Monday, November 6, 2017

Last Leg of the 2017 Journey

So here we sit at home, looking out on Old Hickory Lake from the screened porch of our "dirt house" remembering the last few weeks aboard InSpeyered 2 while traveling the Erie Canal.  The canal is only open for the late Spring, Summer and early Fall months.  So our deadline to get into Brewerton, NY where Winter Harbor Marina is located was 10/11 when the locks would shut down to pleasure craft. InSpeyered 2 has a winter reservation at Winter Harbor where she will be warm and protected in a huge, heated building, nestled tightly in with lots of other cruising boats.
So after a walk along the canal wall in Waterford, NY on Tuesday 9/19, we hustled to release lines and head directly into lock #2 because a small runabout was in line waiting for it to open and if that boat went through without us, we'd have to wait for the lock to fill and then empty for us to enter.  (At this point along the Canal, each lock raised us up 25-35 feet). Hurrying in a boat is foolish and the result was our making it into the lock but the fenders and lines for locking through were not completely set so first mate, me, got all tensed up and my already painful neck became a major event for the day!

We went though 5 locks in quick succession so had only short breaks in between to try and relax so we never accomplished that and just remained tense for the duration.

The bending forward to reach down to loop the line is what kept irritating my neck.  

We had a brief wait at this lock while 6 little kayaks cruised out of this great big lock.  The lock master hailed us to be sure and wait for all 6 to get out of the way before we entered.  All kinds of boats use this great water way.  All in all, we went through 6 locks on that Tuesday, raising us up a total of 197 feet.  We did have about an hour of cruising between lock #6 and #7 so managed to get some lunch and ice for my neck!  Our stop for the night was along lock #7 wall which turned out to be a lovely and free place to relax for the night. 

The lock walls generally have no power or water but they provide an easy place to tie up safely for the night and enjoy a sunset.

The next morning, this great walkway along the canal was perfect for the daily walk.  

This part of the canal is a natural body of water, the Mohawk River and afforded beautiful scenery along its shores. We went through 5 more locks on 9/20 and only raised up another 67feet as each lock was much less deep, averaging only a 12 foot rise.

We stopped just past lock #12 for another night along a quiet and free wall.  

We shared the wall with a sailboat heading south for the winter and enjoyed the spectacular sunset.
There was no place to walk here so we moved on in the morning and had breakfast underway to our next destination, Little Falls Canal Harbor, where we had plans to meet up with our good friends on Short Vacation, John and Pam.

Beautiful scenery along the way made for a peaceful cruise.  We went through 5 more locks, that all except one, were a short rise up of less than 10ft.  

This part of the canal is truly the man made "ditch" so it is straighter, more narrow and sometimes more shallow.  But we are so used to traversing along shallow water, that we were never concerned about hitting bottom and we always had at least 3 feet or so below the keel.  Along the straighter parts, are the remnants of the walkways where the mules walked along pulling barges up and down the canal as seen on the left side of this picture.

This is lock #17, our last of the day and we had to pull over to wait for this tourist cruise ship to lock through and pass by us.  The top of this ship is flat to accommodate all the low bridges.  At first we were concerned about getting under all of the bridges as some are listed as having just a 20ft clearance and we have an air draft of a bit over 20ft., but we ended up with a foot or 2 to spare.  We decided the info provided about the bridges was a low estimate.

So we got to Little Falls and waited for our friends to arrive.  I took my walk into town to check out the "First Thursday Night" festivities that the town enjoys once per month. We participated in the pizza contest by spending $5 for a ticket to pick up a piece or two of pizza from the 4 participating pizza joints in town.  We were supposed to then vote but didn't give ourselves nearly enough time so just ran to all the places, gathered pizza in boxes and ate them later with a beer in a local place.  Ah, you gotta soak up the ambiance of the local towns!  

It was sooo wonderful to be with fellow loopers once more and enjoy some social time.  We decided to stay 2 nights at this little marina to enjoy Friday night's car show and wonderful fireworks display. An added bonus was a day off from cruising.  By this time, my neck needed a break! Saturday morning, before untying lines, we took advantage of the town's farmer's market and bought all kinds of fresh veges and home baked goods.  Many of the local farmers were Amish and the baked goods were wonderful!  

We went through 2 more locks raising us another 41ft. and had an uneventful cruise. 
Our next stop was at Aqua Vino Marina which turned out to be a wall in front of a pricey but tasty Italian restaurant that charged $1/foot just for the luxury of a tie up with power and access to the restaurant's restrooms!  

But we did enjoy a delicious meal with plenty of leftovers for a second dinner!

This is the street side of the restaurant that called itself a marina!  It was near the canal pathway so at least I had a good place to walk. On Sunday 9/24, we continued along happily following Short Vacation.  It was nice to watch them go under bridges with room to spare which let us know we could do the same.

