Alto + Alto
HOT. It has been HOT. That’s my three day overview. I would leave it at that, but there are restaurants to mention and the purchase of a new cargo box to explain.
Getting to this stop was our longest travel day and I decided I didn’t want to spend the entire day on highways. So we took backroads through Pennsylvania. Mostly we traveled small roads that wound their way through small and quaint little communities here and there. We stopped briefly in the historic town of Milford, which has lots of old buildings, dating back two hundred years. We passed through the capital of Harrisburg, but did not stop at all. After about four hours of wooded, winding roads, I finally got tired of it and jumped onto highways for the second four hours. We arrived tired, but ok enough to bring out the stove so Richard could cook a pan dinner outside. The temperatures were in the upper 80s, but man, that humidity! We didn’t want to put any of the heat or steam into Dory despite the fact that we had air conditioning. Once again, we were right next to Jack and Lee.
The kitchen staff is very cas in this place
Around 8pm, there was a crazy lightning storm that legit scared me. The power immediately went out, and apparently there were reports of a small tornado that took out two hundred trees in the vicinity. It may not have actually been a genuine tornado, but the damage was extensive, and we didn’t get power back until the middle of the next day. There were so many flashes, and booms, and wildly blowing trees overhead, that all I could do was pace and message Jack about whisky while Richard urged wine. I am amazed our awnings stayed up through that.
Unpleasant part on an otherwise nice bike path system
The next day we knew we wanted to do some city touring, specifically the kind of touring that included air conditioning. Richard rode up the very bike friendly River Road, where I met him with the car and my bike. We then rode together over a “bike bridge” into the city of Albany. The quotation marks denote the unfriendliness of the bridge to bicycles. It was really just a concrete barrier separating us from speeding cars until we got across the river. Once on the other side, there are in fact lots of bike friendly trails. This is part of the Empire State Trail and goes all over this part of New York, connecting Albany to cities to the north and south. Sometimes the bike trail is like a paved sidewalk, sometimes it is a well signed bike route along streets, and sometimes, it is a bright green path, running in two directions, with frequent signs pointing toward areas of interest.
Recreated set of Sesame Street
We went up and down the trail just a little before Richard wanted lunch. We went to the nearest place with sandwiches: Cobblestone Lunch Shoppe, where they immediately handed us cold bottled water, for free. We had a very good chicken wrap with roasted red pepper and fresh basil. We then braved the heat again and made our way over to the New York City Museum. Our only aspiration was to be in the AC, and they delivered, with no admittance fee. We were quite happy to stay in there for a long time, which aided in our appreciation of the mastadon exhibit. No, please, tell me way more about mastadons, thanks; it’s 92º out there.
No Air Conditioning? Well…. maybe some other time…
Soliciting advice on any nearby ice cream led us to explore the underground concourse between the museum and the capitol building. There were some shops down there, but alas, no ice cream. We tried to get into the Capitol building for a look see, but Richard had a bicycle multitool they deemed dangerous. We were not set on anything, so we bailed and went back on our bikes. Before leaving the city, we stopped at the USS Slater, which is a battleship turned floating museum. We’d been told it was a “must see,” but its lack of AC convinced us otherwise. That too was a bail, and so we trudged back over the river via the unpleasant bike bridge and got back into the air conditioned car. Can you sense a theme here?
For dinner, we tried a place in the town of Troy, just a little further north and on the other side of the river from Albany. Here I must rave about the restaurant. Street Taco VII (be sure not to omit the VII) has a huge menu, but what drew us in was their Jerk seasoned meats. The hostess was great and advised us on what Jerk level of spiciness we could probably tolerate. I got “medium jerky” while Richard requested a level 10. She looked alarmed and explained the maximum ever ordered was 16 and even a level 4 would probably be too much. He went with Jerk level 3 and agreed that level 4 would have been too much. The tacos were outstanding and we paired them with a side of cilantro rice. YUM.
