Saturday, June 30, 2018

European Grand Tour Trekkers Biking the English Countryside

 We started the day by leaving our hotel in Reading and eating breakfast in front of a garage (with a lovely patch of weeds in front of it). We quickly got on the bike trails and thought it was going to be an easy 40-mile ride on a beautiful trail with the canal on one side and the English countryside on the other, but were dead wrong. Around mile 15, the cute baby swans and unique houseboats didn't seem so charming as the trail became bumpy and rocky and I cringed each time my bike hit a large bump. Finally we got off the trail and headed on a road toward our campground. The view was amazing but the path was hell for all of us. There were massive hills and traffic and most of us had to walk up the biggest hills but Aimee and David never quit and biked all the way. When we got to the camp, realized that we didn't have any oil so we had to use mango juice to cook our vegetables. Although the methods were unconventional, the burritos still turned it pretty cool.
Blog post from Andy:

NY-Montreal Trekkers Ready for a Respite in Albany

Albany night 1 The NYM trekkers woke up bright and early for the 22 mile ride into Albany. A few more hills were the only thing standing in between us and our hotel beds and warm showers. Along the way we stopped to buy some farm-fresh strawberries to tide us over for lunch. Cruising in around 11, we made a beeline for the capitol building for our 12 o'clock tour of the historic structure. Following our tour we had a light  lunch, then checked into our hotel and had a siesta. Finally we finished out our day with a delicious dinner at Pho Yum, a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Albany and some tubs if ice cream. Tommorow we plan to explore more of New York's capital and check out some more interesting food spots.

Pacific Northwest Trekkers Reach CANADA and Vancouver!

Today's weather took a turn for the rain, but we pedaled on towards Vancouver. Through headwind and a constant minor drizzle, we crossed the Canadian border and continued our trek. As we were paused on the sidewalk referencing our maps for an upcoming turn, a Canadian spirit-guide of sorts (Deidre) emerged. She led us through the complicated, winding bike route as we rode over bridges and on trails. 10 miles later, our new friend (and honorary "Point") bid us farewell as she continued her own ride back to the border. Later, as we bunched together to consult our maps, another friendly Canadian guided us towards the bike route and downtown Vancouver. We checked-in to the hostel both tired and proud after an incredible day of biking. Tomorrow we explore Vancouver aay!

Niagara-Toronto Trekkers Have an Eventful Day Along the Niagara River

We started the day biking across the Peace Bridge to Canada!  Most of the day was spent biking along the beautiful Niagara River stopping for a picnic lunch, swimming, a history lesson at the Willoughby Historical Museum, and a view of the Horseshoe Falls! The group cooked an amazing Ramen stir-fry dinner at the Hostel and had some Maple - cream cookies for dessert. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Niagara-Toronto Trek Begins!

Today the Niagara-Toronto Trekkers began their 10 day international tour.  Starting in Buffalo the group is cycling along the mighty Niagara River to the awesome Falls some 20 miles north.  The group will sail on the Maid of the Mist, hike the Niagara Gorge, cycle along the Welland Canal, and visit Balls Falls on their way to Toronto where they will have 2 days to explore.

Follow the group as they document their travels & send their blog posts into us at the Teen Treks office.

British Hospitality and Biking Along the Thames for the European Grand Tour Trekkers

On our second day we traveled 27 miles from Langley to Reading. We traveled along-side rivers, through farmland, and in town. The highlight for most of us was hanging out by the Thames River for around three hours where all of us fell asleep in the shade. Although we got a bit lost, finishing the day with pizza, cherries, and Cornish ice cream near the Broad Street Mall made up for all that. Special thanks to the guy outside the grocery store who gave us Snickers ice creams and to all the dogs who said hi. 
Written by Trekker Zoe.

Happiness is Clean Clothes and a Leisurely Day for the Pacific-Northwest Trekkers

We awoke today to some calming Earl Grey tea and a yogurt parfait breakfast. Ominous clouds filled the sky as we trekked towards our first destination, the laundromat. The town of Bellingham was quaint and peaceful, and we enjoyed ourselves very much in the five-star cleaning facility. After some relaxing time spent napping, reading and watching the clothes spin, we packed up our fresh, clean biking apparel and had ourselves a sandwich feast. We then departed to compete the last 20 miles of our trip towards Birch Bay State Park. Beautiful views and a clearing sky surrounded us as we arrived at the campground. We took a quick trip to the bay to read and then ate a scrumptious dinner of alfredo pasta with broccoli. As our first week together comes to a close, we have become a close, nomadic tribe. Our tents may be close together, but our hopes have never been more far reaching. 

