Posts Tagged ‘Ithaca’

Map picture

The trip from Elmira to Ithaca took us over roads new to me. We drove west bound on Rt 17 / I-86 for a few miles and exited at Route 13 to head north.

Forty five minutes later we came to a four corners in the Cayuta Creek valley, where Rt. 224 crosses Rt. 13. Ithaca Harley Davidson is located on the west side of Rt. 13, on the east side is a small truck stop. The dealership was closed for the holiday but we pulled in at the truck stop for water.

2009 HOG ABCs of Touring ContestIthaca

The late afternoon ride from Newfield into Ithaca was gorgeous. The trees still had their full green, as we passed Robert Treman State Park and down shifted for the descent into Ithaca. We were looking for our “I” and time was winding on, so we passed by Buttermilk Falls State Park without stopping. That’s on my list for a day trip, however.

Unlike many Western and Southern Tier New York communities, which have fallen on hard times with the decline of family farms and New York’s infamous state and property taxes, Ithaca is thriving by comparison. I have never visited Ithaca before (another of those places that I knew I’d get around to some day) and expected a college town, but small city would be a more apt description. Very hilly too.

Map picture

We took a few wrong turns looking for an official “I” sign, and wound up and down the hills in the city near Cornell. They must be great fun to drive in the winter!

I stopped to check Google Maps on my Blackberry, still trying to locate an official sign, and we wound our way through downtown again. Still not seeing a sign, and detoured by construction, we decided to leave town and head further north to the Ithaca / Tompkins County Airport, where, finally, we found our photo.


After a nutritious McDonalds dinner, we headed for Cortland to pick up I-81 toward Syracuse. The drive through the farm country, as the sun was working its way toward the western horizon, was absolutely Tully, NY Post Officegorgeous.

We exited I-81 at Tully, just south of Syracuse, as the sun was starting to set. Just past the Best Western where we would spend the night, we found our “T” at the Tully Post Office.

The Best Western was a bit on the no frills side for the price, but the beds were comfortable and we slept well. The complimentary breakfast of bagels and pre-packaged sandwiches was digestible, but the fruit was fresh and the coffee OK.

Route 20, Homeward Bound

Rather than take interstates home, we ducked under I-81 and followed Rt. 11A up to US-20. Route 20 parallels the NY State Thruway across New York. I’ve always found it ironic that while I-90 is one of the most boring drives through Western NY, but just a few miles to the south, US-20 is a scenic delight, especially the stretch from Bridgewater through the Finger Lakes. 2009 HOG ABCs of Touring Contest

After a stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts near Seneca Falls for some real coffee (and to warm numb fingers), we continued to Canandaigua, then north on Rt. 96. By now the sun had warmed up the air, and we stopped at the Victor Fire Department for our final photo-op of the trip.


Fall seemed to come early in 2009, and on a crisp Labor Day morning we headed out of Silver Springs, south on 19A toward Castile.

The Harley Owners GroupWarsaw, NY (HOG) holds an annual contest, called the ABC’s of Touring. The objective is to score points by taking a photo, one for each letter of the alphabet, in front of an official sign of a municipality whose name starts with that letter. We were making our last big push for points in the 2009 contest.

The contest is a great excuse to get out and ride, and for us it was a nice father-daughter activity as well. We picked up a “W” the night before, as the sun was setting in Warsaw.

Map picture

From Castile we planned to head to Portageville to take Rt. 436 across the Genesee River into Nunda.

The sun was out and it was starting to warm a bit as we approached the river. Crossing the bridge, I noticed a Livingston County sign, and, needing an “L” pulled off to get a photo.

This nearly ended the day early. On the east side of the river was a gravel area where motorists park to hike up into the Letchworth Gorge. Handling 1100 lbs of bike, riders and gear on loose soil is challenging enough, but the problem came as I tried to re-enter the road. Holding the Fatboy on the uphill grade, and stopping at the edge of the asphalt to check for traffic, I failed to notice the soft gravel shoulder had eroded about 6 inches below the edge of the asphalt. As I released the clutch, my right foot got caught against the road edge and the rear passenger foot plate dug into my calf, twisting my knee and tearing the rand of my boot along the instep.

Quick reactions, a heavy measure of Grace, and my leather boots saved me from serious injury. Had I been wearing sneakers or moving 2009 HOG ABCs of Touring Contestfaster, the situation would have been much worse than a sore knee.

We followed the road up out of the Genesee valley on 436 without  further incident. After getting our “N” in front of the Nunda Post Office on a nice, smooth, black top parking lot, we drove east on to Dansville.

Getting our “D” photo proved to be a bit of a challenge. The brick building made a wonderful backdrop, but framing the shot to get the bike and the tiny lettering on the edifice was difficult.

Shot taken and camera packed away, we headed over to I-390 for the trip to Bath. As we turned the corner, we passed a big “Dansville Police Station” sign that would have been much easier to photograph. 2009 HOG ABCs of Touring Contest

We stopped for lunch in Bath and then found our “S” in front of the historic Steuben County courthouse, and we were off for Elmira in search of the letter “C”.

Elmira, once home to Mark Twain, is the Chemung County seat. We found the county building, which occupies a city block. First we passed the county jail side, but opted not to take a photo there. We rounded the block and passed the Court and Clerk’s offices, but nowhere on the beautiful old building could we see a “C”. Search as we might, we saw no “C”. Convinced a “C” must 2009 HOG ABCs of Touring Contestbe seen somewhere, we rounded the block again, and found a tiny sign for the “Chemung Real Property” office. As this was the only “C” we saw, we seized the opportunity, foreseeing no other possibility, but it meant no one would see the building’s  beautiful facade in our photo, as you can see at the left.

After getting our “C” we both needed to pee, and headed to a nearby McDonalds. From Elmira, we went down to the Pennsylvania state line for a “P” of another sort, then north to Ithaca, where I hoped to see an “I”.

To be continued…