Rome, New York (June 10)

We were on to Rome, New York today….

        

Before noon, along the Mohawk River, we arrived at the dreaded “LOCK 17″…at least dreaded by Karen!  We waited with nervous anticipation for our turn to lock through.  It was a large, intimidating lock.  We had heard the turbulence was bad, it was deep and UGLY!  Then it was our turn…..

It was the only lock I had trouble holding Kara Mia against the wall.  Not only scary – but embarrassing – when “your” boat is the one swinging out into the middle of the lock!  It took all I had but I was able to complete this lock without getting loose or getting near another boat!  The rest of the locks would prove to be doable for Karen.

    

Scenery after lock 17 was gorgeous.  We saw climbers repelling, homes hanging off the cliffs of bluffs, churches, communities, and clear glassy waters…..

            

We would pass the cities of Little Falls and Utica, where other loopers were docking for the night.  With no room for Kara Mia, we continued on….

    

We tried several other marinas, one had been damaged by storms and another’s bridge was too low for us to get under.  It was getting late, we were tired and getting nervous.  Maybe this would be the night we would drop anchor?  Eventually we would arrive at the city dock of Rome, New York.  It was rustic, some places would not allow you access to land from your boat, some had no electricity.  We chose a spot where we could get off the boat, but we would have no water or electricity.  We interacted with the locals on the dock and were most nervous about going to sleep that night.  On our way in we took out Rob’s new rod and he was not happy but after fishing his rod off of our props and giving him a bit of Jack Daniels, he was calling us “brother”.  After visiting with Gary, who was fishing and drinking and dancing right near the back of our boat…..we were even more nervous…..but we were tired and exhausted so we secured as best we could and went to bed.  I think it was still daylight – but a “reasonable” hour for a boater with no air conditioning, no running water, no security……

    

Next morning, in the safety of daylight, we walked around the park.  There was a beautiful walking trail.  The trees trying to get over the dam were impressive, the river was calm and beautiful…..    

        

….we were happy to be on our way….

St. Johnsville (June 9)

We left the serenity of Schenectady and were back into the throes of the locks on the Erie Canal…..

Our first reminder of the day was of how blessed we are to be on this trip….

    

We saw wooden boats and the abandoned Adirondack Power Plant.    

We ran upon this bridge, which we had not appropriately researched and realized it looked REALLY low.  We have a 19′ 6″ air draft and at first glance Ron read “19 foot bridge”…..  “Expletives” from Ron!!!  After Karen took a second look at the charts – it read “19.7” – the Point 7 meant all the difference in the world…..we cleared….with an inch to spare!

    

We passed through several cities and communities, Amsterdam being one.  Our friends on “Island Girl”, Karen and Ken, were docked there….we waved as we went by…..

    

This shows the water level change at one lock….

    

….sights along the way…..I enjoyed seeing another pace of life…..these were different locks which show the local folks enjoying the canal on their time…

   

We passed and were passed by other boats enjoying the canal system….

    

and just “weird” stuff along the way…..

    

We arrived with another looper boat, “Coconuts”, at St. Johnsville Campsite and Marina.  It was another walk back in time.  The sign above the office read, “A Redneck Boat Club”……but it was a clean and quiet park along the Erie Canal.  St. Johnsville is the mid point in the Erie Canal System.

    

We couldn’t help but laugh when we asked about fuel and a “pump out”.  You see, when boating (similar to traveling in an RV), you have fuel tanks, fresh water tanks, and “not so fresh” tanks (waste tanks), which have to be pumped out frequently along the way.  (TMI?)  When we inquired about their pump out facilities, the harbormaster brought her tractor, carrying the “tank” right up to our boat and for $5.00 we got a pump-out.  (The more traditional systems work like our sewer systems back home!)….

It was a short walk to the small town of St. Johnsville.  There are few amenities in town and most of the buildings looked like someone abandoned them years ago.  There was a pretty little Methodist church offering free snacks!

    

THE ERIE CANAL – Finally! (June 8)

Another well anticipated part of our adventure is the ERIE CANAL.  We pulled out of New Baltimore once again heading north.  Albany is the capital of New York and was much larger than most of the little towns we see along the rivers and canals.  The port was busy and the architecture and scenery kept us (and the camera) occupied.

    

We passed the Albany Yacht Club……

    

Notice the U-Haul truck atop this building…….not sure how they managed that!

    

The town of Waterford is the start/finish port on the Erie Canal.  It is a popular stop for loopers but we hadn’t traveled far so we continued on……

    

AND FINALLY HERE WE WERE – the fork in the road – THE ERIE CANAL…..we turned to port and awaited our first of seven locks for the day.  There are a total of 35 locks on the Erie Canal.