Some Rain, an Afternoon Movie, 30+ Mile Ride - A Day on the Road for the NY-Montreal Trekkers

After a rainy night in Mills- Norrie, the NYM trekkers began the day with some bowls of cereal and evaporated milk. With a 40 mile day and rainstorms ahead of us, we decided to get of to a strong start. We completed the first 30 miles before stopping for a lunch special at a Chinese spot in Hudson. After our delicious meal we went and saw Incredibles 2 in 3d while waiting the out the last of the thunderstorms. We ended the day by making some pizza bagels courtesy of the local Walmart. Tomorrow we head to Albany and some lovely hotel beds.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

European Grand Tour visits the Queen's Castle

After safely departing the airport via London's public transit system, we biked to Windsor and toured the stately Castle in all its splendor. As the sun descended, we biked along a picturesque trail winding beside the Thames, noting the distinct architecture of English hamlets and listening to songbirds on our way to Slough. It was great to be on bikes again!

New York - Montreal Trekkers visit the Walkway over the Hudson & FDR's Home in Hyde Park

Today was a fantastic day for the New York Montreal trekkers! After a hearty breakfast at our hotel (a welcome time to sleep in a bed and shower) we hit the road around 9:00. Our first big stop was to get lunch, which we ate at the famous Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York. The walkway, part of the Dutchess County Rail Trail, is an old railroad bridge that has been converted for pedestrian use. It offered breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley and a great photo op. We then rolled on another few miles to the home of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park. We took a tour of the house before riding the last few miles to camp. Some rain starting in the afternoon put a slight damper on things, but didn't stop us from cooking a delicious meal of quesadillas with refried beans. -Trek Leader Kyle

Pacific Northwest Trekkers journey back to the mainland!

Today we woke up and had a nice meal of Swiss Miss (hot chocolate), oatmeal, bananas and nola bars (granola bars). We spent some time at the ferry dock on Orcas Island, searching for crabs and building sandcastles. We took a relaxing ferry to Anacortes, where we had a delicious lunch near a supermarket (Deli meat! Cheese! Veggies!). We ventured onto the Tommy Thompson trail. We took a small detour through a beautiful nature preserve, where we saw the USA cloud factory (there were many awesome, fluffy clouds). We continued through flat fields of farmland, got dinner in Edison, WA and made our way to Larabee State Park for the night. We're excited to continue our trek towards Vancouver tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

European Grand Tour begins!

Across the Pond in London, the European Grand Tour assembled their bicycles to begin their 30 day adventure. They spent their first day touring the royal Windsor Castle and getting to know each other while adjusting to riding their bikes on the left side of the road! In the coming days and weeks they'll bicycle through the English countryside to Stonehenge, bicycle along the River Seine to Rouen & Monet's Garden, tour Paris, visit the historic cities of Ghent and Bruges, experience bicycle heaven in Amsterdam, punting on the River Thames in Cambridge, and sightseeing in London!

Follow the group as they document their travels & send their blog posts into us at the Teen Treks office.

Enjoying hikes and swimming on Orcas Island with the Pacific Northwest Teen Trekkers!

After a restful morning, we breakfasted on bagels and mac and cheese- a winning combination. We sauntered down to cascade lake for an hour and a half hike up Sunrise rock where we feasted on both the stunning views and granola. Our appetites fulfilled, we continued on the trail back to the lakeside beach. We swam, sunbathed, read, saw a bald eagle, and ate overpriced locally sourced frozen delicacies (ice cream). Back at the campsite, we were lucky to meet Ed the Woodsman. Despite his unassuming appearance, Ed is the lumberjack for the whole campground and happily shared stories about his various wood cutting machinery. Dinner included chili, toast, and veggies. Following warm showers, dessert was enjoyed around the fire. The group is feeling well rested with high morale, and excited to bike back to the mainland tomorrow.

New York-Montreal Trekkers bike up the Hudson!

The New York-Montreal trekkers, guided by Dylan and Wyatt, started of this morning with a scenic ride along the Hudson. After a few miles on the trail, we headed inland to tackle the rolling hills of New York. We took a quick lunch stop in Peekskill, and completed a game of frisbee before heading to the local bike shop " Herb's Firearms and Bicycles" (formerly Herb's automative and bike) to replace a bolt for Dylan. Just like the first, the second half was full of hills. During our "uphill battle" we faced some gnarly hills and a flat tire, but we're rewarded with some Italian ice and a lovely 10 mile downhill where we found our Ramada home for the night. Tomorrow we head Mills-Norrie and the Roosevelt house. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Biking Orcas Island, eating novelty sandwiches, hill climbing, & breathtaking views!

