Several pictures along the Erie Canal. And one of me in my Halloween outfit.
This entry, as stated in last month’s posting, is of a different style. Because we were doing something out of our ordinary routine it seemed a more in-depth writing was called for. On the down side it makes this posting quite long. But take heart as next month it will be back to a less in-depth type of entries, for the most part anyway. I still might slip in a bit more detail as warranted though, but it will not be on the same order as this.
Thursday, September 27: It was time to head off to our Erie Canal trip. Our boat was actually reserved for Friday but we didn’t feel like rushing which is why we headed out on Thursday. It was around five hours to Pittsford, NY where we were staying for the night. We have taken this trip a few times and knew the town of Speculator was just under the half way point and would be a good stopping point for lunch and to take a break. There is a small cafe we found via the web that looked to be the spot. They got raves for their coffee and food too. As is our normal pattern we avoided major highways and stayed on the back roads. This took us through the Adirondacks and the promise of a colorful drive home is not out of reach. Several trees were just starting to turn so in two weeks we should be treated to a wonderful drive home. Anyway, we went through Speculator and pulled in at the sign announcing the cafe we were headed for. As we entered the place things just didn’t seem right but not on a level of actually figuring it out. We both had a fresh, crispy green salad and coffee then realized we had entered the wrong establishment. The place we were looking for was a small building behind the one we were in. No matter as the folks were really friendly and the food good. When we were done we went to peek at the other place and found it to be closed up tight. An open sign was in the window but there was no one around so it was good we went to the other place. We got to our hotel in Pittsford in the late afternoon and as the hotel had a restaurant we didn’t have to go out so we settled in for the evening.
Friday, September 28: We have been waking up early and Friday morning was no exception. We planed to be at the marina where our rental was sometime around noon so we were in no rush. We knew of a health food store about 15 minutes away where we did the shopping for the perishables we needed. There is a good vegan cafe that was sort of on the way so we planned to have lunch there. They opened at 11 and it was only 10 so we hit a bagel shop and found they had vegan and gluten free bagels so we got some to tied us over. By the time we finished our bagels and coffee it was time to hit the vegan cafe. After a tasty lunch it was time to head off to the marina. Our boat was ready so the transfer of items from the car to the boat started. It only took 20 or so minutes and the another 20 to put things away. Around 1:30 our trainer, Dell, joined us to go over the boat and when he realized we were seasoned hands at it we were off and away within the hour. This trip we decided to head east as the other times we went west. Our first lock was about 15 minutes down the canal and since there is very little traffic this time of year we got right into the lock. After a short but cheery chat with the lock master we puttered on to the next lock about 30 minutes further on. We were thinking of maybe pushing on beyond our planned stop but by the time we got there it was almost 5PM, the time the locks close down for the night, and since the next stop was beyond the lock our planned stop it was. I’m really glad we stopped at our planed stop in the town of Newark as it is a very nice place. The people are friendly, the dock has electricity, there are clean bathrooms and showers, a washer and dryer, it’s right near the center of town and docking overnight is free. Like some of the other town docks, this one has a park associated with it. This is mostly a plus but late night use can be a bit trying. The volunteers who run the visitors center are very nice folks. Newark seems good stop on the Erie Canal.
Saturday, September 29: OK, after a night at the Newark Marina I still have a good feeling about it. The small dockside park with a gazebo that gets a fair amount of use with the gazebo being something of a gathering spot. Unfortunately the late Friday night crowd, after the bars let out, like to gather there. Oh well. It seems there is a group of older folks who also use the gazebo in the morning for coffee and getting together. It is nice to see the park be well used and taken care of. This morning there doesn’t appear to be a cloud in the sky and by 7:30 the sun was starting to warm things up and glint off of the canal water. Having the sun out is a plus as when we had checked the long range forecast from home it was supposed to be rainy and cloudy almost the entire time. There is still some rain in the forecast though but we are ready for it. We do have schedule but have decided it is more of a suggestion than a set in stone plan. We are learning! Instead of a 5 hour or so cruise today we are looking at only going 2 hours so this morning we slept in until 7, well that is sleeping in for us. One of the first things to occur this morning was the aeropress got assembled and pressed (yes, a try for humor) into action. It preformed quite well and two strong cups of coffee were enjoyed. There is still a cool breeze out but the day is warming up nicely. With our decision to make Saturday an easy travel day we had time to take a morning walk around Newark. It wasn’t a long walk but we did make it though a bit of the residential areas of town. There are a lot of older Victorians in all ranges of condition but mostly on the well taken care of side. Some looked to still be single family homes while others had been split up into duplexes and quadplexes. There were not many people out and about which made a difficult time for the cub scout pack set up in front of a store selling popcorn as a fund raiser. We made a small donation as I really didn’t need the popcorn but wanted to support them. We then looped back to the boat to cast off on our cruise for the day. We had to turn in our key to the facilities room so we headed for the volunteer office. The same volunteer was there from the day before and we thanked her for the town providing such nice facilities. She was doing some crocheting and had some very nice pieces. She said they were for her son’s wedding and still had several more to do. Luckily the wedding is a ways off yet. She also mentioned she just found out the wedding will be taking place at her house. She was kindly about it and seemed resigned to her fate but it seemed deep down she was quite pleased. We bid her a fond farewell and pushed off into the canal. It was a little more than two hours and three locks to Lyons, our unplanned stop. Knowing it would be an easy day we throttled back a bit to take in the canal at something of a walking pace. A fast walk but a walk none the less. We saw several herons and other birds along the way but the most amazing thing was the water squirrel. We had never seen a squirrel swim before so we both just stood there mouths agape watching as he sped across the canal like an Olympic swimmer. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly no pictures were taken. A real shame as it would have been quite a sight to have on film. We pulled into Lyons around 1:30 or so and had a bit of a time docking as the dock walls are rather high. We have to climb on the roof of the boat to get out but on the other hand we once again have the place to ourselves. The marina listings we have are quite out of date and listed this dock as only having power and no other amenities. After we tied up we noticed a welcome sign announcing free showers and bathrooms at the local fire station just up the steps along with free wifi so the guide books could do with an update. And like Newark there is no charge to stay at this dock. Even though we have only been on the water for a day we decided to wander into the town and stop for lunch at a local eatery. Like most small towns these days Lyons had seen better days but they are hanging in there. A lot of storefronts were empty and there was almost no one on the streets but there were signs that activities still occurred in town like the barbecue next week at the fire station and the live concert at the local theater and playhouse. Since we had a large late lunch we decided to skip dinner and head for the fire house showers. Everything out of the way and just sitting on the stern of the boat a gentleman strolled up and started chatting. It is nothing unusual as a lot of folks around the canal and in small towns enjoy a good chinwag. It turns out this gentleman, Bob, was the official greeter and wandered by the docks in the mornings and evenings chatting with folks. It turns out Bob is a retired teacher who now narrates a canal cruise in this area. He was a wealth of information and since we have not traveled to the eastern part of the canal he filled me in on the sights and history of this area and the canal. It was a joy chatting with him and about 10 minutes later he stopped by with some of the basic information he relates during his narrations. We are now set for what to look for on our cruise on Sunday.
