Diabetes Awareness Campaign: Trekking Along the Erie Canal.
North Tonawanda
Little Falls
St. Johnsville
Monday, October 8
For the past twenty five years, Fairport has invested in developing its economy around the canal and tourism. It seems to have worked. On either side of the canal are pretty little parks surrounded by mini malls and restaurants. A bandstand is the locus of concerts which are held regularly during the summer.
Tour boat.
Tour boat
Also, there are docks, marinas with private pleasure boats, and commercial tour boats. The latter provide sunset, dinner, and history cruises along the canal, keeping alive the spirit of the canal.
Fairport Lift Bridge.
Fairport Lift Bridge
A particularly unusual structure in Fairport is its lift bridge—it is not level. The street is lower on the north side of the canal and the bridge slopes accordingly. Yet, the bridge lifts straight up vertically, maintaining the angle of slope. We were told by a waitress that the bridge is in the Guinness Book of Records, although I can’t understand what sort of record has been set. I would love to talk to a mechanical engineer to try and figure why the bridge was so built rather than with a raised base on the lower side.
The towpath in Fairport went along the beautiful canalside district, a small park with picnic tables among beautifully groomed landscaping. There were so many restaurants with outdoor decks and porches, that dining al fresco seems to be the only way food is served in Fairport. However, I took my repast in the form of a sandwich on a bench next to the canal.
At the edge of town, the towpath crossed over to the north side of the canal. After passing by the dusty site of the headquarters of a construction company, it became a pleasant walk along farm lands, fields, and meadows. There was an occasional farm building, but it was generally an isolated walk. This was due to the fact the CSX railroad tracks ran parallel to the north side of the canal.
Thus my walk that afternoon was without the sound of traffic except for the occasional rattling of a freight train or the zooming whoosh of an AMTRAK express train.
I was surprised at the size of the hardwood trees such as maples and sycamores which have grown on the narrow strip of land between the towpath and the canal. Obviously, the towpath was in disrepair for a long, long, time. Thus when the path was rehabilitated as a bike path, it was enhanced by the fact that there was a high canopy of beautiful trees whose leaves were beginning to show their fall hues.
On the opposite side I spotted a basin that had an active marina. Along the dock was a series of boats, each approximately 50 ft in length, which resembled the old fashioned packets. The number of identical vessels told me that these were rentals. Earlier I had seen one pass by me.
I wondered how much it cost to rent one per week. Not only would one have to pay for the rental, but it must cost a pretty penny for the fuel. But, considering the prices of motels in the area, perhaps it might a pretty good deal.
Macedon Landing.
Macedon Landing
Eventually the towpath ended and I had to walk on a gravel road that ran parallel to canal. The path disappeared due to the presence of a series of canalside hovels, trailers, and cabins. At first I thought that this was a campground, but then I realized that some of the houses were full-time residences. Perhaps it was a campground that went bust. It was a place of contrasts. Some cabins were clean and neat with flowers and shrubs, while others looked like hillbilly haven. The last images were reinforced when I came across a piece of primitive folk art. A toilet placed in the hollow of a huge maple tree. I have heard of “going behind the tree,” but going in it?
Potty tree.
Potty tree
This little village was only about a quarter mile long. On the other side of a country road that crossed the canal, I came across the towpath again. This time it went through a wild life reserve. Periodically there were signs describing the environment and various biological tidbits. As I former biology teacher, I appreciated the attempt to impart this knowledge to the average person. It doesn’t matter if I was walking through a forest, a meadow, a swampland, or along a canal, I can always find some interesting plants, animal, or stone formations.
The designers of the reserve also strategically placed benches which I decided to make use of. As I sat there “re-hydrating” myself, my cell phone rang. It was John, an old fraternity brother who lives in North Rose, about thirty miles from Macedon. I hadn’t talked to John for over a decade so he was a little apprehensive when he heard my message from the other night to call. We used to ride motorcycles with a third buddy when were young and foolish. Now we had reached that reached the stage when we’re just foolish. Was everything alright? Was Phil okay? Yes, everything was fine. I was going to be in the area in a couple of days and would like to buy him a beer. He didn’t drink anymore (huh??) but would welcome an iced tea or lemonade.
After we made a tentative date and signed off, I called Jerie to arrange our meeting point. After an examination of our respective maps, we agreed to meet at the Macedon lock.
When I got to the lock, I realized that I had to cross back to the south side the canal. This meant that I had to cross the three foot wide cat walk which ran across the top of the lock gates. Even though there were railings, I still was nervous due to my fear of heights.
Cat walk.
On the other side of the lock were nice little park tables, benches, and flower beds. I took off my backpack and settled down to wait for Jerie. After about twenty minutes I gave her a call to let her know that I had reached the rendezvous. She was surprised because she said that she was already at the lock. In fact, she was parked right near the control house. She could see the picnic benches I had described but she couldn’t see me!
This was crazy! There was no car in the parking lot and she was nowhere in sight. Eventually we realized that we were at two different locks a couple of miles apart. The layout of the locks and its buildings is so similar that what we were describing to each other was the same but in different spots. We weren’t crazy, just a little confused!
After a few minutes I spotted her car enter the parking lot near my lock.
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