Diabetes Awareness Campaign: Trekking Along the Erie Canal.
North Tonawanda
Little Falls
St. Johnsville
Friday, October 12
Cayuga County Erie Canal Trail.
Cayuga County Erie Canal Trail
Weedsport was the start of the Cayuga County Erie Canal Trail which went along the towpath of the Enlarged Erie Canal. It was approximately 15 miles in length and ended at the Camillus Erie Canal Park just west of Syracuse. Since the trail started right behind an Arby’s I decided to get breakfast there rather than back at yesterday’s diner. I hate to backtrack.
About 200 yards into the words, I was challenged by a barking dog. It was a nice beautiful chocolate lab taking his mistress for a walk. In spite of her entreaties, he kept barking at me and refused my open hand. So, I casually walked on by. About five minutes later I was startled by a wet tongue licking my hand. It was my new best friend Max.
Max raced ahead and back and kept barking at me to follow. I remembered a line from that old television line. “What’s that Lassie, Timmy’s stuck in the well?”
I soon came to a house that had a fenced in back yard with a small pond and a lot of ducks, geese, and pheasants. I realized that it must have been Max’s back yard. He then came running up to me with a ball in his mouth which he dropped at my feet. Okay, he wanted to play. I picked up the ball and threw it as far as I could. I set into motion thinking that I had met my obligation. A minute later he returned, dropped the ball, and barked at me. Okay, Okay, one more time. But it wasn’t one more. It was two then three. And it looked like Max wasn’t ever going to get tired of his game. I was thankful when Max’s mistress came to my rescue and called him back and took him indoors.
Soon I came to the remains of an old lock of the Enlarged Erie. This was the second old lock I had come across. But unlike Lock Berlin, this segment of the canal was dry. I was able to walk along the top of the lock and see the anchor groves for the hardware of the gates. And I was able to walk through the lock, giving me a feeling as to its size and depth. As I stood there amidst the ditch, I could visualize how the masons would haul in and line the blocks along the edges of the ditch before it was flooded. Once a lock was installed, it would serve as a dam while another segment of the canal was dug. What amazes me is that the builders were able to anticipate where the locks should be placed. They knew where the changes in topography resulted in a change of elevation which would result in a disparity in the water level. To me, the Erie Canal was dramatic evidence of the skills of the 19th century surveyors and engineers!
As I entered the outskirts of the community of Jordan, I spotted another line barn. But this time it was painted white and was attached to a single family home. Obviously it was serving as a modern garage, housing a different sort of horse power.
Canal through Jordan.
Canal through Jordan
What used to be the canal is a beautiful, well-groomed promenade through the center of town. I came across an interesting display, which shows an old picture of the canal. I realized that the warehouse on the left margin of the photo was the brick building I had photographed at the entrance of the park.
Jordan today.
Jordan today
Then I came to a creek and the remains of an old aqueduct. The display informed me that the waterway was the Skaneateles Creek. I found this interesting, since I had a teammate in prep school who was from Skaneateles. We thought it was a hysterically funny name, so the rest of the wrestling team called him the Skaneateles Kid, but I digress.
Skaneateles Creek.
Skaneateles Creek
From Jordan I took a detour. The canal path took a gentle arc first northerly then bent back down toward the city of Camillus. That fact is not important except that the motels in the area were 2 miles south of the path along Route 5. And, to make matters worse, the only motel which had a vacancy was 2 miles west of Camillus on the aforementioned road. In fact in the whole metropolitan Syracuse area there was not another available room until DeWitt which is eight miles east of Camillus. Let me revise that statement. There was no other room available for under a $125!!!
I couldn’t see my self walking 10 miles further and then having to backtrack four miles. Besides, the trail to Camillus was through wooded rural areas with little chance of finding a place to eat. Why not just head three miles south to Route 5 and then go straight for seven miles to the motel? Why not indeed!
Red & White Cafe.
Red & White Cafe
It was a smart move if I do say so myself. By the time I traversed the three miles to Elbridge I felt the onset of hypoglycemia and anxiously looked for a place to eat. I found it at the Red & White Restaurant. What had once been a drug store was now an ice cream parlor and café with specialty sandwiches. It even had ice cream for dogs (fortunately, only to go). It was a girly type place with lots of pink. Even the pumpkins were pink.
Ice cream parlor.
Ice cream parlor
When the fountain clerk asked me if I wanted a half sandwich, I was taken aback. (I know that the correct term is soda jerk but that sounds pejorative!) I was really hungry and wanted a whole sandwich, thank you. When it was delivered I understood the question. The sandwich overflowed the plate. It was as if the loaf of bread was sliced lengthwise. How did such a girly place come up with such a manly menu?
Sated, I headed east along Route 5. It was a hilly road with a lot of traffic. Unlike the canal which is level, the road went up and down over the glacial eskers. Such a trail is not too difficult but if your legs aren’t used to even a slight change in grade, you soon feel a tightening in the calf muscles. And the 45 lb. back pack exaggerates the effect. I should have spent more time on the StairMaster at the gym.
But the walk was quite pleasant. As soon as I left the outskirts of Elbridge, I was in farm country. Most of the fields were corn and I saw a big harvester cutting huge swaths through the dried stocks. The whole scene brought back memories of my childhood when I used to spend the summer on my uncle’s farm in South Dakota. Other fields had been planted with winter wheat and it seemed odd to see green sprouts spring from the fields in October while all the other vegetation was brown or gold. The visual scene was perfect for a calendar or jigsaw puzzle.
The only negative aspect of my afternoon stroll was that there was a definite lack of trees or brush to provide cover if nature calls. And if you are a diabetic, nature calls quite often. In fact the frequent urge is one of the symptoms which is a clue to have a test for diabetes. I remember when my brother told me that he had diabetes (about 4 years before me). When I asked him what the symptoms were he said: “excessive thirst, frequent urination, and irritability.” I told him that I had been that way all my life!
Not only was cover unavailable, the traffic was too frequent and I had no chance for a quick pit stop. I had a vision of being picked up by some state cop for indecent behavior. So, for about two hours, I kept hoping that around the next bend I would find an opportunity for relief. Eventually I saw a Hess gas sign about a half mile away. I quickened my pace to get to the station before a calamity could occur. I have to tell you that the traffic light took an excruciatingly long time to change. The drivers just stared at me wondering why this old guy with a back pack was dancing back and forth at the intersection. I entered the station under stress and was determined to stiff arm anyone in the way of the restroom.
Fortunately the path was clear and, in the words of the 7th cavalry, I got there in the nick of time. Greatly relieved, I could now add some more water, so I bought a nice cold bottle of water and left the service station drinking freely.
Having survived one accident I almost got killed in another. A few yards from the gas station, I was stopped at a signal on the side walk waiting for a green light. Suddenly an east bound car made a left hand turn without even signaling. Coming west bound was a driver who swerved to the right trying to avoid a collision. She was now coming right at me. Fortunately for me she didn’t avoid the car. Unfortunately for the careless driver, she clipped the front of his car. Fortunately for everyone, the damage was only to the vehicles. No one was hurt. Shaken up but not hurt.
I spied a motel across from us and thought that perhaps I should stop for the day and recoup my nerves. But I had reservations at a motel which, according to my map, was still two miles further. So, as soon as the cops permitted, I continued on my way.
Two miles later, I came to an inn. But according to my map an inn shouldn’t have been there. I then realized that the two listings had been switched erroneously. My motel was two miles back—the one I had seen across from the accident. Reluctantly, I had to backtrack!
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