When you stay in an RV park near one of the country’s most sought after attractions like Niagara Falls, you expect to see things like million dollar Prevosts or Lancer Campers with duel slide outs. But bicyclists?
We’ve been told the summer here has been very mild and friendly in comparison, but on this particular day in July, it was definitely hot. So when we took our evening stroll around the campground and saw a group of bicyclists parked in the shade near the office, we didn’t think much of it. We figured they were just resting for a bit, as some of the young women were using the camp ground facilities, and we figured it was a safe place to stop. But then, a few hours later, right behind us, we saw them pushing their bikes back to the tent area. We had seen several different travelers, families and groups camp out in the tent section and really didn’t think much of it. Specially since I had seen a Class C pull in around the time they were going to set up, I just assumed that must have been the guardians or “mobile command unit”.
The next morning we noticed they were gone bright and early, but their tents were still there. Sure enough, come evening time again, they were back. Curiosity got the best of me and started to pay even more attention. I avoid being a snoop when I can, but this all seemed somewhat out of place to me. I noticed there were no men in this group of 8 - but these were all ladies - and some looked quite youthful! Now I was even more curious. So, I went and asked them.
Apparently, these lovely 8 ladies ranging from ages 15 to 19 had already been on the road for several days as part of an American Youth Foundation group on what was called “Odyssey”. Odyssey is a 5 week cycling experience from their sister camp, Merrowvista in New Hampshire to the shores of Lake Michigan. Rising 12th grade campers meet at Miniwanca, take a couple of quick training and shakedown rides and then travel to New England to begin their trip. The intrepid Odyssey cyclists then work as a team to navigate over 1,200 miles of roadway, cultures and terrain. This trip offers a unique opportunity to visit many small towns, travel across lakes by ferry and even cross the Blue Water Bridge from Ontario back to Michigan. You can read more about this at:
American Youth Foundation
147 Canaan Rd
Center Tuftonboro, NH 03816
Ron and I were so impressed by their bravery, I couldn’t resist a video interview. Which, by the way, you’ll notice I found out they did not have any kind of mobile unit or follow car with them. The unit that pulled in with them the day before was sheer coincidence. Though their group leader was required to call and check in often for safety sake.
I found their adventure story exciting and moving. I would have loved to do what they were doing at their age, and though I’d admit, I might have been a little scared, these little bright lights weren’t. I watched the young woman in charge who was full of confidence and conviction being busy with coordinating dinner efforts and just wanted to hug every one of them! So polite, well organized and just genuinely beautiful! The “mom & pop” in us kicked in and we scampered off to make them some brownies hot out of the oven. They even came and borrowed 3 table spoons of milk to finish off their dinner entree of hot mac & cheese! What a refreshing and encouraging view of our nations youth. Strong, independent, hopeful and motivated, love it!
The next morning while driving I saw these gals on there way to their next stop. We wish them a wonderful adventure on their trip to Michigan!