Saturday, 28 May 2011

Plain sailing

Getting across Massachusetts safely was quite a challenge, but now we're about to start the 398 mile Erie Canal that will take us west across New York state all the way to Buffalo. It should be plain "sailing".

Did you see what I did there?

After the wee cabin at Lamb City campground, just outside Athol, we decided to save a bit of leg work and take the more direct approach and hit Route 2. There were no signs prohibiting our entry as cyclists and it was great cycling, straight as a dye and flat, so quite fast. But our luck didn't last and just 5 miles on a state trooper pulled us over and sent us off onto the more hilly and winding Route 2A. I almost pulled out and cycled past him as I didn't think he was for us. He also realised this and did a last minute wave of his hands to stop us.

We stopped for lunch in a small town called Greenfield and I thoroughly enjoyed this pretty little town, and the coffee was excellent.

Moving on we had a relentless climb out and onto the Mohawk Trail that took us to our next campground. We made a small mistake by pulling into a campground of the same name a couple of miles before the one we were heading for. Just as well, as the next morning we discovered the actual destination campground was closed.

Next stop was North Adams, after a gruelling 12 hour climb in the heat. We covered only 17 miles of road this day, but it was enough.

Daunted by the next leg, the biggest climb of the journey so far over a mountain into New York state, we started chatting about our route to the campground manager and she thankfully gave us a far better alternative. We turned north on the outskirts of a very Ivy League looking town of Williamstown, apparently one of the most expensive college towns in the nation, and started our detour around the mountain. Though slightly longer it saved us a lot of work, and also had the advantage of dipping, ever so briefly, into Vermont, before crossing the state line into New York and south west to Troy.

Along the way we've met many colourful characters" a guy from South Korea who has cycled from LA to Massachusetts in just 50 days; a woodcutter called Chuck (I kid you not) who carves bears out of timber with a chainsaw; and a great guy called Nelson, who built his own boat over 9 years and now spends his retirement sailing back and forth seasonally between Florida and Syracuse were his kids live. In the late sixties/early seventies, Nelson served in the US Army and he had a a story or two to tell about his government, as you can imagine. We managed to film a short interview with Nelson and Chuck and they should make for interesting viewing on the final film.

Only 10 days in and I love just happening upon characters like this and deciding to film them. I couldn't plan this stuff.

In the morning we head out along the Erie Canal. Completed in 1820 it opened up trade to the west and made New York city what it is today. It eventually fell into decline once the Pacific Railroad opened but in the last 50 years it's appeal was rekindled and it is now a fantastic cross-country trip through some of the history of the United States. We'll keep you posted.

There's s storm coming tonight, in very similar to the wild night yesterday, so time to sign off and secure the tent for the night ahead. At some point I'll actually post some photos but in the meantime I hope you are enjoying the blogs by myself and Pauline.

No comments: