My notes for documenting this day read, “Most Amazing Day.” I traveled through, and documented for you, twelve locks on the Erie Canal – heading east Lock 22 through Lock 11. This is a photo report, and possibly the only one on-line showing this journey (and next post you will get the rest of the canal heading east). I narrowed down from 123 images to what you see here, starting at 5:40 AM on 13 September, and ending at 9:51 PM.

On my way out to be on deck next to the Pilot House, which had been lowered so we can fit under all bridges, I took this image of the map display so you would see where we stayed overnight in Sylvan Beach. The Grand Mariner had just gotten underway.

good morning Erie Canal, at 6:03 AM (this image, as many here, can be clicked for a larger view)

still dark as we approached Lock 22

and ready to leave the lock. The locks were manned both before and after normal operating hours. As a “commercial vessel,” that pays well for transiting the canal, the canal authority accommodates Blount Small Ship Adventures’ schedules.

About 1.35 miles east is Lock 21 in New London (Rome) with a lift of 25 feet.

The sun was still rising as we locked through

and, continuing east

Next to share with you is Guard Gate 6 at East Rome. A guard gate helps isolate sections of the canal in case of emergency, such as a break in the canal wall, accident, or extreme high water. They are also used when a section of the canal needs to be drained for maintenance or winter freeze protection. And, now you know. To learn more about the canal’s features, click this link.

even with the sun up, there is peace and tranquility on the Erie Canal

Keeping track? What is next? Lock 20, Whitesboro (Marcy) with a lift of 16 feet. I am lucky to have a copy of the 284 page complete guide to paddling the New York State Canal System. For paddlers, but still invaluable to answer my questions.

and, leaving Lock 20 – the clamp you see on the gunwale holds on a light (another on the starboard side). These were attached when the top deck was stripped to fit under the bridges, and as you see in a number of images, we needed the lights at night.

a classic old-style bridge somewhere east of Utica

As we were approaching my favorite lock, Lock 19 (remember my post from July?) I was able to catch an Amtrak train crossing the bridge just hundred of yards east of the lock. Hope you can make it out passing over the bridge. Most of the images in this post can be clicked for a larger size.

And, getting closer to Lock 19 in Frankfort (Schulyer) – not well marked off NY5 – but worth finding and stopping.

close to the east gates

and ready to depart the lock

and go under the bridge. I encourage you to go back to the July post to see the Governor Roosevelt approaching this lock after passing under the bridge.

and in July I ate a late lunch on the deck of the Ilion Marina and RV Park. Here it is from the water.

and, not quite two miles further east is Gems Along the Mohawk in Herkimer. Restaurant, gift shop, etc., but most important the visitor center where I met Melody who told me about Blount Small Ship Adventures – thus enabling this adventure.

the bridge and moveable dam just east of “Gems” And, see another guards gate set?

and soon I saw an “old friend” – yes Governor Roosevelt pushing a colorful barge.

time for…yes Lock 18 in Jacksonburg with a lift of 20 feet.

in about three miles (still heading east, in case you forgot) comes Little Falls Canal Harbor and Rotary Park just before Guard Gate 4, and Canal Place park where I visited in July. Get to the end of that post to see spectacular Lock 17 from landside.

Views around Benton’s Landing and Canal Place in Little Falls that you can enlarge for larger size views.

and a half-mile around the bend you approach the top side of Lock 17 with its astounding 40.5 lift – until recently, the highest single lift lock in the world. It is the only “shaft lock” on the Erie Canal system. The guillotine gate at the lower end moves vertically rather than gates swinging to the sides.

enjoy your way through with me, and once through look back at the lock

spotted many times on this trip, but this time I was almost fast enough to share this eagle with you.

at 4:12 PM I took this image of the Herkimer Home State Historic Site. I have visited this 1764 Georgian-style mansion twice learning the story of its owner, General Nicholas Herkimer, hero of the Battle of Oriskany, stopping the British advance from the west.

ready for Lock 16 – St. Johnsville – in Fort Plain, NY – lift 20.5 feet

then almost seven miles to Lock 15 in Fort Plain

with Lock 15 is a moveable dam

sections of the dam can be lowered or raised to control canal water levels

another 3.5 miles, and another lock – Lock 14, Canajoharie in Palatine Bridge.

and a look at the movable dam

and, again once through the lock

and, then onto Lock 13 – Yosts, in Fultonville. If you are traveling west on the NY State Thruway you can pull over at a rest stop to see the lock and dam. It is now 7:50 PM, and getting dark.

remember, we are VIPs, and the locks were manned after hours for us.

Where were you at 9:06 PM on September 13, 2019? I was approaching Lock 12 on the Erie Canal at Tribes Hill. This lock is just north of the fabulous Schoharie Crossing State Historical Site that I enjoyed in July.

and the moveable dam at this lock is one of only two moveable dams on the Mohawk River that have a highway across, and I drove over on this highway to visit the Lock. A young man in July, with pride, gave me a tour of the facilities he maintained.

and, now passing through Lock 12

and, looking back to the dam and highway above

ready to depart

and, after a long day standing watch on the brow so as to not miss a thing, it was time at 9:51 PM to arrive at Lock 11 in Amsterdam where we remained overnight.

Coming next, the remaining locks on the Erie Canal to the Hudson River. Hope you are having fun with me. I love reliving this journey and sharing. As always, yours, RAY



Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany


Posted in Erie Canal, LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


You know THIS IS THE WEEK for leaf peeping – and I had to do it and share. Two great days out, and some views for you to hopefully savor. The colors this year are wonderful – as I recall, I was disappointed last year. Most “out of staters” don’t know (or are afraid of) unmarked dirt roads. Instead they travel the main roads – numbered highways, pavement, lines on the roads, telephone polls – all signs of civilization. Dread the thought.

I get a number of emails, and on 3 October received one with – 7 of the Most Beautiful Dirt Roads in Vermont. I was thrilled to learn that Kelley Stand Road from Stratton to East Arlington, Vermont, was back open after Irene. I found it impassible and closed when there in July 2013. Then on the 11th I got another email – Four Vermont Scenic Mountain Roads to Travel Before The Snow Flies – roads with No Winter Maintenance, and closed. Kelley Stand Road is on the list, as well as Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch, which I took you on just this August on my way to Canada. I had to travel across the Green Mountains on Kelley Stand Road, and off I went this past Wednesday, 9 October.

I traveled through Townsend to Wardsboro (was there for the 4th in 2018) to head south on VT 100 – the backbone of the state. You have to watch carefully for the sign to Stratton. Not the ski area, but there is a little town with a couple buildings, the road to East Arlington, and leaves in “downtown”.

It is 15 miles from Stratton to East Arlington, and dirt and “No Winter Maintenance” begins just east of the minuscule village. The road originally served numerous logging camps and early settlements during the nineteenth century. August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused major damage to the road. A river/stream follows the western downhill side with four bridges that were destroyed. After three years of reconstruction and $3.8 million, Kelley Stand Road completely reopened through the Green Mountains on September 17, 2014.

3/10ths of a mile once the road becomes dirt you have to look carefully for a small entrance to find this marker. 15,000 people were here July 1840, to hear Daniel Webster “stumping” for the Whig presidential ticket of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. This open field, at 2,400 feet in the Green Mountains, was perfect for the orator. There was little newspaper coverage of the event, and we do not know what Webster said. One author wrote, “They had counters, so the 15,000 figure has been verified.” In 1840, Vermont’s population was almost 292,000, thus five percent of Vermonters were there.

