It's cool this morning after yesterday's rain. 59 degrees when I glance at the weather when I'm awake at nearly 5:00 a.m. Why am I seemingly wide awake at this hour anyway? Luckily, I fall back asleep and stay in bed until nearly 8:00 a.m.
After a brief round of coffee, we ready the van for a short trip into Little Falls, NY. Melanie has work calls through out the day and internet service has been uneven for us at the campground in Herkimer, NY.
I also want to ride a section of the Erie Canalway Trail that begins in Little Falls. I situate us next to Burke Park on E Gansevoort Street and finish journaling for the week past. Time to ride.
I ride through a portion of downtown Little Falls and pick up the Canalway at Danube Street headed east. My goal is to ride out towards Albany, NY for 20 miles or so, turn around and come back for about a 40 mile ride.
The beginning of the trail is asphalt paved which turns into finely crushed and hard packed gravel. Trees cover most of this section of the trail. The ambient temperatures during my ride are perfect.
There are a large number of cyclists traveling in the opposite direction of my ride. I'm uncertain whether they may be together or just a goodly number of different groups. But I'm a little surprised to see so many people on a Wednesday afternoon.
Everything goes as I planned. I ride 20 miles out past Fort Plain, turn around and head back. I'm making good time and ride behind a group of three riders for awhile until they stop at what appears to be a sag wagon station at an intersection.
I continue on at a good clip until I round a curve in the trail. My rear tire suddenly goes flat. Damn.
I take a look, but can't discern what may have punctured the tire. I check to see how far away from Little Falls and Miranda I am. 8 miles. Damn. I'm now about 3 miles away from the last intersection with a roadway where a sag wagon station was and at least 6+ miles from another intersection where Melanie could possibly pick me up. I'm basically in the middle of nowhere along the trail. Damn.
I made the decision when I purchased the bike to forego carrying any way to fix a flat should one occur. That means I have no tire tools, no spare tube, no pump. I realized what this meant every time I set out for a ride. It meant I was playing the odds hoping I wouldn't have a flat, at least not where I couldn't get help, if needed.
The tires are wide and substantial and I've only had three flats in nearly 3 years of ownership, all occurring in places where I could get assistance immediately. The last time I had a flat was in Las Cruces, New Mexico back in February.
The gentleman who fixed the flat in Las Cruces sold me foam inserts which line the tire and prevent most punctures of the tubes. But not today. C'est la vie.
He mentioned I could ride the bike, at least for a short distance after a tire becomes flat. I try this and succeed in riding for a few hundred yards before it becomes unmanagable and I stop and start pushing.
I walk maybe a few hundred yards along the trail and see something lying in the trail ahead of me. When I get close enough, I see it's..., wait for it..., a pump. My first thought is, great karmic taunting. I have a flat tire and a pump, but not even a patch or any tools to get the tire off the bike.
But what the hell, I'll give putting air into the tire a shot. I pump and pump and finally get enough air into the tire. I hop on the bike and within a hundred yards the tire is flat. I stop and begin pushing the bike along again.
The people who I'd passed at the sag station catch up to me and one of them stops and asks if he can help. I tell him thanks and explain my situation, but no there's really nothing to be done. I'm good.
I walk another couple hundred yards and I'm thinking it's going to be getting close to dark by the time I can get somewhere Melanie can pick me up so I stop and try the pump again. I take my time and put more air into the tire this time around, hop on the bike and ride off. Slowly.
Miraculously this time, the tire pressure holds and after a few miles, I pick up speed and, after a few more miles, I'm once again cruising along 15-20 mph thinking, how is it possible?
All's well..., eh? But randomly finding a pump like that. Seriously?
I make it back to the van, load the bike, we make a quick trip to the liquor store for gin, a market for limes and then drive back to camp for adult beverages. But first, on our way in to camp, we empty our black and gray tanks at the campground dump station as they are nearly full after 4 days.
After drinks, I walk over to the shower house and get cleaned up. Melanie has a work-related call going on and afterward we walk across the street to The Miners Table, a restaurant attached to the campground, and have dinner.
