Maybe it's natural to want to look back and see how things have changed, or not, as you age. I'm not immune to curiosity, so my next big day-ride had a theme of checking out my initial entry portal to the Finger Lakes, namely, Waterloo NY. I was ten when my family first moved there from deep in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and we lived there roughly five and a half years … longer than I had lived anyplace prior to my final return to New York in 1991. By "final", I mean that I had moved in and out of the state a couple times before returning for keeps. I'm sure avid cyclists understand the lure of the Finger Lakes that has drawn and kept me here.
With another sunrise start on a perfect weather day, I put the pedal-to-the-metal and zoomed out of Rochester, straight down Route 96 …
and arrived in Waterloo in 3 & 1/2 hours. I caught Karen still lounging at home with a FaceTime call while sitting on the steps of my old elementary school on Main Street where I started 6th grade.
We chatted about if either of us remembered a huge stone memorial in the park. The weird thing about the memorial (which neither of us remembered because it wasn't built yet) was a plaque embedded in stone that listed the names of the "Centennial Committee" recognizing 100 years of high school education: 1886 to 1986. It's one of those plaques that will eventually become corroded and no longer legible. It's already on it's way, just since 1986, and since I left there in 1971, that makes me feel kinda crusty too. But even more so, I read the list of names and recognize one: Roger Meadway.
He was the art teacher at Waterloo High, but more relevant to me, he was my tennis coach. On one of my early bike tours (round trip … Columbus Ohio to Waterloo and back, in '72 at age 16), I stopped and visited a while and we shared tennis stories. I hear he passed away sometime after, but I'm happy to hear how important he was to the community.
On my way around town, I got to "The Place" that first captured this little ten-year-old's fascination in the summer of 1966 as he explored his first day in town on his bike. Just a few blocks from our new home ...
… I discovered the "Coolest Thing I'd Ever Seen". The Cayuga-Seneca Canal Lock 4.
Imagine, a poor little hic kid from the mountains of Pennsylvania discovering this river-thing with the BIGGEST doors on the planet and BOATS rising and falling in the DEEPEST hole in the world and water spraying and exploding all over and … and … HOLY CRAP! That kid spent the WHOLE DAY watching all this excitement!!! (That kid STILL loves watching all this!)
So after waiting a while and no boats were coming through (sniff), I headed out toward Geneva on the (new since I lived there) Cayuga-Seneca Canal Trail. Excellent condition, no trouble riding with inch and a half tires, and shady-wooded almost the entire way to Seneca Lake State Park. One delay: I stopped at the bridge crossing at Kendig Creek for a photo.
Where the creek fills into the canal was a favorite summer swimming hole way back when. There was a tree with a rope, of course, that hung over the water providing tons of fun.
So important to my formative years, I made a point of revisiting the spot on one of my two summer bike tours from Ohio.
On the bridge, I met a group of three siblings, including Mark Venuti, Geneva Town Supervisor. We discovered in chatting that we had both been at Babcock-Hovey in the same years and he knows John Kenny who was a popular scout leader and now owns a business on the north side of the canal (on RT5&20), renting houseboats for overnights like an AirB&B. How cool. Gotta go pay a visit.
On to Seneca Lake State Park. I took a PB&J break at the shoreline …
… and thought about Rusty. Rusty was a good friend and member of my boy scout troop. I was working on camp staff and my troop came down for a week at camp Babcock-Hovey near Ovid. After their week, Rusty's parents picked him up and they spent the day/evening boating off Geneva when he and his dad were killed by drunk boaters who slammed into their boat, killing both of them. I, and members of our troop, carried him to his burial. Only a couple years later, I enlisted in the Coast Guard.
Out of Geneva, I ran into the Ontario Pathways trail on County Road 4, and "redirected" yet again from my pre-planned route. I'm easy.
Since I'm clearly in "path" mode now, I may as well finish the ride by heading north and taking the Erie Canalway Trail home. I headed up to Newark, connected to the canal trail …
… and followed it home toward Pittsford where, yet again, I rendezvoused with Karen, this time at the dairy barn. But … they were NOT serving milk shakes (my standard post-ride recovery drink), so we headed home and I got my reward at Netsins in my neighborhood.
All is Good! Century #11 today. 118 mostly flat riding miles today. I'll get my hilly stuff later.