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 - 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.

Our 15 Minutes of Fame

06/14/2009 10:06:41 by Administrator

During our last big trip (North to South Tour) in the summer of 2008, we had the pleasure of stopping at the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters in Missoula Montana. We had a polaroid taken (including SeeMore) by Teri in the front of the building. She offered us ice cream, water, water bottles, juice, and soda. A very nice lady. Then Gary asked if he could take a picture of SeeMore (because he look so unusual) for a chance to appear in their magazine.

Well SeeMore, the Orange Mountain Goat, did charm the hearts at Adventure Cycling. Click here to read the article (pdf). As we have stated previously, Adventure Cycling supply our maps for this Great Parks tour, and our ride across the United States. If you want to have an easier time bicycle touring, we recommend purchasing maps from Adventure Cycling. See the link on the right side of this page.

Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trails - Day 6

04/30/2009 10:06:41 by Administrator

Cumberland MD
Meyersdale PA
33 miles

The boys were up late today. When you push loaded touring bikes through mud and rain, you earn a sleep in. I got up early, and searched the web for the local weather. I learned that today's weather was going to be mostly cloudy until the afternoon when the skies were going to produce that four letter word. It didn't look good for tomorrow , nor Saturday.

We were in great spirits as we packed up the hotel room from the tornado that occurred last night, and headed down Central street to Joe's Aqueduct for breakfast. Dustin continued his eating spree, with two orders of French Toast. Greg and I are no longer suprised, but Greg has made a new rule. Dustin is not allowed to cycle the day of, or the day before he is invited over their house for dinner!

This morning's ride featured the climb out of the Potomac river valley. Remember that easy ride down from Meyersdale on day 1? Well what goes down, must climb up. I believe that Greg remarked that we average a whopping 6 mph during our 25 mile ascent up Savage Mountain. The climb was not bad, just steady.....very much like climbs out in the western United States. SeeMore and I love climbing because time slows down. Dustin and I got to continue our visit, but Greg rode mostly ahead of us. SeeMore only goes one speed up hill, and I was surprised that Greg wasn't even further ahead of us. Greg was not without companionship though, a husband and wife team had a long conversation with him as they all rode together up towards Savage Tunnel. Except for a brave few, the trail was void of cyclist and even wild life. Greg saw a flock of turkeys, and Dustin and I saw a turkey in full flight, which is such a bizarre sight.

The rain stayed away until we saw the Meyersdale train station. We then packed every thing out of the weather, and walked down to the "Take Six" for a late lunch (it was 3:00). All of us eating and pretending the tour wasn't over. We then walked up to the Creamery Stop, where Dustin finished off a large brownie sundae. Back at the vehicles we pretended that the riding wasn't over, but we finally caved in. Knowing that I wasn't going to be able to share a beer with Greg, or share time with Dustin....for a little bit....made the ending bittersweet.

I would like to thank Greg's family for allowing me to steal him away for a week, and I would like to thank Dustin for one hell of a Christmas present!

Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trails - Day 5

04/29/2009 10:06:41 by Administrator

Williamsport MD
Cumberland MD
84 miles

What change one day can bring. The temperature has dropped 30 degrees and the grey skies greeted us as we made another stop at the Waffle House. This time there were more customers enjoying waffles and coffee. Dustin again packed away the "All Star" breakfast. Where the heck is all this food going?

On the morning ride, we were treated to a barn owl sighting. He "who-ed" we "who-ed", we thought he must have a resent kill on the ground because he stayed between two trees (flying back and forth) next to the towpath. We have seen so many different animals on this trip. Dustin and I also spotted a nearly all albino whitetail deer today.

We had a 25 miles ride in store for us this morning, then lunch in Hancock. The boys enjoyed each other's company and before we knew it, we were sitting down for lunch at Weavers in Hancock. If you find yourself in Hancock Maryland, and looking for food.....go to Weavers! Since you must pass the two large cakes and pies displays before you are seated at Weavers, you begin to remember that your mother is not along on this trip...and maybe having pie first, then the meal, is a good idea. I looked at the menu and saw chef salad. So I am thinking....hum...a little salad...then pie......Mom would be pleased that her training is still working after 50 years.

Then the "little salad" came out. Not only was is good and priced right, but I had no room for pie! Dustin's meal however didn't stop him. After consuming his turkey sandwich, french fries and gravy, he moved on to one quarter of Greg's turkey club sandwich. Then as Greg and I tearfully looked on, the S.O.B. ordered and ate a slice of chocolate cream pie!

Stuffed (at least Greg and I were) we headed back on the trail. And then............with 30 miles to Cumberland...the rain came.

We had also stopped in Hancock for some supplies. We thought we would get to the Paw Paw tunnel, hunker down in Paw Paw under the gas station's overhang until the worst of it was over...then find a campsite for the night. This plan changed when we all realize that the rain wasn't going away, and the trio did not wish to set up camp in the rain. I wish to say that the last 30 miles on the C&O was fun, but it wasn't. It was a blessing in disguise though. For Greg's and Dustin to experience the whole bike touring experience, they need this. Most of the time you tour, very seldom do you ride. And for thirty miles into Cumberland, we rode.

For thirty miles, the bikes got muddy and wet, the riders got muddy and wet, and the trail was completely muddy and wet. All this wetness made the trail was very greasy. SeeMore went down twice when his back end just slide from underneath Dustin and I. Since we couldn't travel very fast, both times didn't hurt, just made us more muddy and wet. For thirty miles all I did was focus on my single track, puddles, and trying to pick the best line to the next point. It seemed that the more we rode, the more the trail conditions got worse. With about 5 miles to go, we made a command decision to abandon the trail. Using the GPS, we found a road that connected us to route 51 which led us to Cumberland.

