Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sowing Peace

Sowing Peace

The sowing peace initiative is my main focus. In “THE ALTERNATIVE” I give an example of a cooperative society as an alternative to war. It seems that we all could do a lot better if we would learn to cooperate.

During my travels I had a few mishaps. The friendliness and help received from small town people was overwhelming. When a bearing fell out of my trailer near Dresden, I got it replaced at no charge. Near Atwood, a man with a motorcycle gave me his last twenty dollars to buy a book. People I had never met before gave me a bed for the night and breakfast in the morning at Molesworth.  At the Listowel Chamber of Commerce visitor information center, the staff was very friendly, gave me the information I needed, charged my tablet and allowed me to use their computer while I waited out the heat of the day.

In the big cities it seems everyone is busy chasing the dollar. Although many are helpful and friendly, this seems to be more prevalent in the smaller municipalities. The atmosphere seems more relaxed and people are more willing to spend time to help out anyone who has a need.

This is the main lesson I learned on my bicycle trip. I also learned that I should not have a schedule to keep. Weather and breakdowns can lead to unexpected delays. I accepted a ride from Tavistock to Guelph as I did not want to miss the anniversary service at the Conn Church. On the return trip I accepted a ride from Tavistock to London because I was not sure I would get home on time for my doctor appointment. It would have been nice to bike the whole way, but strong headwinds caused exhaustion and delay and then the heat made me fear a bout of heat stroke.

I would like to try again but I would need to keep in mind that I will need a lot of rest stops. I am comfortable with 40 – 60 km per day, but if I am bucking a headwind, 40 km is plenty. I don’t mind a little rain, but the sun on a hot day can be deadly.

In the future I may attempt a ride to Ottawa, a distance of about 700km. It would likely take me three weeks.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Home at last

On Friday Afternoon, July 8th I took the wrong bike path out of Listowel and it suddenly ended at Tremaine Ave. I stopped in at Thalen Enterprises were James and Christie Thalen were glad to give me direction. About 2.5km later I was back on the right trail heading towards Atwood.

As I was leaving I began to think I should have had a meal. Although I wasn't hungry, I was not sure when I would next find food. When I got to 75 line, I took a detour into Atwood to look for a restaurant. It was about 5pm and the only restaurant had closed at 3. Does no one eat after 3 in these small places. I was assured that I could get pizza in Milverton if I could get there on time.

Heading East on 72 line I met someone taking a break from their motorcycle. He spent his last $20 to buy a book. There was light drizzle and thunder when I reached Milverton about 8pm. I got a couple of slices of pizza and headed the warning of a passer by and sought shelter in the local car wash. There I ate my pizza and tried to nap as I waited out the rain. It was about 9:30 when it stopped and I considered looking for a place to pitch my tent, but I wanted to get to Tavistock before morning and decided to push on although it would mean reaching my brothers house about 3 am. I continued east on line 61 although it was getting dark. My direction told me to go south for 3km on road 116. I found this was gravel and quite soggy after the rain. I saw a schoolyard and decided to get off the road and nap for a bit. Sleep would not come and after an hour or so, I continued on.

I am not sure what time it was when I reached my brothers house just north of Tavistock, but he had offered to let me sleep on his back porch when I was heading out from London, so, being careful not to wake them, I finally got some sleep.

Later that morning, Saturday July 9, 2016, I was again offered use of the porch while my brother had some business to attend to. I took a tour of Tavistock and got some breakfast about noon. When I returned to my brother's, he had just got home.

My tour of Tavistock made me aware that there was a wind out of the west. I had to contend with so many head winds that I wanted to wait this one out, however I did not know if I would make London on time. I had a doctor appointment on Monday and needed to be home by Sunday night. If the weather cooperated I could easy make it in one day, but what if the head wind persisted?

My brother offered a ride that would solve that problem and, although I disliked the idea of not completing the trip on bicycle, I accepted. Home in mid afternoon, I crawled into bed and slept. All day Sunday I did little else besides sleep and eat. I had not realized how exhausted I was.

It is now Thursday July 14, 2016. I am back in the old routine and longing for the freedom of the road.

Coming up, What did I learn from my trip?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Update continued

The Morning of July 6, 2016 consisted of looking for a bearing for my trailer. After running to several places and having everyone tell me to try the small engine repair place that opened at 9am, I arrived at G & H Small Engines just after 9 am. I introduced myself and let them know what I needed. They showed me some lawnmower wheels that had a similar bearing and I thought if the bearing did not fit I could possibly use the wheels. Harry, one of the owners, bought a book from me and they allowed me to pull my bike and trailer into their shop so I could take the wheel off. I presented them with the wheel and said that I would pay them to put a bearing in it. Half the inner race was now missing and only one ball remained from the original bearing, so only the outer race was left to be removed. This proved to be difficult and they had to grind it out. They knocked the two bearings out of one of the lawnmower wheels and installed one of them in my wheel. Inner and outer diameter was perfect although the bearing was slightly wider than the original. Thus I was unable to install a spring clip that would keep the wheel in place, but a washer sufficed to do that job. The extra bearing was given to me for a spare.