Sunday, 30 September: We were up and about for our early morning start. By 8 AM we were motoring down the canal after coffee, breakfast and a chat with Bob who stopped by to bid us a bon voyage. It was an overcast and a touch chilly this morning with the temperature around the mid 40’s. The wind had also picked up which made it feel even colder so we had to do some layering. There was no one else on the canal that we saw this morning so it felt like our own personal canal. The first lock was only a 6 foot lowering so we were through it in no time. We passed by the town dock at Clyde and noticed they had electricity so we could have pushed on from Lyons but no worries. Lyons was a nice stop. The marina we had thought about turned out to be a no go so it is good we didn’t actually try to head for it. It was more of a campground with a couple of small docks for fishing boats. The second lock was about the same as the first in size and lift difference and was ready for us as two other canal boats exited heading west. We were thinking the day’s trip would take a bit longer and that we might tie up at one of the locks for lunch but we hit the Cayuga Seneca junction at 11:30 and pressed on. We had 3 locks to go with one of them being a double at Seneca Falls. The first lock was at the head of Seneca Lake so if one wasn’t paying attention one could have headed off into the lake, which would not be a good idea as these canal boats don’t have a keel and would be blown around a lot. Keeping an eye on the buoys we made the correct turn and headed down the proper path to Seneca Falls. In stead of stopping along the way we had a quick snack en-route and arrived at Seneca Falls at just after 2 PM so all in all about a 6 hour trip. We docked, hooked up electricity, and went for a nose around. We found the visitors center that had bathrooms, showers, and a coin laundry. It took us a bit to find anyone as we had to climb up two flights of stairs to the Seneca Museum where we found the docent who was also the welcoming committee. Once again there was no docking fee which seems to be the norm for the eastern side of the canal. Wanting to support the local economy we headed out looking for dinner and came across the Woman’s Museum so we went in and had a good look around. It was pretty impressive and had over 100 plaques of notable women with their accomplishments and a picture, or in some cases a drawing such as the one for Abigail Adams. I recognized about 10% of the women listed with Liz knowing several more. After a good look around it was time for dinner. Mexican food sounded like it would hit the spot but the only restaurant within walking distance was closed on Sundays. We then found a sports pub of sorts that also had quite a few Mexican dishes on their menu and it was only 150 feet from where we were standing. The meal did fill the desire for Mexican food but normally we do not eat out all that often so we felt a bit sluggish and have decided to have the next few meals on the boat. It was decided Seneca Falls would be a two night stop so we have tomorrow to relax and have more of a look around. Rain is in the forecast for Monday so we will play things by ear. Now it is time to kick back and enjoy the evening. And part of that enjoyment includes a rousing game of Scrabble! We didn’t keep score and just played for fun.
Monday, 1 October: Another good night’s sleep on the water. In fact the water was so calm we almost missed the gentle rocking. The morning started with the normal routine of coffee and breakfast. It was then time to get out and about as we wanted to get going early to beat the rain. We have not been hitting the larder as hard as planned so we really didn’t need to do any restocking of perishables. But we found a grocery store run by the Amish was about a mile and a half away and for most of the route we would be taking a local art trail known as the Sculpture Trail. There were statues of some famous women along the way with some modern art and nature sculptures as well. It was a nice walk along the canal and only a few hundred yards along the road. Our path also took us over the George Bailey bridge of “It’s a Wonderful Life” fame so we had to take the walk. The rain was supposed to hit around 11 AM and our return to the boat clocked in close to 10:50, and no rain yet. As we got ready for our next foray, a glance at the water out of our window showed a light rain had started to fall. And it was 11 AM on the nose. By the time we exited the boat the rain had stopped. How about that for timing? Our walk took us in the opposite direction of the one this morning but again on the other side of the canal. We used a different bridge and found a coffee shop that was along our path so of course we had to stop. The sky still looked to be ready to rain but had held off so far other than the short burst this morning. One of our two destinations was the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house, a national monument administered by the National Park Service. Unfortunately at this time of year the house is only open Friday through Sunday but we still got to peek in the windows. There were a lot of storyboards for us to get filled in on the house and grounds. Our final destination of double locks 2 and 3 was just a couple of minutes further on. We got some nice photos of the double lock but unfortunately we just missed a boat transiting the lock. We stayed for a few minutes hoping another boat would appear but at this time of year the chances were low so we headed back to our boat for lunch. The plan for our exciting afternoon includes a quick load of laundry and showers. Before that though we stopped at a deli to grab a tea and coffee. It seemed a friendly and quaint place that was quite comfortable so we stayed for a bit. It was a place we could have brought our books and sat in the corner reading for a while. Still, the laundry and showers awaited so we headed back. And after what appeared to be a 5 mile jaunt this morning we wondered if yet another quick spin around the town would be in order. Time will tell. Which it did. We took a short walk through the town to drop off some postcards at the post office and then it was time for dinner followed by a game of backgammon, which Liz won with a rallying finish, and then off to sleep.
Tuesday, 2 October: Today is slated for some heavy rain. At around 7:30 this morning a light rain started to fall followed shortly by rolling thunder and a lot of rain. The rain is supposed to last through the whole day and if this morning is any preview it will be quite a wet day. We are headed back to the Erie Canal today and are on the edge of turning west rather than continuing east although we might take a short jog east to see an old aqueduct that used to be the Erie Canal then turn back west. For now, it is coffee and breakfast time. It has been decided by a sad but unanimous vote of the crew that we should turn back west today after a short jaunt to the east to see the aqueduct. The plan is to make Clyde as our destination which looked to be a nice, quiet stop with the possibility of electricity. The posts are there so we will find out if they still have power. There are 5 locks we will need to transit today, including the double lock on our way out of Seneca Falls. Clyde should be around a 4 to 5 hour trip which is a comfortable cruise. Our departure time this morning from Seneca Falls will be somewhere just after 10:30 AM. That gave me a chance to make one last trip to the visitors center and have a look at Main Street. Many of the towns we have visited are just barely hanging in there but have many empty storefronts and Seneca Falls is no different. We have heard that canal tourism was down this past season which makes it even tougher for these small struggling towns. It looks like rain will be our constant companion today but at least the thunder has stopped and there is no sign of lightning. The rain was coming down at a hearty pace as we transited the double lock set leaving Seneca Falls and it didn’t lighten up until we had gotten near the last lock on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal heading back to the Erie Canal. During the rest of the trip we got some light rain on and off until we got to Clyde. Luckily we were all tied up and settled in when a heavy cloudburst came through. It only lasted for about 10 minutes and then went back to the on and off light rain. As we exited the Cayuga-Seneca Canal we turned east for about 10 minutes to take in a view of the old Erie Canal aqueduct. A fair chunk of it had been taken down when the newer canal was put through to allow passage as it would have been too narrow and low to allow boat passage. A short piece of it was left in place as a historical marker so we wanted to have a look and take pictures, which we did. It was then time to turn west and transit the two locks between us and Clyde before they shut down at 5 PM. No problems as we were through both locks by just after 3 PM. It the older canal books it lists Clyde as just a dock with no amenities but when we passed this way a couple of days ago we noticed a nice park and electric service had been added. In chatting with a local the park and amenities were added about 3 years ago so it worked for us. The boat does have electricity but it is easier to plug in rather than run off of battery. The major downside of the overnight here, as with quite a few docks along the Erie Canal is the location of the train tracks and the frequency of the freights. In Clyde the tracks are just across the canal. Oh well. It was a bit of a warmer evening and a light rain was falling so we decided to have a boat cooked meal of chili. Tasty and filling and still had some leftovers for later. After dinner we chatted for a while about our adventure so far and made some loose plans for the next few days. It was then time to hit the hay.
Wednesday, 3 October: Once again we were up around our normal time but in no rush to cast off. As usual the first priority was coffee in order to start the day off right. It also felt like the right morning for oatmeal with bananas and strawberries so that’s what we had. Cast off time was around 10:30 so we had time to take a stroll around Clyde. There was not much activity which seems to be the norm these days. We returned to the boat and headed out with our destination being Palmyra. It was just over 20 miles and included transiting 3 locks with a total scheduled time of around 5 hours. There were a couple of other boats out but for the majority of the time we again had the entire canal to ourselves. It seems as if the trees along the canal were getting even closer to fall colors than when we passed this way just a few days ago. It was really an enjoyable sight having a long distance of a tree lined canal. All three locks were transited smoothly and we really settled into relaxed cruising. The first couple of days were about getting comfortable with the boat and adjusting to our new surroundings. Today we hit our groove of being on the canal and it felt good. As stated earlier, Palmyra was our destination. The dock is down a small channel from the Erie Canal and four boats our size would totally fill it up. There were two other canalboats docked when we arrived and the way they were tied up they took all but the last space which we grabbed. We pulled in just before 2:30 so had some time settle in, hook up to power and fill the water tank then take a stroll around the downtown area. Upon returningfrom our stroll we found the other two boats had taken off. I thought they were cutting it a bit close as the locks close at 5 PM this time of year and the next marina in either direction were beyond a lock or two, which was about an hour to reach the one eastbound lock and an hour to the second of the two locks westbound. Anyway, we had Palmyra all to ourselves. By docking at Palmyra we have now hit every local on the eastern side of where we rented the boat in Macedon as far as the Seneca-Cayuga Canal junction down to Seneca Falls. Palmyra, another free docking stop, had recently added a bathroom/shower facility for boaters which we took advantage of before dinner. All clean and sated we are now kicking back for a nice evening of doing nothing. But just before nothing time occurred we did make a plan for tomorrows puttering. A brief stop in Fairport to do some restocking of our larder then on to Pittsford for the evening. Fairport is a nice place with full amenities but a major road crosses the canal right next to the docks using a steel deck bridge which makes it sound like a major racetrack. At least it covers the noise of the once an hour freight trains! Pittsford is also a nice place but is shy on amenities. Electricity and water are available but the closest off boat bathrooms are about 50 yards away in a building shared by the local library and Starbucks, but yet another free stop.
