Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Rest of the Trip

Now for the rest of the trip.

Rome to Little Falls

We had some trouble getting out of Rome. As always, once we're on trail, it's pretty easy to follow, but entering and leaving towns and cities, with the exceptions of canal side towns like Lockport, can be a challenge. During the day, we found that we could either follow the official Erie Canal Trail signs or the pink trail blazes painted on the streets for the Erie Canal Tour (that preceded us by a week). As we get to towns, the blazes are of little use since they lead to rest stops and camp sites rather than through. We also had the Cycling the Erie Canal book. It's terrific and I recommend it to anyone riding the canal. It does, however, have one problem. When the path is on the road, it doesn't actually name the road (rather, it superimposes the path line). This made getting out of Rome a chore. Fortunately, we only added one mile to our day before we found our way out.

Leaving town we saw Rome's beautifully restored train station:

Also, the Fort Herkimer Church:

The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful.

We spent the night in Little Falls. Stayed in the "Canal Side Inn," a small in with three rooms. Our's was both huge and gorgeous.  It has a connected restaurant. Fine French/American fare. Everything on the menu looked delicious, but after a day of riding, it was a little much. They also had a less expensive, less elaborate grill menu with items like Steak Frites, or scrod in an almond crust served in the lounge. As the lounge was booked, they offered us the grill menu in the main dining room. Food was excellent, including the deserts -- chocolat pot de creme, a meringue filled with strawberries and ice cream, and a blueberry bread pudding.

If you ever get to Little Falls, eat at the Canal Side Inn.

Then it was time to turn in.

Miles today: 44.5
Miles total: 313.5

Little Falls to Amsterdam:
As Little Falls was right next to the canal, leaving town was easy. Just outside of town, we passed the high point of the canal. At the point, a lock with what I think was the canal's largest altitude change.

It looked to be another uneventful day. More beautiful views that have become de rigueur and more crushed stone path that was more like biking through sand.

It looked like our two most promising lunch spots were at around 15 miles (too early) and 30 miles (too late). At 15 miles, at Canajoharie, we stopped for ice cream:

This was the first time all trip we were able to find mid-day ice cream!!!!!!

Canajoharie is another one of those small towns we passed through, but they set up a little information stand right where the trail crosses main street. The young man working there directed us to the ice cream.

One of the things that surprised me throughout was the lack of signage at the towns, particularly the small ones. While the traffic on the trail isn't great, a couple of signs pointing to food and refreshments at the trail heads would cost next to nothing and maybe draw a few more people into the towns.

Refreshed and refueled, we continued on. After lunch at Fultonville, we soldiered on. A few miles out of Amsterdam, we got to the Schoharie crossing:

Here, you can see the remains Schoharie aqueduct from the barge canal in the distance:

The Schoharie crossing is the one location where there are remnants from all renditions of the canal and one can also see the I90, where the bridge collapsed some 20 years ago.

It also turns out that this was the site of other historic places:

We arrived in Amsterdam a short time later. We stayed at the America's Best Value hotel. The only one in town. Looks like new ownership is doing some serious renovations but the rooms were spacious, clean, and nice. BIL Mike and SO Maria live nearby and joined us for dinned. We ate at the on site indian restaurant -- naan and saag paneer -- mmmmm.

One more day of riding.

Miles today: 49
Miles total: 362.5

Amsterdam to Albany:

Last day of riding. We estimated about 50 miles. Best lunch possibility was Cohoe s, about 30 miles away. We were hoping to find a snack along the way but figured we'd make it on Nuun and Cliff Bars if needs be. The mileage looked to be formidable, but we also new the whole day would be on paved roads and paved trail.

Leaving Amsterdam, we saw a couple more historic sites:

Sad to say, even here, there are ghost bikes:

Some final pretty views along the way:

New and old locks:

A fallen Rock zone complete with fallen rock:

 This bridge that just rose out of nowhere:

 And a family picture sans me:

And we were at the Cohoes falls:

We stumbled upon a bike shop that recommended we go to "Bread and Jam" for lunch.

After lunch, we were down to our last 10 miles.