You have seen those images saying either, “what is wrong in this picture” or “do you see the differences.”  Well here I am with GiGi on this trip, and BLUE BELLE on the previous adventure when the road was closed. Can you spot the differences, and one troubling one?

GiGi at Daniel Webster’s Kelly Stand marker on October 9, 2019.

BLUE BELLE and me at Daniel Webster’s Kelly Stand marker 21 July 2013

Yes, most differences obvious, but most disturbing, look at the rock. Acid-rain? Well, back on my way – I love “closed-in” dirt roads.

GiGi was my partner today. BLUE BELLE really wanted to go, but it was in the low 50s and overcast, and I thought better. When I reached this high point on the road at this pond, I checked GiGi’s thermometer – 49 degrees. I made the right car selection for a hundred mile adventure.

Four bridges had been replaced, and this is Bridge 1, closest to East Arlington. Note the rock hill sliding to the road. Of the eleven dirt miles, the western most half followed the river.

and, then back to seeing houses and a few other cars, I scooted over to West Arlington to again see the covered bridge. To my back is Norman Rockwell’s home there.

Coming back home, I had a bite to eat in Manchester, headed towards Bromley and turned south on VT30 back to Townsend. But instead of passing through Athens (was I shocked coming through earlier – the main dirt road has been paved), I cut over to Grafton. Always love it there, and explored “new” dirt roads. I finally found the dead end dirt road that ends with the drive to Chevy Chase’s FUNNY FARM home. It was the drive the postman raced up, and you better remember the house and surroundings. Exploring more, the leaves were great in Grafton.

I know you will want to take the routes I was on. Below in pink is the trip above I took on the 9th, and in yellow Sunday’s explorations with amazing colors and “filling in the map.” Yes, you can click on the map for almost full screen size.

The long Columbus Day weekend, Sunday the 9th appeared to be the best day for sun and temperature. BLUE BELLE and I were off. Destination first, the Newfane, Vermont, fair, and then unexplored roads cutting over to South Wardsboro, and then to Wilmington and home. Guess what? It did not happen that way, BLUE BELLE made some unplanned turns.

Going down US5 and cutting over through Dumerston Center to get to Route 30 – what are all the cars doing here? It was Apple Pie Festival day. We parked in a field, and I trouped around. No pie or apples, but bought five good books – never pass them up.

Dummerston Center, Vermont, Apple Pie Festival 2019

Parking was not so easy in Newfane, and I really did not have to look at crafts, so I continued on to South Wardsboro/Newfane Road as planned.

Once arriving in South Wardsboro for the first time, I found it consists of an intersection, a couple houses, and the Congregational church.

To my left (next to a house with all its laundry hung out to dry) was Potter Road I had found on Google Maps to “short-cut” over to VT100. It was dirt, and proudly displayed was the sign NO WINTER MAINTENANCE – yeah, another great isolated dirt path. Off we went.

  At an indistinguishable cross roads, I knew from my map gazing (albeit on-line and not paper) that I wanted to turn right, and shortly would intersect with VT100 between Wardsboro Center and West Wardsboro. Indeed I was correct, and if you wish to go in reverse turning off VT 100, just look for Lower Podunk Road.


Arriving at the intersection of VT100 and VT9, it was a zoo. So, I turned east on nine to head to the flea market and home. Perfect stop, and I got the juicy hamburger I was craving. Heading east the leaves were absolutely wonderful on Route 9. Suddenly BLUE BELLE saw a sign leading to a forest of leaves that said, “Town Hill Road.” She jerked my hands right on the wheel, and up we climbed, actually ending up in downtown Marlboro. I knew it was downtown because besides three houses there was a church, library and post office. I continued on to Marlboro College before turning around. But, she did it again thinking the dirt road to the right would get us back to Rt 9. Fortunately it did not, and you should get so beautifully “lost” – no, I knew I was still in Vermont.

it just would not stop – the beauty that is

a tad further I stopped when I saw a couple women walking, asking, “where am I?” They laughed, and said Halifax. “Canada? I don’t remember having to show my passport.” No, you are below Brattleboro they told me. I never found the center of Halifax (if there is one – population 728 in 2010), but I will re-explore someday. I stumbled onto a small paved road, and looking where the sun was figured I should turn left to try to find something familiar in Brattleboro. But, first more great leaves.

Could not believe it, the road I was on dead ended on VT9 in West Brat. I turned right to get to I-91 for one exit to cross back to NH and follow River Road (always love it) along the Connecticut River, and back home. No great leaves to share from there, but always wonderful. But, before completing the journey, BLUE BELLE said we had earned an ice cream at Stuart and John’s

What a day – great roads, great leaves, and a new hobby – find NO WINTER MAINTENANCE. Hope you enjoy these two one hundred mile each trips with me. Love, RAY

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | Tagged , , | 8 Comments


I last left you as the GRANDE MARINER entered Lake Ontario around 2PM on Tuesday, 10 September. Arrival at our next stop was just after midnight in Rochester, New York on the Genesee River. Departure on 11 September was scheduled for 12:30, and the optional tour was a trip to the George Eastman House. I spent many hours at the George Eastman House in May 2019, so I took a leisurely walk instead. Below you can see our ship docked on the west side of the river.

Looking south from Lake Ontario down the Genesse River

approaching the lake I found this sign. Obviously a suggestion for future explorations.

it is a lovely park along the Lake.

but time to get back underway for Oswego, New York – the Oswego River – and, The Oswego Canal. When I was exploring the Erie Canal in July I became interested in the Oswego Canal, and decided I must get there – so this was perfect. We arrived in Oswego, New York, on Lake Ontario, at about 6PM entering the river. (images in this post may be clicked for a larger size)

and passing Historic Fort Ontario

to pull up to the dock

here is looking back to the lake once we tied up

and night set it – this view is south, and Lock 8 (to the left) just under the lighted bridge.


I had read a great deal about Oswego’s history, and was anxious to see it and learn more. I elected the optional walking tour for $42, which sadly was not worth it – my only disappointment with this trip. A nice young lady, but a short walk to a house museum (I don’t need another house museum) and little history. There is so much there to learn about. What would be better would be a bus tour to get to see the architecture in the downtown, get into the fort, etc. etc. I still need to get back to explore Oswego, but, hey, I can do that once on the  518 mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

But, here are a few images on the “walking tour”

Lock 8 – Oswego Canal

this map will give you an idea of the large area to explore – next time (you can click for a large image to read).

There is an old railroad bridge, now a trail, that crosses the river. Here is looking back north from the bridge at the lock and canal on the right, and river to the left.

after too short of a walk, learning very little from the young guide, we were brought to the Richardson-Bates Museum where a board member took over showing us the home. Nice, but you know I am always exploring such places – seeing the downtown architecture, fort, etc. would have been much better.

Here are two of the downstairs rooms, the study and a parlor

and in the study was one item I have yet to add to my collection – a two person stereopticon desk top viewer. Let me know if you have one —

people were just milling around in the house – so I left with some others, and I walked around the east side of the river, and up to the fort area. A fascinating place to learn about. Jewish refugees were housed here during WWII – the only such facility in the US.

BUT — it was time, and at Noon (forget lunch – although I would run and bring my sandwich topside) it was time to start down the Oswego River, first to Lock 8 – it was 12:08 PM.

two more shots of Lock 8 – and you will see the old railroad bridge that earlier I walked across.

