Rome – Albany 3 days – Erie Canal 2018

“real generosity to the future lies in giving all to the present.”

Albert Camus

Preparing for a rainy day

Made it through the past three days. After Rome which we had high hopes for, due to the name, but seemed just a busy road of malls. Rained all day, but have good gear so not bad. The wind was blowing gusting to an occasional 20 and it hit an advertising flag blowing it sideways into my path on sidewalk. I was on sidewalk due to no road shoulder, a curb and busy traffic. Seems most of the accidents I have had were on a sidewalk. But I hit the flag and it ripped my handlebars sideways and I went down fast and hard, hitting left side hip, shoulder, and banged the helmet. But other than sore seemed ok, except a headache all day unrelieved by usual remedies, fluids, coffee, aspirin. Gone the next day but still cannot lay on left side.

Rainy day riding
Using an underpass to check maps
Beautiful trails

Seems a common theme as we talk with locals that the small towns are dying. Used to have an industry but in the 70’s it moved to bigger city. These are towns of less than 10000 population. Why? My theory is globalization and was cheaper in a more centralized place. Not bad, just a changing world.

Good food although wet outside
Waiting for a cab to go back to motel
Another lock with the dam behind
Awesome trails
Along the Hudson River
Albany finish

For the most part the Erie Canal trail was great. There are sections which are on road but mostly beautiful trail through incredibly delightful temperate forests of a variety of trees. Since we left Buffalo the colors have not started. A few reds, and hints of colors starting but green.

Found a good motel near finish and a great bar with Cajun food nearby. Delightful end. Now a week off visiting friends in the area, then on to the next trip.

Camillus -Rome day 5

Dalai Lama

He said, “ There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

A much better day although distance was a mile farther but within 25 seconds of same time bicycling. (Ok, I admit I am a bit of a nerd and keep track of this stuff).

The guide book listed Syracuse as a bit of trouble getting through due to roads with difficult intersections and the like. Was not bad, bike lanes, although not separate, were good.

Syracuse riding

Stopped at museum of the Erie Canal, in downtown Syracuse, which was very good. Engineering, as a profession had not been invented, and everyone had to learn as they went along. The canal and locks are all gravity fed and powered, hence require a constant supply and flow of water. Some areas were designed with one inch of vertical drop per mile.

Erie Canal museum mural
Numerous informations signs along route

After Syracuse we cruised stopping for lunch in Chittenango established in 1812 and the birthplace of Al Frank Baum, the author of the wizard of Oz.

After lunch we fired off to the next motel in Rome, which turned out 35 miles away (56 kilometer). Arrived Rome with a headwind and not a good feel for town, roads not bicycle friendly, and town seemed not clean and kept up. Maybe we were just tired.

Changing canal sides at another lock
Erie Canal main channel towpath

Day 20 blues

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The work is the same.”

Carlos Castaneda

Not such a good day yesterday. Just did not feel it. Tried figuring out why but nothing made sense. Started day with blaring FOX news at nite breakfast. Do not see that much,but what obvious bias.

The trail left the canal roads and farmland of which we missed turns. The list of problems continued but nothing made sense as to why I was not with it.

Then I thought it feels like day 21. I have noticed over several trips and talked with others who had same problem. Often the third week gets one. But this is day 4. Makes no sense, then I realized we have been gone 20 days from Anchorage. Ok I will accept that answer. Now to work it through.

We made it to the little town of Port Byron (no port or canal in sight) and Jeanne says let’s stop for lunch. Great diner and felt a bit better. Always interesting to see the local hangout on a Sunday morning.

After a huge lunch the route joins the old canal disused since 1917, but maintained as a trail with our friendly surface “stone dust”. Great riding.

Made it to Camillus a suburb of Syracuse, and a great modern motel. Ordered a part for Jeanne’s bike and hopefully today will be better.

Foggy morning
Missed a turn and finding way back to route
New York Farmland
Famous people slept near here
Trail along old canal

Brockport -Newark day 3

Stop worrying about potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.

