August 20, 2005

Start: Buffalo, New York
Watertown, New York
Mileage: 226 miles
Route taken: Interstate 90 to Interstate 81 to Route 11, exit at

        If I thought interstates were bad, toll roads on interstates are even worse.

        You basically pay for the priviledge of driving on beat up roads with no scenery and few exits.

        I thought the original intent of a toll road was to take the money collected and put it back in the roads, so they are better than the non paying thru ways.

        Well I have been on a couple of toll roads now and I can unequivocally say they are far worse then the roads that cost me nothing to ride on.

        But going east from Buffalo, you don’t have much of a choice, so I resigned myself to taking the toll road and got off of it as soon as I could.

        That was in Syracuse. I paid grudgingly paid $5.60 and asked the toll booth operator where Route 11 was. He said, “It is the first exit off of (Interstate) 81. But why would you want to take that? Eighty-one goes the same place.”

        “Same destination I replied, but definitely not the same journey.”

        I don’t think he understood.

        The small farm lands of central New York spread out before me as I traveled north and the towns of Maple View, Pulaski, and Adams were all nice interruptions to the beautiful scenery. Tall trees, cornfields, and ponds were on both sides of me as I rode up the two-lane road.

        My fear of deer was heightened more by the forests on both sides, but I made the 67 miles from Syracuse to Watertown without seeing one.

        I wasn’t planning on stopping at Watertown. I was going to go up to Potsdam and being a little closer to the New York/Vermont border.

        It was one of the crossroads you hit on a trip like this. I had 70 miles on a country road to get to Potsdam. It was 6 p.m., I had about two hours of daylight remaining and it was sprinkling.

        I sat off the side of the road and contemplated the decision. I wouldn’t enjoy the next 90 minutes as I would be worried about getting there and paranoid a deer was going to jump in front of me. I did want to keep going, though and would be able to spend more time in Vermont, a state I have never been in, if I was closer. 

        The rain became a little more persistent. It made the decision for me. I turned the bike around and looked for a hotel.

        After dinner, I stopped by a bar for a drink. There were five or six regulars at this watering hole in the old part of town. There was a square with a fountain and a grassy area.

        In the middle of it was a local who was practicing yoga. It was dark, drizzly and he was stretching and posing and working on finding his happy place.

        This seemed to amuse the locals in the bar. They went out and watched and laughed. Apparently he does this all the time and they use it as a source of entertainment. He also sings, plays a guitar and yells in the square. He doesn’t harm anyone, so he is left alone.

        Still the regulars couldn’t understand why he did this. They thought he was insane. I suggested he might be just a little different from them. They looked at me, like I had just insulted the whole town and I guess in a small way I had. I finished my drink and left just as the man was ending his yoga session. I waved and he waved back.