Beyond Ilion, the Erie Canal assumed a more or less straight course westwards to Rome, where we moored on the public dock and enjoyed a violent thunderstorm, during which Carina was pelted with hailstones the size of large marbles. Fortunately we were downstairs in the cabin at the time.
Vestiges of the old canal remain. At one time there was a branch to Old London.
The stretch between Locks 20 and 21 marks the highest point of the Erie Canal, so that at Lock 21 and beyond, we were descending rather than ascending in the locks. It marked a point on our westward progress.
The journey so far had been notable for how few other boats we had seen. That changed as we approached Lake Oneida, where at Sylvan Beach there were several marinas and lots of small craft out on the water.
The wide expanse of the lake, which is 20 miles across, was a welcome change after the enclosed feeling of the last miles of the canal.
We stopped at Brewerton Boatyard, a mile from the end of the lake.
The next day was overcast, with thunderstorms forecast, but with one eye on crossing Lake Ontario on Thursday, the Captain was anxious to make at least some progress.
It was agreed that we would go two miles to the next lock, tie up at the free dock there and wait for the rain to pass.
Unfortunately the crew, in a misplaced attempt to seem keen and co-operative, suggested that the rain would hold off for a while longer and that we could go through the lock and tie up on the other side. Two minutes later, we had passed into the lock, the gates had irrevocably shut behind us, and the rain poured down, heavy, sharp and penetrating. We hung onto the ropes and got soaked to the skin while the lock emptied. The lock-keeper wished us a nice day.
We carried on after lunch, and left the Erie Canal where it leaves the Oswego River and carries on to Buffalo. It felt like an epic moment, which was not reflected in the bland landscape, the grey weather, and the small blue sign pointing the way. But I took a photo anyway. The small blue sign is just visible in the centre right of the picture.
Phoenix was a small but pleasant, welcoming place that boasted not only a state of the art laundromat (note my priorities) but a bakery, a Farmers’ market and a martial arts complex too. While our clothes were swishing around at the laundromat, we investigated the other facilities.The bakery proved a disappointment. It didn’t actually bake or even sell bread, though if I had wanted a child’s Mickey Mouse birthday cake, complete with specially fabricated sugar ears that apparently took a week to dry out and then soften again, it would clearly have met every expectation. The farmer’s market was more productive, and although I wasn’t allowed to buy a large pot of growing basil, I did get some locally grown plums and tomatoes, and a small victory in the form of a zucchini cake which, despite the Captain’s deep suspicion, was very palatable.
We had seen the tug Syracuse at various points along the canal. At Phoenix we watched as it pushed an impossibly long barge into the lock.
A couple of shots of the river between Phoenix and Oswego.
At Oswego we moored on the free dock. The area had once been home to textile mills and other businesses. In the evening, we walked round Fort Ontario, one of the many star-shaped forts constructed throughout America, and the scene in the 1750’s of battles between the British and the French and Indians.
The next day we got up early to make the seven hour crossing of Lake Ontario. There is no photographic record, because the photographer spent most of the journey lying down with eyes firmly shut, feeling rather ill.
But this is the view the previous evening, from the fort.
Fascinating account, but Lake Ontario sounds more of a penance than a pleasure.
At one point I was planning my escape Jane 😉
Fort Ontario looks uncannily similar to the defences at Berwick which we visited in the spring. Probably came from the same design book!