Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cambridge Ontario to Washington Pennsylvania

It was the best of days. It was the worst of days.

We left Cambridge by a totally different route. After taking Highway 24 south to Brantford, we connected with Highway 54 AKA The Grand River Scenic Parkway. This wound along the river all the way to Cayuga and then we continued along the river on a county road to Dunnville. This was a pretty route with sweeping corners, excellent scenery and a minimum of traffic. The highway went through Caledonia, scene of the recent native unrest, but there was a detour around town so we didn’t see anything.

In Dunnville, we stopped for our usual McGriddle breakfast and then jumped on Highway 3 to Fort Erie and the border. As usual, the crossing was easy. The border guard did get a little confused when he asked where we were going and I laid out the itinerary, but he finally smiled and kicked us loose.

The plan from Buffalo was to take US 62 South because is followed the Allegheny River down in Pennsylvania and looked interesting. The secret is to not take it directly from Buffalo. First off, signage is pathetic in town. It took two wrong turns and directions form a guy in a gas station to get us on track. Then it is a seemingly unending series of traffic lights and built up areas. Note in this picture the building belongs to the Friends Meeting House and Burial Ground. I thought it was funny at the time, but I was sitting stopped on hot new asphalt at 95F waiting for a flagman to let us go so I might not have been in my right mindJ

Let me speak for a moment here about tar snakes. These are the tar strips used to fill the longitudinal cracks in the road. We are usually careful on them in the rain since some tires have been known to slip. Today, with the extreme heat, these strips were slicker than grease. It also seemed that the sharper the curve, the more snakes in the road. It made things interesting dodging them.

After Gowanda, where we tried a Mickey D’s iced coffee (probably for the first and last time), it opens up. The speed limit picks up to 55 and there are a lot of corners marked for reduced speed. After Warren Pa, it runs along the Allegheny River skirting the Allegheny National Recreation Area. This was a pleasant ride and I’d recommend it to anyone. I got a picture of the bike in a pullout along the river maintained by the state for fishermen.

The interesting road ended on Oil City, which then becomes Franklin. Since our day was slipping away from us, we took Highway 8 to I-80 to I-79 south aiming for the KOA in Washington, Pa. We were making good time as we passed the west side of Pittsburgh. All was moving well until just before Exit 60 where the day went downhill fast. Traffic was dead stopped and the temperature was still in the 90’s. I knew about the construction that has been going on south of here for over a year and expected some slowdown, but this was unusual. After firing up the CB, I found that right in the construction zone at least three big rigs had rear-ended one another. They were still only getting the first truck out of the way. About that time, shooting the drivers seemed appropriate to me.

We finally worked our way, by hook and by crook, to Exit 60 and immediately joined another parking lot on US 60 South. About this time, one of the GoldWing characteristics I have heard about manifested itself for the first time. The temperature gauge told me I was on the verge of overheating. Given the hot, humid weather and the stop and go traffic for such a long period and I wasn’t surprised. I managed to get into a Sunoco parking lot before it hit the red.. I seemed to me that the fan wasn’t running so I opened the fuse box. Fuse looked OK but I changed it anyway. After sucking back some water, I scoped out some roads to get us south.

I don’t know if this was typical Pittsburgh rush hour traffic or something special, but I now have a place I hate worse than Chicago. We’d get going and then a new development or traffic flow would merge and we’d be stopped again. One lady in a pickup truck liked where I was and decided that maybe we could occupy the same space simultaneously. Luckily, the Wing has a good horn. Another fine young American princess in an SUV wouldn’t let me take my turn in a merge and then, after I was behind her, rolled down the window and dropped a Kleenex on the ground. A perfect example of what is wrong with some of the younger generation.

Eventually we got to Washington and worked our way out to the KOA. Sandy saw a deer. I saw a herd. They were all looking at us as we rode slowly into the campground. Which was closed for the night. If we late registered, we would have had to wait until 8:00 AM tomorrow to settle up. That didn’t suit us so we rode back out to Washington, waving at our deer friends as we went by.

Washington is a funny place. We looked all over for reasonable motels and eventually found some to our liking on I-70 at Exit 15. While making a U-turn in a parking lot, I bobbled. My right hip (not the down side, strangely) is hurting some. I hope it will be better tomorrow.

We finally got an Econolodge with high speed hard wired Internet at about 8:30 PM. Went across the road and ate at Bob Evans. When I came back and hooked up the computer, no connection. Tried another cable, no change. Called the desk and the very nice elderly lady had no idea what to check. Either they will get this working and I will post in the AM or I will try the dial-up and do it the old, slow way.

Our first real day of back-roading was interesting. It seems like we saw a lot more and covered a lot less ground. There was a lot more to report on here. Maybe tomorrow we will actually try to stop and see something. As for the trouble, it really started only after we got back on the superslab.

Tomorrow, we will tackle some back roads in West (By God) Virginia.

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