Trying to make up for lost time.
By this point in my trip, I realised I was already a bit behind schedule. I had hoped to take a rest day between Troy and Schenectady; but with taking an extra day skirting the mountains of Eastern Massachusettes, I’d lost that luxury.
Now I was also falling short of my distance targets and needing to reschedule with couchsurfing hosts. My plan for Day 7 had been to start from Ithaca to Seneca Falls, but starting point was already over 20 miles shy of Ithaca.
So I just headed out cycling – far later than planned, but the peace and view at St Johnsville Marina weren’t for rushing away from!
I stopped for breakfast at a diner in the town of Herkimer. A fairly unassuming town but for the diamond mines just to the north – these diamonds that Dan Aykroyd’s “Crystal Head” vodka is filtered through. I wanted to go to the visitor centre, but it was just too far in the wrong direction.
By lunchtime, I had made it to Ithaca. Didn’t think much of the city: seemed very lost and forgotten, with none of the friendliness and charm of Schenectady. So I struggled to find the canalway path and set off again westward.
As much as I have come to dislike the Erie Canal Bikeway, I do find it useful for getting into and out of a city; far more so than navigating a maze of roads and congested traffic. That doesn’t mean that the canalway is at all signposted from within the city though…
Heading onto the canalway trail out of Ithaca I chatted briefly with another cyclist and took a bit of route advice from him. About two hours later, same guy comes cycling along the road towards me. He drove! But it was nice – and odd – to see a random stranger that interested in my cycle, that they’d make effort to re-route so to bump into me again. He gave me more direction advice for the next leg and we bade farewell.
I had roundly decided that Seneca Falls, about 80 miles away with estimated 3 hours light remaining, was not doable – so I messaged my host to confirm postponement – and changed tack for Verona Beach State Park.
I arrived about an hour before sunset so knew that my options were limited. Even more so because of a storm approaching from the south. As I cycled in, a park ranger stepped out of her office and asked if I was checking in, and yes, she confirmed, they did have tent camping sites available – at $30/night.
I’m not 100% opposed to paying for a campsite, but fees should be relative to the accommodation and means of transport into the camp. $30 for a tent and bicycle is far too much! That’s my food budget for 2 days! So I left.
Not even two miles up the beach was a lighthouse with a small sandy/grassy patch of land in front of it. Right on the beach, surrounded by nice houses, I didn’t think any authorities would check there so I asked the neighbours, got their permission, and pitched my tent for free.