Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm NEVER driving a scenic road again!

July 23, 2007
Wolcott, NY to Pownal, VT

256.9 miles
Heavy overcast and rain all day!

I’m never driving a scenic road again! At least not in this part of the world! What a day! I think in this older part of the nation, with lots of tiny old roads, I’ll stick to better traveled highways! I was cruising along, happily enjoying the countryside, as I love to do, when I came to an old railroad crossing, which was a little too low for my big box. 12’8”. So I had to find my way around it. Next was an underpass that was only 10’. An hour later, I found my way to a highway. Not fun.

I began the day on the Seaway Trail – New York’s National Scenic Byway, a 454-mile scenic route paralleling Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

You’ve probably noticed that I spend most of my time in the country – this trip is for me to enjoy the beauty of our land.

I’ve been to the cities – I’ve seen the museums, I’m out this time to see the land! There’s the little problem of no rest stops, no places to park – but it’s worth every mile! The small towns, even though many are struggling, have so much personality and so much charm!

It pleases me to see how many American flags fly in these little towns – on so many homes, on so many street signs and businesses! People may not be happy with the current government, but they sure seem happy to be Americans!

I’m seeing a lot of corn, again – the farmlands cover way more land in way more areas than I knew! The rest of the vegetation changes though – I’m seeing huge weeping willows (?) – I’m not sure they’re weeping willows, because they’re so much bigger than any I’ve seen, but they’re sure weeping somethings, and are so elegant and lovely! And huge sunflowers!

(no pictures of the lovely photo ops today – my camera seems to have developed blindness! The LCD window doesn’t see anymore. And I discovered that my pointing abilities are lacking! Not sure what to do about this little turn of events!)

Love this area – hand painted signs on trees advertising Christmas trees and home made maple syrup. More of the little towns that show all the signs of stress and heartbreak, but also lots of hope!!

Most of the day was spent today on roads under repair – rather than just the 4 or 5 construction zones a day I’ve been averaging – but at least on the New York Tollway, they seem to do it right. The road is lined with big lights, so them must do all the repairs at night! And their rest stops, which they call service areas, are the most intelligent I’ve seen – they have gas stations, and restaurants, plus the rest area facilities!

This is the Adirondacks area – and is gorgeous! Passed thru the ‘Central Leatherstocking Region’ which 8 of 10 New Yorkers call ‘upstate New York’! Wondering where the name of this region came from? A clue - it really is (or was) a type of clothing! You can find out the rest of the story from the many museums located in the region! They specialize in fun signs too – as in a restaurant that advertises it’s ‘raw bar’ two nights a week. I’m going to choose to believe that means oysters and the like!

It’s rather a hippyish area – purple houses, lots of mystics and psychics, peace signs and dragons! And way too many snowmobile road signs! There’s a Petrified Creature Museum near Cooperstown. The Petrified Creatures Museum of Natural History was established in 1934. It’s one of the oldest museums in New York State and is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents as an "Educational Museum of Science and Nature". ”The Petrified Creatures Museum of Natural History is a hands-on discovery center where you can actually learn about fossils, then dig for fossils and keep what you find FREE. All this while roaming through a nature path filled with life sized DINOSAUR statues.”

One of the little villages has signs posted stating they operate under the “right to farm law”. The what? This relates to laws allowing farmers to pursue their work without threat of nuisance lawsuits – like the people moving to the country from the cities who then find the smells and noises of farming offensive – like it wasn’t there when they bought their country digs! Interesting article about it at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5DA133FF93AA1575AC0A967958260

After meandering all over the countryside, as explained in my opening of this particular day’s post, I found my way thru Albany, NY (worth a visit some day – the architecture was old and spectacular!!) into Vermont, still in the rain, and beautiful and green, with tiny roads!

And into a setting so tranquil, I wish I could stay forever! At least until it gets cool! Or cold!

Pine Hollow campground
342 Pine Hollow Road
Pownal, VT  05261

Grape Vines

July 22, 2007
Lantz Corners, PA to Wolcott, NY

205.4 miles
Another spectacular day!

Fascinating countryside – beautiful and green – lovely farmland – lots of fruit and veggie stands.

I need a little schooling in government here – there are Townships and Villages and Boroughs. So:

A township in the United States refers to a small geographic area, ranging in size from 6 to 54 square miles, with 36 square miles being the norm.
The term is used in two ways.
survey township is simply a geographic reference used to define property location for deeds and grants.
civil township is a unit of local government. Civil townships are generally given a name, sometimes abbreviated "Twp".

Now that makes some sense, because a number of the roads held ‘Twp’ designations!

A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet, but smaller than a town or city. Though generally located in rural areas, the term urban village may be applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New York City and the Saifi Village in Beirut, Lebanon. Villages normally are permanent, with fixed dwellings; however, transient villages can occur. Further, the dwellings of a village are fairly close to one another, as against being scattered broadly over the landscape (‘dispersed settlement’).
Villages have been the usual form of
community for agricultural societies, and even for some non-agricultural societies. Towns and cities were few, and were home to only a small proportion of the population. The Industrial Revolution caused many villages to grow into towns and cities; this trend of urbanisation has continued, though not always in connection with industrialisation. Villages have thus been eclipsed in importance, as units of human society and settlement.

