Erie Canal - 2009 - Heading towards Rochester

2009 Erie Canal - Preface

07/04/2009 10:00:00 by Administrator

We love the Erie Canal

In 1825 it was called the "Eighth Wonder of the World," a man-made waterway that stretched into the western wilderness to touch the Great Lakes. Our bicycle tour will follow the towpath along sections of the original Erie Canal and the "canalized" Seneca and Mohawk Rivers through historic villages, rural pastures, old locks and abandoned aqueducts.

Following the Erie Canal and riding through villages along it, we will rediscovered this unique and easily accessible corridor with a rich role in the history of Colonial America, the American Revolution, commerce, and women's rights.
Greg Stoutenburg, a fellow cyclist, good friend, and no longer a rookie bicycling tourist will join SeeMore for this 5 day adventure. We will be self contain, but will be leaving the camping gear at home. We are very blessed that the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal is only 3 hours by car (or 3 days by bike) from home, and the icing on the cake will be ending up in Rochester New York.......some of our favorite people live there.

2009 Erie Canal - Day 1

07/05/2009 10:00:00 by Administrator

Waterford, NY
Amsterdam, NY
43 miles

Well it just doesn't get much better than this. Clear blue skies, light breeze, temperatures in the mid seventies, and a great bike path!

We hit the road at 5 am in our trusty old camper. The camper will transport us to Waterford Visitor Center, near the eastern terminus of the network of trails that make up the Erie Canal route across New York. The people at the Waterford Visitor Center are allowing us to park the camper during this tour. We agreed to meet Greg at the visitor center to begin our short tour across New York state to Rochester, NY. We have until Thursday to reach our destination so we are looking forward to 5 days of cycling the Erie Canal.

As luck would have it, there was a nice farmers market / steam boat rally at our starting point. So after parking the motor home and loading up Seemore we headed off down to the canal walk to enjoy the sights. Lots of tempting baked goods and fresh vegetables were available for purchase. We were both still too stuffed from breakfast to even consider purchasing anything.

Greg arrived around 11 am thanks to his son Eric and girlfriend Brie. (what good kids to give dad a lift across state).

We're off! Winding through the downtown area of Cohoes, with a fairly good idea of where to pick up the trail. This will be our 5th time on the Erie canal path and each time we seem to do better navigating our way along. On the path and it's smooth sailing. No cars and the only traffic is human powered. We hit a slight glitch while attempting a climb and the chain fell off while down shifting. Mary made it off Seemore, abandoning ship before he hit the ground. Noel cushioned Seemore's fall. No worries mate, we were almost at a dead stop, and just bruised the captain's ego.

That was our excitement for today. The Mohawk trail is just a joy to ride. There was the usual Sunday bicycle/walker/rollerbaders traffic. From Cohoes until about Rotterdam junction is all paved bicycle path. We stopped to sit on the bench at Niskayuna Park, and cycled downtown Schenectady to visit the farmer's market (which was closing up for the day)
Just west of Schenectady we ran into 4 fellow recumbent riders who stopped so we could had an enjoyable talk. Me meet so many nice people!

We are now living large at the Valley View Hotel in Amsterdam. We watch Tiger Woods win another golf tournament, while drinking beers and eating pizza. Life doesn't get much better than this.

2009 Erie Canal - Day 2

07/06/2009 10:00:00 by Administrator

Amsterdam, NY
Utica, NY
68 miles

A Bald Eagle, a Ground Hog, and a Revolutionary General

Day 2, and more riding perfection. We started the day at the Hot Ham cafe for breakfast. The cafe is attached to our hotel (The Valley View) in Amsterdam New York. My mom would have loved to have breakfast there, since she is a "pig" collector. There was pig pictures hanging on the wall, pig statues, pigs on the menu, pigs..pigs...pigs....and the food was filling and priced correctly.

Today was a mixture of trail riding, and road riding. Except for the some of the trail being located next to I-90 and some heavy traffic on route 51 (near Utica), it was a very quiet and enjoyable ride today. Temperatures were in the mid 70s, with mostly sunny skies. We rode by many bunnies and wildflowers while on the gravel trail, until we made a side trip into downtown Fultonville, looking for better water (the hotel water was TERRIBLE) and a little admiral break. Things got a little exciting when I tried a little short cut which produced a semi-pudgy rottweiler who gave a little chase.

From there we followed the trail into Canajoharie, Fort Plain, St Johnsville, and through Herkimer State park, which is was the homestead of General Herkimer. The state park is kind of funny, we are not sure how people can get to it except via the canal trail, AND nothing seems "open". The state workers are nice (they filled our water bottles) but we are not quite sure what they do all day.

We had cheese steak subs for lunch in Mohawk, which were very taste. Just prior to Mohawk we watch a bald eagle soaring about the hills around Jacksonburg....WHAT A SITE!

And then there was this ground hog, at first Greg thought it was a stuff "toy" groundhog that some child had lost out the car window during a recent road trip. The groundhog was just stationary, on the road, just four feet from the edge. The closer Greg got, the more the groundhog played "possum". I really thought, at the last second, that he would move and run directly under Greg's wheels....instant road kill (for both Greg and the large rodent). Just at the very very last moment, the groundhog ran into the grass and disaster was avoided. You had to be there, it was really a game of "chicken".

We are now leaving large at the Day's Inn in Utica. Getting here, we "enjoyed" a trip through downtown Utica. Mary's and my opinion of Utica has not changed since our first bike trip through....not a very prosperous section of New York State.