Less than a half mile south is Lock 7

Lock 7 – Oswego Canal

and turning around to look back at Lock 7 as we continued south

about 3/4 of a mile south is Lock 6

Lock 6 – Oswego Canal

and, leaving Lock 6

Lock 6 – Oswego Canal

arriving next (a tad over 3 miles south – I have a great book on the canals with maps and details) at Minetto, Lock 5 and the Minetto Hydroelectric Plant

Lock 5 – Oswego Canal

a close up of Lock 5

Lock 5 – Oswego Canal

now leaving Lock 5

and looking back at the dam (built in 1915)

I trust you are keeping track of the locks. Don’t panic, however, as there is no Lock 4. The original plans for the Barge Canal expansion called for a lock, but as work progressed the engineers realized that it would not be needed. Thus, next is Lock 3 in Fulton with a lift of 27 feet.

Lock 3 – Oswego Canal

Lock 3 – Oswego Canal

and exiting Lock 3

Lock 3 – Oswego Canal

next to arrive at Lock 2, also in Fulton

Lock 2 – Oswego Canal

what’s next? Leaving, of course

Lock 2 – Oswego Canal

and, in a tad over 9 miles in Phoenix is Lock 1

Lock 1 – Oswego Canal

with a lift of just over 10 feet, this is the small vehicle bridge that must be opened

Lock 1 – Oswego Canal

entering Lock 1


We arrived about 5 PM where the Oswego River ends at the Erie Canal – the enlarged Barge Canal. Turn right is west to Buffalo, and a left turn takes you to Albany – we turned left

this sign confirmed all was well

an extremely peaceful water path

there is one lock (heading east) between the Oswego River and Oneida Lake – Lock E23 in Brewerton

Erie Canal – Lock E23

once through the lock, tied up were these NY State Barge Canal work vessels. You cannot miss them – great paint scheme.

Interstate I-81 crosses the canal as you enter Oneida Lake

and, now for the transit across the 20.5 miles on Oneida Lake, beginning at about 6:32 PM.

we were almost across the lake when it got pretty dark at 8:24 PM

and about 9PM we tied up at a park in Sylvan Beach, too far to walk to finally see the little town.

night for now, will be getting up early again tomorrow so I do not miss anything on the ERIE CANAL Thank you for continuing with me on this journey, yours, RAY



Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

Posted in Erie Canal, LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments


I bet you have never thought how ships get up and over Niagara Falls. I never had either. On the Niagara River, from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario (or visa versa), there is about 170 feet of elevation to negotiate over the thundering water. And, to make matters worse, there is an elevation difference of about 325 between the two lakes. Not to worry, the problem was solved back in 1829 with the opening of the WELLAND CANAL in Canada, construction having begun in 1824, just before the opening of the Erie Canal. Not only do you now know how ships can get from the Atlantic Ocean through to Lake Superior, but here probably for the first time ever you will get to see a sailing – MINE – from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. And it happened in about seven hours Tuesday, September 10, 2019.

You will be able to sail (pun intended) through my next posts. Mainly locking and sailing, and few words. If something piques your interest, I trust you will research more, as I often do. Even when reading a well written mystery, set in a historical period or specific area, I will find myself googling as I pour over things I need to learn more about. So, feel free to stop, research, learn, and share with me, to even share here with others.

Here is a map of the Welland Canal. We left Buffalo at 5AM to head back west to the entrance of the canal on the Canadian side of Lake Erie.

the elevation view below shows you what we did, sailing from right to left, going “down hill.” Note the flight of locks (6, 5, 4) for a quick high descent. Lock 8 is considered a “control lock” for water flow. Lock 7 is the southern most lift on the Niagara Escarpment. Locks 5, 6 and 4 are twin “flight locks.” There is an information center, and observation platform at Lock 3.

we arrived at the entrance to the canal at about 7AM.

and, on the way

just one of the many bridges that open up along the canal

a close-up of the old lock you may be able to see above

about to enter Lock 8

Welland Canal – Lock 8

finally this “puppy” exited, and it was our turn to enter

our turn for Lock 8 – the first lock on the Welland Canal when heading north to Lake Ontario.

Welland Canal – Lock 8

I am going to “lock you through” Lock 8 more than other locks so you can an idea of the process and progress. Image below is looking back north.

Welland Canal – Lock 8

and then exiting

Welland Canal – Lock 8

one of the many “lift bridges” (remember you can open my galleries for larger images)

arriving at Lock 7

and more “heavier” traffic as we approach the lock — NOTE the horizon. It appears the earth is flat, we are at the edge, and will fall off.

There are wires across the locks – “guard gates” –  that these yellow booms pick up. The idea is to protect the lock doors from being rammed by a run away vessel. I really wonder if they could stop a ship with its inertia. Well, they have to be raised.

exiting Lock 7, looking to Lock 6

Welland Canal – Lock 7

Leaving Lock 7

Welland Canal – Lock 7

and, now for Lock 6, a double lock

our “friend” is leaving the other side

Loosing track? I am, and it was really hard selecting images from the two cameras I was using to document these seven hours. but, now opening to Lock 5.

Welland Canal – Lock 6 to Lock 5

Welland Canal – Lock 5 to Lock 4


now we can pass through Lock 4 to get to Lock 3

and, then exit

Welland Canal – Lock 3

now approaching Lock 2 – a single, so we had to wait for this big guy to get out of our way


Welland Canal – Lock 2

and, leaving Lock 2 on the Welland Canal

Welland Canal – Lock 2

Welland Canal – Lock 2

Approaching Lock 1

where there is a car bridge

and to be safe, a guard gate

Welland Canal – Lock 1

and looking back north while in Lock 1 with the car bridge lowered back down

and the Pilot House of the GRANDE MARINER

exiting Lock 1

Welland Canal – Lock 1

where a pilot boat met us to take off the pilot. We had one pilot from Lake Erie to Lock 8. Then he left, and another boarded to take us through the locks.

bye Welland Canal

and, onto Lake Ontario

and, on the Lake

On Lake Ontario around 2PM it will not be until after midnight that we will dock in Rochester, New York. So, until then, enjoy, and do come back. Yours, RAY


PPart 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East
Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany


Posted in LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , | 3 Comments


We are close, very close, to LOCKS, LOCKS and more LOCKS – just two more days. But first there were port visits in Cleveland and Buffalo on Lake Erie. Leaving Wyandotte, Michigan about midnight on 7 September, the GRANDE MARINER headed east across Lake Erie, and began entry down the Cuyahoga River for our Cleveland stop about 7:30 AM on 8 September.

then into the river with many of the crossing bridges

and the “skyway” over the river. Believe below to be Routes 6 and 2 into downtown.

coming down the Hudson River I will share many “under the bridge” images, but first “under the Cuyahoga River bridges.”

above looking south with the Terminal Tower the left hand building, and then looking back towards the lake.

In Cleveland until about 5PM there was an optional city tour that I booked, but first I had time to catch the free water ferry across the river. I got to see the local train transit system…

and chat with these nearby tailgaters. It was opening day for the Cleveland Browns. It was walking distance to the stadium (for legs younger and abler than mine), but many folks rent a parking spot and just party and play games. Arriving at 7AM for their spot, this group had their generator going and were watching pre-game festivities, planning to stay here all day.

It was then board a bus for the tour. It was nice to have a mixed flavor of the City of Cleveland, and here is some of it I can share with you. At several spots there are signs welcoming you and providing photo ops.

and, what do you do on Christmas for 24 hours? Watch CHRISTMAS STORY I hope. Here is Ralphie’s house – yes for real, and I just got the LEG LAMP in the window for you as we cruised by in this small neighborhood.

across the street is now a CHRISTMAS STORY Museum, gift shop, and the Bumpus House. A Christmas Story House & The Bumpus House are available for overnight stays.

