Day 3
August 16th, 2002
State College, Pennsylvania 

My Oakley wristwatch sounded off at 6:15am and I was soon packing.  I could hear Peter getting ready, so figured I better not loiter around.
After loading the ST I snacked on banana bread and Sprite, while looking over the map.  Peter would be accompanying me as far as the NY state line, from there I am on my own.

We proceeded out of Peter's neighborhood on a warm, muggy morning.  Peter had been telling me the northeast has been locked in a heat wave for the last week, but it felt like just another day to me.

We left State College on local roads.  They were narrow and twisty.  Commuters were making their way into town to begin their day.
Just north of the city we got hung up in a construction zone.  While waiting, I switched from amber glasses to the darker Oakleys.
We crossed over I-80, and soon found ourselves on SR 144.  Peter informed me things change dramatically in Pa north of I-80.  More rural and less traffic.

SR 144 is a gem of road.  Twisty, and quiet.  We leaned the curves. but kept our speed down.  I wanted to enjoy the scenery and see things at a leisurely pace.  It was nice of Peter to oblige me.  SR 144 is a nice, peaceful ride through the woods.  We stopped often for pictures.




















                 Pa. 144, a quiet ride through the woods.

We pulled into a overlook over a valley.  The area was scene to a devasting wildfire about 10 years ago.  Such fires in the east are rare.  The area is just beginning to recover.

The tree line is close to the road and I fear a deer could bolt out at any second.  We round a turn and my deer suspicion is confirmed.  A fresh doe kill is plainly visible.  She is propped against the guardrail, feet straight up.  I'm glad somebody took her out before we came along. 























                               A sobering reminder for a long rider.

It was a super ride through the Susquehannock State Forest, one of the highlights of the trip.

























                                               Posing in front of the Allegheny Mountains

We passed a rider on some kind of cruiser with a loud exhaust system somewhere south of Galeton.

By mid morning we were out of the forest and taking a break/ gassing up at a gas mart in Galeton.  The guy we passed on the cruiser came in a few minutes behind us, but didn't have much to say.

In the parking lot a teacher was giving a lecture to about 15 folks.  They were standing around in safety vests and helmets, studying a nearby bridge.  A guy in a brown shirt standing in the rear looked disinterested.  Been there myself.  I asked a local what they were doing and he said-
"I dunno, but they've been hard at it all morning."

I said good bye to Peter, and went west on US 6, then turned north on SR 449.  This route was bumpy and potholed and it bounced me all over the road.  I was leaned in one of curves, when a frost heave almost took me out.

Genesee, Pa is undergoing a massive resurfacing project, right in the middle of town.  Road graders, front end loaders, asphalt layers and gratuitous amounts of flagmen were everywhere.  The tiny town looked liked a staging area.  There were more workers in the town then residents.

I finally clear Genesee, and enter Hillary land.  SR 449 turns into SR 19 in New York.  I follow 19 through the NY countryside and through a string of villages and towns.  It was good riding.
























                               One on the many New York villages I passed through.

The weather is still sunny and warm.  

I ate lunch in Belfast, in a diner called Aces.  The hamburger was big, and tasted good, but a little too dry.

I called my wife and Rob Hart after I finished eating.  Rob advised me where to cross the border, and advised the folks in Toronto were looking forward to my arrival.

Bingo night in Belfast is Wednesday at 7:30pm in the community hall.

I never knew there was so much farmland in NY.

In Pavilion I went to SR 63.  The ride through this part of New York reminds me very much of the ride uncle Phil and I did through Indiana last year.

Batavia was a busy upstate NY town when I passed through. It took me several tries to find SR 77, but I managed and was soon riding out.
The closer I got to Lakes Erie and Ontario, the more the wind kicked up.  Soon it was a very stiff crosswind.

I was riding along SR 77 when a sign suddenly pops up announcing "Alabama".  What?? I immediately slow and start looking around.  Why would they name a place in NY Alabama?  This will need checking out.  I don't see much, so drop in a gas station.  The attendant is behind the desk with his feet propped up.  He is on the phone talking so fast,  noway he could he understood on the other end.  I had forgotten how fast folks up here could speak.

The tiny office is full of old auto parts, and smells of grease.  A alternator sits on the table beside the desk.

"so how do I find Alabama?"

"the state?"

"very funny, but no I just came from there"

"use sound like it"


"look here, you're gonna hafta to slow down"

"ok keep going straigh tdown this road  and you will see it" then he took a breath and said, "but not much there"
"thanks"

Two miles later I found Alabama, New York.  A tiny crossroads of a place.  A hotel called the Alabama Hotel stood on one corner, across the street there was a small grocery store. The town hall was on the other side.  I parked the ST and walked across the street to the the tavern at the bottom floor of the hotel.






















                          The town hall of Alabama, New York.