With the trailer all back together I went back into the office to find out what I owed them. "No charge," was their reply. I have much gratitude to G & H Small Engines in Drayton for the help they rendered.

I now ventured to the grocery store to purchase juice for the coming day. Travelling by bike in the heat of summer, I can go through a whole jug in one day, however, all the ice I had from the previous day would be melted, so I asked about purchasing ice to keep my juice cool. "How much do you need?" the friendly owner asked.
"I just have a small cooler," I replied.
There had been some broken bags in the freezer and he went to get some ice. He found they had been thrown out, but a lady suggested opening another. I heard him saying he found one with a whole in it, and moments later he appeared with a grocery bag more than half full of ice. This was enough to comfortable fill my small cooler after I put in the juice, a bottle of water and cheese I had left over from the previous day.

Now it was late morning and I proceeded to Moorefield where my sister had some friends she suggested I visit. I thought it wise to wait out the heat of the day and do some maintenance on my equipment. I arrived shortly after noon and left just before 6pm. Progress from Drayton to Moorefield was slow due to the late morning heat.

Since a hadn't eaten since 6 that morning, I headed for Moorefield's only restaurant. It had closed at 3pm. I bought some pop at the grocery store and headed out. I slight drizzle kept me cool all the way to Palmerston and I made it there by 8pm. I found Small Town Pizza and bought a panzerotti from very friendly staff. When I said I would pitch a tent for the night, she suggested the park across the street. this was right down town and I was afraid a little to public. Another patron suggested another park. I checked it out and found it was worse, so I went back and looked around the downtown park. They had an old train engine sitting near the front entrance and behind it seemed to be the most private spot, so I pitched my tent there.

I slept well but woke up at 4:45 am. By the time I packed up, it was 6am and the convenience store across the way had just opened. I bought pop to supplement the juice from the day before. I then proceeded to the Tim Hortons at the edge of town and got a hot chocolate. The young lady at the cash was sure to get me to write down the web address for my blog so she could follow me.

The morning was cool foggy and there was mist in the air, making the ride damp and cool. It was just warming up when I got to a country store between Molesworth and the graveyard. I bought a cold pop to cool me down and headed for the Molesworth cemetery. I had been there the past year but had been unable to locate one gravestone where my ancestors were buried. Although it was on a web site, I wanted a picture of it to which I owned copyright so I could use it in a family history I am working on. I immediately found the one grave site I had found last year, and with a bit of careful searching I found the other. The mission a success I now had only to return to London.

My Great, Great Grandfather, John McNeish came to Canada about 1852 with 3 children and his wife, Margaret Mitchell. Many of the Mitchells live in Molesworth today and I stopped in to Bob Mitchells to pass the hat part of the day, planning to get to Listowel to camp for the night. About 5, I had worn out my welcome and Bob was hinting that it was time to move on. I proceeded to the stone house that was originally constructed by the McNeishes and took some pictures. then, I proceeded to the farm of Howard and Betty Mitchell.  Betty immediately bought a book from me and asked where I planned to spend the night. When I said I would pitch my tent in Listowel, she noted that they had lots of space on their farm for a tent. I was quite tired and accepted the offer, but she upped that offer to providing a bed and breakfast in the morning.

I had talked to Howard and Betty on the phone a couple of years ago, but that day, July 7, 2016, was the first time we had met. I was overcome by the generosity of this couple but thought that this was what my book was about. If we all adopted a spirit of cooperation and helped each other, everyone would be like this wonderful couple.

As I left the next morning, Friday July 8, I took a picture from their laneway and more at the end of the lane. It was overcast but warm and the trip into Listowel was tiring. After a quick stop at Tim Hortons, my next stop was  the Listowel Chamber of Commerce visitor information center. I sold another book to a staff member and they volunteered to charge my tablet while I went to the newspaper and a Giant Tiger store.

At the Listowel Banner newspaper office, a reported took my picture and I had the second longest interview. (The one in Fergus was longer for the Wellington Advertiser.) The reporter said it would be next week before the story was printed and said he would contact me by email for an update. He also volunteered to send me a pdf version of the actual printed story. This is a real blessing to a lonely traveler. I look forward to the final outcome of this.

Back at the visitor information centre, my tablet was not yet fully charged and it was still mid afternoon. They allowed me to use a computer which is where I made the last post from.

It was still very hot when I left Listowel by the bike trail, but the trail provided a lot of shade which helped a lot, however I took the wrong trail.

To be continued.
(I am now (July 11) home in London and my wife is asking when I am going to get off the computer and go to bed.)

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Quick Update

A quick update.

