*** long post warning ***
“I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
I’ve hauled some barges in my day
Filled with lumber, coal and hay
And I know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo…
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, for we’re coming to a town…”
The above is from “Low Bridge” or “The Erie Canal Song”, an old song my dad taught us when we were kids. I sang it, in turn, with my kids. You can hear Pete Seeger singing it here. Not quite the same as our car chorus but…
We typically sang only the first verse — I guess the song, like the canal, went on for miles When our version ended, my dad would jump into this:
“Oh the Ee-rye-ee was a risin’
And the gin was a’gettin’ low
And I scarcely think we’re gonna get a drink
‘Til we get to Buffalo-oh-oh
‘Til we get to Buffalo…”
And so on and so on, went the car-trip songs of my youth. I will spare you the one about the fox (he went out on a chilly night…) You can read more about the Erie Canal song here.
a travel plaza on the ny state thruway — here called the amvets memorial highway
To cheer myself during the long winter of uncertainty, I carefully charted a springtime course to take in as many sights — old and new — as possible. This leg of the trip home took us from Albany to Buffalo and beyond. I wanted to travel back to my future! With that in mind, as we set out from the outskirts of Albany, I had two detours planned. First was Scotia — where I lived from age three to age five or thereabouts. Most memories I have of that time are rooted in old photo albums and tales from my folks. It would be fun to visit now!
a bank in downtown scotia, ny
There was much confusion and frustration en route — partly due to Mom’s old directions. She insisted there would be a Woolworth’s across the main road from the old street, because, as the story goes, one day she was backing out of the driveway there and I piped up “look out mom, you’re gonna hit the W!”.
“The W” was Woolworth’s, a five-and-dime store which has long since disappeared into the history books. That landmark was no help. Nevertheless, we managed to arrive at the old homeplace.
I recognized the house from photos. Driving around the road that encircled our short, straight street gave me a glimpse into a few memories of my own — such as riding my bicycle on training wheels to the little house with the triangle entry, where Mrs. Sheehy would give me a glass of orange Tang. Perhaps you remember Tang — the beverage of astronauts!
I think I remember this place!
view of the old home from the ‘circle drive’
Taking leave of Scotia, we set out on the long haul across the Empire State. I wish now that I had stopped to take a few photos on the side of the road; much of the drive was quite scenic with rolling hills and farmland. Mostly we stopped to check on the kitties. The first day was harrowing, with driving rain and miss daisy trying to get through the ‘pet barrier’. I’d look in the rear-view mirror and see two little ears and a nose pressed through the gate. Day two, she chose to scooch in *between* the base of the barrier and the back seat. It took an hour to coax her out, but at least I knew she felt comfortable back there, and she was safe. As for Mr. Pinks, he rode half of the first day with his tail in the litter box. That very night we scrapped the litter box in the back — cats weren’t using it in the car, and I couldn’t stand the thought of his tail in there.
we’re getting used to this car thing mom… but we don’t LOVE it!
And so we drove on, paralleling the old Erie Canal, until we reached the heart of the Finger Lakes region in the sunny mid-afternoon.
most stops (called travel plazas in ny) along the thruway have a sign like this one at the finger lakes, with historical details of the area
Approaching Rochester, we took the second detour of the day — this time to see another old homeplace which I do remember — I lived there as a young teenager. Heading north and slightly east from the thruway, we came quite easily to Fairport — site of an engineering marvel along the Erie Canal.
Off route 31F, we stopped to see the grocery store my mother once referred to as ‘an airport store’ due to its size. Its outward appearance has not changed one bit from my days in junior high.
wegmans grocery ~ the airport store!
Just a hop skip and a jump from the ‘airport store’ found me gazing upon another old home — where I spent many an eve full of teenage angst, cozied up in the window seat of my bedroom. This time, I remembered it well!
I remember this place! my bedroom was the dormer on the right…
It was just a short drive from the little brick house to the little town, where we finally got to see the Erie Canal!
erie canal at fairport… looking muddy!
when I lived here, I attended Minvera De Land middle school — evidently the De Land family was important in these parts — never made the connection till now
famous (in days of yore) bridge over the erie canal ~ fairport
Leaving the canal behind, we continued along I-90 through the suburbs of Buffalo, finally making the Pennsylvania state line in late afternoon. I couldn’t get a ‘welcome to NY’ photo due to the rain, so I was determined to document PA Of course, dear G indulged me — he did not complain when I stopped on the side of the highway; he even took the pic.
pennsylvania welcomes us!
At the state line, there was a fun rest area with tunnels over each side of the road, leading to the facility in between. Inside, there were neat signs over opposite doorways — heading east or west. We traveled west towards Erie, the last stop for the day.
the door to the eastbound side
go west, young kitties!
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
– J.R.R. Tolkein
view from the overhead walkway ~ looking westward into pennsylvania
If you’re still awake, I have a summertime garden pasta salad for you!
pasta salad ~ or veggie salad with pasta!
This goes especially to dear Vani for her eating better challenge. The lightened up part is the proportion of veggies to pasta — it’s really a veggie salad with a little pasta thrown in You can substitute any of the ingredients for your favorites. The idea is to have a colorful, flavorful mix. Here is how I made it:
Lightened Up Pasta Salad
makes about 10 cups
2 cups cooked pasta of your choice (I used bow ties)
Wash and dice the following:
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
2 red peppers
2 banana peppers
1 cucumber (remove seeds, if large)
1 summer squash (I used the lebanon zucchini from the garden)
10-12 fresh green beans
In a large bowl, mix the above with:
2 c baby spinach
1 c grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes, I would cut in half if using those)
1 can black olives, drained
1/2 c diced provolone cheese
1/2 c diced salami (optional)
Add 1/3 cup vinagrette dressing of your choice (I used Garlic Expressions) and mix well. Allow to sit for a few hours, or preferably overnight, for flavors to blend.
cucumbers reaching to the sky…
prolific banana peppers ~ one of several varieties growing in spite of a cool summer