We’ve been able to camp the last couple nights, which makes it more difficult to write. Even though we’ve tented at campgrounds with wifi, the dynamics of camping require my focus elsewhere. I’ll attempt to catch up a bit here.
We took a taxi (no public transportation) from Weedsport to Lyons and then walked on to Newark. This is another section of unfinished trail where you are directed to walk on a busy hiway for about 20 miles. It is exceedingly uncomfortable for me to have semi trucks barreling at me 6 feet to my right, and since we came to walk the trail, we decided to bypass the hiway bits. We still walk on country roads in many places. Plus we got to meet Hank, our taxi driver, a single dad of a thirteen year old boy. His wife passed at an early age, leaving him and his son. Hank’s story and desire to raise an upright and well-rounded man was moving and inspiring.
We have been following the original Erie Canal for miles and miles but at Lyons the trail rejoins the modern barge canal, the Erie Canal’s third, and so far, final evolution. We had parted ways with the barge canal at lock 21 where it continues north to Lake Oneida. The old and new are actually paralleling each other now. That means that we see more boats and go through more towns with harbors and canal side commerce. I want to say a bit about the area we bypassed before moving on. This area is now called the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and is a major flyway for migratory waterfowl on the east coast. During the building of the Erie Canal, however, it was called the “Great Cayuga Swamp.” Workers on the canal contracted malaria from mosquitoes and the disease proved fatal for approximately one thousand workers.
This is a sign we saw coming out of Camillus. I forgot to post it on the last post. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any stowaways.
We camped in Newark at Whispering Winds RV Park. It was quiet and clean. Newark has a nice harbor for cruisers on the canal. Here is our campsite in the early morning with low lying fog.
Heading west out of Newark, we came to an area called the “wide waters” which appears to be a fisherman’s haven. Many houses dotted the banks, each with a dock.
We found a little cafe right off the trail in Palmyra, appropriately named “Muddy Waters.” East of Lyons, a trail side cafe would have been rather rare but since rejoining the barge canal and being in closer proximity to major metropolitan areas, we have enjoyed this convenience a few times. Anyway, Palmyra is the 1820’s birthplace of Mormonism, where Joseph Smith unearthed golden plates containing the Book of Mormon. Palmyra was dubbed the “queen of the canal” in its heyday. We camped at Red’s RV Park just west of Macedon, NY, having walked a whopping 18+ miles this day.. Red had an awesomely refreshing in-ground pool!
We walked about 14 miles today to a suburb of Rochester called Bushell’s Basin just east of Pittsford. There was an abundance of canal activity today and I managed to get Coral, my mini iPad, out of the pack in time to take some videos. I hope they stream well for you. The first is a canal cruise line boat. This is the first of two identical boats going east.
This is women’s crew team practicing on the canal. This was a real treat! Girls rock!
We had lunch in Fairport, a canal side village dubbed the “Jewel of the Canal.” Fairport has wisely capitalized on the charm of the canal. Shops and restaurants line the canal way and the whole area seems very welcoming and prosperous.
Fairport has a “lift bridge,” which historically enabled the passage of tall loads being moved on the canal. During lunch, we were treated to two liftings of the bridge. The first video shows the bridge lifting while the second is the boat that came through. It is a very low bridge, typical of the bridges of old. There was construction going on in front of the cafe, hence the men without shirts. ( :
After Fairport, the canal meandered through posh residential neighborhoods.
Jusr before we exited the trail to find our hotel we met Norm and Larry, two residents of Fairport. They were both in their 80’s and passed us a couple times as they sped up and down the canal trail in their motorized scooters. When they stopped to talk to us, they told us how proud (yes, proud) they were of us that we weren’t taking our ability to walk for granted. I had been feeling somewhat weary and just plain tuckered out earlier in the day, and their words were just the encouragement and perspective I needed. Not all trail angels provide food and drink for the body. Some give sustenance for the soul. Here are trail Trail Angels Norm and Larry.
Tomorrow we will walk through most of Rochester and stay near the airport. How’s that for a change of scenery? I have begun to miss Mexican and Thai food. Pizzarias are to New York as Starbucks are to Washington…one on every corner. We had a first today…a car with New York license plates actually stopped for us while we were waiting at a crosswalk…sorry New Yorkers, but it’s true. We still love and appreciate you. ( :