For the first time in almost a month, I used a real towel; a true luxury! I am kicking back in Cleveland and exposing Stanley to a little culture. The natural history museum and the art museum are must do's if you find yourself in Cleveland. The anthropologist who discovered Lucy (the hominid) is from Cleveland and because of this they have an extensive Lucy exhibit.
I sampled Souse today at a deli, not knowing it was head cheese in a loaf. I was advised it is better with cheese. No, it isn't. I am looking forward to trying Amish fry pie, though. Anything with "pie" in the name can't be bad.
June 25...Geneva State Park
In spite of what the host claimed, I again got assigned a mog site. I could tell when I got to it. Fortunately, I've learned from my experiences; I pitched my tent in the gravel car parking spot.
The rain came, thankfully, after I was fully set up and ready for it. It poured for hours, but I stayed dry and so did most of my gear. Most everything I brought has been stored in dry bags and I've been using my treated backpack covers as rain covers for my panniers. It has worked well. Power is not impossible to come by, walking to the shower/rest rooms, just up the road.
Since I could not go a day without a ride, I inquired as to where the library and coffee shop was. An 8 mile ride without baggage is a welcome treat, so here I am in the library of the Geneva (not to be confused with Geneva on the Lake) town. Riding through the neighborhoods has also been a treat, admiring the many older homes, which, if they could speak, would likely have some good stories to tell. The town was established in 1805 and the founder and his family were taken by the local Native Americans, but released the next day....
June 24...53 miles
Man, I'm burning through the calories! According to my Garmin, 2,989 today alone!
The road seems easy after all the trail riding during the first phase. Still, it was a long haul with rolling hills and head winds. The rain did not happen...at least during my ride.
I took a break in Conneaut for that bike touring special - second breakfast. I had been craving toast, so I had that with a decadently sweetened ice tea. Stopped again, in Ashtabula, at a beautiful park. Apparently, at one time Ashtabula was a bigger iron ore port than Cleveland.
Arrived in the tourist area called Geneva on the Lake, to the hordes of tourists strolling the streets in search of their personal favorite foods and souvenirs. Or possibly inspecting the many lakeside cottages for a place to stay. I stopped as well, several miles short of the state park, to enjoy a so-so ice cream. Beggars can't be choosers out here in the wilds of northern Ohio.
June 23...35 miles
Making my way to Campground Sara, just outside Erie, near Presque State Park and adjacent to the largest waterpark I've ever seen, not that I've seen many. Arriving on a sunny Sunday meant everything was going full bore; the roller coaster rides and screaming people, the cars, inching along looking for a treasured parking spot and the best smelling fast food joints ever.
Campground Sara is, so far, the only place I've encountered where arriving by bike gets one a discount, like half price. Every site even has electric outlets and water faucets. The place is an eclectic mix of gargantuan trailers staying for just a day or two, and obviously long term trailers that have taken up residency, complete with wood decks, tool sheds, and landscaping.
As I was unpacking two "neighbors" , Chris and Terry, came over to welcome me and ask about my travels. They had never met anyone who had been traveling by bicycle. They quizzed me endlessly about the bike and my experiences, all with an innocent curiosity. They advised me to build a fire to keep away the mosquitoes which would surely eat me alive if I did not. They loaned me some bug repellent (about the only thing I forgot to pack) and offered me an ice cold bottle of water after I turned down the offer of a beer.
Getting here was comparatively fast for a loaded touring bike and someone who was not in a great hurry anyway. I rode through countless vineyards and small towns (what's the difference between a town, township, hamlet, and village??) with names like Portland, (home of Marmaduke) Ripley, North East, Schuyler, and Cherry Creek.
June 22...36 miles
I opted for a KOA; not much more expensive than NY state parks and staff much more friendly and accommodating. While packing up, I ate my breakfast in motion, as I often do. I was starving an hour later and I must admit I have eaten more fast food lately than probably the last 20 years!
