Day 3: Spencerport to Fairport, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 4, 2014

DSC_1367Journey Along the Erie Canal team had a rough start when Doug and Pam got locked out of their hotel room prior to the start. The 50-minute delay cost them their ice cream stop in Pittsford which didn’t fair well with 12-year old Owen – John’s youngest son, nor his best friend.

Besides the soaring heat and riding on a surface of rough stone dust, the team are on a strict timeline. Large welcome parties replete with police escorts, dignitaries and local ARC chapters are anticipating they finish at certain hours so the pressure is on.

Recumbent bicycles or tricycles aren’t just for riders that live with a physical disability or injury. Systems engineer at MVP, Martin Walders, as with dozens more that we’ve seen on the Erie Canal trails, use the laid-back reclining position to support their back and neck. The aerodynamic design is fast too, in fact, the world’s top speed on a bike were achieved on a recumbent.

To watch the video for DAY 3, click here: http://youtu.be/ctNZ-aI3hIk

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Day 2: Medina to Spencerport, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 4, 2014

Medina Gathering with Realty USAWell, despite the screaming hot temps, they made it another 32 miles today! They being John Robinson, Doug Hamlin, family, friends and supporters of the Journey along the Erie Canal II.

An easterly wind was so strong along the Erie Canal, it bent and twisted tree branches tossing debris onto the trail. Some even landed in the water. No matter. The team fought sunburn and dehydration and somehow managed enough energy to meet and greet curious locals in the port village of Albion.

In Albion, the crew enjoyed a police escort from the trail to Main Street to an advocacy organization called The Arc of Orleans County. NYSARC, a major sponsor for this trek, is helping coordinate logistics and public relations for Our Ability along with prepping refreshments and hardy handshakes with local politicians at the beginning, middle or end of each ride.

To watch the video for DAY 2, click here: http://youtu.be/1hDy7d8VDvc

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Day 1: Tonawanda to Medina, NY

by Sonja Stark on July 3, 2014

DSC_1289Day 1 of the “Journey Along the Erie Canal II” kicked off with a press event at the Nia Wanda Park in Tonawanda. Hundreds were attendance as Robinson, Hamlin, family and supporters began their 365-mile trek to Albany. Day 1 culminated in 6 hours of riding in 90-degree temps with several flat tires and one ice cream stop in the bucolic town of Medina, NY.

To watch the video for DAY 1, click here: http://youtu.be/MR4SWrlHct0

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Biking the Erie Canal Corridor with Our Ability

by Sonja Stark on June 29, 2014

John_Doug_Interview_MediaRenowned entrepreneur, motivational speaker and advocate for people with disabilities John Robinson has once again embarked on the Journey Along the Erie Canal, an ambitious twelve-day bicycle ride across upstate New York via the scenic and historic Erie Canalway Trial.

“We knew we were successful in 2013, when a young man with a physical disability approached us on the street and very quietly asked us if he can join us in 2014!” said Robinson, who through his organization, Our Ability, mentors, connects and inspires people with disabilities towards education and employment.

Journey Along the Erie Canal II begins in Tonawanda, NY on Monday morning (June 29) but tonight Robinson and Our Ability co-founder Doug Hamlin gathered with friends, family and supporters for a ‘Send-Off Party” in Snyder, NY – approximately 30 minutes from the starting line.

To enjoy the videos that I scramble to finish every night as well as support the ride, bookmark this link: Journey Along the Erie Canal

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Beef and beer mecca in South Royalton, Vermont

by Sonja Stark on June 28, 2014

Worthy BurgerAfter noshing on locally-sourced dishes in Randolph all week, it was time for some sloppy food truck fare. It was only fitting after 10 hours of filming greasy transmissions underneath smelly diesel truck-trailers all day.

But the Randolph Maple BBQ King, on Route 66 in front of the Mobile Station, had a sign on the window that said “Gone to ER.” Was “ER” suppose to stand for a nearby town or the emergency room? It wasn’t the BBQ, was it?

