Erie Canal Bicycle Tour Day Six

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I awoke early and walked to the motel lobby for breakfast. This one fell short on protein. They had no eggs and the only dense protein that they had was cream cheese. So, I had a bagel with lots of those little containers of cream cheese spread on top. I used three containers for each half of the bagel. I knew that was not going to be enough. All that I could do was hope that the next town had a diner.

Everything was packed and all I needed to do was load the bicycle and I was on the trail. I was looking forward to the day because I would pass through Syracuse, which was the half-way point. At the end of the ride I was anticipating another great camping area.

I rode maybe a quarter mile when a fast food place popped up right in front of me. I had stopped at one of these franchises in Albion on the afternoon of Day Two and I knew just what I was going to order. I had an egg sandwich with a sausage patty and a glass of chocolate milk. Now I was ready to go.

The trail entered a very well groomed area in Camillus where the depression of the old Erie was lined with grass and a flower bed. The small canal-bottom park is divided by an 1840 aqueduct that carries Skaneateles Creek and now spanned by a small bridge instead of the Erie. Just beyond town a stretch of the old Erie lay dying and clogged with algae. I came to Camillus Landing, the site of old Lock 50, where I saw the sign that confirmed that I was over the hump on hump day. The sign shows the distance to Buffalo and the distance to Albany. I was just over half way at this point. This is a portion of the old Erie that is less silted over. There is a picturesque bridge over a feeder creek. They offer pontoon boat rides on the old canal. Just beyond and still in the jurisdiction of Camillus, I crossed the restored Aqueduct over Nine-Mile Creek. This aqueduct was originally built in 1842 and the restoration was completed and dedicated in 2010.

I made it to Syracuse around lunch time and rode into the downtown area on Erie Boulevard. The canal once flowed along the path now occupied by the city street bearing its name.  I was struck by two pieces of architecture on Erie Boulevard. The first one is the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation building. This art deco monument just looks like the kind of a building that would house a power company. It even reminds me of some of the movie sets in the old Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials.

Erie Boulevard is interrupted by Clinton Square, which adds a nice touch to the area. The second piece of striking architecture across the square on its northeast corner is the First Niagara Bank in Gothic dress.  It looks like a palace or castle, perhaps a politically incorrect appearance for a bank at this particular time in history.

In the corner of Clinton Square opposite the bank there is a small monument to the “Jerry Rescue”, including a sculpture. Upper New York State showed significant leadership in civil rights many years before it was fashionable. In this case, it was an anti-slavery issue and a conflict with the Federal Government at the time. Jerry, a fugitive slave from Missouri, was arrested by Federal authorities in 1851 and freed by local Syracuse abolitionists.

After lunch downtown, my last stop in Syracuse was the Erie Canal Museum. This was the best Erie museum on the trip because it had a collection of photographs that told the story of the old canal. The museum building was once the Syracuse Weighlock Building. The building had a lock that was used to weigh the packet boats and to determine the canal use fee to be charged based on the cargo weight.

As I rode toward the campground I passed more evidence of old bridges and aqueducts. There must have been hundreds of these structures on the old Erie. Just beyond these I found a bridge and decided to rest there for a few minutes. It was an active footbridge and several people on bikes and on foot passed as I rested there. A man in his late twenties stopped and we talked about biking the Erie Canal, something that he wanted to do.

I got back into the saddle and started to ride, a little confused about where the campground would be. This was one of those instances where the guide book was not clear. I rode at least a mile and came to a street called Kirkville Road. I consulted my guide and found that I had overshot the campground. I reexamined the guide and saw a tiny brown line at about the place where I found the footbridge. I rode back to the bridge, across the bridge, and saw a sign that was obscured by green undergrowth: “Green Lakes State Park”.

I paid for my spot in the campground and pitched my tent. I had a decision to make. Would I ride my bike two miles to eat at the park golf club restaurant or stay in camp and hit the emergency food stash?  I opted for the latter. I ate canned green beans, canned peas, and sardines. That would hold me until breakfast.

It was early in the evening and I decided to hike around the Green Lakes. The path is a steep inclined trail that leads to the bottom of a bowl that contains the lakes. The lakes date back to the time when the Finger Lakes were carved and have their origin in the glacial actions that happened as recently as 14,000 years ago. There are two lakes, Round Lake, 180 feet deep, and Green Lake, 195 feet deep. When the sunlight shines on either of them at the correct angle, their color is a deep green. They call it green, I call it turquoise. The scenery around the lake was worth the hike. The water is clear and fallen trees in the water appear to transition from the air into a transparent crystalline environment with the intricate details of their branches and twigs visible to great depths. When the angle of the sunlight is just right, the turquoise color of the lakes is striking.

I got back to camp after walking around Round Lake, showered and went to bed.

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