Day 5
October, 13th, 2003
West Chester, Pennsylvania

Another perfect day was blooming, and I was anxious to get on the road.  I was up and ready to go early, but decided to let rush hour clear out of Philly before leaving.

Today, I start the real riding.  My plan will take me to NY 97, the Catskills, and into the Hudson Valley, by days end.

It was a bright, cool morning, when I entered Philly on I-76, merging over to outer loop 276 and escaping north on I-476.  Laying low till the traffic cleared proved to be a good strategy.

I stopped for gas at a Exxon in Lansdale.  It was a quick break, I wanted to get into the mountains as quick as I could.  I stayed on 476 to Allentown where I switched over to I-78 east.  Allentown was chock full of trucks, and their loud noises irritated me as I moved past them on the left side.

The whole time I was in Allentown, I kept thinking about that Billy Joel song.  I couldn't recall the words, only that the city was mentioned somewhere in the lyrics.  Anyone with the name of that song email me, its been driving me crazy.

East of the city I turned north on SR 33, a interstate style road, I was only on it for brief time before exiting to SR 512.  The morning routes were quick and dirty but they served the purpose of getting me to this point quickly.  Now I was poised to enter northern New Jersey and New York on state highways.  My favorite.

SR 512 carried me through a string of towns named after places in Maine.  Bangor, Portland and Belfast to name a few.  I guess a few folks from up there decided to come "south."  Fall had painted the countryside and the riding was excellent.  Bright red trees dotted the hills, and people were everywhere raking leaves and shopping.

Lots of road side fruit stands were selling fall fruits and flowers.  Items such as mums and pumpkins were plentiful.  I stopped at such a stand near Mount Bethel, and met Mrs. Holloway.  She saw me ride down her driveway and looked a little scared at first.  When she saw I was harmless she came out to greet me.

"how ya doin m'am"

"pretty good, nice day huh?"

"yeah it is"

We struck up a nice conversation.  She told me she'd been living in the attached house for 50 years, and when they bought it they were way out in the country.  Now she is in the city limits, with neighbors all around.  She said they use to farm and sell chicken eggs, but now all they do is run the fruit stand.  
​Mrs. Holloway with her flowers and pumpkins.
Not all New Jersey is the turnpike.  Somewhere on SR 521

SR 521 afforded me a opportunity to get in some good leaning.  It was a good route choice.  So much better then blasting north on the turnpike.  After 521 I was on 615 and followed it till it ended to US 206 near Montague. 

There I picked up 521 again, riding it till I saw a Honda dealer near SR 23, stopping in to use the facilities.  

The shop was mostly a service station selling ATVs and wave runners, very few bikes were on the showroom floor.  The place was less than friendly, so I did my business and left.

I left the dealer's on SR 23 and a few miles later was in Port Jervis.  The city is just like most of the northeast.  Run down 2 story row houses, closed down factories, and folks in beat up cars.  So many have left this part of the country it is has had detrimental impact.  Anytime you lose a million of your best taxpaying citizens, you're going to be hurt. 
Port Jervis was crowded and many of the old houses were decorated for fall.  I could picture kids trick or treating here in a few weeks.  Walking up and down the leaf strewn sidewalks, in colorful costumes ringing door bells.  Old houses such as these don't have pleasant sounding bells, instead they make an abrupt buzz when the button is pressed.

While sitting at a red light, I spotted the "Port Jervis Diner", it was sitting right on SR 97, the route I needed for the Catskills.

The diner was typical northeast.  Chrome stools, booths and tables for patrons to sit on, with fast talking waitresses.  I found a booth and poured in.  All diners are noisy, but this one more so than most, especially after wearing ear plugs all morning.

"Whaya have?"

"I dunno sweeite, gimme a chance to look over the menu"

"you're embarrassing me with that accent"

"I'll have the red pepper steak and rice"


I handed her the menu and when she snatched it I wouldn't let go.  She smiled and said, "cmon I gotta get the order in."

"you didn't ask me what I wanted to drink"

"see, you got me all messed up"

I find the best way to deal with folks up here is to be kind and gentle.  It seems to have a soothing effect on the populace.  The image most have of northeasterners is that of rude and loud.  I have rarely encountered that in all my travels in this area.  I think it works because the pace of life is so hectic in part of the country. 

I didn't like the red pepper steak and rice.  Somehow, I thought it would be a brown gravy, not a red one.  I ate what I could.  My waitress came back and said, "Didn't like the food?"  "Not really baby, but not y'alls fault, I ordered the wrong stuff."

