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I started out from Schenectady, eager to reach the end of the trip.  Improvised art exhibits covered fences in several areas of this stretch of the trail. I applaud the effort, but it seems an attempt to gild the lily or paint the abalone.  I’m not disparaging the art, just the location.

The text here is very clear;  don’t leave the bike trail.

Besides a steep hill and cliffs, GE Global Labs and Knolls Atomic Power Labs lie beyond the fence and foliage.  A lot of deer grazed there also.

If I read the map correctly, Jeff Blatnick Park has been built on a former landfill. 

It is a very pretty spot.

Trees here, as they do on downstate parkways, mask the subdivisions on either side.

If the Empire State Trail here follows the D&H railbed, then this is Black Bridge between Green Island and Van Shaick Island. 

The storm still had obstacles for me . . .  hastily being cleared by good citizens, they called themselves.  I was appreciative.

And then, I crossed the Second Street Bridge in Waterford, and after 334 miles, it came to an end.  I realized later that the gent who took my photo was a vendor at the Waterford Farmer’s Market.  I still craved an apple, but his were all sold out.

Conclusions?

  1. It felt very good to complete. I talked with very few people, making it ideal social distancing.  Inhaling all that forest-filtered air does the body good, even my 1952 body.  I actually set out, doing so publicly, not convinced that I’d complete the trip.  Doing it publicly made it harder to bail out of the mission of completing it.
  2. Fall is a great time of year to bike it. I sweated, as one would cross country skiing. Summer heat might be intolerable.
  3. It was not about speed or racing. The journey was paramount, but once underway, I stopped more often for gulps of water than for taking photos. I saw many beautiful things I did not photograph.  Most of my focus was up to 50′ ahead of the bike, as I scanned for holes, root heaves, and sticks. I also saw many historical signs I raced past. Momentum eclipsed puzzling out historical signage; maybe I was wrong in making that choice, but I had done my history homework in advance.
  4. My interior sentience was not about solving the world’s or the state’s problems or hearing music; rather, when thoughts coursed,  they were about refuting political slogans I saw on too many signs.  The wooded areas were more inspiring, even in their non-verbal way.  If I do the Appalachian trail, I hope I won’t see those signs. Next year those distractions will be gone.
  5. Calling it the “canal trail” is misleading. “Rail and canals trail” as a name might be more indicative of what you’ll see.  Having transited the canal to a terminus about 20 times, I know what the “canal view” is.  Here’s the virtual tour I put up after numerous boat trips.  A bike trip does not get you a boat view.  It gets you a bike view.  I’ve discovered a new curiosity about the trains that ran some of these corridors.   Here‘s more on the West Shore RR.
  6. If you missed it before or if I misquoted myself since, my total was about 334 miles which I did in 53.5 hours over a seven-day period. The mileage is calculated from a map, not an actual recording device.  The fourth day I made no miles because of the storm. The 53.5 hours is elapsed time from morning departure until end of day leaving the trail, i.e., the clock kept ticking while I did things like take a break as in Little Falls or wait for the electrical line repair crew clear a live wire off the trail
  7. Next year the trail will be better.
  8. Thanks for following along.  I’m not a cyclist really.  I don’t own a bike.  The Trek I used is available through Oswego Expeditions.  But if you have questions about the trail, I’m happy to consult.
  9. Solo v. groups?  I was fine doing it solo.  One benefit of a solo journey is that I was more disposed to enter conversations with strangers, and I met some interesting ones. That is less likely to happen if you’re boating through.
  10. Now . .  isn’t this blog called “tugster”?  This hiatus has reached its end.  Back to “tugster” next.

The trail was in utter darkness, but headlamp riding had agreed with me the previous leg, so I thought to do it again.  Since Newark was the site of the new Urger mural by the mural mania folks, I wanted a photo by the mural, a photo I was too tired to take the afternoon before. My brother did the honors.

A half hour later I was at the section office in Lyons, where I’d been told by Wendy Marble that she would already be working.  A knock on her window yielded this photo by Wendy.  Note my reflective, high-vis outfit.

After a brief chat, I returned to the trail, past lock 27, and then to points east, on a refurbished towpath beside the 19th century iterations of the Erie Canal.  Initially it was smooth cinders, but not much farther, I encountered the worst trail conditions of the trip . . . before Lock Berlin, just a grassy bumpy and rutted, cleared strip.  I dismounted and pushed the bike.

