Sunday, August 11, 2019

Terra (Sorta) Incognita

What happens when you come to the end of the earth . . . or Brockport?

On Thursday we cast off lines at our home dock in Macedon, headed west. The goal of this month’s cruise: Go all the way to Buffalo, the western terminus of the Erie Canal.

We’ve cruised the canal all the way east, to Albany. But the farthest west we’ve ever been is Lockport. So we want to finish the route—end to end.

We’re headed for terra incognita—sort of. We’ve stopped in some western ports before. But only once or twice, a long time ago.

Thumbs Up to Boat-up Brew Pubs!

Looking spiffy, Spencerport!
First night out, we docked at Bushnell’s Basin—where we’ve stayed many times. But this time there was something new to enjoy—a literary brewpub.  

Seven Stories claims to take its name from the saying that there are seven ways to tell a story. Whether or not that’s true, a boat-up beer dock is always a pleasant addition to the canal.

On Friday we docked at Spencerport. What I remembered from previous visits is that this town had a charming dockside gazebo with notable daylilies—but was otherwise kind of a grubby place.

This year the town was looking spiffy. We stayed at a new dock, directly in front of the little Canal Museum, which is housed in an old trolley station.

And Speaking of Beer . . .

Coming into town, we could hear energetic polka music. What timing! Spencerport was hosting its 125th annual Germanfest.

WHAT is going on here?
One of the pleasures of cruising is the little “slice o’ life” moments you happen upon in small towns. 

(Thinking back to our Great Loop cruise, the Oktoberfest parade we stumbled upon in Havana, Illinois comes to mind.)

Germanfest did not disappoint. We showed up just in time for a ceremony involving a team of brawny guys in lederhosen, marching in with a palanquin on their shoulders. 

Upon this platform was a beer keg. 

And riding astride the beer keg, looking nervous, as if it were a horse she didn’t quite trust, was a little girl wrapped in a black, hooded cloak.

It all looked a little sinister.

The emcee explained this as a charming custom—something to do with a fresh young girl and fresh beer? (If you know the lore, fill us in.)

Beer on a Bobsled

Anyway, the keg was tapped and the dancing started. Three numbers in, half the audience pulled chairs onto the dance floor for the (I assume it’s traditional) “bobsled dance.”

Sit down, all in a row, then lean left, lean right, wave your hands in the air. The perfect line dance for someone who’s had a few brews. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi hoi hoi!

Speaking of Strange Customs . . . Duck Race!

The Adams Basin lift bridge, on the way to Brockport. Just as low as the two Brockport Bridges, I assure you!
On Saturday we said a fond goodbye to Spencerport and gently cruised 8 miles west to Brockport. The dock here is sandwiched between two super-low lift bridges. We’ve squeezed under low bridges from Canada to the Carolinas, but no way we can sneak under these babies!
No pix of the hip-hop dancers, alas. These are the
Texas-two-steppin' Dancin' Divas!

Brockport—what luck—was having its annual street fair! With guys on stilts, juggling; booths selling corndogs and pickles stuffed with cheese, and a band called the Old Hippies. 

There were also dancers, including a performance by members of a local gym who should win an award for diversity in age, gender, race, and body type.

They should then win a second award for their “dance like no one is watching” willingness to bust some hip-hop moves in the middle of Main Street.

The event wrapped up with a duck race—3,000 little rubber duckies bobbing under one of the bridges and down a race course formed by floating baffles.

First across the finish line won $1,000. It was a small-town event, yes. But that ain’t chicken feed, or even duck feed!

For more curious pix of small-town fun, check SlowBoat on Facebook.

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