Day 1: July 22, 2004
White Water Deluxe



By noon, all work related issues were under control so I was able to start the personal portion of this outing. I had more or less intended to connect with US 15 to take me north but, since the Williamsport-Canton section was so enjoyable, decided to simply continue on PA-14. The scenery did not quite match that of the southern section but was still quite nice. Plus, I can now say that I have driven the entire length of PA-14 if I'm ever asked. I even got to drive on a little stretch of US-6 as it and PA-14 travel through Troy. Of course the "border" referred to in that sign is the PA-NY border. Apparently, there is a real advantage to buying your smokes on the south side of that line.

Curiously, PA-14 retains its number when it crosses the line. I stayed with NY-14 through some nice country until I switched to NY-17 near Horseheads. NY-17 took me to Corning where it passes conveniently close to the Corning Museum of Glass. I only spent a few hours at CMoG but could easily have spent several more. This place is an impressive combination of art museum, science fair, and history lesson. The bright colors on this Egyptian inlay caught my eye and reading that it was made over 2100 years ago only adds to my wonder at what that civilization accomplished. Displays of artistic and historic glass items seem almost endless. The cut glass ship and the baccarat table holding it are from the 1878 Paris World's Fair. The black glass egg is suspended by four one inch steel rods and is fitted with benches at each end where quite a few people can sit to watch a presentation on TVs in its center. The museum includes a couple of large hot glass demonstration areas but the smaller scale glass blowing operations allow some up close viewing.

Just a few moments after I sat down to watch a hot glass demo that had started just a few moments before that, a fire alarm signal was quietly given to the on stage presenter. A few more moments later, the entire CMoG was empty and everyone was safe in the parking lots. Even the inspection did not take long (just a few more than a few moments) and we were all allowed back inside. However, getting folks reseated and demonstrations restarted was a bit more time consuming and I decided to forego the show.

I stayed with NY-17 which now joined up with NY-15 and I-86. When NY-17 turned west, I headed north on I-390 - just another divided four lane. Near Mt. Morris, I got back to a two lane but even this roadside was fairly well populated. Then it was NY-63 through Batavia where, as the picture shows, some major road work is in progress. NY-77 took me to Lockport.

Lockport is the Niagara County seat with the court house situated away from the downtown area. Lockport gets its name from its role in relationship to the original Erie Canal of the early nineteenth century. That same relationship continues today with Lockport being home to Locks 34 and 35 of the Erie Barge Canal. The current locks date from 1910. That orange sign on the catwalk over the lock does read "CANAL CONSTRUCTION AHEAD". I suppose I should take some consolation in knowing that dealing with construction isn't confined to the roadways but I'm just too distracted trying to figure out how the detours work and where the flaggers stand.

It was a little after 5:00 when I picked up NY-31 in Lockport. I figured I would stop at the first suitable motel but I did not see a single motel between downtown Lockport and the city of Niagara Falls. Thinking back, I don't recall seeing any on the east side of Lockport, either. I stayed on NY-31 as it makes its way through an extremely desolated area. Empty factories abound and boarded up businesses out number open ones by a wide margin. Heading into downtown Niagara Falls, I could tell where the falls were from the mist visible above the buildings. I was really ready for that motel and intended to find a bed and visit the falls in the morning. I was actually undecided about visiting the Canadian side since I thought the border crossing might be a major hassle. Those plans evaporated with a wrong lane selection and an inadvertent drive over the Rainbow Bridge. So my first view of the falls was from Canada and what a view it was. I snapped a bunch of pictures and drove along the carnival like "strip". I think I cheated someone out of a parking fee but quickly blew whatever I saved by driving around looking for the other end of the bridge that I literally could not miss (even though I tried) on the US side. I got some guidance and checked into Howard Johnson's almost as soon as I was back in the USA. The desk clerk pointed me to a neighborhood bar and grill with decent food and Stroh's!!! on tap!!!!!! Dinner, a couple of mugs, and bed.

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