Walking around Troy
Ice cream proved to be a challenge to find, possibly because some places closed early to see the July 5th fireworks. The storm had cancelled the big show on the 4th, so the city did a do over the next day. Ultimately we succeeded with a place called Snowman. I got a soft serve creamsicle cone, which hit the spot. It was still in the 90s, but we heard power had been restored at the campground, so we went back after a long day of city bopping.
The next day was one of those combo days; starts off horrible, but ends with delight. Richard got super duper frustrated with work, which usually means he’s gonna blow off steam by biking. Unfortunately, the cleats on his bike shoes were non functional and he could not get one of them off, no matter how hard he grunted and struggled. Oooh lord, he was mad. He was prepared to abandon the whole day, but I offered to try getting his shoe fixed at a nearby bike place. He said I should forget about him and just go out and try to have fun. And here I will give a huge shout out to Steiner’s Sports, about 8 miles to the east of the campground. I walked in holding up his shoe, basically going, “This is breaky breaky. You fixy fixy?” They were super friendly, knew exactly what to do, and disappeared into a back room with the shoe for about twenty minutes. I heard all kinds of banging and drilling going on back there, and eventually the mechanic emerged with the screws removed and the broken cleat off. He wasn’t going to charge a thing for that. I looked around to see what else I could buy there and grabbed a water bottle. Then, on a lark, I asked if they had any roof cargo boxes. “Just one,” he said. And then named the exact one I’ve had my eye on this whole trip. And it cost less than I’ve seen it advertised anywhere else. And they could put it on the car for me. “Sold!!”
Be careful when you tell me to “have fun.”
I returned to the campground, texting Richard with a heads up. He asked how much for the shoe and I said, “….. free!” But then followed with, “You said to go have fun. Fun was $650.” I can now get all of my boating stuff out of the car, which allows tons more room for all the other stuff. It also means we can throw my bike in the car without having to take out the boat and put it in Dory. The boat is heavy and takes up a lot of space, so I’m super pleased.
Much better. Took about 23 miles to blow off that much steam.
I pushed him onto his bike and out the door, even though it was still really hot. I sagged so I could rescue if necessary, but he made it all the way to Peebles Island State Park. There was no open visitor center there so we sought AC for him up at Waterford. This was the jackpot. He was able to cool off while I finally got a pseudo understanding of what the heck the Erie Canal is all about.
“What?! You do what now? And the water does what?! You have got to be kidding me!”
Anyone from the east coast will enjoy laughing at my ignorance, but I was seriously confused about this thing. Is it a river? Does it use the rivers? Is it just a concrete slot across the whole state? How would that even work? I kept trying to find its path on Google Maps, but could not. After some explanation from the people in the visitor center, followed by a visit up to the top of Lock 2, I have a better understanding. I even chatted with the Lock Master, who had a Lock Master Apprentice, who was seriously amused by how dumbfounded I was by this whole thing. He explained how the water levels can be raised and lowered in the individual lock chambers, then huge gates can be opened, allowing boats to pass to the next section. In this way, you can either go up to the next level, or down. You can kayak this whole damn thing. He offered to let me try it, but it was getting late in the day, and his description of the turbulence when the water comes in did not appeal to me. So, maybe for another day, but for now, I was just delighted to see this crazy thing.
Getting ready for fancy entertaining
The best part of the day was inviting Jack and Lee over for a shared dinner. I put together some jazzed up grilled cheese sandwiches (with Mango Chutney, roasted Jalapeño, Prosciutto, and Gouda), paired with a pear, Persian cucumber, and romaine salad. Jack made his own delicious guacamole, and all was enjoyed with a round of Margaritas. A delightful time was had by all.
The campground sits at the foot of these bridges, except you have to go like eight miles past it and back after you drive over from above.
I will try not to hold the weather against this campground. I can imagine wanting to do all kinds of fun things here, but it was just too damn hot for a lot of them. I’m glad to have seen the Erie Canal, at least the eastern end of it. That is just one crazy thing there.
Total miles from Caledonia SP: 322.1, 17.8 mpg, 8 hours 53 min. Site 21, electric hookups. Some solar, 1-2 bars LTE for both. Good dump, but water didn’t seem great so didn’t fill. Recycling by bathroom but didn’t see that. Trash cans by dump.