Messing About in Boats, Boots, and Byways:

Archive of all Erie Canal Journal entries for 2004


Sunset on the canal.

    One of our favorite destinations is the Erie Canal, which originally began in downtown Buffalo, and later when the canal was widened and renamed the Erie Canal Barge Canal, the canal began, and still begins, at North Tonawanda on the Niagara River where Tonawanda Creek empties into the river.

    We have biked in five-mile bites from Lockport to Brockport, and we've rowed a time or two, too.



Let the boating begin, again

    01 May 04: We went up to the Erie Canal to cheer ourselves with the sight of the re-filled canal, and we weren't disappointed.

    The flowering shrubs and trees were a pretty sight, too. It'll be a while yet before we launch the Harmonica, but just knowing that the canal is ready feels great.

Newly filled canal downstream from the locks at Lockport, from Upton Park. That's a state Canal Corp. boat at left.
Gulls and piling geometry at Widewater, in Lockport.
This sculpture was outside a home on the north side of the canal just below Widewater. It was part of a public sculpture event in Buffalo last year. It's at least 30 feet tall.
Same pose, different species. This guy was mugging for food at Widewater.
The section of the canal near the Guard Gate closest to Tonawanda Creek was alive with flowering trees and shrubs. The aroma was wonderful!


Sun, wind, and little friends

    12 June 04: We took a ride on the Erie Canal, beginning at the launch ramp at Albion and heading upstream to Eagle Harbor, and back.

    The sun was out, the sky was clear, the wind was stiff, and we saw a few interesting animals, including a regal dog, a soaring hawk, and a turtle on the towpath.

    The wind was as stiff as on any day we've been on the canal, and it was coming from the east, which is the reverse of the usual. That meant the wind helped us on the upstream leg and hindered us on the downstream leg.

One theme on this trip was a bunch of interesting twigs. This one looks something like a bird.
Another in my pix of reflections in the canal's waters.
The regal dog at the bow turned this plastic tub into a royal barge.
The clouds were doing some interesting things for this hawk's flight over the canal.
This is a first for me -- the only turtle I've ever seen outside of a pet shop. This guy was on the towpath.
The wind from the east, running counter to the canal's current, built up a chop that was loud and pounding, at times, on our Harmonica's flat bottom.
A lucky and beautiful snapshot.


Reality and other approximations

    For a few years, now, we have been looking for the lost boat ramp that we remember using for a row that we took in the Weekend Skiff.

    Try as we might, we couldn't find it, until a few weeks ago when we were riding our bikes west from Knowlesville on the canal.

    Turns out, the boat ramp is in the shadow of the Medina Guard Gate, which is in the shadow of the Bates Road bridge over the canal.

    This has opened a four- or five-mile stretch of the canal, from the lift bridge at Medina to the lift bridge at Knowlesville, for our enjoyment in the Harmonica.

    On this evening, the water was like glass. We enjoyed to cool air after a few days of heat and humidity. Got some good pix, too. The days went from light to dark and from familiar to strange and wonderful. The pix capture the changes.

The Reverend wanted to jog, so I drifted near the Bates Street Bridge, taking pix.
Reality and its pretenders ... the blur on the towpath takes sharper edges in the water's reflection. I like the X made by two pieces of Medina sandstone and their reflections.
As I continued to wait for the Reverend to return from her run, the bridge continued to change with the light ...
... taking on the hues of pure peace and joy.
Just a few feet upstream from the Bates Street Bridge, the Medina Guard Gate stands ready to cut off the flow of the canal in case of an emergency or to aid in the draining for winter.
The reflection was so beautiful that I cropped out the reality it mirrors.
Still waiting, still changing.
After the Reverend boarded, we went upstream toward Medina. This bird graced a dead tree. This pic makes for some righteous desktop wallpaper -- zen and the art of bird/branches.
Between two worlds, each with its charms and secrets.
I timed our arrival at the wide stretch of the canal in Medina so the setting sun would come into play.
This is the middle of the three bridges over the canal in the village of Medina.
The Medina waterfront and its reflection.


