#45 June 2012 Blog NYC- Erie Canal-Oswego Canal - Sodus Bay, NY

May's posting ended with a tone of "to be continued" so will make it short.  When we departed Tom and Elinor's dock in Severna Park, MD, we paused for a few days in Chesapeake City, another old and quaint little town where boating activity was abundant. 

We were there on a weekend so all the "beer can boaters" were out doing what they do which is always a good time for us to stay put and let them have it for a couple of days.  On Mondays when they go back to work, then we take our turn. 

The C and D Canal Museum was very horizon-broadening and the docent and her husband who run a tour boat, are native Chesapeake City folks.  Her in-depth knowledge about the canal was fascinating.

Our next significant stop was the end of May when we arrived in NYC. We spent a week there which was a major sensory overload with sounds, sights, smells, and tastes-and in a few cases--a little tactile stim.

9-11 Memorial
No way can I tell you about everything we did but will hit the high points including the 9-11 Memorial, 

One of the two reflection pools marking the footprint of a tower

Times Square, NYC Museum, Rockefeller Center, Radio City, Today Show, Tiffany's, Wall Street, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Trebica, Harlem and the Apollo Theatre, cycling Hudson River trail, and 2 Broadway shows, Jersey Boys and Mama Mia. 
The Today Show and Ann Curry
Matt Lauer of Today Show

Bill's top favorites are the shows and bike ride. 
Flat Iron Building

Mine are Today and the plays. The Today Show was such a serendipity!!! I thought we'd be in a huge crowd but Ann Curry and Matt Lauer were no more than 4 feet away from us.
Madison Square Park
Dog with shoes and parrot in a back pack
The Apple Store on Fifth Avenue was definitely a sight to behold!  This is NY's flagship Apple Store that employs over 800 people who speak every imaginable language  They are open 24/7/365!!!  I commented to the "Apple-ette" who was helping me, that it seemed extremely busy.  He said, "Au contraire!  We're having a very light day."

                                                Apple's Fifth Avenue New York Store

We left only the core of the Big Apple, packing into every second as much as we could possibly do. Each night we would return home exhausted as we fell into bed.
Empire State Building from Top of the Rock

In defense of what the proverbial "they" say about New Yorkers, our experience and observations were only politeness and helpfulness. 

When a pedestrian would bump into another on the bustling sidewalks, they almost always turned around to say, "excuse me". What a week! We absolutely LOVED it!!
A Times Square sighting.  She's wearing boots, hat, guitar and her patriotic "bottoms"

We continued north on the Hudson River and were looking forward to visiting with Mela and Dick, cruising friends we met several years ago in Vero Beach where they winter.  

Their summer home is in Catskill, NY, just off the Hudson, and what a grand country estate they have to call "home". Mela's Italian so our dinner was authentic from the first ingredient! We felt like we were in Tuscany! Our visit was really fun. Bill and Dick talked about old mechanical stuff and Mela just made me laugh. My face hurt when we left!
Rip Van Winkle
The story of Rip Van Winkle is a significant part of NY’s Catskill’s cultural legacy.  The famous short story by Washington Irving, which takes place in the Catskills, first appeared in a collection, “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon” in 1819, and was the first book by an American writer to become internationally successful.

Irving’s story chronicles the life of Rip, a charitable but unconventional fellow, who wandered off and unwittingly followed the ghost of Henry Hudson’s men into the woods.  He imbibes a “magic potion” and falls asleep for 20 years only to awaken and realize that he had aged, the American Revolution had taken place, and he no longer recognized anyone in town.

He returned to the village but it wasn't long before he found his place among the people and resumed his old habits.  He reunited with his daughter, befriended the village children, and told his tale to the townspeople who wished they too could have shared in Rip’s good luck and slept through the hardships of the war.  This area of NY is proud to be the home of Rip Van Winkle and they commemorate him in various way.

A Cat from Catskill...!

Friends, Jack and Ginger, live in Pomona, NY, so we went into Haverstraw Marina. They rolled out the red carpet and were waiting on the dock for us when we arrived. They gave us a great tour of the area, took us to the country's 2nd largest mall, and prepared a clam and shrimp dinner in their home for us. They are cruising friends who also winter in Marathon and we met them there two seasons ago. They were great hosts and we value their friendship.

(Along the way we stopped at many little burgs and enjoyed the uniqueness and individuality of each but I tend to be too verbose so will omit those.)

Waterford was a destination we'd anticipated and what a wonderful little village.    Accidentally, we happened upon two very interesting restaurants there and on Saturday morning enjoyed their Farmer's Market complete with music.

NY State and the Erie Canal System has extraordinary bike ways that parallel the Erie Canal and of which we made tremendous use. One week, despite much sightseeing, museums, galleries, monuments, etc., we were able to get in 100 miles which is small change to our hard-core cycling friends but we were so happy for the opportunity to explore little towns by bike and chat with the locals who've been a wealth of local knowledge and very warm and welcoming.
A typical bikeway

On one of our cycling treks we went to Amsterdam. Water and a restroom was at the very top of my list so I asked a gentleman who was in front of an Italian restaurant where I might find a public restroom. Long story short he welcomed us into his restaurant to use his facilities and put 2 huge glasses of ice water on the bar for us. We began chatting with he and his wife who own Pacillo's Armory Bar and Grill, a darling place and decorated very eclectically. They've owned it for 39 years which we thought to be remarkable in this tiny little village. Had we not been a lengthy bike ride away from our dock, we'd have stayed for dinner. The atmosphere was so Italian and it was such a charming and cozy place.

