Hudson River and Erie Canal


On our last day in NYC Glenn joined us on Heartbeat. Glenn and Kent have known each other for 30 or so years and Glenn traveled with us last fall for 2 weeks from Columbus, MS to Mobile, AL. Apparently he wasn’t scarred by that trip and was ready for more nights spent on Heartbeat's pull out couch. 

Our distance on the Hudson River was 120 miles. We had envisioned this portion of the trip to be hot and humid, after all it was June in New York. Fortunately the weather was mild, a few days of rain here and there but overall very nice weather to travel and be a tourist. We stopped in several small towns along the Hudson but our longest stop was 3 nights in Poughkeepsie. It took us at least 1 day to learn how to pronounce the town's name, it is not a name that easily rolls off the tongue until you learn it. We ended up here for several not so fun reasons but then got a rental car to explore West Point Military Academy and some of the historical homes in nearby Hyde Park. 

#1 Not so fun reason we stopped in Poughkeepsie – See Glenn’s Guest post for how he spent his first night here and why he reminds us to drink more water.

#2 Not so fun reason we stopped in Poughkeepsie – An infected wisdom tooth for Kent meant he needed to have it looked at and he found an urgent care dental clinic in Poughkeepsie. He got in for an evaluation on a Monday and they made room on their scheduled to pull it on Tuesday. The Dr was super nice but the experience was not fun considering the anesthesia did not work as intended and Kent was awake the entire time. 

Once the two unplanned items above were finished we were ready to do some exploring. 

Mid Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie. As you walk across this bridge you can select “bridge music” to be played from the listening stations. The artist used mallets on the bridge parts to create a variety of sounds. It is rather interesting. 

To see West Point we needed to be a part of a tour group. We did not feel that we were able to see as much when compared to our Naval Academy tour in Annapolis but the location of West Point is stunning and there is an extensive museum where you could spend hours if you had the time (we did not have the time so rushed through it). 

The view of West Point from the Hudson River was impressive.

West Point tour – inside Cadet Chapel. Our tour guide informed us that this is where the largest church pipe organ in the world resides. It consists of 23,511 pipes. 

West Point tour – View from above where an underwater chain used to be stretched to keep enemy ships from entering. 

West Point tour – Parade Ground with barracks and the chapel in the background. 

Poughkeepsie was close to Hyde Park and several historical homes. We chose to visit the home of Franklin D Roosevelt. This is where after visiting over a dozen National Parks in the past several months we FINALLY bought a yearly parks pass. Not great planning on our part but we finally have the pass. I am sure that we now have it we will be nowhere near a National Park for several months, it is just Murphy's Law. 

We spent the afternoon on a guided tour of FDR's home and the following morning self touring the Presidential Library/Museum. Another very well done museum and many interesting artifacts from FDR's private collection where on display. These included the desk he used at the oval office and the Ford Phaeton which he had retrofitted so he could drive it himself. We spent a quick hour on the guided tour of FRDs home and a total of 4 hours in the Library/Museum learning a ton about our only President to serve more than 2 terms in office and the challenges he faced. Not knowing what to expect of the Library/Museum we were all very impressed with it. 

Home of FDR, 35 rooms and 9 baths, room for all of the family/grand kids. 

 FRD’s final resting place. 

Kent and Glenn looking at the art (made from a portion of the Berlin Wall) behind the Library/Museum. 

We wanted to visit a few other historical homes but we did not have time to visit the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park during business hours so we settled for a quick walk around the grounds one evening. 

Vanderbilt Mansion which overlooks the Hudson River consists of 54 rooms. It sits on 211 acres and construction was completed in 1899.

Vanderbilt Italian gardens. 

There were several other places which we could have explored but time was limited. Given the opportunity for a 2nd visit we would try the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and tour the Rockefeller Estate. 

CIA from the water. 

Back on the Hudson River we passed by several super cool lighthouses. Unfortunately we did not have any buddy boats with us as it would have been cool to get some pictures of Heartbeat and the lighthouses. 

As we left the Hudson River for the Erie Canal and needed to think about locks again. We had traveled though a dozen or so locks in the river system (Tennessee/Alabama) last Fall, 2 small locks in the Dismal Swamp Canal (NC>VA) last month but we were going to be traveling through a total of 22 locks as part of the Erie Canal. Locks are not complicated and these are relatively short compared to the river system locks but due to high water and debris this year the NY Canal System was needing to close locks and they could be closed for several days at a time. When the locks close the boats wanting to transit through back up. It is a good thing we have not been traveling faster as we might have just been sitting for several days waiting. Our timing/luck has been impeccable up until this point.  

High water – barely able to make out the No Wake sign that would typically be far above the water line. 

Debris, debris everywhere.  

Entering a lock. Locks on the Erie range from 8-45ft.  

Top of a lock. For us, from door close to door open was anywhere between 10-35 min, just depended on how tall the lock was. 

Glenn keeping the boat close to the wall as we transit up (or maybe we were going down here – hard to remember) in a lock.

We would travel 160 miles on the Erie Canal. The Lockmaster would inform the lock ahead when we were departing and as long as we traveled at the speed limit the next lock would most likely be open and ready for us. Unlike traveling in the south on the rivers there there has been little to no commercial traffic for us to tend with on the Erie. Each night we were able to stay at a free dock and explore the small towns. We got in a groove – get to the first lock when it opens at 7am, travel through 4-6 locks, arrive at a town dock mid day/early afternoon, explore the town we were in and then repeat the same thing the next day. Some towns have more to offer than others but we all made a point to get in some sort of exploring. 

We rode our bikes a few miles from Waterford out to Cohoes Falls. The water is unusually high for this time of year, you can typically see more of the rocks that the water is flowing over. Kudos to Glenn who said he had not been on a bike in 25 years but did a great job on a busy street with no bike lane and a ton of urban obstacles. 

Glenn and Kent rebuilding boat shower parts. 

“Dummy” street light in Canajaharie. The last one remaining in Upstate NY.  

Walking into the town of Little Falls. 

The Erie Canal is lush and green. Not a lot of industry or towns along the way to see which made you feel like you were in the middle of nowhere at times. It was lovely. 

Mayfly invasion while at Sylvan Beach. We woke up to the boat completely covered. There had to be 1,000s of mayflies on the boat.

Once through the Erie Canal we made the 20 mile transit across Oneida Lake to Brewerton, NY. It was here that we said goodbye to Glenn and waited for the Oswego Canal to open (it had been closed almost a week due to high water). Once the Oswego Canal opens we (and many other boats who have been waiting) will move through to Lake Ontario and through the Oswego Canal.