Friday, August 30, 2013

Surprise: A Taking Unawares {Intuition Diaries}

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

We were surprised to see this airplane moored along the Erie Canal.

We had a nice respite in Ithaca. We woke up to fog, but it lifted early enough so that we made our way back across Cayuga Lake and to the canal. You may not be aware that the Erie Canal has changed it's route over the years. The original canal way used to go through Syracuse, NY. Now it uses existing rivers and lakes to connect the western half of the canal to where it intersects with the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. 

After leaving Ithaca, we worked our way through the Cayuga-Seneca Lock 1 to  the Seneca River. We passed an old part of the canal that used to go over the Seneca river.

The abandoned aqueduct that used to
carry the canal over Seneca River.

We made it to Baldwinsville, where it would be our last night with electricity for a couple nights, so we charged up all our electronics. Les caught up on our laundry and I cooked. I made turkey burgers with celery and apple in them, with a side of some spicy baked beans with green chilies, fresh pineapple and pure maple syrup, instead of brown sugar. Then I cooked the rest of the ground turkey into taco filling for later in the week. My big surprise of the evening was homemade chocolate mousse that actually chilled and set in the cooler. 


This morning, I woke up with the sun. We wanted to get an early start, in order to visit the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. Our plan was to cross Onondaga lake and work our way into the inner harbor, then ride bikes to the museum. 

Lock 24 at Baldwinsville

We made it to the entrance of the little canal that takes you into the harbor, and the area was cordoned off with ropes. Big equipment blocked our way and the water was shallow. None of our guide books prepared us for this obstacle. We went back to a little marina, and they were unaware of any reason for the entrance to be closed, but also didn't offer us any solution for getting in either. 

We regrouped and had lunch in the nearby town of Liverpool at The Retreat, a nice dinner club type restaurant. After lunch I walked around the town, while Les got a haircut. Then we stocked up on some more ice and supplies at a local IGA. We got back to the boat a bit disappointed about missing out on the museum, but determined to enjoy the rest of the day. (As you can guess, I was the most disappointed.)

It was the one thing that I specifically asked to plan the trip around, besides going to Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, which is on the itinerary for Saturday. We hope to find a museum later down the canal that gives us an overview of the history of the canal.

Lock 23

We had a nice cruise to our next destination. We passed through Lock 23, and then we noticed the Hold Fast II moored along the canal. We stopped to say hi to George and Jane, and decided to get gas at the marina. They invited us to consider staying there, but I wanted to get to the lake to possibly swim. (The canal water hasn't been very enticing for swimming.) 

So we pushed off from the dock to find a mooring for the night in Brewerton. We drove by the docks around 4:30pm, which looked out on lake Oneida. The free docks were near rowdy restaurants, so we passed them by. Once on the lake, we both had the same idea of anchoring out on the lake somewhere. 

In fact, we decided to push forward the throttle and make our way to Sylvan Beach (25 miles ahead) for the night. We anchored out by 6:00pm. We had nachos for dinner and watched the sun set. What a nice surprise. Most likely we wouldn't have gone this far, if we had been able to get into Syracuse.

And now we can spend more time on the beach and at the amusement park tomorrow. I may surprise myself and even ride the 1950s era roller coaster.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Comfort: To Give Strength and Hope To {Intuition Diaries}

Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me. 
(Psalm 86:17 NIV)

First day of classes at Cornell University

This morning we rode our bikes into town to visit the campus of Cornell University, eat lunch and buy groceries. 

You may find it strange that I am combining the word comfort and the above Scripture with today's post. Bear with me. We all have these little enemies that reside in our heads. The ones who tell us we won't amount to much or the what ifs...kinda like George in It's a Wonderful Life

Circumstances kept him from his big dream of traveling the world, but in the end he realizes his true treasure is family and community.

Circumstances kept me from going to Cornell University. So when we had the chance to visit the campus, I was sort of excited and nervous at the same time. What little voices might whisper to me, like what if I had been able to attend college here right out of high school? What would my life had been like? 

Once we got to the main road leading up the hill to the campus, we had to walk our bikes about eight steep blocks. When we got back on our bikes near the sign welcoming us to the university, I was overwhelmed by emotion. I held it in. We parked our bikes after  navigating through the students milling around the bookstore.

