Friday, July 13, 2001

Day 5: Kingston to Picton

 

The alarm got me up at 06:00. At 06:30 we got up and dressed and drove down to the McDonald's about half a mile down the road, at the main entrance to the military base.

 

We each had full McDonald's breakfasts: Eggs, toast, sausage, hash browns, and coffee. The diet was clearly out the window, but at least the toast was brown toast! Breakfast lasted until 07:30, and then we drove back to the room. I prepared my bike. Sheryl took some photos. Finally she kissed me on my way.

 

It was 08:30 when I left. I rode back over the same streets we had travelled the evening before, making a number of stops to take photos. I stopped at the main entrance to the military base, at the top of the hill leading down towards the river, at the entrance to Fort Henry, and at the entrance to the Royal Military Academy. I then rode across the steel grate bridge into Kingston proper and returned to the waterfront area, where the festival had been the night before. It was now nearly deserted. I checked out the tourist info office briefly, looking for the next cycling map in my series, for mine, the Ontario East Cycling Map, would end just shy of Picton. I had no luck. They had no idea what I was talking about. When I came back outside I saw that the sun was just right on the Courthouse, and on one of the old blockhouses out in the harbour, so I took a pause to take some great pictures.

 

It was 09:15 when I set out from where we had been the night before. I rode around by the waterfront on King Street, which then became Front Street, and I stopped into every waterfront park along the way. There were more blockhouses to take pictures of, and spectacular views of the Lake.

 

Kingston is the major metropolis of the area and is steeped in history, since the days of the French Regime. See 3. Notes on Kingston, in the Supplementary Notes section of day 4, for more information.

 

Soon I was riding by the famous Kingston Penitentiary. It looked imposing. The old stone walls, topped with barbed wire and guard towers, came right up to the street, but stretched back down the hill towards the lake at far as one could see.

 

As the urban environment began to fade away, I found myself cycling along a street that, while still busy, was now out among the marshes. Looking inland across the marshlands I could see the main part of the city following the various highways in that direction. One of these highways, Highway 33, was the one I was destined to take, but it was still a freeway at this point. To lakeward was an opening between two islands through which I could see the open water of Lake Ontario. A fresh island, though, Amherst Island, was closing off that vista. Far up ahead, I could see another busy street, meeting mine at right angles, and cutting off the vast open space of the marshland wilderness. The far side of this street was thickly lined with houses, and the full suburban part of Kingston seemed to resume behind.

 

Looking across the marshes I could see yet another prison, and there were even a few farms remaining within the town.

 

The right angle road was called Day Road and I got there at 10:00. I re-checked my cycling map and found that this was not, as I had thought, the road I would be taking inland to join Hwy 33. The trick was to reach this highway at the point where it ceased to be a freeway, and I had confidence that my Eastern Ontario Cycling map would guide me to that point. (I did not yet have the Mideastern Ontario cycling map, which would give me a detailed map of Kinston.)

 

Past Day Road, Front Street was transformed from a major boulevard and to a quiet, two-laned and tree-lined residential street. Nearly all the traffic had turned right onto Day. Both sides of the street were now lined with older houses.

 

It was 10:10 when I reached Bayridge Road, which the map indicated I should take inland. This was the last road that crossed the peninsula. Front Street would continue forward to end at the Lemoine Point, but traffic inland was barred by the airport.

 

When I turned right onto Bayridge Road, the quiet, older street of old that had been Front Street was replaced, on one side, by modern suburbia with brand new developments, and on the other side by the chain link fence and open fields of Kingston's airport. Past the airport, suburbia closed in on both sides. I climbed up over the spine of the point and came down on the other side into a sort of ravine. There I saw the four-laned Hwy 33 ahead and that Bayridge Road would cross it on a high bridge.

 

I exited Bayridge and dropped down on the approach road for Hwy 33, rounding the parking lot of a supermarket. It was the perfect time to replenish my supplies. I got to the market at 10:20, and would be on my way by 10:40. I dropped $11, buying cheese, fruit, cream cheese, baba genouj, and more ice for my little cooler. I felt I had to take the precaution of taking my paniers off the bike and locking it up. Then I had to figure out how to use the pesky 25 cents shopping cart dispensers they had. When I came back out, I had to jettison half the ice I bought, for all of it would not fit into the cooler. I used the remainder to chill my diet coke, which I drank as I repacked everything.

 

Leaving the supermarket, I went to join the highway with all the traffic. Thankfully, there were wide shoulders. I rode around Collins Bay as the cars raced by at 100+ km/hr.

