Thursday, August 26, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Erie Canal Adventure Days 9 and 10

Little Falls to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Albany

As we were warned when we left Senaca Falls, there were far more hills on the eastern end of our journey than on the western side. From the time we left the canal in Clyde, we had ridden more and more on roads and less and less on trail. The roads , while paralleling the canal do not keep the even level imposed on the tow paths. For the most part, the hills are not horrible, and, for some one not toting an addition 20 pounds or so of stuff, might even be enjoyable.

Leaving Little Falls was fairly straight forward though we did make one unnecessary circle getting to the trail, adding all of half a mile or so to the day.By this point in the trip we had established pretty set patterns to our trek. Mike and Squidette took the lead and Little Squid and I trailed behind. Periodically I would get Little Squid singing which worked to quicken his pace -- otherwise he tended to get lost in his thoughts as he looked around and when that happened, he slowed down quite a bit. Since I do the same thing, I really only nudged him forward when I could no longer see Mike and Squidette up ahead. That said, he and I had a great time working our way through a variety of Broadway musicals. West Side Story, by the way, does not really lend itself to quick cycling.Every 5 miles or so, Mike would pull over and wait for us to catch up and we would make a quick assessment of people's needs regarding food, water and bladder status. Stops occurred at other times as well, usually surrounding the last item in that list. We noticed that on the western end of the Canal, there were porta-potties at almost every lock. That was sadly not true for the eastern end and we found ourselves having to go away from the trail to find relief.

The ride to Fultonville, our lunch stop, was uneventful. The journey from Fultonville to Amsterdam, almost so.As we approached Fort Hunter, the trail changed from asphalt (a lovely relief from the stone dust of previous days) to concrete as we crossed an old railroad bridge. I was pondering the change in pavement when I caught up to Mike, who was talking with a couple of riders heading in the opposite direction. One was heading to Buffalo and planning on doing it in 2 days. As it was after 2 when we met him, and we were barely 50 miles out of Albany, I seriously wonder if he was able to make it. The other, was a local who taught us a bit about the area. The bridge we were on was apparently (as I had assumed) an old railroad bridge. The reason it was covered in concrete was because in 1987 a bridge on the NYS thruway had collapsed and this old railroad bridge had been quickly repaved in order to accommodate the necessary detour. Just north of this bridge were the remains of an aqueduct that had carried the Erie Canal over Schoarie Crossing. The aqueduct was still largely intact and was holding up far better than the doomed, modern, bridge.From the bridge, we detoured a few miles to historic Fort Hunter where, after making several wrong turns, we learned more about the canal and got a look at more remains of the old canal.Finishing with the fort, hot and tired, we wearily pedaled into Amsterdam, a town that has seen far better days but which boasts a fantastic Indian restaurant in the hotel we stayed in (the only lodging in town). Here, my brother Mike and his s.o., Maria, joined us for a lovely dinner (which stood up favorably to some of the best Indian food that we've ever had) . Sleep came fairly quickly, to be rudely interrupted by some college kids (an assumption regarding age based on behavior) being very loud and banging doors and basically acting like kids, at 2 a.m. I was very tempted to get my revenge the next morning as we packed up at 7 a.m., but restrained myself in consideration of any other guests.
The last day found us mostly on paved trail, some of which was absolutely delightful to ride. As we rode the last miles into Albany we experienced rolling hills that were actually fun to ride. They reminded me why we were doing this and revived my joy in riding despite my sleep deprived and sore state at that point.

We rolled into Albany around 3:00 and immediately headed to the Amtrak station in Rennsaeler where we traded our tickets for the next day in for tickets for the next train out.

By 4:00 we were safely seated and heading for home.

420 miles over 9 days of riding.
We traversed New York state at its widest point, saw some beautiful scenery and some, sadly run down towns. We met great people and had lots of satisfying meals. No one got sick, injuries were limited to some minor scrapes and we had practically no mechanical problems.

Will we do this again? Maybe. The major drawback with this kind of trip is that every night is in a different place. The pressure to get from one place to the next and to ride a minimum number of miles each day was a little wearing. I, personally, never got to ride at my own pace. I was always either bringing up the rear, with the tired or slower child of the moment, or racing to catch up to the three of them when sudden energy spurts hit Little Squid.