We went to an overlook to take photos of Cayuga Lake beyond the campus. Down where our boat was sitting in the state park marina.

At the campus overlooking Cayuga Lake

I started to talk to Les and I melted into sobs. I admitted to God that I was quite upset with Him for thwarting the opportunity for me to go to this school. Les listened, and I blubbered that I wouldn't change my life for anything, but I needed to grieve this apparent loss. As well as other losses that have accumulated over the years. I actually told Les that I was angry with God. And he said for how long? And I said, since I was born. Such crazy, but true thoughts.

The life we desire can't be attained here. It is post Eden disappointment that was driving my tears today. It was comforting to admit my grief. And to move on to more comforting thoughts, such as how thankful I am for the family that I have today: my mom, my sisters, Les, the boys and all the nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and cousins. And other blessings too long to account for here, right now.

The life we have is wonderful. To celebrate we got back on our bikes, descended the hill with much more ease and delight and found the The State Diner, where we ate comfort food to our heart's content.

Back at the boat, after we stowed our groceries, we sat in the shade. And then, it occurred to me that thirty years ago today, I could have been going to my first classes at Cornell. But God had a better plan, thirty years ago about this time I joined the Air Force and eventually met the love of my life, Les Rohlf. One of the many signs of goodness in our lives, being together.

Look ma, I'm at Cornell University

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rescue: To Free From Danger {Intuition Diaries}

He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me. 
(Psalm 18:19 NIV)

Seneca Falls, NY 

I have been sending home postcards to myself for some memorabilia and diary of our trip. I sent a postcard with Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the front, with these words on the back: "Our boat was liberated from its dock...and then a man rescued our Intuition." 

Seneca Falls is not only known for being the birthplace of Women's Rights, but also the possible setting that inspired Frank Capra's, It's a Wonderful Life film. I took a morning run over the bridge that sort of looks like the one George Bailey considered jumping off into the icy river. I found a path along the canal to run on and also some interesting sculptures. 

That's the bridge in the background.

After my run, we got ready to head back up the Cayuga-Seneca canal through Locks 3 and 2 again to enter Cayuga lake. We were looking forward to getting to the south point of the lake to visit Ithaca, NY and the campus of Cornell University.

Here's a sequence of photos capturing the locking down process.

Another boat entering the second lock connected
to the first one,
 we are coming in behind them.

Both of us waiting for the lockmaster
to let the water out.

Almost done!

Leaving the second lock;
see the lockmaster up on the bridge way above us.

Good-bye Seneca Falls!

We sailed smoothly though the process of locking down the double lock. And were headed out when we saw, Hold Fast II, George and Jane's boat and our rescuers of the night before stopped a few hundred feet from the lock. It looked like they were visiting with the boat that was locking through with us. They waved us up, and when we got to them, we found out it was our turn to rescue them. 

Their engine was overheating. Their boat is 37 feet to our 25 feet, and roughly four times as heavy as our boat. We were like the little tugboat that could. We tied up side to side, stern to stern and bow to bow. We carefully got them back to the wall outside the lock, so they could troubleshoot their problem. We exchanged contact info and then we left them secured to the wall, and wonder how they fared. 

Most likely we will see them again before the trip is over. They summer here around the lake and canal area, and were headed east, where we intend to be later this week.

For now we are taking a double night stay here in Ithaca. At the midpoint of the trip, it is always nice to have a whole day in port to recharge both the boat batteries and ourselves. Even though we love the water, it feels nice to be ashore for more than a few hours.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rest: To Remain Confident {Intuition Diaries}

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living. 
(Psalm 27:13 NIV)

Over and over again, we have witnessed the goodness of the LORD on this trip. Over the past two days, His goodness and mercy have been following us like faithful companions.

Palmyra, New York

On Sunday we left the quietude of Palmyra, listening to praise music and witnessing nature. We saw this cormorant basking in the sun, which made us think of lifting our praises to our Creator. 

We took a shorter jaunt (10 miles) to the town of Newark, where we found fresh, local produce at the Sav-a-Lot. The town, like many of the towns along the western section of the canal provided free shore power, a shower and this time free laundry facilities. After picking up groceries and ice, we sat at the dock reading and catching up on our laundry.