I opened the door to find several patrons at the bar.  A tv was tuned in to ESPN.  The lights of neon beer signs casting a colorful glow in the room.  
I walked up to the bar old west style and said-

"look here, I'm from Alabama, and wanna know why ya call this place Alabama. Ya reckon a bunch of southern boys moved up or sumptin?"

"What are ya? Some kind of wise guy?" He responds in a NY accent.

"no I'm serious, I'm really from Alabama"

"so you rode a bike all the up here just to ask us that?"

"no, I'm on my way to Toronto, and just saw the sign passing through"

"we ain't got NO idea why they call this place Alabama, we just live here."  In a matter of fact voice.

Sensing I was not wanted I headed back out.

I followed SR 77 to Lockport, before finally heeding my gas light and getting gas. The ST took in 6.8 gallons.
I was near Buffalo and Niagara and the traffic was getting really bad.  I visited the falls in 2000 when I had my Prelude, so I was able to skip that obligation this time.

I followed SR 31 to the border and could see the traffic build up.  I was a half mile from border gate. Damn.  It took me a hour to reach the gate. When I finally arrived a female agent began drilling me-

"US citizen?"

"yes"

"ID please"  She looked at it.  "Take your helmet off. You still live in Alabama?"

"yes"

"what is your business in Canada?"

"seeing old friends and touring"

"any firearms?" 

"NO"

"what about at home?"

"no, but what does that go to do with anything?"

"occupation?"

"firefighter"


She makes a call then comes back.  "Let me see your fire department ID." I showed it to her.
"ok have a nice trip"

The ordeal took almost 15 minutes.

I cleared customs and got on the QEW.  I'm on track, and should arrive in Toronto close to my scheduled time.  I am close to fulfilling one of the objectives for this trip.  Finding out the true identity of the ST bbs member known as "Spock".

For over a year his identity has eluded me.  He goes on the bbs and spells like crap, makes crazy posts, and mostly dominates.  His ID is only known to a handful of Canadian riders.  He professes to having a long resume.  Brother Rob Hart has assured me I will get to meet him.  I will believe it when I see him.  That joker has more lives then a cat, but he will not escape me this trip like he did last fall.

I take a break in a McDonalds at Stony Creek.  Canada is also in a "heat wave".  The temp is 85 with a dew point in the low 60s.  The AC in this is place blowing full blast.  It feels like the hotel in Vegas all over again.  I tried sitting inside to sip my coke but it was too cold, so gave up and went outside.  From there, I called Rob Hart and announced my whereabouts.  He advised Jerry Rutledge was on the way and should be arriving at the motel any time now.

He chided me for picking the wrong border crossing.  He said to prepare myself for Toronto traffic. 
 
I follow the QEW around the lake and make it to the infamous 401.  It is Friday afternoon and the place is packed. Both sides are jammed.  The closer I get to the city, the slower I go.  

Cages dart and cut me off numerous times.  Its tough trying to follow signs and keep an eye on whose trying to run you over at the same time.  This highway is nothing but chaos.

I've ridden my bike in almost every major city in America.  I've sampled countless interstate systems.  Dallas, Atlanta, NYC, Philly, New Orleans, Orlando, Miami, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Chicago, and St. Louis to name a few.  But Toronto is the damndest place I've ever been in
The city seems unorganized to me.

Thankfully I reach my exit, and get out of the mayhem.

I pull into a gas station to get my bearings and to recover from the 401.  I was the only Anglo in the Asian neighborhood, so didn't bother to ask for directions.  I knew they would not have understood me.

I know I am close to the hotel and find it without too much fumbling around, ending the day with 397 miles.

As I go in the lobby I see Jerry.  We will be riding together the next few days.  He also wants to find out WHO Spock is.

I put my stuff away, and get a shower, and soon Rob is there to pick us up for dinner.  It was good to see Rob again.  He is well known in the Honda community, and a good friend.  He has toured North America extensively, and a savvy traveler.  He is currently battling a string of health problems which curtails a lot of his riding.  Talk about guys with distinguished resumes, Rob has one.

It was a helluva ride to dinner in Rob's cage.  

Mark and Carrie are are there when I arrive and out from the back, comes Spock.  YES, a real Spock.  Some guy with a Spock costume.  Am I ever going to find out who this guy is?  Several sit around the table, but none tell me WHO he is.

So far all I have is pair of pointed ears, and a paperback book- "The Search for Spock."

I brought the de-icer as instructed by Rob.  He said it would be vital to finding out his identity, but now I sense him hedging a bit.

To make a long story short I did find out WHO he is.  The Toronto gang did it up right.  It was a fine evening and good time was had by all.
Mark and Carrie drive us back to hotel, and Jerry and I settle in.  We are riding to Ottawa in the morning.  A short ride.

I watched the news then drifted off to sleep.  A fun day.  Lots of good riding and good friends.
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