Sunday, September 18, 2016

Day 2, Thursday

Comfort Inn, Buckley St., Syracuse, NY

It’s a restless night; not that anything is particularly wrong, the bed is comfy ‘n’ all, just after the first two hours I cannot get back to sleep. My mind keeps “writing” all night. I finally give up trying to sleep, crawl out of bed at 3:45 a.m., and make coffee; it’s not good, but not bad. I settle at the computer, and now that I’m ready to write, the words are spent. I struggle with the writing between the journal and the blog and in the end, the blog isn’t done and I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time.

The invoice for the night’s stay is slid under the door. Yikes! This is the most expensive place I’ve ever stayed and as rundown as the place is, it’s certainly not worth the $204. I don’t even want to think about what the holiday weekend price would be. I check Google Maps and find it’s five hours to I-271 which will take me south from I-90. I’m ready to move on from this disappointing place. 

I comment on the price on checking out, and the very nice clerk behind the desk says it’s because today is the start of the New York State Fair and it’s also freshmen orientation at Syracuse University. She said the hotels jack the price. I walk out of a building disappointed, but get a chuckle when I see two guys smoking in front of a No Smoking sign.

In spite of getting up early, I’m not on the road until 8:55 a.m. It’s raining and 75 degrees. I pray this storm makes it to New Hampshire. I’m still upset by the exorbitant hotel costs. It’s not fair when I’m just passing through and I’m not here for the local events. I follow the woman’s directions to get back to the thruway, get the toll ticket and head west. 

What amaze me are the huge billboards along the thruway that are on the farther side of fields. How is that safe driving trying to read those? One catches my eye about the Niagara Falls Museum. From what I can see, it sounds like it’s right on I-90. That would be cool. Maybe I will go to the falls in spite of saying earlier I wouldn’t.

I reach Buffalo, see a sign that says I-290 Niagara Falls, and choose to stay on I-90 looking for that Niagara Falls Museum. All my attention focuses on the driving. Driving through the city of Buffalo is horrendous with the rain, heavy traffic, and construction areas. It’s a nightmare with on and off ramps, over and under, bridges, buildings, etc., and then there is the toll in Buffalo. It cost me $6.50 to get from Syracuse to this point. No, the attendant tells me, this is not the end of the thruway. 

I pass the Exit for I-90 which also loops around Buffalo to Niagara Falls, but I want out of New York. A mile or so down the road is another ticket booth and farther along at the last toll booth it cost another $3.15. The entire thruway system from Albany to past Buffalo cost $16.05 (counting the two times I got off). Oh, I so want to find another way home, but to do so would mean I wouldn’t do Niagara Falls. I’m not sure I want to go there anyway.

Today turns out to be a day of long, boring driving with not much to look at. I did see a few barns and silos that catch my fancy and I even get a photo of one. I cross into Pennsylvania at 12:10 p.m. and stop for lunch an hour later. Golden Corral offers a huge buffet with many choices. It’s not spectacular food, but you can fill up for a reasonable price.

On the Interstate

Tires hum
Making different sounds
Along various sections
Of the interstate

Thumps and bumps
drones and whines
Zzzzzzzoops and clacks
all at 55 to 70 mph

Cement, tar, grooved areas
old broken segments
the noises and the jarring
keep me from dozing

Flashes of green
glimpses of vegetation
eyes need to stay
on vehicles and traffic patterns

On and on
hour after hour
passing some
others passing me

I wiggle in my seat
when legs and butt go numb
shake arms and hands
when back and shoulders ache

Anything to get
another half hour 
putting home
so very far away.
--Sasha Wolfe

Another of those farms I love.
One highlight of the day is that both Pennsylvania and Ohio have real visitors’ centers. I pick up maps and brochures. I consider doing a 13-mile drive around Presque Isle in Erie, Pa., as the lady at the visitor center suggested, but I stay on I-90W. I want to get as far west as possible before turning south.

I end up at a Comfort Inn in Painesville, Ohio, east of Cleveland for the night. The clerks are awesome and offer to help with my luggage, but I turn them down and get everything to my room. This room is small with two queen beds. Fine for a single person, but it would be tight with two people. I unload my gear and return the luggage trolley to the lobby. I change into a bathing suit back in my room and head to the indoor pool. Oh, that feels so good after the 90 degree heat outside. I spend 15 minutes constantly moving and return to my room a little after 4 p.m. I change into a lounging gown and settle in to check messages and work.

End of day overview: 
Hotel:  Comfort Inn, Painesville, Ohio     Rating: 4
Meal:  Golden Corral    Rating: 4
Average weather: 75/90 degrees
Miles driven today: 310
Trip total: 585
Hours driven: 5 ½ 

Gas cost: $20.66   Tolls: $9.65   Meals: $10.90   Hotel: $117.52

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