August 29, 2007

Ship's Log - Utica


Lauren Aldrich joins us from the LCMM conservation lab, where she is completing an internship this summer.  Video camera under arm, her post-LCMM plan is to dive into the world of documentary.  She currently resides in Weybridge, just a stone's throw from her alma mater. 

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Photo by Kerry Batdorf

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007.
Transit Day - Rome to Utica

We've been fending off flies by day and mosquitoes by night, and it's a close fight. By day: Tom and Adam have enjoyed kung-fu style fly- swatting in the hold. Kathleen has been vigilant about keeping mesh tabletop tents over our food. Mary Ellen and others have been mopping up spills on the floor beneath sink and meal table, making it a barren wasteland for the buzzing scavengers. We've been better about taking out the trash. Yet, each fly that meets his fate between swatter and floorboard is swiftly replaced by another. Where are they coming from? I'm told that canal boat families faced this scourge every summer. Did they have better ways of dealing with it?

By night: Mosquito netting seems the smartest way to keep the whiny suckers from us while we sleep. Most of us have them; I do not. I've taken to sleeping under the stars, on deck, where a slight breeze keeps them from landing on me. On still nights, I wrap my head in a sweatshirt, allowing for a small air hole. To escape from the noise of mosquitoes, you have to be more creative. Last night, Jerry opted for the shelter of our bug-proof, full-size rental car. He emerged this morning well-rested and unbitten, citing the added benefits of the radio, moon roof, and heated, reclining seat.

Photo by Elisa Nelson
Lock 20

Today was a travel day - Rome to Utica. The mayor dropped off a few parting gifts: precious bags of ice and a box of Dippin' Donuts. We shove off at quarter past nine under a cloudless sky.

In the perfect warmth of the sun it was easy to feel drowsy. Adam dozed on the heap of folded sails, and Tom passed out on the deck. I braced myself against the tabernacle, dimly aware of the cicadas buzzing in the stag horn sumac and quaking aspen, all draped in wild grapevine. Not a ripple on the water.

Every now and then a spillway offered glimpses of the Mohawk River, which meanders in parallel with the canal, to the south. The canal's green water poured over the edge of a weir to starboard and spilled into the Mohawk's weedy shallows.

Photo by Kerry Batdorf
Lock 20 Gallery

At Lock 20, we dropped sixteen feet before a curious crowd of about twenty-five. They stood on a high platform, smiling, cameras at the ready. Some promised to visit us in Utica!

At mid-day, we docked at the Historic Utica Marina. Tying up on the starboard side - the side from which the tug pulls - was an unusual maneuver, but Captain Roger brought us in with finesse. He nosed the bow in and we tossed a line to a fellow on shore. Oocher nudged our stern closer, sandwiching the tug between the Lois McClure and the dock. We passed a line across the stern of the tug, and after being safely tethered fore and aft, the tug backed out to dock alone.

In the late afternoon, Hilton, Tom and I set out from the marina and enjoyed a hilltop view of downtown Utica. We passed a chain restaurant offering the new Extreme Grand Slam, the ultimate breakfast challenge: three strips of bacon, three sausage links, two eggs, hash browns and three pancakes. Adam had the courage to order it in Rome a few days ago, and had to call for backup with the pancakes.

Looking out over an old rail yard, we saw dusty black passenger cars with gold trim, and a steam engine. Quiet canal to the left, rusting rails to the right, jammed highway behind us.

We returned to the boat for dinner, and Tom served his privileged office of Cutter of the Spiral Cut Ham. The ham's journey ended in Utica. Ours continues.

Generosity Abounds!

Thank You!

Lori Calabrese, C.D. Program Administrator and the City of Utica for bringing us flowers and fresh veggies and for arranging hotel accommodations.

Genesis Group

Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce

Oneida County Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Phone: 802-475-2022