Saturday, September 1, 2012

Day 77: Seneca Falls, NY

Not much to report today. Left Rochester on the early side, concerned with the forecast of scattered thunderstorms as early as 2 p.m. at my destination of Seneca Falls, and stayed on actual roads for the first 10 miles (as opposed to the Erie Canal Towpath) both for speed, distance (the roads cut out about 5 miles of Canal loops) and sanity (mine -- there's only so much crushed limestone I can take in a day). Turned out to be a good choice, as I rode through some posh sections of Rochester that were easy on the eyes, including Eastman Kodak House (which, unfortunately, wasn't open at that hour).

Migrated to the towpath and enjoyed about 3 miles of pavement, before it returned to its normal, gravelly state. But it did take me past one of the operating locks on the Canal, just as some private craft were using it (I asked -- the boats need to have a pass, sold on a daily, weekly or annual basis, but whether they cover the costs of operation is another question). But it's impressive to see the gates open and close and the water level rise (or fall). It's like a giant bathtub, with the boats floating in it like rubber duckies (OK, strained analogy). But I have seen bathtubs that were slower to fill than this lock!

Seneca Falls, itself, is a quaint little town, probably best known for being the birthplace of women's rights, where Elizabeth Cady Stanton lived and helped organize an 1848 women's rights convention, the first of its kind, and where the National Women's Hall of Fame is based. Although, with tourism being its lifeblood, the town's web site hedges by touting itself as the "Historic Gateway to the Finger Lakes" (presumably the wineries along Cayuga Lake are a bigger draw than the museum).

My history lesson at Seneca Falls was of a different kind. My lodgings for the night, Hotel Clarence, is a hip, redone establishment hidden within the infrastructure of a classic, historical building. But it was also where the daughter of 50's/60's rhythm and blues/rocker, Gary "U.S." Bonds, was hosting her wedding party and guests. (Remember "Quarter to Three"? Well, actually, I didn't either, until I looked it up on the internet. It hit number one on the Billboard charts, even). I think I was about the only room not involved in the wedding, which has the potential to be annoying, but instead turned out to make for a very nice social evening while sitting at the bar having dinner. I met the man himself, Gary, whose good friend, Michael, bought me a glass of wine upon hearing of my journey (thanks!), and a lovely couple from Rockland, NY: Billy (a New York cop for over 20 years) and Diane (whose parents respectively hail from Colombia and Peru), all while being waited on by a very overworked, but still calm and efficient, bartender, Lauren. Fortunately for me, I was able to nab the absolutely last clean red wine glass in the hotel before it disappeared into the maws of the wedding party.

Here is today's route (sans metrics, thanks to the same old unknowable Garmin misfunction, although, before the data disappeared on me, I noted the total ascent was over 1,600 feet -- the first taste of climbing in a long time -- partly brought on by my exploring some back roads, not on my "official" route -- which invariably brought with them some rolling hills):











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