Fri. July 22, 2011:
We headed out early so as to avoid any border traffic. Alas, there was still no time to stop at the Voortman’s Cookie Outlet store just outside of Guelph (despite my pleas). All for nothing, because the GPS and Google Maps sent us to the busiest border of the three, the one everyone and their grandmother crosses to go to Buffalo (of all places). We were stuck there for at least 40 minutes, watching as other cars passed us; it seemed we had chosen the one line that was not moving. As we inched forward we saw why they were all passing us while we stood still, they were being instructed to cut in front of us. There were only a few lines it turns out. Soon after we crossed the border I chanced upon a new idea for a series called “you know you’re in the States when…” (look for it throughout). The first one in the series, you know you’re in the States when… you pass a billboard for a coronary by-pass surgery on offer and the next billboard is for “Jim’s Steak-Out” featuring photographs of impossibly greasy sandwiches.
Half the fun of a roadtrip is the billboards, which help when you are on the world’s most boring highway (the New York Interstate) and passing through the Erie Canalway again (see last roadtrip). Billboards advertising things like the Jell-O Museum help plan future vacations. (Note: I wonder if they have a whole collection of Cosby sweaters on display?). Another reason I do not like the NY highway? We were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on it for an hour. This is not an exaggeration, if it was I would’ve said three hours. People were using the emergency u-turn road and others just cut across the median through the shallow grassy ditch. It was mayhem. We were trying to figure out what it was and the cop that passed us on the shoulder seemed to indicate an accident, until he just parked in the emergency u-turn road and sat there. In total we had driven less than 3 miles (I was counting roadside mile markers and the GPS confirmed). When we finally got to the clear we were shocked to see that NOTHING had caused the jam! No accident (which is a good thing of course), no construction, no bottleneck of people all taking one exit to leave the interstate (paying tolls really slows things down). Five minutes into driving the speed limit and again, it was bumper-to-bumper. It took us a ridiculously long time to get to the next exit (which thankfully was the one we had to take). The traffic nightmare was finally over. Or so we thought. Trying to drive to Skaneatles, NY was just plain awful. At the first intersection we got to there were 4-5 state troopers directing traffic! It was a small country road!! And they were favouring one side. When we got past that we encountered another one! And then one more, except this time they wouldn’t let us straight through, so we had to make a huge detour that tacked on another hour.
We eventually, after much aggravation and disbelief, made it to Skaneatles. Heck, we were only three hours late for our lunch reservations at the Mirbeau Inn so we went straight to the boat cruise. We went on a cruise of the lake (part of the finger lakes). It was very nice and relaxing and the cool breeze was a welcome touch given the heat and humidity (tropic heat wave was passing by). We got to gawk at rich people’s mansions with their fancy boat houses and garages for their boats. On the cruise we also learned how to pronounce Skaneatles (skinny-atlas). Afterwards we wandered Skaneatles and looked at the pretty architecture, including one building that looked like the stereo-typical detective office. We walked over to Fuller House as well, which served as a stop on the underground railroad. The Mirbeau Inn was just up the road so we walked there too (with the sun glaring in my eyes, my head melting, water supply running low). We were going to have lunch there so that we could wander the grounds. We did not eat dinner there though because that is more of a black-tie affair and we were hardly dressed for the occasion. We snuck in and walked around looking at the koi ponds and wilted flower gardens (thank you heat wave, killing all the pretty flowers). On the way to the car we stopped at a café that was about to close and ordered sandwiches. It was so nice to finally eat.
We were staying in Auburn, NY, where there is nothing to do. We walked down the main road and all we found was a Wegman’s that did not even sell Cherry Coke Zero. But I did stock up on Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate. While there, a guy in the candy aisle let out a gross disgusting burp. For dinner we had Domino’s (mostly for a lack of anything else nearby). We gave it a chance because they claimed to have changed their recipe. It was OK, nice that you could get thin-crust. But it was still rather greasy. The guy in the pizza place made a really awkward joke about harbouring us as fugitives (there were sirens blaring nearby). While we waited for our pizza, we wandered until we found a gas station. But before we could get to it, we had to pass religious fanatics at all four corners of the intersection! So we had to pass by them and their pamphlets twice. It was worth it for the Cherry Coke Zero. We settled down with our pizza and sodas and as Brent was flipping channels he came across a re-run of The Office. It just so happened to be the episode where Michael and Dwight rap about Scranton, the electric city, which was perfect, because that was the next day’s destination!