Thursday, 4 October: Another early morning. Seems to be a habit we have a difficult time getting past. It was a pretty quiet night at Palmyra and I was feeling zonked so it was an early night for me. It was then around midnight I woke up for some reason and only drifted in and out of sleep until finally getting up early. We were under way by just after 8:30 headed to the first westbound lock, number 29. A light rain started to fall just as we left that turned into quite a heavy rainstorm that lasted for over an hour. It brought up a light fog that hung over the canal making it seem like an early Halloween. Almost an hour later the rain started to let up as we cleared the next lock, number 30, which was the last obstacle before Fairport where our larder restock was. The cruise was another mellow one all the way to Fairport as we passed by our starting point at Macedon en-route. We arrived just before at Fairport 11:30 and tied up then headed to the small grocery store that is within walking distance from the dock. It was a small place, I believe it was smaller than I actually remembered and the fresh vegetable selection was a bit sparse. Still, we were able get enough to tide us over until the next restock. After a quick lunch on board we got under way at 1:30 and noticed the sky had started to clear. We passed the lift bridge just past the Fairport docks and motored on to Pittsford. About half way between Fairport and Pittsford is a stop called Bushnell’s Basin. On our trip back in May this stop was closed down as their docks were under repair. They are now back in action but have not restored any of the amenities as yet. While Bushnell’s Basin is one stop we have not made it probably won’t be on our list anytime soon. Nothing wrong with it from a general standpoint it just doesn’t seem like our type of place. It feels more like a destination stop for locals to go out for a somewhat fancy dinner that offer dishes we don’t really partake in. We arrived at Pittsford somewhere around 3 PM and found the docks to be at least a third full. Still plenty of room it was just a surprise to see all the boats. We nestled in behind another rental from the same company as ours and the folks on that boat came out to help us tie up. That is not always a normal occurrence but is not unheard of either. After we were docked the four of us had a good old time chinwag for about half an hour. As we were chatting the sky turned a nice blue and there was not a cloud to be seen allowing the sun to make a late afternoon appearance. Our newfound canal friends related they had done some canal boating in France and thoroughly enjoyed it, but also had a family member who was fluent in French which helped a lot. So we had a good time talking boats, being on canals, more boating talk, and then wrapped it up with yet more boating talk. They are headed back to base on Saturday to return their rental before flying back home to Atlanta. Liz and I then headed to the coffee shop that is a short stroll away and relaxed with a warm beverage before returning to our boat. Tonight’s dinner plan is for pasta sauce with fresh spinach and rice noodles. I have to confess though, the pasta sauce was not homemade.
Friday, 5 October: Today is going to be one of our longer days as we are heading through the area south of Rochester were there are not any small towns to dock at. It was a bit chillier this morning but did warm up as the sun came out. In the early afternoon the clouds returned and the wind picked up making it a bit chilly again. Our scheduled destination is Brockport about 5 hours west of Pittsford. When we did our spring canal trip we also stopped at Brockport and were the first ones to arrive after the visitors center opened. I mentioned it to the volunteer who had the logbook and sure enough, we were the first on the list. Funny as we might also be the last the visitors center in Brockport shuts down next Wednesday. Even though we had a longer journey today we decided to take a morning stroll down the towpath to get a bit of exercise. It wasn’t a long walk, about two miles, but it was enough to get the kinks out of our joints. At 9:50 we were underway and headed for the first lock of the day about 30 minutes up the canal followed by the second and final lock of the day about 20 minutes later. Liz and I took turns being captain going through the locks and then settled in for the next 4 hours of cruising. About a third of the way to Brockport we crossed the Genesse River. The last crossing we did thing were very calm but there has been a lot of rain so the current was up a bit requiring some active steering of the boat. Other than a bit of corrective steering there were no issues as we headed into the canal on the west side of the river. The canal narrows down quite a bit here as this is another section that had been rerouted many years ago. The canal used to run through the middle of Rochester but as always, things change. After a couple of miles the canal widened up a bit, not quite as wide as on the eastern side but still wide enough for boats to pass without too much effort. We have passed a couple of boats, both from the same rental company as ours, but that was in the early part of today’s trip. The town of Spencerport was about an hour and a half before the Brockport stop. We have stopped at Spencerport for a brief overnight last year and have not really given it a fair chance so on our way back it is scheduled as a stop. There are two reasons we bypassed it today. We needed to get closer to Lockport, our last stop before turning around, and while there is power and one can use the restrooms at the canal museum while it is open there are no showers. Pittsford was somewhat of the same situation with the local library and coffee shop and while we could have showered on the boat we prefer using shore based showers as they are easier to deal with. Between Spencerport and Brockport there are three lift bridges we needed to transit. Not quite a drawbridge but where the entire bridge lifts up parallel with the water to allow boats to pass under. The final lift bridge is just before the town docks so after going under that bridge it was time to dock. It was 3 PM on the dot when the first rope got tied to the dock cleat. By 3:25 all the administration work had been taken care of, a good chinwag had been had with the volunteer and we were headed to a local tea shop we found on our last trip but weren’t able to visit because it had closed for the day. It is slated to close at 5 PM so we figured we had plenty of time to stop by and get a cuppa. The unique thing about this tea shop is it is also a gift shop with a lot of knickknacks. When we got to the front door at 3:30 we were greeted with the hours open sign, 11 AM to 5 PM, we were also greeted with a closed sign. Oh well, another time. Tonight is another boat cooked meal of veggie burgers, steamed veggies and baked potatoes. When we were checking the boat out our trainer mentioned he didn’t believe the oven had ever been used. Well, it has now. Showers taken, laundry started using the visitors center machines and potatoes cooking we sat back and waited to see if the potatoes or the laundry would finish first. The potatoes won as the laundry is still a bit moist and needed a bit longer. No matter as we normally don’t eat dinner until 6:30 and it is only 6:10 now. After dinner we are going to review our flexible plans for the next few days. Right now, Middleport is the projected stop for tomorrow.
Saturday, 6 October: I had a bit of a restless night but can’t put my finger on why. On well. Up early, again, and after a coffee and light breakfast we were off to the local grocery store to restock our larder. The walk was 30 minutes in each direction which was nice as it gave us a bit of exercise before our day of cruising. There was a light rain most of the way which of course stopped upon our return to the boat and now the sun is out. Anyway, we were able to stock up on a fair amount of fresh veggies and that makes us happy. By 10:45 we were under way and headed to Middleport. As the day melted away the sky cleared up a bit and some blue popped through. There were a couple sprinkles of rain but nothing like this morning on our grocery store walk. There were no locks on our trip but several lift bridges we needed to go under. There are a few that are fairly close together and being towards the end of the season and not a lot of canal traffic the same bridge operator runs two or even three of them and has drive between them. There were two bridges about 100 yards apart and the next one was about 15 miles away and the same person ran all of them. They must be physically at each bridge as a safety measure but with our boat doing some 6 mph the operator was easily at the last bridge before us. The next bridge pair were near the end of the day’s journey and another operator was tasked with running them both. The operators usually ask how far you are going so they can alert the next lift bridge or lock and will also pass on any information to boaters to make their day easier. When this last operator found out we were headed to Middleport he clued us in that there was a regatta going on and the place was crowded but he was sure they could find us a spot. We thought about it for some 2 seconds and punted. The town of Medina is about 45 minutes before Middleport and we had stopped there during our trip in the spring and figured that would be a better choice. While there was probably a spot for us, we imagined a lot of partying and noise would be associated with the regatta so Medina would be a better choice. The one drawback was the visitors center had not opened yet during our trip last May but at least there was power to be had and the town was nice. Well, we made the right choice. We pulled in around 3:30 and found we were the only boat there. We docked, hooked up to power and decided to hit a nearby tea shop but had to hurry as they closed at 4. The boat was set and we hurried off to the shop getting there 15 minutes before closing. It was not a sit down place where one sipped tea and nibbled on scones, it was more of a tea store. There must have been so 40 different types of tea in glass jars in a set of shelves along one wall. They also had the requisite tea accessories of cups, pots, strainers, tea towels and the like. The town of Medina is just over 6000 people so I have no idea how a shop like this could exist unless the good folks here are all mad about tea! We ordered our two cups to go and found a couple of chairs right out front. It was on Main Street but there wasn’t much traffic, which surprised us as it is Saturday night, so it was a pretty peaceful time. The tea was quite good and rounded out our travel day. It was then time to wander back to the boat for the evening. The visitors center was open with the showers being warm and clean. After a nice shower we dined on black bean stew and steamed veggies that hit the spot for us. It is now time to kick back and relax.
