Packing up the bike to ship it to Buffalo

Originally, I was going to drive up and back to Buffalo and take the bike with me. Plans changed and I decided to fly which meant shipping the bike to and from Buffalo, and getting a bunk at a hostel for the day I arrive and the night before I leave to go back home. I decided to use Bikeflights to arrange the shipping. I bought their purpose built bike box to ship the bike in.
They have great videos which show how to put the box together – took me less than half an hour.
Then even more videos which show how to take the bike apart and pack it – this is the frame with padding added to protect it. The Bikeflights box also has mounting holes in it and custom bungies to secure the bike parts to the box so they don’t move around during shipping.
The wheels and tires are pretty big. I really needed to unmount the brake discs before shipping, but none of my hex tools fit the bolts. I even went to Lowes and bought two sets, and none of those fit either.
It all fit in the box – just barely!
Here is the box closed up with the bike in it – all ready to ship! Took it to the local UPS Store this morning – it should be in Buffalo by the 28th. I had it shipped to the local bike shop up there, and they will unbox it , put it back together, and then tune it for the ride. I will pick it up hopefully on my arrival in Buffalo on the 5th of July.

The New Bike

Originally I was going to take my mountain bike on this ride, but after riding it longer distances, decided that another bike would be better for this ride, which is part road and part gravel. After some research, I found this ‘new’ category of bicycle called gravel bikes, which are supposedly a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. I found this Salsa flat-bar bike online from REI, and ordered it. Here I am picking it up at the REI in Winter Park.
Really enjoyable drive, except for the love bugs – got to see parts of Orlando and Winter Park I had frequented when I lived there, to pick up the new bike.
Just about to put it in the car and make the drive back home – it is relatively light, so much easier to load than my mountain bike.
Got the bike home and have already added an underseat bag with 2 water bottle holders. I really like this bike!

Cycle the Erie Canal 2019

Since I did not complete the Great Loop this year, stopping in Norfolk and trailering the boat home, I decided that I did not want to miss the Erie Canal, so I signed up to do the Cycle the Erie Canal 2019 bike ride. It is a 400 mile ride over 8 days from Buffalo to Albany on trails and roads right next to the Erie Canal. I am going a day early to do an optional pre-ride from Buffalo to Niagra Falls and back before the ride starts on July 8. When the ride is complete, I will take the shuttle that brings me and my bike back to Buffalo so I can fly home.

This says 2015, but I will be riding this year – 2019!

Taking the truck and trailer to Norfolk, returning with Adagio on the trailer…

South of the Border – the iconic plaza just south of the North/South Carolina border, on the way to Norfolk with the trailer.
Adagio waited patiently at the dock for me to come get her…
Heading toward the boat ramp where I left the truck and trailer – got there after 12.5 hours of driving starting at 3:30 in the morning (I95 was closed by an accident just before my turn to Norfolk, and then another road on the way there closed from another accident). Took and Uber back to the Waterside Marina where Adagio was.
I drove the truck and trailer over that huge bridge – a little scary, but I actually intend to take the boat on the trailer across it later as well…
The road to the bridge goes directly behind and then next to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Just about to go under the railroad bridge – glad it wasn’t closed.
The boat ramp is over there – just past the bridge in a nice park, just a 20 minute boat ride from the marina.
Adagio at the boat ramp dock, and I have backed the trailer in at the ramp to load the boat on it.
The truck – did a great job towing the boat home, but only averaged 10.2 mpg.
And there is the bridge I towed the boat over – 35 mph speed limit, and good thing because it took a lot of power to get the whole rig to the other side. So, after the 12.5 hour drive to get here, and about an hour getting the boat loaded and prepped for towing, I drove another 2.5 hours to get to a rest stop on I95 in North Carolina. Woke up at 5:30 the next morning and drove another 11.5 hours to get the boat home – a looooong couple of days, but glad to have me and the boat back home!

Norfolk to Melbourne (by air)

Looking across the river from Riverside Marina towards Hospital Point in Norfolk, a great place to anchor. I see that the Edel Cat 43 Catamaran Sailboat is anchored over there now.
Sunrise over the Riverside Marina from Adagio. Minutes after this I was on my way to the airport using Uber. Flew Delta from Norfolk to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to Melbourne – nice flights.
Mom picked my up at the airport, and soon after I got home I took the truck to Grant to get my trailer for Adagio. Here it is in the front yard in Satellite Beach ready to leave at 4 AM tomorrow morning to head back to Norfolk.

