Lyons NY

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.

Pump parts sculpture in Seneca Falls

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.

The Wall at Lyons

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.

Harriet Tubman leading slaves to freedom

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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#greatloop #greatloopers #lyonsny 

Seneca Falls

Couldn’t wait to get away from the high prices and poor services of Cayuga lake but had to wait out morning storms at the marina. The boat kept slowing down and we had to clear weeds off the prop and rudder multiple times. At the north end of the lake we turned west on the Seneca river and tied up at the public dock in Seneca Falls a couple hours later.

We felt instantly at home here. Some places just have a good vibe, and this is one of them. The dock is long and clean. Water, power, pump out, showers, and all free! We received a friendly greeting while registering the boat at the local history museum, where we learned why the vibe is what it is. 

Seneca falls is the home of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. It’s here that the first convention for women’s rights was held in 1848 and The Declaration of Sentiments was signed. It’s here that Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Susan B. Anthony in 1851. It’s essentially the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement which lead to the 19th amendment, which ostensibly gave women the right to vote in 1920, but not without many more years of additional struggle.

There was significant Underground Railroad activity here; a long history of industry and riverside mills growing up alongside social, civil, and religious reform movements; Gould’s Pumps manufacturing headquarters; and of course the relatively recent additions of wineries, breweries, and distilleries. It’s also the town where the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” was filmed in 1946. All of these things help support the local economy in a community that appears, at least on the surface, to be diverse and inclusive. 

Bridge where George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) almost jumped off
Bells on Bailey’s Bridge

I walked into the town-funded facilities reserved for boaters only, by and large a privileged class, feeling at odds with the history I had just learned at the women’s rights park. It took 72 years of focused struggle to earn women the right to vote. It may feel like pushing on a rope, but change only comes from constant agitation.

Everything on the continuum inclusive!
Business end of the boat

Second morning in Seneca Falls was spent chasing after the boats water problem. Found a cracked fitting and loose connections making the pump suck air instead of water. Local hardware store had the parts needed to fix it. Hot and cold water flowing out of the spigots now after 2 hours of wrench work and a sweaty walk into town for supplies. Life will be a little easier now on the boat – well, at least doing the dishes will be easier.

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 don’t forget to subscribe if you’d like to receive post updates.

#women’ssuffrage #greatloopers #greatloop #itsawonderfullife #senecariver #Senecafalls #bedfordfalls

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