Cruising to the center of town it was disheartening to see the classic downtown department stores – Higbees, Mays, etc. – closed, but at least buildings are still there and being repurposed. Higbees is a casino (Jack). and adjoins the Terminal Tower, the deco old train center and early “mall.”

how often do you see this anymore?

and then it was a drive to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and about 15 minutes to run inside.

outside is Johnnie Cash’s bus

and, next door to the west, also almost on the water, is the stadium, packed with sad Brown’s fans. Yes, it was an overcast day also.

We then were driving along the water, through a park to the art museum, again having about 25 minutes. From what I ran through to see, definitely worth some time in the future.

not quite “Cinderella Liberty” in Cleveland, but we were underway at 5PM heading back to Lake Erie to head east to Buffalo.

Due to arrive in Buffalo at 9 AM, I did not want to miss the approach. Up early, here is sunrise over Buffalo, New York, at 7:03 AM on Monday, 9 September. Feel free to click for a larger view.

and, to put things into perspective, here is the nautical map (with my ship in green) at this point in time. Take a look at Welland, Canada, for future reference.

by 9:30 – 10AM we were approaching the skyline of Buffalo – you can click for full screen view.

I hope you remember my week in Buffalo in May – if not, check out my three posts of that grand time – especially CITY OF LIGHT. There is so much I told you that I still want to do here, but the one day we had in port would still not be enough. The optional tour for the passengers was the day at Niagara Falls. You know how I feel. The 19th century tourist attraction beauty has been spoiled, and I had no desire to go back. So, off I went on my own, doing something I had not gotten to in May. By 11:30 I was walking towards the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park and eventually to my destination at Canalside.

Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park

I had some time to look inside at the museum again. Lots of information, but I thought I would share these two panels with you. You may click to enlarge for easier reading if you would like.

But my mission for the afternoon was to catch the 1PM Buffalo River History Tour, Here is an early map of the area. Much is filled in now, but the Erie Canal begins at commercial slip, and the river tour dock is on Prime Street now filled in, as is much of the area, but you see the entrance to the Buffalo River (Harbor) also.


I wanted to see “the largest grain port in the world and experience the nation’s largest collection of standing grain elevators from just a few feet away” – quoted from the company’s website. Leaving the dock we swung right past the original start of the Erie Canal. To the left you see the stern of the USS Little Rock CLG-4, and then to its right the nautical museum and the outside seating for the restaurant.

and, then it was down the Buffalo River.

great bridges

and, make sure to open up this gallery of silos – just amazing to see, and fascinating area. I need to learn more.

Hope you see the SS COLUMBIA, built in 1902 directly above. It is the last remaining excursion steamer of that period – hopefully to someday be restored.

coming back out of the river, the tour headed out past the nautical museum and Little ROCK and submarine, past the lighthouse at the entrance to Buffalo, and then swung back into dock.

I then walked back to the restaurant at the museum, but loved finding this

and, turning around here is the original Erie Canal entrance (warehouse sites to the left) looking to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park

may I recommend having lunch at the restaurant there

Having been on the USS SULLIVANS DD 537, and many submarines, I decided to conclude the day touring the USS LITTLE ROCK CLG4 – the third ship docked at the museum. I was disappointed. It was interesting seeing the missile house (one space I never saw on my last ship the USS LUCE DDG-38 due to security), but the remaining part of the tour the various spaces had been stripped of their original uses and now serve as a number of memorials and displays. Nice, probably good memories and fundraising, but not ship spaces as originally outfitted.

I walked back to the GRANDE MARINER, for dinner and the evening, and early turn in. I was not going to miss the early departure from Buffalo and the 7 AM arrival for the Welland Canal.  Now leaving the LAKES, it is finally time for LOCKS, LOCKS, more LOCKS, and BRIDGES. Hope you continue to “sail with me.” As always, yours, RAY


Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

Posted in LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


If you have been “traveling with me” on these posts, you know the Grande Mariner left Mackinac Island at 5AM on 6 September. The sixth was devoted to cruising down Lake Huron towards Detroit. Lots of blue scenery that became broken with high white caps for much of the day – a rough five hours dancing between those white caps. I was up very early on the 7th (as I did many days) so as to not miss much. Here is the map of where we were at about 6:30 AM on 7 September – approaching Detroit.

See the large dark blue to the right of Detroit and Windsor, Canada? HOMES, five Great Lakes, right? Wrong, there is a small sixth Great Lake – Lake St. Clair – and that is the dark blue you see. Lake Huron flows into the Detroit River, which then opens up into Lake St. Clair, appropriately enough at Walpole Island, Canada. The lake then becomes the river again ultimately passing into Lake Erie to the south. So, now you can win more drinks proving there are really six Great Lakes.

We passed the city of Detroit about 7 AM, 7 September.

On schedule we docked at Wyandotte at 9 AM. The optional tour was a visit to the Ford Rouge Plant, The Henry Ford, and Greenfield Village – all in one day. From experience, I knew that was only a fast overview of the three places. I spent a full day at The Henry Ford 22 February 2015, and the next day at the Rouge River Plant and museum. Today my plan was to go off on my own and spend the full day at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, also created by Henry Ford. Ends up the cab company I had talked with 10 days earlier does not run on weekends, but fortunately I eventually found someone to come out and get me, and I only lost about an hour. My entrance ticket reads 10:30 AM, and I did not depart until 4:30.

Based upon my previous visits in 1957 and 1967 I somehow thought I would have a day peacefully strolling by myself – was I wrong. Not only has the village expanded, and with activities to attract younger families, but I was there for the “69th Annual Old Car Festival at The Henry Ford”  – the longest running car show in America. The place was packed, but a nice packed with cars (nothing newer than 1930 fortunately, antique bicycles, and costumed visitors). Reading of all the activities throughout the year, if I lived close I would become a member.

So, here goes with mainly images so you may spend the 7th of September with me in Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. I encourage you to learn more about Ford moving historic buildings here (and recreating others), especially places with meaning to him. I recommend getting a copy of TELLING AMERICA’S STORY: A HISTORY OF THE HENRY FORD.

The entrance to Greenfield Village.

Henry Ford’s birthplace.

In 1896, Ford built his quadricycle at 58 Bagley Avenue in Detroit. With bricks from that street he recreated that shop in the cluster of Ford related buildings in the village.

In 1945, Henry Ford added one last building before his death, a 1/4 scale reproduction of his first Ford plant that was on Mack Avenue in Detroit.

housed inside is:

Ford held many mechanical geniuses and inventors in high esteem, and moved symbols of their lives to Greenfield Village. Orville and Wilbur Wright’s bicycle shop and home are together here.

Wright Cycle Shop at Greenfield Village

one room for bicycle repair

the first plane was built in the back, then disassembled with the parts sent to North Carolina for the famous flight.

Constructing the Wright Plane

Along with the car show, an antique bicycle club was in attendance exhibiting, performing and competing. And all in costume.

The day before the village opened in October, 1929, Ford decided he wanted to have an operating tintype studio. He had an accurate one built in a day, and it still stands.

Ford hired the last traveling tin-typist, who took up residence here producing over 400,000 tintypes. He could even have taken this one of me in 1957, when I was a guest of the museum. The backdrop is a painting of Henry Ford’s birthplace. Another tidbit to win you a drink, a tintype image comes out in reverse, thus the backdrop was painted in reverse to appear correct in the image.