Overall, I had a great time and really feel a sense of accomplishment. I want to do something similar next year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Erie Canal Adventure Day 8

Rome to Little Falls

[A brief thought before I get started ... when we arrived home on Saturday, we first went to Whole Foods to stock up on some necessities. While Mike and Squidette went into the store, Little Squid and I watched the bikes. In the ten minutes that I was waiting on the street, I saw more people than I had seen for all of the preceding 10 days. I'm not sure what that means but it is significant. We saw very few people on the streets in any of the towns and cities we visited. Now, we did, mostly, stay confined to one narrow corridor as defined by the Erie Canal but, we also spent an entire 36 hours in Syracuse. Was the lack of people on the streets due to the pervasive car culture? Was it just that these places are so small that there just aren't that many people to see? Or, could it be that New York City is just way too crowded? Or, all of the above. What do you think?]

We had some difficulty leaving Rome. It seems, that while all roads may lead to Rome, not all roads lead away from it. Some, in fact, pretend to lead away but circle right back.
Once we did finally find the trail out of Rome, we had little difficulty with directions for the rest of the day. The only mechanical difficulties of the trip occurred on the final stretch into Little Falls when my chain lost it's moorings. A quick flick of the fingers (making them rather dirty) restored order to my world and we landed there safely.

Our day started with the only chain restaurant of the trip, a Denny's for breakfast. Lunch was at a nice diner in Frankfort which was followed by a trip to the Remington Arms Museum in nearby Illion.
No, I am not really a gun loving type of gal. I don't dislike them, per se, but my passions run to fiber, not flintlocks. Despite that, the museum was quite interesting (and very small) and had some nice examples of workmanship on the firearms on display.

Then, eying threatening skies, we hustled on to Little Falls and our Inn for the night.
The Canal Side Inn is known more for its food than its lodgings, mainly because the food is fabulous and the rooms are few. The rooms we had, however, a suite, were lovely, clean, well appointed, and the sofa bed much more comfortable that the one in the high class hotel in Syracuse.

The chef is also the owner of the whole establishment and he and his staff graciously fed us the bistro menu (lighter fare and lower prices) in the main dining room. We left feeling well fed.

Once again, we had landed in a town too late to go into any of the shops (no museums here) but had a lovely walk on the waterfront and in the historic canal area.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Erie Canal Adventure Day 7

Syracuse to Rome
During our rest day we ventured out to the Erie Canal Museum, located in an old weigh-lock building. There we learned how the boats were weighed in order to assess tolls and, that we had some hills ahead of us in the next day of cycling.Sure enough, the day started with some long hills out of the valley that is Syracuse's downtown area. Fortunately we got an early start and didn't have to deal with the hills during the heat of the day.

Leaving the roads, we encountered stonedust trails that persisted for the remainder of the day whenever we were not actually on the road instead of off-road.
About 10-15 miles in, the ladies needed a rest stop with no appropriate facility in view. Fortunately, we were just a mile or so from Green Lake State park where we got off the trail, briefly, to relieve ourselves. This was the only time that Squidette and I divested ourselves of our saddlebags and left Mike and Little Squid to do our thing. It worked and we were in and out of the park fairly quickly.
Meanwhile, Little Squid had finally spotted the elusive Canal Monster. We were sure we'd missed him (her?) when we left the main canal for the Old Canal but apparently the monster prefers the quieter and murkier waters of the Old Canal.
Pedaling on, we came to the village of Chittenago and visited the only dry-dock still in existence on the old canal. A museum has sprung up around its remains and it is the first time I've visited a restoration that is still in the process of being restored.

After touring the site, we continued eastward, making sure to view the remains of sunken barges (look for the rebar outlines, that is all that is left).
Then on to Rome over trail that became increasingly difficult to pedal, ironically enough, because they were restoring it.

In Rome we walked around the outside of Fort Stanwix because, by the time we showered and recovered, it was already closed.
Dinner at a nice Italian restaurant ended with fabulous desserts and then early to bed.

More pictures can be found here, along with a fairly complete geotagged map.

Mike's version of the trip can be found here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home at Last

Give me a day or so to process and then I will finish the synopsis of our journey. We are now home and recovering from our journey ... and getting ready for our annual jaunt to Lancaster, PA.

There is some food back in the apartment and the turtle tank desperately needs cleaning.

I'll start uploading pictures and writing a little later. I think I'll post in small bits to make it easier and quicker to read and write.