We started our day making a wrong turn but eventually climbed a small hill making our way to Anacortes to catch the ferry to Orcas Island. We passed over the bridge at Deception Pass (very scenic and beautiful). We biked thru gorgeous pine forests and reached Anacortes. We did some supermarket sweep as we quickly grabbed supplies before riding to the ferry. We had a hearty lunch on the ferry while taking in the breathtaking views. Jesus enjoyed a novelty snack of a sandwich with cheese, spicy mustard, regular mustard, ketchup, relish, and jalapeno chips. After lunch everyone relaxed and read. Upon docking we got ice cream and did some mindfulness activities and stretching as we braced for an afternoon of hill climbing. Orcas Island has llamas, guinea hens, chicken, sheep, horses, deer, bald eagles, turkey vultures, and beautiful mountain and lake views. After we passed thru a quaint town (and climbed another hill) we stopped to chow down on cherries. We then climbed a mountain (note, not a hill) and enjoyed a nice cheese filled dinner by the fire at Moran State Park. We are excited for a relaxing day of rest tomorrow before we head back to the mainland and continue our adventure!

Monday, June 25, 2018

New York - Montreal Teen Trekkers Begin Their 400 Mile Journey

Today the New York - Montreal Teen Trekkers began their 400 mile Trek through the Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, Lake Champlain shorelines, & Quebec. They will visit New York State's capital in Albany, Vermont's quaint city of Burlington, & the bustling city of Montreal as they travel together for the next 16 days. 

Follow the group as they document their travels & send their blog posts into us at the Teen Treks office.

Pacific Northwest Trekkers Bicycle Up Whidbey Island

Today, we said farewell to our new bunny friends and headed north through Whidbey Island. We climbed hills and coasting down the other side, with gorgeous views of the Cascades throughout.
We stopped at a beach and had a delicious lunch while skipping rocks, building a fort and marveling at the view of forest, cliffs, snow capped mountains and the Sound. Lola and Peter led our group today, navigating 45+ miles towards our campground for the night, and Felix and Jesus cooked everyone a hearty Tex-Mex feast. We're looking forward to our next 2 islands (and another ferry) tomorrow!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pacific Northwest Trekkers Biking the Islands in the Puget Sound

Today we started off from the heart of Seattle and experienced the city's great  bike infrastructure, riding trails and protected bike lanes all the way north out of the city. Jesus and Felix navigated our adventure out of the city. After a great lunch, we set off towards the ferry in Mukilteo! (We can barely pronounce or spell that town's name...) We headed towards Whidbey Island for our campsite. Everyone showed tremendous grit today as we climbed some incredible hills. We enjoyed a stir fry ramen dinner (shout out to our chefs today, Lola and Peter!) among our new rabbit friends (the island is overrun with bunnies!). Excited to tackle a big ride tomorrow as we continue our island exploration! 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Seattle by Bike for the Pacific Northwest Trekkers

Today we all met at breakfast and ventured to Target and a bike shop, then hit the road to Olympic Sculpture Park. We had a picnic lunch near the water as we fixed flats. We marveled at the single, tiny fish in the Ballard Locks fish ladder. We continued on to the beach at Golden Gardens Park where we jumped into the water and watched passing cruise ships. We visited the space needle and biked through Seattle, then grabbed some pho and bubble tea. We head out of the city tomorrow and are excited load up the bikes and head north!

PS we're recording 1 second a day and can't wait to share our final video with everyone!

Friday, June 22, 2018

First Day for the Pacific Northwest Trek in Seattle!

With the Space Needle in sight, the Pacific Northwest Teen Trekkers begin their 18 day journey around Puget Sound. After spending today exploring Seattle they'll continue onward visiting many unique places including the wonderful San Juan Islands, the big city of Vancouver, BC's tiny capital Victoria, the towering heights of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic Nat'l Park, & the historic town of Port Townsend! 

Follow the group as they document their travels & send their blog posts into us at the Teen Treks office.

Welcome Trip Leader Anna!

Hello fellow adventurers!

My name is Anna, I hail from New Haven, Connecticut, and I happen to be a Teen Trek alumna! I’ve always loved to bicycle, ever since I was a young girl, but Teen Treks really fostered that love when, at 14, I biked from New York to Montreal with them. The following summer, I went on the Across America Trek with my co-leader, Tyler, and had one of the most challenging, formative, and overall wonderful experiences of my life. Those two trips forever solidified my love of bicycle touring! When I’m not passing through the world on two wheels or studying as a college student, I’m most likely reading nonfiction, eating dim sum, talking about pop culture with my friends, baking yummy things, or simply walking around my city, listening to music! I couldn’t be happier to be a Teen Trekker again (albeit in a somewhat different position!), and I can’t wait to see what new things I’ll learn and what adventures will unfold with new friends during my third Teen Treks summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Past Trekker Annalisa van den Bergh and 1,000 Miles of Portraits

(Annalisa and the 2008 Teen Treks Across America group)

Annalisa van den Bergh went on Teen Treks' first Across America Trek back in 2008. Last summer she bicycled across the country and took photos of people she met along the way, inspired by her experiences on Teen Treks. Her Miles of Portraits chronicles these people and their stories.

