When life gives you lemons, make lemoncello martinis

Here we are, a full week after pulling into Half Moon Bay, with all of exactly zero nautical miles of progress to show for it.  Grrr.  We’ve adopted our buddy Jeff’s strategy of avoiding toilet bowls, however, and right now there are two of them predicted out and about off the east coast.

Although a week in Croton-on-Hudson promised to be a week of rank suckage, actually it turned out ok.  We knocked off some boat chores and the cute town has a bookstore and some good restaurants.

Things took a big upturn when Dave and Becky drove over for the afternoon.  It’s always big fun to catch up with them, even if Becky’s sense of the horizon is a bit slanted.

Sunday afternoon we awoke from our obligatory naps to a new temptation.  Actually a new Temptation, as in the 37-meter super yacht recently sold by the dude who served as CEO of Land’s End and Tommy Hilfiger, among other things.  This is our fifth time to Half Moon but we’ve never seen anything like this honker in here.  No offense to our pal Steve, but charter guests pay $80,000 per week and stop here?  Nut-jobs.  Rich, but nut-jobs.

The local Enterprise had a car we could rent, but only on Monday and Tuesday.  Hey now, this is promising.  We’ve done the Culinary Institute, Westpoint, Woodstock, Roosevelt’s House, and a winery, but let’s see what else we can find in upstate New York.

How about Sing Sing?  Lots of big names passed through here, with many of them expiring while seated in “Old Sparky.”  Albert Fish, Son of Sam, Lucky Luciano, and the Rosenbergs, for example, all were inmates.  Serial killer/rapist Father Hans Schmidt remains the only Catholic priest to be executed in the United States, although others may have deserved it.  One of us—but only one of us—felt the historical significance of the place justified a quick stop at the gate.

We’ve previously offered our general thoughts on “The Largest” this or “The Longest” that.  Often, things and places claiming world titles are silly.  But not always.  The “World’s Largest Cherry Pie” in Charlevoix, for example, is hokey.  That bridge in Poughkeepsie we walked across last post, on the other hand, isn’t hokey.  “The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope” in Mt. Tremper?  The absolute opposite of hokey.  It’s amazing.  They installed literal tons of precision-cut glass and mirrors inside an old silo, and put together amazing shows with narration and music.  One of the coolest things we’ve ever seen.

Basically you lie on the floor in the dark and look up at the dome while the show unfolds.  The photos we took may appear to be electron microscopy of colorful virus cells, but they’re not.  It’s inside The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope.  Incredible.

Newburgh is home to George Washington’s headquarters, from which he orchestrated much of the Continental Army’s final and successful push to keep British monarchs off our currency.  Supposedly it’s a great museum.  Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Of course.

Newburgh also once was home to Orange County Choppers, made famous through one of those dumb reality-TV shows.  Learning nothing from Icarus’s cautionary tale of hubris, OCC built a huge complex, only to lose it to the bank when said dumb TV show fizzled.  Now it’s closed seven days a week and grass is growing in the parking lot.  More pointedly, why is there an Orange County in New York?

When Google-mapping interesting places to visit, we spotted something called “Cornish Estate.”  We know quite a lot about Cornwall because we’ve finished the first season of Poldark, so were intrigued enough to hike through the Hudson Highlands State Park to check out the ruins.

The remnants of the old mansion and related buildings are cool enough, but seemingly without any connection to Ross or Demelza or the Wheal Ledger copper mine.  Instead, the property once was owned by Ed and Selina Cornish.  What a disappointment.

We’d planned to hike up past the ruins to an overlook with a breathtaking view of Storm King Mountain, but somehow New York botched the trail markers such that we ultimately gave up, returning to the car with only a view through the trees.

Actually, that’s more than anything named Storm King deserved from us.  Dave and Becky urged us to visit Storm King Arts Center—which consists of five hundred acres “including vistas, hills, meadows, ponds, stands of trees, allées, and walking paths, scaled to embrace both small- and large-scale works of art in a variety of mediums”—and got us all excited.  Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Of course.