Canal with cream and sugar

    01 August 04: I like coffee, a lot, but this was too much even for me. The rains of July have turned the color of the canal's waters, an ambiguous blue at best, to a light coffee color.

    The Reverend and I returned to Medina, for a second visit in a week's time. I wanted to get more daylight pix than I got in the previous trip.

    We like the stretch from the Medina Guard Gate to the Lift Bridge in the village. It took us a long time to find an access point. Even if you know the canal some, it is hard to cover all the places where roads cross and boat ramps await.

    The problem with the Medina boat ramp was that we had used it a few years ago but couldn't find it again for the longest time. It's on Bates Road, just east of the village.

We actually saw this bird, or one very like it -- a kingfisher -- a week ago when we were on this stretch of the canal. This time I got a pic.
The dragonflies were out in force. This one was perched on the sill of one of our boat's windows.
As we motored up the canal, into a coffee-colored scene, looking back toward the Guard Gate, this pic shows a bluer shade of brown.
It the glare of the afternoon sun, the water takes on the hue of coffee and cream -- ain't that sweet ... .
The coffee tone had some variations of its own, too.
Erie Canal ... or somewhere in the Everglades?
Mill on the water where Oak Orchard Creek goes under the canal to form Glenwood Reservoir. The bridge is the lower of the three in the village of Medina.
The Harmonica, with its construction yellow trim, mirrors the yellow earth-moving machine, which shares reflection space with a church spire.
Ripples alter the reflected image.
Our gentle boat wake chimes in to bring fresh changes as we glide by.
A bright red building on the south bank of the canal at the life bridge in Medina breaks into strong red color bars for the ducks.


On the canal, pink with pleasure

    02 September 04: The Reverend and I took an evening excursion in the Harmonica on the Erie Canal, looking for a fine sunset.

    The sunset was understated but still left us pink with pleasure.

    We saw a lot of extremely big boats, for the first time this summer. On all of our other trips, we've had the canal to ourselves, mostly.

    And lots of dogs with their humans exercising on the Towpath.

Two gulls at Widewater in Lockport, on the Erie Canal, acting more like a brace of ducks.
Bird on a wire.
Same bird, different angle.
Big boats in company roil their way down the canal.
This is partly camera magic, but it sure is looking like fall here, too.
Will it fit? Yes, it did.
Pinks ranging toward orange began to pop into view as the sun set.
Birds in the dead branches.
And then there were eight
Two walkers and three huskies.
A different sort of subtle sunset, but still a wonder and a joy.
Tree and its shadow, in the pink and blue of the setting sun.
Pink, and getting pinker.


Harmonica -- a labor of love

    06 September 04: The Reverend and I met our friends Mary and Mike at the Medina Guard Gate and boat ramp for a Labor Day picnic.

    With Mike at the helm and our mates in the forward cabin, I was able to take some long-overdue pix of the Harmonica in action.

One can rent this boat for trips on the Erie Canal; we've seen it a few times in the past few years of messing about on the canal.
Stern view of the rent boat Cayuga; it is quick and silent, compared to the usual run of 2-cycle fare.
Harmonica, Mike at the helm, with two passengers, our mates, forward.
Side view shows our 47-pound-thrust trolling motor. The white pieces at the top of the boat are hook-and-pile for the awning, which fits flush.
These shots of the Harmonica are of the canal at Medina, where Oak Orchard Creek goes under the canal.
Building at right is a mill on the bank of Oak Orchard Creek. Trim on the Harmonica with three aboard is slightly by the bow.
Three chairs in search of some butts.
Harmonica is tied fore and aft to rings on the abutment of the Medina Guard Gate, at the boat ramp. I also threw out the anchor and added two boat cushions inline with the tie ropes to minimize rubbing against the high abutment.
Mood shot of the canal, with the dock and boat ramp in the foreground and the towpath to the right; we're looking upstream, or west, toward the village of Medina, which is just around the corner, less than a mile.
Strong lines of steel echo the strong lines of the Harmonica.
Looking up to the sky framed by trees at the Medina boat ramp.

& Perkins

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