When I was a young lad and it was a weekend when my father was at loose ends he might ask me if I wanted to go for a ride with him. I would ask him where we might be going and he would say “No where”. It got to be called rides to Nowhere.
We would get into his car and head off onto roads that were far from ones that I would ever have traveled with my mother driving on errands. He liked to fine the narrowest old roads and especially liked to turn off pavement onto an “ancient way”. This was an old dirt road that would lead deep into the woods and sometimes get so narrow that the branches would screech on the paint of the car as we bounced our way along the old road. Sometime we would pop out back on pavement in a place I never knew existed and then we would stop by a farm or a cranberry bog.
It was always an adventure that showed me more of the Cape in a way that would hold a lasting image. It was something that I also did with my step-children. We would get into the car and drive off in a direction I had never been in before and purposely looked for roads that I had no idea where they went. We would come across great places, like an outdoor batting cage that we could hit balls at for an hour with no one else around. Once we found a grass airport and got to talk to a young guy who was working on his own plane.
Yesterday was a different kind of drive to nowhere. In the morning I headed out for the Saratoga Auto Museum and arrived in time to really enjoy the exhibits and will write about the experience soon in another entry. After which I headed toward the Champlain Valley Transportation museum and decided against it.
Not because it was a bad museum, but simply because it was going to take me to the far north of New York state and I wanted to be closer to the southern part of NY. Instead I decided to save it for another trip and headed to the Drivers Independent Race Track Museum about twenty miles west of Syracuse, NY. Even that was a long drive.
I arrived at the museum with an hour to spare (they are open 10-5) but it was locked up tight.
There was a sign on the door which said they were desperate for volunteer help.
They had a rest-o-mod, old Pontiac parked out front that looked like the same model and vintage that my parents had when I was in my early years. The whole family drove out to Minnesota one year to visit with my mother’s family in it. My two sisters and I in the huge back seat. One of my sisters kept an empty coffee can between her knees because she would get car sick and needed someplace to hurl. It was a long drive out there and I don’t think Eisenhower had much of the planned Interstate highway system built so it probably took us several weeks to make the 1200 mile journey, or at least that’s the way it seemed. I was just about three or four years old and thank goodness there were no such things as seat belts as I never would have seen the light of day or any scenery of the countryside.
It looked like the Drivers Independent Race Track Museum was a bust so I looked for a place to stay for the night as I didn’t really feel up to another three hours of driving. I consulted the GPS and found that Weedsport had two hotels. One appeared to be a favorite for junkies and worn out prostitutes and the other was now a Best Western.
It was obvious that it had seen plenty of names on its signage. The architect took most of his inspiration from the Bates Motel in Psyco. It was just missing the old Victorian house on the hill. It was also missing WiFi, but that is another story.
It had a half-dozen huge work trucks already parked in front of rooms. These trucks catered to the construction types that needed a 4 ton capacity and dualies. They had checked in before me and had already set up their coolers, lawn chairs, and portable charcoal grills. Their company was probably paying them per diem and they kept the money they saved by fending for themselves and finding the cheep motels.
When I checked in I was assured that there would be wireless in the rooms as the lady handed me a 24 inch long Ethernet cable. I was tired, hungry and dubious, but was looking forward to getting my bags in my room.
The room was cozy with twenty-four coats of paint on the walls and a bathroom fan that would suck the bathroom door open unless you locked it. I think I’ve only seen faster air flow when a window popped on an airliner and the cabin depressurized. At least I didn’t have to worry about any embarrassing odors. I just had to be sure not to evacuate all the oxygen out of the room.
I found a Chinese restaurant a couple of blocks away. It was not Beijing by any means. So chicken and broccoli with fried rice and an egg roll and dinner was served. At least until I discovered that there were no eating utensils in the bag. None at all. So a quick drive back and I scarfed a set of fork and wooden chop sticks.
Why is it that the chicken in Chinese take out never looks anything like the chicken you cook at home. The meat has no shape that you can recognize from the chicken that you buy at the store and cook. The broccoli was great and so was the egg roll.
Then the thunder started up. Only it was more like explosions. Big ones.
I took a peek outside and there was nothing to see. No dark clouds. No rain.
I waited for the sirens. None.
Then the sky opened up. Rain. Rain like you expect in a monsoon. Now the clouds were really getting dark. Not just dark, but an awful sick kind of dark purple that the sky gets when it feels like whipping off a few tornados. It was that bad.
It was time to get a book and read.
A little later sirens did go off. Wailing on and on. I took another peek out the curtains. It wasn’t raining hard, but steady and the sky still looked bad. I was waiting to hear hail. But it didn’t.
Eventually it passed, but by that time all the day’s travels and the great dinner caught up with me and I headed off to dreamland. Dreaming of race tracks and race cars.
In the morning the free breakfast consisted of raisin bran, watery OJ, and some institutional coffee. While I savored the moments I listened to some impromptu history from the day staff who was enlightening a family of three.
How Weedsport was founded by the Weed brothers. She exclaimed how there was a lot of history around the area. Later there was a fort built and they called it Weed’s Fort. There was just so much history in the town. Finally people just ran the names altogether and called it Weedsfort which later morphed into Weedsport. So much history.
I put my bags in the trunk of the P71, fired it up, programmed the GPS, and headed east to the next exciting location.