Elizabeth City to Norfolk via the Dismal Swamp Canal

Today was the best day in over a week – going out with a bang, lots of pictures. A very good day, one to remember.
So many opportunities for good pictures – dead calm and great scenery…
If only every day of this trip was like this…
Turns out this will my last day on this year’s trip – decided the boat needs some things it doesn’t have for a single-handed voyage. Making the most of it – doing the Dismal Swamp, which I did not do last year when I brought Catitude home…
Looks like a dead end, but there is a turn there – onward to the Dismal Swamp…
Now on the Dismal Swamp Canal – looks like infinity, but it is 11 miles of this before a 20 to 30 degree turn and then 11 more miles…
Two locks in today’s voyage – needed to make the first opening at 8:30 AM, about 15 miles from the marina I stayed at, so left early this morning – waiting for the opening here.
Only two of us going North for the first opening today – going in after the gate opened. We will be raised up to where the dark stain stops.
Turns out this boat is easy for me to handle in the locks by myself – here at the bottom…
Now at the top…
Part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails.
A bridge in front of us whose opening is coordinated with the lock opening – the lock master is actually the bridge tender as well – he is in the silver van driving from the lock to the bridge…
A little traffic at the bridge – there is a South-bound boat coming through while the two of us are heading North.
Following the much bigger boat (40 feet) in front of me – if there is something to hit, he will hit it first.
The mile markers tell us how for from Norfolk we are (mile zero).
Coming up on the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center – a very popular stop along the way. Most of the boats behind me are staying here for the night. There is a swing bridge for pedestrian traffic across the canal, which opens for passing boats – just opened for us.
They don’t want people speeding up and down the canal (erosion and other damage), so there is sort of a forced speed limit. The locks at each end only open every 2.5 hours – and you can’t make it between the two in 2.5 hours (22 miles), so there is actually 5 hours available to go the 22 miles. So, I took advantage of that and stopped at the visitor center…
Nice relaxing place to stop and stretch the legs.
The visitor center – also a stop for cars along the local highway.
Very hospitable place – they registered my boat and gave me a lot of local information.
Leaving the visitor center to make the far end lock opening.
Now following a sailboat with 5.5 foot draft – anywhere the go successfully, I will be able to go.
We are now entering Virginia – so happy, North Carolina has not been good to me.
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Finally the bend in the Dismal Swamp Canal – only 11 miles to go!
You can see the bend on the charts.
There is a dredge ahead of us – the operator has not been lowering the hose far enough and several boats have hit it, one bending one of his props.
The sailboat is going past the dredge now – so far so good…
It appears that we successfully passed the dredging area – but wait, the sailboat just a few hundred feet from here came to a sudden stop after hitting his hose further down, as I went around them I hit it too. Turns out they had some damage – lost their speed sensor, while I had none – but I am now in front of them.
An old abandoned railway crossing – nobody in front of me for miles.
Believe it or not, there is actually a boat ramp in there somewhere.
A fire truck was practicing spraying from their high pressure hose over the canal and stopped just as I got there.
There is a bridge associated with the last lock, once again operated by one person. The bridge does not open until 1:30, so they supply a spot to tie up to wait – here I am tied up to the big boat that was originally in front of me, and the sailboat has a spot to tie up behind us.
The bridge only has four feet clearance, so I can’t get under it – but, there are several restaurants in this area, so I took time to go get some food…
Sure enough at 1:30, the lock master opened the bridge for us – I had the other two boats go first, since they are both faster than me and would pass me later anyway.
The lock master has just closed the lock gate behind us…
At this top of this lock…
Now at the bottom – time to head to Norfolk. I’m really glad I did the Dismal Swamp – kind of boring, but beautiful!
Heading out of the lock.
A really tall bridge – the board read 145 feet.
Norfolk Naval Shipyard – 1767.
Lots of work going on with Naval ships at BAE.
Ships in the water and dry-dock.
Better shot of the dry-dock, that ship really has a slim hull!
Coming in to Waterside Marina where I am staying tonight. Pretty much right downtown.
Nice safe spot to leave the boat while I fly home, get the truck and trailer, then come back and get the boat on the trailer.
Went to the Norfolk Maritime Museum – awesome!
And look, you can stay overnight on the Battleship Wisconsin!
And there is the Battleship Wisconsin.
Inside the museum now – huge place, three stories.
The view of Norfolk on the water from the re-created bridge of a decommissioned naval warship.
Part of the actual bridge of the naval warship.
Most of the rest of it.
The rear guns on Battleship Wisconsin.
They are creating an eco-port for container ships here.
The ‘brain’ of a communication/fire control station from an old naval warship.
Hard to read, but Americas first metal battleship – built in Norfolk in 1895.
The shell from the Wisconsin’s guns weight the same as a Beetle.
Wisconsin’s front guns.
A local IPA from the Taproom.
Norfolk Taproom
Some good sayings at the Hell’s Kitchen bar in downtown Norfolk.
Hard to see, but my IPA, me and the Hell’s Kitchen sign in the window.
Hell’s Kitchen
Customs House
World Trade Center
Norfolk Waterfront
My view of the naval shipyards from the boat.
My route today.