The Village of Sleepy Hollow is famous for that night after the party when Ichabod Crane was chased by the Headless Horseman and disappeared by the wooden bridge with only his hat and a pumpkin left behind.  We stopped by.  The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at the Old Dutch Church is one of the more impressive graveyards we’ve visited, and not just because it has ghosts.

The wooden bridge by the cemetery isn’t the same one, of course, because the real bridge wouldn’t have survived for two hundred years and even more because the story is fictional.

We were so in the Sleepy Hollow mood that we drove out to see Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s historic home in Tarrytown.  Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and—because they were uncertain how long we might have the rental car—closed on Wednesdays as well.  Couldn’t even see anything from the road.  Of course.*

Fortunately for us the Croton Dam always is open.  As dams go, it’s hard to get much prettier.

Our plan now is to hop to Jersey City tomorrow, and then stage at Atlantic Highlands on the off chance it becomes safe to travel before we get old and the girls move us off the boat and into a Home for the Bewildered.  Either way, this quite likely is the last time we’ll visit Croton-on-Hudson so we’re glad we made the best of it.


*At this point, judgmental people using a condescending tone might ask “Why don’t you research hours of operation before driving all over the state only to find places closed?”  The simple answer is those people should find a different blog.

All we got is time until the end of time*

Call us weenies, but we generally require pleasant uneventful cruising.  We’re not fans of pitching and rolling and stuff breaking.  No six-footers on the Atlantic Ocean for us.  So basically right now we’re stuck at Half Moon Bay Marina, potentially until we scuttle the boat for insurance money.

The next potential weather window is Labor Day weekend, but every marina between here and Miami is booked, because it’s Labor Day weekend.  Our best shot may be a 125-mile overnight run from Liberty Landing to Cape May next Friday, but that’s only marginally more appealing than the scuttling idea.

Since we’re just sitting around in the rain for a while, we might as well document how we got here.  Monday took us out to the Hudson River after leaving Waterford.  We’ve now cruised this river farther and more times than Henry Hudson himself, and unlike him we’ve made do without the help of blank charts or an astrolabe.  Dude only went as far north as Albany.  Never even made it to the Troy Lock.  What a coward.  We went through the lock for the third time, which basically means they should rename the river after us.  Then on through Troy, this time by water.

Albany probably looks different today than it did in 1609 when Hank and the Half Moon crew gave up there and turned around.

Or maybe it wasn’t the lock that scared Hudson off before he could get up to Burlington for some Ben & Jerry’s.  Maybe it was a vision of USS Slater, which is the only WWII destroyer escort that remains afloat.

Red barn?  Gotta take a picture.

Marine Travelifts—which as we’ve previously reported were invented in Door County, Wisconsin—won’t impress everyone, but at 820 tons of lifting capacity this bad boy is the biggest one we recall encountering to date.

We decided to stop at Shady Harbor instead of Coeymans, in part drawn by fond memories of the marina restaurant where we reunited with Forever Friday in 2019.  Except this time we stopped on Monday.  The restaurant is closed on Mondays.  Of course it’s closed on Mondays.  But everything turned out okay, because the courtesy car got us to a good place in nearby Coxsackie.  Which sounds like a dirty word but isn’t.

That little place in the back left with window curtains is a Yellow Deli.  The Yellow Deli people—technically the “Twelve Tribes”—are part of a cult founded by Gene “Call Me Yoneq” Spriggs in Doug’s hometown of Chattanooga.  They open these restaurants around the country as traps for the easily swayed.  Our waitress grew up in Coxsackie and said she avoids them because “they’re wacky and they beat their children.”  One outpost tried to recruit Mallory when she was on the AT, but she knows to be wary because she’s seen every episode of Forensic Files.

Tuesday morning brought an even better day, because (1) Chuck the Diver had cleaned out a hundred miles of fishing line and weeds that spooled up under us, and (2) we’re done with those famous low bridges so everything is back on the roof where it belongs.  And both the river current and the tidal current were with us.  Nice.

