The neatest people

The Jordan CannonballYou can meet the neatest people while walking around with a pack on your back.

As I said earlier, folks quite often ask us what we’re doing and chat for a few seconds. (A follow-up question, after we’ve said a few words, is, “You’re not from around here, are you?”) Sometimes, it’s more than a few seconds, cases of which I’ve mentioned before and will add two more examples today.

As a side note, we are now halfway complete with our walk.

We left Weedsport Friday morning on a 14-mile walk to Camillus, on the western edge of Syracuse, and had been going maybe 30 minutes when we paused to allow a couple of bicyclers to pass. Instead, they stopped and visited. It didn’t seem to be all that long, but Leah checked her watch and said it was almost half an hour.

Marie and Craig live in Camillus and sometimes make the ride to Weedsport, get a doughnut and coffee, then ride back home, so they were on their way home at this point.

We chatted about all kinds of things, including the fact Craig has cycled the canal trail before, doing a section at a time until he covered it all. He said his son is planning to do it this summer but a little more aggressively. He wants to cover some 90 miles a day and wrap it up in four days.

They rode on and we returned to walking, still confident we had plenty of time to get to our motel before 5 o’clock. Next up was the village of Jordan, where we planned to slide off the trail by one block and stop at the Tops Market where Leah could make a potty stop and pick up a deli sandwich for us.

Before getting there, a car pulled into a driveway and stopped, blocking the sidewalk. “You look like you’re headed somewhere,” he said. We answered and then he got to his purpose.

“Would you like to see our museum?”

Knowing we had already lost time, including the fact we started 30 minutes later than we intended, we tried to decline, telling him we still had a long way to go.

“Sounds like you need a break, then,” he countered.

We looked at each other and shrugged. Sure, we’d love to see your museum.

It was practically next door. After parking, he walked us to the front door and told us to wait while he went in through the back because that was the only key he had.

By museum standards, this place was poorly designed, but it had interesting items from Jordan’s past. Our captor / tour guide John took us straight to what he deemed the featured attraction, which is pictured above.

The story goes that when President Lincoln’s funeral train passed through the town on April 24, 1865, members of the 3rd New York Artillery fired a commemorative cannon shot.

Doubtlessly, there was nothing special about that … except that someone goofed and actually discharged a six-pound cannonball.

“If there hadn’t been an elm tree in the way,” John said, “President Lincoln would have been shot a second time.”

The ball embedded in the tree and remained there until the tree was cut down 70 years later.

Now, you don’t hear that story without letting a random guy kidnap you off the sidewalks of Jordan, N.Y.

So, after leaving the museum and grabbing a sandwich, we started back on the trail. We were into the afternoon and had covered only five miles. At that time, my phone signaled that I had a message.

Submitted through this site, it said, “This is Marie from the trail near Weedsport. Call me for a ride to the hotel in Camillus. It’s a long walk uphill and I’m close by!”

Wow! What a timely and wonderfully warm offer. We decided on the spot we would take advantage of it and gave her a call.

We still had five miles to go on the trail, but that breezed by knowing we would not have to walk four more miles alongside a busy country road.

Thanks, Marie and Craig. Thanks, John. It’s people like you who really put the pizazz into our little adventure.

Leah’s notes

Today dispelled some of the melancholy of the disappearing of the old Erie Canal.

We discovered many towns are repurposing the canal as well as the old buildings! They have used the sides of the old canal as retaining walls for new buildings, turned old buildings into museums, restaurants and warehouses.

They have cleaned up and mowed the bottoms of the canal to turn them into parks, play spaces and gardens. Of course, best of all, it dawned on me, is the monumental task of rebuilding and maintaining the towpath trail for recreation. Steve has some pics on the photo page.

Also, according to bed and breakfast owners and some locals, more and more people are walking and biking the trail.

Perhaps the economic boom of the Erie Canal from the 1800s, will return in the 2000s in the form of tourism. So, the old canal will live again!

No telling what else we will find on down the trail!

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