At Clyde, I crossed the contemporary canal for the first time that day.

I’d long wondered how I’d cross the infamous Clyde railroad bridge, the lowest clearance of the western canal, the bridge marked by Luther Blount on subsequent transits.  For more context on the E-93 bridge that once carried the West Shore RR, click here and scroll. 

From the bike trail, that bridge looks like this as I crossed the contemporary canal the second time on day 3.

Surprisingly soon after crossing the bridge, the trail led to Route 31, and I “shared the road” with cars, trucks, tractors, and huge harvesters . .  for about 10 miles.

Eventually, I got to the east side of Port Byron, and after delicious pulled pork from the local grocery/caterers, I found the trailhead . . .

I had 20 miles or so to do yet that day, basically because I’d attained by goal of Weedsport by 1230, and figured it was too soon to take a room.

Near Weedsport, the port of Mr Weed, the trail crosses a bridge alongside one of 18 aqueducts operating in the 1860s.  I passed the bucolic scene, but I didn’t linger.

The trail was narrowed to a single tire track.

I stopped in Jordan, lock 51 of the 19th century canals.  Many sights and signs beckoned, but I had miles to run, and the forecast for the next day was not favorable.

I did stop to take stock at this sign;  assessing  my progress, I felt quite good . . . three days in the saddle and close to the midpoint..

Camillus is the home to a working aqueduct:  for a price, folks can ride a vessel through an aqueduct.  Alas, I rushed to find lodging, and took no more photos . . .  day 3 compete, 51 miles for this leg and over 160 miles total.

Report and photos by WVD.

With apologies to folks who aren’t familiar with the sixth boro, here’s a puzzler.  If you have been around here for decades, there’s an enormous clue in the second photo.  The question . . . where it this?

The two photos come from Jim Murray, retired FDNY and a tremendous asset when Gary Kane and I were doing the documentary Graves of Arthur Kill.

As I understand it, the first photo is the head of a long train of barges, and

this is the tail end, three tugboats and a total of 18 barges.

Jim writes:  “I bought a load of old photos many years back and these two were in there. Naturally most of the photos are unmarked, but some are.  I believe these photos were taken from another boat.”

But the question is  . . . location.

 

On the back of the second photo the following text:  “3 Philadelphia and Reading tugs head to NY going through the B&O bridge at Bayway. PATIENCE (?) on head ASHBURN on left and BERN (?) on right. 18 loaded coal barges for NY from Port Reading”.  I can’t vouch for correct spelling.

It’s the B&O bridge between Staten Island (Howland Hook) and Elizabeth.  Old steam tug and line of coal barges headed to NYC.  I bought a load of old photos many years back and that was one of them.  Naturally most of the photos are unmarked bus some are.

So in the second photo, the now-gone Goethals Bridge is in the foreground.  The swivel bridge stood from 1889 until around 1959.  Here‘s more, including a photo of the swivel and the current lift bridge there together.

Many thanks to Jim for passing the photos and info along.

Now i said there was a big clue in photo #2 above.  It was the bridge supports.  In my photo from September 2016 below, you see the same Goethals Bridge supports.

 

A few weeks ago, I noticed the orange structures, comfort stations for the workers at the VZ Bridge.  Given the ladders from the underside of the roadbed to the orange privy, I wondered how long it would take for a bathroom break.

 

Some days later, I was social distancing inmy car and noticed Gabby approach.

Movement caught my attention;  the crane swiveled around and the orange privy swung out . . .

It happened again and

again.

Since it was a windy day, an overfilled privy might be . . .

unpleasant.

Yet all transpired without incident or irrigation on old Fort Lafayette.  It was a professional job.

Photos, WVD.

 

Note:  If you haven’t read “my” long comment to yesterday’s ‘SterCrazy 3 post, I added much more info from Robin Denny about the Bug roadster there.

March 23, 2017.    So how many folks are standing at a high point of the Evergreen ship?

Two?  Six?  More?

 

It was something of an optical illusion, because the lower roadbed was in its last days.

On April 2, 2017 . . . Maersk Kolkata was one of the first vessels to “thread the needle” and shoot through the

opening, where a roadbed had been for almost a century.   Time flies.

