Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life on the Erie Canal,
Well, it’s day 12 on the Erie Canal.  Our progress was blocked by substantial damage caused by Hurricane Irene; at least two of the locks have been badly damaged, another had a channel washed around it, and they are not expected to open again this year.   For two grumpy days we proposed different scenarios to each other, and none of them were good.  We decided that the “least worst”choice was to load Sinbad onto a flatbed and ship to Catskills NY, on the Hudson River, and resume our intended course toward the Chesapeake.  Then came Tropical Storm Lee, pouring torrential rain onto NY and PA, and actually causing the NY highway system to cancel trucking permits, which forced us to stay on another week and more, up through today.

We’ve been enjoying  the lock towns.  Lockport, our first stop and first and deepest locks on the Canal, introduced us to the history of the canal in their interactive discovery center and the old museum right on the original lock.   Middleport has not developed quite so much to cater to boaters, but their biker bar was friendly and served  tasty fish and chips.  The dockage is free there too, which helps a lot, given the unexpected expense of shipping the boat.  Brockport has embraced boaters by building a brand new boater facility with showers, laundry and internet access, staffed by volunteers. Many of the staffers are retired faculty from SUNY @Brockport, and were engaging to talk with.  I chatted with Fransisca for nearly an hour, a retired reference librarian at the U., who escaped from Hungary during the revolution in the 50’s. What a story!  Once we accepted that we had to turn back, we backtracked to Medina, where again the dockage is free, the farmer’s market sets up next to the docks, with luscious peaches and other local produce still glistening with the morning dew.  We hang out withour new friend Mike, who is the owner of the sailboat next to us, and he graciously loaned us his car for a day trip to Niagara Falls, where Randy took me for my birthday! There is also an affectionate, snow white cat who works the docks and comes to visit.

Here are some pix of my birthday at Niagara Falls!

All the waters we have known in Lakes Michigan and Huron rushing over the escarpment. Awesome.


The bridge tenders and lockkeepers of the Erie Canal have gone out of their way to be polite and helpful, and  to personally welcome boaters.  Likewise the townspeople along the way.  This has been a nice experience; we’re lucky to have been marooned  in such hospitable circumstances.  We could have been stranded in a disabled lock, could have been high and dry with the boat on a truck that can’t deliver, and all the while paying for rental car and hotel… could have been caught in the flooding or if we had left a week earlier…we’re glad to be here!

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