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Merle Exit Finds The Jefferson Clinton Hotel Is The Ideal Getaway Spot For Touring Syracuse

Esther, Eunice and I checked into the Jefferson Clinton Hotel at 416 S. Clinton Street, two blocks away from the Armory Square area of downtown Syracuse and part of Clinton Square. This 11 story upscale hotel had me relaxing in their Presidential Suite on the 11th Floor. Dining room, full kitchen, living room and bedroom where the cushy bed and desk was located. Although the hotel does not have a restaurant, a full breakfast buffet is part of the deal and located in the lobby. The amenities include a whole list of "in case you forgot" items.

As far as eating, we went to Sakana-Ya-Sushi, a true sushi bar. Seats are at the bar and the food rides along a conveyor belt. The plates are different colors and there is a sign near your seat that states the price of the plate. If you don't see something that you like, you can order from the waitress. Esther was being her funny self here.

Being along the canal there are several opportunities to travel by boat, which range from a 1-hour boat tour to renting a luxurious houseboat complete with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and full kitchen. That's the one we got to use offered by Bob Stivers at Stivers Seneca Marine, located on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.

The boat first made its way onto Seneca Lake before turning around to visit the canal. This particular part of the canal is surrounded by homes and a few business enterprises. It's not odd to see blue herons wait for the boat and then soar in front of it, stop, catch up and repeat. The blue herons have their territory so another one will take its place along the way.

The day brought misty rain and hard winds, which made it a bit difficult for me to take over the wheel. We went into a lock but Bob decided not to continue through, backed up and did a u-turn.

On to Palmyra which has been coined "Queen of Canal Towns", although I'm not sure as to why. We didn't get to tour much of the town as time was spent at William Phelps General Store, a 19th century original general store with original items and home. Located at 132 Market Street, it was constructed in 1826. William Phelps renovated the store by 1875. It was then turned over to his son Julius who closed the store in 1940. Upstairs I found the post-Civil War furnishings.

Sibyl Phelps lived there with no electricity or plumbing. Yes, there is an outhouse. Sibyl died in 1976. Seeing the items on the shelves could certainly bring nostalgia to those over the age of 70. The store is just a block away from the Erie Canal.

Nearby is Camillus, a town outside of Syracuse. It was here that we visited my last stop on the Erie Canal and took a more relaxed tour where the scenes were of walkers, joggers, and bike riders. We saw the aqueduct system and much greenery. Due to the sun it was sometimes hard to tell where the top of the water started and the reflection began. Rather than a houseboat we were on a pontoon, which I was also able to easily pilot.

We first visited the Sims' Museum, a replica of the Sims canal store that housed anything the canal fleet needed in the way of medicines, cooking tools, food & water, kerosene & coal, apparel, animal feed & equipment, and hardware. There was one of those great murals located on the second floor.

The tour ending, I was looking forward to coming back not only Syracuse but to Lockport in Niagara County and further canal areas of Saratoga.

 By Merle Exit

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