Total Elevation Gain (ft): 403.5
Hillbilly Insults: 0
Roadkill: 23 (3 Birds, 3 Possum)
Bugs Swallowed: 0
Mean Dogs Chasing: 1
Animal Rescue: 0
The Erie Canal in New York runs about 350 miles from Buffalo at Lake Erie to Albany on the Hudson River completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. It only took eight years to complete in an era when things got done. It opened in 1825. If we get potholes filled in that time today, we do backflips.
I make a living as a dolphin shaver and a clown fighter, but in my spare time I call myself am "efficiency expert." Unlike passing tourists, I was fascinated with all the historic posts along the Erie Canal Trail , a mostly ground limestone path that runs along this engineering marvel.
At a time when bulk goods transport was limited to pack animals and there were no steamships or railways to carry things, water was the most cost effective way to ship. Faster than draft horses, the canal was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard and the Great Lakes that did not require portage and cut transport costs by about 95%!
The canal started a population boom in western New York State, opened the Midwest to industrial trade and allowed nutty religious movements in the "burned over district," which I will be unable to resist writing about in a future post.
I jumped on the canal trail at Lockport, NY. It's the site of the tallest lock, which looked like a 500 foot drop to me, but I'm afraid of heights. So, it's probably on the order if a hundred feet. It's pictured on this post, so you be the judge.
I had to get used to the transition from pavement to hard pack. It didn't take long and I found that I preferred it to the asphalt sections. The trail is dotted with small towns at each lock and most of these places are charming. Near Rochester, I hear that the canal is features outdoor cafes tourist spots for boaters, cyclists and anyone else enjoying leisurely strolls.
I arbitrarily felt I wasn't making enough progress the past couple of days, so my goal was to ride past Rochester, but the charm of Brockport lured me like the Sirens of Achelous. It's main street was clean and neat with cafes, ice cram stores, bike shops and a small movie theater. My kind of place. I made the "mistake" of having a dinner of real New York Italian stuffed shells and that was it. I was in for the night.
I was warned by the locals that I should avoid the Econolodge because it was a rotten hole. So, I headed there straight away. It wasn't the Taj Mahal, but it was clean enough. The sheets appeared to be unspoiled, even if they might be reused. When I stay at these joints, I just figure I'm building up my defense system. I don't need to fend off nasties with Purel anymore. George Carlin recommended tossing kids into the fecal soup of the Hudson River in Manhattan to strengthen their immunity.
Not a bad idea.