Here’s Coxsackie from the water.  Still not a dirty word.

New York may or may not have a law requiring anyone passing a Hudson River lighthouse to take a picture even if they’ve already done it several times in the past, but you can’t be too careful.  First up, the always picturesque Hudson Athens Light.

The Rip Van Winkle Bridge was named for, well, Rip Van Winkle.  Van Winkle was a slackard who got drunk with Hudson’s crew and passed out for twenty years—which hardly seems bridge-worthy—but it all happened in the Catskill Mountains so somehow that makes it acceptable to upstaters.

Speaking of the Catskills, here they are.  And speaking of Borscht Belt comics, Jackie Mason wasn’t funny.

We do love the Hudson River and the Hudson River Valley though.

The Saugerties Lighthouse was built in 1869 and now welcomes overnight guests as a B &B.  It’s probably nice inside, but we think it would make a much better showing if they removed the port-o-potty.

Here we see what remains of the Hutton Brick Works, abandoned decades ago.  Hutton’s claim to fame was supplying the bricks used to build the original Yankee Stadium.  Right nearby is a fancy-pants resort named Hutton Brickworks Retreat and Spa, but they screwed over a bunch of people after a flood in January so we didn’t stay there despite thinking the ruins are cool.

The day’s journey ended after hooking around the Rondout Lighthouse and finding the Hudson River Maritime Museum wall, followed by a delicious lunch in town.

The museum technically was closed, but the guy who handles dockage also works inside so he took us on a private tour.  The most interesting thing we learned is that Rondout Creek—which now is navigable for about a mile past where we tied up—was the end reach of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, used from 1828 to 1902 to ship Pennsylvania coal to New York City.  108 miles.  108 locks.  Crazy.  Those folks must’ve gone through lots of gloves.  Much other cool historical stuff in there as well.

How much fun can it be to go sailing without any personal space?  The correct answer is none.

This hulk is what’s left of a New York City floating hospital.  Hard to imagine it ever meeting even pre-historic cleanliness standards, which may be why they stopped using it.  In 2008 someone towed it to Kingston to be turned into a photography studio.  Yeah, that probably ain’t happening.

The Esopus Meadows Light—the last standing wooden lighthouse on the Hudson and the final stop on our lighthouse safari—is on the edge of shallow mud flats “where cattle once grazed.”  Definitely a good idea to cruise by on the correct side of this one.

We’ve been through here so many times that it’s hard to find stuff we haven’t previously dissected.  But we did find a few things that stand out when traveling south for the first time.  Like this castle-looking place.

We looked it up.  The Mount Community is “an intentional community of families and singles” who are sort of like Amish, except they have ornate crenellations on the “Academy.”  According to their website, “Anyone who has decided to become a member freely gives all property, earnings, and inheritances to the church community.”  Which sounds a lot like the Yellow Deli.  Often the main distinction between a church and a cult is the quality of their compound.

We pass under so many bridges that we basically ignore them, which means sometimes we miss something.  Like the old railroad bridge at Poughkeepsie.  We paid it no mind—including the time we stayed in Poughkeepsie—until we looked it up last summer.  At 1.28 miles, “Walkway Over the Hudson” is The World’s Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge, and apparently a big deal.  Better stop and walk that sucker.

On the way back from the bridge we stumbled across this plump fellow, who doesn’t look like he would chuck much wood even if he could but does look like he would bite.

The only bad thing about an unscheduled Walk Over the Hudson was that our careful plan to ride the current was for naught.  By the time we got moving again the tide literally had turned, and not in a good way.  But at least there still were things to see.  Like a cool old boat house.**

And Bannermans Castle, which still advertises the original owner’s military surplus business although the words on the wall are increasingly hard to make out.

Oh, and boats.  We passed some boats as well.

Maybe it’s just coincidental, but a few short miles from the big “Bannermans Island Arsenal” sign lies the United States Military Academy at West Point.  West Point looks about the same heading south as it does when you look behind you heading north.

