wholepeace

The Long and Winding Road

In Travels With Myself on June 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Yesterday was an interesting ride through New York State. As I made my way from Oneonta to Ithaca, there was no direct route, no single path between the two, though they lie along roughly the same latitude and not terribly far apart. Instead there is a patch work of roads that run east and west, north and south, across the state. Even the interstates seem to give Ithaca a wide berth.
As you drive through all that dairy and corn country (Cincinnatus, NY, Home of the World Famous Corn Fest!), as you wind through the hills that lie between the Catskills and the Allegheny, towns pop up suddenly as you round a corner or come down over a hill, then disappear just as quickly behind you. There’s been very little traffic so far and most of it seeming to be in no particular hurry to get somewhere. Even Ithaca, which is a decent-sized city, though it’s a college town where college is out for the summer, appeared very quickly as I came in on route 79. There were no suburbs, no edge-of-town malls or car dealerships, just a sign that welcomed me to Ithaca and then the downtown.
Ithaca was late-June quiet. Streets were almost deserted at 11:00 in the morning. There’s some improvement going on, the creation of what looks like a walking mall along one of the main streets, but the city itself looks settled, comfortable with itself. It shops speak of the students who are there for eight months of the year and the professors who stay year round. The street I walked down was occupied by cafés with sidewalk seating. Viva Taqueria, which promises healthy Mexican food is just up the street from the Bangkok Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar; and across the street is the Autumn Leaves Used Book Store, where I spent $40.00 on books and then went upstairs to the Owl Café, which serves iced coffee with coffee ice cubes (an idea I will suggest to Victoria Station Café in Putnam). There are head shops and eclectic little stores of all kinds, like the Ithaca Hemp Store, and even the chains are places like A Thousand Villages, with not a Gap or American Eagle or Abercrombie and Fitch in sight.
After Ithaca I decided that I would start heading south as well as west, with the idea of making it into Pennsylvania before I stopped for the night. This was actually a fairly simple plan, as it involved only three major routes, but I still managed a wrong turn and ended up briefly passing through Canisteo, which I learned is the site of the world famous living sign, though I saw no sign, no signs indicating where the sign might be and no explanation of what caused it to be living. But as it is a world famous site, then I am ready to admit that it is probably just my deplorable lack of sophistication about such sites that is at fault. I did, however, take note of the location of the October corn maze (not, apparently, world famous) as I left town to get back on my way to Pennsylvania.
As I had noted before, on crossing from Connecticut to New York, state borders seem to signal changes in attitude or style, not just sovereignties. Rural Pennsylvania along route 446/46 and down onto 6 and 66 is all about the Alleghenies. Little general-store-and-a-church towns interrupt only momentarily the drive through foothills and forests. For nearly a hundred miles from Bullis mills to Clarion it was farms and forests and mountains and little villages. I finally stopped just outside Clarion at the grandly named Rustic Acres RV Resort and Campground, mostly a collection of permanently parked RVs with tiny yards and uneven decks around them. I think I was the only transient camper in the place, and even the seasonal camps were mostly empty on a Monday night. The owner is a man named Quinn, who is probably older than he looks, though I would guess him to be in his 70s or 80s. As I registered, he told me how he had worked for a large electronics firm until they sent the jobs to Asia, then for another company until he couldn’t stand it anymore; how he retired from that job, then bought a campground in North Carolina, then sold it to retire again; and how he subsequently came up to Pennsylvania with his wife, who was attending a church conference, stayed at the Rustic Acres, discovered that the place was for sale and decided to buy it. He told his wife what he wanted to do and she replied, “Do whatever you want, I have to get ready for my conference.” Now he says he’s about ready to retire again, and if I’m at all interested, he can assure me that running a campground is pretty easy. I was neither convinced nor tempted.

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