Trail Tender Award Recognizes Old Erie Canal State Park Trail Ambassador

dave-at-cedar-bay-bridge

Trail Ambassador Dave Kellogg at Cedar Bay Bridge in DeWitt

Congratulations to Canalway Trail Ambassador Dave Kellogg on his recent receipt of the 2016 Trail Tender Award. The Trail Tender Award recognizes the valuable contribution of individuals to promoting, enhancing, and completing the 524-mile New York State Canalway Trail system. Dave has been an active trail user for more than three decades, and over the course of the past two years has ridden hundreds of miles in Old Erie Canal State Park between DeWitt and Rome as a Trail Ambassador. See below for a profile of Dave and his interest in the trail.

  1. How long have you been riding on the Canalway Trail?

We moved here in 1980, and we chose our home partly because of its proximity to the Canal. I ran more in those days and early on marked out a measured mile along the trail using my bike and counting wheel revolutions. Runners used it for years until the markers deteriorated. So to answer your question, 36 years minus the 5 years we lived in Puerto Rico = 31 years. And yes, I took my bike to P.R.

  1. What is your average time/mileage on the trail?

My exercise calendars show I’ve cycled an average of 1,000 miles per year over the past 5 years. Not all of that has been on the Canal, but the vast majority has been Canal-related. One of the PTNY priorities has been to “promote bicycling for … towns and their economic development”.  Showing up at a local store on a bike to let owners know about the Canal and its cyclists helps address that priority. My time spent on the Canal this year (through August) is approaching 50 hours. (See #4 for comments about miles and time.)  I’ve also spoken about the Canal to two small groups.

Occasionally, there’s an opportunity for some Trail maintenance, from branches across the trail to litter to addressing some delinquency.

 

  1. What do you like best about the Trail and your involvement with the trail?

People react to the Trail and the Canal in different ways. Some ways are obvious, like exercise, training and fitness. Other visitors get caught up in the history or engineering. Some want to experience nature: seeing a Great Blue Heron, a beaver or, less frequently and therefore more exciting, a Bald Eagle. All these people are willing to share their interests and passions if given just a little encouragement. With this encouragement the Canalway Trail is quite possibly the friendliest community in the country. Here’s an example of community, friendliness and impact. A young woman just relocated to the Syracuse area from her native state of Colorado to join her boyfriend who works at Syracuse University. The three of us met along the Trail and started talking about the simple pleasures the Canal offers. Suddenly, the woman changed the topic and burst out with, “I’m on the Erie Canal!”  I guess my reaction was not strong enough, so she brought her face closer to mine and said with emphasis,”I mean I’m on the Erie Canal.  I’m actually on the Erie Canal.”  To me it seemed she was reliving that portion of her childhood when she first learned about the Canal and probably sang the famous Canal song and maybe imagined her ancestors starting on the Erie Canal on their way west. That’s the impact the Canal can have on some.

 

The Barbershop Quartet:  This certainly wasn’t the first time musical entertainment was incorporated into Cycle the Erie. And it may not have been the first Barbershop group to serenade the cyclists.  However, it may have been the first time actually on the Canalway Trail and in the Dewitt area. It was an idea that seemed to flow from the 1890s song, “Daisy, Daisy, etc.”  Wouldn’t it be neat to ride around a curve on the Canal and encounter a group of singers wearing straw hats and red and white stripped vests? Well, it was pretty neat and possibly the most photographed spot on the ride.

 

  1. What advice do you have for others considering using the trail or helping “Tend the Trail?

We can count miles on the Canalway Trail or keep track of hours spent but the most revealing information in my mind does not come from metrics but from narratives, the interactions with people.  Without exception each person I’ve encountered is happy to talk and has an interesting and even exciting story to tell.  Some are long distance travelers:
– Several End-to-Enders, Buffalo to Albany
– Peter from Dublin: NYC to Buffalo, then Canada, etc.
– Casey, a retired truck driver who has been to 48 states in an 18-wheeler and is now visiting them on two wheels.

– Dusty and Angie, going Coast to Coast

– A fellow who was on his 17th (that’s right, seventeenth!) cross country trip, this one from Nova Scotia to Seattle.

– And no one will forget Bernice Ende who arrived on horseback on her way from Montana to Maine.

My list is 46 individuals, not including a variety of organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce, the Day Care Kids, several merchants and especially Fleet Feet who sponsor long runs on the Canal.

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