Road Tripping Scrambler Ducati Style – Part 4 – Falcon Conquers NY
Mid June through Mid July – The fun never ends…
YEEE HAAAA! With a momentous sense of accomplishment after planning and executing my first ever solo road trip on a motorcycle (read Part 3 here), I was looking forward to exploring familiar haunts on my summer vacation.
Buuuuuuut Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor and she wasn’t done with me yet. The rain I endured on the ride up? Oh, it was just the beginning. It pretty much rained for a month. Not a deluge that caused devastating floods like I’ve witnessed in past Junes in the Southern Tier, but irritatingly steady enough to put the kibosh on any possibility of seriously enjoying some road time on the bike. Those depressing weather stats I quoted in Part 3 are grounded in hard, cold facts. And speaking of cold, the misery of the rain was compounded by temperatures that consistently hovered at or below average (and the averages for this time of year in the good ol’ STNY aren’t pretty). Pity party in 3, 2, —
WAIT! I’m not a Debbie Downer, no sirree. No amount of chilly precipitation was going sideline me – am I a New York farm girl or what??! My odyssey had only just begun and I still had the return trip ahead of me to combat zombies and outrun nuclear explosions. Even if I parked the bike for a month and didn’t fire it up until time to put on the battle gear again I was already ahead of the game. Now that I’d arrived I had beloved family and friends to visit and a variety of entertainment options awaiting me which more than made up for any pseudo self-discovery pilgrimage I might have imagined myself on.
First things first. The timing of my journey was no accident. Although I left myself an open window for the exact departure date based on the weather forecast, I had a firm arrival date on the calendar. One of my uncles had passed away recently and our family, many of whom were traveling from all over the country, planned special memorial services in his honor to be held on the weekend I was to arrive. I won’t write a novel about this portion of my stay; instead I’ll just leave the intimate details to your imagination and I’ll cherish the events and memories in my heart. Suffice it to say, a lot of tears were shed and a great deal of laughter shared.
On one of the first breaks in the weather that coincided with my day off (I was still working my day job which I can do remotely BTW), I hunkered down over a road atlas old school style at the dining room table with my mom and together we plotted a wonderfully scenic ride that I hadn’t taken in almost 30 years: a tour of the Cannonsville and Pepacton reservoirs in the foothills of the Catskill mountains. Both reservoirs were created in order to provide water for New York City and several small towns were sacrificed in the name of progress. The town of Cannonsville, NY was flooded in 1967 to form the Cannonsville Reservoir and several small towns (Arena, Pepacton, Shavertown and Union Grove) were sent to a watery grave to form the Pepacton Reservoir in 1955. My folks tell me that when the water level gets low enough you can still see skeletons of building structures eerily lurking below the surface. Obviously, you’ve read enough of my whining to know that we’ve had plenty of rain so the water levels were more than sufficient to hide any evidence of lost civilizations.
Winding around the twisty roads with serene rivers and lakes on one side of me and cool rocky cliffs on the other certainly rivaled my Skyline Drive experience in breathtaking oooh and aaaahh moments. If you’re in the area and want a nice ride I highly suggest the either one, but be warned; the roads surrounding the Cannonsville Res were so atrocious any delight you might derive from the ride will probably be sucked right down the drain by having to expend your energy concentrating on dodging bumps, holes, gravel, and steaming piles of – was that dinosaur dung? – around every blind curve.
Next up, after I cajoled my dad into staining and painting the deck on the house, I set off for the Brookfield trail system where I spent a great deal of time tramping around the trails and camping with my (real) horse in my slightly younger days. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears while revisiting some of the familiar trails and destinations on my new horse knowing I probably won’t ever get to revisit them on a living beast again.
That same day, I stopped at the Old Mill in Mt Upton, NY where my folks used to take us for elegant meals. This former grist mill located in the Unadilla Valley, which had once been regarded as the western boundary of the United States and the division between the white and Indian territory, has since been turned into a restaurant with a dining room that overlooks the Unadilla River.
And you can’t visit that neck of the woods without making a stop at the historic White Store Church and Evergreen Cemetery, a Union Church built by the Methodists, the Baptists and the Universalists, and the neighboring cemetery which has twelve Revolutionary soldiers buried in it. The church’s name is derived from the fact that the store (which was built in pioneer times) was painted white, which was not in accordance to custom, for if a building was painted at all, red was the prevailing color–hence the name White Store.
And this wasn’t the only cemetery I visited. In addition to dragging my folks all over several counties visiting the final resting places of our dearly departed, I found time to visit the monuments of some local celebrities. Exterminator, one of the most famous Kentucky Derby winners of all time, was owned by Willis Sharpe Kilmer of Swamp Root fame, and lived out his retirement on the Kilmer estate on the west side of Binghamton on Riverside Drive. Old Bones, as he was famously nicknamed, is buried on the hill behind Ross Park Zoo. I visited his monument and by sheer dumb luck on another day I also happened to ride past the Kilmer Vault in the Floral Park Cemetery.
Here’s a collection of video footage featuring some of the local wildlife on the farm, shooting pool with my dad, me running the excavator for the first time, and me sneakily recording my dad playing the harmonica from the other room Oh and rain, did I mentioned it rained during this stay?
And as I said earlier, I there were lots of entertainment opportunities at my beck and call. The Triple Cities offers a plethora of live music, theater, and cultural events happening all the time. In fact, it’s difficult to choose which soirees to attend as there’s so much overlap, but I made room on my dance card for as many as I could. I also visited several churches whose sacred spaces and congregants hold dear places in my heart. I don’t possess a wide enough vocabulary to eloquently enough convey my experiences so I’ll just let the pictures in the video montage below tell their own stories. It features the song Strangers We Meet, by The Black Feathers, so you’ll want to click on this just to hear the song if nothing else.
After all the touring, visits with loved ones, wildlife sightings, laughter shared and tears shed, my final night to enjoy one last serene sunset on the farm from the peacefulness of the deck overlooking the valley had come. Mid July had settled into a warm, breezy summer with no rain in sight so my return journey was most likely going to be a lot drier, if not a downright pleasant, ride.
Would that brilliant sunset portend a rosy road ahead or was it just lulling me into a false sense of security? Stay tuned to find out.