Since we were close and had the rest of the afternoon, we decided to drive to Oneida Lake, which was only 10 more miles. It was a lovely drive and the lake was very big. There were a couple of villages that stretched out along most of the east side of the lake, both of them very tourist oriented and very crowded--this was Memorial Day weekend, after all--and parking cost an arm and a leg. So we drove through Verona Beach State Park and up through Sylvan Beach before we finally found a place to park the car on the side of the road (no parking fees), which was only a few feet from the water. I dipped my fingers in the water (almost cool) and we enjoyed the breeze for a few minutes and headed for home.
The GPS didn't want to take us back the way we came and since we weren't in a hurry, we decided to follow the GPS. We were awfully glad we did. As we drove along, we passed a sign that said, "Lock 22." "Lock 22," I cried (yup, I did it again). "Do you want to turn around and go see it?" We still had plenty of time, so we did. We had driven a couple of miles and the GPS wanted us to turn onto Lock Road, but a sign said the bridge was out, so we continued driving onto a road that was marked "Dead End." Our GPS got really excited and kept telling us to get back to the designated route. We finally turned it off and continued until we got to Lock 22.
Lock 22 is part of the Erie Canal. The canal is only open during the summer, and it was full of water. There was a lovely yacht coming down the canal when we got there, so we got to watch the lock work. When the yacht was in place, the operator closed the upper gate behind it, then walked to the next gate (the gates were about 100 yards apart) and began lowering the water between the gates. There is a tunnel full of water on each side of the canal and the door holding the water back was opened so the water flowed out of the lock and into the canal below the gate. In 5-8 minutes (we didn't time it) the water in the lock was down to the lower level, the operator opened the lower gate and the yacht continued down the canal into Oneida Lake. The gate is opened and closed with huge gears that we could see under a grate that we stood on--it was so fun to watch. The operator then began filling the lock for the next boat coming down the canal. We had a nice visit with him and he explained all the workings of the locks and where the water comes from that fills the canal. He also told us that when the canal is closed in October, they rebuild all the engines located on one side of the canal that drive the gears that open and close the gates. The next winter, they rebuild the engines on the opposite side of the canal, so his job is full-time, even though the canal is only operated during the summer. He also told us that there was very little commercial shipping on the canal, that the traffic was mostly pleasure craft. As we drove back toward home, the next yacht which was considerably bigger than the previous one, arrived and the process started all over again.
We wished we had taken our camera, but decided we will go to Lock 20 which is not very far from where we live and get some pictures there.
Well, it's two weeks later and here we are at Lock 20. Other than the locks themselves, it doesn't look a lot like Lock 22 and we didn't get to see it work. We thought since it was a Saturday, there would be more pleasure crafts heading down the canal for Oneida lake, but no such luck.
This shows how really beautiful the canal is looking south from the lock. There is a walking path that goes for miles! The tiny dot right in the center of the picture is actually 3 people and two dogs!