That brings us back to being stuck in Croton-On-Hudson.  A nice enough place for a night or two, but not for a week.  At least it’s almost football season.


*RIP Meatloaf.

**The old boat house shouldn’t be confused with the old goat house, where Sophie stashed all three of her dads to hide them from Meryl Streep, who in a strange twist also played Sophie.

These little town blues are melting away

By getting to Waterford this afternoon, we finished our last stretch of the New York State Canal System.  Hell, after the Federal Lock tomorrow we may be done with locks forever.  Fine by us.  But before exiting the Erie Canal today, of course, we first had to leave Little Falls.

The Beast.  The Guillotine.  The dreaded Erie Lock 17, with fierce winds, strong current, and asymmetrical filling that pinballs boats around wildly no matter how seasoned the crew might be.  We lived through it going up with Second Wave, but just barely.

Lock 17 was the first lock we faced Wednesday morning, after a disappointing meal in Little Falls Tuesday evening.  We chose to believe that a heron on a lamppost brings good luck, however, and headed in.

Meh.  Going down in Lock 17 is a big nothing-burger, although the specter of a chain breaking and dropping the blade on our heads was momentarily chilling.

Absolutely gorgeous day to Amsterdam, with a few highlights along the way and only those stories about Amsterdamers untying boats in the night to dampen our spirits.

Corn?  Where we’re from you don’t hear much about the rolling cornfields of New York.  Do New Yorkers even eat corn?

This is Herkimer Home, built in 1764.  Not surprisingly, the Herkimer Home State Historic Site webpage asserts that General Herkimer’s courageous performance at the Battle of Oriskany on August 6, 1777, was “a significant turning point in the Revolutionary War.”  This claim seems a bit sketchy, however, since nobody has ever heard of the Battle of Oriskany.  The house looks cool from the river though.

Then past the bucolic village of St. Johnsville.  Beautiful setting, although we skipped it this time.  By the way, the sad tree to the right of the little lighthouse might look all nice and innocent, but it isn’t.  That tree is evil.  Just look at those claws.  Anyone flying a drone near that tree better have easy access to Brent, Chief Weaver, and $500 for the St. Johnsville VFD fundraiser.

The paucity of boats on the system allowed us mostly to cruise right through the locks without waiting.  You radio ahead, the green light pops on, and then you go.  Easy.  We did have to wait a few minutes at Lock 12, however, for the dude in a homemade sail/rowboat.  Took him a good while to maneuver out.  The Lockmaster told us his dog jumped overboard in the lock—which might’ve slowed progress—but it was a cute dog in a neon life jacket so we didn’t get too worked up.

Amsterdam is a hardscrabble kind of town, with those nasty but true stories about local hoodlums setting boats adrift.  The pedestrian bridge across the river, however, is as pretty as any you’ll find.

Maybe the hoodlums all are in prison or found consciences, or maybe our decision to loop lines back to boat and leave the lights on worked, but either way the anchor alarm didn’t go off and we woke up right where we were supposed to be.  The worst thing about the stop turned out to be the trains, which thundered and whistled through our cabin all night.

Thursday brought a quick hop down to Schenectady, after the unexpected fog cleared out.

Three uneventful locks and fifteen uneventful miles to Mohawk Harbor, but more cool scenery.

Here’s the iconic abandoned remains of a coal-fired power plant built by Adirondack Power & Light in the 1920s.  Shortly after constructing the magnificent facility, the foolish folks at APL realized that using the adjacent river to generate hydroelectric power was way more efficient than burning coal that arrived by rail, one carload at a time.  Duh.

Back in the day, we both loved to waterski.  Our last boat before Misty Pearl was a Supra.  What we never did with any of our ski boats, however, was pull a wakeboarder directly across the path of a 32-ton trawler in a narrow river, because that’s just stupid and annoying and you never know if the trawler people might be looking down at the Wordle or something when the guy on the board falls off.  But Dana allowed that they couldn’t be all bad because they had a cute dog.

