The ride along Clinton’s Ditch

You know, it’s really a shame we don’t own any land and our jobs are a pretty long commute from where we live, because every day I like it more and more.  On Sunday, after my trip to the library and after K put together his bike, we strapped on our bike rack, loaded the bikes, and headed to the canal.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

We live near the Erie Canal, also known as Clinton’s Ditch, after Governor Dewitt Clinton who championed it.

The Erie Canal is a man-made waterway New York state that runs about 365 miles from Albany on the Hudson River to Buffalo at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. First proposed in 1808, it was under construction from 1817 to 1825.

The problem was that the land rises about 600 feet (180 m) from the Hudson to Lake Erie. Locks at the time could handle up to 12 feet (3.7 m), so at least 50 locks would be required along the 360 miles (580 km) canal. Such a canal would cost a fortune even today; in 1800 the expense was barely imaginable. President Jefferson called it “a little short of madness” and rejected it. Nevertheless [it] managed to interest New York governor DeWitt Clinton. There was much opposition, and the project was scorned as “Clinton’s Folly,” or “Clinton’s Ditch.” But in 1817, Clinton got the legislature to appropriate $7,000,000 for construction.

Thank you Wikipedia.

In reality, we could probably bike to the canal from our home, but K doesn’t have a helmet yet, and the road there is pretty busy, so in the interest of safety we decided to drive to the trail.  In the future though, we’re definitely going to bike all the way into the city.

We headed along the canal towards the Stockade district, along a very busy state route. There were lots of bikers out today, it was really nice outside!

Biking along Rt. 5

Biking along Rt. 5

We finally got off the busy highway and headed into the Stockade District.  The Stockade is a historical district that was a very early Dutch settlement (think 1630s early!) to protect the inhabitants from the Iroquois Indians.  The first stockade was burned and about half the inhabitants massacred by the French and Northern Indians in 1690.  It has over 100 landmarked homes.

The first landmarked building we passed was the Robert Sanders House.  I can’t figure out who he was after Googling, but the Sanders family was a big name in the area (as judged by the Glen Sanders mansion, but that was owned by a John Sanders).

Robert Sanders House (dated 1750)

Robert Sanders House (dated 1750)

As you may be able to see from the historical marker, this house was visited by George Washington and later became the Schenectady Female Academy.  I had a double take when researching this because in all the pictures I found of it on the Web, it’s a brilliant white, but I guess it has been repainted red since the doorway is the same.

Then we came across the beautiful First Reformed Church, whose congregation dates back to 1680.  However, the first building was destroyed in the 1690 Stockade massacre.

First Reformed Church

First Reformed Church

Over one of the doors to the church, called the Bride’s Door, is this inscription:

"His banner over me was Love"

"His banner over me was Love"

We continued on past some gorgeous historical houses:

Quintessential Dutch home dated 1742.Quintessential Dutch home dated 1742.
Lovely gingerbread trim

Lovely gingerbread trim

And continued biking out of the Stockade district to the old industrial area nearby.

Going under the railroad trestle

Going under the railroad trestle

Old industrial warehouse

Old industrial warehouse

K and I have often driven past this abandoned building, dreaming of turning it into a year-round market a lá Marche Atwater in Montreal.

Interesting architecture

Interesting architecture

This one looks closer to the actual Atwater building 🙂

On the way back to the car, we noticed the ice breakup on the canal this year.  Although the river is now free-flowing, huge blocks of ice have been deposited on the banks of the canal all the way up to the bike path.

Ice chunks near the overlook

Ice chunks near the overlook

Huge ice chunks

Huge ice chunks

Ice on and next to the trail

Ice on and next to the trail

Compare these pics with what the river looked like only 6 days ago:

Ice break on the canal March 9, 2009

Ice break on the canal March 9, 2009

The above photo is from a local blog:  http://giacalonephotos.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/ice-jams-at-riverside-park/.  I did not take it.

But look how far the ice has come in just 6 days.  Spring is almost here and I can’t wait to plant!

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Edumacation

Ahh, I love Sundays when there’s not much else to do, the sun is shining and Spring is trying its darndest to break out of its Winter hibernation.  This past Sunday, hubby and I went food shopping quickly (this involves 3 stores, oy) and then decided to take a bike ride by the canal later on.  That, however, will be a different post 🙂  K got a bike from his parents for Christmas so we’ve been looking to bike together later this year.  But while he put the bike together in the driveway, I took myself to the library to check out some books for the next month.

I think in the future we’ll be able to bike to the library (and the farmer’s market) together, but I was unsure if I could make it by the close, so I drove instead.  I did look for a bike rack at the library though and didn’t see one.  K thinks it may be on the other side, but who knows?  We have tons of bike paths around here, and not nearly as many racks.

Flagship library

Flagship library

I’m not sure when it was built, but it sure looks like a bunch of 1970s-ish concrete.  Not the most beautiful thing by far, but it’s pretty large and holds many book, including one that is out right now but I’ve called dibs on next 🙂

Alright, in reality, it’s the only book that came up when I looked up “urban homesteading” on the library catalog.  But it looks pretty interesting, even if it’s stuff I’ve read about before.

I also took out a bunch of other books that looked pretty interesting.

Library books

From left to right:

  • The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing
    My MIL gave me an old Kenmore sewing machine in perfect condition that was sitting in her attic for years sometime before Christmas.  It belonged to K’s aunt who passed away from breast cancer 2002 😦  I’ve been meaning to get into sewing for quite a long time, I’ve been cross-stitching for years, and it was a great gift.  However, I still don’t know how to use it.  I meant to sign up for a Joann’s basic sewing machine class but have been too busy thus far.  Hopefully, this will be a lot of help!
  • Cleaning Plain & Simple by Donna Smallin
    I’m always looking for new green cleaning tips. I’m not actually sure how much green cleaning is in here but I saw lots of mentions of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, so it looked good enough to bring home.
  • Farewell My Subaru by Doug Fine
    I’ve been meaning to pick this book up for awhile as it’s on a lot of locavorism book lists.  It’s about a guy who moves to New Mexico to live without fossil fuel for a year.  It’s about the contradictions and challenges of going green when you’ve never really tried it before.  It sounds hilarious!
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    My mom actually had this book the last time I visited my parents, and since I can’t be without a book for more than 2 hours (it’s a compulsion, really) I picked it up and started reading it. I only got to p. 88 before I left, so I’ve been meaning to get it and finish it because it really was fascinating.  So far, it seems to be about an Indian (as in Calcutta, India) in the 60s/70s who are trying to fit in America without losing their Indian heritage.  From the back of the book, it looks like it’s more about their son, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.  Very good so far.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
    My friends still can’t believe I haven’t read this book yet.  It’s at the TOP of locavorism book lists and I’ve been meaning to get to it for well over a year.  But I’ve been trying to finish several other books before I got to this one.  For those who don’t know, this is about a family who decided to live on local food for one year, food that was either grown by themselves or raised within 100 miles of where they lived.

And that’s my library sojourn for the day! They’re due back April 13th, so I’ll have to get to reading.