2014 – New York/ Pennsylvania

Day 1 – August 6th, 2014 – departure London, Ontario – 0740hrs

Three day forecast calling for clear skies.

We, and by we I mean JR riding his Kawi Versys which he cleverly rebranded by carefully removing the tank decals and replacing them with “Kwikasfaki” and SB driving his shiny new 2014 Ford Mustang convertible. For a variety of reasons SB traded in his motorcycle this season on the convertible. A better fit for life at this point. Semi-retired he is still up for a tour at the drop of a hat and we have shared a lot of miles together so he has a free pass on the motorcycle tours. Truth be told it was handy having the car around. Useful on more than one occasion. For example a problem with the GoPro battery and SB was able to plug it in and charge it as we scooted along. This meant we did miss out on some nice vid capture.


As often happens when I get riding along, I get thinking because other than looking at the scenery that is about all there is to do when left to your own devices inside the solitude of a helmet.

I am going to have to come up with a system of dicating my thoughts via a microphone inside my helmet because I had all sorts of humours ideas for content here and as usual I have forgotten 90% of it. I’m not sure talking to myself is necessarily the answer but I’m in their alone so who will know.

The day started with a straight forward run for the border crossing at Fort Erie. I am not a fan of the bloated border crossings we have to endure to escape Southwestern Ontario. I think it would improve tourism both ways if this wasn’t such a chore.

Ontario has some amazing spots to visit on little two and three day excursions so I will preface my next comment with, “I love Tobermory and all areas of Ontario easily reachable in a day or two” but when you consider in the same 4 hours it takes you to get to the Upper Bruce you can be well into NY or very close to the mountains of PA. Just sayin, it’s a nice option. One not exercised often enough in large part due to….well as I said, fun and games at the border.

As luck would have it todays crossing was not bad. Maybe a half hour of shuffling slowly forward on the bike and it was my turn. Of our little group I was the first in line and after all the standard questions the USBP officer asked if the next motorcycle was with me. I said, “yes and the Ford Mustang behind him”.  “A car” she stated, somewhat surprised. “Yes he just traded in his motorcycle and we still sort of like him so we let him come along”, I said. She laughed and sent me on my way. The first time we stopped after the border he told JR and I that she threw us under the bus, said we were hacking on him a bit. They had a nice conversation at the end of which she apparently professed she’d rather tour in his mustang then on the back of a motorcycle……shama lama ding dong ……..and his heart grew three sizes that day. Didn’t hurt his ego either, lol.

JR shared a story from a border crossing he did recently on trip to NY City and then up into Quebec on the return trip. He had selected a small remote crossing that work out well for the route they were taking and he thought his boys would find it cool by comparision to the larger crossings the were used to. When he pulled up he was asked the easily anticipated first question, “citizenship” but the second question took him back a bit, “Why did you pick this crossing”. I guess they figure everyone thinks it will be a push over crossing at the small points. Now his inside voice said “Jeez, why!  You’re not planning to look in the trunk are you? but then he explained why and things went waaaaaay smoother. But wouldn’t part of you like to say it for shits and giggles.

We travelled away from the border toward Aurora on 400 but exited quickly to 20A eastbound toward Letchworth State Park .

We were only about 4 hours into our little adventure when we reached the park entrance. A lone, older gentleman was on duty. There was a row of cars and a second row for buses only. There were three busses in line and he was running back and forth attempting to deal with everyone in the order they arrived at the gate.

I pulled ahead as the car before me cleared. He said he’d be right back and rushed off to see to the buses.

I had the money in my hand when he returned (key point in just a moment), I paid, asked him for a map and moved on. I thought he was pleasant and helpful.  We stopped at the first parking area to look at the dam.

SB relayed to us that when he pulled ahead and handed the guy his cash and ……for the sake of the story lets just call him Crusty the Park Clown said, in a grumpy I don’t care for motorcycles tone, “You’d think while I was looking after the busses they could at  least have their money ready.” SB went onto suggest, “Well they have gloves on and such I guess it takes longer”. “Yeah I guess so. You need a map?”, snapped Crusty. “No, I’m with them”, said SB. There was an awkward pause…….. followed by Crusty quietly mumbling “oh, sorry”. SB pulled away. SB said he’d wished he had a picture of the expression on his face during the awkward moment as Crusty attempted to extricate his foot from his mouth. Important life lesson, don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face. Or if you have a big mouth, small feet would be an asset.