Fitzhugh Mullan

Finally just a day of riding. Awesome just cruising along mile after mile on a great bike path. And I think it was because temperatures were very good for riding it added to enjoyment 55-75f (15-23C). There were numerous people out and boats on canal. Jeanne said it was because it was Saturday, or we were approaching city of Rochester. I think it was the temperature.

Brockport, New York
Erie Canal bike path near Brockport

One interesting town Fairport the trail goes through a side street of small markets and people out walking enjoying the sunshine, but it appeared 95% were looking at cell phones, even little kids -zombie land- enough so that I really noticed.

Frequent history signs

Then came across the outdoor store REI next to trail so popped in to see if he had a brake for Jeanne’s bike. Viola, he did not have any but had just finished replacing someone else’s brakes which the rear was bad (not same problem) and was going to throw away the front brake. Wow a freebie. I was going to install it out with the sidewalk sale, but Jeanne said it was fine now. She did not want to risk the same problem, of a sticking brake. On we rode.

Junction of Genesee river and Erie Canal (hint- the Erie Canal is route in middle) (bike bridge across out of sight on left. I90 to right)

Stopped and watched locks in action. Lock operation never ceases to fascinate me

Boat up
Boat down

After a whopping 16 foot descent (5 meters) we cruised on to Palmyra. Reading about the area apparently in the 1820’s and 1830’s it was a hotbed of evangelical churches, religious fervor, and sprouting of new sects. The founder of the Mormons was from here (Joseph Smith) when the angel Moroni visiting him with a bunch of gold tablets explaining it all. Apparently seventh day Adventist’s also came about here at about same time. I was careful to not get or drink any water from area.

On to Newark meeting some Canadian lads out for a weekend ride. Only motel in town was right next to trail. Great. Dinner was a choice between a place advertising “bud light” and one advertising craft beers. We chose the latter and an excellent dinner.

Ride to Newark

Back at motel and excite as Jeanne gets a new brake.. alas, not to be. The brake lever is integrated with shifter so need that assembly, a very specialized part. She says she is doing fine

Last sunset of summer. Equinox occurred 2 hours later

Lockport – Brockport day 2

Don’t listen to others listen to yourself

Whew what a day, up somewhat early as fell asleep very early due to tiredness. Hoped to catch up to whatever schedule we have (maybe 40 mile days) Rochester is 56 miles away (90kilometer) and our goal. Learning the small towns do not necessarily have tourist facilities, hence must plan around those availability.

Jeanne’s bike has been giving her grief. Checked out perfect in anchorage but sat on back of car for nearly 3 weeks, and now the front brake is sticking. Every time I look at it, it rubs a bit, I adjust the little one can on hydraulic brakes and the wheel rolls but not great. Then today it barely rolls. She rode yesterday 33 miles and today 13 miles saying this is ridiculous I should not have to work this hard. Finally in frustration (to add to hers) I just removed the front brake. Brakes just slow you down. It seemed to be true as our pace doubled literally doubled. And we are back to usual of me barely keeping up with her.

And to add to our speed we stopped at post office and shipped 14 lbs (6 kilos) of stuff deemed extra, I had a hoodie in case it got cold, an extra bike jersey, and the iPad. Jeanne had extra lock, tools, cloths book and stuff. Away it went. Much easier. Like I said our speed literally doubled although it was now 1 pm and we had gone 13.5 miles since our 9 am departure.

Mailing home extra weight and removing front brake

The riding was then great. Although it turned hot 100 degrees at one point (39c) whew basically uninhabitable by humans in my humble experience, with this humidity. Sane people were inside, while we rode the sunny side of canal.

Cruising time

The surface is great, what they call stone dust. A hard very rideable surface perfect for our 1.75 tires or even road bike tires.

Once in a while shade
Locks 38,39 at Lockport
Big downhill at locks
Wondrous shade

Riding along and this old building says bike shop so pulled in. Sign says at house working and call so we did and he came over. I had been through several theories and finally found on web that avid juicy brakes tend to get dirty and the pistons stick, not retracting leaving them to rub. One advice said buy a new one (of better quality) another said do not just throw away as easily fixed by taking apart calipers soaking in brake fluid and reveled. Not something I particularly want to do in field or a motel room.

