New York State


Monday, October 5, 2015
Canadian border to Danville, NY

    I had hardly any trouble at the border, much less than I did in Canada. I guess being old makes you less likely to be a terrorist. I took I-190 briefly to route 31 east and passed "US Mailboxes" and US Meat Inspection. I stopped for breakfast (2 scrambled eggs, coffee, a bagel with cream cheese) and the Toast and Roast in Niagara and filled my tank for $26 at Smoking' Joe's Grocery in Sunburn. The sky was overcast. I reached Lockport NY at 11:24, the temperature 59.
    [In 1961-62, I hung around with Will Schultz, first playing pickup baseball in the baseball field behind the LIU dormitory in Brooklyn, later hanging around with him and his roommate Ed Kemash in their tiny apartment off the Bowery, playing pool in the basement of NYU's Loeb Student Center and drinking in McSorley's and Rocky's.]
    Welcome to the Historic Erie Canal. Route 77 at 11:40, through suburban territory, houses scattered along the road, not close to each other, a tractor sign but no farms. The road to Gasport. Open fields not planted with anything. Finally into farming country on both sides of the road, 3-foot-high stalks of corn dry and brown. A great blue heron flew across the road. Fields on either side, woods a quarter mile away, a pond, swamp. Genesee County. More dry and brittle corn. The Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area--grass out to the faraway trees, pond and swampland, a purple martin house, purple and yellow flowers, dandelions. The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. The same thing. Not much in the way of wildlife. Large swampland growth with woods in distance. The sun shining through the overcast. The town of Tonawanda at 12:02. Off 77 onto Route 63 at 12:06 to South Alabama, NY, the cloud cover breaking up. The Village of Oakfield--2-story homes, not tract homes, most built in the 40s or earlier, a long wraparound porch, an old brick building, a Methodist church, the town green with its tiny bandstand, a house with gingerbread trim next to one that could use some repair work.
    Lots of blue sky at Batavia. Hunters Landing, the Hunt Starts Here, Bows and Arrows for Sale and Trade. The Settlers Family Restaurant. Batavia is good-sized and has the cheapest gas. The Polka Dot: Famous for our Beefs on Wecks, Hots, Hamburgers, Roast Beef. (I have no idea what a week is.) Welcome Wine Walk Guests. I took pictures of an abandoned house and barn somewhere east of East Bethany. Wyoming Conty. Temp 66. Welcome to York. Onto Route 36. Welcome to Leicester. A small village green with a tiny gazebo. At West Sparta, there's what looks like a dirt road going off for a distance, growing thin with perspective. To my left, there is flat country with distant hills, woodland to my right. The speed limit on 36 is 55 mph, a 2-lane road with no divider and little traffic, well paved without patches or cracks or holes. A farm below the road, with several of those metal silos that remind me of metal dairy cans, more farms at the foot of the distant hills, dry corn, harvested fields with stubble, more metal silos, large and squat. The sky still more clouds than blue but the sun is shining through. Dansville at 1:45, the temp 69, several blocks lined with 3-story brick buildings with cornices built some time ago. The Dansville Inn at 2:10--about 10 rooms next to each other--an armchair, one lamp, 2 over the bed, a fridge, microwave, TV, 2 drawers, another chair, a small table, a coat rack no hangers, shelf over it with a/c over that, a very small bathroom, no storage area except the toilet top. Men are working noisily on the roof till 7:00.
    Downtown Dansville 4:30. A lot of closed businesses in 4:30, some of them not planning to ever open again. A 3-story brick building (Maxwell Block in chiseled letters at the top middle) with tall (over 6 feet) thin windows rounded at the top. Another one next to it, its 3rd floor windows plywooded over. Thomas P. Wamp, real estate. I have a meatball sub at the Leaning Tower of Pizza place, good-sized and cheap, with meatball patties instead of real meatballs (which makes it easier to eat). Back to the motel for TV and probably an early bed (around 10:30).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Danville, NY to Ithaca
    Up at 7:45 and on the road (Route 36) at 8:36, temp 57, another gray overcast day but no rain, temp in the high 50s. 36 is the Pearl Harbor Veterans Memorial Highway, a patched-up country road, with houses scattered along it, lots of trees just beginning to turn, but usually wilted rather than with color, gentle rolling country, distant hills in haze, purplish-blue with no detail. Fields of stubble and dry corn. An old silo at the edge of a woods showing its age. Barns and houses in the distance. Stopped at the Village Cafe in Arkport at 9:05 temp 54 for French toast and coffee.
    Hornell (The Maple City?). Eastern mountain country, clouds obscuring the tops of nearby hills. A divided highway for a while, 2 lanes each way with a median strip. Over the hump of a mountain, looking down into clouds that fill in the valleys between mountains, the mountains not that high. Pretty country now, with rolling hills backed up behind each. Into a little valley with farmland. Clouds against a mountain at Canisteo, settled 1789.