    

There were other looper boats already waiting at the Welcome Center.  Normally there is a fee for entering each of the Erie Canal’s locks but the entire system is now free in celebration of their 200th. anniversary.  You see here a statue honoring the original horse-power for operating the locks – a mule.

    

In the seven locks we enter today, we will rise 169 feet in elevation in less than two miles.  The first five locks are called “The Flight”.  This sequence of locks is the largest lift in the shortest distance (only 1.5 miles) of any system in the world.

    

    

    

These are the muddy, slimy cables we attach our boat to at each lock.  There were thousands of tiny mussels in this one!

   

It was beautiful scenery and perfect weather along the way…….

        

    

    

Everything associated with the Canal System is painted a vivid blue and gold – the locks, tugs and work boats.

        

We saw bald eagles…..(if you look real close)…..    

“One” of these is not real!

We were in need of some much over-due rest and relaxation, and we would arrive in Schenectady in anticipation of a well appointed Yacht Club.  But much to our dismay, we found this instead.  We even wondered if we had arrived in the wrong place – but no, this was The Schenectady Yacht Club!  It was surreal indeed!

View from our starboard-side (left photo), view from our port-side (right photo)…..

    

Although we showed disrespect for this place at first, it turned out to be the most serene and pleasant surroundings that did allow us to decompress…..

SHADY HARBOR New Baltimore, New York (June 5-7)

Moving up the Hudson River once again presented us with logs, lighthouses, and the train.  The water was as calm as we have seen and we enjoyed a pleasant day’s ride.

    

            

Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina was on the river where we were greeted by several loopers.  Even though we find ourselves with loopers at almost every stop, it is always fun to see another one pull in.

    

We gathered for our daily ritual at the tables Brian (owner) had set up for us.  Herb brought homemade peach cobbler and everyone else brought snacks to share.

            

Brian likes to “cut up”…….

    

Brian also owns The Boathouse Restaurant next door, where he treated the loopers to “baby beers”…….(not really beer at all)….

    

    

While in New Baltimore we borrowed the courtesy car for a trip to Walmart and the Post Office to mail a package to the grand-kids.  This package was “pirate themed”.  We also toured the town, which didn’t take long!

    

We hung out with old looper friends and met new ones while waiting on the weather to clear enough for us all to continue our travel north to the next stop – The Erie Canal.

        

    

Being “weathered in”, we found new ways to entertain ourselves.  Tim added “T-Rex” and Santa was happy to have a friend for a few days.

        

Another meal at The Boathouse…..

    

Brian cutting up again…….another selfie for our collection……

    

    

Bru and Sandy invited us to join them on “Coconuts” for gumbo and after the lengthy lay-over at Shady Harbor, we began preparation for an early morning departure.

    

Kingston, New York (June 3-4)

Traveling up the Hudson River to Kingston, the river took on more of a canyon experience.  The banks were more dramatic and the villages were smaller and yet, the train from New York City was still evident as we ran north.

    

    

    

From the river on our starboard was the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and shortly after on our port was West Point Academy.  West Point’s campus covers over 16,000 acres and has around 4,500 cadets.

    

    

As we passed West Point, we were entertained by their helicopter training as it circled over our boat.

    

This part of the river was our deepest water (150 ft) to date on our cruise.

    

Sights along the banks were mansions, castles and light houses that are unusual for a river setting.

    

    

The entrance to Roundout Creek included a haunted ship, a wooden sailboat school, a nautical museum and a vintage tugboat.

    

    

Upon entering Kingston we were pleasantly surprised by the Kingston Multicultural Festival underway and the small town was packed!

    

    

    

    

Along with other loopers, we docked at the city wall adjacent to downtown.  We enjoyed our traditional gathering with Tim and Tricia on “Patricia Ann” , Ken and Karen on “Island Girl” , and the next day Rick and Deedy on “Rejoice”, followed by BBQ ribs at the Ole Savannah Southern Table.  (A “Southern Table” in New York?)

    

    

    

Half Moon Bay Marina at Croton-on-Hudson, New York (May 31-June 2)

We spent several easy days at Half Moon Bay with several other Loopers. This is a popular lay-over with easy access to the NYC rail service and Croton-on-Hudson is a neat little village.

        

Despite a wooden structure sea wall, our boats rolled with the current and waves coming off the Hudson.

    

It was a short walk to the village for Ron to get his pizza.  Yes, they deliver but you gotta get your exercise somehow.

