Sunday, September 16, 2018

Palmyra, NY, September 16, 2018

Once again, we stopped here because of timing – we left Lyons late in the day, and so this is as far as we could get before the locks close at 5:00!  And, once again, we are so glad we stopped here.
We were greeted on the dock by Dick, who we assumed lived here and greeted boaters like Bob Stopper in Lyons.  He told us we were just in time to attend the town’s Canal Days Festival, just up the road.  In fact, he said, the parade is happening right now.  So, we hurried up to the main street to see the parade.  I expected a small town parade, with a couple of tractors and a school band.  We were quite impressed with the half dozen or so of bands, including school bands, an alumni band, and a jazz band!  There was a float on which was recreated the scene from Iwo Jima with the Marines raising the flag.  One float carried about six lovely young women all dressed in formal gowns with sashes denoting their title – I didn’t catch what those were.  Wonderful!
The festival itself was pretty typical, with food offerings like fried dough, chicken quesadillas, hot dogs.  There were booths with goods for sale too.  We met our favorite dog since we lost Max.  Buddy was 82 pounds of love, a mastiff/boxer mix.  We would have taken him home in a heartbeat!
One unique feature downtown is a 150 foot flag tower, given to the town by the Republicans back during the Cleveland-Harrison campaign of 1892.

parade band


pretty house downtown

kids picking up candy thrown by folks on a float

downtown storefront

pretty house, with people watching the parade

another pretty house


oops - cut off the top of the Iwo Jima reenactment

decorated trash truck!

village hall

downtown storefront

mural near the town harbor

footbridge to the harbor

deck on harbor-side restaurant

150' flag tower donated by Republican party in 1892

Kittiwake docked

lovely sunset from our dock

bridge after leaving Palmyra

bridge over the Canal - after Palmyra

downtown scene

dance demonstration

more dance demo


pretty church downtown

opposite side of the harbor


nice house along the Canal

pretty scene along the Canal

nice house along the Canal

nice house, Canal side

We had a chance to get to know Dick, since, as it turns out, his boat is parked on the dock behind the Kittiwake.  He lives on his boat, on the Canal, every summer – for the past 10 summers now.  He can just run up and down the canal, never paying for dockage, meeting wonderful people, enjoying life.  He said there are a half dozen or so people who do the same thing.  When the canal closes, this year on October 10, he will store his canal boat and hie to his trawler that he keeps in Punta Gorda, Florida.  Oh, the people we meet!

Views from the canal on the way to Palmyra....


mural in Newark - we didn't stop there, maybe next time!

another nice mural

Canal boat - these are for rent, and we saw a few on our journey.

Lyons, NY, September 15, 2018

After leaving Seneca Falls, we got back onto the main Erie Canal and stopped at Lyons.  We stopped there mainly because of timing.  We had a late start out of Seneca Falls, and Dan needed to do some work on the internet at 4:00.  We are so glad we stopped there!
First of all, we tied up at a very high rough wall.  It was the highest we’ve every experienced.  To exit the boat, there was about 3.5 more feet of the wall to step up!  - not something easy for me.  I actually had to sit or get on my knees on a rug, then get to my feet.  I’m not as agile as I used to be.  In order to reboard the boat, it was easier for me to step from the wall onto the fly bridge and climb over the settee up there!  I’m so grateful that our boat has all those levels, something I never thought of when we bought her.  We have now used all four levels to get on/off!
The docking and electricity were free.  There is a fire house at the top of the stairs by the dock – boaters are free to use their bathrooms and showers.  Turns out, the city had gotten a grant from the Erie Canal promoters to redo their bathrooms.  All the fire house had to do in return was to make their facilities available to boaters!  Win-win. 
The first night there, we went to a restaurant I had found on Google, the Maitre D at Trombinos.  Delicious meal, delightful staff.  The restaurant has only been there for two years and occupies a former opera house.  The d├ęcor is rich wood with opulent fittings.
We wandered through the town after dinner – some beautiful old architecturally interesting buildings, including a county courthouse with a dome that looked silver but is actually wood.  There is a Central Park with a band stand decorated in red, white, and blue bunting – how American!  A man was working on restoring a building next door to the old County building.  He bought it for $10,000 just before it got torn down!  He is a master woodworker, and is restoring the entire building – not sure to what purpose the building will be put – some combination of commercial and residential.

Scenes from downtown:

bandstand in the park

the very rough wall - tough to get on/off!

view of the wall - to get back on, just climb onto the fly bridge!

One delightful feature in this town  is the variety and placement of large murals.  In Lyons there are quite a few and they are located all around town.

Mural and park
more cool murals!

We were met the next morning by Bob Stopper, who is the volunteer greeter for the town and the town’s unofficial historian.  He told us about the town – until about 10-15 years ago, the town was doing well.  Then, within the space of 5 years, two large employers left and took almost 4,000 jobs…this, in a town of only 3,500!  Now, Lyons is like many of the towns along the Canal, economically depressed, but trying hard to promote the town and improve the situation.  One way is to make boaters feel welcome and appreciated.  They are doing that for sure.
That morning, Saturday, there was a farmer’s market in the Central Park. We purchased some homemade jams and bread, and enjoyed the organ music of old songs. 
After the market, Bob offered to take us to some sites that are important historical places on the canal.  Lyons may be the only spot on the canal where all three versions of the Erie Canal can still be found.  The first, called Clinton’s Ditch, after the New York City mayor who managed to fund and get the first Erie Canal built.  It was an engineering marvel, 524 miles of canal linking New York’s rivers and lakes.  It was started in 1817 and finished in 1825.  We saw portions of the original ditch and remains of the original lock.  Alongside of the ditch is the mule track, where the mules pulled the canal barges up and down.  The ditch was very narrow, having only a few spots where two boats could pass.
The next version, called the Improved Erie, rerouted and enlarged the original ditch.  That version, started in 1862, deepened, widened and rerouted the original canal.  Now the canal was 7 feet deep and 70 feet wide (from the original 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide).  Now, two boats could pass all along the way.
The new modern canal, finished in 1918 (100 years ago) is what is being celebrated this year.  It was so interesting to actually see all three versions here in Lyons, with Bob’s vast knowledge freely given to us.  We would never have known all that was here without his carting us all around in his car!
On one stop in our tour, we met a couple who were traveling on their bikes.  They came from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are taking advantage of the old mule path, now miles of bike paths, that go along the canal.  It was so interesting to talk to them – they will end their bike trip in Syracuse and take the train home.
Bob Stopper - took us all over to show us the previous versions of the Canal

This Michigan couple (didn't get their names) rode from Ann Arbor, Michigan!

"Clinton's Ditch", the first version of the Erie Canal

you can see where the old gates moved...

portion of the 'improved version'

We are so happy we stopped in Lyons – it hadn’t gotten rave reviews from some people we talked to nor from Waterway Guides.