 

The divided highway ended, mercifully, at the Elmwood town line and as I changed counties, from Frontenac County to Lennox and Addington County. There was a huge arch over the road announcing that it was the entrance to "The Loyalist Parkway". From here on, Highway 33 would be a normal, two-laned road. It was 11:05.

 

The highway leading southwest from Kingston along the Bay of Quinte is laden with history. See 1. Notes on The Loyalist Parkway below, in the Supplementary Notes section, for more information.

 

The first hamlet along the road was Amherstview, so named I guess because one could see for the first time Amherst Island as one rounded the point. For the rest of the day now, I could be riding along this channel, the Bay of Quinte - a channel a mile or so wide which would wind its way inland all the way to Trenton. The channel was full of ships and boats plying their way up and down.

 

It was 11:10 when I made Amherstville. A strong wind was blowing across me from the northwest and was really slowing my progress. An electric sign for boaters at Kingston harbour had announced 30 km/hr winds all day. I surely felt them as I laboured along. I was in my small gear in front all day, except for the few times I would have a slight downhill. Only then could I briefly switch to the middle gear. I even had to keep pedalling on the downhill or the wind would blow me to a stop. I guess the sailboat owners loved it.

 

I stopped briefly at the dock of the Amherst Island Ferry at Millhaven. It was time to place my 12:00 call to Sheryl. She had gotten as far as the Tourist Info booth by Fort Henry, still east of Kingston. I took a break at the ferry dock and had an apple.

 

I rode on then to the rather sizeable town of Bath, where I stopped in the city park from 12:30 to 12:45 and had the rest of my lunch: cheese and grapes.

 

As I set out from Bath, I ran into another cyclist who was all packed up with gear, and who seemed to be the only fool like myself who was heading into the wind. I started up a conversation with him and discovered he had been on the road for 8 days and was also from Montreal. He was a francophone so I found myself sometimes groping for cycling terms in French. He had come down via Ottawa along the Rideau Canal, and had only joined my route at Gananoque. He was camping out as he went along. He told me that cyclist, along with boaters and hikers, are allowed to camp at the canal locks along the Rideau Canal.

 

We rode together for an hour or so, off and on. At one point he bade me farewell to turn right, and inland, for a campground. Then he must have changed his mind and came up behind me silently. He almost slammed into me when I stopped suddenly to take a photo. Later he said goodbye again, in order to ride on ahead at a faster speed. I caught up with him once again, though, at the end of the gravel section. He finally turned away definitively just before Adolphustown.

 

Except for the wind, the road was fine for cycling. Along many stretches it ran right along the shore of the channel. The way was pretty flat for the most part. There were long stretches of open country. At various places one could stop at the numerous parks and get right down to the water's edge.

 

It was at 13:35 when I was at the Highway 21 turn off where my cycling companion was first going to exit. At 14:00 I was passing through the hamlet of Conway. Past Conway began road construction, where the pavement turned to loose gravel.

 

I came to what I called "Three Strikes Hill", as in three strikes against me. Not only was it a long, steep hill, but the wind was blowing in my face, and now the road was gravel. When I first saw the construction sign, it had read "Construction 14km". Fourteen kilometres of gravel was more than I could take! It would have taken me two hours or more. Thankfully, after about 5km, the pavement resumed - nice, new pavement.

 

Over the gravel section I caught up with my companion who had gone ahead. We exchanged some rude comments about the road and then he went on ahead again. When we regained the pavement. I watched him ahead of me for some time, until he finally turned right at Adolphustown.

 

I reached Adolphustown at 15:00 and it was time to call Sheryl once again. She had been into and out of Kingston. She was quickly done with that town, having found it to be too urban. She was now just starting out on the road behind me.

 

My destination for the day was Picton, which I would reach within the hour. I was concerned because it was Friday night and I was in a prime resort area. I was worried that weekenders from Toronto would fill up all the available lodging. This fear would lead me to start looking early for a B&B.

 

I stopped briefly at the tourist information Adolphustown, which was about the only thing there. There were no businesses and just a few houses. The young kid working in the information service did not know very much about the area, but at least I was able to pick up the next cycling map in the series I was using. It was a timely find, for my Eastern Ontario map ended just past Adolphustown. My new map, the Mideastern Ontario cycling map, would accompany me all the way to the midway point between Port Hope and Newcastle.

 

I rode out of Adolphustown on what had now become a tiny road. It dropped from the highlands towards the water and one soon came to a sign that read, "Highway ends 600 metres" I felt sure that Sheryl would get a kick out of that sign!

 

The road ended at the Glenora Ferry, at the pointy end of the peninsula along which I had been travelling. The Bay of Quinte, my watery companion, is a strange body of water. About a mile wide, it snakes its way this way and that, all the way from Kingston to Trenton, and then comes to an end within a mile or so of Lake Ontario again. At the point where I was, the channel of the Bay of Quinte makes a sharp turn northward. In crossing the channel, I would be going onto Quinte's Isle and into Prince Edward County.