A week and a few days later, April 11, 2017

the “opening” in the lower roadway had grown to the point that it was difficult to imagine it’d ever been there.

Photos by Will Van Dorp, who did another post in April 2017 showing other vessels “shooting the needle” here.

 

 

Some “infra structuring” for cars, trucks, buses requires barges and boats.

In past months I’ve done a number of posts where bridgework is, if not the foreground, then certainly the background.  The other day I was fortunate to catch Janet D moving barge Patricia sound to perform some of the work.

Janet D shuttled her barge and crew between the towers during breaks in ship traffic.

 

After all, how can you get materials and tools onto the island once occupied by Fort Lafayette with boats . . .

Scale is evident

once the bridge crew start the climb to work station . . . .

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

Spring and fog coexist a lot, and from there, the gradation from fog to summer haze is somewhat blurred.  Blue-hulled Oyster Catcher, in the foreground, gives clearest indication that this in not a black/white/gray photo.  I’ve searched online fruitlessly to confirm that Oyster Catcher is an NYC DEP vessel.  When

A panoply of vessels converge in the Narrows as the great gray ULCV approaches from many days at sea.

 

I’ve not been paying attention to how many of these ULCVs have multiple bow thrusters.  Anyone know the horsepower on each?

 

 

 

Three 6000s, one 3900, and two brants . . . all converging along with Cosco Faith.

For scale, notice the 25′-to 30′ outboard passing just to the right of the letter O in COSCO.  More to scale, note the size of engineering crew next to this crankshaft.

I waited for a messenger line for the deckhand to send up the towline, but  . . . it happened after they were out of range for me.

All photos here by your faithful observer, Will Van Dorp.

Here was 1 and here, 2.  As others of you, I’ve been waiting for the walkway to open;  it’s been closed since August 2013!!

Today’s photos are all from the past six weeks, and my way of saying that workers are still active on this bridge

 

See the same guys above and below?

My son works in a fairly high “man basket,” but I doubt he’s ever

been in one this high.  These must extend to nearly 200′?

The next two photos I took earlier this week.

 

Since the Bayonne Bridge has appeared on every blog post (as header photo) I’ve done, I do know it better than any other bridge locally. Happy holidays from Will Van Dorp.

Whether you’re working or not, January 1 is a transition, a bridge between years.  And that brings me to the handsome bridges below.  The nearest is a rail bridge.  Can you identify the location?

Here you can see parts of all four bridges.  Answer follows, but I’m thinking to float and paddle through here in 2019.

I went out briefly this morning to see who was moving.  Crystal Cutler was the first I saw . . .  at least I saw the lights of.

Bluefin, first in the notch and then light a bit later, was the first tugboat I could photograph.

The bridges photo was taken in Harrisburg two days ago.  The broad river is the Susquehanna.  Anyone interested in joining me in a 80+ mile trip down to Havre de Grace in spring?  Has anyone done it?

The nearest bridge is the Philadelphia & Reading RR Bridge.  Visible beyond it–looking upstream– are Market Street Bridge, Walnut Street Bridge, and the M Harvey Taylor Street Bridge with the blue girders.  I’d thought that was the Route 81 bridge, but it is not.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who hopes you transition well into 2019.

Here are previous installments in this series.

You might look at this top photo and ask yourself where are the people, and is this really about the sixth boro?

They’re there, and to me bridges like this are hybrid creatures, attached to land but in air over water.

I’d been here for at least half an hour before I noticed the bridge workers.

Then I noticed how crowded the wires were,

all strapped in and employing some ingenious conveyances.

 

I don’t think this is a windy or cold weather job, but I don’t know.

 

I believe I’d have a hard time working here, since I’d be looking around too much.  Has anyone been to the observation deck on the bridge in Bucksport ME?

If so, I’d love to hear about it.  Meanwhile, here’s what Gay Talese had to say about the VZ Bridge back in 1964:  ““The anonymous hard-hatted men who put the bridge together, who took risks and sometimes fell to their deaths in the sky, over the sea—they did it in such a way that it would last.”

Meanwhile I use the bridge both for passage to the other side and for framing photos like this of Meishan Bridge departing or

or Elsbeth III arriving.

All photos in October by Will Van Dorp, who tips his toque for the work these folks do.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

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