This year her and a friend are embarking on a 1000 Mile Trip through Alaska as a continuation of last year's Miles of Portraits. Learn more and donate to their Kickstarter to help with the project!

The following is an excerpt from a conversation I had with Annalisa in March about how biking with Teen Treks changed her life.

Tyler: Why did you want to do the Across America Trek when you were a teenager?

Annalisa: It was like my dream ever since I did the first trip from Buffalo to Toronto, just like the idea of dipping your tires in both oceans. It was just like so much bigger than myself and I always dreamed about doing it. I found it to be really liberating.

Tyler: How did your experience biking across the country with Teen Treks effect your life?

Annalisa: Teen Treks literally changed my life. I wouldn't have found out about bike touring if it wasn't for Teen Treks. I basically decided that since it was the highlight of my life in 2008, I figured I'd do it again when I had the chance. So last year I did the Trans-America trail and I really re-discovered my love of bike travel and decided that I want to do it for the rest of my life because it just makes me the most happy. It's pretty amazing how many other bicyclists you meet on the route because it's a popular route. So I ended up leapfrogging across the country with all these different people. And the Trans America is amazing, it goes through every type of landscape. So last year I did the Trans-America trail and I really re-discovered my love of bike travel and decided that I want to do it for the rest of my life because it just makes me the most happy.

Tyler: So was your Across America Teen Trek what you expected it to be? Did you have any expectations?

Annalisa: My expectation was that it would be like nothing else I had ever experienced, and that's like exactly what it was. But I was surprised by how many moments & small towns we still remember 10 years later. Like I was talking to Matt, our counselor about how we still remembered the name of this tiny pie shop in Minnesota that sold square pies. But I feel like what I remember most about these trips is just like the people you meet along the way. Just because there's something about riding a loaded bicycle that draws a lot of attention, especially when there's like seven of you! You just meet so many more people. I feel like the bike is such a great equalizer, most people have access to it. It really does bring people together. I still remember so many people that we met along the way. This actually inspired me to take pictures more properly in a blog that I started on last year's trip called 4000 Miles of Portraits - where I took a picture of people I met along the way. And that was really inspired by that Teen Treks trip, and the kindness that we came across.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Teen Treks Leader Training

Some leaders came with packed panniers and a bicycle in the backseat of their car, while another trekked through the airport with five-days worth of travel gear in a backpack, one simply hopped onto a bicycle, panniers loaded and ready. All came together for the start of this year's leadership training at Teen Trek's home site in Buffalo, New York.

It didn't take long for the adventure to begin. Day 1 included bike mechanics training in the park, crossing the Peace Bridge into Canada, a scenic route along the Friendship Trail, an epic journey through rain and sunshine ending with beautiful beach camp spot on Lake Erie. The leaders started working together right away, cooking meals, setting up tents, and getting to know each other while soaking up the cool breeze and starry night.

Silly games, campfires, bike rides, hands on training, cold lake and river swims, group meal creations and plenty of laughter brought the leadership crew closer together over the next few days. Day 3, we camped along the Niagara River, and excitedly woke up for a day of biking around Niagara Falls. Seeing the natural wonder by bike was a great way to see the Falls from many different perspectives. At the end of the day, we crossed back into the United States and camped on a remote and enchanting peninsula, the mist from the Falls was in our view, as a large crescent moon appeared above it.

We wrapped up the weekend back in Buffalo as we talked more extensively about the trips we will be leading this summer. The leadership training was a good taste of the type of activities and itinerary we all have with the teens on our trips. With everything we learned and experienced over the 5-day training venture, the significant take-aways were the bike safety skills and tools acquired, helpful ways to foster positive group dynamics, and inspiring ways to stir an adventurous environment throughout the biking journey.

Now, we are ready and excited to meet our trekkers and take this journey together! Who knows the beauty and adventure we will discover together.

- Trip Leader Katie

Friday, June 1, 2018

Welcome Trip Leader Elliott!

Hello trekkers!  My name is Elliott and I am from Buffalo, New York.  I’m very excited to have this opportunity to get out on the open road with you all, clear our minds, and see all the sites our route has to offer.  I have traveled quite a bit, not only in the United States but internationally as well.  My family is very spread out throughout the states which provide me with great opportunities when I go visit them.  Additionally, I’ve traveled to many of the Latin American countries for service trips through my college and a handful of European countries for pleasure.  In the coming weeks, I plan to travel to Puerto Rico to help in the cleanup effort following Hurricane Maria.  My hobbies include biking (obviously), hiking, camping, backpacking, and snowboarding in the winter months.  In the past, I’ve worked as a lifeguard and as a swim coach at a local community center that attracts the after school crowd.  I look forward to our adventures together and the ability for us to detach ourselves from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  This can be done so easily by putting down our phones and experiencing the world around us.  See you all soon!!