The mechanic and propriator confirmed this, tried cleaning without taking apart, but without success. Basically buy a new brake. Probably occurred driving down with dirt from back of car. Ok nice. He had no brakes for us.

But again getting tired still 26 miles (41 kilometer to Rochester and now 3:30. And it is now 100 degrees (39C). 90 in the shade. Ridiculous. I check and potential motel in Brockport only 13 miles (20 k), said same about Medina yesterday but was not true. The web can lie.

Mechanic said a decent motel and also said good beer in Brockport and that was it. We flew on with a tailwind pushing us.

Interesting as he also said it seemed ridership is diminishing on the Erie Canal. Not sure why but he thinks no one is pushing it and it does not have the amenities other trails have ( mileposts, distance markers, signs of available lodging food in towns. I confess in this heat I am not going very far in a wild search for something interesting.

Did see a turtle resting on road, lots of herons, kingfisher, and some unknown furry creature (about size of cat but badger like)


Interesting have seen only one boat moving on canal. Did hear some people last night talking about spending summer on east coast and now taking their boat back to Michigan. But have not seen boat movement. Or bikers although did see two groups of two for short rides. Interesting

Made it to Brockport and riding the 1.5 mile ride to motel and saw another bike shop. Stopped in and the fellow came out all excited to fix the brake but in the end confirmed get a new one. But he would love to have a look as unusual problem. But could not in reasonable time and probably break some seals which would do no good. Alas, but said several good places for beer. Ok we have been told twice now so forget motel and get a beer.

Numerous choices finally. Recently has often been bad light beer, light beer, or what they call a dark beer called corona. This place had maybe 30 on draft ipa, ambers, Pilsner, spice, from local breweries or other places. Excellent.

Decided on dinner too to alleviate return into town. Then on bikes to motel uphill or what passes as a hill here. Halfway there my gos gives me an alert “severe thunderstorm alert” before I have a chance to even look around or up it is a downpour”. We ride the couple hundred yards (meters) to a motel and I walk in dripping all over but the sky is clearing and beautiful out. I just put myself and clothes on shower to wash the severe stink out. Must have sweated at least a gallon and only took in 1/2 that. (Before the beer).

Yet another day. Made me think though, what the bike shop guy said, people do not want to figure it out themselves. They want it delivered. For me half the adventure is figuring it out what is out there. (I did stop a fellow on a tractor to ask what the field was growing- soybeans)

Whatever everyone is different, and the adventure continues

Buffalo to Lockport Day 1

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

Anthony Boirdain

Successful departure. Got the car to auto storage but had to talk with owner for about an hour, retirement, cars, travels, life in general. Then same with Uber driver, although retirement was not on her list. She had lived all her life in Buffalo and wants to travel but ?.??.

I made it back to Jeanne looking sort of like a homeless camp with stuff scattered about the park. She was happily carrying on a conversation with one of local tour guides. Buffalo has and is reinvigorating itself with additions and upgrades to waterfront. Lots of concerts, activities and new buildings where people want to live. I packed as Jeanne went off in search of a bathroom.

The trail is great winding along the waterfront until turns off the Niagara River and then alongside the Erie Canal. A bit of roads but lightly traveled. Reminded me of Anchorage coastal trail except no moose. (That I saw)

Rest stop along the way for brake repair. Seems sitting on back of car for 16 days does not help.
Niagara River and river walk trail

We had hoped to get to the town of Medina about 46 miles along but we had difficulty finding if their was lodging the. Finally found a hotel but all rooms on 3rd floor and no elevator. That was enough of excuse to stay in Lockport which would make 33 miles. But I confess we were tired. Jeanne was trying to figure out why, while stating her bike was heavy. Even a partially loaded bike is different than an empty one. I assured her that as my friend Joe taught me on the great divide “3 days from now we will be in shape”

Delightful motel and outstanding dinner. Asleep by 9

The world is an amazing place.

