July 9, 2007

Ship's Log - Geneva


Karen Gallott was born and raised in Ithaca, New York. While working in the Pomology Department at Cornell University, I met my husband James who was a graduate student in that department. In 1984 we moved to Stillwater, OK where our son Jeffery was born. In 1989 we moved to Vermont. We moved to New Haven in 1991, managing an apple orchard for 11 years. I was hired on the LCMM staff as a Development Assistant in 2006 and still live in New Haven with our dog Buddy, two cats Maya and Sansi and my two horses, Frisky and Stitch (and our son when he's home from college).

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Photo by James Gallott
Heron on CL Churchill's Stack

Greetings from the Town of Clyde, New York. I am experiencing both a wonderful event and having an awesome time while on board the Lois McClure during her Grand Canal Journey on the Erie Canal. But let me start at the beginning.

Monday July 9, 2007

My husband James and I, Dale Henry and Peter Huber gathered at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to load our gear and supplies in the van and began our drive to Geneva, New York, where we were to catch up with the Lois McClure and her crew. We were replacing five crew members that rotated off duty.

It was an uneventful road trip and we arrived in Geneva about 1 PM, unloaded our gear and were welcomed aboard. Oh, it was hot, hot, hot. The temperature was about 95 with an extremely high humidity. We had a quick orientation of the boat, its history and safety protocol while aboard. Kathleen Taylor (Captain's wife) and Barbara Batdorf (Ships Carpenter's wife) gave us a quick tour below deck, as they where heading out grocery shopping, and explained the signup protocol for meal prep and clean up. Kathleen apologized for having to have the newbies sign up so soon, but while in Geneva various members of the crew would be on leave and that's why we were on kitchen duty right away. As everyone that knows me, knows that I don't cook, I was in panic mode knowing that serving cereal to a hard working crew for dinner just wasn't going to do (Even though that is what I do if my husband doesn't cook for me)! I was relieved when Peter suggested that he, Jim and I work together to do our meals and it was much to my delight that the Geneva Chamber of Commerce was planning to host a dinner for the crew that evening.

The afternoon was spent finding shade and rolling t- shirts and sorting them by sizes for sale in the Ships Store. We had a wonderful dinner of barbeque chicken, lasagna, baked chicken, a bean salad and wonderful desserts. Again, to my delight we were offered the leftovers and the use of the Chambers commercial kitchen facilities. I was saved from losing face over my inability to cook, because I CAN heat up leftovers with the best! Kudos to the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

That evening while sitting on deck before turning in, the crew was delighted to see a mink scampering along the rocks that made up the dock.

Turned in about 10PM and since it was still extremely hot, decided to sleep on deck. About 11PM Jim poked me and whispered to me to look on top of the C.L. Churchill's smokestack. Perched there was a great blue heron acting as sentinel, surveying the crew, the C.L. Churchill and the Lois McClure. I peacefully rolled over and went to sleep.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Geneva, NY. Awoke at 5:30AM to a slight breeze, but it was still hot and muggy. Breakfast consisted of cereal, donuts, juice and coffee. Immediately after breakfast the retail tent and outdoor display panels explaining the Grand Canal Journey were set up. The boat was tidied up, putting away or hiding anything that belong to the 21st century, it now looked like it would have in 1862. We were ready to open at 10AM for the public.

The attendance for the day was steady and approximately 400 people came through. I felt comfortable with the numbers because it gave me the opportunity to ease into my roles. Crew members were assigned different stations every 2 hours throughout the day. My first two shifts were in the ship's retail tent, the third shift I was an interpreter and the fourth shift I was back in retail. The shift as an interpreter was very interesting. I occasionally manned the station in the hold section of the boat, but mostly found myself as interpreter up in the family living quarters. This is a very small area, useable floor space is 8 x 8 with a 8 x 6 bed area with 2 beds and as I explained this area was where the family ate, cooked, slept and did all things that one does running a household. The most common comment I heard was "I thought my kitchen was small - I live in a palace!" There were many kids that couldn't imagine living in such a small space and especially sharing it and a bed with their siblings, let alone using a chamber pot! "GROSS!!"

After public hours (closed at 6PM) James and I were lucky to meet with old friends that live in the area who we hadn't seen in many years and went out to dinner. I understand the crew used up some of the left over chicken for dinner.