Hey look!  That gorgeous Marlow behind us in Mohawk Harbor is Magic Jeannie!  Art and Jeannie were looping when we were—in different boats—and we met up with them several times along the way.

Also, that’s an odd collection of flags on the marina flagpole.  The Star-Spangled Banner and overly-busy New York state flag make sense, but that teeny blue flag underneath them?  That’s an AGLCA sponsor burgee, which implies that we should’ve received a discount but didn’t.

The closest we’d been to Schenectady before Friday was the Schenectady Yacht Club fuel dock.  We missed out that time.  Schenectady may be awkward to spell but it’s an awesome little city.

Schenectady is home to Union College, founded in 1795.  The Garnet Chargers.  Cool campus.

For a tiny school nobody outside of New York knows about, Union College has pumped out an amazing number of big shots.  Scores of federal and state legislators, judges, governors, academics, generals, and Chester Arthur, who is one of those random Presidents you forget when trying to name them all.  This boulder celebrates William Seward—Union College Class of 1820–who orchestrated the deal that brought Alaska into the United States.

Contrary to the opinion of people who despise Sarah Palin, buying Alaska wasn’t a folly at all because without it the Paxtons wouldn’t have become rich and Andrew wouldn’t have had a place to take Margaret before Gammy faked the heart attack and then true love prevailed.*

Schenectady’s big claim to fame, however, is its glorious history of industry.  GE’s factory buildings once covered a huge chunk of the city.  Thomas Edison waged the “Current War” with George Westinghouse from this massive campus, until they ultimately joined forces and formed the heavy metal band AC/DC.

The rest of the city was covered by railroad stuff.  The Schenectady Locomotive Works—later folded into American Locomotive Company—provided train engines during the Civil War.  The most well-known of ALCO’s 90,000 locomotives—actually the only one anybody can identify by name—was Jupiter, which was the first to cross Promentory Summit that day in 1869 when the two halves of the transcontinental railroad were mated.

We celebrated all that history stuff with Magic Jeannie and Wine Down at the yummy Italian place.  Nobody had corn.

Yesterday one of us watched replays of Tennessee football victories, while the other one Ubered to Troy with John and Felicia for the massive Farmers Market.  Troy is famous as the home of the original Uncle Sam, and for cool old buildings.  And for the massive Farmers Market.

We all reconvened at sundown for docktails and insightful stories about St. Augustine.

This morning’s trip to Waterford was mostly locks, although we again found some cool scenery and interesting sights along the way.

We thought this might be the roofline of a grand hotel, or maybe an administration building at another small college nobody has heard of.  It’s neither.  We looked it up.  It’s a five-bedroom private home.  15,000 square feet, but only five bedrooms.  Plus a lovely green lawn extending out into the Mohawk River.

About that crap.  It’s everywhere.  This poor couple with his and her pontoon boats has to plow a path just to get to shore.

Maybe everyone up here is so used to clearing snow all winter that it doesn’t bother them, but it bothers us.  This big clump got caught up under us in a lock, and only came free after some maneuvering that shouldn’t be necessary on a narrow waterway.

Anyway, now that we’re done with Erie locks, we might just throw away the gloves we used to hold the lines.  The gloves are disgusting, because the lock lines are disgusting.

Disgusting or not, at least we can report that we did the entire run from Oswego to Waterford and didn’t lose a single one.  Not everybody can say that.

Unlike Sylvan Beach, Waterford’s restaurants are open on Mondays.  But we’re here on Sunday, so obviously Waterford’s restaurants are closed on Sundays.  Grrrr.  We’re ready for a city that never sleeps.  Tomorrow we hit the Hudson River again.  Hopefully we’ll reach the Big Apple by Friday.  If we can make it there, we’ll make it anywhere.


*“Do you prefer to be called Margaret or Satan’s mistress?  We’ve heard it both ways.”