Along the way we saw this:

Clearly owned by the third pig.

Finally, to the Hudson river, our river:

We got to Albany early enough that we were able to switch our train tickets, cancel our hotel reservation and get home by 7:00.

Miles today: 55
Miles total: 417.5
Plus the miles to reconcile with Devorah's count give us: 420

That's 420 miles in 10 days, right across the state. 46.6 miles a day on average for the ride days.

We're all a little tired but feeling a sense of pride.

Next, some reflections on the tour and touring.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Too tired to blog

Got in to Amsterdam NY a few hours ago. Just finished mapping out tomorrow's route. Hope to get all the details and pictures for the past three days up tomorrow or Sunday. Too sleepy to do it now.

Miles Yesterday: 44.5
Miles Today: 49
Total: 362.5 (but I think I lost a handful of miles somewhere).

Tomorrow we make our way to Albany.

No wifi

No wifi last night.hopefully tonight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All roads may lead to Rome, but not all are paved

Today figured to be one of our longer days mileage wise, we didn't think it would be that tough or tricky to navigate.

We checked out of our hotel at about 8:30 and hit the road. Streets through Syracuse, up a few hills towards the outskirts of town. Our directions and actual streets didn't quite jive so we had a little trouble finding our way back to the canal path, but once we did we figured it would be smooth sailing. Most of today was along the "Old Erie Canal State Park." A 36 mile linear park stretching from Syracuse to Rome.  Just about all of it is off road.

About 17 miles in we got to Chitenango, birthplace of L. Frank Baum of "Wizard of Oz" fame.  We spent some time at their "Canal Boat Museum." It's on the site where they built and repaired canal boats. They've been working to restore as much of the site as possible. This includes the drydocks:

as well as an 80% sized canal boat they're building:

Back on the trail, we spotted the remains of sunken canal boat (note the rebar tracing out the boat in the water):

Continuing on, there were more locks:

and bridges:

After lunch in Canastota, we set out on the second 25ish miles of the day. We found our way back onto the path, the stone dust was fine and even some of the road was paved. This lulled us into a sense of security. About 15 miles into the afternoon ride, we crossed path with what appeared to be a trail resurfacing machine. Not a good thing. The next few miles had us hugging the one good edge of the trail. The rest was soft and full of holes. The whole trail was also full of runs of dirt and gullies. All hazardous to us.

We struggled through and made it to the outskirts of Rome. We followed the last few miles of path, but the path kept degrading. First to a rocky surface, then to one with pools of water, then to no path at all!!!! Fortunately, there was an outlet to a road nearby. We worked our way to it and followed the roads the rest of the way in.

We had made it to Rome.

After lunch in Canastota, we set out on the second 25ish miles of the day. We found our way back onto the path, the stone dust was fine and even some of the road was paved. This lulled us into a sense of security.

After checking into the hotel and a cooling dip in the pool, we walked over to fort Stanwix, dating back to the French and Indian war.

Dinner at the Franklin Hotel (appropriately, Italian food. As they say, when in Rome...).

Tomorrow we head off to Little Falls.

Today: 49.5
Total:   269

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nothing to see here

Yesterday we left Seneca Falls and headed back north up to Syracuse. Our fifth day in a row of riding. Figured it could be one of the tougher days between the changing terrain and the return of the heat and humidity.  Apparently, there's no shade in northern NY.

Turned out to be true. The first part of the ride was mostly on road. Easy surface, but up and down.  When we got to the old canal path, it was more gravely than crushed stone. Felt like we were riding through mush.

Stopped about 20 mile in for lunch at Jordan. Just about our halfway point of the day and of the trip.

Unlike other days when we were able to find nice local eateries, today we hat to resort to a single pizza place. Truth be told, it was pretty good but as the pizzeria was hot, we were actually better off eating at the picnic table in the sun out front.

Back on the trail, there were some nice sights, including remnants from the old canal.

After 42.5 tough miles, we ended up in Syracuse.

Hearty appetites in tow, we decided to sample Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Good. Personally, I prefer the burnt ends at Rub and the overall meal at Hill Country, and those are just a couple of blocks from our house.

