Monday, August 25, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 5: On to Waterford

Sunday, 8/10 - after a good night's sleep, a not-too-rushed start, and a delicious omelet made by Louise from good local eggs, cheese and mushrooms, I checked emails one last time, added a few more contact numbers to my cell phone, then packed up the car and strapped my boat back on the roof (with Louise's help, how nice that I never had to get it up there solo - like I said, I can do it but it's no fun). I'd mentioned to Louise that my first day was going to be a doozy, 30 miles and change as planned (don't forget, all plans were subject to change as needed), and she took me to a natural food store in Ithaca for some TraumEel tablets, a homeopathic pain remedy which she finds work well in conjuction with Advil (with which I was of course already supplied, that being a pretty standard-issue item in the middle-aged paddler's wellness arsenal). Did I mention she's an Antarctic kayak guide and a very experienced expedition paddler herself (like she did a trip all the way a around Lake Ontario to celebrate her 50th birthday)? She was so encouraging about this and excited for me - she said she almost wished she could come with me, but she totally got the "do it self" aspect of the trip (if you missed, that, it was in Part 1 of this series). 

Me and Louise at the GreenStar Market - we who are about to shop! 

I picked up snacks for the drive, too - a "Hiker Bar" (basically a shortbread cookie with a sweet nutty topping) and some blueberry drinkable yogurt; Alice, who'd hosted me for the weekend, had also fixed me up with a little dish of homegrown cherry tomatoes, some orange variety that was sweet as candy (note to self - don't overlook the cherry tomatoes when you buy your seedlings next year) and I figured with the additional snacks I wouldn't have to stop for lunch anywhere.

Just as we were leaving the store, my eyes lit on a chest freezer full of local grass-fed beef and other meats - I stopped in my tracks, looked at Louise, and gleefully announced, "I'm having steak for dinner tonight!"

We walked out to the parking lot together, where she gave me a nice simple set of instructions for getting to Waterford (I had the GPS but this was clear enough that I didn't need it), she led me out of the parking lot to my first turnoff and I waved goodbye.
It was an absolutely beautiful drive. The picture above was taken en route when I stopped at a farm stand for the things what goes with a juicy grass-fed steak (namely corn, new potatoes and peaches for dessert, plus a bottle of honey that I never opened during the trip), oh boy. I had onions from my garden already. That was my only stop, aside from that I drove straight through from Ithaca to Waterford, with the yappy GPS lady silenced (up until the last bit when I let her help me find the canal visitors' center) and the Boston Symphony Orchestra with YoYo Ma, live at Tanglewood, playing on the radio. Now that was a nice drive. 

I arrived at the Waterford Harbor Canal Visitors Center  at 3:50 which should've been just in time, except that it was such a gorgeous day that I guess they'd shut down early - the doors were locked and no one was around. I was glad I'd spoken to them before I came, I'd asked if there was anything I needed to know about camping arrangements there and they'd said nope, just find yourself a nice patch of lawn and pitch your tent, so that's just what I did! 

Here it is, Campsite Night 1, Waterford, NY! Woohoo!

I set up the tent and threw all of my stuff in - I had no choice but to leave my stuff while I took the car to the Albany airport, but somehow I felt like a person might have some second thoughts about actually going into a tent to take something, and anyways this seemed like a pretty peaceful place, there were plenty of other boaters there. Getting rid of the car worked exactly as planned, I dropped off the car with Enterprise and then went out to a cabstand and got a cab back to the canal. There was one slight detour - as I was unpacking the car, I discovered that I'd picked up an extra sprayskirt -- with a small deck and a small tunnel, I figured it was Louise's and I must have just accidentally grabbed it off of the clothesline in the morning. I wanted to get it back to her because she does a LOT of kayaking and a sprayskirt is a pretty key piece of gear, plus I was already concerned about getting everything into my boat (did I mention that I ran out of time to ever do a full practice loading of my boat? I'd done my tent and had a good sense of how much space was left but something had come up on the only day I would've had time to take everything else out and so I had my fingers crossed - knew it was going to be tight, though). The GPS claimed that the nearest Kinko's was in Boston, I was highly doubtful that that was the real case so I asked the cabdriver if he knew of one; he took me by what turned out to be their actual shipping facility, they couldn't actually take packages there and didn't know if there was a 24-hour branch in Albany - now Albany being the seat of NY State Government and all that, I didn't see how there could NOT be at least one 24-hour Kinko's in the city (and of course there is), but I didn't see any point in continuing to pursue this, figured I would just add the sprayskirt to whatever ended up on deck and maybe mail it back from Wappinger's Falls when I stopped to see my friend there.

So back to the canal we went - I took this picture for my friend Harry because my cabdriver said that that was Vermont off in the distance - Hi Harry! 


Back at the canal, I got my stuff a little better sorted out for the big load-up in the morning, and there was still enough light for a little sightseeing - obviously I was now on foot but there was lots right there to look at, there's a lovely park built around the canal and some neat boats at the docks.

Figurehead of the Onrust - more on this one at the end, I particularly enjoyed seeing her again!

Evening at Peeble's Island

Doggy paddle!

Cabin and smokestack of tug Buffalo

Looking towards the Hudson

A few shots of Lock 2 on the Erie Canal

Canal, vessels, and the Waterford Harbor Canal Visitor's Center (you can't see it but my tent's over there).

Then, dinner and a little wine,
and then to bed to get a good night's sleep to get ready for the next day's excitement!
End notes on the Onrust: I mentioned that it was particularly fun to see the Onrust again -- the first time I saw her was in 2009, when she traveled to NYC to join in with a fleet of canal barges that had been shipped from Holland as part of the quadricentennial celebration of Henry Hudson's visit to the river that now bears his name. I went to watch the Blessing of the Fleet on a very dreary day that year and she was there for that - here was my photo of her then:

2014 is actually the quadricentennial of the building of the original Onrust, which was the first ship built in the area that eventually became New York State. The name is Dutch for "Restless", and as Tugster Will was telling a few of us who attending a screening of Graves of Arthur Kill at the Midtown Library last week, she was built by a group of Dutch seafarers whose original ship, the Tijger, burned at anchor in NY Harbor -- they were too restless to stay where they were, so they built a new vessel, the original Onrust. Will was fascinated by the build, and there's a fascinating series of posts on the project over at Tugster. Click here to read those, and click here to visit the Onrust Project's website. Also, click here for an intriguing article about how the charred remains of the Tijger may have been found early in the 20th century, but lost again to NYC's march of progress culminating in the construction of the World Trade Center.


April said...

I have read your blog for a while but never commented. Sounds like a fantastic adventure! I look forward to reading more.

Rob K said...

Awesome trip!

bonnie said...

Thanks! I'm having so much fun writing this up, I haven't done anything so far out of my routine in AGES!

Harry T said...

Bravo Bonnie,great read...and love the photos.