We started out from Erie Canal Lock 14 by Palatine Bridge in Canajoharie (lower right corner in the map below) Our goal was to follow up on Janek’s advice and camp at Lock 20, a few miles up from Utica. The massive freighttrains were our alarm clock at 6 this morning, as they were pretty much every hour during the night. You either be totally deaf, dead drunk or just dead to avoid being woken by these massive diesels pulling up to 200 freight carts with all kinds of stuff. Every now and then Amtrak comes down the track with people onboard. I remember taking the train through this region a week or so after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in late october 2012. Back then it looked like a warzone, with massive amounts of trees rooted up and damage from rain and floods. Biking through here now some 2 1/2 yrs later it seems like eveything got cleaned up nicely. Janek, our Lock operator told us about all the massive damages that Sandy did to the river locks in the region. It took a long time for all of it to get repaired, just in time for hurricane Irene to come through, causing the repairs to be redone once again. The day started out almost completely overcast, with light sprinkles of rain. I got my raingear out and ready in case we would see more rain thru the day. Luckily that did not prove itself needed, as the clouds burned off and we were given a nice and sunny day, almost entirely to the end. We saw the 30 degree celcius mark again today and for the first time, wind was in our favor, coming in from southeast. This made pedalling a charm and the terrain have flattened out substantially too. It feels like we are in a very different weather system now. The Heat is on!-)
Lock 14, among many locks in the region. This one is headed up by our new friend, Janek that we met last night. He gave me a guided tour through the facilities. Such a treat! He does his job so well. It was amazing to see the technology from early 1900s that still is in use today. Mechanics of copper, brass and cast iron. Good stuff! Janek showed us on the map how you can actually travel from New York City, up the Hudson, into the great lakes and into Canada through canals and eventually end up in Seattle. He also told me about a swedish guy sailing up through the Erie canal from NYC/Hudson river and into the great lakes and out into the Atlantic and back to Sweden. All this makes me want to kayak these bodies of water sometime. Alot of dutch snd swedish trappers were operating here in the 1600s. Maybe the sailing swede was revisiting some family history.
Today was Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces, not a little number given all the military action this country has been involved in since the beginning. We were met with great openness and friendliness. We were even treated to free cookies, cake and coffee. Roar in engaged conversation with Hans, an german immigrant, born in Berlin in 1939. He came to the US in 1954. Roar has deep knowledge of german history and as it happens, Berlin is one of his favorite cities. I offered everyone at the table 10 dollars for the first one who could pronounce Roar’s name right. I could keep my money. We ended up introducing him as Bruce. This to Roars disliking, understandably so. I will try to pull off a similar contest when we hit up a chinese restaurant some day ahead. I might actually offer them to do the dishes for a night if they get Roars name right. A mouthful of difficult R’s. Later today we met with a german guy, he got it right at the third try. Guess it is a reminder of the germanic roots of the norwegian language. We rode some on the actual canalway, partly paved, partly crushed rock, partly gravel. For long stretches we preferred to go on the roads. Fairly broad and safe roadshoulders. So far we really have not had any bad experience with the rumored NY-drivers. Wake Up calls from Florida. The beauty of decay…
Nice to see that NY is ready for the next winter… Per is happy to see our camp for the night. Lock 20 on the Erie Canalway. So, we logged another 90 km today. Not bad for a group that tries to balance milage and experience. Next up is Syracuse, NY, Lynda’s old stompin’ ground through collegeyears.