Day 5: Thursday, August 13
Route: Lancaster, NH to Arcade Village, NY
On Tuesday a group had gotten up at 3:30 AM to watch the sunrise from the summit of Mount Washington. They had been turned back at the entry gate due to heavy fog which would have made for a dangerous ascent. This morning, some of them tried again, and this time were met with success.
Me? I slept in. 3:30 would have been a bit much; I’ll see the sun rise some other time, some other place. Maybe on the internet.
Besides, I had a full schedule. I needed to get at least half way to Ann Arbor today, but I had a long list of things to see along the way, so an early start was important. After a tasty ham-and-egg sandwich at the resort diner, I finished packing up the bike, said my goodbye’s, and hit the road at about 8:00. Like yesterday, there had been dense fog when I woke up (not just in my head)
, but by departure time it had cleared enough so that street-level visibility was not a problem.
The first stop was just 30 miles down the road near Lyndonville, Vermont, where an open field had been festooned with a giant ball and jacks:
They appeared to be expertly made, but there was no sign or anything else to indicate who made them or why. There was also a giant key and keyhole, but I didn’t catch a photo of them.
A few miles away in the heart of downtown of Lyndonville, I searched for – but could not find – The Puking Pig
. My bad, it looks like it was in the town next door, Lyndon Center.
As I was riding out of Lyndonville, I spotted a welding shop where the proprietor and his staff had gone a little nuts with creativity and assembled a bunch of sculptures from propane tanks and random pieces of steel:
A closeup of “The Vermonster:”
I thought the tax collection bucket (and blood spatter) were nice touches.
20 miles down the road, I arrived at the barn with a hammer-shaped weather vane, first mentioned on day 2:
Now you understand what I meant by hammer-shaped: it wasn’t just a passing resemblance, or a freak oversight, this weather vane was deliberately constructed to look like a giant claw hammer. I would have loved to get closer for a shot, but the horse-sized dog to the left of the barn vociferously forbade further approach.
36 miles further, I arrived at the Middlesex Cemetery, where a brief search led me to an odd grave marker:
The text at bottom reads: HERE LIES OLD JACK CROW IT WAS TOO BAD HE HAD TO GO
WHILE ON THIS EARTH HE WAS HELL BENT
AND WE KNEW SOME DAY HE WOULD UP AND WENT
On the opposite side of the marker, Mr. Crow’s name was accompanied by that of a lady, presumably his wife. It was difficult to find more information about this marker, but the one web page I found claimed that Mr. Crow had been the owner of the National Clothes Pin Factory in nearby Montpelier. One may also assume that he (or his family, at least) had an unshakeable sense of humor.
After leaving Mr. Crow’s clothespin, I went to Barre, Vermont, looking for something Roadside America had billed simply as “the whispering statue,” a statue whose esplanade was said to possess some interesting acoustical properties. When I arrived, it was not at all what I expected:(click on image to open a full-sized panoramic photo in a new window)
Turns out this was a memorial to the nation’s war-dead. The inscription below the statue read:THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD AS
WE THAT ARE LEFT GROW OLD
AGE SHALL NOT WEARY THEM
NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN
AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE
WILL REMEMBER THEM
I was a bit taken aback by the solemn tone of it all, which was not at all in sync with the expectations I had developed based on the “whispering statue” description. I finally left without looking into the aforementioned acoustic properties (supposedly a person standing at one end of the semicircular wall can whisper and be heard by someone standing at the far end).
My next stop was much farther away, about 160 miles. I followed the GPS down I-89, then west on VT107/100 and US4 into Adirondack Park. Eventually I was enjoying a scenic, twisty cruise along the western shore of Great Sacandaga Lake. Half way down the western shore, I stopped at the Four Corners diner, where I was served a surprisingly good cheeseburger for a hole-in-the-wall shack in the middle of no where.
After lunch I rode through Northville, then turned south on NY30 for a couple of miles, at which point I arrived at a house with a tree growing through it:
The house appeared to be abandoned some time ago, and the tree was clearly dead; I simply could not figure out how these two items had arrived in their present configuration, and since then I haven’t been able to find any relevant information at all. Berry, berry strange.
Unlike the whispering statue, my next stop was properly described by Roadside America as a 9/11 memorial. It seemed a bit odd to me that this memorial had been erected in DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse about 200 miles from the World Trade Center site. Then again, maybe it’s a bit different when 9/11 happened in your own state.The memorial
was built around a steel-and-concrete beam salvaged from the debris of the World Trade center:
In a few places on the beam, some personal effects – apparently from victims of the attack – had been left behind:
After leaving the memorial I headed west on I-690 through Syracuse. Near the heart of downtown I passed by another Roadside America entry called ”Waiting for the Night Train.”
This is an abandoned train station in which a sculptor placed several ghostly, dirty white statues, all of whom are waiting for a train to arrive. Unfortunately the sculptures are only visible from the highway; with dense, fast-moving traffic, it’s impossible to photograph unless you’re a passenger in a car.