Before we reached the Holiday Inn, we stopped at a car wash and hosed the bikes down. You should see the hotel room right now, there are wet clothes all over. Greg's bike and SeeMore are downstairs in the hall for the night. We are about to go out and have some well deserved steaks and a couple beers.

Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trails - Day 4

04/28/2009 10:06:41 by Administrator

Brunswick MD
Williamsport MD
56 miles

We turned around with 50 miles to Washington D.C. We couldn't find a hotel for less than 200 dollars in Georgetown, and there was really no camping......so we are heading back toward Pennsylvania. Another day with cloudless skies, and temperatures in the low 90's. Boy does this stink.....not!

If your staying at the Brunswick Community Campground, and you're in a tent, you will dream all about trains. You will dream that you're a lineman, you will dream that you're a train whistle, you will dream that you're an engineer, you will dream that you're a conductor.......ok there is A LOT of trains and train noises, at night, when you try to sleep by the Potomac.

We had breakfast at Mommas in downtown Brunswick where we enjoyed both the food and the company. Greg and I sat back and marveled at the amount of food Dustin packed away. I have always been surprised at the amount food the Rear Admiral can put away at breakfast, while on tour. It must be that back seat, because Dustin does the same thing.

Today was a day of mechanical concerns. First Bertha (our large backpack) would not stay in place. We stopped a number of times until finally Dustin figured out that the yellow sack wasn't on correctly. Next SeeMore lost the front chain, I think it was a stick that got caught in it. Next Dustin looked down and saw that one of the the S and S couplings had come lose, so.....everything off and turn SeeMore upside down. It was a good thing because we found out during this repair, the rear shift cable was not in it's slots (which explained some of the hard shifting in the morning). No big issues, until Greg broke a spoke which made his tire wobble with about 10 miles left in today's travel. Still not a big issue because we knew of a bicycle shop in Williamsport.

We had a GOURMET picnic lunch at Dam 4 of Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, beef jerky, and trail mix. We then decided to head up the C&O on the closed section. So ignoring the signs, we head up the trail until we couldn't ride anymore, then turn around to follow the detour that takes you through country roads.

Everything is green, trail was beautiful, and a wasp flew up my shorts.

We are back at the Red Roof Inn, Greg's wheel is fixed and we are excited about having a "boys" night with beer and Stanley Cup hockey.

Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trails - Day 3

04/27/2009 10:06:41 by Administrator

Williamsport MD
Brunswick MD
54 miles

Just more of the same....sounds boring right? WRONG! We started our day at the Waffle House where we watch Dustin eat the "All Star" breakfast. Man I thought the Rear Admiral could put away food! We had the Waffle House all to ourselves, which either means the economy is bad or it's the food. This is the first Waffle house that I have been to, the food was ok....I enjoyed the grits.

We were like three little school boys, giddy, as we entered the towpath. And why not, it was going to be another hot day (it reached 92), the Potomac would be on our right, the canal would be on our left, the trail was hard pack and dry, the flowering wild flowers and trees colored the trail, the wild life abundant, and the trail covered with trees making it feel like some kind of magical tunnel. Yep, just plain boring.

We met a lot of walkers today. There is a group of retired hikers who are hiking the trail. They have a sag wagon, but they all have lots of energy. Most of them noticed SeeMore from the hotel last night. Here's a question; how many "Good Mornings" can you hear, and then get sick of hearing them? Answer, you never get tired of hearing it!

The C&O has a detour near Dam 4, which puts you on some Maryland country roads. Then it's back on the towpath. Before we knew it, we were in Shepherdstown and eating lunch and having a cold one. Shepherdstown is a college town, and even though the climb out and up from the towpath is a challenge, it's a worthwhile trip across the bridge into West Virginia. After lunch, SeeMore went down is a heap. We were on Main street, about 3 blocks from lunch when a Ford pickup truck narrowed the space that SeeMore needs to travel through near a parked van. Truth is, plain and simple, the Captain made a bonehead move. I saw what the Ford was doing and should have stopped. So at a whopping 2 mph, we went down.....well just SeeMore and I. Somehow Dustin was standing beside us, as we went down. Only thing hurt was my pride.

I thought about what happened for a very short time, once you get back on the towpath, thoughts like that disappear when everything around you is peaceful. Greg and I resumed our traveling side - by - side, and the "Good Afternoons" (cousins of the 'Good Mornings") began. The only thing exciting was that SeeMore limiting screw snapped off. This screw sets the distance between the handlebars and the Captain. Nothing to do but get a small stone and wedge it in.

We parked our bikes and walked across the the converted railroad bridge into Harpers Ferry. It is the 5th or 6th time I have visited Harpers Ferry. Harpers Ferry is located on a hilly piece of land, sandwiched between the Shenandoah river and Potomac river. It was one of the United States first weapons manufacturing armories (muskets), it change hands 8 times during the Civil war, but was mostly control by the Union. Harpers Ferry is most famous for the John Brown rebellion (1859). You can read about it on the net. But it is very interesting John Brown was an abolitionist who advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end all slavery; ironically a freed slave became the first casualty of the raid.

After walking up and down the streets of Harpers Ferry, we walked across the converted railroad bridge, mounted our iron horses and continued on to Brunswick and chose the Brunswick Community Campground as our home for the night. The Prince of Wales II is up and looking over the Potomac. We will be heading into town shortly for dinner, and tonight we will get to be rocked gently asleep by the sounds of the modern railroad. Yes sir, there are 8 train tracks that parallel the campsite, and a train yard. Oh boy!