On July 4, 2016, I checked out the Wellington County Museum in Fergus and had a very long interview at the Wellington Advertiser. I left Fergus early morning on July 5, Just before I got to Alma, I had worn through a tire on the trailer an it sounded like a gunshot when the tube blew out. Luckily I had the two new tires I bought in Guelph, After digging out the tire repair kit that was kept in the bottom of my trailer, I patched the tube and installed the new tire. After checking if it was holding air, I packed up everything and rode on, but the strange clunking noise sounded like a flat tire. Yes, it went down again and I tried a second attempt at patching about 50 ft from where I made the first repair.

Second patch done, I wanted to be sure it was successful, so I sat in my lounge chair for a while before repacking the trailer. I was now holding and I finally got into Alma, bought an ice cream cone and then a pop. Now ready to move on, I looked and the tire was again flat.

The hole in the tube was very big and I originally thought it would be good to use the spare tube I brought with me, but I realized it was a 14 inch while the tires were 16 inch. Therefore I made two attempts to patch the old tube. Now I began to scrape off all the glue from the first two attempts to try a third attempt, but was not at all sure that the tube was salvageable. Maybe the 14 inch would work. I tried it and three days later it is still holding.

Half way between Alma and Drayton I noticed the other wheel on the cart was squealing. Checking it out, the whole axle was turning. The bearing was seized. As I road on I looked for a place I could work on it and perhaps get some grease. Alas, I heard a clunk and the bearing started working again. Releived I thought I could get to Drayton were I hoped to find another bearing. I couple kms later it seized again. I notice a house with a garage behind it. One door was open and it appeared there was a workshop. I went to the door and the lady told me her husband was in the shop and would be glad to help me. I again unloaded the trailer to get the wheel off and get into the bearing. It was very dry and the bearing that remained were bunched up on one side jamming the axle. The inner race had a crack in it and the outer race was chewed up, but with grease and forcing the remaining bearing back in, I got the bearing working fairly smoothly.

As we worked, the lady of the house came out and asked if I would like supper. This was a real blessing to me. She had the meal prepare just about the time her husband and I had the trailer put back together. Her fresh salad made from vegetables from her own garden was delicious, especially with her own home made dressing. I enjoyed the meal and the company very much. I will remember Sam and Grace Martin and the kindness they showed me for much time.

It was about 8:30 pm when I left the Martins and it took me about 1 hour to complete the distance to Drayton. This was the fastest progress I had made thus far. The smooth running bearing may have had something to do with that, or perhaps it was that I was now going down hill more that up and the head wind I faced earlier had subsided. Whatever the reason I got into Drayton at dusk and had time to set up my tent in Centennial Park while I could still see. However as I was rolling into Drayton, I notice that the wheel we had repaired was very sloppy. It was turning freely and I rolled along OK, but it appeared the inner bearing had fallen right out. This was sure to be a problem and I knew I could no continue far without replacing the bearing. I slept uneasily in the tent and woke up about 5 am still worrying about what I would do about the bearing. worst case, I figured I could get to my sister's friends in Moorefield and call her to come and get me. I don't like failure, so I dreaded this option.

Biking around town, I began, early in the morning to look for a place that may have the part I needed. I met a man walking and he inquired what I was doing. I explained my situation and he said that he had some bearing at his shop. I followed him there, but the bearing he had were much too small. He suggested a small engine repair shop, but said it would not open until 9 am

To be continued later. (note that I now, Friday July 8, 2016, am in Listowel at the traveler information center. I hope to make Tavistock tonight and London tomorrow.)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

On the Move Again

On the Move Again

Yesterday, Saturday July 2, 2016, I left Guelph and headed for Fergus. This 31.5 km trip would have taken 1 hour and 45 minutes for a strong biker. I am 64 and not looking to break any speed records. I again faced a strong head wind and I am pulling a trailer with about 200 pounds of equipment. I have banners on the trailer that catch the wind. Thus this easy leg of my journey took 7 hours. I did take plenty of breaks. There were places were trees broke the wind, but there were many steep hills and black flies among the trees. coasting down the hills gave me a break, but pushing the bike and trailer up hill took much effort.

After this strenuous 7 hour journey, I arived at Jesters Fun Factory at 5 pm. just as the store was closing. My sister, who owns the store, informed me that there was a minor crises in Guelph and I was needed to sit with my parents while my other sister went to attend to it. I rode on to her house and parked my bike. Taking what I would need for a day, she gave me a ride back to Guelph. So, after a day of difficult peddaling, I am back in the same room I started out in.

It is now Sunday July 3 and my younger sister has promised to pick me up and take me back to Fergus when she closes her store today. I will likely stay there overnight and do some research at the Wellington County Museum tommorrow before heading to the Egerton Farm.

Due to these delays, I may change some of my original plans. My goal is to go where the Lord leads me, so any plan I have is arbitrary.

I am looking forward to the remaining part of my trip and some easier biking conditions.

Unfortunately I have forgotten to bring the USB cable for my camera, so I am not able to upload pictures. I have many to share when I get back home.

George McNeish

The Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project (FSCPP)