See you later.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Monday, August 09, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Riding the Erie Canal Days: 5 and 6

We are now sitting in our lovely hotel room in Syracuse, New York, having completed a 44.5 mile day and a 42 day yesterday. For those keeping track, we have now cycled 221.5 miles over 5 days. Yes, we are tired. Yes, some of us are very sore while others are moderately sore. Mike claims to be just fine. There's also some sunburn and some funky tan lines from the bike shorts and gloves. Except for Little Squid. Who refuses to wear bike gloves. The backs of his hands look like they belong to someone from a much darker gene pool.

Meanwhile, the backs of our legs are still mad white. ;-) (Yes, daddy, we are using sunblock!)

The ride from Palmyra to Senaca Falls was fairly quick but involved many hills as we pedaled the last 15 miles south. We reached the town of Clyde by 11:30 a.m. and had a wonderful lunch at the Brickoven Cafe. Squidette and I redid breakfast with french toast for her and eggs and bacon and toast (home made cinnamon bread) for me. Little Squid chowed down on a turkey Ruben and Mike feasted on homemade hash. We followed it up with really good pie resulting in a much happier Squidette.

In Senaca Falls we stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast -- Van Cleef Homestead and walked around the historic downtown. If you want the history of the area, feel free to go over to Mike's blog. He already wrote it out, saving me the effort.

From Senaca Falls, we pedaled north east, through the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge (where we did not see Big Foot) and up and down over rolling hills to lunch in Jordan. Unfortunately our good lunch luck did not hold up and we settled for decent pizza in an unairconditioned storefront.

Then on over some recently restone-dusted trails which made for more difficult riding until we got to the outskirts of Syracuse and a fair amount of road riding.

As we rolled our bikes into our hotel - the historic Jefferson Clinton Hotel - the desk staff took one look at us as proclaimed "we've been waiting for you!" They relieved us of our bikes, upgraded our room and were incredibly nice.

We showered off the road dust and sunblock in a fabulous double-headed shower and then rested for a while before heading out to the famous Dinosaur Barbque for a good, solid, dinner.

This morning we slept in for a bit with Little Squid being the last to rise at about 7:30, ate breakfast and walked around downtown Syracuse. We attempted to visit the campus of Syracuse University in the morning but conclude that we were a little lost and, with everyone rather hot (at 9:30 a.m.) we gave up and headed back down town.

We finally visited a Canal Museum and got a good taste of the history of the Canal and the different boats that travel it. The Syracuse Canal Museum is located in the only remaining Weigh-lock building. Weigh-locks were like truck weigh stations but for barges so they could determine how much toll to charge.

We then attempted to visit, in turn, the Science Museum and two sets of galleries and found them all closed. So we headed back to the hotel to veg for a bit before getting lunch and then vegging and napping for a while.

Finally, Squidette and I headed out, determined to really see the Syracuse University Campus and, armed with a map and Squidette's innate confidence in her sense of direction, we made it all the way onto campus, up to Mount Olympus and back down via the Carrier Dome.

Now, fed with some pretty good pasta, I am running a load of laundry and we are doing some more vegging and stocking up on energy as we get ready for a 47 mile day tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we continue our trek through New York State on our way to Rome.

(photos can be found here and here)

Old Erie Canal in Jordan NY

Location : Canalway Trail- Erie Section (Camillus to Port Byron), Jordan, NY 13080,

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Riding the Erie Canal Day 4

Brockport to Palmyra

There is lots to see and do in Palmyra. Unfortunately, by the time we got here we were so wiped out that we did not see or do any of it. Don't be sad for us, though. We did have a lovely day and saw lots of pretty canal and other stuff.

We started out in Brockport about 9:15 this morning and made fairly good time to our first few potty breaks in Adams Basin and Spencerport. We've started keeping a very close eye on the map for potential relief breaks -- while the guys can pick out a likely tree along side the Squidette and I are stuck waiting for a porta-potty or an actual bathroom. There are no woods in which to disappear into and besides, we really are not quite that down to earth. (The need for frequent "natural breaks" is a side effect of our making sure that we are drinking enough and has the added benefit of forcing us to stop for a few minutes and drink even more. It's a self-fulfilling cycle.)

Last night I rinsed out a set of jerseys and bike shorts. This morning, the jerseys were dry but the shorts were not. Mike decided that they could be bungeed to the back of the bikes and dry as we rode. Conceptually, it was a good idea.

As it turned out, today was our absolute dustiest day of riding so far. I look at our bikes and bags now and almost don't recognize them, so faded are they with the dust.