Further west in Syracuse I left the highway to check out an oddity in the Tipperary Hill district
, a traffic light turned upside down:
As you can see, the red light is on the bottom. I waited and waited to take a second pic, but the light never turned green until I gave up and approached it on my RT.
The official history is that when the traffic light was first installed in the 1920s, Irish fanatics in the neighborhood were offended that the green was on the bottom (and red, a color associated with the British, was on top); they smashed the original light, and several identical replacements installed by the city. The authorities finally relented and installed a green-on-top traffic light, to which none of the locals objected.
Before I saddled up to leave, I saw a mailman walking his route through the neighborhood. I had with me a postcard which I had bought at the summit of Mount Washington, filled out in the hotel room at the Un, and intended to mail to Masako. Since then I had searched a few times for a mailbox but been unable to find one, and now here was a real live postman, happy to take my card off my hands. (The post card made it home the day after I did. )
I headed northwest out of town, bound for Wolcott, 40 miles away. It was late afternoon, and I was headed approximately west; as such, the sun had begun its transition from “damn hot” to “blindingly bright.” Things hadn’t really started cooling down yet – the temp was somewhere near 90 – but the sun was getting low enough so that the sun was starting to get in my eyes. Ah, the best of all worlds.
Upon reaching Wolcott, I bore witness to the goddess Venus rising fully formed from the sea:
The plaque on the side of the fountain:
As pretty as Venus and her cherubs were, the benthic beasties what bore them aloft were somewhat more disturbing to behold:
After leaving Wolcott, I headed west on NY104 to Rochester. By now the sun was getting even lower, consistently blasting me in the eyes; I was grateful for my Shoei’s tinted visor. At Rochester I turned south on I-390, relieving me of that damnable solar glare. The GPS begged me to turn west on the I-90 tollway again, but I had learned my lesson days earlier, and wanted to see more of rural New York. I skipped I-90 altogether, and further south at US20 I turned west for a couple of miles, stopping in Avon for gas before heading south and west on NY39 and NY78. By this time the sun had begun its transition from “blindingly bright” to “dazzlingly beautiful” as it sunk low on the horizon and grew redder and dimmer. The temperature had dropped quite a bit, too: the riding was transformed from an uncomfortably hot means-to-an-end into a true pleasure cruise across sparsely populated farmland.
Somewhere west of Gainesville I spotted a wind turbine, and then as I crested a hill, many more of them. Big turbines. Really
big ones, by the dozen. Finally I decided to turn off on a dirt road that seemed to lead to one near by. Before I reached the end, I parked the bike and took a couple of shots, since the sun and surroundings seemed perfect for a glamour photo or two:
Back on the bike, I followed the road another hundred yards or so to its terminus, and was very surprised to see that the tower was fully accessible to any visitor. No fence, no “NO TRESPASSING” signs, nothing. The tower had an access door at the bottom; I didn’t try it, but I would have been shocked if it were actually unlocked. The door is helpful in providing a sense of scale for this thing:
Opponents of wind farms sometimes claim that these huge turbines emit low-frequency acoustic noise from the big blades, but standing just 100 feet from the base of the tower, I didn’t hear much noise from the blades at all. About every minute or so a big electric motor at the top of the tower would run for a bit, presumably to adjust blade pitch or heading.
Further west in Curriers, I spotted The Little Engine That Could:
On the other side of the tracks, the Curriers Depot:
The track is active, with antique trains operated by the Arcade and Attica Railroad
making a weekly stop here with a trainload of tourists.
As you can see from the locomotive picture, by this time it was starting to get pretty dark out. I saddled up and got ten miles south and west before stopping in Arcade for the night. This town had the only lodging the GPS could pull up that was reasonably close, the Arcade Village Motel. During check-in the middle-aged lady behind the counter was having trouble with the credit card machine. I finally scanned my own card for her, and joked that she should start a self-service hotel and just go on vacation. I laughed when she told me this wasn’t actually her hotel; she was running it for her daughter, who was in fact on vacation at the time.
At the end of check-in, I was handed an old-fashioned mechanical key:
Usually when I travel I stay in a major chain hotel. Over the past 20 years or so, all of the major chains have switched over to magnetic key-card systems on the rooms, eliminating a lot of the hassle, expense, and security problems associated with keys that get lost or kept by customers. The new-fangled key-cards certainly are more convenient, but with the disappearance of conventional brass keys, I feel like something ineffable has been lost. It’s a bit like the arrival of twist-off caps on beer bottles: no doubt the new technology is more convenient, but somehow I miss the ceremony/tradition of the old way. Last year I bought Tom Petty’s Highway Companion
album, and it included a post card that evokes a similar nostalgia:
After a late dinner of beer-battered fish at the local restaurant across the street, I called it a night.