Erie Schmerie (Season 2)

For a great many Loopers—including us—the New York Canal System is the first exposure to locks on narrow waterways.  And the concept seems cool.  The Erie Canal is all historical and romantic, for example, in an Industrial Revolution sort of way, and there’s even a song about it.   Then you hit the Chambly, or Rideau, or Trent-Severn, and you realize that the New York locks aren’t that fun.

Then after three hundred or so locks you’re over them completely.  Just hard work.  If we want to get to Alaska, however, we gotta get through Oswego and Erie one more time.  At least the Oswego River is full of beauty and interesting stuff.

Remember the weird Canadians who put that huge ugly dog statue in their yard?  We found where their cousins live.

Uncle Joe, on the other hand, has a trading post.

Here’s an old stone bridge.  Not to be confused with The Old Stone Bridge.  We have no information about presidential visits or honorary salutes at this one, but it’s pretty anyway.

Here’s the place where old canal workboats go to die.

Just before leaving the Oswego, we passed Phoenix.  Jarring every time.  This Phoenix literally did rise from the ashes, after a fire in 1916 destroyed virtually the entire town.  The blaze started with a spark at the Sinclair Chair Factory and quickly spread to the Duffy Silk Mill, which sound like fictitious places where Curly, Moe, and Larry might work.*  Unfortunately for the New York version of Phoenicians, the silk mill also housed the water pumps, which not surprisingly stopped working pretty early on.

About that fancy mural.  First, as mottos go, “A Community on the River” is, um, not good.  Sing Sing Correctional Facility also is a community on a New York river.  Why advertise that you’re no better than a maximum-security prison?  Second, why include information that almost immediately is obsolete?  That’s nearly as foolish as putting all your water pumps in a flammable building loaded with the finest combustible fabrics.

We thought about stopping in Phoenix, but didn’t.  Instead we made the turn on the Oneida River towards the opposite of Buffalo.  Seven locks behind us.

Pirate’s Cove is a small family-run marina that had exactly one spot into which we could fit, so we stopped for the night.  Quirky joint.  Justin is an awesome dockhand though.

After tying up we headed to the restaurant for the live music.  The Scoundrels won’t be mistaken for The Beatles, but their amp does go to 11.

Since leaving the Oswego River, we’ve been on the Erie Canal, which more accurately is not a singular canal but instead is a waterway of rivers with some canals and a bunch of locks thrown in with them.  One list we found in a trade publication for construction managers says the Erie project was the ninth deadliest in the history of mankind.**  We’re not sure what OSHA documentation is available from, say, the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids of Egypt jobs, but no doubt many good people died just so we can complain about locking through.

“The early bird gets the smooth water,” as the old saying goes.  Up and out before 7.

Gorgeous Monday for boating.  Only one lock.  Nice.

“Never pass up the chance to get diesel for under $4,” as another old saying goes.  The stop at Winter Harbor took almost an hour, but we last topped off in Grand Marais and now can make it to Ft. Lauderdale.

Most of the day was spent crossing Oneida Lake, which is strangely not tricky for something so big and yet so shallow.  Just point towards the lighthouse—which really is just a light on top of a tower—and twenty miles later you’re at Sylvan Beach.  Easy.

Easy for us, but probably not so easy for the solo sailor who appeared to be heading twenty miles across to the shipyards at Brewerton while affixed to the stern of TowBoatUS.

Sylvan Beach was a convenient stop, with TripAdvisor reporting a nice list of well-regarded restaurants.  All of which are closed on Mondays.  Grrrr.  You’d expect one guy in town to think to himself “Monday crowds are small, but if I have the only open joint in town I’ll get everybody,” wouldn’t you?  Nope.  But no worries, Monday was a great day for some backyard grilling.  Not in our backyard, of course.  Our backyard is in Scottsdale and it’s still one million degrees there.  So we grilled brats in someone else’s backyard.  Yum.