We only had one lock to go through on our way to the Rome City Dock which is another free wall and the town provides free electric hook up. 

This is a lovely town park and the town itself is close walking distance so we could access a grocery and the post office.  Because my neck was so painful, we all agreed to take a day off and stayed on this wall for two nights enjoying the warm fall weather. In fact it was so warm, we were grateful for the electricity to run the air conditioners!

The sunsets were also a plus.  On Tuesday 9/26 we fired up the engines and went the final 40 miles to reach Brewerton Boat Yard which is less than a mile from Winter Harbor.  There is limited slip space at Winter Harbor so they don't want boaters to use that space until the boat is ready to be pulled out of the water for storage.  So we chose Brewerton because there was some work to be done on the engine alternator and of course Captain Al can always come up with other stuff to be done as well. We went through two more locks that each lowered us about 25ft putting us on the level of Oneida Lake.  Brewerton is to the west, just beyond the lake.  And once again, we had lovely sunsets from our slip as the fall, cooler weather descended upon us. 

Our time in Brewerton was spent having some fun with Pam and John Short, doing boat chores to get InSpeyered 2 ready for winter storage, and going back and forth to Syracuse so I could see a Physical Therapist who diagnosed a "deranged disc" in my neck!  High praise to my therapist who figured out the problem and had it nearly fixed in less than a week.  It took a bit longer to get it completely pain free but I dutifully did the exercises under the supervisory eye of the Captain and now I am back to normal! And Al enjoyed revisiting Syracuse, home to his alma mater so one day we did a campus tour. 

Amazing that his old dorm is still in use and looking well worn!  Some interesting stories were played out in this building many years ago!!

On Sunday, 10/1, Short Vacation untied lines and headed up to Winter Harbor for their final boat preparation for winter storage.  No more boating together for many, many months!  It was sad to see their boat take off.  

And this is what it looks like for Short Vacation to be "on the hard".  Note, the picture is deceiving because there is a trailer next to their boat and it looks like their boat is on that trailer.  But in fact, it is resting on multiple steadying stands with the keel supported on wooden blocks.
While in Brewerton, we received the very sad news that our brother-in-law, Al's sister's husband, died following surgery.  So part of our time was spent on a road trip to/from Maine and several days in Maine with family.  It was hard to say good-by to TR but we did have some comforting family time.  We also enjoyed the car travel in New England.

On the way back to the boat, we took almost all scenic back roads to soak up the fall colors.

We treated ourselves to a side trip to visit the home of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in Waterbury, Vt.

And we took some time to take a tour and sample the ice cream. Once back at the boat, we went into high gear to prep for winter storage including emptying the refrigerators and freezers, cleaning, removing gas cans and the propane tank, bleaching the water tank, getting a pump out and lots of packing!  On Monday 10/16 we slept on the boat for the last time this year and on Tuesday we took her to Winter Harbor.

Captain Al and First Mate Jane said a sad good-by to our travel days on InSpeyered 2 and began the drive home.  The trip took us about 15 hours and we made a stop in Ohio to visit boating friends, Mike and Nancy from California Lady for a 2 night visit.   We'll be back to boating and blogging next Spring and are already counting the days!!  Canada, here we come!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Happy Travelers on the Hudson!

Note: this blog was started in September when we were actually on the Hudson but two things got in the way and now it is almost Halloween.  First, the keypad that makes blogging on an iPad tolerable, died a sudden death and it was too difficult to get it replaced and second, my neck became painful and more so every time I looked down. That made any typing just too painful.  Happy end to that story; saw a physical therapist in upstate NY and she fixed my bulging disc!  So now we are home, I am pain free, we have fast internet and I have access to a real laptop!  Now back to the blog on the Hudson! Pretend it is September when reading this so it makes some sense!
We are happy to be back in fresh water, following a simple river and not paying much attention to tides, current and weather.  Whew, what a relief!  We are happy to be heading away from more hurricanes and safely inland from the unforgiving ocean!  And we are happy to be heading up into the Hudson Valley that Al knows well from family camping days growing up.  So on Tuesday 9/12 we left NYC behind and proceeded North.

But first we had to pass along the west side of NYC and to our port was Ellis Island.

Also to port was Jersey City with the Colgate Clock (marking the spot where the Colgate/Palmolive headquarters used to be) and the tall Goldman-Sachs building.  The clock is 50' in diameter!

Then on past the west side of the battery with another shot of One World Trade Center.

Further on, we passed the Empire State Building, standing tall amongst other sky scrapers. 

Then under the George Washington Bridge where "The Little Red Lighthouse" sits.  This is another one of those bridges that Al and I have crossed by car as kids and young adults, having grown up near NYC. 