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We spent almost two hours making our way through the park. Stopping on several occasions to look around and take a few pictures.

Continuing south out of the park on 19A was a beautiful route following along the banks of the Genesee River. Then veering southwest, just shy of Wellsville, on 417 and following this to 44. We took 44 south and crossed into PA.

The sky was a little unwelcome looking depending on which direction you were pointing. That’s PA for you. mountains and valleys play with the fronts that come off Lake Erie. With roads running like spiderwebs off in different directions its difficult to predict whether you need you rain gear or not. At one point JR and I were convinced that we were moments away from a torrential down pour so we reluctantly suited up. There was lots of evidence the precipitation was close by. On more than one occasion we rounded a bend in the road to see the moisture evaporating from the hot road surface like a low mist.

JR predicted at the beginning of the day that Coudersport PA would likely be a spot we could encounter rain. It sure did look like it but again nothing. The sky cleared and somewhere south of Oleona on 44 I removed my gear. JR declined citing the last time we had exercised a similar option he was out a pair of perfectly good leather riding gloves.

We had all brought camping gear but had some discussion about this and it was unanimous that we would search for a hotel or motel at the end of the day. Along this particular route camping was sparse and where we did see a campground it was mostly trailers. Must be a reason for that.

South on 44 to Haneyville, then carrying on down 664 to Lock Haven. where we stopped for the day.

Best Western in Lock Haven was very nice.  Restaurants on the other hand were very thin on options. I won’t mention the name of the establishment we landed in but out of the 20 brands of beer listed on their menu they had 4 lite beers and were out of the rest. I order a  flat iron steak…..guess what….yup, out of that too. What they did have was OK.

650 kilometres by my rough calculations.

Day 2 – August 7th, 2014 – 0730hrs

Nice Continental breakie in the lobby and we are away to the races. cutting west- northwest out of Lock Haven on 120.  Of note Highway 120 follows the banks of the Susquehanna River and for those old enough to remember Abbot and Costello I need say no more. For everyone else you need to check You Tube for the Susquehanna Hat Company skit. I digress, not far along 120 we paused for an early morning photo op along the side of the highway.


We followed 120 to 1004 otherwise known as Hyner Run. A road that runs northeast through Hyner State Park. There will be video of this area to follow. We found a spot past the state park where we could pull over and we played……..I mean rode back and forth along a particular stretch for about 45 minutes.

Continuing on to where Hyner run connects with 44 we road north along a stretch we we had come south on yesterday. The plan was to take road 4005 southwest back toward Renovo but we discovered that dispite the existence of this road on my GPS and on the official map of PA it, in fact, did not exist. Perhaps the road map was from an alternative reality.

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We elected to continue doubling back on 44, a win/win for sure, to 144 at Oleona where we would take 144 south.

JR fuelled up here at the junctions of 44 and 144.


We went south on 144 and at the junction with 4001 I made a last minute decision to follow 4001 instead of making the turn to  Tamarack. This was partly based on the sign I saw for the dam that we would find ahead. A good choice I think, beautiful stretch of road.

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View looking back to the north from the dam.


Connecting back with 120 near Westport we continued westish. It turns out that by days end these little modifications to the route were likely for the best for a few reasons. There was no scenery sacrificed in the making of these decisions.



Near Stirling Run JR pauses to see if whatever stung him in the face required CPR……alas it was too late. After a thorough grid search of the helmets interior to ensure the little huge bugger was gone we we’re once again moving west on 120.

After passing what was quite possible the most convoluted attempt of traffic management through intersection design by the Marx  Brothers in St Marys we arrived in Ridgway.

Here I had decided on a series of roads I couldn’t find on my GPS mapping software until I zoomed in to 200 meters.

We took Laurel Hill Rd west out of Ridgway. The first few kilometres are fantastic. The whole route was great but this first stretch, wow. This road turns into Spring Creek Rd and then Halton Rd before becoming 3002 and finally Loleta Rd into Marienville.

Marienville was to be the stop for day two but with the adjustments earlier in the day it was only about 1430 hrs.