Sunday, 7 October: It is gray, overcast and a bit cool this morning here in Medina. There is some rain forecast for today and the next several days as well. Still, a hot cup of coffee always helps ones outlook. The relaxing effect of being on the canal is still with us and after reviewing Lockport we decided there is just too much going on there so we are going to make Medina our western most stop. That will make heading back to Macedon more of an easy lope as travel each day will be somewhere around 2 hours which means Albion is our next stop. Having a shorter cruise will also allow us to look around at the towns a little more. There is a watercourse that passes under the canal here that goes over a waterfall and into a nearby lake that we can go take a stroll by and maybe stop in a cafe for another warm beverage. Unfortunately the tea shop is closed on Sunday so we will not be able to revisit them but since we both liked the tea we had we will check to see if they have an online store. For now, it’s off to the falls. To get to the other side of the canal where one could see the falls we walked about 100 yards to a bridge where we were able to get to the towpath on the other side. It was strange to see a watercourse running under the canal. There was one cascade on the falls but the water was running quite fast which made it look pretty impressive. Circling back we headed down Main Street just to poke around. There is a train museum at the other end of the downtown area so, you guessed it, that is where we were headed. Being later in the season it is only open from Monday to Thursday and being today is Sunday it was no luck. The fire station next door was having an open house though so we got to see some fire trucks and other gear. Heading back down Main Street we say a diner that claimed it was open 24/7 which, along with the well stocked tea shop, seemed a bit of a surprise to us. We were back at the boat and were under way by just after 12. It is about a 2 hour cruise to Albion from Medina so we throttled back a bit and just puttered along. There is one spot on the entire canal where a road passes under it and this stretch is where that underpass is located. No cars passed under during our time passing it but we still go a couple of nice pictures. We passed one lift bridge with two more to go before docking at Albion. Arriving at the second of the three it looked like we would be a while as the lift mechanism went on the blink. The bridge operator had to call the maintenance crew to get it working again so we tied up at the terminal wall and waited. It was 1:20 and we figured if they didn’t have it fixed by 4 we would head back to Medina for the night. Being on canal time we just relaxed and chatted. At 2:20 the bridge operator called us on the radio saying they should be able to raise the bridge shortly and when we got the green light we could head out. By 2:25 we passed under the bridge and 30 minutes later we passed under the last lift bridge before Albion harbor. It was the same bridge operator from the problem bridge and I’m not 100% sure but I could almost hear the relief in his voice that this bridge came up no problem. By 3:05 we were tied up and hooked up to shore power. Next we filled the water tank and then kicked back for a while before heading to the showers. We had gotten the code to get in the door from the bridge operator who goes off duty at 5 so we checked to make sure the code worked in case we had any issues. The code worked fine and the facilities were nice and warm. We plan to take our showers before dinner and then just flop. We had stopped at Albion back in May when we took this trip and while it is a nice town there is not a lot of coffee shops or cafes close by. We will most likely take our morning walk before motoring the 2 hours to Brockport for another visit there. It would be a hoot if we were the last boat of the season there as we were also the first. And it is supposed to warm up tomorrow although still a bit of rain in the forecast for our last days on the canal this year.
Monday, 8 October: It is supposed to warm up a bit today but is still on the cool side. We are headed to Brockport today which will be about a 2.5 hour cruise so it is another no rush morning. There has been light rain on and off so during a lull I stepped off the boat for a few minutes. Sure enough when I got about 100 feet away a major cloudburst occurred causing me to quicken my pace back to the boat. A couple of minutes later the rain had stopped altogether as if to say “Don’t leave the boat!”. We have been passing a lot of geese, herons, cormorants, ducks and many other birds along the way. The general reaction is they will fly away as we approach or sit still. The herons, who are standing in the water at the bank, wait until we get right up to them then take off and fly for a short distance until we again get right up to them and again fly ahead. It is almost as if they are guiding us or keeping an eye on us. This behavior repeats for a few minutes when the current heron hands us off to the next one. This is not the most noteworthy reaction from birds we have had during our travels. While the geese will fly off or nervously pace around the banks, there are two different actions taken by the ducks. They will either fly away or race out from the banks into the path of the boat then move to one side and ride the wake. Some sort of duck fun I guess. As we left Albion we heard over the radio that a boat asking for passage under the bridge that held us up for an hour because it wouldn’t lift. It was working fine now so we knew there was another boat on the canal. It was a big cruiser that easily goes a lot faster than we can. The canal speed limit is 10 mph and we can hit 6 if we push it. About half way to Brockport the other boat was within sight. We radioed back to them that there were two eagles hanging out in a dead tree they would be coming up on shortly. The got a good look at them and called to thank us for the heads up. As they caught up to us we moved over and let them pass. They were also heading to Brockport for the night so we knew we would be seeing them again. By the time we got there and got settled a person strolling down the dock stopped and said “Hi, you must be on the Onondaga. I’m from Frizys Girl.” We had a nice chat then headed out for an errand. I had made a terrible miscalculation. I only brought a pound of coffee and from all indications we would be running out around Wednesday. So we found a coffee house about a 15 minute walk away and headed right there. We obtained a half pound of coffee and I made a note that one pound of coffee was not enough for a two week trip, even with having coffee out on occasion. Catastrophe avoided. Wow! What a weather change. It was in the low 50’s this morning with rain and 4 PM the sun is out and it is in the mid 80’s! How weird is that? Funny enough our boat has an A/C unit that we never thought we would be using but it is cranked up right now. Dinner tonight is looking like it will be chopped yellow and red peppers, carrots, celery and walnuts followed by veggie burgers. Tomorrow we will be stopping in Spencerport where a grocery store is about a 5 minute walk away. With the high temperature again in the 80’s we will be looking for another cooler evening meal.
Tuesday, 9 October: It was a beautiful morning. It was nice sleeping weather as it was a bit cooler. There were scattered clouds but a lot of blue sky with the promise of another warm day, which it was as it again rose into the mid 80’s. Last night the docks at Brockport were host to three boats, including ours. One of the boats was the one cruiser that passed us on the way there and the other was another rental boat from the same company as ours. Turns out we are on the same schedule for our return trip so we will be seeing them for the next few days. We got to chatting with them and found out they are from southern California and flew up here specifically to cruise the Erie Canal. They are two retired couples who travel together and this was on their list of things to do. They departed Brockport about an hour before we did so we didn’t see them during the cruise and it seemed we had the whole canal to ourselves again. When we got to Spencerport they had already tied up and were relaxing after the strenuous push to get here, yes, a joke. After we tied up the first thing we did was hit the local coffee shop. I guess that is really a pattern for us. The coffee was decent but just didn’t have the rich flavor of our Vermont Coffee. Yes, I am biased but I still feel our Vermont Coffee has a good, strong flavor. A year ago when we stopped at Spencerport there was not a reference to showers and the bathrooms were only available when the nearby museum was open. Well, this time there were showers and bathrooms available so a nice plus. As the afternoon wore on another rental boat pulled up and parked with us making it three now at the Spencerport docks. We then heard a call come in over the radio that another of our boats was approaching but they had already planned to push on to the next stop, Holley. Hopefully the facilities there have been put to rights as they were a bit rough back in May. Then, just around 4 PM yet another of our boats showed up and docked with the other three of us. It looks like we have taken over the docks here. Not quite a Viking raid but it did unleash 10 of us on the little town, which I am sure they appreciated as we all helped out the local economy even if just a small amount. Since it is another warm evening and the grocery store is a mere 5 minutes away we availed ourselves of their deli and got some coleslaw and potato salad. To round things off we also go a bag of chips as a treat. Of our 4 boats, and the one who went on to Holley, are all due back at the Macedon docks by this Friday. Not sure of the plans of the Holley team but our travel companions are headed to Pittsford tomorrow as are we. The late arrival has decided to turn down the Genesse River to the docks at Rochester While the other group are headed to Fairport with a possible stop at Pittsford as well. Fairport is somewhat the typical last stop before returning as there are no lift bridges or locks between in and Macedon as well as being about an hour cruise. The rental company asks folks to have the boats back by 9 AM on the final day for cleaning and restocking before the next rental that would go out around 2 PM. Rumor has it that our loose band of canal denizens are the last rentals out for the season and no boats will be headed out on Friday. No matter as we plan to be docked by Thursday night at Macedon to have a relaxing day on Friday. Also, Fairport is not really a favorite of ours due to the excessive noise. Not as much the bars and restaurants, which usually shutdown by 11 PM or so, but the steel decked lift bridge as mentioned earlier in this piece as well as the trains, which were also mentioned earlier. As the evening sets in the temperature is again dropping into comfortable sleeping range, and quite welcome. I have found I start to whine these days when it gets into the mid 80’s. It is now about 15 minutes before 7 PM and yet another of our boats just showed up. They must be stopping for the night as the lift bridge here closed at 5 PM. There are now 5 of our boats docked and it feels like we really have taken over the place.