After a bit of sitting outside enjoying the coolness of a northern summer evening, we retire to the back of the van for some streaming and sleep.
July 29, 2021
We're awake around 7:30 a.m. After coffee and breakfast, Melanie goes for a shower at the campground bathhouse and I begin to get the van ready for travel.
Our zero-gravity chairs and mat are put away, the griddle has to be cleaned and stored away, and I fill the van with water. Lastly, I unhook us from the water and electricity. Melanie has gotten the inside of the van ready and we leave the Herkimer Diamond KOA Resort.
We're on our way to Ithaca, NY for a rendezvous with two of Melanie's girlfriends she know since college days at Birmingham Southern. They are to spend a long weekend at a Bed & Breakfast there.
We travel in the direction of Syracuse, NY where Melanie finds lunch for us at a Chinese restaurant. It's good and afterwards I find a local bike shop, Gorges Cycles, to take my bike to have the rear tire repaired after yesterday's ride and we're back on the highway traveling to Ithaca. I'm grateful, Thomas Steffie, the owner of the shop, agrees to take me in on short notice.
I unload the bike and spend a few minutes with Thomas, who owns the shop and recommends I replace the rear tire and, of course, the tube. He trues the tire rim and begins work on replacing the tube. He finds a staple in the tire that, because of the foam insert in the tire, barely punctured the tube which may explain why I was able to make it back to the van. He has a barely used tire he says came from a new bike he sold, but the owner came back in a week after the purchase and replaced the tires with a different kind of tire. He sells me for the used tire for 10 dollars.
About this time, Melanie calls from the van and wants me to take her to the B & B where she'll be staying. We arrive, unload her bike and suitcase, say our goodbyes and I'm back in the van headed back to pick up my bike at Gorges Cycles. Thomas has finished the tire repair and he helps me load the bike and I'm off to Auburn, New York.
I've booked a stay at Prison City Pub & Brewery, a Harvest Hosts location in Auburn, New York. I take a bit of a circuitous route taking me along the eastern side of Owasco Lake. It's a beautiful drive up Highway 38A through mostly farm land with corn, cows and huge pastures.
I arrive and check in. The nice bartender tells me where to park Miranda. I'll be located around back of the location that has a small pond and a picnic table she says is there for my exclusive use. Nice touch.
It's then I discover Miranda's macerator toilet is not working. I think about it for a moment, realize it's after hours for most businesses. It can wait though I'm not pleased with my future prospects since I'm also boondocking for two more nights until I pick Melanie up in Ithaca.
I return to the Pub to think on it and order their double IPA and a charcuterie plate which turns out to be large enough for me and several others, but will be my dinner. I finish my beer and snack and return to the van to give the toilet thing more thought.
I text Dan Dwyer, our salesman and go-to guy when it comes to problem solving, and let him know what I've done to try and make it work. We text back and forth a few times before he says I will need to have someone look at it. I do a quick search for mobile mechanics in the area, watch a movie and sleep a fitful sleep, waking up periodically thinking about the damn toilet and consequences of not having a working toilet in the van for God knows how long.
July 30, 2021
I'm up a little later than normal as I didn't sleep very well. First things, coffee and breakfast. I spend I bit of time on social media and a newspaper, but I'm soon thinking again about a solution for my offline toilet.
I'm fortunate, by the by, to have access to the restroom at the brewery. I explain my situation to them and they are most accommodating.
I send an email to Leisure Travel Vans in Canada explaining my problem, telling the what I've tried and hoping against hope they have a solution. I contact a local RV dealer, The Great Outdoors RV Superstore, and speak to someone in service about the problem. He says his service manager will have to make the decision, but one of their employees is also a mobile mechanic and, if they can't take me in, he most likely can help me after 5 p.m. I I leave a voice mail with the service manager, but don't hear from him immediately. I decide not to wait on a response from him and drive over to the RV dealer.