Bike bridge under the peace bridge crossing Niagara River from Canada to USA
Finally on the Erie Canal bike path


When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost. Sigurd Olson

Finally the day has arrived and we start biking. One plans, thinks, imagines what it will be, then the day arrives and reality comes to fruition.

Crossed back into America through long line on Rainbow bridge over the Niagara River just below the falls. Lucky I knew by heart the license of our car for customs agent. They always scare me with so much power. Somehow I have never been able to think of them as good guys.

But walked the American side of falls which is also incredibly impressive. I felt for both sides, given the number of visitors they have developed it nicely. One can view it quite freely, but the opportunities to spend money are there, but not totally in your face. The falls are impressive just because of the volume of water , 100,000 cfs we did spend $1.25 each and took the elevator to bottom which is always interesting looking up at falls

Delightful to walk about, having walked about 10 miles (16 kilometers) in past two days. Then on into Buffalo and found a car storage place in a big warehouse.

Drove downtown to check out start of the ride, then plugged in the address to the night motel, seeing the bar where the original buffalo wings came about. (Chicken wings in barbecues sauce) or so they say.

Unfortunately I put in the street address correctly but thought the motel was in Buffalo, but it was back in Town of Niagara Falls 20 miles back, but we had a good drive about town amongst the neighborhoods. Funny being back in developments after two weeks of country.

finally arrived at motel and began sorting gear for biking. Excitement. What to take? What will we actually need? What to leave behind? This is a credit card trip, so no camping, just bike gear and evening attire.

Thus it is this morning. Getting dressed, will drive Jeanne to the start, drop her, the bikes, and gear, then I drive to warehouse dropping the car and Uber it back to the start. Yahoo. Finally I get to ride my bicycle.

East Coast Wanderings

East Coast Wanderings
People like to tell other people what to do because we all mistakenly believe we’re someone else’s expert. But what is true is regret. You don’t want to spend the rest of your years wishing you had a second chance at life.

Steve Alaniz &Francesco Marciuliano ( Sally Forth comics)

It is about time for another bike ride. Have barely ridden much in past months with variety of excuses. Hence we are off to ride the Erie Canal going between Buffalo, New York, then a week visiting friends and then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Washington D.C. via the Allegheny trail and C & O Towpath.

The cheap, smart and easy way would be to fly with the bikes, but the idea hit me why not drive cross country. Jeanne, who is not very keen on road trips, was at first a definite no, but then warmed to the idea if we camped and rode our bikes at least an hour every day. Ok, sounds good, google shows 4200 miles (6750 kilometres), thus 300 miles a day should be allow plenty of time to bike explore, rest, and enjoy.

Departed Anchorage 4 September, a tuesday with Tok in our sites. alas a late start meant late into Tok and it was a bit of rain. Got a motel. Who wants to put up a tent in rain or take it down in rain, and cooking is another story. Motel and restaurant were in order. Morning was still a bit of rain, but OK. We enjoyed the morning reading news, getting mad at world, because it does not conform to us, going to breakfast and finally departing about 10-11 am.

Made it to Takhini Hot Springs near Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. It has become a mandatory stop since our first time in January of 1991 when at -20 degrees the ducks had found the only remaining open water, to be shared by us. It was raining again, hence to the hostel.