Today the studio is set up for those selfies that people take.

what’s a tintype? Here you go (click to read easier).

Just down the way is the rural post office. I had “free rein” during my 1957 visit, and was allowed to stand behind the counter and play postmaster. Then and there I decided I wanted to be Postmaster General of the US. Did not work out, but my interest in US commemorative stamps led to my interest in history, and probably everything else. I kindly asked the docent if I could step behind, and explained why. When other guests left, she said, “let’s hurry,” and I gave her my camera.

can you tell I was having fun? Besides cars everywhere, they were driving on all the streets. Coming to the corner, there was LADY RAB’s sister, another 1929 Model A Ford roadster.

As a young man, Henry Ford, had worked for Thomas A. Edison in one of the Detroit electric plants. Edison showed interest in Ford’s inventiveness and encouraged him. Later becoming close friends, Ford originally named his museum The Edison Institute, and it was dedicated October 29, 1929, the 50th anniversary of the invention of the Edison light bulb. Supposedly the first light bulb, but I know you know better to win more drinks. Ford recreated much of Edison’s Menlo Park.

Enjoying the cars lined up along all the streets, this Model A caught me stopping, and I crawled underneath to see the how the drive-train was done. Actually two rear ends, with gears on the rear of the first one with another drive shaft to the back rear end. I took a picture and sent it to Dr. Dewey to starting building me one.

Many buildings with many stories abound. Luther Burbank, Daniel Webster’s home where he finished his dictionary, McGuffey’s home (his readers impacted on Ford greatly), and on and on. Money was no expense, particularly with the few recreations. Ford bought Steven Foster’s home. Years later it was learned that the home had actually been destroyed, and this one was next door.

a slave plantation home

and the Common – packed with more car show.

Here is the Edison Generating plant where Ford had worked, albeit a recreated scaled down version.

And, you should also know that Edison was almost totally deaf. As a newsboy peddling papers on trains, he also did experiments in the baggage car. One not so successful experiment caught the car on fire, and the conductor, holding young Edison by his ears, tossed him off the train at this station.

When Ford brought Edison up to this station by train to surprise him of the move, Edison refused to get off to see it. No hard feelings, I guess.

You know I like to shoot images out of windows and similar framing opportunities. Any guess why I captured this award winner?

In recent years the railroad and industrial areas have been expanding, including this “new” roundhouse with an original turntable.

and, again if you know me, you know I love old diners. You cannot get much older than the original lunch wagons. Ford used to have his meals at this wagon when working for Edison. Back in the early days of the village this was the only spot to get a bite to eat.

And, a group of “tin-can tourists” set up camp, complete with all the accoutrements of roadside camping in the 1920s. Another fun thing I like to learn about, and yes, I have my collection of vintage camping baskets.

Sadly the village was about to close – I could have spent another day. I was able to hitch a ride on the tour bus back to the ship. Before I re-boarded, I walked downtown Wyandotte, then over to the river to walk back north to the ship. And, here I found this sign – another “first” we all need to know about.

Back underway about midnight (I did not get up as it was dark), and we began crossing Lake Erie next with port visits at Cleveland and Buffalo. Then it will be locks, locks, more locks, and bridges. I can’t wait, hope you continue to join me to see what many do not get to see.


Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago –Part 1 – Genesis
art 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East
Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

Posted in LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


Tuesday, September 3, everyone on-board and 6PM underway from Burnham Harbor in Chicago.

past Chicago, heading north on Lake Michigan

good night Chicago, time to settle into a routine for the next fifteen days aboard Blount Small Ship Adventure’s  Grande Mariner.

First stop, arriving by 9 AM on 4 September, was Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Why you ask? I wondered also, but now you will learn the importance of this town. There is a shipyard there, where World War II submarines were built. A relatively small town, we tied up on the pier right next to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. A fascinating first stop, even though departure was scheduled at 1 PM.

When I crossed the gangplank there was a fellow passenger looking at a page he printed out from on-line. “Which way do you think I should walk to see this?” he was asking the crew member. I stopped to chat, checked Google Maps, and found the spot to be about 3/4 of a mile, and showed him the way. Google did not say it was uphill all the way, but the benefit is it was downhill all the way back to the museum. Since I always want to share with you something unique that you have not seen, or know about, off I went on my own. And – I FOUND THE SPOT he told me about.

It was in the middle of Eighth Street, across from the local museum.

and, in the sidewalk is this marker.

Here I was, 2 days shy of the event 57 years ago. You will want to read more, either on Roadside Americana, or on Wikipedia, and from Atlas Obscura – “perhaps Manitowoc’s biggest claim to fame, and it has even been the inspiration for the annual Sputnikfest, a space-themed festival featuring the Ms. Space Debris Pageant, the Cosmic Cake competition, the Alien Drop raffle, and various other extraterrestrial oddities.” Now you can win another round of drinks somewhere with your superior knowledge of trivia. I then walked (downhill) to the museum, which may be a better claim to fame for Manitowoc, and here is why. (you can click for a larger image to read easier)


At the museum I started off on the tour of the USS Cobia (SS 245) which was launched November 28, 1943 in Groton, CT. My tour guide was on his second day, not too good, but it is not that I do not know the basics of submarines. Boarding…

and, looking aft.

crew of the Grande Mariner decided to surrender.

How do you flush while under water? Carefully, but with potentially explosive and messy results if directions are not precisely followed. You may wish to wait for the next port visit. Click images to enlarge to make sure you get the directions right.

I could have used some more time in the museum. Exhibits covered Great Lakes shipwrecks, shipbuilding, tour boats, immigration to the area, and much more. Here are a few panels I wanted to share.

Walking back to my ship, the SS Badger was pulling in. An amazing site backing into its pier without any tug assist. The Grande Mariner’s Capt. Ray explained to me how they dropped anchor for positioning and steadiness, and then back down into the slip. A ferry boat, Badger is the last coal-fired passenger vessel operating on the Great Lakes, and shuttles across Lake Michigan between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin,  It connects US 10 running between those two cities. Driving is not allowed on this 62 mile section of the lake. It was an overcast day.

Departure times for this trip were scheduled for decent arrival times for the next port visit.  We were next due in Mackinac Island at noon on 5 September. A trip up Lake Michigan, and then through the straits under the Mackinac Bridge, which was completed in 1957, you should read about. Below, the bridge as seen from the pilot house.

here are bridge views you seldom get to take – you will see many more once I take you down the Hudson River (no locks there to share)

and, looking back

before pulling into the island, we stopped at Pt. St. Ignace to take on fuel, and offload other liquids and solids. We are the green spot on the track below.

and, then it was onto Mackinac Island, and the Grand Hotel.

Ever since seeing the movie, Somewhere in Time, I have been reading and learning and yearning to visit relatively hard to get to Mackinac Island. (permanent population less than 500). It is 300 miles (and a boat trip) from Dearborn, and Greenfield Village, which I have also wanted to get back to not having had time to complete my visit when last there in February, 2015. We would be here overnight, until about 5 AM.

The small downtown, began at the foot of the pier. I had signed up for the carriage tour of the island, and off we went. I trust you know that there are no automobiles allowed on the island. There is a fire truck, ambulance, and emergency vehicle however.

here is the old fort around the bend.

and, up past the Grand Hotel

the tour stopped at the butterfly museum, and the hotel’s carriage barn and museum.

on the back side of the island, and in the park is Arch Rock bridge rising 149 feet above the Straits of Mackinac.

and then after touring through the park and past the top side of the old fort it was back to the hotel where I had booked the formal afternoon tea.

