Random thoughts: A winter walk

Today I decided to walk to the grocery store and back; no biggie, except that it’s about 4-5 miles, round trip. There were several reasons to do it, but the top one was cabin fever. I took my camera along and got a few good shots, and there was also a wonderful surprise near the end of the trip, though it passed too quickly for me to take a picture.

The Champlain Canal

Champlain Canal sign in Waterford, New York

Champlain Canal sign in Waterford, New York.

When you walk most anywhere around Cohoes or Waterford, you will likely come across water: the Mohawk River and the Hudson River meet here, and as well, there are existing canals and the signs of former canals.

Hydropower was once really big here, and the canals (the Erie and the Champlain) also were transportation routes before the railroads came in; I have been exploring this a bit in the Civil War posts.

Champlain Canal in Waterford, New York.

Champlain Canal in Waterford, New York.

The Champlain Canal comes down from the north, around Whitehall, traveling along the western edge of the Hudson River in Waterford. This canal, like the Erie in Cohoes, is up on a hill above town and dates back to the early 1800s; it used to flow to Albany, I believe, but now ends on the north bank of the Mohawk at Cohoes, with the 787 arterial following its former route south of the river.

Some of the local mansions here have slate roofs, and I suspect that slate, mined north of here, probably was transported down here on the Champlain Canal.

Today, the canal had a layer of slush on it – it wasn’t really frozen, but the recent snow remained and made it look really pretty.


That sign on the canal notes that Waterford is a RiverSpark community. It was the first I had heard of RiverSpark, but here it is on the Web. This puts the canals into some perspective.

Waterford is interesting – I’ve seen small towns that try to bring back their central areas by going quaint and historic. There is a noticeable effort, I mean. That effort is not apparent in downtown Waterford – it just is quaint and historic, and yet the modern world is very much present there.

Fire hydrant 107 in Waterford, New York.

Fire hydrant 107 in Waterford, New York.

Fire Hydrants

Part of that modern world is fire hydrants, and for some reason I’ve been collecting pictures of them this winter. They just seem to have individual personalities that are quite urban (and not at all urbane), and they are also provide some much needed color during the winter drab season.

I found two different ones today.

Fire hydrant in Waterford, New York.

Fire hydrant in Waterford, New York.

The Eagle

I was moving rather more slowly by the time I approached the Cohoes line on the way back – my life is sedentary and I’m not used to this exercise.

A big bird flew overhead while I was walking. Its wings and body were thicker than the those of the gulls that thrive everywhere here, and that drew my attention. What a surprise it was to see the familiar square white head and the white tail feathers. I believe (but can’t verify) that it was a bald eagle. My heart soared.

I didn’t get a picture of it, though. It happened too fast, and was unexpected. I’m not familiar with their range, but there are mountains nearby (the Adirondacks to the north and the Catskills to the south) and east of here a little way, there also used to be a guy who nursed injured baldies (he had the special license for this) and other wildlife back to health.

The gulls had all cleared out of the way as Baldy passed, and they waited for the icon to get quite a ways away before they started reappearing in the sky around me again.

The flyover sighting was a terrific way to end my winter walk, and a reminder of just how much we miss out on when we opt for convenience and comfort in our daily routine.  We inhabit a world of wonders, but we must walk out into the world for a chance to see them.

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