    

Did we mention it was a popular Looper stop?  Docktails were in order each afternoon and everyone brought snacks.  Diet is a dirty word on the loop.

           

As it was the weekend, other local boaters were enjoying the water as well.

    

Rick and Chris rented a car to go to West Point and the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and we joined them for a local grocery re-provisioning trip.

The weather improved during the week as did the sunsets.

    

NEW YORK CITY (Jun 1)

It was quite the hike from the marina to the Express Train and we were excited to see New York City!  We traveled with Looper friends Bru and Sandy aboard “Coconuts”.  There was only one stop on our trip – Harlem – and we arrived at Grand Central Station around 10:00 a.m.

        

Starting at Grand Central Station we hit the streets intent on seeing the whole exciting city in one day!  First stop, Time Square, a major commercial intersection, tourist destination, entertainment center and neighborhood in the Midtown Manhattan section of New York City.  And we “window shopped” on Madison Avenue.

                     Radio City, Fox, NBC, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, ABC’s Jimmy Kemmel Live and Rockefeller Plaza were next.

        

We needed a short break so we stopped in Rue 57…….      Then on to Central Park….

            

We stopped at “Tavern on the Green” in Central Park.  A number of famous movies were filmed here – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Wall Street, Arthur and Ghostbusters – to name a few.  In its heyday, Tavern on the Green was also known for glitzy decor and boldface guests such as Grace Kelly and John Lennon.  We ordered deviled eggs, flatbread pizza and drinks.  Karen poses in the newly opened Bubble Gardens.

        

We visited TRUMP TOWERS at Lincoln Square…..         

While at Lincoln Square, Ron also got his long awaited hot dog……Bru joined him…..

         Walking around New York City…..we found BarBacon in Hell’s Kitchen.  Hell’s Kitchen is a neighborhood on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan.

    

At BarBacon they serve bacon with EVERYTHING.  A flight of beer comes with a flight of bacon (jalapeno bacon, maple bacon, slow smoked bacon).  Even a glass of wine is topped with a slice of bacon.  Not sure what this did for our arteries, but we really enjoyed this stop!

        

Our first subway ride.  We took the #4 Subway to Fifth Avenue and then walked to the 911 Memorial Reflecting Pools.  It was moving being here.

    

    

 

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, St. Paul’s Chapel, which sits directly across the street from the World Trade Center site, suffered no physical damage.  Much of its survival was attributed to a single sycamore tree in the courtyard. The tree sheltered the church from the falling debris of the Twin Towers.

In the weeks following the attack, well-wishers created a make-shift memorial along the iron gates that surrounded St. Paul’s by leaving thousands of pictures, notes, cards, patches from different fire departments worldwide and flowers dedicated to those who lost their lives.

Others posted pictures on the gates of loved ones lost in the tragedy, hoping that by some miracle someone might see one of the faces.

        

Then it was back to the Subway and on to Grand Central Station to catch the express train back to the marina….

    

Statue of Liberty Day (May 30)

We delayed our start this morning waiting for the fog to lift.  This was the day we had looked forward to for some time.  It was “Statue of Liberty” day!  Like so many other loopers, we had arranged with another boat to take each other’s photo at the base of Lady Liberty.  The fog was a problem because we weren’t sure we could see all of her when we got there.  With an hour cruise ahead of us we followed our buddy boat “Best Day Ever” into N.Y. Harbor and under the Verrazano Bridge.

    

    

    

Soon she was in sight but dodging the commercial traffic was no small task as we entered the Hudson River.

    

    

Santa exclaimed as we pulled out of sight, “The Lady is here – the World to Enlight!”

    

Situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, New York City consists of five boroughs, each of which is a separate county of the State of New York. The five boroughs – Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, and Staten Island – were consolidated into a single city in 1898.

After getting our photo, we moved up the Hudson through the City.  The sites and architecture were amazing.  There were so many buildings you could not fathom from where and how all the people populated them.  The river traffic was just as unusual, with very fast ferries going every direction, to an air craft carrier, to a three-mast sailing vessel.  And, of course, very, very big yatchs…..

    

    

   

As the skies cleared, we moved up the Hudson Valley to much more natural surroundings and a beautiful river setting.  However, on the east bank of the river was a railroad track busily moving people back and forth to the City.  We would be on that train tomorrow.

    

Finally, we arrived at Half Moon Bay Marina.. Located about 20 miles north of the City in Croton on Hudson, it would serve as our port for a few days…

    

SIDE NOTE (we also call “useless information”):  We were not the only ones wondering about that big yacht as we passed.  Seems that CNBC had already researched that for us.  It is owned by a reclusive British billionaire.  Usually when we pass these super mega-yachts, I can google them to find out their port, their history, even their price!  This one ranks #47 on the list of largest yachts in the world.