Upon closer inspection, Sylvan Beach leans a tad to the tacky side.  Not that there’s anything wrong with tacky.  But the amusement park with tilty whirly coastery rides that were built from a Tinkertoy Construction Set?  No way.  If we wanted headaches and vomiting and quite possibly an agonizing death, we’d go back to Tin Pan Galley.

Today, more of the slog.  All the way to Little Falls.  The cute Canadian locks weren’t too bad in the rain, although maybe that’s because we sent Brad and Kate out.  We definitely could’ve done without rain in the bigger Erie locks or done with someone else to get wet.

We’re not certain that any of the maritime museums around here have an exhibit entitled “Mysteries of Lock 22,” but if one does we’re confident it includes the prominent display of a cleat attached to a good-size chunk of Mainship fiberglass.  Lock 22 was our first one of the morning.

Mostly drizzly and cold, but with a few dry opportunities to poke a camera out along the way.

During one of the many long straight stretches of isolation, one of us suggested getting some action shots from the drone while underway.  Responsive silence from the other one of us, however, quickly resolved the matter.

Along the way we passed Rome.  Rome claims to be the “Copper City,” which (1) being from Arizona and (2) having just visited Copper Island, was a surprise.

We looked it up.  At one point Rome in fact was a major producer.  Paul Revere started a copper foundry that still is operating here, although he likely wouldn’t be pleased by Revere Copper Products’ 2.8 Google stars.  We only saw a bit of the town from the canal, but we feel confident it wasn’t built in a day.

Next along the route was Utica.  Utica is famous as the home of Willie’s Bagel Cafe.  Willie and his 4.7 stars put Paul Revere to shame, but more importantly Willie opens early.  As we learned when we were in Utica with Second Wave five years ago, when you need a bagel shop, you need a bagel shop, and Willie’s is the place to go.  Doug had to get up on the flybridge in the rain to take a photo as we cruised by, but it’s worth it.

Eliphalet Remington of Ilion started making firearms in 1816, probably to keep people from making fun of his first name.  Although Remington Arms ultimately became an iconic piece of Americana, the company went under a few years ago.  We don’t know if the country store still is around.

Then a run of barges.  Someone repurposed these abandoned ruins into delightful planters.

The little fella in this one looks scared to leave the nest.  The sign on the side says the micro-tug is part of the “Green Propulsion Project,” which sounds about right.  It will burn zero fossil fuels while being pushed around in a barge.

This barge is loaded with some of the prop-dinging detritus left in the canal by the recent storms.  The smiling dude on the tug radioed us with warnings as we approached the lock he was cleaning out.  Some close calls, but no damage.

These are guard gates.  Essentially they slam down when the water gets too high.  Odd.

A photogenic egret welcomed us to Little Falls.

We love Little Falls, but are too tired to give it much blog attention.


*The world’s entire population of intelligent and civilized peoples of every race, color, and creed, agree that Curly, Moe, and Larry are the only Stooges that matter.  Alabama fans, of course, prefer Shemp.

**With a 40% casualty rate, the Panama Canal topped the list.  Who the hell takes a job where survival is only a slight probability?

Send in the clowns

We’re old enough to recall way back on Thursday when we were tired of Sackets Harbor so decided to run up and stay in Clayton until Monday.  Yuck.  Huge waves.  Wind.  Rain.  Finger pointing.  Back in the St. Lawrence Seaway, we dodged Beatrix, who was headed to Cleveland in the wind and waves.

One thing we forgot about was current.  As in the same current that gave us a good push on Thursday was going to extend the trip from Clayton to Oswego by at least an hour.  But we safely rounded Tibbets Point—given to one John Tibbets in 1799 before all that war funny business—and Tibbets Point Lighthouse.  It’s one of many “most photographed lighthouses” we’ve passed, so we did our part even though everything was gray and nasty.

Then into the Thousand Islands and Clayton.

After a torrential downpour on the dock, things kind of looked up for a minute.

Until the wind and waves beat the hell out of us all night.  Islander Marina and Lodge is not well-protected.  Actually, it’s not protected at all.

