Walking East Journal


Nov 2009 30

A few notes

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The other day was a “penny” day. As we walked to Poughkeepsie we found $1.18 in coins along the road (33 cents, 3 nickels, 2 dimes, and 2 quarters). We were picking up two cents at a time again and again. Since we have arrived in New York we have been finding a lot more coins along the road. We found very few in the Midwest and Canada but they are back. So far we have found $57.32 along the road since starting (that includes 30.75 we found in a slot machine and 12 golf balls @$1 each). You can see the day-by-day catches on the right side of our statistics page.
 
As we arrived in Poughkeepsie we came within commuter-train distance of New York City. We can take the worker train to The City at any time now. It seems that up-state New Yorkers call it “New York City.” But now that we are getting so close it is just “The City,” like it was “The Falls” in the Niagara Falls area but “Niagara Falls” everywhere else in the world.
 
We entered Poughkeepsie crossing a new walkway bridge over the Hudson River. Hundreds were strolling across on the sunny November afternoon. A group salvaged a railway bridge and changed it into a walkway to the tune of $38 million! Check it out at www.walkway.org. As we sit in our hotel room we can see it make the wide crossing from the other side of the Hudson to the north of us. The Mid-Hudson bridge just to the south was the only car bridge below Albany till near New York when it was first built in the mid-30s.
 
In the ongoing saga of my foot, I stepped into a hole on the way from a trip to the side of the road the other day and really stretched it badly. I was in a lot of pain. But several ice packs, a massage, and a new set of inserts later and it seems to be on the mend.
 
Several towns, to say nothing of the Catskill Mountains, end in ‘-kill.’ There are Fishkill, Peekskill, Spackenkill and many others. My curiosity got the best of me. After some searching I find it comes from the early Dutch. It means “creek” in Dutch. So the mountains are the “Cats Creek” Mountains.

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Nov 2009 28

Ulster Park, New York

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Looks like we could be in Brooklyn a week from tonight if we keep on the move. Even though the weather forecast talks of rain, it hasn’t been too accurate the past month so we could very well make that date. We are moving well down the Hudson. My foot was feeling a lot better today. The longer days are actually helping it.
 
We had an enjoyable walk Thanksgiving though my foot was hurting a bit more than I would like. We arrived in Hudson, a town filled with artsy stores and B&Bs. Ignoring our host’s telling us that no restaurants were open, we wandered the streets looking in vain for one. After a couple drinks in a neighborhood bar, we bought a pizza at a convenience store and cooked it in our little toaster oven. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.
 
We wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks to all of you for your support in our Pilgrimage. And for that manner, thanks for being there and rejoicing in life.
 


 
Cannibals
As I get closer to New York City I am reminded of my African cannibal story. Petra just said something about staying in Manhattan on the way to Brooklyn. I shuttered and stammered something like, “No way!” In agreeing (reluctantly) to go to NYC, staying in Manhattan was not in my wildest dreams. From some primeval core deep within, I felt they are all thugs and worse in Manhattan, not where I wanted to be. But it is like the cannibal stories I herd when I wandered six months in East Africa after the Army. I would be in one town and someone would ask where I was going next. “Down to Xxxx.” “Oh, you cannot go there; they are all cannibals.” Then when I got to Xxxx they would say, “You were where? They are all cannibals there.” …Well I think it is time to accept that the people on Manhattan are just as good as all the others we have met not only crossing the continent but as all those non-cannibals I met across East Africa.

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Nov 2009 25

Valatie, NY

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We’re moving south. New York is closer. Weather is calling for snow flakes on the early weekend. But it is to be followed by rain. Friday and/or Saturday might just be stop days the way it looks. Step by step we are coming to the end of this continent and in some ways we are slowing, not wanting it to end. And on the other hand, I’m ready to stop, to take a winter break (…. Azores? Madiera? Canaries? Finis Terra? India? Mallorca? …? Or should we just walk some more?).
 
We are now historically in the 1600s and 1700s, suddenly we are a couple centuries earlier than just a few weeks ago on the western Erie Canal. Here they’re celebrating 400 years since Henry Hudson landed in what is now Albany in 1609.
 

Petra’s cart with its two broken legs (frame members) is standing tall again. Two bolts in the members began the fix a few days ago. Some hose and hose clamps made it better. A bungie cord helped it a lot. Now a branch with a Y is a brace to hold it tall and sturdy. It will now likely make it to The Big Apple.

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Nov 2009 22

About to walk south

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We’re less than a day away from the Hudson River. Tomorrow we will turn south and head down to New York. It has taken us 22 walking days and three rest days after crossing the Niagara River on 28 October. We have walked 328 miles (415 km) and accepted 20 miles (32 km) of rides. It seems like more. Most of it has been along the Erie Canal. Maybe we are getting tired, getting ready to take a bit of a break. Inertia seems to be with us more these days as we get up in the morning.

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Nov 2009 18

Canajohare, New York

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Try to pronounce that one! Ka-na-joe-ha’-re. It’s a small town along the Erie Canal, the home of Beach Nut, the gum people who also made/make a lot of other foods. We continue walking east.
 
The last couple days we walked up out of the canal/river bottom land and crossed over the hills to last night’s and tonight’s stop. It was great seeing a long distance again for the first time in several months save for once near Clyde a week or so ago. Weather is sunny and cool, wonderful for walking. Tomorrow should be a similar walk though a few weather prognosticators are saying possible rain.
 
The people are saying that this November’s weather is very good, that it should be raining, cold, or snowing this time of the year with temps in the 40s instead of 50s. Last year it started snowing in October and didn’t leave till the end of the winter. I would be quite happy if the current weather held out for the next couple weeks just as it has been.

