At Lock Road (in Stacy Basin), we found a pleasant surprise. A canal towpath sign beckoned us on, and we followed it north, choosing it over Rte. 46, although a "Bridge Out" sign wasn't too promising. About ½ mile further we came to Lock 21 on the new Erie Canal. It is still an active lock and we stopped and talked to the lockmaster. He directed us to the towpath on the north shore of the canal, and since the bridge was out, let us cross over the lower lock gate. We stayed long enough to watch a small boat get lifted through the lock and then rode along with him for a while.
We passed a few people, mostly joggers, on the way to the Erie Canal Village in Rome. After about 6 miles, the towpath ended. An unmarked packed dirt path continued, but we elected to use Rte. 46 instead. We didn't have time to stop at the Canal Village, but continued on through Rome. The traffic became much heavier and there was no shoulder, but most cars gave us the entire right lane.
We got through Rome easily, but after that, we had to make numerous stops where our maps didn't match the roads. The delays, a few wrong turns, and moderate hills put us behind schedule. Our expected ride of 24 miles turned out to be 42.
There was little traffic between Rome and Utica, but, especially after spending the morning on the towpath, the high-speed traffic in Utica wasn't much fun.
By 2:00 p.m., we reached the Amtrak station in Utica. Lo and behold, the car was still there. We packed, washed up at Amtrak and drove back to Albany for the girls. After a short visit with the grandparents, we headed home, with the rest of the Labor Day traffic.
It felt funny to be back in a car; now we were one of those speeding
vehicles that had passed us during the week. The idea of not touring tomorrow
seemed quite strange. Trip withdrawal. It was time to re-acclimate to the
usual pace of life. And time to start planning for our next bicycle tour.