I toured the lower lever, and then headed to the lobby area for tea time, I did not want to be late, and “miss the tea.” The hostess was ready to seat me.

my tea was set, a glass of sherry, and a multi-tiered tray of dainty goodies. I wanted to dig in, but knew I should be polite and let whoever else was seated with me have an opportunity to see the tray and make a selection first.

was I shocked. Others were seated with me, and identical treat trays were brought for all attendees.

Yes, I dress for myself, and was the only one in sight wearing a jacket. Fortunately there is still a dress code here, but it starts at 6PM. Here is a gallery around the hotel you can open.

And, in its majesty, here is the 660 foot front porch, the world’s largest, impressive, and more “rocking chair studies.”

and another award winner for my “favorite foto” page that I have to get back to assembling after years.

back in town, here are some history plaques you can click to enlarge and learn from

walking back to town, here is the other end of the Main Street – tourist shops mainly.

and, back to the ship.

I am so glad I got the opportunity to easily get to Mackinac Island. A trip to here and Dearborn probably would have cost me a third of what my 15 day cruise cost. So well worth it to me. If I had come here on a separate trip I would have felt compelled to spend 2-3 nights, and, since overrun with tourists, I would have not really enjoyed my time. BUT, I MADE HERE, and can now talk about it.

Leaving at 5 AM on on 6 September, it would be all day on Lake Huron, arriving next at Wyandotte, Michigan, south of Detroit, and ten miles from Dearborn. More coming, catch you soon, yours, RAY


Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

Posted in LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


Moving right along on my “epic journey” (complete menu at end of post). I arrived at Union Station in Chicago around 11AM on Monday 2 September (Labor Day) not much more than an hour behind schedule. I scurried out to catch a cab to Burnham Harbor where Blount Small Ship Adventure’s  Grande Mariner was docked.

I booked the early arrival ($150 for the overnight including meals), which is a bargain for being in downtown Chicago, but most important, I wanted to be there, and not pull it close to departure time on the 3rd. The early arrival package allows you to board at 5PM, but, I asked, and it was possible to drop luggage off earlier. That is what I did, and then my cabbie dropped me off at nearby Field Museum. The time on my ticket to the museum states 12:18 PM

Entrance area – Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois


My great-grandfather, Franz Boas, was head of the Department of Ethnology and Archeology for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 (it opened a year late for the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery). Following the Columbian Exposition, the ethnographic material he collected formed the basis of the newly created Field Museum, and he became the curator of anthropology at the museum. I had visited during my undergraduate work at Northwestern, in the mid 1960s, but did not remember the collections.


Both on my visit here for the afternoon, and my visit to the Museum of Science and Industry the next day, I was surprised, and pleased to see how museum exhibits have evolved. The same has happened at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. No longer does the visitor simply pass collections with identifying labels. Stores of culture, and developmental history are related. More can be learned, and I would imagine there is greater appeal to the ‘new generations.” This panel may help explain.

Here is a gallery of society development. Just part, you get a flavor. I wish I could remember all I try to absorb. For easier reading you can click to open a gallery.

Gone are references to Indians and Native Americans.

Many halls exhibit items from the cultures of British Columbia where my great-grandfather worked to learn about and document the peoples. I am sure that much of what I saw he collected for The Field Museum and previously the Columbian Exposition, but no longer do exhibit labels provide that information as to when, where and who. Instead the cultural stories are developed.

I enjoyed the geology exhibit (still have to tell you about my week of learning Connecticut River Valley geology at Historic Deerfield the summer of 2018). This exhibit on the Benld Meterorite was fun. The four pound meteorite crashed through a garage September 29, 1938 in Benld, Illinois. It went through a garage roof and the 1928 Pontiac Coupe parked in the garage, missing people by 50 feet. The Meteorite went through the roof of the car, the seat, the floorboards and struck the muffler of the vehicle bouncing back into
the seat springs where it was found. Bet this exhibit makes an impression on more people than just me.

and, then there is SUE. Named for the lady who discovered her, Sue is the largest and most complete T. Rex ever found, and arrived at the museum in 1997. Because of this specimen, we know more about this dinosaur than ever known before.

If “the shoe fits” — NOT

It was close to closing time at the museum, but more importantly close to boarding time for my early arrival. I began my hike south along the park and marina to the Grande Mariner, tied up just north of the McCormick Center.

and, looking back to “town.”

Jasmine, the cruise director, graciously greeted me and showed me around, and then to my cabin. My cabin location would be in the lower right of the image above, the deck below the port holes. In my phone discussions about cabin selection with Sandi at Blount she said, “well, I can give you 20A which is $1400 less, but has no window.” A cabin, a room, is for sleeping. I live in the common areas at inns, hotels, and B&Bs, and have done the same thing on the Queen Mary 2. “I will take it,” I told Sandi, “a room is for sleeping, I do not need a window.” Actually, I had more space than some of the other cabins, and was in a very quiet spot. You can open this gallery to see 20A – my cabin – lots of storage space, comfy bath and separate shower.

and, back on deck before dinner. Good I knew I was in Chicago, as it is not the skyline I remember from the 60s, and did not recognize – too much change.

My original thought for 3 September prior to departure on Lake Michigan was to catch the train to Evanston, just as I did during college, and traipse around Evanston. But with my “tired legs” and with memories enough in my mind, I decided I really had to revisit the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park in the one permanent building built for the 1893 World’s Fair.

I walked over to a nearby METRA stop, and caught the local train.

Down to about 52nd street, and then walked over to the museum

I first walked into the massive entrance in the summer of 1963. I was a Naval Reservist on my way to Boot Camp at Great Lakes. I felt enlisting during high school would improve my chances for acceptance to the officer program in college – it worked. I was in charge of a group of fellows, and we flew to Chicago, and went to the train station, but had many hours before catching the train. Always needing to explore and “shunpike” (I really do not know where it came from) I headed to the museum that I had heard about (how I learned things before the internet, I cannot recall – it has been that long ago). When I walked, in uniform, into the grand hall with another fellow, the organist broke into ANCHORS AWAY. But entrance through the columns had been taken away.

You now enter out near the street, and head underground. It all had been changed. In reading a book I bought there on THE PIONEER ZEPHYR, I learned that in the 1990s a massive project was undertaken to create underground parking and exhibit space extending out from the entrance. Here the world’s first Stainless Steel Streamliner train was to be housed. A building was also built for the captured German U-505 submarine. The restored 1934 train was my plan rather than Evanston.

Again, the exhibits changed from static labeling to many interactive learning experiences. But, the Main Street was still there, and I enjoyed strolling through.

In the museum since 1949, and always a favorite, is Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle  dollhouse. Do click the link above to read about it.

one of the most fascinating exhibits, and not something you would have seen decades ago, was FARM TECH. There was so much to learn, I wish I could go back and study for days.

an impressive transportation hall.

Engine 999 set a record breaking 82.50 MPH on May 10, 1893, when on its way to be exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The locomotive returned to Chicago to be exhibited at the 1933-34 Century of Progress exposition.

There are small tours given of THE PIONEER ZEPHYR, and only two on the day of my visit. I made sure to be on line to not miss out, even though our group ended up only being five. This is the new grand underground hall. Parking areas are on either side of the Zephyr’s display.

how can you not be overwhelmed with this Art Deco beauty???