Wednesday, 10 October: While we have been on this cruise for going on two weeks we are not really looking forward to it ending. Sure it will be nice to get back home and back into the old routine but we did enjoy this trip. Sounds like a good omen for possible future plans around boat things. Before we push off from Spencerport we figure on having a look in the canal museum that is close by. It doesn’t open until 10 AM but it will only be around 3 and a half hour trip so even if we are out at 11 we will still hit Pittsford before 3 PM. We wanted to take a stroll around the town before leaving and Liz mapped out a great route through the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods we went through were a mix of new and old but all were quite nice and felt like they came from “Leave it to Beaver” land. Everybody waved, people were out chatting and walking their dogs and all the homes were well kept. Our walk took us about an hour and we arrived at the Erie Canal museum just as it was opening. When we approached the door we were met by a friendly and gentle dog who seemed happy to see us. He belonged to the curator who told us the dogs name is Eeyore. The name didn’t appear to fit but after our greeting he wandered over to the edge of the deck where he took up residence and looked resigned to just hanging out while the curator ran the small museum. We spent about 20 minutes having a poke around and chatting then headed for the boat to shove off. Before leaving though we had to bid farewell to Eeyore who again seemed cheery before dropping back into just chilling mode. We had the boat under way by 10:30 and pointed east towards Pittsford. The canal narrows down as it gets near the south of Rochester which made for an interesting change to more open spaces. Here the walls sometimes reached 30 feet high with the canal not being much more than double that. As we were in one specifically deep and narrow section a jet flew over that seemed no more than a couple hundred feet up. It was pretty loud and somewhat startling as we have only been in smallish towns and not near any major urban areas. Turns out the Rochester airport is just on the south side of the canal, which is a good thing because of how low that aircraft was. A short while after that we came upon the Genesse River which we had to cross. There was a bit of a cross current from the river but Liz guided expertly across and into the eastern side of the Erie Canal. We now just had two locks and about an hour and forty five minutes before reaching our goal of Pittsford. The two locks are about 15 minutes apart and we were the only ones in the area so we pretty much breezed through both of them and docked in Pittsford just before 2 PM. Since it was again a warm day we decided we would eat out but weren’t over the moon with the restaurant choices. They are nice places but not really our style. We came across a bakery that also served food up until 3 PM that was close by so we gave it a try. They had some really good sounding salads and said they did their best to use organic and real food. The salads fell on the good and mediocre side of things but it was healthier than some of the other fare available. Being a bakery, they had samples of their sourdough loaf and being a sucker for good sourdough I figured what the heck. I was shocked. I know it has been a while since I have had real San Francisco sourdough bread but I felt this stuff could rival SF’s best. So much so I stepped up and bought a loaf. I am glad this place is a ways away from home as I would be there all the time otherwise buying up sourdough from them. Hopefully, or not, I can find a place in Vermont that makes sourdough anywhere near as good as this place. We then wandered back to the boat and are kicking back for the rest of the afternoon. Our boat is now in shade so the comfort level is rising nicely. Pittsford has no showers so, after almost two weeks on the boat, we are going to finally use the onboard shower. Tomorrow is less than a 3 hour cruise back to Macedon with just one lift bridge. We will be spending Thursday night on the boat in Macedon but will be able to unload Thursday and be prepared for an early departure on Friday headed for our Adirondack rental. That way we can get settled and freshen up for Saturday when we head to the wedding. Before all that though, we are taking in our last few hours on the canal.
Thursday, 11 October: The predicted morning rain came in early so we slept in. With just a short cruise to our home port we are in no hurry to get going. As the coffee was being served up the rain got somewhat heavy so it was nice to just kick back with a warm beverage and watch it come down. By around 9 AM the rain had stopped and the sky lightened up but more rain is in the offing later today. There is a mist on the canal behind us leading to a curve that makes it look kind of spooky. Up ahead, things look clear. Sometime around 6 AM the trash guy arrived to empty the dumpsters that are behind the local library, just up the hill. Good thing we were already awake as he was sure into his job. And as the town of Pittsford has a volunteer fire department whenever there is a call a loud siren goes off. That was about 7:45 this morning and now the town street sweeper is in action. All that is needed is the lawn mowers but it might be a bit wet for that. For breakfast I enjoyed a slice of my sourdough bread. Life is good on the canal. The feeling of our trip coming to an end is setting in. We are doing some early tidying to make it a bit easier on our return. It looks like around 10:30 this morning for setting sail, as it were. And just as I typed that statement the sun broke through the clouds for just a brief moment. No, not an omen, just a fun coincidence. 10:30 was indeed the time we headed out. There was only the Fairport lift bridge to navigate so we throttled back for an easy float eastward toward Macedon. Funny how we had a lot of the canal to ourselves but on occasion did come across another boat. About 30 minutes after leaving Pittsford the folks who also stayed overnight in Pittsford, who we had left before they did, appeared behind us so we pulled over to let them pass. At the same time a private boat also came through so we now had no one behind us and we took advantage of the lazy pace. The other rental looked to be stopping off at Fairport. They might just be lunching or could stay the night. I guess we will find out later when they show up. As mentioned earlier we are spending our last night on the boat in port. A bit of laundry, some cleanup, and showers then off to a local eatery for dinner. Tomorrow we are off to the wedding. It is a sad parting as we would have liked to have stayed out for a while longer but it is time to move on.
Friday, 12 October: The other rental boat was only stopping in Fairport for lunch and they showed up at Macedon around early afternoon. They also planned to spend the night on their boat and leave this morning. We were all packed, bid our farewells and were on the road by 9 AM. The weather had turned more fall like as it was in the high 30’s when we got up. That was sure a change from the high temperatures we were getting just a few days earlier. It was quite strange to be driving a car after two weeks of steering a boat using a tiller and bow thrusters. The feeling of the odyssey we had just competed started to fade as if it was a long time in the past, if it really did occur. It is strange to have thoughts like that but I guess going from a slow putter on the canal to a rapid pace with other cars is what made me question the experience. During the last week of the canal trip the trees had picked up the pace on embracing fall colors. Because it had been something of a dry summer those colors were not quite as vibrant as years past but still looked pretty. As we headed up into the Adirondacks there was more of a color display but there were also several trees that had already lost all of their leaves. As is our normal way we avoided highways and stuck to the back roads. The traffic was not too heavy and as we headed into the hills it thinned out to a pleasant level. It was an easy drive to the small town of North Point were we would be staying for the next two nights. It would have been a stretch to call the main street of the town a mile long. Still, it had some 5 restaurants, a pharmacy, a grocery store and a couple of all purpose shops. The place we were staying was listed as a lodge but was located squarely in the middle of town. Turns out during the winter this town is hopping as a ski town. The lodge, what one would actually picture as a lodge, where the wedding was taking place was totally booked when I checked so I secured a room at this other place. It didn’t it me until later that all the rooms were reserved for the wedding party and guests which is why it was listed as full. We might have been able to get a room there but c’est la vie. Anyway, we checked in to the place I had booked, got settled, then ventured down the street to one of the little restaurants that got good ratings. We got the meal to go and headed back to the room to call it an evening. At 8 PM the lodge hosted a fire in their outdoor fire pit which we thought would have been fun to attend but forgot about the event and were asleep probably before the first logs burnt out. Saturday night we promised ourselves to at least make an appearance even if it was only for a brief visit. We will be up a bit later as we had a wedding to attend tomorrow.
