Day 11 – 60 miles on the Erie Canal to Niagara Falls

Last night Brad, my warm showers host, took me to Wegman’s. Great chance to get some fresh veggies.

The “world’s best grocery store” I hear. They did have an incredible food bar at Wegman’s in Rochester NY.

Brad took me downtown to start my day (not a shortcut! Actually longer…)

Anyway it was interesting to see Rochester – it has a great vibe and I suspect it’d be a great place to live (if you can deal with that much winter). Also Fairport and Pittsford nearby are regularly selected as “best places to live” in the US.

Rochester was basically built by Eastman Kodak. This is the fron of George Eastman’s estate, now a museum that includes treasures like Spike Lee’s films. (Bran my warmshowers host has an encyclopedic knowledge of Rochester history – he grew up there).
The Rochester Zen Center – where Megan’s first zen teacher is now the Roshi
The Rundel Library – that was established by Megan’s great grandfather (or great great?). He was a Kodak mucky muck.
No I did not modify the tint in post.

Most of my day was on the Erie Canal. Very flat but punishing – I’ll call it a “Headbreeze”. As some of you know, I’m stupidly superstitious for an engineer. This extends to adopting two superstitions from fly fishing. 1) Don’t bring bananas in the boat. Any fly fishing guide will abide by this without question. 2) Do not say the four letter word that starts with W. It will summon – we’ll call it Mariah – against you. Anyway I did a lot of pushing upbreeze today – maybe a preview of plains to come. But the breeze off Erie was pretty brutal – running 15 to 20 mph against me. Character building!

After riding 100 or so miles on the Erie Canal you can’t help but appreciate what an achievement it is. For one thing it’s an engineering achievement – how the hell, in 1825 did you survey level for 50 miles at a shot? Even figuring out that the canal was feasible is an achievement. Then there is the real achievement of moving that much earth. Much of it is “Clinton’s Ditch” as it was called but in some places like this that meant cutting through miles of solid rock. In others it meant building the canal up above grade. I saw many houses and towns below the level of the canal.
Some folks just cruising on the canal. On a bike I was faster.
Carnivals haven’t changed much in 40+ years.
I saw plenty of folks fishing in the canal.
I saw this same drawbridge repeated in so many towns on the canal; Albion, Middleport, Gasport, Brockport, Lockport. See a trend?…
Mark is going from Toronto to Philly. Small world – he’s staying tonight with Brad, my host from last night!
I stopped in Albion for lunch at this little festival. The booths? Fried dough, cheesesteaks, fried blooming onions, fried Oreos, pulled pork… Distinctly missing anything approaching healthy.
Much of my ride today – along the canal
Ok this I didn’t expect – this is in Medina where Oak Orchard Creek flows UNDER the Erie Canal through a culvert. So yes, that’s basically a canal brindge taking the canal over a river.
I’m thinking of starting a “most American house” competition.
Cool gas guzzler. Another inconvenient truth.
The closer you get to Niagara Falls, the more power lines you see. Not to forget this was one of the first hydroelectric generating stations in the world and help power all kinds of industry around here.
Unclear to me which “Bit o Paris” this hotel has captured. So far Niagara Falls area is pretty unimpressive. It’s got a lot of decrepit factories and an overall feeling of having seen better days. Tomorrow I’ll get to see the natural beauty of the fallls themselves which is more promising.

If I struggled with anything beyond the head breeze  today it was my own desire to push farther. I really wanted to reach Niagara Falls but sometimes I need to turn that drive off. It’s hard for me to take it slow, obseve more, slower. Maybe this is something I can learn from this experience.

To the falls tomorrow and then a short, easy day. Too many miles today.

7 thoughts on “Day 11 – 60 miles on the Erie Canal to Niagara Falls”

  1. I love your drive and perseverance trying to balance with the beauty of the trip and enjoying each moment. Happiness versus satisfaction. Enjoy your journey. I am enjoying your journey through your blog. Keep it up. Thank you.

    -Glenn

  2. Great pictures Jim, I’ve never seen the E Canal, quite an accomplishment. Enjoy Niagra Falls!

  3. Great to have bike paths on the Erie Canal. Enjoy the fall, best views on the Canadian side. Love the quaint towns in upstate NY.

  4. So happy you got to see the Rochester Zen Center, a lovely place with so many memories for me. And the Rundel Library! It was my great great uncle, interesting story about him, everyone thought he was a poor old batchelor (with a “longtime companion”) and there was shock that he left this small fortune to the city for the library. Happy trails!

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