Today was our rest day. Hot and humid -- would have been brutal to ride, but it wasn't a lot of fun walking around town. Not much to tell, just a quiet day. Most things we hoped to see were closed. We did get to the Erie Canal museum -- In the last remaining WeighLock house (sorry, no pictures, accidentally erased what was on my phone). To pay for the original canal as well as it's expansion, tolls were levied on good passing through. To determine the toll, canal boats had to be weighted. At the beginning of each season, weights were determined for each boat. Then, as they moved through the canal, they would enter a weighlock, the water would drain, depositing the boat on a huge wooden cradle which was part of a scale. The boat would be weighed and the toll assessed.

Here's a picture from wikipedia:

Note the road in front -- that used to be the old canal. Other than the weigh lock building and a few other artifacts, there's nary a trace.

The rest of the day was spent walking around and taking it easy.

Miles from the previous day: 42.5
Total: 219.5

Tomorrow: All roads lead to Rome.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 5

Angel 1: What are the Zamansky's doing next to that bridge?

Angel 2: Maybe they're pondering if their lives have had any meaning in this world.

Angel 1: Do you think we should send Clarence to straighten them out? He seemed to do a good job
 the last time we had a troubled person on that bridge. He even earned his wings.

Angel 2: I don't know, maybe they're just trying to decide on where to go to dinner.

Yep there we were, on the bridge in Bedford, I mean Seneca Falls. The bridge and town that was purportedly used as a model for Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." But how did we get there? Maybe we should start at the beginning.

We left our intrepid adventurers last night in Palmyra. After posting, we went to look at the Joseph Smith farm and Sacred Grove, passing the Mormon Temple and Church along the way. This morning after breakfast with what appeared to be a number of "pilgrims" getting ready to worship, we set off.

Requisite pretty pictures here:

Passing through all the "port" towns, each with the canal neatly manicured. Straight banks and a narrow channel it's easy to forget that the whole project tied together a number of NY waterways. At points like in the above picture, it's much wider and the banks much more natural.

We stopped at a hotel in Newark NY for the facilities. Natan noticed this:
The sign instructs to flush up for liquid waste, down for solid. We decided not to ask. Tim, I don't know if you read this blog, but I think you had a story about this.

From there we moved from the canal path to the road. After a few miles on Bike Route 5, we ended up in Clyde. Ate at  "Brickoven" a restaurant that used to be an industrial bakery.

Perfect stop for lunch. The corned beef hash I had wasn't great -- tasted like canned. Maybe that's just coming off of the hash I had at the diner in Tonowanda which was truly exceptional. Everything else was terrific and the staff and clientèle as friendly as could be.

From there it was on route 414 until we got to Seneca Falls. We did some road riding on our first day, but this was our most extensive. We had some stretches of six foot shoulders, but some of three and some of none. Since the roads weren't that busy it wasn't too nerve wracking.

Interesting though, to see how motorists treat you. Most motorists made attempts to slow down and shift at least partly into the neighboring lane (where oncoming traffic sometimes made this impossible). Every now and then, however, a car would blow by right next to us.

I particularly noticed a three car caravan that whooshed passed us. The first and third cars were no surprise -- a big honkin SUV and a red sports car. The car in the middle was an ice cream truck -- you know the kind. The small ones that park on a street corner to dispense Good Humor Bars. Complete with those big SLOW
emblems on it. In all fairness to the SUV's most of them gave us wide berth.

Forty two miles after we started, we ended up in Seneca Falls. It's noted for a number of things including the women's rights movement. There are a number of plaques noting important achievements of women including Amelia Bloomer, Elizbeth Cady Stanton, and others.

We walked part of the town, passing the church where the first equal rights amendment was proposed:

The Cayuga - Seneca canal:

And a neat sculpture garden:

After dinner, we walked back to our inn. So tired from the day, only 42 miles, but with a fair number of hills that we got a laugh out of this sign:

Only to realize that it was just poor typesetting:

Now back at the inn for a good night's sleep.

Today: 42 miles
Total: 177
Tomorrow: Syracuse