Thursday, July 29, 2010

Western New York

We left the RV park and almost immediately left Ohio and crossed the Pennsylvania state line.  We continued on I-90 until I-86 which runs east and west just a few miles north of the New York/Pennsylvania border.  I-90 becomes a toll road and that means we can't afford it.  We drove east just a few miles and crossed into New York state where we encountered some of the worst interstate we have ever been on.  It continued past Chautauqua Lake (which is beautiful) where the construction began.  The construction ended just before we got off in Randolph and headed north on small, western New York roads through absolutely gorgeous hills and valleys.  This really is some of the most beautiful country in America during these few summer months.

As we got off the Interstate in Randolph we immediately realized that a tornado had just hit.  We later learned that it happened that weekend (we were there Tuesday) but that no one was killed.  There was a lot of damage to trees, houses and businesses.

We wound our way through towns that I remembered from 50 years ago until we arrived at our campground about eight miles north of Arcade.  After setting up camp I called Dale and he drove down to see us.  We had dinner together and a great time talking.  He did not leave until 9 which was quite late since he had about a 45 minute drive to get home and  try to get a little sleep before getting up at 4:30 for work.

Wednesday we drove the truck to Niagara Falls in the morning.  We had some excitement on the way.  As you approach Niagara Falls on I-190 from Buffalo you cross two large toll bridges, and at the base of the second bridge is the turnoff for the American Falls visitor area.  It is an off ramp that makes a 270 degree right turn that sends you back under the road you are exiting at the end of the bridge.  Just before the off ramp are two signs.  One says No Commercial Vehicles, and the second is a photo of a truck with the red circle and line through it.  There was no sign indicating any height restrictions so we took the ramp since we are not commercial and  technically a motorhome, not a truck  We do this all the time and have never had any issues with places like this.  If there was a height limit ahead, the actual limit was always posted in time for you take an alternate route.  Not here!

As we came out of the off ramp turn and started to merge onto the expressway under the road we had just exited there is a big yellow sign that stated the bridge just ahead of us was only 12 feet.   My truck is 13 feet tall.  There was no place to go.  We had to back all the way up the 270 degrees of off ramp.  Of course it was only one lane wide and there was lots of traffic.  Dianna got out and directed traffic while I slowly made my way out of there.  I can't believe they don't have lots of problems there.  Many motorhomes are taller than 12 feet and there were no signs indicating they should not use the route.

After finding our way to a parking area near the falls we did the tourist thing.  We  rode the Maid of the Mist boat past the American Falls and into the maelstrom below the Canadian Falls.  They provided thin plastic rain gear but it did little to keep us all from getting soaked.  After seeing the falls we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, then headed back to Buffalo.  We followed the truck route but once again came upon a sign that said the clearance ahead was only 12' 6", and this was on the truck route!  There were no signs indicating where taller trucks should go, so Mr. GPS got a pretty good workout as we explored some of the horrible roads in parts of Niagara Falls that few tourists ever see.  In all our travels in the truck over the past 5 plus years we have never experienced anything like this.  Our truck is no bigger than many motorhomes, and most cities are smart enough to place appropriate signs in appropriate places if height is going to be a problem ahead.

We finally made it back onto I-190 and drove to Dale's house.  He lives with Jennifer, her husband and three kids in an older part of town near the Peace Bridge.  We really like looking at the architecture of the older places.  Jennifer fixed dinner for us and we all had a good time getting to know the kids and Jen's husband.  Dom rode skate boards with Vinnie and Dale and I spent most of the time sitting on the front porch as we sashayed down memory lane.

Today we drove to Franklinville and then over to Rawson where we took pictures of the farm, the Rawson Church, and the grave markers of Grandpa, Grandma, Gertrude, Curtis and Joyce.  We also took a picture of Otie Smith's marker.  I have never seen a more appropriate gravestone.  It has a photo of him from when he was probably in his 30's along with a carved image of a Farmall tractor.

While we were at the cemetery Richard Schaffer stopped by.  He figured we must be Laffertys since he saw us taking pictures of the farm and then at the cemetery.  He now owns all of the farm except for 14 acres where the house itself is located.  We chatted for a few minutes and decided we had probably played together when we were kids.

We then drove through Cuba where we bought cheese, drove by the Briggs house on Orchard Street and our house on Hill Street, then over the hill past West Clarksville where Aunt Ruth lived, and on to Obi where we stopped at the West Genessee Cemetery to visit Dad's grave along with G and G Briggs and all the Friar clan.

Then, after a stop for lunch at the Cuba McDonalds (I know!!!), we drove to Corning where we met Michele Widener (Greg's daughter who is going to USC) who drove down from Rochester to tour the Glass Museum and Glass Works with us.  It has changed a lot since the last time I was there and is much larger.  It took longer than we expected,  so after calling Dale we decided it was just going to be too late to get together with his clan this evening.  Karen was driving up from Pittsburgh and would not be there until after 6 PM, and we would not get there until nearly 8, so we decided that it made more sense to just get together tomorrow instead.  We plan to spend the whole day with Karen and Jen's family.  We don't know exactly what we will do yet, but if you tune in later you will probably find out.

