Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Memorial Day

On the last Monday of May in the United States a federal holiday is observed for Memorial Day, a day for remembering the men and women who have died serving in the American armed forces. It also typically marks the start of the American summer vacation period, and Labor Day, the first Monday in September, marks the end.

Last year as Pauline and I were cycling across the US, this day fell on the 30th. A year ago today to be precise. We were a day away from Rome, NY, a key point on the Erie Canal, where Fort Stanwix had been recreated and the Erie Canal village just on the outside of Rome, had preserved many of the villages and way of life from the time of the Erie Canal in the 1800s.

By complete coincidence as we cycled along on Memorial Day we passed by the Remington arms factory, and saw several old tanks and jeeps along the side of the road. It was stinking hot but the path we were on which follows the Erie Canal was level and firm and thus easy cycling.

Our night was to be spent camping for free at a so called hiker/biker spot right next to lock 20 just outside the town of Utica. About half way through our journey we passed by Herkimer church. Nothing particularly unusual about the church itself but the graveyard was predominantly Germanic family names. This had been, and still was, an area settled by people from Germany in the 1720s. It was originally called German Flatts until 1789 when it had the name change. It lies near the Mohawk River, which in the days before the Erie canal was a strategic river in the transportation of goods up to the great lakes or down to New York City.

The following day would be the highlight of the Erie Canal when we would visit the Erie Canal village. By the end of our trans America journey of 4,000 miles, we would look back and agree that the highlight of the entire adventure was the time spent on the 365 mile long Erie Canal.

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