Saturday, 13 October: This morning Liz found us a nice hike to take around the nearby ski slopes that were sitting idle waiting for the first serviceable snow. Just after starting out we scared up a flock of turkeys that scurried across our path. There must have been about a dozen of them and we stopped to let them pass. Just as we started up again the second section of the flock decided to follow the first and hurried after the first group. The trail was one used for cross country skiing during the season so it wound around through the forest. During the summer these trails are turned into multi-use trails for hikers and bicyclists. To our pleasant surprise we found we were the only ones out and had the trail system entirely to ourselves. Seems to be a theme for us during this vacation. We hiked for a couple of miles, took in the scenery, then headed back to our lodgings for lunch and to get ready to head to the wedding. The wedding was scheduled to start around 4:30 and was going to be outdoors. The afternoon weather was playing up but the rain was listed to stop really close to the start time. We arrived at the wedding venue just after 3 PM and wandered around a bit. The bride is the daughter of an old buddy I was in the Air Force with some 4 decades ago and nether of us had seen each other in a suit in at least that long so it took us a couple of seconds to recognize each other. He and his wife were dating way back then so I knew both of them quite well. They are such a close and good friend that Liz and I were seated at their table as family. They are both wonderful, kind folks. As I was hugging the wife a couple of young guys were looking at me. It was their two sons who I had met a few years earlier and I joked with them I knew their mom and dad before they were born. They both got a good laugh out of that. Also at the wedding were some relatives of the bride’s mom and dad that I had met way back in those dim times but my memory of those days is, to put it mildly, quite challenged! In any case we all had a good time talking about the old days as a flickering light went on and off in my head as stories were told. One thing is for sure, I had a great time back then. Almost as if on cue the rain stopped and we all headed to the wedding site. While the rain had stopped there were still gusts of chilly wind which we all gave the stiff upper lip treatment and gave our attention to the wedding. The groomsmen had long sleeve shirts and vests and looked as if they were pushing back the cold but the day has to go to the bride and her bridesmaids who all had bare shoulders and mid length dresses and dealt with the weather as if they did it all the time. After the requisite wedding things such as stories about the bride and groom along with the vows, they were pronounced married and everyone was released to return to the warmth of the lodge with the wedding party leading the way. There was then much milling around and happy times followed by a nice dinner. Just as an example of the good folks my friends are, they knew Liz and I are vegans and had the caterer especially prepare us a both a fantastic vegan dish. After the meal it was dancing time. Most of the guests were young folks who knew all of the songs, and even most of the words to those songs, about half of which I had never heard before. The dance floor was not overly large and with the throng of dancing people it was mostly a hug and sway type of dancing. After the premier dance song some of us conceded the floor to the youth and enjoyed the activities from our tables. It was tough to call it a night but we realized we had to so after another round of hugs and promises to get together, Liz and I headed back to our lodge. On the way down the hill we caught a fox in our headlights. It was the size of a very large cat but definitely a fox. We had a good 5 second view as it took the animal a moment to decide which way to run. A few minutes later we startled a deer that was standing by the side of the road. Quite a night for wildlife on our short drive back to our room. I thought it would be fun to visit the fire pit in our wedding clothes so after a brief stop at our room we headed to the outdoor event. When we got there, a fire was indeed going but we were the only ones in attendance as it was still chilly and windy out. We stared at the fire for a couple of minutes then retreated back to our room for the night. It was barely into double digits when we bid the day farewell.
Sunday, 14 October: We were again up early and had the car packed by 8 AM. After a quick visit to a small cafe just down the street it was time to cover the last hour and a half of our drive home. Again sticking to the back roads we were treated to a couple different flocks of turkeys hanging out by the road and in one case one decided to dart in front of our car. Good thing we were taking a relaxed pace home or there might have been a less than optimal outcome for the turkey. We had taken this route a few times and I decided to shun the shortcut around Ticonderoga and was glad I did. As we came over a major hill we were treated to a stunning view of the Green Mountains across Lake Champlain. The panoramic view should have been one I stopped for pictures of but I was so taken by the sight the opportunity passed right by. The colors were quite a view as well but looked like they were just past peak so probably not a chance to return this season for pictures. We pulled into the driveway and set about the task of unloading the car and starting up the laundry. But first things first. We had to get the espresso machine fired up and get a relaxing warm beverage down. After that, the unloading and clean up went well so we availed ourselves of our deck chairs to sit in the warm sun on this cool day and just stare at Lake Champlain. Tomorrow it is back to our normal routine with an early morning visit to the gym. Did all of this really happen?
Monday, 15 October: It was a tough morning to drag oneself out of bed! It was a multitude of factors that led to this condition. The canal trip was a pretty relaxing time but it was not our normal routine so we didn’t quite get the sleep we should have. The wedding was fantastic but we stayed up a bit later than normal for us. And the drive home, while through nice country, still takes a bit out of one. Add to that we are now in the fall season so the sun is coming up later along with the overcast skies, rain and chilly temperatures. All these things made the option of just sleeping in very appealing. So we got to the gym around 8 AM, maybe an hour later than what would be normal, and did a full workout. It was almost 10:30 by the time we left the gym and the grocery shopping still awaited. It was an easy drive to our co-op and I went a bit wild with all the fresh veggies. Our fridge is now stocked to the gills with very healthy, tasty food. And with the temperatures due to hit the low 30’s tonight, a hearty veggie stew is the perfect foil. Even though this is the middle of October and the leaves still have a bit more color to display, the forecast was for possible snow flurries at the higher elevations. Not sure if that is something that will portend the season but we get the snow tires put on the Subaru on Wednesday.
Tuesday – Thursday, 16 – 18 October: We have been quite busy the past couple of days, with most of it being routine items so I decided to combine a couple of days so as not to just repeat things. We did get back to the gym but a slew of appointments and errands have kind of put the kibosh on regular visits just yet. We did get the snow tires put on the car on Wednesday. It might be a bit early but that is fine as it is one less thing to do later, which at the moment seems like a good thing to take something off the future plate. On the downside it looks like they forgot to reset the sensor so the car shows there is a flat tire. Sigh. It is a nice feature but I drove for some 50+ years without the benefit of being told I have a flat tire only to be annoyed by a false reading. Oh well, another thing back on the plate. The extended warm weather looks to have finally given up the ghost. The past few mornings it has been in the low 30’s and there are strong winds about making it even more bracing. The past few years I have been looking forward to winter and getting out to do some winter sports but was mostly foiled by the past few winters being duds. I still enjoy the change of the season but this year I kind of gave up on my expectations of the types of winters I used to remember when I lived up this way in the late 70’s. Now it feels like I am being taunted to again get my hopes up with early cold blasts but for now anyway it isn’t happening. If you have been reading this blog for a while you might remember I have been asked to play Santa in Vergennes the past couple of years. I start letting my white beard grow out around Labor Day each year just in case I get asked again and this year was no different. I had not been asked by the time we went on our canal trip but waiting on our answering machine was the Santa request. So, once again, I will be playing Santa in Vergennes. Today is another day packed with appointments and errands, one of which is dealing with a part of the Federal bureaucracy – oh joy. Actually, I started the process on Monday and of course ran into a wall so I need to follow up. Another sigh!
Friday, 19 October: Rats! Another missed day at the gym because I had a 10 AM appointment I had to get to. Had the appointment been local we could have made the gym early as it opens at 6 AM. The thing is the appointment was over 2 hours away. This only occurs once or twice a year but is still a bit of a trial to get there. One nice thing is the trip takes us through some nice countryside over the Green Mountains so there is a benefit. We also got to see some light accumulations of snow along the side of the road at the higher elevations. At the upper elevations a large number of the deciduous trees have already lost all their leaves. Another sign we just might get that big winter although the weather channel is predicting a warmer than normal winter, whatever normal means these days. There was nothing else on the books for Friday and while the morning was cold the afternoon broke out sunny so we stopped at a small café we know of in White River Junction for lunch. It is fairly close to the active train tracks through town and as we were sitting next to the window we got treated to the Vermonter Amtrak passing through and then a monster piece of track maintenance equipment. This thing grabbed the track, lifted it along with the ties, and sent some large shovel like things into the gravel around the ties and shook it like made. It then moved about 3 feet and repeated the process. This went on for a while. When we finished lunch and gawking at the track maintenance machine, we went home the long way around. Now all settled in at home I decided to give the Federal bureaucracy another try. Lo and behold it went quite smoothly. Well, at least the submittal did. I’ll have to wait and see about the acceptance part.