Canajoharie was our next stop so let me add this here---every night we're tied to a dock at no charge---thanks to NY state tax payers--and this one had water and power to boot! The dock is in a lovely and impeccably manicured park. The towns people here exuded even more warmth and friendliness than we've found before. This stop provided other great bike rides, one of which took us almost straight up for 2 miles in our quest to see craters that the falls have carved over the years--hence the town's name which means "boiling pot". Returning to town, all down hill was fun and our brakes were smokin'!!! We were there 2 days, ate 3 meals out---2 of them in the same cafe which was a gathering for locals and what a find! Meals were priced from the '50's and I had a 5" high soft serve ice cream cone for $1.50! The server must've been there since day one--deeply sun-damaged face covered with a pound of make-up, sporting a ring on every finger, and evidence of having visited a tattoo parlor more than once.

Beechnut Nutrition began in Canajoharie and the now deceased Mr. Arkell was the CEO. He left his stone mansion to be used as an assisted living facility and also funded the Arkell Museum and Gallery that's awesome even for a larger town. Several Homer Winslows hang there.

We got 36 locks of locking experience under our belt and on several bike rides, we visited some locks. Each lock tender is very proud of his lock (never saw a woman) and takes great care to keep the colors of blue and yellow paint fresh. The entire lock mechanism is original and well over 100 years old. Polished to a glistening shine are the lock's control knobs.

They also maintain the property around the locks keeping the blooming flowers watered and the grass neatly groomed.

Each of these little tiny villages have hanging baskets adorning street light posts and parks and other public property are immaculately kept.

General Herkimer's Estate is an historic site. Our 18 year old docent is a college sophomore and she made the tour fascinating.
Herkimer Home

Fort Stanwix in Rome was another history horizon broadening experience. Our tour guide is a musician but he had more dates and historical facts in his noggin that I'd expect a college history professor to have. He even played the fife for us.
Our Fort Stanix docent playing his fife for us

Ever heard of Chicken Riggies? Neither had we but it is native to Rome and Utica and their prize dish. We went to a Chicken Riggies national award winning restaurant to sample this meal and it's very good--chicken, rigatoni, and peppers in a white vodka sauce. If we keep this up we're going to need to get tractor seats for our bikes.

By mid June we'd traveled 420' above sea level and traversed 20 locks. Then we began our descent which went faster with the emptying than our assent and the filling.

Sylvan Beach was a trip back into the 50's!  Old timey amusement park, Mom and Pop motels, ice cream stands where you walk up and order---lots of things that plummeted us back a few decades.  Planned to stay 2 nights...but the weather thing...so we stayed 3 and enjoyed it but had the "it's time to go" feeling.

Phoenix is a must-stop that friends had told us about and we loved it!!!  Teens volunteer during the summer and meet cruisers as they come in to the dock; scurry off to get menus of area restaurants; offer to call in our order and deliver it to us; walk the dog; water the plants; wash the boat; take us on a walking tour; explain the museum contents to us....  When they aren't serving cruisers they're playing volleyball and having a grand time.  We heard no head-banging music nor bad words.  They were so refreshing and such precious kids who are called the Bridge House Brats!!  

What a wonderful program to see teenagers doing something productive during their summer vacation (not staying at home playing video games!) and interacting with old folks exhibiting all imaginative social skills---and making a difference in their community.  A wonderful woman named Cathy spear-heads this group of kids.  She...and they...are a wonderful asset to that community.

At the end of the month we went through 6 locks in one day between Phoenix and Oswego which is 1 lock away from entering Lake Ontario.  Our plans were to stay in Oswego for 2 nights but the wind and the lake were really kicking up so we enjoyed a 3rd night there.  

Since we left Manhattan, we've seen cute little towns but they're all greatly economically depressed.  It's so heartbreaking to see old homes and buildings falling into disrepair because the owners can't afford to maintain them.  Despite the economic situation, the area is still very rich in history.  I've probably said this in previous  blogs but I can't imagine living this life/doing this trip without bicycles.  They've enabled us to go places and see things we'd never have been able to do solely on foot.

Bill had a birthday yesterday, the 29th so he wore his new cycling duds and took off by himself for the day.  (We're really getting addicted to these bikes.)  He did have a great birthday dinner complete with cake that neither of us had to prepare nor clean up after.

Today, June 30, we cast off our lines and left Oswego and ventured out into Lake Ontario in a westerly direction, to Sodus Bay.  Bill's family still lives in upstate NY so we'll be able to visit with them.  Doris, his sister, picked us up from Oak Park Marina, so tonight we'll be sleeping in a real house on land with green grass. She's an incredible cook! We look forward to seeing everyone.

Just a thought but I may begin blogging weekly.  This is far too lengthy and I think I'd much prefer writing more often to be able to capture how we really felt about each day's activity.  If you're interested, check back periodically....

Till July---
Bill and Laura
Currently crossing Lake Ontario


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