I go into the Superstore when I arrive and speak with the service manager who says, yes, they can have a look at it after employees get back from lunch. It may be a while. That's fine. My home is parked in your lot and I'll be there when you can see me.
After returning to the van, I check email and find out I have a response from Wanda Wolfe in Customer Service at Leisure Travel Vans. Of course, I do.
I've mentioned checking the connect that goes directly into the control panel and found it was okay. She tells me about another one located just below it in the cabinet under the sink and I should check that one. It sometimes gets jostled and may be loose.
I find it and, as suspected, it's loose. I plug it back in and I have a working toilet. I walk back into the Superstore and thank them profusely explaining the problem is solved. I'm once again grateful for such great customer service from Leisure Travel Vans and also grateful for the Superstore for their willingness to take me, a fulltime traveler, in on short notice.
Problem solved, I have some time to ride another section of the Erie Canalway Trail. The trailhead is only 8 miles away from my location in Auburn at Port Byron, NY.
Arriving in Port Byron, it's now after noon and I'm a bit hungry. I have leftover pizza in the fridge and, while I almost never eat leftover pizza cold, I eat these cold.
I get the bike out and decide I'll ride out 10 miles and back. It's a really nice ride mainly because the temperature in the 60's is more like Spring or Fall.
Once I'm back at the van, I contact my Boondockers Welcome hosts and let them know when I'll show up at their place. The drive south on Highway 34 is another great one, very little traffic for a Friday afternoon.
I arrive and one of my hosts comes out and greets me. We're talking about travel and the van when her husband arrives and I give them a tour, then choose a spot for Miranda to be for the time I'm with them.
They tell me it's Friday night and that means pizza (and wine from the vineyard where Dave works) for them and would I like to join them. I would and spend a most wonderful evening talking politics, film and a number of other things. I have to say it's one of the best, maybe the best, and most interesting time I've spent with a Boondockers Welcome family.
I probably overstayed my welcome as it's after 10 p.m. when we call it a night. I stumble back to the van and I'm asleep shortly thereafter.
July 31, 2021
It was 49 degrees when I woke up briefly this morning. 49 degrees in July. I fell back asleep and woke at almost 8:30 a.m. which qualifies as sleeping in for us/me.
Not much to report about today. I spent a fair amount of time catching up on the past few days of journaling. I read and checked social media while I woke up and had breakfast.
I spent a fair amount of time taking everything out of our water closet in the van and giving that space a good summer cleaning, including polishing the wood. The toilet had stains from a natural treatment we use for our black tank that couldn't be flushed for about 24 hours when the toilet wasn't operational. Note to self, flush immediately.
I ate cold leftovers because no generator use and no electricity at my Boondockers Welcome location. Electricity was offered, but I chose a spot without it and I forgot about their no generator policy.
Regardless, it was a very pleasant day which ended with me watching Bill Maher and turning in. Tomorrow I pick up Melanie in Ithaca and we'll continue on down the road together.
August 1, 2021
I set and alarm for 6:00 a.m. and when it goes off, I hit snooze, but I'm up before the alarm can sound again. I make coffee and return to the back of the van to sip coffee and read.
About 8:30, I rise and prepare the van for travel. I pick Melanie up in Ithaca at 9:30 a.m. from the B&B where's she spent the weekend.
I arrive on time and catch up briefly with Connie and Diana and Melanie and I part ways with them, travel a few blocks to Gimme! Coffee Ithaca. This is the second time I've purchased beans from this location. We were here almost two years ago.
Afterwards, we move the van about a block and park next to Triangle Park. Melanie has a big Zoom call meeting this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and connectivity is good here in town. It begins to rain about an hour after we're parked.
We had a bit of trauma about 30 minutes before her meeting was to begin. Melanie's computer had a hiccup which caused her to not have access to Zoom and email and documents. We were able to reset and get her on the meeting. That's all pretty much understating the high tension and drama, but..., moving on.
After the Zoom meeting and rain almost over, we remember we skipped lunch. I have no idea why, but at any rate, we needed food and a glass of wine. I'd found a lake-side restaurant and we drive the van there and engage in some minor postmortem Zoom discussion. I assure her the meeting we much better than she imagines. But she keeps imagining.