Saturday, 20 October: Ah, Saturday. Sleep in time. Of course I was up at 4:30 for some unknown reason but at least that didn’t last long as I was determined to sleep in. Got a bit of a snooze but by 7 AM it was crossword puzzle time. By 7:30 I could stand it no longer and the espresso machine was fired up. Espresso on the deck is a favorite pastime of mine. There are a couple of slivers of blue sky but it is mostly dark clouds that look to be holding some rain. The wind has picked up although the temperature is in the low 50’s rather than the low 30’s or high 20’s we have had the past couple of days. Even though the day looks to be what might be considered gloomy, I kind of like it. We are planning on taking a walk a bit later even if the rain moves in, unless it is a deluge then we might postpone. On our canal boat trip we were away from the TV for two weeks. We had a lot of other types of entertainment like all the wildlife, visiting the towns, reading and just enjoying the slow pace. It seems over the past couple of years we have gotten pulled back into wasting time watching TV. For some 15 years we didn’t have a TV and actually went and did thing. Not that we didn’t see TV on occasion but it was not a central part of our existence. Back when I was quite young, I had an aunt who was also not very interested in TV and whenever she came into the room where we were watching it she would ask “What crap are you watching now?”. So even some 50 years ago there was a load of crap on TV. There are some good things we tune into on PBS or the Canadian channel we get but it does seem like there is a lot of bad relationship shows, gore, and inane reality shows out there. Even the news is mostly on the entertainment side of the spectrum these days. Anyway, the canal boat trip was a bit of a wakeup call to cut back on TV and do other things such as the walk. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Sunday, 21 October: We did take our walk yesterday. Taking one today would be a bit more of a challenge as it is cold, windy, and there is some kind of solid white precipitation falling. Yes, it seems we are getting some kind of winter weather. Hard to tell exactly what it is as it is very tiny but it blows around like snow but sounds like sleet when it hits the windows. I tried to get a picture of it but it is just too fine to really show up. Lake Champlain is looking quite grey and choppy with several whitecaps. This is a perfect day for a hearty veggie soup! On another note, I have to admit I fell for the lotto hype. I headed off to the store this morning to buy a $2 ticket. After hearing reports of huge lines I expected there to be a line but I obviously had forgotten where I live. I got to the story just after 10 AM but I was the only customer there. As I was leaving another customer did show up – to buy gas! We have a couple of other errands to run in a bit but after that tonight will be mostly an indoor type of night. As for the TV, I did watch about an hour last night. It was Hockey Night in Canada on CBC and the Toronto Maple Leafs were hosting the Saint Louis Blues. I didn’t watch the entire game but enough to get a flavor of it. I was a Blues fan growing up but living in Vermont now I kind of lean towards the Leafs. Funny as Montreal is closer but the Canadian channel we get shows mostly the Leaf games which is probably why I found an interest in them.
Monday, 22 October: It’s a good thing October is drawing to a close as it feels like I am starting to stretch to get a decent paragraph entered. Anyway, this morning was a planned gym day and we made it. Actually for the next few weeks we should be able to make our normal gym visits. Good thing as I feel better after getting a good workout and also seem to sleep better. I mentioned to a couple of the other regulars I know that our snow tires are now on our car. There were some nods and an admission of snow tires going on cars by the end of the week so while I am a bit early it seems others have the same idea. When I used to get to the gym at opening there were two other early birds there as well. For a couple of months we would kind of nod and grunt good morning at each other and just do our workouts. Then a gregarious fellow started showing up early and got the energy going where we all introduced ourselves and started chatting. It turns out he is a teacher at the local high school and does a lot of work with kids. We have not seen him in a while but on the local PBS station there was a special about kids doing geocaching and guess who the adult was who was leading the program. Yup, it was him. Not a big surprise but it was good to see him. It has warmed up a bit but still on the chilly side. Just right for a hearty dinner of sweet potato and sautéed veggies.
Tuesday, 23 October: Another dreary day. Overcast, light rain, and somewhat chilly but at least the wind was on the light side. A couple more errands were on the schedule today and luckily one of them took us past our favorite coffee shop. Of course we couldn’t just pass by so we stopped in for a bit. All errands finished and back home we are settled in for the evening, even though it is only midafternoon. Things have been fairly busy since we have returned which has taken a bit of a toll on our sleeping patterns. As our routine drops back towards normal hopefully that will change.
Thursday, 25 October: What happened to Wednesday? For the most part Wednesday was a routine day. It started off chilly and overcast with a bit of rain. It was a normal workout at the gym followed by an errand involving the Mustang. This is our first winter with the Mustang although it being a 1996 it has been through 21 of them. I wanted to make sure things were all set so off to the auto shop for a good looking at. The shop declared the Mustang was in great shape. Antifreeze good, brakes like new, belts and hoses good, tires and suspension good, and little to no rust. That last part was a bit of a surprise being the vehicle has been through 21 northeast winters. The word we had gotten was it had always been garaged during the winter and this confirms it. We had cleared a space in our garage to follow this tradition and the Mustang is now resting there. If we get a warm, sunny day before the snow flies it might just see one more loop around the backroads otherwise it is in for the season. We will start it up on occasion just to keep things fresh though. The rest of Wednesday was pretty much in line with every other one. As for Thursday, well there is a story to tell. It started off chilly and overcast but no rain. It was a normal workout at the gym. Hey, this sounds a lot like Wednesday! Well, so it does. The major item for today is we went by our town hall and voted early. Not that it will stop us from being inundated with phone calls, flyers and ads but at least we exercised our right to vote. Now it is time to have some espresso and watch the wind make the leaves dance and cause some choppy water on Lake Champlain. It will be a good night for rice and beans with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, peppers and onion.
Friday, 26 October: It was a good night for the above mentioned dinner. Also added to the mix was spinach, salsa and tomato. We woke to mostly blue skies which was nice to see except it made it a touch colder. Our outdoor thermometer was reading in the low 30’s but no frost was visible so no scraping the windshield, yet. Although wearing shorts to the gym is starting to wear thin. Our long range forecast shows the high just touching 50 for the next week but the lows are still hovering just above 30. I guess it is time to dig out the sweatpants. It seems odd mentioning this when I can hear one of the neighbors running their lawn mower. They are pretty well bundled up though. Another neighbor is reluctant to put their kayak away hoping to squeeze in just one more paddle before the cold weather gets fully entrenched. If we had not already put our kayaks up in the rafters I believe I would feel the same way. It is almost time to put the deck chairs away as well. Anyway, while it is chilly out we are getting a welcome dose of sun which always seems to pick up my spirits. We have nothing on the books for Friday afternoon so I might just have to bundle up and have an espresso on the deck.
Saturday, 27 October: Still chilly and overcast out but the rain has not moved in just yet. It is forecast to start up sometime around 11 AM. That gives me a window to do a couple of things. Of course first up is espresso, that is a given. As I have mentioned in the past we take our recyclables into the local transfer station because we do not have curbside pickup. Curbside is available but we like to support the local independent business that runs the transfer station. It is open from 8 to Noon on Saturdays and with it being 8:30 it was time to head out. It is kind of hit and miss on finding a line at the transfer station. Today there were just a couple of vehicles in line so it went pretty quickly. Since I still had a bit of time before the rain was supposed to start I got my hiking boots on and hurried over to our local state park, Button Bay. The entrance is closed but the park people encourage out of season use. None of the facilities are open and no one is on duty so a slight bit of planning is required. There is room for about 8 cars at the entrance but I had no issues as there were no other cars there. I was thinking I had the entire park to myself as I strolled down the entryway when a jogger came around the bend headed out. We exchanged pleasantries and as she jogged away I then did truly have the park to myself. The birds and furry monsters were quite skittish and didn’t hang around as I approached. That is a good thing but I would have liked to get a couple of pictures of them though. One furry monster did delay exiting the scene but then ran behind a tree. I waited with my camera at the ready knowing that since there was no scampering up the tree to be heard I would soon see a furry, little head peak around to see where I was. Bingo! I got the snap then quickly moved on so as not to be too much of a bother. There are several trees that are still holding color so I did get some nice forest shots. Arriving at the point I could see the color changes in the Adirondacks across the lake but being a very grey day the color did not stand out. I did take a few pictures though just for documentation purposes. As I was about 100 yards from the car the first few drops of rain started to fall. Not much but enough to make me pick up my pace. The drive home was less than 5 minutes and by the time I got inside and made another espresso rain mixed with sleet started to fall. My timing was decent on that one but more luck than any superb planning on my part. One side note. It might sound as if I am drinking a lot of espresso these days. Well, I am so since I enjoy a warm beverage during the chilly days and with the precipitation the chill reaches down to the bones. As an experiment we obtained some decaf and mixed it half and half with some dark roast so after my first or second regular espresso I switch to the mix. I still get something of a buzz but not as strong as the full caffeine stuff. Not quite as tasty either though, but a passible tradeoff.
