July 1, 2001
It is Sunday, 1 July, and I am drafting this e-mail on a stormy day from the boat in the Port of Phoenix, NY. We are tied to the town wall just south of Lock 1 on the Oswego Canal. This is a good place. Docking at the wall is free, as is the 15 AMP electric service. Water is also available. Although there isn't a major grocery store in town, there is a nice sized convenience store for the basics, the cleanest laundromat we've ever seen, and a few good looking pizza places (which I believe we will try out this evening!). Last night, the town had an all-American Saturday night old car preview down on the main street, complete with 1950's type music, balloons, and cotton candy. We are staying here for two nights because they are calling for 4 - 6' waves on Lake Ontario today and tomorrow - - not the way we want to be introduced to the Great Lakes! As of now, we plan to head to Oswego tomorrow, stay the night either on a canal wall or at a marina, and then set off for Henderson Harbor, NY, on Lake Ontario on Tuesday morning. From there, we plan to spend some time in the Thousand Islands and then head over to the Trent-Severn Canal (which connects Lake Ontario and Lake Huron).
One more word about Phoenix: the town has a program called the Brats of Phoenix. Elementary/junior high school kids (and adult sponsors) volunteer their time to help boaters dock, wash their boats, get them meals from the restaurants, etc. They work for tips that go directly to the beautification of the town's water front. The kids are great, enthusiastic, and friendly. In fact, we docked during a major downpour and they were right there, cheerfully calling for our lines and ready to help.
Since our last e-mail, we have finished the eastern part of the Erie Canal, to include Lake Oneida (for a total of 23 locks thus far). Before Phoenix, we stayed on the wall after Erie Lock 22 - - very nice and quiet - - absolutely nothing and no one around. Lake Oneida was much bigger than we expected and seemed very much like a summer get-away location. It took us approximately 2 hours to cross it (at ~8 MPH). For the boaters, we filled up with diesel on the canal just west of the lake at Ess-Kay. Diesel was a good price at $1.37/gallon. And much to our surprise, we discovered that the owner (George Mann) has a daughter living in Lusby, Maryland (at the Ranch Estates). Nice guy with an apparent well stocked, well maintained marina. The more we travel, the more we agree with the "it's a small world" sentiment.
Over the past several days, we have seen lots of birds: bald eagles (including one HUGE one), Northern Orioles, Kingfishers, Red-Tailed Hawks, etc. We are surprised that we haven't seen more turtles, but then again, we haven't seen any snakes either! As sorry as it might seem, we've had fun with the trains during those times when the tracks run along the canal. They blow their horns in greeting and we wave - - I guess both the conductors and we have way too much time on our hands ( and we are loving it !).
Last night we did some "looking into the future" and do believe we will be able to complete our planned route within the time we have remaining. This means traveling the east side of Lake Ontario, going through the Trent-Severn Canal, into Georgian Bay and the Northern Channel, and then down into Lake Erie to Put-in-Bay. We will then head east on Lake Erie and backtrack through the Erie Canal, Hudson River, Atlantic Ocean/New Jersey ICW, and Delaware & Chesapeake Bays to Solomons. Although the thought of returning isn't necessarily exciting, we are glad that we will have the time (weather permitting) to see the places we planned to visit.
Jeri and Brian