Thursday, October 1, 2009


We are at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, just east of where the New York state line (and U.S. border) departs from the St. Lawrence River (map).

Yesterday's drive along the seaway was quite lovely, with plenty of views of the river and more of the Thousand Islands, and lots of fall color. Tourist season is mostly over, and many of the businesses along the route are already closed for the season, and once again we had the road mostly to ourselves.

Just west of Massena the Seaway Trail, which we've been mostly following for the last several days, passes the Eisenhower Lock, and we made the small diversion to see it. The visitor center on the south side of the lock is closed, and appears to have been for some time. However, a sign said there was an overlook further on, which turns out to be on the north side of the lock. Crossing the channel is actually done via a tunnel under the upper portion of the lock, with posted clearance of 13'6" (it turned out to be taller than that, according to our "bridge feeler," AKA the spring-loaded CB antenna).

As we arrived at the overlook, a parking lot perhaps 50 yards from the lock and a dozen feet higher up, we noticed a bulk freighter approaching from downstream, and we decided to stay and watch it lock through. The lot was empty, so we parked Odyssey perpendicular to the lock and as close to the fence as we could, then settled in to watch from our upstairs swivel chairs, binoculars in hand and the lockmaster dialed in on the scanner.

These enormous "Seaway Max" freighters approach the locks very slowly and deliberately, and I would say we were there a good 45 minutes while the J. W. Shelley locked upriver. Several other cars arrived while we were there and stayed for the locking; I think Odyssey became part of the attraction and I am sure we are now in a handful of vacation photos.

Just north of the lock is a New York State Park with camping, and we had considered the idea of spending the night there. I am a bit annoyed with the NY park system at the moment, though, and when we learned of the casino here, we decided to save our money and spend the night for free. That annoyance, BTW, resulted from them trying to charge us $23.75 for our primitive overnight spot that, the previous evening, they had told us would be $15 (the office was closing when we arrived, and they had told us to just pick a site and pay in the morning). It turns out the site we picked was a "premium" waterfront site for an additional $6, although it was identical to the site next to it, and we had the whole campground to ourselves anyway. Had they told us up front, we would just have picked the next space over. And then there is the $2.75 "registration fee" they neglected to mention. After I argued, they knocked it back down to $17.25 and recorded it as the non-premium space.

This casino turned out to be a perfect stop anyway. They gave us each $10 in free play for signing up for a players' card, which we parlayed into $21.50 in real cash between us. That paid for half our dinner in the buffet, including a glass of wine apiece. Large vehicle parking is in a designated lot with long, wide, angled pull-throughs.

Last night it got down into the upper 30s here, and our cold-weather air leakage is back with a vengeance. The compressor was running every six or seven minutes by the time I went to bed. Between all the compressor runs, and having to run the Webasto heater and its fans from the time we returned from dinner all the way to bed time -- the first time we've needed evening heat this season -- we had used up half the batteries by this morning, and had to run the generator for 45 minutes.

I neglected to mention it in yesterday's post, but I also spent an hour and change crammed into the left front wheel well Tuesday night rebuilding one of the suspension check valves. They're 25 years old (this one was stamped with a date code of April, 1984) and I think the rubber diaphragms are at end-of-life. After we parked, the compressor was coming on once a minute, and it didn't take long to find the hissing at that bag. I have to wonder now if these check valves are the source of our cold-weather leakage, with the rubber parts getting so stiff they can't seal fully. I'll be looking for replacements in the next few weeks.

Today we will continue along the border and cross Lake Champlain east of Rouses Point, and we should be in Burlington, Vermont tonight. That will add one more state to Odyssey's life-list, and, barring any calls from the Red Cross (they've already picked folks for American Samoa, and it wasn't us), we'll be able to continue on and hit all six New England states (the only ones in the lower 48 which Odyssey has not yet visited) right at the peak of the fall color. With any luck, we will make the circuit before any freezing weather hits.


  1. Sean the offer to get yer brakes done here still stands and we can address those leveling valves then too!
    BK aka Bryce Gaston

  2. Hey Sean and Louise, I love your site! It is an inspiration to me, I was wandering the net today dreaming about Spaceliners instead of working and for some reason this was the first time I came across your link. I live in Canada and only about 3 hours from Akwesasne and if I would have been daydreaming last week instead I might have tried to roll my bus down there just to see the beauty/beast in person. I mean the bus not you two! Well maybe next time you are up this way let me know and I will show you around.


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