        

New Jersey to New York – Yahoo! (May 29)

Utsch’s arrived early to pull Kara Mia out of the water to reinstall our shiny new props.  It was a nice turn-a-round for a holiday weekend.

    

While we waited, we visited with Rick and Prudi on “Rascal’s Retreat”.  Notice the Texas flag and raccoon statue on their bow.  Ask us about their story.  Before we left a local fisherman pulled in a 68 pound red drum.

    

Despite the early fog, it turned out to be a beautiful day!  This was a 135 mile day out in the Atlantic Ocean.  The seas were relatively calm and we made good time with our new props!

    

We waived to Atlantic City as we passed by two miles off shore.

    

As we rounded Sandy Hook, we entered the busy New York Harbor.

    

We passed other Looper boats and survey boats….heading to Staten Island….

    

    

…and chartered yachts…..the kids said we should get one of these….until Karen researched and found you could charter it for one week at $59,000.00!

    

We arrived and docked at Mansion Marina in the Great Kills Harbor on Staten Island in New York……..

    

…we walked over to Great Kills Yacht Club Marina (the next marina over) and visited with other Loopers.

        

We enjoy the changing “feel” of the little port towns as we travel up the east coast.  The flowers were beginning to bloom along Mansion Avenue.  Nestled amid the beautiful flowers we found Fiore De Mare Italian Restaurant where we dined on lasagna and eggplant……Italian Food and Staten Island – hand in hand, a perfect fit.

    

Holiday Weekend in Cape May (May 26-28)

Saturday was catch-up day.  Ron helped Herb do some work on his boat while Karen caught up on laundry, blog and “household” chores.  We had the “Seafood Pot” for dinner at The Lobster House.  It was a pot full of steamed lobster, scallops, crabs, mussels and shrimp.

    

Yet another waitress “selfie”…….this must be a new “thing” because it has become a regular in our dining experiences!

Boaters normally do not “dress” for dinner because we are usually trudging through dirty boat lots, climbing rock walls or over fences to get there!  Tonight was no different.

    

The Lobster House overlooks Cape May Harbor and offers a variety of dining in a uniquely nautical atmosphere.  It houses five dining rooms – each with its individual menu (The Take-out, The Raw Bar, The Schooner – an actual 130 foot Grand Banks sailing vessel, The Fish Market and the Lobster House Restaurant).  We had dinner while watching both commercial fleets and yachts passing by.

    

Sunday we borrowed the Harbor Host’s (Bruce) truck to tour Cape May.  Cape May covers an area of less than 3 square miles and has a population of less than 3,000 – so it did not take long to get a feel for the area.  In the summer, Cape May’s population is expanded by as many as 40,000 to 50,000 visitors.

SIDE NOTE:  The State of New Jersey still has “Full Service” gasoline stations.  In this generation of “self-serve”, many might not know what that is!  There are only two states in the country (New Jersey and Oregon) where retail customers are prohibited by law from pumping their own gasoline and self-serve stations are banned.

    

The entire city is designated the “Cape May Historic District”, a National Historic Landmark due to its concentration of Victorian buildings.

        

The Travel Channel recognized it as one of America’s top 10 beaches.

    

The Cape May Lighthouse (built in 1859) and the WWII Lookout Tower are tourist highlights…..

    

Our final stop was at the Sunset Liquor Store for a bottle of wine.  The outside resembled an old saloon.  Inside was the coziest liquor store I’ve ever seen.  Very organized and neat with a nice scent from a burning candle – a nice change of pace that we don’t usually encounter.

    

Tropical storm “Alberto” had made its way to the Mid-Atlantic states and we were the recipient of some pretty serious rain and winds!  Being so close to the coast and bay, we rocked and rolled as the temperature dropped.

    

Rick and Deedy invited us to dinner on “Rejoice”.  Rick, a gourmet chef by profession, prepared a French dish, Coq Au Vin – it was delicious.  Having shared several “first” moments with Rick and Deedy, this was their first entertaining for dinner on their boat and we were glad to be the guests of honor!

    

Last but not least – Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Monday was Memorial Day and Karen decorated Kara Mia.

    

We walked to the the South Jersey Marina where we found several loopers already already gathered.

    

We had dinner with Steve and Jane on “Sabbatical” and Rick and Kris.

After dinner we sat at the bar to watch the Caps vs Knights hockey game.  Being from DC, Rick and Kris are big fans!

    

….tomorrow we hope to get our props back……