So, OK, these attractive little communities I’m seeing are mostly in agricultural areas, so this one follows too!

The word "borough" has many meanings relating to local government in the United States. Since the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes local government for the most part a matter for the states rather than the federal government, the states are free to have political subdivisions called "boroughs," or not to do so, and to define the word in many different ways.
The following states use, or have used, the word with the following meanings:
Connecticut, as an incorporated municipality within, or consolidated with, a town
Minnesota, formerly applied to one municipality
New Jersey, as a type of independent incorporated municipality
New York, as one of the five divisions of New York City, each coextensive with a county
Pennsylvania, as a type of municipality
Virginia, as a division of a city under certain circumstances

I was seeing most of those designated boroughs in Pennsylvania, and they seemed to be the largest and most organized of the little communities!

So much for lessons for today!

Penny gets bored when I lecture too much!

Passed thru Lewis Run, PA, which bills itself as the “Smallest Industrial Borough in the United States”, but I haven’t found out just why. As I’ve mentioned previously, little towns always must find claims to fame! Lewis Run did have a very nice, well maintained Pet Cemetery, so it gets my vote!

Also spotted an ‘Oil Well Museum’, located on the banks of Oil Creek in Venango Country of Pennsylvania, where Edwin Drake drilled North America's first oil well in 1859, though Drake never made any money from his oil. The museum collects, preserves, and interprets the founding of the oil industry in the state of Pennsylvania and its growth into a global enterprise. What is now a largely wild second growth forest with several cold water fishery creeks flowing through it, was once the site of the vast oil industry that dramatically changed the landscape and water quality of the Oil Creek Valley.

Guess I snuck in a little more history after all.

And speaking of history, I spotted a couple more of those storybook old cemeteries I like so much!

I do need to say something about driving across this land. It isn’t just the roads around where we live that are awful – terrible roads are everywhere! I’ve had more than my share this last couple days! And the other drivers are bad, no matter where you are! And they all speed! This trip of mine has been a challenge in that way – but worth it none the less!

Headed north thru the Finger Lakes area in New York, and oh my goodness it’s a beautiful area!
Lots of vineyards, with lots of little boutique wineries I’ve never heard of. Beautiful end to the day!

Great signs everywhere!

July 21, 2007
Mt Gilead, OH to Lantz Corners, PA

270.0 Miles
Beautiful Day!

What a gorgeous day to be on the road – bright blue sky, white puff clouds, brilliant green landscape, lots of little squiggly roads – neat!!

Spotted a sign on the way out of town – Mt. Gilead, Home of Warren Harding, 29th President of the United States. I so enjoy how each town must find any excuse for fame – not putting down being home to a future president, but as you’ve read here, some claims to fame are not so prestigious!

Heard on the news this morning that the largest civil war reenactment was being held this weekend someplace close by – these reenactments are a really big deal – not just in the area of the actual battles, but nationwide. I knew a fellow in Green Valley, AZ who traveled all over the country to participate in the reenactments. Summer is a popular time, and when I checked the official calendar just now, there is something going on in more than one state every weekend for weeks on end!

I understand that coyotes are being reintroduced to the area – apparently the deer have been proliferating and procreating happily, which is quite apparent from the signs of roadkill. Hunters can’t begin keep up. Hope the coyotes don’t take the easier targets instead!

As pretty a day as it was, it’s rather depressing sometimes to drive through middle America – many small towns are dying, town central has many empty store fronts – lots of homes for sale, often long empty. Happily, some little towns are striving to retain their heritage, but many have obviously simply given up. Family businesses can’t compete anymore – we see it everywhere. Steel production has moved away from this area, American cars are built overseas, jobs are gone – people move on. Young people leave home as soon as possible – the elderly have nothing, and just wait to die. Progress – YUCK.

Enough of that on this lovely day. I really do appreciate those little towns that clean up the old buildings and try to find another way to survive!

At least I have lucked into gas at under $3.00 – not much under, but every penny counts with a 75 gallon tank!

Spotted a couple more oil birds in backyards near Akron – both appear long dead though, all rusty and weed covered!

Rather like the highways in this area – which are gawd-awful! Teeth rattling and bone breaking! Well, not quite that bad, but they shook stuff off shelves that has never fallen before!

Plenty interesting signs though –

‘Hey Leadfoot – your speed kills!’

and ‘Buckle Up for Next Million Miles’

Then there is ‘Unce’s Tavern – Good Food and Lousy Parking!’

Or ‘Protect Your Forest – Pack Hot Dogs, Not Firewood’. Say what?

Several folks in the back country market cemetery head stones from their front yards – some very attractive. In two places, there were life size stone motorcycles cut as headstones! “Proud to ride, Proud to die” – huh??

Ended the day at an interesting little park near Lantz Corners in Pennsylvania after many miles thru the gorgeous green Allegheny National Forest. The place was an unofficial home to hundreds of rabbits, that had the run of the land. All colors, with no fear of people at all. Was not conducive to walking barefoot in the grass though! Penny was enthralled!

As was the charming wiggle-giggle smiling Golden staying in the next space. Mandy was one of the friendliest, happiest doggies I’ve met in a long time – she liked people more than the rabbits!

They were having a Christmas in July contest – the folks across from me were there for just the weekend, but had brought out all the lights!

The Animal Rescue Site

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person with my name in the U.S.A.

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