It was a pleasant ride, continuing on Hwy 5, which will eventually take me back to Cleveland. Navigating through the town of Erie was quite easy as there's a lovely bike way that skirts the lake most of the way, making for an easy route. This area is rife with marinas, huge power boats, and all sizes of homes, backing up to their personal beaches along the lake.
June 21...54 Miles
The rain that was not predicted to occur caught up with me, about 10 miles from the State Park. Drenched but only on the outside. Here at the State Park, another site in the "mog", muddy bog, much like Seneca Falls. The ride was good except navigating through Buffalo, NY. Thanks, Sheriff Larry, for your navigational tips!
There is a bike path that skirts the town, mostly, which while on it, was pleasant riding with views of Lake Erie. This lake seems huge, in that one cannot see across it, and most of the time, there are 1 foot or so waves crashing on the beach. Riding along Hwy 5 West was a pleasant change from the Canal bikeway, with adequate shoulder, good pavement, and low traffic.
June 20...A little more about the town. Atleast two movies made here, Niagara, starring Marilyn Monroe and Canadian Bacon, starring John Candy. The city has been on the decline for the last 10 years or so. Steel, auto and Whirlpool left the area, causing serious economic hardships. Tourism has sort of put Niagara back on themao, as a state park. So much of the revenue goes to the state and the city gets no benefit.
The Indian population is growing, as people discover the great deals on housing. This large population is most evident by th many Indian restaurants and food carts. Investors are beginning to notice the area and I do hope the local economy turns around sometime soon.
June 19...Buffalo to Niagara Falls, 29 miles
Arrived via Amtrak in the wee hours of the morning, yesterday. Slept in the station until daybreak, then rode to the town of Niagara Falls. Away from the bustle of the tour buses, food carts upscale restaurants and hotels, as well as a casino, I saw countless historic (read old) homes on the local streets, many of which were empty, abandoned, and boarded up. Real estate opportunities abound here. But it's cold in the winter, like zero degrees, is a good day.
Made my way to Wanderfalls Hostel on a quiet residential street just a few blocks from the Niagara River and the Falls. It's a homey, comfortable place and reasonably priced. Due to the heavy rain predicted for Thursday, I decided to stay here for two days. They make pancakes for breakfast!
Due to more rain predicted starting the middle of next week, I may shorten my route and ride the southern side of Lake Erie but I'm still researching that. Today, I'm a tourist.
June 18. . Schnectady to Albany, 33 miles.
Miles are much harder to come by on Stanley. He's about 30 lbs without bags. I am adjusting to a slower-than-road-bike mentality.
Arrived Albany via the nicely paved Mohawk Bikeway. Signage much better out this way but I did manage to get my daily bonus miles by not easily getting to Amtrak.
Finally a photo! This is before the rain, along the Mohawk River, which feeds into the Hudson River.
June 17...Fort Plain to Schenectady, 44 miles
I had hoped to camp at Lock 8, expecting they had facilities for camping, like tables, maybe a shelter, and bathrooms. Nope. The locks, with one or two exceptions (I believe there are 35 or so), do not have camping facilities, but one is allowed to camp anywhere along the canal or at the locks if one wants to really rough it.
Weather has been great today, and I've been able to finish drying out a few things, as I flew along the mostly paved canal trail. More turtles, bunnies, and those cute nutrias. The lush greenery created welcome shade as the day heated up.
So, I proceeded to Schenectady, searching for a park. I found a very nice, very large park and will return there to camp this evening, after I find some ice cream.
Tomorrow is the last day on Canal trail. I'll ride to the Albany train station and return to Buffalo before heading to Niagara Falls and north side of Lake Erie.
June 16...Rome to Fort Plain, 58 miles
Signage way better, with one exception, where I ended up on what is surely a mountain biking trail. Stanley performed well and I used my MTB skills, but I ended up turning around, realizing this could not be the route. It wasn't. Drenching rain most of the day, but thankfully I had the right rain gear. I ended up in Fort Plain.
While I sat in the town square in the gazebo, I overhead some teen aged kids talking about leaving school. One said I don't need to go to school; it's a waste of my time. She said she was making her last day tomorrow, Monday. I so wanted to join that discussion but thought better of it. Sigh....