I took a look on the map and we set our sights on a roundabout route to Kane PA just up  66 from Marienville. We headed north on 66 but went off on Blue Jay Rd and followed it to the shot below.


666N to 948N and east on 6 at Sheffield we eventually arrived in Kane.  It was still only about 1530 hrs but we elected to call it a day and this still put us in good position for the morning. We hit a party store with the thought of grabbing a couple beers each to kick back with only to discover in PA you can only buy a minimum of 24 in a party store. If you want a 6 pack you have to go to a bar or restaurant to buy it and of course it is more expensive. I will reserve comment on this peculiar legislation but I will say it seems to promote the potential for excessive drinking.

After a ride around Kane looking for accommodation and discovering that several listed on my GPS were no longer in business we finally arrived at the Kane Motel right in the heart of the thriving core area. It turned out that this search around Kane carried on just long enough for a friend of the winged terror that attempted to infiltrate JR’s helmet earlier to seek me out.  He must have been very determined to avenge his cohort premature demise because he had to thread himself over my windshield, under my partially close visor and over the left arm of my glasses before impacting with a smack and stings to my left temple. I’m not sure what it was but it left one hell of a lump and multiple marks that was tender to the touch for a couple days.

After we settle in and had an ale or two we had a little walk around the downtown area hunting for dinner. The main street had a couple of restaurants, one of which was closed for a week while staff took a holiday.  We wandered into the only other one worth mentioning. The historical looking facade drew us in like Hansel and Gretel to a gingerbread house. We entered to find ourselves in an alcove which led to a dimly lit hallway that stretched out in front of us and led away from the street and into the bowels of the establishment. We arrived at a closed door at the end of this hallway and paused to look through the heavily tinted glass. What was revealed inside was ……well I’ll be kind and say it was underwhelming.  We glanced at one another and had a short discussion (1.5 seconds) and it was unanimous…..  nope, no way, ain’t happenin. We wheeled to leave and got about half way down the hallway when from behind I heard a voice, clearly a woman, but I can only describe the voice as having a quality sort of  deep and similar to dragging a canvas bag full of gravel over asphalt. JR actually whimpered I think, at least in my mind he did or maybe it was me.  “Where you going, you coming back”, she said in a sort of desperate you’re my only customers tone. We promised we’d be back and continued out to the sidewalk. I suspect she is still waiting.

We finally arrived at spot, originally recommended by the motel owner, called the Texas Hot Lunch and it turned out to be a pretty good spot. Afterwards we retired to some chairs in front of our room at the Kane Motel we enjoyed several ale and a cigar. We struck up a conversation with a chap in the next room, a retired firefighter named Mike who was travelling around doing research for a book he was writing on forest fire fight. A very pleasant evening of conversation.

378 kilometres

Day 3 – August 8th, 2014

We departed early, just before 7 with the thought of getting a couple hours under our belts before stopping for breakfast.

It was very foggy and 9 Celsius, we’ve camped in much cooler weather but we were pleased with our motel decision. Literally a rough start to the day with the first 8 miles of  321 out of Kane being under construction and unlike its namesake SB’s Mustang did not like gravel at all. I guess more accurately SB didn’t like putting those two things together. The highway did turn back to asphalt and from what I could make out through the still heavy fog this road would certainly be a keeper. I was also able to make out through the fog several deer including the two that ran across the road in front of me. Not close enough to be any real concern but its never the one you see that ruins your day. I think these two made 4 that had run across the road in front us since Wednesday.

PA 321 passes into NY in the middle of a lush forest and becomes Highway 280. From 280 to Interstate 86 but only for a short distance before heading north on into Salamanca for fuel and breakfast across from the gas station in a strip plaza. This was like stepping into a smoke filled greasy spoon time machine but it was actually pretty good and it hit the spot.

Then we were off, north on 353 to 62.  In my head I started writing the lyrics to a possible top 40 hit, Salmonella in Salamanca. Salmonella in Salamanca, I should’ve seen it coming this belly ache-a. Sorry, not everything that comes to mind inside the helmet is gold.

I have done the route north on 219 back to the border and I would take 353/62 every time. The prettiest parts of 219 are south of Interstate 86. When 219 meets 86, 353 is only a couple kilometres to the west and the ride back up into Buffalo from this point on is much more relaxed on 353. You go slower through a few small towns but by the time you hit Buffalo I found the mass of interstates converging here far less stressful.