Takhini Hot Springs water temp about 85-104 (29-40C)
Yukon river at Whitehorse
Watson Lake sign forest started about 1946 soon after the Alaska Highway was created
Side pool landscape at liars Hot Spring water about 39 degrees C here
Liard Hot Springs a provincial park of British Columbia-delightful
Jeanne on boardwalk to Liard hot springs.
Woodland Buffalo along the Alaska Highway
Alberta Wheat fields and oil
Edmonton, Alberta
rest stop in Riding Mountain National Park an amazing park which includes 3 distinct areas, the rocky uplift of metamorphic rocks, the boreal forest of higher elevations and latitudes here, and the last preserved grasslands of the plains. (Apparently only 5% of the original plains remain and 3% are here.)
rest day in our one camp
Crossing the Continental Divide separating Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
Fall Colors
Lake Superior coastline (Ojibwa name is Gichi Gamiing) Pictographs on the walls. Lake Superior is an amazing place.
Walking to the pictographs
forest walk at picnic area. So many species of trees. Phenomenal to go from boreal forest to the temperate forests of mid latitudes.
Inuksuk a rock cairn built by Inupiats in the arctic to guide one through the flatlands. There are numerous ones all along the roadways of Ontario. This one stood nearly two meters high.

It is now the finish of day 14, and we are but 3 hours from Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York where we begin riding. We have had the bikes off the car once, in Edmonton where we did not trust the security of the locks on the car and I rode them inside the motel. 30 meters. It has rained a little every day except today, even snowing for a few minutes over a pass. We did stop for a rest day at Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba and visited friends driving from Nova Scotia back to California, having been gone 6 months. It was a great day and we camped for 2 nights, although ate dinner out and I made us breakfasts.

The amazing thing is we have felt rushed. Google maps says it involves 2 days and 18 hours of driving. But what of the questions and feeling the area, talking with people along the way, We wanted to cross Canada and see Canada. But how much time is enough. We talked with a ranger at Riding Mountain who had worked all over Canada (a huge country) but seemed to always return to Manitoba, as “there is so much to explore”. One can spend a lifetime in a place and still not know it.

I had thought Saskatchewan and Manitoba would just be flat boring landscape. I was very wrong, they are exciting: the country is always changing- which fields are cut, which are piled with brush for what purpose – with geese always seeming to be flying about preparing for routes south, or blackbird flocks hopping out of the cattails, the Iskootuk landmarks along the granite cliffs of Ontario (Inupiaq rock cairns marking the way) . Sandhill Cranes. And as I have noted before in flat places there are no mountains blocking the view.

I realized I wanted to be on the bicycle. That way one can feel the hills, smells the fields, experience the vastness. But that will come in a few days. Being in a car one still sees that horizon and wonders what is over it, but on a bicycle one can feel it and one works to get there, although I must admit my gas pedal foot is tired.

We now begin our transfer from sitting and driving to bicycling. Still sightseeing, questioning, exploring and trying to figure out how we fit in this scheme.

and again for a different view check out Jeanne’s blog at

Sometimes Jeanne and I view things quite differently and seems to be interesting that her views are sometimes very different than mine.

Canada has been awesome. Not everything is perfect, but they do have a sense of taking care of themselves and others, very little trash, great roads, frequent rest areas, provincial parks and national parks galore. No wonder Canadians are proud of their country, they have every right to be proud.

I did notice that throughout Canada everyone has driven civilly with almost all going the speed limit which makes driving much easier, but as we near Toronto I notice there are those who maintain and then those which are in a hurry to get somewhere. Begin to ramble.


Denali National Park

Don’t listen to others listen to yourself 


A pleasant weekend driving to Denali National Park and camping, with some delightful bike rides.  Such a treat to get on the bike, despite it being cold and windy.  the first day out we opted to ride up Sable pass an 8% grade, which developed a head wind to boot.  Had thought of progressing on to Polychrome pass but somehow seemed daunting for our group that day.

Exploring around the camp area. Teklanika Campground and River

But a pleasant evening sitting around the campfire musing.

Sunday another ride back towards park entrance and I was not feeling it as have had a cold flu past week and just under the weather so I saw them off and returned to the tent and warm sleeping bag.

Ready for a bit of a tour



Monday (today) jeanne and I departed early returning to Anchorage as departure tomorrow to ride the Erie Canal, allegheny Trail, and the C & O towpath.  All eastern United States, New York, Pennsylvania, and to Washington D. C.

Denali Highway and Denali

And we are driving there, departing tomorrow the 4th September hoping to drive across Canada riding a bit every day, and enjoying the country.

Here we go again