If you want to plan a trip on the Erie Canal, remember that it’s 100 years old and in need of constant attention. Have options, patience, and don’t forget your credit card.
Heading east out of the Seneca River, we got to the double lock (49 foot lift over two back to back locks) on the north end of Cayuga lake and waited while other boats locked through. The current was moving with us and Gordon’s advance radio call to the next lock keeper woke me from a nap. As we headed out, the keeper called out “this is your lucky day!”
“How’s that?” I asked.
“You’re the last boat through for the day, I’m shutting down due to high water.”
A few minutes later I received a ‘Notice to Mariners’ that multiple locks, including the next one we were heading to, were shutting down as well. But they knew we were coming and I guess they really don’t like to strand boaters, entertaining as that might be, so it was open and we went through fine.
We snacked along the way but really need to find a grocery store soon to re-stock. I asked the lock attendant if there were any decent delis at the next town dock just a few miles ahead. Not really any good options in this tiny town, but at around 3pm pizza was delivered to the boat and we munched & motored on toward Lyons.
We tied up to the wall at Lyons town dock just shy of lock 27 and walked around a bit to get a feel for the town. Found the boater’s facilities at the nearby fire station. “The Wall” was very welcoming. There’s free water, power, showers, AND WiFi on the boat! Privileges extended in hopes that visitors give back.
Back at the boat we were greeted by Bob, a volunteer greeter. Bob knew everything, and more, that we needed to know. He even knew our mutual friend, Hilton, who had been through here years earlier on the Lois McClure canal schooner replica built at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Bob had just been to lock 29 today and explained exactly what was going on in the canal between 29 and 30. Apparently there’s an aqueduct that was part of the original canal that’s currently used to help control water level in the canal. One night in May, the water eroded the earth between the two channels. It was pretty major. The work is nearly complete but the Army Corp of Engineers and the state environmental agencies are involved so there are inspections, tests, approvals and paperwork that could mean a long-term layover for Moon Dancer.
There might be options though, and we’re still 100 miles from Buffalo. Needless to say this has dampened Gordon’s spirits around making any significant headway on his Great Loop trip before the weather turns.
We also learned that we had stumbled into peppermint festival weekend. Lyons was known for supplying a huge amount of mint oil for flavorings to a wide array of enterprises back in its glory days. Today, the industry that grew this town has been reduced to an annual weekend party. This year, it appears that most of that party will be rained out.
We walked through the festivities and found our way to the William Street Tavern where we enjoyed good food and drink, and met the intrepid and outgoing Karrie and Roan (Wayward Winds) again. We’ve crossed paths a couple of times and they know well how to arrange life around adventure!
We also met Devon, owner of the tavern, another young, energetic, entrepreneur willing to take a chance to shape life around his own vision of supporting his community with a gathering place filled with good food, drink, music, and people, with a top notch staff. We chatted with Devon and his volunteer business partner for a while, and he sent us off with a portion of his BBQ chicken for the road.
Slept in this Saturday morning, waiting for a break in the rain to make a run for Newark, 5 miles and 3 locks closer to Buffalo.
If you enjoy this, and you have younger readers in your life, please check out my book, “The Biggest Bear”, it’s a great story, and you can read or listen to the first chapter here.
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