Once out of the Manhattan area the New Jersey side became quite beautiful with the Palisades Interstate Park.  Lovely rock cliffs and just a hint of Fall's color changes beginning. I think somewhere up in that forest is my old girl scout camp!


This is our approach to the Tappan Z bridge that I drove across to and from college for 4 years.  Got my first speeding ticket very close to the bridge!  Fond memories! The Tappan Z is in the final stages of construction of an entirely new bridge so what we saw was a double bridge. Our day ended at Shady Harbor Marina in Croton on the Hudson after about 40 miles of travel in a bit over 4 hours.  We picked this stop based on looper friends' recommendations as a good place to rent a car to do some sight seeing.  So on Wednesday 9/13 we did just that and headed to West Point for a tour. 

This is a very beautiful old campus and this particular view is of the home of the Superintendent (white house in the center of picture).  It was interesting to learn that the campus can only be seen by tourists via bus tours where as we were able to walk all over the Naval Academy unchaperoned. Guess the Army demands more security after 9/11. 

Al is inspecting cannons captured during the Civil War.  

They refer to this spot as "the million dollar view" both because it is stunning and also because Benedict Arnold sold the plans for West Point to the British for apparently what would be valued at a million dollars in the present currency. Looking north, the waterway behind Al is the Hudson where we will be again tomorrow.

We went inside the Cadet Chapel.  Note how the Bibles and hymnals are all in precise order and placement.   The West Point motto is Duty, Honor, Country and the campus spoke to that motto. We then scooted out of West Point and drove on northward to Poughkeepsie to tour the Culinary Institute of America but first we had to dine in the campus run Brew House for a late lunch.  

Such fine cuisine and wonderful service!  We were effectively "lab rats" because each of the 5 restaurants on campus is really a classroom for students to learn the fine art of preparing the food and  serving the food with a professor surreptitiously following around to teach and likely give grades!  But we had a most delicious lunch and really enjoyed the experience.

The tour was fun as well, seeing all the varied kitchens full of students and delicious cuisine and deserts!  

This is a work of art on campus that is a Sturgeon fish made from real silverware and represents the most abundant fish from the Hudson.  

We started going north again on Thursday 9/14 on a mixed weather day.  Here we are heading toward the Bear Mountain Bridge with heavy cloud cover.  Al has camped on Bear Mountain with his family as a kid. 

Al decided to take a "record shot" of me taking pictures of West Point for this blog!

And voila, the picture I took!  West Point is a real fortress from the waterside.

As the sky cleared partly and the sun came out from behind clouds, it began to rain lightly, creating this amazing horizontal rainbow!  Another first for us to see such an unusual sight!

The day became bright and clear as we passed the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse.  Soon after, we stopped for a two night stay at Poughkeepsie Yacht Club which is the home port for Fleetwing, owned by "Poughkeepsie Bob 423" and his wife Ann who we befriended months ago in St. Augustine, Fl.  They graciously loaned us their car to go into town so Al could have his left eye checked for some corneal scratches.  It helps to have friends along the way. Poor Al must wear a pressure patch over the eye for some hours each day but he is coping well! 
After a nice visit with old friends, we moved on further north a short distance to Kingston Municipal Marina because Al wanted to see the Hudson River Maritime Museum.  It turned out to be a very small but informative museum about the river's history.  We learned that folks back in the mid 1800's and early 1900's enjoyed day trips all the way to NYC on fast steamboat ferries.  So they could travel round trip the distance that has taken us 3 travel days!

After a fine early dinner at the local Mexican restaurant, we enjoyed another lovely sunset and quiet night.  On Sunday we moved on north with the destination of Shady Harbor Marina but on the way, we had a very special treat.  A very good friend, Peggy Loeffler, who is a flight instructor extraordinaire in Western Connecticut, texted that she would be taking a student over the Hudson and would find us and take photos of us from the air!  


So here we are cruising along in what looks like a very tiny boat! 

Cruising along with Sunday traffic of wave runners and runabouts! 

Such cool shots of us cruising along, thanks Peg!

And then the "great" shot I took from our bow of Peggy flying overhead in a two seater plane!  Expand the photo if you want to be sure that speck is really an airplane!

InSpeyered 2 sits quietly along the T-head dock at Shady Harbor while I take my daily walk along country roads.  We will miss the Hudson River because tomorrow we take a left into the Erie Canal.

And here we are at the juncture of the Hudson River and the beginning of the Erie Canal in Waterford, NY.  The wall ahead provides free overnight dockage with a mere $10 fee for electricity. We spent just one afternoon and night at this stop to load up on groceries and meet our "hurricane" friends from the boat Free to B.  We had a great visit and dinner with Ginny and Gene who we originally met just before Hurricane Matthew last year.  
Now on to the last leg of our adventure for this year along the Erie Canal to Winter Harbor where our water home will wait out the cold season until next Spring.