Alligator River Marina, across the Albemarle Sound, to Elizabeth City

Left this morning at 5:30 to try to get across the Albemarle (20 miles across, which takes me over 3 hours) before the wind came up. This is my first view of the day – conditions are not bad – blowing about 10 mph, when the weather says zero (calm).
I can see better now, to be able to see the markers and avoid the numerous crab traps…
Sunrise is getting better, wind conditions a little worse.
The sun is coming up over the horizon – I hope these conditions last my whole way across, about 18 miles to go at this point before I get to sheltered water.
The wind is coming up and conditions are getting worse, the boat is rolling so much I have to stand and hold on – stuff is already on the floor. But, my destination, the sheltered point coming up is in view.
Its blowing about 14 here, when it wasn’t supposed to be over 10 for the whole day – and it is only just after 7 in the morning at this point – good thing I left at 5:30!
This is before the worst of it – still over an hour to go – during that hour I couldn’t even hold the camera, had to hold on with both hands to not get thrown off my feet.
Across the Albmarle Sound and into more sheltered water now – whew! That large building was used in WW II to make and maintain military blimps. It is now a private military contractor make blimps for surveillance and communications purposes.
Just passed Elizabeth City and went under their bridge – continuing on to a Marina further up the Intracoastal. Originally I had planned to stay at the Elizabeth City free docks, but when I saw that there was a bridge I had to go under, and the chart said the height was two feet, I felt I had to make the marina reservation and get through the bridge today. As I approached the bridge I was that it was not 2 feet – so I called the bridgetender and asked what the clearance was. He told me 12 feet, but as I got there to go under, I saw that the board said it was only seven feet! Luckily is was more like 10 feet, so I made it under.
Coming into the channel to Lamb’s Marina. I decided to stay here because I need to get to the lock another 15 miles up the way by its first opening at 8:30 AM, and I was worried that the previous bridge would not open for me that early (of course I found out I could get under it anyway…).
A nice marina – a lot of liveaboards and I’ve heard it is a great Hurricane hole. Adagio happily at the dock, with free power.
The marina is also a gas station on the local highway – unfortunately, the restaurant was closed. A lot of us here were looking forward to going there. Later I rode my folding bike back into Elizabeth City to see my friends who were staying at the free docks and tour the town – the road is definitely not bike friendly!
The were remodeling the office and store, which is why the restaurant was closed.
These are my friends on A River Derci (you can see the name on the dinghy). Been travelling off and on with them since Beaufort NC.
The front street of Elizabeth City – the free docks are a little was down the road.
Elizabeth City has been welcoming Great Loopers for a long time – the roses come into play in a moment, everyone who landed at the free docks today was handed a rose as they got off their boats.
These are my Great Loop friends at the free docks – Bella Gatto in the middle.
The stone monument that explains the roses – the Rose Buddies.
The local brewery – in an alley paved with bricks. Unfortunately, it was close – but, at the next bar I went to with the guys from Bella Gatto, they had some of the brewery beer on tap. I mixed the two they had and really enjoyed it – then got to meet the brewery owner and he though it was pretty cool that I had done that.
The brick pavers in the brewery alley.
Went to this amazing free museum in the town.
The museum takes up most of that huge two story building – very friendly people, and as the next photos show, great presentation of the local phases of history in the area.
Full size shad boat hanging over the lobby.
“The South part of Virginia now the North part of Carolina”.
An original 1700s home moved and put up in this museum…
The origins of the Dismal Swamp Canal, which I will traverse tomorrow.
An original fire engine.
And an old farm tractor – I figured my friend Grant would like this…
A roving playhouse, moving up and down the rivers town to town.
Elizabeth City waterfront – I really like this town.
Happy Hour with the Loopers here at Lamb’s Marina.
My route today – tomorrow the Dismal Swamp and Norfolk.