    Canisteo has a village green with a larger gazebo than the one in Leicester. Old houses, one a bright blue, one pale purple,a third pale yellow with reddish-brown gingerbread. A couple of ponies (Shetlands?) and a coupe of black horses. Attractive country, a valley between 2 tree-lined hills, more color, some reds, a brown barn with a Quonset hut attached to it, another building falling down on itself.
    At Jasper, I leave 36 for 417 past an Amish black wagon and horse, the driver in black with a straw hat (a boater?). The road is gently rolling hills, not particularly interesting, the wooden framework for a house or barn, an unpainted wooden barn, lots of buildings with unpainted wood, sometimes dark and brown, others grayish, weathered pr decomposed paint maybe, more tin roofs. The sun breaks through the clouds for just a moment. I take I-99S at 10:37, then realize I should have taken I-99N, into Pa, turn around, 99N into NY. I-86 at 10:55 through Corning, past the exit for Watkins Glen.
    [The only time I've been to Watkins Glen was in 1962. Gene Norris and I were sitting in the Rendezvous Inn in College Park, Md., when Gene said, "It's too late to watch the sunset from Sugarloaf Mountain." I said, "It's not too late to watch the sun rise." "Let me think about that." An hour later, we were on the road in Gene's Triumph TR-3 with our sleeping bags. We didn't make it to Sugarloaf Mountain. Instead, we watched the sun rise over the Susquehanna River somewhere in Pennsylvania then drove up to Watkins Glen, where I napped on the rocks in the glen while tourists walked by on the path a bit higher. Then we went to the racetrack, where we couldn't drive very fast because they had dug 3-inch deep trenches across the track since a couple of kids had killed themselves the previous week doing what we had intended to do.]
    Alongside a long line (30-40) of coal car type gondolas. Chemung County. Big Flats, D Zenker Road. The town of Horseheads (better than the other end, I guess). Off I-86 at 11:12 for 13 to Ithaca, another 2-lane well-paved highway, not much in the way of bumps or patches, greenery on either side. A lot of pines, rust-color in the deciduous trees, two trees close to each other, one almost completely yellowish green, the other still completely bright green on one tree. "Repent! Jesus Is Coming Soon." A covered bridge in Newfield wasn't worth a photo since it was surrounded by construction machines, a house with a square cupola or covered widows walk. Now on a ridge looking down on a valley, coming down into it. The highway is divided highway briefly, so I can’t see the other lane. Meadow Court Inn in Ithaca at 12:20. The room is not ready so I go across the road to kill time at a B&N--a brownie, internet. There are 3 or 4 open malls there, I stop into the Tops supermarket, Panera for Danish, and back to motel at 2:45—2 wicker chairs, one of those foldout things for suitcases, hangers with shelf above, a small desk a with socket and a fluorescent light, a TV with a 3-drawer dresser under, microwave, fridge, 2 queen size beds with small table and lamp between them, a small bathroom with very little storage space but more than the one in Dansville. I go to Tops to get a slice of pizza, a roast beef sandwich, some mints, and some flavored carbonated water.
    [The only time I had previously been in Ithaca was during the summer of 1969 when I drove up from the Clarion SF&Fantasy Writers Workshop in Pennsylvania to try (unsuccessfully) to get a job in the Cornell computer facility at about the same time a handful or two of weird people were on their way to Woodstock.]
    In the evening, I went to the open mike at the Lot 10, run by Leon, a very nice guy. It was a small room at the top of some stairs. Only a handful of people there when it began but by the time I performed (5th) the room, while not jampacked, had quite a few people in it and they were quiet, there for the music (and maybe the pool table). The first couple of performers weren't very good, except for a 3-piece band, which had pretty good chops, but the girl who followed me was very good. She was followed by Alex, a man probably in his 40s, quite good-looking in a distinguished way (most of the others were probably in their middle or late 20s), who played a bass with electronic loops, interesting but not really my cup of tea. Most of the people were in their mid to late 20s, 2 or 3 women. I did "All Night Diner," "That's the Bag I'm In," "This Old Van." Leon gave me a fourth song and I did "Paisley Highways." All in all, it turned out better than it seemed at the beginning of the night (I made only one minor error in "That's the Bag I'm In") but the talent pool at Whiskerz is better.
    Earlier in the day, I passed a state park that didn't seem very interesting. In the TV news there was something about that state park (and others)--the video made it seem very interesting.

Wednesday, October 67, 2015
Ithaca to the Pennsylvania state line
    Up around 8:30. I couldn't find my watch until I dropped some money and there it was, almost under the bed, apparently having fallen down during the night. I don't know if I would have found it if I hadn't dropped the money. I got on the road at 9:25, the temp 58, and immediately stopped to get a half tank of gasoline for $2.079, the cheapest gas so far.
    Then it was back down 13. It was mostly cloudy with a big patch of blue to the south, the sun shining brightly through the clouds, mountains to the east, close to the road, those behind shrouded in mist. A lot more color in the trees, though mostly an amberish yellow, the sumac and other low growth close to road dark red. A large stretch of mountains to my right, still mostly green, one red tree, not a real bright red, mountains to my left much closer to the road. A white barn, kind of shabby, with a cupola and broken windows, AD 1883 in large letters on its side. "Exotic Dancers" in the middle of nowhere just before Cayuta. 3 horses grazing, one brown, one a darker brown, the third a piebald brown & white. I got back to where I started yesterday, I-86 at 10:02, the sky largely clouded, a lot of cumulus to west, more blue. I continued on I-86 east, past "Adult Mega Outlet, Trucks Welcome" and Jerusalem Hill to Pennsylvania.