric people, to name it that way. The smell of weed has become part of the house, you would smell it even when nobody was smoking. In the afternoon, I walked through Belfast. In my opinion, it looked pretty grey and dead, like most places in Maine that have their hibernation. After the snow storm, I decided to make the same walk. What a difference:

In the next two days, I cycled to Portland via Wiscasset. The route mainly consisted of the boring route 1 with a lot of traffic. I’m pretty much done with that. I met Douglasd Darby in Portland, a real cyclist. Ray, a friend of Douglas, joined and we drank a beer together. I was nearly drunk by the couple of Heineken’s. I costed me a lot of effore, but I eventually updated y blog. The next week, I’ll go towards Boston, where I’ll maybe stay for a couple of nights, depending on the weather and the things to see.


Slowly but steadily approaching the US border


After I thanked Charles and Carol for their hospitality and generosity, left Amherst with a bag full of chocolate, pinda’s, energy bars and cookies (I wasn’t allowed to get any skinnier than I was now). I booked an Airbnb in Salisbury. On the way, I bought some additional freeze-dried meals in Moncton that only require you to add some boiled water. After 75 kilometers, my knees started to hurt. Not much later, I had to stop twice as the pain was too hard to handle. Not so good… 110 Kilometers turned out to be a bit too enthousiastic. The accommodation was really cool. It was some kind of tree-house. The new owners of the farm, Kathryn and Paul, told me that it was actually a super-de-luxe cabin for hunters, including a toilet, electricity and warmth. Wi-Fi was the only thing missing, although that had it’s charm as well.

This might have been one of the reasons of my knee pain…
The hunter cabin/tree-house
The owners of the farm, Kathryn and Paul

I didn’t feel like staying here to give me knees some rest, I wanted to get to Saint John as quickly as possible. I decided to split the 120 kilometers distance in two days. With a lowered saddle, I decided to just try it out. Furthermore, I decided not to use the SPD-click pedals. With a frustrating low pace, I eventually pedaled 60 km. I found a nice place to camp in the wild there, near Apohaqui. At night, I could hear the coyote’s howling, a pretty neat sound.

Wild camping near Apohaqui
The bright side of the moon

The next day, I cycled (again slowly), towards Saint-John where I booked an Airbnb. I ended up in the house of a Chines lady. She graduated in Beijing as a web developer and was looking for work in Saint-John for some months now, but hadn’t succeeded so far. I therefore think that Airbnb is an important (althoug small) source of income for her, although she said she predominantly does it to meet new people from other countries. After the common tour through her house, she went to her room and I haven’t seen her afterwards…. Maybe she just didn’t want to mee me, that’s also a possibility of course :-).

For some time now, I have the idea to buy an harmonica as I thought it is a cool idea to buy one here and become an expert along the way. Google Maps showed me where some music shops were and the seller recommended me to buy one of the simplest ones. All I needed as a beginner, he told me.

Me and my brand new instrument, not sure why I took a selfie

When I started cycling, it started to snow pretty badly. This wasn’t really relaxed, as I had to cycle on the highway with all the snow plowers. Luckily, no dangerous situation occurred. One major advantage: I had a tailwind. Because of the tailwind, I could cycle almost 80 kilometers without much effort. I camped in the wild again on an icy surface. I had to use a brick to get my tent pegs in the ground.

Cycling on the highway with snow
Beatiful scenery along the way
Camping in the snow

Because of the 80 km I could cycle yesterday, I only had to cycle like 50 km the next day towards St. Stephen, the city near the border with the US. My knees are getting better a little bit. Despite the fact that it was only 50 km, it felt like it took forever, as if you mentally prepare for the distance you about to pedal. A couple of hundres of meters before my final destination, I got a flat tire. A better timing is almost not possible. I could easily fix the leak in the garage and fixed some other issues as well. In St. Stephen, I met Helen and Gary. Helen works as a home care taker, and Gary as a carpenter. On my rest day, I visited the well-known chocolate factory of Ganong and helped Gary to put a new small window in the bathroom of their second home, so I learned something new today! Although Gary did 90% of the work, I felt really proud of accomplishing it… Gary and Helen invited me over for dinner and I ate some Canadian lobster, something you gotta try when you are in the maratimes. It was extremely nice! If everything goes well, I will cross the US border tomorrow.

Fixing my flat tire in the garage
The new window!
Gary and Helen, in front of Gary’s hero Nick Cave