As introduced in 1934, this 110 MPH streamliner is 197 feet long, and has seats for 72 passengers in its three cars attached with articulating trucks. It was not designed for night travel.  In its initial non-stop run from Denver to Chicago, Saturday, May 26, 1934, it used 418 gallons of diesel fuel (then called “furnace oil”). It burned a gallon to cover 2.43 miles, but at 4 cents per gallon the fuel cost of 1017.6 miles was $16.72.

Below is a gallery of the interior which was restored for the first time. Previously one could only walk around the outside of the train when displayed outdoors next to the U-505. The lead power car also contains the Railway Post Office, and Mail Storage. The middle car is for Baggage and Express shipments, a small, buffet and grill, and a compartment for 20 passengers – the smoking area. The rear car had 40 passenger seats followed by the observation lounge with 12 more seats.

Also innovative were the articulated trucks connecting the cars. Great idea for speed and savings, but became impractical because a problem with one car will pull the entire train out of service.

How can you not love this stainless steel? I showed you similar Budd Company built cars on my Via Rail cross Canada trip years ago. So sleek and full of motion, even when sitting still. I bought a book about the train and it is fascinating all the new procedures developed in the train’s and stainless steel manufacture.

And, finally the Diesel engine (newly developed) and the “operator’s cab”

An extra plus for you here. About 15 years ago I bought a massive early railroad collection for resale, but kept a few items. Here is my original booklet given out at the 1934 Century of Progress in Chicago for the introduction of the BURLINGTON ZEPHYR – THE WEST WIND.

here is an interior view showing some original photos and part of the train’s plan.

I did not want to play it close, so left the museum around 3PM and caught a cab back to the GRANDE MARINER – again, did not want to “miss the boat”

In my next post I will get you underway and sail north on Lake Michigan – yours, RAY


Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

Posted in LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments


You may think this adventure impulsive since from learning of this trip to taking this trip was just weeks. It was a perfect fit for adventures “on my lists” and fit my time schedule. It is all the previous thought and research I do that makes a final decision an easy and rapid one.

Do you remember my most recent Eastern Erie Canal Explorations this July? It was at Herkimer, NY, at  GEMS ALONG THE MOHAWK that the visitor center hostess, Melody Milewski, chatted with me for over an hour about the Erie Canal. She had run a canal museum, and told me of Blount Small Ship Adventures in Warren, RI, that she had worked for. They had trips on the Erie Canal she told me. When I got home I looked at the website and dreamed. About the 6th of August I looked at Blount’s website again, and noted a discount on a September voyage – GREAT AMERICAN WATERWAYS – that fit in between my CLARION publishing schedule. I was on the phone on 8 August with Sandi at Blount, and called her back on the 9th booking my September adventure, just three weeks away. The voyage follows the route below, making stops (you can click on the map to enlarge). I was, in one easy trip, finally getting to Mackinac Island, back to Greenfield Village and Buffalo, and see the Oswego Canal for the first time. And, so much more including the entire Hudson River – just try and find a trip the entire length – I dare you.

The voyage began the evening of 3 September from Chicago, and I did not want to “miss the boat.” I booked the optional early arrival (a bargain) on board for 2 September. But how to easily get to Chicago? Not much thought needed to catch Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. Based upon my cross country and back experiences in June, I realized it best to depart from the Albany-Rensselaer station, just two hours and ten minutes from home, and parking only $30 a week. Then upon return I could ride the train up the Hudson River to get the car – something else everyone needs to do.

The early arrival at the ship gave me a cushion for time, but you know I still left for the train on 1 September with about 8 hours to spare for the two hour drive. What to do along the way? No problem, you know I love Vermont back roads, and I had not yet visited the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury – perfect plan.

check out the website, but the importance of visiting here is:

and, here is the dining room

below you can click for larger views of the entrance from the rear, and the impressive stone work of the house, built circa 1769.

Robert Frost – pensively writing, or possibly jealous of my trip.



Checking my “paper maps” I found some backroads from the New York State border to Rensselaer I had not previously explored, and do not have to go back on. Arriving at the station, I parked the car in the long term lot, and settled in the station for the 7:05 PM departure of the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago.




The Lake Shore Limited departs from both Boston and New York City, combining cars at the Albany-Rensselaer station for the balance of the trip. In June there was track work on the Boston track, so instead passengers were bussed to and from Boston to the Albany-Rensselaer station – wish I had been told that ahead of time. The Boston train arrived before the New York City train, but with the arrival of the train from New York, the all-aboard announcement was made.

Lake Shore Limited arriving from NYC in Albany, 1 September 2019

and, here are both sections of the Lake Shore Limited, Boston on the left and NYC on the right.

then the locomotive was disconnected from the Boston train

so the New York train with its cars could back into the Boston section, and connect

I settled into my coach seat. I could not justify the additional “roomette” cost for the almost 15 hour overnight trip, and I wanted to experience overnight in coach – $81 for the one way. I survived, but am too tall to really get comfortable across two seats, which fortunately I had all to myself the entire trip.

and then it was off across the Hudson with Albany in the background.

and, this Water Wandering adventure got underway, heading west to Chicago. Eighteen days? Yes, which means lots to document for my memory, and much to share. I will break the almost 1400 underway miles into logical segments, and the posts will mainly be a photo-journal. Whew!!! you exclaim. In sixteen days I dropped about 600 feet in elevation to sea level, passing through 38 locks – and you will see them all. Here, tentatively, is how I will have you travel with me.


Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

If you have not before “signed up” to get notifications of my new posts, now is the time. And, I really promise to eventually finish up my Coast to Coast to Coast Amtrak Train Trek from June 2019. Yours, RAY


Posted in LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


Remember IN SEARCH OF THREE PINES, QC, CANADA – 14-16 AUGUST 2018? Well, repeat, albeit different, explorations took place a year and a day later. Same conspirators, different routes, different adventures, but same Auberge with the most inviting porch with a parade of semi-tractor trucks and construction vehicles – too much fun, too many laughs. Much of this post relies upon your memory of last year’s adventures, but at any time please click on the link above to view Knowlton, QC, the town, images of the inn, restaurants, meals, and Inspector Gamache points of interest. This adventure evolved from my desire to ride the Orford Express tourist train out of Magog, QC.

You know my preference. If I have not been on a road before – that is my preference. And, that is how I routed this adventure across the border, and back. To help you plan a great outing, click on the map below and see the route I highly recommend to cross (legally) our border to the north. Get off I-89 and head north on VT-100 towards Stowe. AVOID STOWE (so disappointing as I told you in May 2019), and  turn west through Moscow to get to Route 108 north. You will approach the ski slopes, and Smugglers Notch, and then the most amazing road as you climb through the notch, a mountain pass in the Mount Mansfield State Forest – NOTE – Closed in the winter. I had to watch the road, but found this image on line showing you the road winding through many great rocks – glacially placed erratics (and you can click to enlarge to full screen).

This map to the left may be enlarged by clicking. I have highlighted my route north in pink except for the area through Smuggler’s Notch that is marked on the map – Road Closed Winter. An amazing route, one you must take. Following VT-108 through Enosburg Falls, it ends at VT-118 where you turn left (north) to Canada. Quickly you reach the border at the West Berkshire–Frelighsburg Border Crossing. Crossing, the route becomes Canada 237. Of course we were the only car to cross. Frelighsburg was but five minutes away – WOW, perfect spot, and many opportunities for a meal. By the way, food in the Eastern Townships of Quebec is amazing, and with 75 cents buying a Canadian dollar, a bargain (even with the hefty taxes added). The lunch choice was at Aux 2 Clochers.