We drive the 8 miles or so to our campsite at the very beautiful Taughannock Falls State Park and, because they have an express checkin procedure via email, we drive in a park at our site. It begins to rain again, but ever so briefly.
We set up the inside of the van and retire to the back for a bit of streaming and then sleep. A stressful afternoon now behind us, it's cool out this evening.
August 2, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. If you've read any one day of this traveling journal, you know the drill. Coffee, breakfast, start the day. Today it's coffee, a shower for me at the campground bathhouse, as Melanie gets dressed and readies the van for travel.
The bank we've been using for years doesn't have many branches in the northeast, at least not where we need them so we've decided to open a new account for use when we're traveling in this region of the country.
We travel into Ithaca and find the branch of the bank we've chosen. It takes us around an hour to accomplish opening the account. Afterwards, we make a brief stop to deposit mail at a local postoffice branch and then make our way into downtown Ithaca for lunch somewhere on the commons. Moosewood, whose cookbook I've used over the years, is, unfortunately, closed on Monday and Tuesday so we find another spot, Mahogany Grill.
It's an amazing day in Ithaca, New York. Temps are in the mid 70's and we grab the last table outside the restaurant which is on the street the city has closed to traffic forming a commons area. There are a good number of people on the streets today. We have a very nice lunch.
Melanie has a Mahogany Burger and a salad, I have a cup of Clam Chowder and the Spaghetti & Colossal American Wagyu Meatball. Recommended.
After lunch we drive back to our go-to place next to Triangle Park and I take a look at Melanie's email problem from yesterday. It takes me about 45 minutes to read about and then perform a few corrective maneuvers before all email addresses are back online.
We then drive back to our campsite where we're scheduled to have a FaceTime call with close friends in Kentucky, but Melanie is still consumed with work-related matters and it's such a fine, fine afternoon that I get Red Ranger out for an afternoon ride.
The Black Diamond Trail has an endpoint in Taughannock State Park where we're camped. Our van is located just about a mile+ from that endpoint. It's all uphill to the trailhead, but, you know, electric assist bike gets me up the hill with little effort.
The ride into Ithaca is another pastural ride through the countryside along a ridge overlooking Cayuga Lake. It's a rail trail so riding is relatively easy in the direction of Ithaca. I ride the entire length of the trail which ends near Cass Park and Ithaca Children's Garden, a roughly 10 mile ride.
I sit on a handy bench and have a drink of water and a protein bar then head back to camp. The ride back, while up hill, is not too taxing being a rail trail.
I stop at the Taughannock Overlook and take a moment to photograph the falls. They are spectacular.
I arrive back at camp as Melanie is finishing a work-related call. We sit for a while outside and have an adult beverage. She moves into the van and I put my bike and the chairs away.
Since we had a late lunch, we skip dinner and enjoy streaming before retiring. Tonight's low temp will be in the low 50's. It's August, y'all.
August 3, 2021
We're up at nearly 8:00 a.m. this brisk (for August) morning. 55 degrees and sunny. It's a travel day and Melanie has a Zoom meeting at 11:00 a.m.
So, after coffee is made and a cup or so is consumed, Melanie goes to the bathhouse for a shower, I begin to get the van ready for travel and we leave the campground at around 9:30 a.m.
We travel into town and set up once again at Triangle Park. I catch up on journaling while she conducts her Zoom meeting.
After Zoom has taken off, we drive a very short distance, park Miranda and find lunch at Luna Inspired Street Food.
Then it's a trip to a local market for a few grocery items, a stop for diesel fuel and a liquor store for wine and gin.
We then travel to friends' home in Richford, NY which is south and east of Ithaca. Melanie works with Linda who is convener for the Palestine Israel Network within EPF.
Linda makes a delightful dinner for us which we take outside as the day cools. It's nearly 10:00 p.m. when we return to the van, parked in their rural driveway for sleep.
Steven and Melanie