Massena, NY

Francis and I left Burlington, VT around 8AM this morning, cruising slowly through the peaceful University of Vermont campus and some lovely residential neighborhoods before once again picking up US 2, which continues west and then north along the islands in Lake Champlain.

On the bridge to South Hero Island
On the bridge to South Hero Island in Lake Champlain

This is a gorgeous ride with lake views appearing regularly on both sides of the road, sometimes at the same time.

Lake Champlain view
Lake Champlain view

Unfortunately, immediately after these photos were taken, the forecasted “scattered showers” materialized — why is it that they never scatter over somebody else?  This is anathema to a road trip with Francis, by the way, because he simply refuses to ride in the rain.  He just pulls over and stops by the side of the road, with the rain pouring down.  In his defense, he claims that the raindrops on his faceshield make it impossible for him to see the road.  I do not have this problem, I simply focus ahead on the road instead of on the rain — but, as it is impossible to walk in another man’s shoes, so is it impossible to see with another man’s eyes.  And I would rather stop and wait than bear the guilt of pushing Francis onward, only to have him crash.

So, we killed an hour in a convenience store waiting for the rain to pass.

There are only about 35 miles of US 2 remaining between Burlington and the north end of Lake Champlain, at which point the road turns west into New York state.

The obligatory "welcome to New York" photo
The obligatory “welcome to New York” photo

Here, an interesting thing happened.  Francis, who to this point on the trip has been anything but goal-oriented, now — like the proverbial horse when turned back toward the barn — could not be restrained.  Meeting or exceeding the speed limit at all times, he set a new endurance record on this trip for time in the saddle, and motored steadily for two hours into Massena!  I do not know quite what to make of this, or how to explain his earlier lackadaisical approach to making time (or, actually, not).  Remember, until this point we were averaging twenty miles an hour!  But we covered the last 100 miles in two hours or less.

The road from Rouse’s Point (where US 2 ends) to Massena is NY 11, and it is an awesome ride.  In fact, there were lots of spots where I wanted to stop for pictures, but Francis was doing so well I didn’t want to interrupt him.  The road, of uniformly high quality, traverses some gorgeous rolling farmland replete with large stands of roadside wildflowers.  Really, along with US 2 on Lake Champlain, and parts of Vermont west of St. Johnsbury, this was one of the loveliest sections of the trip.

And, as it turns out, Francis’ Aunt Alice is a delightfully assertive woman in her early 80s who is the perfect hostess and tour guide.  After an excellent supper of Chinese take-out, Aunt Alice gave us a tour of Massena’s engineering marvel, the locks of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Looking into the locks; the vertical lines are the top of the locks' wall.
Looking into the locks; the vertical lines are the top of the locks’ wall.
view of the St. Lawrence Seaway from the top of the Visitors Building
view of the St. Lawrence Seaway from the top of the Visitors Building
Looking along the locks toward the Seaway.  You can barely see the wall holding the St. Lawrence River out of the locks.
Looking along the locks toward the Seaway. You can barely see the wall holding the St. Lawrence River out of the locks.

I apologize for the poor quality of these Seaway photos, but Aunt Alice said that since 9/11, access to the locks has been severely restricted out of concern for terrorists targeting not only the locks but also the power generation systems here.  Therefore, there were very few areas open from which to take pictures, and that is also why the bottom photo above appears at first glance to be of a chain-link fence.

So, all in all a lovely day despite the rain delay.  Tomorrow we will point the scooters east for the first time and make our way back toward Maine.  My hope is to get to St. Johnsbury, VT, but as always we will see how goal-oriented Francis is feeling — and hope it doesn’t rain!

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