Newark, New York

Free Laundry Facilities!

Leaving Newark

Our destination this morning was Seneca Falls. Each day Les tells me the itinerary and I half listen. So when I went to bed Sunday night, I thought I heard him say that we had three locks to go through on Monday. The next morning, he told me we had eight! What? I thought you said three! Oh, that's on the Seneca-Cayuga canal, we have five to go through on the Erie Canal first. 

We left at 8:00am, when the locks open to head to Seneca Falls, the birth place of the Women's Rights movement. On the  way we passed through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, where we witnessed the majesty of God's birds: blue heron, bald eagle, osprey, kingfisher and a crow.

Blue Heron

Bald Eagle

We made it through the locks with no incidence. That is always good. Mostly if you make a mistake in the lock, you look foolish, but it also can smash up the bow or the motor, if you don't have a good handle on the process. 

Lock 25 on the Erie Canal, one of five for the day

Les holding his end of the boat in the lock.

Double lock on Cayuga-Seneca Canal 

The lock filling up and water seeps through gate.

[We experienced the goodness of rest and the beauty of nature, and some more invigorating work through the locks, but if you really want to hear about God's goodness read to the end.]

It was raining off and on all day. When we arrived in Seneca Falls it had subsided. We walked uptown to find a grocery to get some lettuce. (Forgot to buy that in Newark.) Instead we found more delicious bread, an apple fritter loaf. 

We were near the Women's Rights National Historic Park, so we stopped in to see how late they were open and tour times. We decided to watch their informational movie, as the tours were over for the day. When we came out of the movie, it was pouring outside. So we browsed the gift shop. Once the rain let up, we headed back to the boat to think about starting dinner.

As we walked towards the dock, we noticed that our boat had been moved down about four spots. We thought that odd. And then we noticed a man tying off another boat near ours. We figured he had just arrived, so we offered to help him tie up. Once we started talking to him, we realized that the goodness and mercy of God does exist in the land of the living.

While we were away, someone came by and randomly untied both boats. George was rescuing the boats. Apparently, his wife was waking up from a nap and noticed our boat was next to the dock wall with just its stern against the wall, then the boat turned some more and started bow first floating towards their boat. That's when she got George out to stop the boat and tie it up. We were just appalled that someone would do such a thing. For no reason other than possibly a prank. 

We helped George secure the other boat. They invited us over to visit after we checked on our boat. We enjoyed getting their take on the canal and hearing about their adventures in life; they have been boating for 52 years.

Later that evening, we all consoled another very distraught couple, when they arrived back to their boat. We could see on their faces that they believed they had almost lost their boat. George retold the rescue story and the guy gave him a big bear hug. 

At the end of this day, Les said, "Well, I think I've had just about enough excitement for one vacation." Tonight, we go to bed thanking God for watching over us and for meeting good people along the way.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Work: To Bring to Pass {Intuition Diaries}

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun. 
(Ecclesiastes 8:15 NIV)

Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing circumstances. 
(attributed to Mark Twain)

Last lift bridge on the canal at Fairport

While on vacation I often expect every moment to be marked by fun, yet on a boating venture, work and play intertwine.

On Saturday, we covered over 50 miles on the canal from Holley to Palmyra. We went under four lift bridges and locked through four locks. We started out around 9:00am and arrived at our destination by 6:00pm.

Around 11:00am, we took Les' bike down, so he could pedal and I could cruise the canal. This section was about fourteen miles by canal. I was in good spirits and happy with myself for being able to manage the boat while Les enjoyed the countryside by bike. We wended our way through a part of the canal that is south of Rochester. Mostly remote, only passed one other boat, some kayaks and canoes and a tour boat at the Genessee River intersection. 

Self-photo of me piloting the boat solo
Taken from the tow path by Les
Les took this photo from a bridge

As I approached one bridge I noticed sticks and rocks plopping into the water, I looked up, worried that a stone may go through our windshield. No one up on the bridge. As I moved closer, I saw the objects coming from the side of the canal. I blared our horn, and I think I startled the young man. Once he saw the boat, he wanted a ride. I kept cruising along. 