No matter. We were getting hungrier by the minute so our standby pick, the Worthy Burger, took on a whole new degree of importance. We slowly but surely navigated the curvy backroads to South Royalton and finally found it hidden inside a renovated 1850s railroad freight house.

Walking inside, we were in good company. We noticed issues of Seven Days, Vermont’s own independent rag, (think a bigger version of the Metroland) topping the tables. The publication recently polled readers and voted Worthy the best burger joint in all of Vermont.

But, alas, something was amiss. Where was the hostess to seat us? Or, the wait staff to take our order? What about a menu? Instead, colorful chalkboards litter the walls with listings for veggie and grass-fed favorites including the fatty duck confit and turkey – the Turkducky. There are only four burgers to pick from (and one salmon steak sandwich) but add the fixins, dress it up with blue, cheddar, brie or chevre, and you’ve scored one monster treat.

A friendly face, apropos of Vermont, invited us to sit at the bar. We were given vibrating pagers (like those at Panera) to retrieve our order. Co-owners, Executive Chef Jason Merrill and the “Beer Dude,” Dave Brodrick, were busy playing catch up. I noticed the kitchen staff flipping chow sans disposable gloves. I took this as a good sign because studies have shown that wearing mitts actually leads to a false sense of security and LESS hand-washing as a result.

Served in a Worthy glass, there are 15 rotating draughts of artisanal varieties: saison (Belgian), barrel-aged, even Mead beer – all with fluctuating levels of ABV. The breweries includes Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s Finest, Lost Nation, Foley Brothers and Zero Gravity. To settle the confusion, we ordered six eight-ounce glasses between the three of us and sipped one another’s.

Our bounty arrived a few minutes later and silence befell our end of the bar. My burger was heaping with portobello mushroom sauce and side order of marinated pickles. Later, I learned from the Boston Globe that the fries are actually cooked twice in beef tallow, something few restaurants do. Everything is local and sustainable, even the hardwood for the fire is cut from trees nearby.

Worthy was both worth every effort to find and will be again very soon.

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A Week in Quintessential Vermont

by Sonja Stark on June 25, 2014

Sara enjoys the Parmelee Farm Chicken Noodles in coconut broth with seaweed, broccoli, spinach, carrot and rice noodles.

Sara enjoys the Parmelee Farm Chicken Noodles in coconut broth with seaweed, broccoli, spinach, carrot and rice noodles.


I’m being lulled to sleep by a soft rain tonight. Two hungry horses are still grazing in the field outside my window, unafraid of the ominous clouds collecting above. NOVA is playing on PBS and I’m safely snug under a white down comfortable surrounded by an antique furniture and a vintage floral-patterned wallpaper.

For the last week I’ve been on assignment in quintessential Vermont with overnights at the
Three Stallions Inn just a mile from the bucolic little town of Randolph. The job is ten hours of blood, sweat and toil at a local diesel engine repair shop, but given where I’m bunking and the breakfast options, my crew of three are revitalized every morning by the amenities.

The idyllic central Vermont town offers plenty of comforts after work as well. There’s One Main Tap and Grill, the Depot, Village Pizza and our local favorite, The Black Krim Tavern.

RANDOLPH, VERMONT

Equal parts vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and delicious, The Black Krim serves up certified organic heirloom dishes that are so perfectly executed that there’s no need for salt, pepper or any condiments on the tables. An ever-changing menu ensures fresh produce from local farms and variety of flavors.

I enjoyed a hefty portion of coconut dusted seared salmon sitting atop a chili rice cake swimming in a pool of sparkling pineapple puree with a side dish of shaved cucumber slaw. That unique surprise lead to a return visit again tonight for the Seitan burger (no bun) topped with smoked blue cheese, roasted red peppers, toasted corn puree and greens.

The discerning spread and cozy atmosphere reminded my producer of Albany’s own New World Bistro. Rather than Ric Orlando in the kitchen it was Sara Natvig, the owner and trained chef who is too busy to thank personally but can be peeped at through the front restaurant window.

With our fuel source replenished, my crew will sleep soundly tonight.

Three Stallions Inn

RANDOLPH, VERMONT

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