Inside seating, or on the elevated patio above the small river.

So many wonderful choices. I choose the Grilled baguette with ham, pears, pecans, and Farnham Vigerons cheese. Flavors “to die for”

Crossing the street after lunch, we visited the 1850s Town Hall, and the old Academy building, now a visitor center and art gallery (worth the stop)

BUT – in front of the car are these massive THREE PINES

These three mature pines are at the main cross road in Frelighsburg. During the American Revolution, Loyalists, who would not swear allegiance to the colonies, would escape and cross the border to Canada. No concrete written evidence, but oral history, and some written journals, state that Canadians, to welcome those with allegiance to the crown crossing the border, would plant THREE PINES in their yards to signify that they were welcome at that home. Louise Penny named her fictional town for her mystery series – Three Pines.

The Eastern Townships is wine country, with many opportunities for vineyard tours, so off we went through the countryside.

Ms. T selected Le Vignoble du Russeau in Dunham for a visit. Ended up being the best possible choice.

We arrived, and purchased our tickets for the 3 PM tour. Shortly after the appointed hour we were told no 3PM tour on Friday, the host coming in on a week day was used to the weekend schedules. We were offered a full refund, a glass of wine, and a 45 minute abbreviated tour (for free) – it could not have been better. Started in 2007, an obviously wealthy man wanted to take care of his daughter. She likes wine, so why not develop a winery for her. Everything is “top drawer” including the shop.

We crossed the road for the vineyard. They have developed techniques (soon to be patented) for using geothermal energy to keep soil and roots warm, and facilitate the growing season.

You can see the tubing at the bottom of the vines. I asked about the grapes only growing at the bottom of the vine – that is it. After each season they cut the new growth back, the grapes grow and mature at the bottom, and new growth (to be cut back at the end of the season) continues upwards. We were there before the grapes maturity and tastiness for birds and other critters, but eventually they will be protected once the grapes are tasty to those hungry enemies. The hectares are so well landscaped.

Then we headed to Knowlton and the Auberge Knowlton (images available in the last post), but in the image below, my room is the window on the second floor in the middle of the image. You can see the massive second floor porch on the left, and that is were we planted ourselves each evening making new friends. Dinner the first night was at the Auberge – Thursday is special night – $14 Canadian entrees – $10.50 US, plus taxes and tip.

Breakfast, as last year, was taken at the Star Cafe. Built as a tannery in 1843, a fire in 1903 left only the stone walls. Restoration in 2009 created this wonderful place to eat with a nice atmosphere and servers.

It was then time to head to Magog to the east, and the Orford Express tourist train . Magog is at the northern end of glacial Lac Memphremagog which extends south across the border for a total distance of 31 miles to Newport, Vermont. A beautiful park lines the northern shore with both boating and a boat tour of the lake, and the station for the train. Parking is at a public lot $10C ($7.50 US) for all day, and little jitneys run people back and forth.

soon the train arrived

and it was time to board. There were two coaches and the observation car. A locomotive was at each end.

the coaches were restored and outfitted with comfortable facing seats with a table inbetween

I am sure that the interior of the 1956 Budd Company observation car was outfitted to replicate the ambience of the Orient Express. Wood, appointments, eye candy everywhere.

and, a gallery of two of the appointments – the sculpture at the bottom of the stairway to the observation dome.

and, the dome

and, looking back at the station and lake from the dome.

and, then the 2 1/2 hour luncheon journey began – my friends were impressed. Of course, lunch began with a bottle of wine. The previous day at the winery, posted was a sign asking, “What is a meal without wine? Breakfast!” The wine passed all tests.

and, lunch – stuffed chicken.

The train arrives in Sherbrooke for a half hour layover before the return.

the vintage station has been restored with impressive food stalls

and a farmer’s market and other activities and food venues were outside

remember the image I shared last year, “why you visit the Eastern Townships?” Well, here is a reminder from the park opposite the station – please do click to enlarge.


Desert was served on the way back, along with excellent live entertainment. This young lady serenaded this couple celebrating their anniversary.

all great trips come to an end, and I wandered a tad out onto the dock as the tour boat (owned by the same company) was returning.

and then, back on the jitney to the parking lot. I must mention that Canadians are proud, and their properties impeccable, both private and public. Tacky, colorful plastic yard and children’s toys (seen once we crossed back into the USA) are not to be seen, only colorful flower beds.

I think this a good point to give you a marked up map of the three days’ routes. I encourage you to click on the map for a full screen view. The pink to the west is the route up over the border, side trip to the winery, and then main roads to Knowlton. In yellow to get to Magog quickly I headed up to “interstate” 10, but heading back to Knowlton had to travel back roads – of course. Saturday’s route home headed first down Route 243 to Mansonville (not been in that area before), then back up through Austin to Magog, and then over to North Hatley for lunch. From there back roads through Waterville to Route 147, and south to the border – another “new” route for me.

Friday the 17th was a four-hour repast on the porch. Big lunch, no need for a big dinner. Wine purchased already from the winery with our tour savings, and a stop at the Knowlton IGA for cheese, meats and a baguette was perfect to satisfy all. As usual, I never did open the book I brought to read. Bill and Cheryl from way above Toronto joined us while they ate their picnic on the porch. We all chatted, shared, and learned from each other subjects from agriculture to geology, to local history, some politics, and Canadian medical care. What more could you ask for?

In the morning it was back to Star Cafe for coffee and breakfast shortly after 7. One of our party, to avoid acute crankiness, requires coffee by 7AM. We entered to learn they open at 8, but wait, this is Canada, and we were graciously welcomed to sit, have coffee and wait for the kitchen to open. I went light this morning with French Toast, and the most amazing pulled ham.

Some shopping followed (for the females in the group) before we sadly departed. On the way out of town we stopped at Lac Brome Ducks (essentially correct). Last year a fire had consumed the visitor shop, so we had to see the new facility.

I had worked out some roads before not taken to North Hatley, and then from there south. See the eastern pink markings on the map above. Off south to Mansonville (no not him), to Vale Perkins, Knowlton Landing, through Magog to North Hatley, for this view of the lake from my parking spot.

and, sitting on the sidewalk, for me it was MEXICAN SALAD REDUX.


With this trip, and these two border crossings I have now covered all crossings to and from Canada from Vermont and New Hampshire. RAY RECOMMENDS avoid I-91 and I-89 crossings. It is much more fun waking up sleeping guards at remote spots, but alas, there were three vehicles ahead of us. Did I say this was isolated? Well, the Duty Free shop did not make it as you can see in the gallery below.


Not having been there before, I had to follow Vermont 114 south to Island Pond and below. It follows railroad tracks. Island Pond is isolated, but at least had a gas station. The train station below is lovely, but the commercial block reminded me of some of the remote western towns I saw from my cross-country train trip.

Eventually intersecting with I-91 it was a straight shot home, full of more Canadian memories.

the following is adapted and reiterated from IN SEARCH OF THREE PINES:


1 – Learn all you can about the Eastern Townships, and visit, and visit often
2 – You do not even have to get Canadian money. You can use a credit card for everything, and I did again – have not yet totaled it, but at 75 cents US for $1 Canadian, another bargain trip.
3 – Travel Vermont Route 108 from outside Stowe to the border, BUT particularly through Smuggles’ Notch
4 – Start reading Louise Penny mysteries
5 – AND, travel NOW to the Eastern Townships

I will head back soon (I said it before, and say it again), thanks for traveling with me, yours, RAY


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