Les met me at Lock 33, where I masterfully parked the boat next to the lock wall. My spirits were high, but my stomach was quite hungry. I had thought we would have time to stop for lunch at the lock, but that didn't work out. My mood soon turned into a grumpy disposition. The next lock was only a mile away and we had to eat in shifts, instead of a leisurely lunch lockside. The day was becoming more like work, than play.

And to top off my frustration, I let go of the rope at the second lock. The boat felt less secure with only one rope. We prefer to have more control with both of us holding the boat close to the side. And about that time I realized we weren't going to get to the farmer's market or stroll around any quaint towns. All work and no play; grumble, grumble. 

I fumed for a few more miles, and then I decided that my mood was unwarranted. I needed to enjoy what was before me. I climbed to the bow of the boat to sit in the sun, wind blowing in my face and the sound of rushing water settling me back into a vacation state of mind.

Lock 29: Fourth one of the day

Waiting in the lock for another boat to arrive

We made it through the last two locks of our day in time to get a nice spot at Palmyra, the birth place of Joseph Smith, yes, but also a town with four protestant churches at the corners of one Main Street intersection. I jokingly told Les we could go to all four the next day. If we sat in the back row, we could just slip out after awhile and go to the next one.

At Palmyra, we met a man who was traveling east to west (we're going the opposite way) on a small wooden vessel called a Snipa, which was made in Sweden in 1960. Click here to read and see pictures from his voyage. 

For dinner we ate at the Lock 29 Bar and Grill, emphasis on the bar. The girl behind the bar, asked us twice what we wanted to drink. We finally gave her our drink order, so she would let us order food.

I went to bed with the sun, tired from a full day's work. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Full: Satisfied and Complete {Intuition Diaries}

Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
(Isaiah 55:2 NKJV)

One of the pleasures of vacationing for me is being creative with our food. As we travel from town to town, I am on the lookout for local fare and farmers’ markets. I love the challenge of cooking while we’re out on the boat; I am limited by space, two burners and the grill for our meals. I am always looking for inspiration for our menu.

Before this trip, I devoured the book, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. She served up appetizing essays surrounding her adventures cooking with her friends and enjoying life to the fullest around the table. Intermingled with her stories are recipes that are just as fun to read as the rest of the book. I copied a few down for our trip.

This morning, I made her Quinoa Breakfast, which is quinoa with apple chicken sausage and fried eggs on top. Les tried it and we both agreed the quinoa makes a very healthy and tasty alternative to hash browns.

At our first grocery stop I bought red plums, which were a bit bland even though they were from a local orchard. I wanted some fruit to go with our breakfast, so I cut the plums in half to sautĂ© them in some oil with the fresh rosemary, some nutmeg and brown sugar. I kept the brown sugar to a minimum. Surprisingly, cooking the plums made them tart. I told Les I’d add more sugar for dinner to serve as dessert over pound cake (if we could find some in town today.)

On the advice of the folks from Gasport, we stopped in Medina to check out a local bakery. We each were going to get a pastry, when we smelled the bread. We already had bread on the boat, but the scent of freshly baked bread won us over. The loaf of cheese boule  was added to our ticket. I’d never had boule before, so I asked the baker about it. She said it was crusty bread with a soft inside. This loaf had cheddar cheese mixed into the dough.

We took our baked goods to the boat and headed over to Albion to find a place for lunch. We had hoped to find a diner or café right on Main Street, but nothing. So we regrouped and decided on sandwiches from our cooler.

With all this good eating and traveling, we made a commitment to be active this trip. We have our bikes along, so asked Les if I could ride my bike to the next stop while he drove the boat. The canal has a speed limit of 10mph, and most times you have to go slower because of the no wake zones. At that pace, we could see each other as I pedaled on the canal trail and he cruised the canal.

Tonight we ate grilled chicken and zucchini. We grilled slices of the boule and topped them with the sauteed plums, which I sweetened up with more brown sugar.

We were satisfied. 

Here's some photos from the day on the canal, not food related. 

The Big Apple in Medina, NY

Les cruising the canal, while I rode my bike.

See Les, he's right over there behind me.

Where are they headed now?