TeThe neighborhood of North Albany was made famous by the depressing Albany Trilogy of William Kennedy. The third book in the series, Ironweed, earned Kennedy the Pulitzer Price for fiction. It was made into a movie with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Some of the streets nearby were spruce up (or down) for the film. Kennedy himself grew up in North Albany. I stumbled upon his boyhood home. I'll bet it was filled with all sorts of ne'erdowells and rapscallions. Nowadays, some punk with a bike lives here.
One main reason for me staying on Route 32 is that I know this is the road that the cemetery is on. I can never remember how far north the cemetery is though. So I rolled north, pleasantly surprised by the absence of traffic. Soon I came to the cemetery entrance road and after another ten bumpy minutes, I came upon my father's gravesite. Somebody got the wise idea to plant a pin oak next to his grave. The front yard of our house in Albany had several pin oaks and they were always a favorite of my father. This particular tree seems to have come under the persuasion of my father's green thumb. It seems perfectly shaped and shades his grave nicely.
Knowing that the Erie Canal currently in use was built long after the original canal, I thought that a more modern version of this canal must be around here somewhere. And it was. I found it in the Village of Waterford, not be confused with the apparently larger Town of Waterford. Here is a towboat in one section of the canal.
A short while later I stumbled upon a canalside festival of sorts. A splendid packet boat similar to those I saw on the Erie Canal during my ride across New York State was sitting in wait of riders. Further along I saw some incredibly cute baby steam boats. These can be rented for short excursions on the nearby canal and river. The best part is each boat has a steam whistle that goes "TOOT, TOOT."
After checking out the festival I stumbled on the old canal again. I followed the towpath for about a mile when the canal suddenly stopped and the path continued up a barren hill. This looked like a landfill. I couldn't believe that this beautiful little historic canal was less important that garbage. The path ended at a chain link fence so I back tracked and hit the road again. At points the road runs along the river bank. The views were just gorgeous.At one point I meandered onto an island in the river and rode in a circle popping out a mile south. On a day like this, who cares.
I rode up a steep hill to the cemetery to check out the family gravesite. Here lie my paternal grandparents and several aunts and uncles. One of them is my uncle John after whom I am named. He died at the age of five long before I was born. Nothing gives you the chills like seeing your name on a gravestone. I wonder what kind of an uncle he would have made. Would he have survived the war? If he had lived, I wonder if my parents would have named me something else.
After a brief visit with a sibling I was back at my mother's house. All in all, 69 miles of blue skies, low humidity and some pretty interesting discoveries. I am glad Little Nellie came along on this trip home.