2009 Erie Canal - Day 3

07/07/2009 10:00:00 by Administrator

Utica, NY
West Syracuse, NY
73 miles

We got wet today. Breakfast was at Friendly's in Utica, before we began today's westerly ride. The trail from Utica to Rome was very enjoyable. We did get wet (about 15 minutes of rain) but this would not be the first time today. After a brief muddy slide in Oriskany, we got to travel on route 365 which is a four lane noise highway into Verona. You by pass Rome by choosing this way, and since we been through downtown Rome....we feel this is a better option. There is a wide shoulder, and you are safe from the just is noisy.

While cycling across New York state, you have two choices of routes to get to the west side of Syracuse. We have always opted for the northern route, and still highly recommend staying on Route 31 through Bridgeport and under Oneida Lake. It is (was) a very quiet ride until Cicero. This year we decided to try the Erie Canal State Park series of trail which are pretty much off and on the road until you leave Canastota.

We had lunch in Canastota at an Italian restaurant, and when we got outside....the skies were black and filled with storm clouds. There is a long stretch of the Canal trail starting at Canastota, which takes you 17 miles into DeWitt (East Syracuse). We were dry for about the first mile or so, and then the rain came...and came down hard. SeeMore, Greg, the Rear Admiral, and myself were soaked through. It rained hard for about 4 miles....however.... the canal trail was beautiful! We then had a drying off period, until it rain hard again, this time the skies threw in a little thunder and lighting for some added effects!

This section of the canal trail system is well worth riding, but you next have the joys of riding through downtown Syracuse. To lighten our load a bit, we stopped by a car wash were they kindly let us use a hose to get ride of all the excess mud we accumilated from the trail. The Rear Admiral's legs were also hosed down. We can now put a chalk mark next to riding SeeMore through Syracuse (which means we NEVER have to do this again)....finally after some wrong directions by yours truly, the Rear Admiral GPS(ed) us to a hotel near the state fairgrounds. As Greg and I sat in the vacant hotel parking lot, trading trail stories...the Rear Admiral went inside to negotiate lodging. Only to find out that this huge hotel was booked solid for the night. While inside the hotel, she phoned ahead to the Comfort Inn (about 5 more miles west); and as she got on SeeMore she made a command decision to find the nearest dessert spot. It seems that mud, rain, thunder, lighting, booked hotel, and downtown Syracuse can rapidily get better will a huge brownie sundae, with a cherry on top.

We are living large in West Syracuse, had salad, beer and pizza. I believe we will all sleep well tonight!

2009 Erie Canal - Day 4

07/08/2009 10:00:00 by Administrator

West Syracuse, NY
Newark, NY
60 miles

As you can tell from the photo above, today weather was mostly overcast and cool (in the 70s...which is not the usual July temperature). In the morning, I made another boo boo; I programed the GPS to go to Bennett Avenue instead of Bennett Road, so after our continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn, we had a 6 mile "detour" until we found the beginning of the Erie Canal trail located outside of West Syracuse.

This part of the canal trail was beautiful, but the trail was soft crushed if you riding this part of the trail, just be warned the trail sometimes fees like velcro. We rode through the towns of Jordan and Weedsport, and at Port Byron we stopped to have lunch at the Port Byron Diner. What a great break, we all were quite stuffed and needing naps after lunch.

From Port Byron, until Newark you follow route 31 (bicycle route 5) through Montezuma, Savanna, Clyde and Lyons (farms and fields). Route 31 is very nice and quite from Port Byron to Clyde...with a wide shoulder. We then spent a lazy afternoon in Clyde's town park, eating treats from the local gas station. From Clyde to Newark rte 31 is a little more busy, but still very ridable.

We are living large in Newark at the Quality Inn. The hotel is right on the canal towpath, which will take us all the way into Rochester. Tonight we had dinner at Parkers in downtown Newark, not a bad little eatery.

2009 Erie Canal - Day 5

07/09/2009 10:00:00 by Administrator

Newark, NY
Brockport, NY
Chili, NY
72 miles

Perfection - a cloudless day, gentle wind, tempertures in the high 70s, great riding partners, and friendly canal users!

The Quality Inn of Newark is on the Canal Trail, and we rode the canal trail all day, from Newark to Brockport. The people who live in this section of New York have a really treasure. The Real Admiral and I have ridden this section a number of times, and we will never get tired of it.

We had breakfast at the Newark Diner where our waitress was also the cook, and the cashier. For 13 dollars (including tip), all three of us were taken care of with great service and full bellies (Greg ordered the Belly Filler). Then it was time to hit the trail. Lots of wild flowers, blue heron and other birds, bunnies, and boats were viewed from the semi shaded trail. We had a beautiful, but almost uneventful being in a great day dream....and not wanting to wake up.

Outside of Fairport we spotted a man coming up the trail, with what looked like a small dog running away from him, towards us, about 50 yards away. I was thinking that when we got closer, I would get off of SeeMore and try to catch this runaway puppy for the owner. About 50 feet from us, this "dog" turned sideways, then vanished into the tall grass to our left...but just as it was escaping we learned that it was not a dog, but a red tail fox. Then outside of Pittsford we noticed a female jogger walking a tall light brown "dog". She wasn't actually walking this dog, as she was leading the dog. She would jog to the left, and the "dog" would follower her to the left, then she would jog to the right, and the dog would follower her to the right. What a good dog, right? Until we saw the panic on the joggers face, and the fact the "dog" was actually a very large deer. As soon as the deer saw disappeared into the tall grass. The woman was thankful to see us, she could get rid of that deer!

We had lunch at Spencerport, and after a brief after lunch nap at the canal's edge, then we rode to our ending point which was Brockport. A visitor to New York could spend a couple of hours visiting these two towns (Brockport and Spencerport)! This tour ended by following the trail back to Spencerport and then taking a series of roads to Greg's beautiful home in Chili. All three touring cyclist had a GRAND adventure!