That said, we did not actually notice the dust as we rode, just when we stopped and had to brush off the tops of the water bottles before drinking.

Continuing on from Spencerport, we rode though Greece and South Greece and then came to Rochester.

If you check out Mike's album you can see that we were, indeed, in Rochester. Mike managed to miss that fact despite having taken the picture.

The trail in Rochester was rolling asphalt. The asphalt part was great, the rolling, not so much for the kids. Mike and I did the "hills" fairly easily but the kids, carrying a larger proportion of stuff relative to body weight, had a rougher time. Mike got ahead of us by a bit and, when we finally reconvened at Lock 33, asked "when do we get to Rochester." D'oh!

The trail in Rochester, by the by, does not have any indications of bathrooms. Fortunately, there was one fairly soon after we regrouped.

Moving on, we rode on to Pittsford where we had a fabulous lunch and then continued riding the still asphalt trail to Fairport. At that point the trail switched back to stone dust and we continued, stopping periodically for beverage and relief breaks, through Egypt to Macedon. In Macedon we stopped to watch a canal lock in action and ... well you probably get the idea by now.

A mere four miles after Macedon is Palmyra, birthplace of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, where we are currently holed up for the night.

Squidette had a rough afternoon, energy wise and pushed through the last few miles on sheer will. Once here, she rested and joined us in the Inn's spa tub and is now much refreshed. That said, our Inn is more than a mile out of town and none of us really wanted to walk back into town to get dinner -- so we ordered in pizza and sandwiches and are now fed and in good moods. I also took advantage of the Inn's washer and dryer and got all of our gear reasonably clean. Even the shorts that got all dusty drying on the back of the bikes.

Photos for today, and all of the days can be found here, here and here.

Miles for today: 50

Miles so far: rail: 135

Tomorrow, we leave the Erie Canal and head to Senaca Falls.

Pittsford, NY

Lunch break, 25 miles so far today.  No canal monster siting yet.

Location : Canalway Trail- Erie Canal Heritage Trail, Pittsford, NY 14534,

Spencerport, NY

10 mile in

Location : Canalway Trail- Erie Canal Heritage Trail, Spencerport, NY 14559,

Friday, August 06, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Riding the Erie Canal Day 3

Lockport to Brockport.

(Pictures are slowing uploading from my phone to the Erie Canal album.)

We started out the day with a very nice breakfast at our Inn in Lockport and then took off on the trail. Most of today's ride was off-road, on stone dust path along the Canal We saw many, many lift bridges -- these bridges sit very close to the canal and lift whenever a boat comes by. Each of them has an operator who listens to the radio, waiting for boats to arrive. While eating lunch in Albion, we got to see our first bridge lifting and then saw another a few towns later.

The day was fairly uneventful, with a clear and sunny sky and nice cool temps.

In Holley, we made a short detour to see a very nice waterfall and in Brockport, where we are spending the night, we walked around the waterfront and got some really good ice cream.

Time to get some shut eye and prepare for the ride to Palmyra in the morning. Squidette has already scrutinized the map and figured out where the bathrooms and port-a-potties should be located. Lunch, I think, will be in Rochester.

Total miles for the day: 47

Total miles for the journey: 85

Albion lift bridge, lifted

Location : Canalway Trail- Erie Canal Heritage Trail, Medina, NY 14103,

Medina lift bridge

Location : Canalway Trail- Erie Canal Heritage Trail, Medina, NY 14103,

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Riding the Erie Canal Days 1 and 2

This is one of those rare vacation posts that is actually being written on a computer. We brought a single netbook with us so each of us has a very limited amount of time on it -- hence the very short, single picture posts that you have seen so far. Those are coming from my phone.

If you wish to see even more vacation photos, keep an eye on this album. Most of today's and yesterday's photos uploaded to the July 2010 album, but the rest will go directly to this Erie Canal album.

Yesterday we boarded a 7 am train from Penn Station to Toronto. We disembarked at Niagara Falls, Ontario and not Lake Huron, MI as one of my blog posts may have led you to believe. (Technology sometimes fails me as it did with geotagging that photo and again when I tried to get the weather and it still thought I was in Michigan.)

The train ride was relatively uneventful. We read our books, I knit my sock (just have to kitchener the toe tonight) and just generally hung out. Getting on the train. Now that was an adventure! But an adventure to be told another day.