But at least the sun came out on Friday, allowing a walk about town and down memory lane.  We do love Clayton.

More than five years later, the chairs—which are back to being Adirondacks and not Muskokas—are slightly faded but in the same order as in the original photo we recreated.

Of course, since we’d been to Clayton and figured we knew what’s up, we didn’t bother checking the town calendar before we arrived.  Idiots.  This is the Clayton Opera House, where Judy Collins was performing at the exact time we were sitting on the boat some seven hundred yards away, grumpy after a crappy day of traveling.  Idiots.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Oswego Canal has opened again, so no need to dilly dally.  Mostly horrible travel days in the foreseeable future meant breaking up the trip into two marginally safe shorter days.  Which meant going right back to the same Sackets Harbor we shouldn’t have left, which in turn explains the finger pointing.  We figured if we left before sunrise, however, we’d be tied up before the bad stuff hit later on.

Algosea met us in the Seaway as she tried to beat the crappy weather to Montreal.

As we neared Sackets Harbor, we couldn’t make the math work out.  Basically we spent a bunch of stomach-churning hours on the water, suffered through sleepless bouncy nights, and wasted $200 worth of diesel fuel, all so we could miss a Judy Collins concert.  Send in the clowns?  We are the clowns.

But sometimes, dumb just isn’t dumb enough.  Just a few miles from that protective bosom we previously referenced, we figured “What the hell, this hasn’t been bad at all.  Let’s just go on to Oswego.”  Idiots.  Just about the time we passed the point of no return, the waves reached and then exceeded the gloomy predictions.  Six feet into the trough.  Six feet onto the peak.  Oscar and Benny were throwing up even though they’re only with us in spirit.  The middle two hours joined the handful of worst times we’ve been on the water.

The waves finally started to subside a bit, just as the Coast Guard alerted mariners to a thunderstorm zooming across Lake Ontario.  Lightening.  Driving rain.  Fifty-knot winds.  Take shelter.  Take shelter?  WTF?  We’re twenty miles from land and travel at eight knots.  We fired up the radar and watched it roll directly over us.  Didn’t seem quite as bad as predicted, but still unpleasant.

Fortunately the storm kept zooming, and was gone as we approached Oswego.

There’s Fort Ontario, which technically played a role in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 but mostly not.  The Czech hedgehogs were added later to stop Nazi tanks, or maybe as a breakwall.  We’re not sure.

There’s the Oswego Lighthouse, famous for that time in 1942 when a Coast Guard lightkeeper was stranded by a storm and six Coasties died trying to rescue him.  Still baffling to us, since it’s really not that far from shore.  Also, the storm that created all the drama “produced 65 mph winds and large waves.”  So basically what we faced today, and yet nobody is going to build us any monuments.  Whatever.

The clouds were regathering as we rounded into the Oswego River, tempest-tost.

The goal was to reach the wall between Lock 8 and Lock 7, which hopefully will be protected from big winds.  First, however, we had to cross the big grassy area which concealed logs and such.

A small window gave us time to run into town for sushi.  Yum.  We now recall why we like Oswego, even in the face of evidence that the weather here always sucks.  Cool town.

This fortress-looking place isn’t a jail or an armory; it’s the Oswego YMCA, which dates to 1855.  Pre-Civil War.  We figure the Village People of the day included the Indian, of course, but probably not a construction worker or policeman.

After sushi, we got together with Spirit and Young America on the wall.  Briefly.

Because right then it started pouring again.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Either we stay another day, or we don’t.

NOTE OF EDIFICATION:  After our last post, TexasBob commented about the good villagers of Sackets Harbor welcoming President Monroe in August of 1817 with a 19-gun salute, which typically is used for lesser dignitaries.  Like Mike Pence.  So why?  Turns out that between 1810 and 1841, the honor for the top guys required the number of guns to match the number of states.  Although arguably it proved to be a huge mistake, Mississippi became the 20th state on December 10, 1817.  And there’s the explanation.