A bit of a wait crossing the border but not too bad. Back on Canadian soil and an easy run back to London.

All in all great trip. Lots of laughs as usual. Great route.

448 kilometres.

TOTAL – 1426 kilometres 

Download file: 2014 NY Penn Revised2.gpx


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2009 – Three Generations PtVI

Day 18, July 7th and another early start, 6:20 and we were on the road with clearing skies and a temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit.


Alpine Motel

We could not possibly have begun to comprehend the beauty we would see that day. It would be a tossup between this day and day 8 and 9 for the most visually stimulating day.

We travelled along highway 212 ascending Bear Tooth Pass to an elevation of 10,974 feet and passing into Montana again. The scenery along this section defies description with the sun shining down on the still snow capped peaks, the fresh mountain air and the road snaking its way back and forth up over the top and descending down to the valley floor on the Montana side. There was evidence of some substantial landslides along the side of the road reminding us that this area could be as dangerous as it is beautiful.

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Where we needed to get to that day the only practical way to get there was to go back over the top of Bear Tooth Pass. So after a nice breakfast at a little spot in Red Lodge off we set. I had mixed emotions about traveling the same route we had just done…..yeah right. I could go back and forth over the pass all day long and I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t get bored.

So Bear Tooth Pass twice in one day, well you’d think that would be enough and you’d be wrong. Once we got back over the pass we took highway 296 toward Cody, Wyoming. This route is also known as the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and was absolutely incredible. I think it was right around this point that dad told me for the second time that I had outdone myself with the route.

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We were not done yet. In Cody as highway 14 continues east there are a north route and a south route. We elected to take the north route which passes through Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area. I have a friend who was on a trip that took him through this area a couple of weeks ahead of us and later when we compared notes it was clear, north route, south route it would be hard to go wrong. The weather was absolutely perfect for us but his experience was a bit different. He was at elevation under bleak skies when he rounded a curve right into a snow storm. It didn’t last long but provided for a white knuckle moment for him.

We encountered more buffalo here, an amazing animal. They were right up on the roadway and don’t seem to be bothered at all by all the cars.

The route down off the mountain was a series of switchbacks that were an absolute blast. We connected with Interstate 90 and a short distance later we stopped in Buffalo, Wyoming for the night at the Blue Gables Motel.

Day 19, July 8th another early start with the only highway to take being Interstate 90. We followed this to near Moorcroft where we turned north on hwy 14 to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.

Not long on hwy 14 the oncoming traffic began flashing their headlights at everyone and then I could see in the distance traffic was slowing. Immediately your mind jumps to what, an accident and of course the thought of “I hope no one is seriously injured.” As we crested the next hill we were faced with a slightly different situation, cowboys and cattle. Yep partner a genuine cattle drive right down the middle of the highway. Hum now there’s something you don’t see every day or I guess around there maybe it is.


Now where was, oh yeah the tower, I had wanted to see the tower since I was introduced to it in the 1977 classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, starring Richard Dreyfuss, where it was portrayed as this mysterious location that celestial beings would use as a docking station for their spacecraft. We spent a bit of time looking around and got a number of good pictures before pressing on. Going for a short hike here might be the only thing I would change if I were to go back. At the time it didn’t seem necessary. Of course this is always a bit difficult when travelling by bike as there are limited means of securing all the gear you are carrying.

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We continued around the hwy 14 loop to Sundance a town named after the sun dance ceremony practiced by several North American Indian Nations but probably better known because of the man that earned his nickname there. In 1888 after his release from a Sundance jail Harry Longabaugh became better known as the Sundance Kid. When I think about the distance we were from Telluride, Colorado and reflect on the activities of Butch Cassidy his eventual partner, I am struck by far apart these two locations were and at a time when their primary source of transportation would have been horseback, it is truly amazing that these two men ever crossed paths let alone that they would go on to be the stuff legends are made of.

From Sundance we took hwy 585 south where it connected to hwy 85. We took hwy 85 north all the way to Deadwood. It was a slightly different route into the area then I had planned on but it turned out to be great.

