Friday, August 26, 2016

On My Way to Wichita -- Day

Side note: I journal every morning and now that I am taking another trip, I am trying to figure out how to not write things twice (journal and blog/book). No one would want to read some of the drivel that goes through my mind which I put in my journal. This new journey I want to make the reading more interesting for you, and yet, I want to tell my story.

For now, I am blogging a condensed version. Later I will go back and fill in more details.

This is it – the leaving. I’ve been relatively calm this morning after being in panic-mode the past few days, but the adrenaline is kicking in. I head out the door at 8 a.m. The sun is shining, the sky bright, and the temperature is 58 degrees. My goal is to reach Herkimer, N.Y., where I will take an Erie Canal tour.
Google Maps says Herkimer is a four-hour drive. It’s also where the Herkimer diamond mines are.

 I cross into Vermont an hour later and after taking the long way through Brattleboro, Route 9 narrows and begins its long, winding, ascent up Hogback Mountain. I love this kind of driving although there is a steady line of traffic and crossing into New York, the countryside opens up into long rolling hills and farmland with lines of trees and vegetation separating large sections.

I pass through Troy, N.Y., get on I-87S and soon pick up my ticket at the toll booth for I-90W which is the New York Thruway. It’s beautiful driving along the Mohawk River. I pass a couple of places that say something about Erie Canal locks, but I don’t stop. I need to be in Herkimer by 1 p.m. and I make it in time to get a ticket. The tours often fill up and they recommend booking online. I didn’t want to do that in case I didn’t make it.

It was a beautiful day for a boat ride. I love history and I’m fascinated by canals and know little about them. Unfortunately, the narration was a recording that had been played too many times or the speakers were bad. It was hard to listen to with all the static and the sssssss to the words and sometimes it would be ear-blasting. Very few people were listening and were talking amongst each other and to strangers.

Another woman traveling alone and I started conversing while waiting in line and we sat together during the beginning of the trip. Soon, though, I was up moving around to take pictures. People were so nice and graciously moved aside so I could get good shots. Some of us chatted and exchanged the “Where are you from?”

(I will later explain more about the tour and provide a brief history of the Erie Canal. It really is fascinating. I meant to go back in the gift shop to purchase a book, but it was hot and humid when we got back and all I could think of was getting in the car with the a/c turned on.)

My original intent was to spend night one in Utica, but the break from driving by taking the tour refreshed me and I kept going. I eventually found a Comfort Inn (my favorite hotels) in Syracuse. This is what can be fun with not booking hotels ahead of time. I can change my mind and be totally spontaneous. However, this time it was a huge mistake! It turned out to be the most expensive hotel I’ve ever stayed in and it was definitely not worth it for someone just passing through. (The clerk said the prices were jacked – even mid-week – because of the start of the New York State Fair and it was freshmen orientation at Syracuse University.

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