After some hill climbing, located a place to camp at the top of the town with great views and a place to dry out somewhat. Weather expected to be sunny and dry tomorrow. I'm closing in on Albany!
June 15...Chittendon to Rome, 37 miles
Last night, I camped behind the VFW building, trying to get relief from the high winds that, while riding were tailwinds. I can report that in this small town, no wild parties occurred at the local VFW on a Friday night.
The trail today was especially beautiful with flowers in bloom, integrating with the intense green undergrowth and towering trees, along the single track. I shared the trail with snakes and more turtles than I have ever seen at one time. I wish I could show you the photos! They seem to come onto the trail and maybe to lay eggs? The largest one about the size of a dinner plate with strings of green algae streaming off its back, looked as if it was dead. It didn't pull in its head, maybe enjoying trying to stare me down.
I crossed paths with other travelers, mostly going the other direction. As I assume thru hikers do, we traded information about hazards, navigation, and where they were going.
Tomorrow, I am camping at Lock 15!
June 14...Seneca Falls to Chittendon, 53 miles
I got up at daybreak, and between rainshowers, broke camp and took everything to the bathroom to organize. The important stuff remained dry...sleeping bag and the awesome teeny Klymit pad. After leaving the bog, er, camp, in Seneca Falls, I stopped for breakfast in Port Byron's local grocery. A banana and blueberry pie was perfect!
The route alternates between actual trail and roads. When directed to roads, signage rarely exists and that how I get bonus miles every day. Thank you State of New York! The trail is not always on the Erie Canal either. There are feeder canals, routes from rivers actually, which are part of the route. It is all very beautiful and this day was mostly remote, with lush greenery and trees surrounding the trail.
I stopped at the Erie Canal Museum, and the docents were all there for an event. They offered me lunch and oh, twist my arm! One person knows the trail issues and offered to drive me across Syracuse to the trailhead as city navigation is known to be difficult. Twist my arm again!
June 12...Rochester to Seneca Falls, 76 miles
Well this was another day of bonus miles. It seemed much more than five, as I ended up way off route somehow (oh yeah, that's what I do) and in the hills of Amish country. The highlight of the day was climbing the hills, estimated at 10% to 12% with about 45 pounds of stuff. Stanley is geared well and I am strong, but it was so slow going, not to mention I did not know where I was. I asked three people for directions and got similar guidance to my destination near Seneca Falls town, Cayuga State Park.
I think I pulled in about 7 pm, which made for about a 12 hour day (I'm taking tomorrow off!). They do not have hiker biker sites in NY. Had I not been so tired I might have moved on to wild camp. I was eaten by mosquitoes, drenched by rain, and haunted by the age old question, "this is fun?" The showers were cold but wet. Dinner was also cold, taken in the bathroom. I'm no stranger to dining in bathrooms, so I didn't think twice about it, to avoid the relentless mosquitoes.
A soggy day, today June 13, in Seneca Falls town, seeking a library which I obviously found. There's lots of history here, but I have a burger on my mind and I hope that energizes me enough to visit the museum.
June 11...Lockport to Rochester, 57 miles
Hard miles today. Lots of work happening on the trail. Deep sand for about a mile (good job Stanley), mud, rocky, track tread bumps. I thought I forgot my tea bags, my usual source of caffeine. I stopped in Brockport at a bike shop to pump tires and rode up an endless hill to get a Coke, the real thing. The caffeine and sugar sustained me for the remaining 15 miles of nicely packed sand on the ECT. In some areas, there were beautiful homes with expansive green back yards right on the trail. Cross the trail to their personal docks, which sometimes included lounge chairs, BBQs, and gated access.
Near Rochester, NY lies a beautiful, 400 acre park. No garbage collection (pack it out!) and no water other than the bathroom faucet. The park is crisscrossed by trails, a dog park, shelters, and picnic areas. I found an unused building and set up camp under the long porch, which included functional outlets. I had hoped to see some wildlife at this "camp", but only the birds singing me to sleep and waking me at dawn the next morning.