After what seemed to be a very long wait for Customs to clear the train, we finally got out, unfolded our bikes and rode all of a quarter mile from the train station to our hotel. Yes, I chose our lodgings based on proximity to the train station.

Settling in, we hopped on the hotel shuttle to downtown, had a quick meal and then walked over to the falls. If you haven't seen them, my photos cannot possibly do them justice -- but their not bad (they are in this folder).

We gawked at the Falls for quite a while and then made our way back to the hotel for the night.

This morning we left the hotel all kitted out in our yellow jerseys and rode from Niagara Falls, across the Rainbow Bridge to Tonawanda, New York. Tonawanda is famous for ... well I really don't know. But it has a neat carosel museum and is home of Wurletzer Organs. It also is home to Lou's, a very nice diner type place with good, solid food and very nice folks.

From Tonawanda we rode along the Canal Trail, both on and off road, to Lockport, from where I am writing this post. Lockport boasts the only 5 step, paired set of locks. Only one of the original 5 flights still exists but does not function any more. The other side was replaced with a two step set of locks which we had the pleasure of watching operate.

We are currently ensconced in Hambleton House, a lovely Bed and Breakfast. Tomorrow we will cycle on to Brockport.

Today's mileage: 37


Lock 34 or 35

Location : 1-3 Gooding St, Lockport, NY 14094,


Lock 34 or 35

Location : 1-3 Gooding St, Lockport, NY 14094,

Riding Along

Carousel museum, Tonawanda

Location : Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St, North Tonawanda, NY 14120,

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Erie Adventure Day One

Horseshoe Falls

Since I am blogging from my phone this will be short.

The train ride was long but uneventful.

We found the hotel easily and then took the hotel shuttle down to the falls area.


Tomorrow, we start riding the erie canal.

Then a long walk back to the hotel and now to sleep.

Tomorrow, we start riding the canal.

Location : Port Huron, MI,

On our way!

On the Amtrak Maple Leaf heading to Niagara Falls, (Ontario).  The plan?  Ride our bikes along the Erie Canal to Albany.

Location : Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10027,

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

I do not usually do this but today's Ten on Tuesday fits perfectly!

Ten Things to Bring on Vacation:

1. Bike Shorts -- standard black with good padding. (Pearl Izumi for the gals and Mike, Performance for Little Squid.)

2. Bike Jerseys -- Velowear in yellow and red with our Squid on Wheels logo ironed on. (Velowear is not our favorite but is the only brand easily and inexpensively obtainable in four different sizes at once.)

3. Knitting -- socks for this trip -- enough yarn for 3 pair. Yes, I am overly fearful of having too much knitting time.

4. Geocaching swag (mini socks for us)

5. Maps, guide books and more maps

6. Nuun! (and the water bottles to go with it)

7. Ebooks! Lots of books in a very compact package. No fear of running out of reading material on this trip.

8. Easily schelped games for summer evenings -- Quiddler and Set.

9. Folding Bicycles. Can't have a bike trip without the bikes.

10. The rest of the family. 'Cause it just wouldn't be as much fun without them!

Practice Ride

&nbdip;Practice Ride&nbdip;

Location : Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10027,

Practice Ride

Location : Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10027,

Monday, August 02, 2010

No Cycling Miles but some Knitting

No miles today but lots of packing and a little knitting.

Several weeks ago I started a Pi Shawl using some pretty purple-grey handspun. My goal was to just knit and knit until the yarn ran out. When I started what I thought would be the last round before the edging, I started racing the yarn. You know (at least the knitters do), knitting faster and faster in hopes of getting to the end of the row before running out of yarn.

I was doing this while sitting on a bed in a hotel in Pittsburgh. On the other bed was my sister, frantically crocheting as if her life depended on it, trying to finish a baby blanket before our nephew's bris the next day.

When I got to the end of the row, I had about 18 inches worth of yarn left. Phew!

My sister finished her crocheting about the same time and, it an act of true sisterhood, I helped her hide the ends.

The next morning I started the edging. And the same scenario (the yarn race) played itself out yesterday as I did the laundry. This time I lost with several inches of edging still to be knit.

Did I lose it? Did I throw a tantrum? No, I calmly (really) took a smaller needle and started reknitting the edging from the dangling end. I'm really hoping that this works!

If you came here today looking for miles, come back on Thursday.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


This is what the laundry of a family of cyclists looks like.

19 miles today.