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Nov 2009 15

Ten months!

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Ten months ago we left Paso Robles heading for Solvang to begin walking east on this wild and crazy pilgrimage. So many great people, great experiences, and beautiful days and so much wind and sun and rain and humidity later we are sitting in a motel room in Herkimer, New York writing this entry. We’re about two weeks out of the Big Apple. That is, we’ll be there assuming we don’t get hit by a big snow storm that holes us up for too long. That’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility this time of the year here. We have at least one week of predicted good weather.
 
We’ll be staying with a friend in the Big Apple for a week or so before flying to Portugal. Looks like our ETA in Lisbon is around 10 to 12 December as best as we can guess from this distant point. The Camino Portuguese is 380 miles (615 km) and about a month. That could very possibly put us into Santiago January 16–exactly a year from when we set off in Paso Robles.

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Nov 2009 12

We’re in Rome

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In Rome, New York, that is. It’s been another five days since the last post for the same reason as then. We are spending a lot of time moving along the way and with the people we meet on the road and as we rest in the evening. To give you an idea of our day-to-day, the following includes more details than normal.
 
In Clyde we stayed in the 42-room Erie Mansion Bed and Breakfast, not your run of the mill bed and breakfast. As Mark, the owner, said when we arrived, “You won’t find your run-of-the-mill B&B si si foo foo here.” We didn’t. A Harley Chopper and huge leather couches sat in TV room. Other motorcycles and an antique high-wheel bicycle graced the tall, dark halls. The Honeymoon Suite included a double-king-sized bed. Our original bedroom was decorated with many nude statues. But the room he upgraded us to, the Erie (or was it Eerie) Room, was the best of all. Alligator skulls and skins sat on shelves and hang on the walls. The skulls of a lion and a couple dozen other animals sat on shelves and chests throughout the three-room suite. The skin of a 24-foot snake stretched around the wall above three windows. We slept in a four-post bed. And a ghost was said to haunt the stairs where he likely hung himself years ago. After checking us in and showing us around, Mark took us to the local bar for a beer in his personal yard-high beer glasses. We really enjoyed our stay and had a very peaceful sleep.
 
The next day’s walk took us over roads away from the canal paths for the first time since Lockport. The wide shoulder made the walk as if there were no cars and we walked high above wide fields to our right. The evening brought us to a motel with the slowest running sinks we have encountered.
 
As we walked the next day along the canal we met Tom and Bill Williams, locals out for a ride to the next town for a lunch. Bill invited us to stay with him and his wife in Cicero for the evening. Later in the afternoon he loaded us into Tom’s van and took us to his home. We spent a delightful evening. They took us out to dinner where we mentioned our ride on a container ship to India. They are boaters who even have boated the entire Erie Canal. Our conversation left them with the glassy eyes of kids on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa as they thought of taking a freighter to Europe.
 
The next day brought us to another canal port, Canastota. As we ate breakfast the next morning we talked with the manager about our journey and its joys and lessons. When we checked out he gave us another gift–he told us the night was on him. Thank you Doug. We enjoyed our stay.
 
The Boxing Hall of Fame was across from the motel. It was not our aim. We didn’t even know it existed. But the manager of the motel also gave us tickets and told us it was worth a visit. After a couple hours we had to agree. We even saw and touched the ring from Madison Square Garden where Ali and Frazer fought in March, 1971. The visit brought the early 50s and the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports to my consciousness from deep within. I remember the jingle with the bell that played between each round as my father religiously watched each Wednesday evening. “…look sharp (ding), you’ll feel sharp (ding), you’ll be sharp (ding) with the quickest, slickest shave of all.”
 
The hall of fame kept us till after noon so the “short” 12 miles still took us until after dark (5:30) before we got to Verona and the Inn at the Touchstone, our latest brush with a casino. And after supper, we played $10.50 for over three hours on the slot machines. It was a bit like a hundred mindless solitaire games on the computer, not exactly intellectual, but needed at times to let the mind spin free.
 
Today we walked into Rome, a short few miles. An arrogant innkeeper in a not-so-well-kept inn drove us away from the first motel we were going to stay in. But we are now comfortably (though a bit cool) in our second.
 
Petra had a few tears today as she realized that we are only 270 miles (440 km) and three weeks from New York, that we are “almost ready to leave the US.” That’s three quarters of the Camino de Santiago but the dimensions of this walk are much bigger than the Camino.

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Nov 2009 08

Clyde, NY

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We’re 135 miles (220 km) east of Niagara Falls moving fast enouth that we have just not got around to enteringing anything here for a while. Well, not really moving so fast as visiting with the interesting people we meet along the way. Only so many hours in a day, you know.
 
We have mainly walked along the Erie canal, a very enjoyable path to walk along an old commercial highway that is still used by recreational boats and a few commercial ones. Villages and towns sit picturesquely along its banks.
 
A couple days ago we spent two evenings with my nephew, Erik and his wife Susanne in Pensfield just east of Rochester. It was good to get to know Erick again after not seeing him for years.
 

We have a 20-mile (32 km) day looking at us so it is time to go.

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Nov 2009 01

Holley, NY

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We’re almost 70 (110 km) miles into New York along the Erie Canal with today’s long 22.5 miles (3.5 km). The rain and wind held us up yesterday in Medina. We took the opportunity to visit a huge model railroad layout at the Medina Railway Museum and to be interviewed by the Batavia (NY) News for today’s paper. In between we had some wonderful Italian food at a local restaurant and fine conversation with Pat and Bob who ran the Garden View B&B where we stayed.

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