Wednesday, August 4, 2010

15 miles on the Erie Canal

Day 40. Henrietta to Liverpool New York. Actually, it was 20 miles on the Erie Canal, not 15. Today was like 2 entirely separate days of riding. The first part was riding along the Erie Canal bike path system that goes through Rochester. This is, without a doubt, the nicest bike path system I've ever been on. It puts the Toronto bike path system to shame and is way better than any bike paths we've ridden so far on this trip. I was in Rochester this past April to see my daughter Lauren's St. Lawrence Saints softball team play a couple of games and I brought my bike, so I already had a chance to ride this bike path before. I didn't ride nearly as much of it 4 months ago, but I remember it being very nice. It's really cool how this bike path winds it's way past little villages that are really charming. We were on the path very early this morning but I imagine that there is a fair amount of activity in the bars and restaurants during summertime here.

On this ride we've had a lot of opportunities to see places that get your imagination flowing about how things were a hundred or so years ago. The Wild West is of course rich with that type of imagery. But the Erie Canal must have been a sight in its day. I can't imagine how they built/dug this with early 19th century technology. Plus, the towns that sprung up here during the early 1800's must have been vibrant centers of commerce. It must have been something to see.

Does anyone remember the old song:

I've got a mule, her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She's a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We've hauled some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge cauze we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
You'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal

Here I am singing (badly) and riding along the Erie Canal:

We left Henrietta at 6:15AM this morning to start our ride. Today's ride was a big one at about 95 miles. The heat and the humidity were soaring by around 10AM, so that made conditions a little harder still. At least we had favorable winds. One note on Henrietta before I write about the ride. I'm guessing that Henrietta is a somewhat Jewish part of Rochester. As we entered the bike path this morning I saw the Henrietta Jewish Community Center, so that kind of confirmed it. I also had 2 (count 'em 2) grandmothers who had Henrietta as their first name. I didn't know them as Henrietta. They were both known as "Yetta". Since I only had 2 grandmothers, and they were both called Yetta (I didn't find out until I was an adult that either of their real names was Henrietta), I just figured that the term "Yetta" was an affectionate term for "grandmother". That was a weird coincidence.

Anyway, part 1 of the ride today was the bike path. Part 2 of the ride was through rural upstate NY where we alternated through farms and then through towns. We crossed the Erie Canal 3 times and must have crossed I-90 6 or 7 times. It's weird that we have crossed I-90 several times since Minnesota, but here we are, doing it again. The ABB folks try hard to keep us on quiet roads which adds mileage to be sure, but the extra miles are usually worth it. I had a chance to take some pictures as we went through the many villages along the Erie Canal and the nice little towns that dot the New York landscape.

When we got to the hotel today, we checked in and were about to go to lunch at a place next door when a guy behind us said "you must be the Geldings." We turned around, wondering who it was and said hello. He introduced himself as Katie's Dad. Seems like he drove up here with Katie's Mom and brother all the way from Asheville North Carolina to surprise Katie (and hopefully take her out to dinner – far far away from a buffet). We weren't in the lobby when she walked in, but apparently her family sat in the lobby with newspapers hiding their faces until she looked a little closer at them. I managed to get a picture of her family before she got in. Nice folks. Very nice surprise.

Tonight we are passing on another buffet dinner and going to a locally famous rib joint called Dinosaur BBQ. My son Adam raves about the place. He has come here from Colgate with friends. I'm looking forward to it. The cab to take us there will be here in 10 minutes, so I've got to wrap this up. Off to a rib-fest. Yeah!

FYI – the DQ Blizzard and milkshake count is static today, but the Snickers count is up one (OK, it was a Mars bar, but they were out of Snickers):

12 Snickers
14 Blizzards
6 milk shakes

Now on to today's mail:

Rob from Toronto writes: "
Hey Mark. See you at the finish line. I'll be in Maine on the 9th and am looking forward to seeing you hop off your bike for the last time (for a long time, I would guess!). Please remind my cousin and your Duchess to pass on the details of your final destination." I hope to see you in New Hampshire Rob. Apparently it's a bit of a show with a police escort and everything. I don't know exactly where we go yet though, so I'll have to keep you posted on that one.
Here are my Garmin stats for the day:
This is Joe's blog:

Trip journal and photos by our tour leader Mike Munk:

This link is Jeff's blog:

This link is Baltimore Mark's blog:

And this is Katie's blog:

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