New York was about the midway point of our loop. While it was natural to wonder what the second half would bring, we didn't have to wait too long to delight in the voyage. As we entered the Hudson River, we found ourselves cutting across the waves through history books. The few centruries between the present and our revolutionary war seemed to vanish like a random flash on the water surface.
We started in the Hudson River, guarded with mountains on one side and dramatically scenic black cliffs on the other. At one moment, we visited West Point on memorial day with our platinum looper friends on Fourth Dimension. In the cemetary, we reflected on our freedom bought with the blood of past battlefield heros with names we'd learned in high school. We offered a moment of silence as we passed the candle in front of the perpetually empty seat, placed there in hopes that soldiers would return.
We also saw an interesting plackard in the original chapel on a wall of heroes, of a sort. The tiny slab felt wrong. It was partially behind a column, had a name crossed out, and had no death date. Then, it became clear. The tiny memorial was to Benedict Arnold, American hero turned traitor.
Near Kingston, we visited our friends from the Beam Rad.io podcast. We met Marven, the 4 year old voice of our podcast, and even let him sit in the captain's chair as we took a quick jaunt out to see the Saugerties Lighthouse.
As the Hudson gave way to the Erie Canal near Troy, we pulled off to teach a class, nibbling on our journey each morning and evening. We made our way up the very same locks that powered New York industry, marveling at the tow paths along the side filled with joggers instead of mules and barges. As we cut through Troy to small towns like Waterford and Mechanicville, we tied up on free walls, often with volunteers from local chamber of commerce representatives touting the delights of the distinctive villages along the waterway.
We noticed too that the New York Erie Canal gave way to the Champlain Canal, the waterway connecting the Hudson River to the amazing Lake Champlain. Over the course of a week, we picked our way through to the storied lake where Benedict Arnold played the part of hero instead of traitor, defeating the Brittish Navy. Even the maps spoke to us. One glance showed Ticonderoga, one of the linchpins protecting trade routes between the disputed Hudson River and the glacial lake. Others showed the many forts and battlefield sites that dotted the landscape.
On the loop, we mostly felt an artificial safety due to shallow depths. Many places we'd be able to stand on top of the boat and breathe if it sank. Other places like they Florida Keys, we could stand _next to_ our boat. Not so in Champlain! We saw depths around 400 feet, and shivered at the thought. To the point, it was among the most beautiful days on the loop.
After a long day of cruising, we stopped for provisions and rest at Burlington. The town was absolutely delightful. It had an impressive waterfront. Too, the place reflected our own value system with excellent shared public spaces and the preservation of small, quirky businesses. We had fire roasted bagels. These nontraditional morsels of delight were a brilliant surprise in a town full of them.
As we were there, I reconnected with an old friend, Brian Goetz. We'd been on a speaking tour together, and he helped to kindle in me my love of programming languages. Over a nice dinner, nearly twenty years disolved away through the magic of the place and the people around the table.
As we packed up our boat early the next morning, we prepared ourselves to leave the United States for a while. We didn't know quite how long we'd be gone, maybe a month and maybe more.
With a bit of quiet reflection, I realized something about myself. Finally, I'd reached the point where I didn't care at all exactly how long we'd be gone. We gave our plans over to the loop.