Turned in about 11PM and again slept on deck where a slight breeze was found. Again, the blue heron came and perched on the C.L. Churchill's smokestack. Some time in the middle of the night I heard the heron squawk then I heard voices, something like "we are open at 10AM." "I'm looking for where I stored my bike". But I was tired, figured someone else had it under control, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Photo by Barbara Batdorf
Possum on Railing

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Geneva, NY. When you sleep on deck there is no such thing as sleeping late when the sun is shining in your face. It was during breakfast that the details of our late night visitor was revealed. As it turned out it was nothing serious. Just a kid walking about the dock and Ship's Store tent. Peter woke up and just casually mentioned that we would be open to the public at 10AM the next day, and that is when the kid mentioned he was just looking for his bike (which he had left in the Ship's Store). He left and the police cruised down to the dock shortly afterward. I must have been really tired as I slept through it all.

Still half asleep when I walked down the gangway this morning on my way to the restrooms, I walked right past the baby opossum that somehow climbed up the metal gangway handrail and was now desperately trying to hang on and figure out how to get down and back to his family. The opossum was still there when I returned so the crew organized a rescue mission - Erick volunteered and his mission was get the baby opossum into a bucket and take it back over to the area where we had seen other opossums. Mission accomplished.

While tidying up the Ship's Store, Scudder, Barbara and I went out to tighten the ropes on the Ship's Store tent. Long story short, I got stung just under my right eye by a bumble bee. Off to check out the first aid kit and find ice to keep the swelling down. Not the best start to the day!

We opened at 10AM and my first shift was interpreter back in the family living quarters. Today's bit of wisdom came from a kid who must have been 5 or younger. I had shown him and his family some of the games that children in 1862 may have played with. He tried the game and then said, "maybe I can't do it because I wasn't born in 1862". My next two shifts were back at the Ship's Store tent and about 3:30 the predicted cold front came through. Fairly high winds, thunder, lighting and rain. The Ship's Store sides and the outdoor display panels and the tarps onboard were furiously flapping in the wind but the crew was able to quickly secure everything. About an hour later the rain stopped and the public was back visiting us again. My last shift of the day was back as interpreter in the family living quarters. Tonight we were open later than our scheduled closing as there is a concert in the waterfront park where we were docked and we felt that during intermission or after the concert we would have visitors. And we did. Both yesterday and today, I heard "Thank You" from many visitors telling us what a wonderful educational mission we were doing and they were so grateful that they could come and tour the Lois McClure.

By 7:30PM Barbara and I began working on dinner. We decided that the remaining lasagna would be great with a tossed salad. So I went over to the Chamber's kitchen, put the lasagna in to warm up and realized that there wasn't enough, so being the person that can do leftovers, I found a pan, opened up bag of leftover chicken and threw some spaghetti sauce on top. As I mentioned the other day, I CAN DO leftovers!

July 12, 2007

Geneva, NY and on to Clyde, NY. This morning, although we were nearly all packed up, we hosted about 21 teachers on board for a private tour. Afterward we finished packing, stowed the boats ramp on board and were underway. It was a beautiful day; sunshine, blue sky and great visibility. It was so nice to be able to see quite a ways down Seneca Lake. I must admit I experienced a little bit of homesickness. As I mentioned in by profile, I am originally from Ithaca, NY which is at the southern end of Cayuga Lake and am very familiar with the Finger Lakes Area, especially Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.

We cross the lake and headed for the Cayuga/Seneca Canal and eventually entered the Erie Barge Canal. I volunteered to become the person on bow watch. This means I was stationed in the bow of the boat with a walkie talkie and binoculars and I was to watch out for debris in the water and report it back to the bridge. Today we went through a number of locks. One of the locks was a double lock. Meaning that we went through one lock and dropped down 25 feet. The lock doors opened and we went right into another lock and dropped down another 25 feet. I have been looking forward to going through the locks but, amazingly it's not really that exciting. Once in the lock and in position there is no boat motion and without realizing it, the walls of the lock have either gotten taller or shorter. It just happens. My job was to handle the lines for the Oocher, securing them to the McClure or casting them off.

I love being on bow watch. Dale, James, Peter and Lenny would also join me up in the bow and we had a great time while watching out for deadheads, floating logs and debris. I saw my first mature bald eagle, many osprey and blue herons. There is very little boat traffic on the canal and most of the shoreline was woods and uninhabited. It was just really incredible going through the canals, watching the wildlife. I'm so glad to have this opportunity to be aboard the Lois McClure.

Before I sign this blog over to the next crew member to carry on, I especially want to give a huge Thank You to all to crew members I've been lucky to have worked with on my section of this cruise down the canal. Everyone has been extremely helpful, knowledgeable and patient while I learned the ropes of interpreting and boating.


Phone: 802-475-2022