Saturday, October 4th was half a re-positioning day. Remember I call a day a re-positioning day when I “lose a day” and maybe transit a horrid turnpike setting myself into position for some serious shunpiking? Well, today I left a tad before 8AM to cut across Vermont, scoot over to Troy, NY, and cross the Hudson to pick up I-87 (sorry) to get onto (really sorry) the New York Thruway — but only to Exit 39 where I was going to pick up NY 31.
I arrived at my starting point at 1PM, Baldwinsville, NY, in the pouring rain, ready to travel the next 80 miles that ending up taking 4 1/2 hours – not bad. One goal of this trip to East Aurora, NY, is to visit the western parts of the Erie Canal. In Fall, 2008, I spent 3 days on a canal boat from the Hudson to Oneida Lake. That was my first excursion after loosing Cathy, and learning about the Erie Canal has been on the list for decades. It was fun, but now I have to follow the canal along the backroads to get the full flavor.
The New York State Thruway essentially follows Clinton’s “Big Ditch” completed in 1825, which was replaced in 1918 with the 525 mile NY State Barge Canal system. The economics of opening up New York state and the west is fascinating as well as the rise and fall of canal’s port towns, a few of which I experienced today. The canal in the western part of NY follows NY Route 31 mainly (or visa versa). In case you are not as enthralled with old modes of transportation as I am, some of today’s images will be in galleries, and you need not click to open larger sizes if you prefer.
So off I headed shunpiking on NY 31 coming first to a sign for Jordan which required shuning the shunpike to turn into the town.
(RAY RECOMMENDS — always turn at the sign that says “business district” or the like — a great “business district” can be but 5 or 6 Victorian buildings). And, here I began to start finding old and new canal features, beginning with this former aqueduct through town.
Next I came to a pull-off for the Centreport Aqueduct:
This “private museum” (now abandoned?) used to be open Fridays from 6 to 8.
Another small sign led me south to the connector canals in Montezuma (no not Mexico) to the Finger Lakes.
In Clyde I followed the signs to Lock 26 heading way out through farmland and down a dirt road to a remote spot. In case you have not seen a lock before, I wanted to share this series with you.
Lock 27 is in Lyons where I also found the 100 year old movie theater – The Ohmann Theatre
Lock 28 is just a tad further west and close by is the old Lock E-56 which at one time due to increased traffic and to be double up to alleviate the bottle necks.
The plan was to spend the night in Rochester, NY, to visit the George Eastman House in the morning (on the list about five decades). I settled into Reen’s B&B. I usually share some B&B images:
By 6PM I was out to explore the city. Fortunately, I turned the wrong way (odd for Ray) and did not realize I was headed north ending in the beach area on Lake Ontario. Fortunately I realized it before my front tires got wet. I turned around and headed the other way on Lake Avenue, of course, towards downtown. I needed to see the George Eastman House, which I did, but had already decided that since it did not open until 11AM Sunday that if I went I would get too late a start for East Aurora.
Above is the front of the George Eastman House. Entrance to the museum is about 1/4 mile to the rear with museum building all along the way. Glad I made that decision — the footprint of the photography museum is overwhelming, and probably would take a day to do it justice. I explored the university area, downtown, and ended up at the Taste of Ethiopia which I commented about on Trip Advisor. Below the image of my “sampler” is what I wrote:
I am spending the night in Rochester in a B&B, and my hostess said, “try the Taste of Ethiopia,” and I did. I had no idea what to expect at all, and was I ever pleasantly pleased. Where does one begin when you do not know the foods? A sampler plate, of course. So with my Ethoiopian server’s assistance I made 4 choices for the $15 sampler plate, which arrived in no time. Placing it in front of me she asked, “do you know how to eat this?” “No, but please tell me.” “You pull apart this crepe like bread and scoop up the foods,” she told me. I asked for napkins and a fork in case. I never touched the fork! Read the other reviews, they are great. All I can say is try the experience, you will like it.
Sunday morning was a breakfast delight with my B&B mates. One and a half hours over Reen’s baked oatmeal with pears, raisins and walnuts. Satisfied me until dinner. Two items on Sunday’s agenda – The Jello Museum in Le Roy and the Genesee County Village and Museum in Mumford, NY. For over a decade I have read and reread the book I have about this restored village, and now I was a half hour away — yes, of course! And, Jello Museum? How can you resist?
I stopped first at the Jello Museum (just minutes from Exit 47 of the NYS Thruway) but had misread the opening time (Ray is slipping). Have to come back at 1PM. So off I headed to the village. Well — FORGET STURBRIDGE VILLAGE in Sturbridge, Mass. Make the trek here. I cannot wait to bring grandchildren. Having been to many such museum villages this, I declare, to be the best for docent interaction and interpretive presentation of several time periods. Buildings have been relocated here in appropriate and traditional settings. In some cases a building has been reconstructed based on historical evidence, or repurposed – interpreted differently from its original use (e.g. the print shop). The village is set up in three sections that flow well together: Pioneer Settlement (1780s-1830s); Antebellum Village (1830s-1860s) on its common (I felt like home); and, Turn of the Century (1870s-1920s).
I will not go into further detail, but here is a “slide show” you can open up by clicking. Just visit when you can.
But, most importantly I made career changing discovery there. Here is what I excitedly posted on Facebook. “I am so, so, very, very excited. Today I saw a vocation/avocation that I wish to pursue for the next twenty or so years. It will combine my penchants for collecting, researching, and presenting with an exceptional flair of showmanship. The collecting possibilities will be broad, and may be limitless. I will need everyone’s help with suggestions for my worldwide hunt to bring historical, timeless wonders under one traveling tent show. Details to come on ShunpikingwithRay. I will need you to think and contribute. Coming soon? — Prof. RAB’s WAGON of WONDERS — Lost Literary Treasures and Historical Artifacts of Note. In fact, upon cogitating some more, jelling in my mind (with some jiggle – remember I went to the Jello Museum) I see the spin-off book topping the New York Times Best Seller Non-Fiction list.”
And, then I got back to the Jello Museum as it was opening. Ruth starts you off, and she is a delight. Allow about 45 minutes for this small museum which has a separate transportation collection on the ground floor. So, if traveling on the NYS Thruway, make the stop at Exit 47. And since you may never make it, enjoy the gallery below.
I arrived at the Roycroft Inn at 3:30 got settled and showered before the 4PM welcome started. A fine dinner was followed by an 8 PM meet and greet and orientation prior to the activities commencing on Monday. As I like to do, here is my room and some of my surroundings (more on it all next post).
The bad news is that this post has been hard to make due to slow and interrupted internet service. The good news for you is that will limit what I write and number of images posted. But tonight, Monday, I will try to get this off to you, and then begin sharing some background of the Roycroft Movement and its importance. I am amazed at how small the Roycroft Campus is where 500 Roycrofters worked, and equally pleased at how lovely East Aurora is, and its interesting architecture. But more on that soon. As always, yours, RAY