Day 10/11 - Amsterdam/Down Day to Utica - Tot: 443.8 mi

Amsterdam was a wonderful and needed stop, if only for the laundromat. The Down Day (Day 11) was restful and fun. The town is old in architecture and culture. With Mary and John, we returned  to the great little Italian restaurant, Russo Grill, that had been in existence in one form or another since 1920. You walked in and felt the overflowing Italian hospitality and tradition oozing from the brick walls. Pictures filled the walls with memories of sons, cousins, families that had been a part of this town's and this country's history since its opening. Our second waitress, Anne, fit the bill exactly for the sincere mother wanting us to be fully satisfied with our Russo's experience.  Both Marie and Anne were rightly proud of their heritage and left us with a deeper feeling of gratitude for everything that makes up this crazy, multi-cultural country.

Steve at the front of Russo's Grill in Amsterdam, NY

The following day was a riding day! John and I left for the Erie Canal Bike Trail, a trail that runs along the Canal from Buffalo to Albany,! The 350+ mile trail mirrors the tow-path the horse and oxen/mule teams used pulling cargo along the Erie Canal in the 1800's. Its surface is a combination of pavement and crushed cinder making for sometimes fast cycling, sometimes slow and bumpy. But it was a scenic, woodsy journey with stops along the way for each lock that operates much the same way it has for over a hundred years. 

John Benziger riding along the Erie Canal Bike Trail

After about 10 miles John and I met Allane and Mary for breakfast at Michael's Diner. I don't remember the name of the village we were in, but it was small and pleasant. Michael was quite a character. He was the owner, the sole server and a one man comedy show with a New York style of sarcastic humor that made for a very enjoyable meal.

Steve and Mary outside Michael's Diner

We were heading for Utica. It was a slower ride than expected, but very enjoyable nonetheless. 

 Mary and Allane found a gem of a town at Little Falls, where the canal meets the Mohawk River.  Little shops and iced coffee in the heat!  A proud business owner on Moss Island gave us a little tour before pointing us to the canal path. We then ambled a couple of miles along the canal, enjoying the light breeze and the scenery. 
A pizza oven covered with Herkimer diamonds (double-terminated quartz crystals 
from nearby Herkimer) cooks pizza in 90 seconds! 


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