Sunday, 28 October: Shall I discuss a new topic? How about the weather? OK, nothing new. It’s just we have quite a variation of weather here and I guess I am still not fully used to it so I do mention it a lot. The thing is the weather has been somewhat repetitious of late. It is chilly, damp and overcast again this morning. Add to that the fog that has settled in taking away the view of the Adirondacks and one could be forgiven for calling it a dreary day. Although there seems to be little to no wind about and only small ripples are on the lake. Something that makes this morning a bit eerie is there doesn’t seem to be any wildlife about. Yesterday in the park I did see a couple of ducks and some geese along with some other birds and furry monsters but nothing is stirring at the moment. And even though the temperature has hit 40, with the moisture in the air it feels more bone chilling than a colder and drier day. Even my espresso cools off almost faster than I can drink it. An added feature to having the fog is it is even more quiet than normal. It almost feels like a prelude to Halloween in being eerily quiet with no wildlife. There is a very fine rain falling at the moment which adds to the feeling. An espresso side note. After 3 half and half espressos last evening I didn’t have any trouble falling to sleep. I believe I still need to moderate my intake though so I might see what herbal teas are to my liking for an evening warm beverage. Yes, I did actually state I might look into herbal tea. One has to expand one’s horizons occasionally. By early afternoon the rain had stopped and the sky had lightened up a bit although the wind picked up slightly as did the temperature. And there is just a sliver of blue sky that popped up. And even though it is still a bit of a dreary day it is just right for a half and half espresso, but then again when isn’t it? Monday morning will be rolling around tomorrow which means a full workout at the gym. Ah the start of a new week.
Monday, 29 October: I guess we were up and moving early this morning. The tipoff was needing to turn on the lights because it was still dark out. It is true the sun is rising later this time of year but for some reason it was more noticeable this morning which is why I say we must have been up earlier this morning. Being up early also meant an earlier start at the gym and that we would finish up earlier. I was looking forward to an extra few minutes in the café and maybe having a second cup of coffee. But for some reason it was locked up tight when we got there. That a local shop was closed up is always a concern so hopefully all will be back on track tomorrow. Because we now had some extra time and the rain had taken a break for a bit we decided a stroll in our local park. The sky was still quite grey so the rain could start back up at any time but it’s only water. It appeared we had the park to ourselves as no other cars were around. We took a bit of a roundabout amble through the empty campgrounds that overlook Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. There are still a few trees showing color but a lot now have empty branches. By the time we got out to the point an intermittent light rain had started to fall. Not enough to soak our clothes but enough for us to hear the drops hitting around us. It didn’t last long so the walk back to the car was rain free. By the time we got home the light rain had returned which brought a chill along with it. Just perfect for another espresso. As a side note, the route we take to the gym takes us by some farm animals. Actually, it doesn’t matter which route we chose as they all go by farm animals. One particular route though has us passing a large fenced in area that contains two goats. One of the goats is white so we have nicknamed her Whitey. The other goat is black so we nicknamed her, yes, Blackie. Whitey seems content to just wander the enclosure and munch on the grass. Blackie on the other hand is quite adventurous and something of an escape artist. The first time we saw her out we stopped by the farmhouse to let them know. It was then we found out she was always finding a way out and the farmers had given up trying to contain her. They said she is always out but will hang around for the food. It is now somewhat of a game for us to see if we can spot where Blackie is when we pass by. A few mornings ago we couldn’t see Blackie until we looked across the road at the small heard of sheep. There was Blackie just hanging out and munching grass with the sheep. Today on our way home from the gym we saw Blackie out of the sheep enclosure and wandering around the yard. It appears she is teaching the sheep some bad habits as three of them were out with her wandering around the yard. We knew Blackie was wise to vehicles but weren’t sure if the sheep were so we stopped in at the farmhouse where the sheep were kept. The lady we spoke too was a real hoot. She had lived there all her life and she and her husband had been raising animals for some 50 years. They were quite aware of escape artist Blackie and her habit of enticing others to escape as well. They have been trying for years to secure the fencing but have ceded to the inevitable. Most folks around here are animal wise and know to keep a lookout for farm animals wandering around. It happens a fair amount actually. Anyway, after a good chat with the farmer we headed home. On our way out the driveway passes fairly close to the sheep enclosure and all the rest of the sheep had gathered by the fence. As we passed we got a chorus of very loud braying (is that the term for sheep yelling “HEY”?).
Tuesday, 30 October: Finally getting my head around the theme of the sun rising later, it was not a huge surprise that it was still dark out when we got up. It makes that first cup of espresso not only a morning treat but now a necessity as well. A warm beverage also takes the edge off of the morning chill. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my weightlifting days which gives me a break from the other weekdays where aerobics are the order of the day. The café was open today so I was able to spend a few extra minutes after my workout enjoying a cup of coffee. On Tuesdays it is also co-op shopping day. I know this is odd but I look forward to co-op day. I believe it is all the organic veggies that are available for us to use in our weekly meals. On the way home the small specks of blue sky expanded to provide us with the promise of a sunny afternoon. After several days of overcast skies and the shrinking of daylight hours the sunlight was quite welcome. To celebrate I cranked up the espresso machine. Yeah, well, as you are probably aware it doesn’t take much for me to get the espresso machine going. I guess I am just one step away from celebrating making an espresso with, wait for it, another espresso. Good thing I have the caf/decaf mix. Tomorrow is the last day of October as well as the last entry of this monster blog entry. While it has been fun keeping this much of a detailed blog entry it is quite a lot to keep up with for you the reader. Next month it is back to more of the synopsis type entries, at least until our next exciting adventure with daily unique vacation! Blackie update: The sheep were all back in their enclosure this morning but Blackie had crossed back over the road and was munching on some leaves. Whitey was just relaxing in her enclosure ignoring the situation.
Wednesday, 31 October: Boo! OK, it’s Halloween. It had to be said. The last entry for the October blog. And what a way to start the day, I slept in. It would have been easy to just rationalize not going to the gym because I slept in but for some reason I would not accept that. Today is a big workout day and I was not going to give it a miss. It was 8:30 AM by the time I headed out the door, which is close to the time I am usually finishing up my workout. When I got out to the car I was surprised to see the windows frosted over. I shouldn’t have been as we are getting towards that time of year. It was a clue that I should put one of the ice scrapers in the Subaru. Yes, I have more than one, even before we had the Mustang. In my defense they are of three different sizes. One the standard scraper, the second about 18 inches long with a brush on it, and the third that also has a brush but also telescopes for getting the snow drifts off the car roof. Anyway, I put the middle one in the car after using the brush on it to wipe off the windows. It had started to warm up just a bit so the frost wasn’t like cement on the windows, just kind of resting lightly on them. I was greeted at the gym by one of the other early morning denizens. He was just finishing up so we only chatted for a few minutes. By 11 AM I had completed my full workout, gotten in a round of tai chi to cool down, showered, and was enjoying a cup of coffee at the café. Now home and decided today would be one of those stay in for the rest of the day type days. The temperature is now in the high 30’s and supposed to just peek into the 40’s later. A light wind with intermittent rain is also in forecast and has already started. Even though it is Halloween staying in, reading, working a crossword puzzle, and having a few espressos is what is called for. Besides, as mentioned earlier, we don’t get any trick or treaters out this way. Too bad as I have a costume that looks like I fit right in with a piece of my heritage. Maybe we will have to through a costume party just so I can wear it out. Or I could just wear it out anyway. I probably wouldn’t get too many odd looks as people around here seem to take things like that in stride.
Well, that’s about it for this long winded entry. I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did with the experiences I have recorded, including documenting them. It should be a while before I have another entry as long as this.