I'll put pictures on the gallery as soon as I find some time.


  1. That part of the country definitely has a different feeling from the West, doesn't it? The narrow roads, more construction with no way to avoid it, and signs that don't tell you what you need to know, the beautiful scenery with every curve. Remember, it was civilized much earlier than this area, and some of it hasn't kept up with the times.

  2. At first I was picturing you with the trailer attached as you tried to back up that 270 degree ramp. That would have been a lot worse!

    I hope you got some cheese curd while you were in Cuba.

    You're making me nostalgic for western NY. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring; I enjoyed it all.

  3. Yes I was thinking the same thing as Daryl at first and I had to go back and read that you only had the truck.

    It's also making me want to go back for a visit before too long.

  4. Obviously you have made edits to this since Daryl commented, because it is quite clear that you only had the truck on that backward journey, and that you bought cheese. Oh! I guess you don't say if you bought curd or not. A factory is the only place you can get it while it's still curd, so I too, hope you indulged.

    Are Dave & Lisa joining you tomorrow, too?

    Wish we could all do a family reunion back there sometime. But there's a whole lot more family members in the west than in the east, so it'd be tough to get everyone there.

  5. In Wisconsin you can get curd at any store. Actually I think Trader Joe's has it too but it's not fresh.

  6. I hope you got some Salt Rising Bread, too. Poor old Maple Summit farm! A lot of places in Rawson Valley look like that. It's going to be a ghost area before many years, if it isn't already.

    If you had looked farther in the West Genesee Cemetery, you would have found your great-great-great-grandparents (Hatch), in the back, right side of the cemetery--Dom's fifth-great! That's quite a bit of ancestry. No wonder I get homesick for the area.

    Don, if curd is not fresh, it's just cheese!

  7. I know Ma, that was my point.

  8. Roland, the kids and I rode the Maid of the Mist once. Wasn't that when we were there in 1990? I remember them heading right into the base of the Canadian Falls with all the gusto they had, and we couldn't get any closer no matter how hard they tried. That's how forceful the falls were. And we were soaked too. But it was fun.

    You can see Maple Summit farm on Google maps (picture view). It does look pretty sad. Wonder who owns the buildings and if they'll ever tear them down and rebuild something there? It's pretty land.

  9. According to Richard Schaffer, the folks that bought the farm from Dale, Brashears or something like that (Dale doesn't remember for sure), still own the 14 acres around the house and barn. They now live in a double wide where the brooder house used to be.

  10. Dianna thought we had gone on the Maid of the Mist when we went there with you. I did not remember it. Thanks for confirming that she knows what she is talking about and I am losing my mind!

  11. The double wide must be what you can see on google maps.

  12. Boy, seeing those pictures of the farm sure made me nostalgic. I was there when that roof was put on the barn. I still imagine driving cows out through the areas that are all overgrown now. And the house is literally falling down. I wish I could go back for a while to the time I spent there with Dale. It's one of my best memories.

    On the other hand, the two houses in Cuba have been very well maintained. I'd love to see inside the house on Hill street some day.

  13. I look at the windows at the front of the second floor of the Maple Summit house and remember how we lived there when Dale was a baby so that I could go back to work. Do you remember that you boys slept at the head of the stairs, you in a little bed that someone had made for your dad at that age? It had a tick filling, and probably wasn't very comfortable if anyone thought about it. I wonder what ever happened to that bed.

    And when We came home from the hospital, you were four days old, and we stayed at my parents. We put a window screen in the door between the hall and bedroom to keep Princess out. Freda Pratt was carrying you to put you in there in the cradle, and fell over the screen. She just missed a dresser that was there, but kept you high, so that you never felt a thing. She was hurt quite badly, but I was only interested in you. That was a bad scare on our first day home from the hospital.

    I wish that you could have seen the house on the old Cuba Friendship Road where I was brought up. The barn has burned, and they have moved the garage so that they can access it from the house, and not trudge through 25 feet of snow. It's so different, with the Interstate running on the hill above the house, and the trees that I planted as a 4-H project one spring, now tower 50 feet or more high. The corn crib is gone, the hen house, the brooder house where mother raised 100 baby chicks every year; the smoke house is gone, the pig pen, and probably the out house. It was built to last, in the early 1800s. Most of them have a single car garage. What changes.

  14. Mom, you can see the houses along the old Cuba-Friendship road with Google StreetView. I saw a house behind the trees that looks like yours, but I'm not sure.

  15. What is tick filling? How do you get all those little creatures to stay in the mattress?

  16. Oh Dale, always the wise guy! :)

    I slept in that little bed one time we were back there for a visit. I must have been about 7 or 8. It was filled with straw, and it was the hardest, most uncomfortable thing I ever laid on.

  17. Donna, that bed must have made a big impression on you. I vaguely remember going back to NY about that time, but I have no idea where I slept or much of anything else.