Newfoundland/Labrador Day 2: A Little Damp but Still Fun
Finding rain on this trip didn’t take long. Only the second day on the road and I had about 2 hours of the wet stuff even though I changed course and tried to navigate around it. I went through a few sprinkles in West Virginia and Maryland, but not enough to even consider putting on rain gear. When I stopped for lunch in Pennsylvania and checked the weather radar, however, I knew there would be no avoiding the hundred-mile rain band dousing the Keystone state. My external clothing pack was already covered, and I slipped my official Harley Davidson rain pants on to get a jump on the inevitable rain. But I only rode about 20 minutes more before I stopped to add the jacket as well. It was a gentle rain for the most part and I’m sure farmers were glad to get it. It never came close to raining hard enough to send me scrambling for cover and a place to pull over. The rain gear kept me dry but I wish I could have stopped more often this afternoon to take in some of the gorgeous Pennsylvania scenery.
This morning, I found myself on I-81 going north for more miles than I liked, so I turned off the GPS and headed cross country. I knew there was a pretty good road (PA 522) that would take me closer to and into some small mountains and foothills, so that’s where I headed. Interstates are boring and they almost never have good pie stops. You need small town cafes and diners for that. And I found one in time for another early lunch. I hadn’t intended to eat more than an obscenely large piece of pie, but I started talking with Mr. Williams who told me that he and his family had just opened the “Sunny Ridge Station Family Restaurant” last week so I decided to help him out a little and ordered his namesake “Williams Burger” and a cup of cream of potato soup. Turned out his granddaughter in the kitchen does all the creative cooking. She invented the Williams Burger, which consists of 1/3 pound ground beef patty covered with fried onions and a sauce that includes BBQ sauce and brown sugar and some other no doubt secret ingredients served on a Kaiser roll. Not bad. But the cream of potato soup was outstanding. Best I’ve had in many a year.
When I finally got to what I stopped for in the first place–PIE–I opted for the granddaughter’s Boston Cream Pie, which, by the way, won’t win any awards. She sure makes good potato soup, though. She should put it in a pie shell and bake it. Call it Cream of Potato Pie. The place started to fill up around noon as I was donning rain gear and getting ready to leave, so maybe the “Sunny Ridge Station Family Restaurant” will still be there the next time I go riding down PA 522. I’ll try the cherry pie. It looked good.
Pennsylvania has miles of beautiful farm country and lots of REALLY BIG barns. I had hoped to get pictures of some of the barns, but it was either raining or there was no place to pull off to take a picture. Trust me, even a city boy can tell that those are some fine old barns.
The other thing I noticed today as I was rolled through small town after small town (or village or borough or township) was the 19th century architecture that dominated the towns’ main streets. Beautiful old homes and downtown buildings, many of which are being or have been restored, often with the colorful palettes typical of Victorian era houses. When the rain finally quit I found myself in Mifflinburg on PA 45 and was so struck by the downtown and the houses that lined Main Street that I parked the bike and walked around for a while. Of course not every house has been restored to the glory that the picture here and others on Flickr attest, but clearly many of them have been lovingly rehabbed, restored and nursed back to life. I would liked to have seen the insides but no one seemed eager to invite a wild-bearded biker into their parlor. Too bad.
By 3:30 the rain was gone completely and I had gorgeous blue skies with billowing white clouds for the remainder of the day, including the time I went through Williamsport in the spectacular Susquehanna River Valley. In the back of my mind I knew I had heard something about Williamsport, but couldn’t remember what it was. And then I saw a “Little League International” sign and one of the many voices in my head whispered “Little League World Series.” A quick turn into a parking lot gave me a chance to see the “Field of Dreams” for many young boys (and a few girls) who work so hard at learning the finer points of America’s Favorite Pastime. It would be fun to go through Williamsport when the Little League World Series sends young dreamers scurrying around the bases to youthful fame and fleeting glory.
One final note tonight: The roads in Pennsylvania where I spent most of the day–either wet or dry–were in pretty good shape. Some had been recently repaved, a couple were brand new, and the rest were solid and I didn’t have to adjust speed or direction to avoid potholes. But New York–I made it to Elmira where I’m comfortably ensconsed in a Hampton Inn– well, New York is another story. I’ve only driven about 30 miles in New York and all of it on an Interstate whose number I can’t remember. And that road is terrible. Crumbling pavement, expansion joint ridges that jar your teeth, pot holes that could swallow a small car. I’d rather ride the Alaska Highway again. I think I’m avoiding all Interstates tomorrow and I’m hoping that the back roads are in better shape because they’re less heavily travelled.
Through New York and into Vermont tomorrow. I can’t wait to get on the road again.
Flickr link: Click here