Monday, August 13, 2007

The Towpath


Glen and I met a guy on a bike on Mulberry Street (we were at the Salvation Army store) who had been following the D&R Canal to there, when it seem to disappear. We knew it wound its way through the city -- likely along the train tracks, we offered -- but we weren't sure which way to tell him to go, only that it would pick back up again just north of the Statehouse. We directed him toward Rt. 29, and said he'd eventually run into it. It bothers me, as a Trenton resident, to not know more about the canal in the city. But I'm a Johnny-Come-Lately, so what can you expect? If you look at the maps of the canal, Trenton is at the center of it. All roads and canals lead here! This city was, at one point, a destination.

I have spent a lot of time along the towpath, in various spots along the canal, but never in Trenton, and never without my dog. Part of it was that, like the bicyclist, I just lost my way, too, and never looked at a map for long enough to find out more. But also, I'm a woman, and I just didn't want to deal with the threat of violence in the city. Real or perceived. Bad stuff happens in the suburbs, I know that; and I think the suburbs see far more creepy, premeditated crimes than what we actually get here in the Hood.

Because of our encounter with the bicyclist, I had been thinking for the last week or so that it was time I try to find my way along the canal in the city. My dog is going to be 15 in a month, and isn't quite the exploring companion she used to be, so I'd have to go it alone. But today I read the article in the Times, about the woman who was accosted at gunpoint, along the towpath, just north of the city. Don't get me wrong, it's somewhat of a relief to hear that this particular crime did not happen in the city, although I'd bet the thug in question lives here. But maybe not. Mostly, though, I'm pissed. Really pissed about this. I feel for that woman. It could have very easily been me! Even if I had no interest in taking in nature and history on a lovely Sunday, I still feel for that woman: no one should have to fear for her (or his) safety, ever.

I'm often a bit of a loner -- so I also resent that now, if I do decide to take my trip along the canal, I'd be more inclined (and encouraged) to go with another person. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I like to walk slow and take pictures, and not everyone else does. But that woman's attack has motivated me to get over to the canal and enjoy it -- here in Trenton, or in one of the other towns. I'm not going to let that thug ruin it. I hope other people feel the same way.

So this attack isn't going to deter me, and it has me thinking too: maybe the city can do a bit more to promote the canal as an attraction? After all, based on that bicyclist's bike and gear, he smelled of Princeton. Go figure: A Princeton guy near the friggin' RoadRunner on Mulberry Street! And we encountered him randomly! Maybe he's not the only person who more or less just wanders into Trenton? There could be others! Maybe if Trenton had some signs for the Delaware and Raritan Canal, we might've been able to get him to stop for lunch? Maybe we'd be able to get him back for a show at the War Memorial? Is the city interested in that kind of thing? My guess: no. The canal is run by the state park service, and the War Memorial also falls within the State's sphere of influence, and I'd bet the City of Trenton doesn't give a pee about anything to do with the State.

Or maybe it does. Yesterday, my husband was working on the car, just outside of our garage, and some dude walked up to him and asked him, "do you mind if I take a piss on the side of your garage?" Nice of him to ask, really. We see people all the time pissing on garages around here, and we know they didn't bother to ask permission. Johnnies-Come-Lately don't pee on garages, we don't even ask to. Maybe eventually, we'll get with the program.

Check out more about the Canal/Towpath:
Delaware and Raritan State Park's website

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