Belhaven to Alligator River Marina

First view of the morning – left Belhaven at 5:30AM hoping to beat the weather – weather guys got it wrong again today, it was already rough, supposed to be 6mph.
Got to the protected part of today’s journey – just got passed by Done Diggin, the large Lagoon power cat. Started off at 55 degrees this morning, and stayed that way until 10AM – the high for the day was 61.
I thought the Neuse was bad – this was worse. Almost turned back about a third of the way up the Alligator River. Some of the waves were so big that the boat launched off them and about half of the boat was out of the water before it came back down – I actually had to slow down. The only reason I kept going was that it was supposed to get better, and I was heading almost directly into the waves – the boat’s best direction. Turned out the wind did not get better…
After 3 hours of getting beat up, the Alligator River bridge came in site – near the end of today’s journey.
The Alligator River bridge – just 11 feet clearance but I only need 8, so I got under it no problem.
The Alligator River Marina is basically a gas station on a highway with a marina – really laid back and inexpensive. So glad to be here!
The marina. Bella Gatto is here now as well.
Adagio’s spot – the building to the left is the laundry, restroom, showers and lounge.
This was my route today. All the pain of the last three days is to get across the Albemarle Sound (over 20 miles across, and a body of water I couldn’t get across in Catitude for three days last year). The weather tomorrow is supposed to be ideal – really hoping so…

R.E. Mayo Seafood docks to Belhaven NC

First view of sunrise – I can barely see the markers at this time, left at 5:40 AM. I needed to get to Belhaven before the weather (wind and waves) moved in.
Sunrise greeting me as I enter the Pamlico River – even wide than the Neuse River from the day before. Once again, it appears the weathermen were not exactly correct in their forecast.
Here, the waves are almost sideways to me before I round the point to the Pungo River – the boat is rolling pretty badly at this point, although not as badly as yesterday.
The wind was supposed to be 8 to 8 mph at this point, but here is sailboat heeled over with so much wind that they had to reef their sails.
This is the weather from – obviously wrong, and the conditions are getting worse…
Luckily I only had 4 hours to go today, so I was able to get to the sheltered harbor in Belhaven before it got really bad.
My spot at the Belhaven Free Docks at the end of town – nice new docks, except they didn’t make the finger piers long enough, my boat is sticking out and it was hard to figure out how to tie it to the dock with the wind and tides that would occur during the day.
My view of Belhaven industry.
I did manage to tie the boat well, and the tide and wind did not cause me any issues.
These Canadian Geese greeted my as I came off the dock.
My view down the road towards town from the lot the dock is on. I decided not to get the bike out today, because everything was not too far away, and I had gotten here early and had all day.
The Police Station – a caboose from the now-defunct railroad is used by the town from time to time for festivals.
And the town of Belhaven welcomes me – pretty small place, and most of it was closed because it was Sunday.
The view of downtown – very close to the marinas all the rest of my Great Loop friends who were here today stayed at.
A collage of Belhaven highlights on the side of a business.
The Food Lion was 1 miles away – so I walked there, and then found out that no beer could be bought there until noon (I was lucky it could be bought at all today – North Carolina has very strict alcohol laws). So, I went back past the boat and to the marinas half a mile past that, then toured the town. By then, it was a good time to head back to Food Lion and buy the beer, so I walked the mile and a half back there and bought a 12-pack of Yeungling Black and Tan. I had them put it in this paper bag so I could carry it back to the boat…
As I was walking through the Hardees parking lot next to Food Lion on my way back to the boat, this guy asked me if I could use a lift. I said sure, that would be great, and he drove me back to the lot where the docks are. Very nice guy. Actually ran into him later in the day at the Ace Hardware – the largest one I have ever been in. Also in there was the guy on the sailboat sharing the free docks with me.
This is the empty 12-pack case on the boat – loaded all of the beers into the refrig, it was getting empty.
The crew from four Great Loop boats having happy hour on the biggest one in the marina – a very large Lagoon power cat. Turns out we are all leaving in the morning and going to the same marina – so we will see each other again tomorrow.
The end result of all of the walking today – almost 23000 steps, about 11.5 miles…
My route today – a relatively short one. Tomorrow will be 55 miles to the marina on the Alligator River, staging for the Albemarle Sound crossing the next day.