We planned to bypass Syracuse and depart from the Old Erie Canal by
heading north and then riding east along the southern shore of Oneida Lake
on Rte. 31. The newer Erie Canal extends from the east edge of Oneida Lake
at Sylvan Beach.
We located the start of the towpath in Newark, but it only ran for 0.2 miles until Towpath Road. After that, we couldn't find the path again, so right away we switched to Rte. 31 / Bike Route 5. We did see some Canal Trail signs, but the path was either badly overgrown or not discernible at all. Rte. 31 was not terribly busy; the shoulder lane was adequate and the drivers were reasonable. A little before Baldwinsville, 31 merges with Rte. 290, a full four-lane highway, but only for one exit. Traffic was heavier after Baldswinville and the more urban landscape became continuous malls.
In Bridegeport, we stopped for lunch at another smoky diner.
After Bridgeport, traffic dropped off, but the view didn't improve much: occasionally, an interesting barn or house and a rare glimpse of Oneida Lake, but mostly businesses, strip malls, rundown houses and trailer homes. Now and then a rubbernecking bystander would wave and shout encouragement.
By 3:15 p.m., we arrived at the Dwarf Line motel. We stayed in Grumpy. The place is run by Merle and John Maxey, a very friendly couple. Merle saw us ride in and was intrigued by the recumbents. She was immediately ready to find a place for us, not realizing we already had a reservation. She knows the area well and gave us a backroad route to the canal and improved directions through Rome, bypassing the worst of the Fort Stanwyx area.
Again, the rain gods had smiled on us; 45 minutes after we arrived,
it started raining heavily. Our walk along the beach (across the street
from the motel) was cut short. We donned our windbreakers for the only
time during the trip and walked to the Spaghetti Factory for a lavish