It was shortly after noon but we decided to get room and spend the rest of the day roaming around Deadwood. We managed to find a room at the historic Franklin Hotel named after a local entrepreneur and businessman Harris Franklin. The businessmen of Deadwood had been trying to build a hotel for years but it wasn’t until Franklin came forward and personal offered to match dollar for dollar any money raised that they finally had the funds to move forward and the Franklin opened in 1903. The hotel has seen tough times over the years and in 2005 was purchased by the Silverado Gaming Establishment and is currently undergoing a 7 million dollar makeover.  A lot of famous people have laid their heads to rest inside those walls over the years, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft and John Wayne.

Franklin Motel

Franklin Motel

We strolled the main street, checked out the shops, watched a couple of gunfight reenactments and had a beer in the bar were Wild Bill Hickok was shot dead by a sore loser after a poker game in 1876. We jumped on a tour bus and took a ride through Deadwood to Boot Hill and the gravesites of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane. Point of interest, despite the stories Hollywood has woven around the relationship between these two people the truth is that they hardly knew each other. All in all our day in Deadwood was a very interesting one.

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Day 20, July 9th now if you have a map you would need it to follow along with today’s travels. We went south of 385 to Custer where we turned east on 16. We took a short side trip off on the Wildlife Loop Rd. and then continued east on 16 to Iron Mountain Road. This is a must see when in the area and the best way to experience it is to come north so that you get to see Mt. Rushmore as you pass through a series of tunnels cut in the rock along this road.


We stopped at Mt. Rushmore and took some pictures. It might have been neat to go for a hike up to the base of the mountain but really other than getting sweaty and being able to get a much closer look at the presidential granite nostril hair there wasn’t any need.


We carried on north on Iron Mountain Road/ hwy 16 then west on 244 and south on 385 for the second time today but only briefly as we turned east on 87 perhaps better known as Needles Scenic Drive. This is a very interesting drive and another must see when in the area. We stopped and I did a little rock climbing in search of the perfect spot to take some pictures.


Back on the road this drive connects back to hwy 16 again and we headed east to where 16 becomes 36 and eventually meets with 79 north to Rapid City. In Rapid City we took hwy 44 which runs east through the Badlands. Inside the Badlands we took hwy 240 north through the heart of the Badlands a truly remarkable drive.

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Highway 240 eventually leads to Wall and the famous Wall Drug store which of course we took a walk through. It you need it and even if you don’t you can probably find it inside the walls of the Wall Drug store. There were the normal snacks and souvenirs but then there was all the leather products like a complete 6 gun rig or the stars and stripes cowboy boots for the geographically challenged cowboy just in case he forgets where he is.

As we left Wall we took Interstate 90 east and stopped for the night in Murdo. After dinner at the Rusty Spur which was next to the motel we had a discussion about the route from this point forward. We had intended to head south into Nebraska and the east but instead we opted to continue east across South Dakota into Minnesota. The next discussion centered on the distance to home. We decided that we had seen everything we had set out to at this point and that we could be home in a couple of days barring the unforeseen.

Day 20, July 10th we continued east on Interstate 90 leaving South Dakota behind us and passing into and through Minnesota ending the day in Wisconsin about 1100 kilometers further down the road from where we started the day. Travelling the interstate is not the way to take in the scenery but it does tend to get you from A to B reasonably quick and it made for a pretty straight forward day. It was dad’s birthday so I gave him the cards I have been carrying for about 11,000 kilometers since we left home.

Day 21, July 11th the skies to the east did not look inviting in the least so we got our raingear on and set out. I cannot possibly overstate how much I dislike taking the interstate through Chicago. It is like anything I suppose you could get used to it and it would be a different experience if you travelled it a lot but if it were not for the GPS it would have been a very unpleasant experience.

With Chicago behind us I for one was more relaxed. We still had a long drive ahead but it was a clear sign that that evening we would be sleeping in our own beds.

All along we had been telling family that we are on track with our original projections to arrive home around July 15th so everyone was quite surprised when we pulled in the driveway a little after 5 that afternoon, 852 kilometers for the final leg of the journey.

We saw a lot of extraordinary scenery on this trip; we had some good conversations, a lot of laughs, took a lot of pictures and made some good memories. As the picture fades to black on this trip its true what they say, just like in life, it’s all about the journey.

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings)

I encourage everyone to step out and get swept away.


If you stuck with the story and made it this far then here is a little treat.