 

I had only a short wait for the ferry, which comes every 15 minutes during the day when two of them were operating. As I crossed, I watched the sailboats in the channel being almost blown over by the strong wind against which I had been struggling. My ferry crossing was from 15:30 to 15:45.

 

On the far side, beginning at the hamlet of Glenora, the road was much more hilly. To get to Picton, I would have to ride up and over the ridge, and then in along Picton Bay to its head. The climb began almost immediately at the ferry exit. As I rode through the tiny hamlet of Glenora. I saw some ladies packing up a table sale, so I stopped and asked them if they would be out again the next day, figuring that Sheryl would find their wares interesting. They replied that they would be, so I made a point of mentioning it to Sheryl.

 

It was 16:00 and I had only just started on my way when I passed the first B&B sign, before a house at the top of a steep driveway on a wooded hill. I walked my bike up the hill, past a chained dog which was barking at me. When I got to the door of the house, I found the place deserted. It seemed strange for a B&B to be closed at 16:00 in the afternoon.

 

Continuing on over the ridge, I had a great vista out over all the countryside to the north. Across the Quinte channel the centerpiece was this huge industrial complex, which somewhat ruined the tranquility of the countryside.

 

Suddenly, I came to another B&B sign. I turned off to the right and started dropping down a windy, gravel road. Down, down, down, all the way off the ridge to the water's edge did I ride. Again, when I got to the front door, the place was deserted! I could not understand it. I peeked inside and it seemed very nice - with about 4 rooms and a glassed in sitting room overlooking the bay. There was no sign indicating whether they still had place, or when they would be back. I was angry that I had wasted all that potential energy coming down the hill. Now I would have to climb back up. There were a couple of sections of steep gravel where I even had to dismount and push the bike up. (I had learned the year before that trying to ride up steep gravel was hard on the knees, and not worth it. I had learned to accept no shame in walking the bike up steep hills.)

 

Once back up on the high road, I continued my way on around the mouth of the bay and into Picton. It was 16:45 when I reached the town limits. The road at this point was beginning a long descent, down to where it would reach the water's edge at the head of the bay, and the centre of town.

 

Just a block into town, I spied yet another B&B sign. This time it was in front of this old, stately mansion. I caught the hosts just as they were getting ready to leave. Otherwise, this place too would have been deserted! They had only one room to let, but it was a huge room, right at the front of the house. I took it immediately, and then called Sheryl.

 

She was at the ferry, just behind me, after having been duly surprised when the road had simply ended. We lost our cell connection a couple of times, I guess on account of the ridge between us, and of the navigation equipment on board the ferry. Eventually I was able to pass her the information she needed, and a few minutes later she joined me.

 

We relaxed and I enjoyed a nice, hot bath until around 18:00. Then we drove the half mile or so on into town and past the two block long main street of the old town. Downtwon Picton had the look of a quaint little town, one with a few interesting stores. We continued driving on into the new section of town, scoping out the restaurants. We did not find anything that jumped out at us. Finallywe stopped at a Thrift Store and went in for a few minutes lookaround. Afterward, we drove back to the old downtown and parked for a little walkabout. We spent half an hour in a nice bookstore, one which shared an entrance with a fairly fancy and crowded restaurant. I thought we would end up eating at that restaurant. After the bookstore, we wandered over to the dollar store. We checked out a Chinese Restaurant, but I was afraid it would be hard to keep on my diet there.

 

Picton was the original seat of the Courthouse where Sir John A. MacDonald worked. See 2. Notes on Picton below, in the Supplementary Notes section, for more information.

 

We finally settled on a place called "Alley Cats." The tiny front part of this restaurant was all hip and jazzy. There was a larger back section which one reached through double saloon-type doors, and that section was a country and western bar. Quite a juxtaposition!

 

We had a big salad together and Sheryl had "Mushrooms Gone Wild", with grilled portabello mushrooms and while I had stuffed red peppers. I did not eat the white rice, though.

 

We returned to the B&B for 21:30 and both went pretty well right to sleep.

 

Daily Report

According to a later, detailed study of the kilometrage, based on map readings and my hourly log:

        I travelled a forward (towards my goal) distance of 71 km, for a total cumulative forward distance of 362 km.

        Total distance travelled this day was the same, for a total distance travelled of 378 km.

        I rode for 6 h 25, with an additional 1 h 50 in breaks, for a total of 8 h 15 on the road.

        My average speed was 11 km/hr

[See the Kilometrage Study for details]