Our ride across NY state aka A public toilet tour of America (and eventually Canada)

Waterford, NY to Palatine Bridge, NY (Canajoharie) – 63.5 miles
Palatine Bridge, NY to Marcy, NY – 46.5 miles
Marcy, NY to Rome, NY – 12.5 miles
Rome, NY to Camillus, NY – 54.9 miles
Camillus, NY to Newark, NY – 51 miles
Newark, NY to Pittsfield, NY – 28 miles
Pittsford, NY to Holley, NY – 35.3 miles
Holley, NY to Middleport, NY – 27 miles

For the past 8.5 days, we have been pedaling, West, across New York State. And, most of it has been following the Erie Canal (current and old). The trail has been very similar and our days have melded together. So this post will be about all of the past 6 days. And on every one of those days, we sang “Erie Canal.” For those of you that don’t know, “Erie Canal” is an old folk song that has been recorded by the likes of Pete Seeger and even Bruce Springsteen. We started out listening to Pete Seeger’s version, which is very good (but that’s also because I love Pete Seeger). But once we listened to the Boss’ rendition, we switched versions. See the video below if you would also like “Erie Canal” stuck in your head.

I also titled this post “A Public Toilet Tour of America” because I feel like we’ve been stopping at almost all public toilets we’ve passed. I pee a lot. And, as a woman, it’s not as easy for me to just pee off the side of a road (Dan doesn’t even need to get off his bicycle!). So, I have learned that when I see a toilet, I should just use it. Because who knows when, where, or what the next one will be.

A few highlights from our time cycling across New York:

1. It’s been fun cycling along the Erie Canal and learning about it subsequently. Here are my favorite Erie Canal Facts: (1) the original canal project stayed on budget and was completed two months early! When would that happen today? And (2), the engineers that helped plan and build the canal were all self-taught and when they started they had no plans for how to get around or through any of the imminent natural barriers. They just figured out what to do when they got there!

2. We spent a day in Rome, NY (the town where the Canal was started). It’s a very small town with not much going on. We had breakfast and then did laundry and spent the night at a cute Bed and Breakfast. The reason I liked Rome, though, was because everyone was so friendly! The bed and breakfast was also very nice with a very comfortable bed and delicious breakfast. If you ever find yourself in Rome, NY, consider staying at the Oak and Ivy B&B. But only if you like cats.

3. My parents drove up to meet us! We met in Newark (a town east of Rochester) and stayed there for the night. And then we cycled together to Pittsford (a suburb of Rochester). My parents lived in Rochester in the 70’s while they attended RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). They had not been back in about 35 years. We had dinner with a couple of their friends from RIT who they also haven’t seen in probably 20 years. It was a really fun day. I felt like Rochester was our Oz. Like we could get everything we needed there. So we had a couple longer days leading up to meeting my parents. Just so we could get to Rochester with them. And, let me tell you, it did not disappoint! We stayed in a lovely hotel, ate delicious food, and I fell in love with Wegmans. We have a Wegmans in Boston and I have always avoided it. But no more! I look forward to shopping there when we return.

4. Because we’ve been cycling along a bike path, it’s been very flat! Which, is nice. There is also a lot of wildlife along the trail, especially when we’ve been in the trees. We’ve seen many deer, including a baby that looked like it was only recently born; also many ground hogs, which look so funny when they run; snapping turtles, laying eggs and dug up nests where the eggs had been feasted on; a Turkey Vulture chilling out on a post; and so many geese that hiss at you as you pass (terrifyingly).

5. The locks on the canal are very cool! I don’t know if my explanation will do them justice, but in places where there is a natural change in elevation, they built “locks.” The locks have these huge metal doors in each side and if a boater wants to pass through, the person at the lock will either fill up the middle with water or let it out. Then the door opens and the boat comes in. The doors closes and the lock will either re-fill with water or empty it out (depending on the direction). It has been very exciting to watch! See some of the pictures below.

6. Tailwinds are the best. Headwinds are the worst.

7. Free camping along the canal is neat. Most spots even had clean showers.

8. We discovered that our camp meals are usually better than small town restaurant meals.

9. We stumbled upon a small town’s parade – part of a strawberry festival in Albion. We caught the very end, which included the local high school’s marching band! It was great! And then a percussion group also played. Even better. I was only a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a drum-off.

The green tunnel on parts of the Erie Canal Trail
Watching a lock
Our little campsite on our first night in NY

Our photo shoot on a bicycle bridge:

On a lock
Cribbage while doing laundry in Rome
Camping dinner

Marching Band!

Free camping on the Canal


By Emily