This is what a casino looks like at 07.10 in the morning when all the punters have gone home. I was told that it cost 144 million dollars to build, but is not making as much money as the owners hoped so they went to New York State and asked for a tax break. Their plea was not met with sympathy.
As well as offering gambling, the casino also offered the facilities of a spa. I’ve never been to a spa and some of the opportunities available have opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing. The massages include ‘Vinotherapy Signature’ with ‘Anti-Oxidant Mourvedre Oil Treatment Enhancement’, and I don’t really want to think what’s involved in a ‘Couples Classic Swedish’. Alternatively, I could go for a Gentleman’s Lambrusco facial with Vitamin C Brightening. What have I been doing wasting my time cycling these last seven weeks?
Although we were nominally in Waterloo, the town itself was six miles away, but I would have liked to have visited it as it contains ‘One of the Top Five Main Streets in America’ according to a recent survey of architects. However it was a 67 (actually 75 by the time we’d finished) mile day and it was our time to organise Happy Hour, so we had to pass on the 12 mile diversion, just as we did on a deviation to Seneca Falls, home of the It’s A Wonderful Life Museum, the town supposedly being Frank Capra’s inspiration for Bedford Falls. They have a festival every December (obviously) and this year no fewer than four of the original cast will be in attendance including Zuzu in the person of Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played her in the 1946 film. Wow.
It was a strange sort of day in that we continued to follow the Erie Canal trail but for most of the day, the canal wasn’t in sight. Over the years, the course of the canal has changed as it has increased in size so we were often shadowing not much more than a mound. We did go off route to track down what remains of a one-time 31 arch aqueduct only to find that it could be found only down a footpath two miles away. We did come across this at Nine-Mile Creek, claimed as the only working Aqueduct in New York State, ‘and possibly the country’. Built in 1841, it carried traffic for 76 years until a larger canal was built elsewhere:
We cycled through one of the big cities on the path of the canal, Syracuse (‘Sirracuse’). You could tell that it was a university city because of the immediate improvement in cycle tracks and lanes. We came across this Loch Ness Monster which includes a seat and its tail on the other side of the path.
Just as Rochester was known for handling flour, Syracuse was known as the Salt City and supplied the whole of the US with salt from the brine springs in the area. It was ideally placed therefore to benefit from the advent of the canal and became prosperous on the back of it.
This photo shows three banks erected on Clinton Square. These were typical of many buildings in the city including this one which bears similarity to the Flat Iron building in New York:
There are many canal museums along the way and it is difficult to choose which to visit so we opted for Syracuse’s, housed in the only remaining weigh-house. Canal boats were weighed empty every three years or so and then laden each time they passed through Syracuse so as to determine the toll payable. Irish and German immigrants were attracted to the city bringing with them brewing skills such that in 1880 there were 40 breweries, producing 300,00 barrels per year by 1896. Also featured was an exhibit devoted to Elizabeth Cotton who was left-handed and played the guitar upside down (the guitar, not her). There’s hope for me yet. A GV rating of Four.
The one museum we were looking forward to most was towards the end of the day in Chittananga, the All Things OZ Museum, dedicated to The Wonderful Wizard of that name – L Frank Baum, author of the book was born in this town in 1856 (What does the ‘L’ stand for? Well done, the boy at the back, it’s Lyman). There was a problem, the museum only opened, staffed by volunteers, on a Wednesday and Saturday but an appointment might be possible. The telephone number given went to an answer-phone message which provided another number with no response. But that didn’t put us off; it was only a couple of km away after all.
We confirmed that the museum was definitely closed but found that the pavements of Chittananga are paved with yellow bricks. The town holds a three-day Oz-Stravaganza festival every year; apparently there are still Munchkins alive today just as there are survivors from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Useless Trivia Department: L Frank Baum got the idea for the name of the Emerald City from his filing cabinets, one of which was for documents A to N, the other for those from O to Z.
Here is young starlet Val as she uncannily channels her inner Judy Garland on her way to meet the Scarecrow who needs a brain (no suggestions as to who should play this part, if you please):
Tonight we are in Canastota, home of the Boxing Hall of Fame, which interests me not a lot. However, once a year, they have a ceremony to induce new Famous Boxers and the great and the good of the boxing world stay at the Days Inn. Their photos decorate the lobby. This hotel has been home, for one night at least, to Mohammed Ali, his trainer Angelo Dundee as well as the Raging Bull himself, Jake Lamotta, Lennox Lewis, Barry McGuigan and Roberto Duran. Tonight, I might be sleeping in a bed once occupied by one of these pugilists, and if there’s a big hollow in the mattress, I’ll know it was a heavyweight.