Day 6 – Cruisin’

Watkins Glen to Cold Spring
188.6 miles
79 degrees, Windy
Overcast, Thunderstorms, Sunshine

There was a pull to stay another day in Watkins Glenn. The campsite was very peaceful. However, there are miles to go before I sleep, so I went out for coffee and came back to pack up at a leisurely pace. Regina & Peter stopped by to talk, making for a very pleasant morning. The weather was iffy. There was no rain overnight, but after the sun rose a quick storm passed over. It was an odd mixture of hot and wet.

I rolled out of the campgrounds at 9:30 a.m. in a tee shirt. By the bottom of the hill I stopped to put on a heavy shirt. A few miles out of town I put on my raincoat and gloves. The weather was iffy.

My overall destination was Chautauqua Lake, about 175 miles to the west. That’s 175 miles via the quickest way possible. My backroad meandering can double that, so I was hoping to make half the distance or more and then camp.

After twisting and turning up and down the steep hills I descended into the charming town of Hamondsport. Perched at the tip of a small lake with steep hills all around, I could not tell what originated the charm. The houses were all well appointed and maintained. The small downtown had maintained and repurposed its old buildings. The majority of stores and galleries were open for business. Pedestrians strolled the streets.

A parking space was open in front of a bistro. I went in for breakfast. It was very New York City upscale, not country. There were 12 people seated with plenty of space for more along its narrow dining area. I sat down and waited. Two wait people came and went completely ignoring me. What rule had I broken? How dirty and smelly was I? None & not. Finally, I was asked if I was there to eat. Other than taking up space, there is nothing to do there. I had stuffed french toast with grape syrup. It was very good and reasonably priced. I watched the wait staff ignore another fellow who came in after me. He was well dressed and had a cool demeanor. It didn’t matter. They ignored him too. Finally he was asked if he was waiting for someone. “Yeah, you!” he barked.

Inspecting my route notes and ambling out of town I passed a large winery and many farms. The air temperature was warm, but the wind was fierce and seemed to be coming directly at me. High on an exposed plateau I was buffeted by strong winds. Flags pointed straight out at me. I slowed.

I zigged & zagged on small county roads, occasionally using a state highway. Avoca, Arkport, Angelica, Belfast, Cuba, Great Valley, Kill Buck, Cold Spring. Traffic was light. I found myself drifting more north than I wanted. The terrain and roads were pleasant, if the wind wasn’t. The sky could be completely blue or completely black or any variation in between. I turned west into one torrential rain. I was lucky to get my rain jacket on, but not my pants. My legs were soaked as I drove through the downpour. On the other side it was blue and warm. I dried out in an hour.

In the next town of any size, Belfast, I stopped at a convenience store for directions. Dana, a young helpful fellow, manned the counter. A gas customer was also helpful. They immediately understood I was looking for backroads, not necessarily the fastest way between points. They knew their backroads. They described hills and dales, gorgeous ponds, log cabins, the elderly couples who lived there, barns, and trees. They knew their way clear into the next county. It was an amusing mountain of details. In the end, Dana insisted I take the store map we were using at no charge. He also wrote down his cell phone number and said to call him if I needed help. A very gracious fellow. Dana, I made the first three turns successfully, but never saw any gorgeous ponds. Thanks for your assistance.

This area had many Amish traveling in buggies. Perhaps they were coming back from church services. We all waved.

I started to think about a place to camp. I aimed for Allegany State Park. I filled my tank at a gas station in the Allegany Indian Reservation. It was 35¢ per gallon cheaper than I had been pumping. Given the vast amount of forested land around, I decided to stealth camp rather than go into the Park. Out in the township of Cold Spring I found an old farm road plunging into the forest. I checked it out. The roadway was firm and had no major obstacles. I drove in and set up camp. It was 7:30 p.m.

I drove longer and further than I thought I would today. It was wet in places and sunny in others. A good day to scamp.

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