On a recent rainy evening, Al Freihofer of Baltimore, MD tied his Adirondack Guide Boat to one of Baldwinsville's docks where he spent the night. It had been a long day as he had rowed some 30 miles from Lock CS-1 in Cayuga.
But this is only part of his story. Freihofer had spent the previous four days rowing the entire distance of the canal from Tonawanda.
You might ask, "Why would anyone in their right mind want to row a 16-foot boat 360 miles?"
There were several reasons. First and foremost was to raise money for a student financial aid program at the school in Baltimore where he teaches. Secondly, to enjoy the countryside at a slow pace across New York State. And thirdly, to test the endurance of both himself and his boat.
Such rowing marathons are nothing new to Freihofer, whose family owned the nationally known baking business of that name for generations. Two years ago, he rowed from Troy to Baltimore and raised $18,000 in pledges for student financial aid. The following year he raised $12,000 for a rescue shelter. This year, starting in Buffalo on June 22, he made a detour at Montezuma and went to Cayuga Lake State Park where he attended a reunion of the Morehouse family. The reunion was held on the site of the park that Morehouse powerboats were produced for several generations.
Freihofer, 57, was particularly complimentary of the locktenders who he said "were very friendly and couldn't have been more helpful. They're awesome." But he said what he enjoyed most was the serenity of the canal as much of the time "I had it to myself" because there was so little boat traffic.
"It's a shame," he said. "It's a beautiful waterway and it's great to be able to enjoy it in slow motion."