A group of sport bike riders in leathers came in as I was about leave.  They took a table in the rear.  They didn't acknowledge me.

The bill came to 6 dollars and change, and I left a 2 dollar tip.  It was then I noticed.  MY CHECKCARD WAS MISSING.  I quickly retraced my actions, and realized I rode off and left my card in the NJ ATM.  My heart sank.  One of the things I feared most happening on a trip has happened.  I'm over 1000 miles from home with just 40 dollars in my pocket. 
I told myself panic was not going to help matters, and went about a logical thought process.  I had a VISA and 2 gas cards.  If I planned right, I could probably live on just those cards.  I never activated the cash withdrawal option on the VISA, so that was out.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was not a big deal.  I could charge the whole trip, and still not go in debt because the money to pay for it was sitting in my checking account.  I used my checkcard almost all the time anyway, now I would substitute it with the VISA card.  The only thing I used cash for was Mountain Dews and McDonalds,  I guess if I had to, I could live without those things.

Maybe keeping 1 credit card was not a bad idea after all.  I just had to get over the idea I was charging something.  That made me cringe thinking about it.  The card has a zero balance, but a low limit, but enough space to do this trip.  

I called Regions and told them what happened, cancelled my card and started the process of getting a replacement.  Customer service said it would take at least a week.

When I went back outside, I checked out the bikes of the riders inside, then geared back up.  I picked up SR 97 and took off for the mountains on another perfect fall day.

SR 97 clings to the banks of the Delaware River, twisting and climbing in elevation.  More awesome riding.  At Hawks Nest I pulled off to absorb the view.  It was great.  I got back on the road and started leaning, it was a fun ride.

The landscape was lit up, and I could not get over how wonderful fall is in this part of the country.  The leaves along 97 were 5-6 days away from peaking, but I still had plenty of color to look at.
​SR 42 as seen from the Hawk's Nest.  Great road.
"A group of sport bike riders in leathers came in as I was about leave.​​"
"CR 153 followed a creek through a tunnel of trees and foliage. "
SR 97 took me to SR 55, the road I needed to get me into the heart of Catskills.  

The route took me over hundreds of creeks and reservoirs.  The water supply for NYC is pulled from these places and many ducts and small dams could be seen.

To be so close to NYC, this area appeared very remote.  

In Grahamsville I lost my route.  I was suppose to go CR 153 here, but I couldn't find it.  I rode east and west through the tiny hamlet but saw no signs for it anywhere.

A deli was in the center of town, so I went back to it to quiz someone.  I parked the ST outside and went in to find mostly empty shelves and disorganization.  To say the least inventory was low.  I managed to find a Mountain Dew and Payday bar.  While I was paying I asked the man behind the counter where 153 was, and that I was looking for a place called Sundown.  

"oh yeah, you need to go up to the reservoir and turn left.  No sign there, but that's the way to Sundown"
"anything there?"

"no, just a few houses"

I passed the road the first time, I knew where it was.


CR 153 followed a creek through a tunnel of trees and foliage.  I was in the heart of Catskills now, and all was good.  The road was quiet and I came into contact with very few cars.  The surface was not all that smooth, but that was ok, not riding fast anyway.  The Catskills don't have much elevation, but scenic nonetheless.  There was very little sunlight making its way down to 153, and things were hard to see with the dark Oakleys on.

My mind wobbled over a hundred things as I rode along.  The houses I passed looked inviting, and I was tempted to stop at one to see what was for supper.  
It was getting late when I came to SR 28A.  Although there were lots of campgrounds in the area to set up camp, I didn't want to.  I just can't get excited about camping out in New York.  I will stick with my plan, and find a motel room in Albany.  I need to get at least that far to set up tomorrows ride through Vermont and New Hampshire.

I used my Exxon Card at a station in Ashokan, preserving what cash I had left.

The ST carried me back out to SR 28 and we followed it to I-87 North, otherwise known as the NY State Thru Way.  I got on the interstate and into what looked like a jailbreak of cars heading north.  It was getting cool in the growing dusk.

Today has been a great ride, but now I was ready to lay up for the night.  I was riding north when I saw a sign for a rest area, which turned out to be nothing more then a picnic table.  I got out my phone and called Motel 6, reserving a room in Albany, also picking up directions on how to find it.  It was kind of hard to hear the reservationists, but I managed.  I was too close to I-87 to hear anything but trucks. 

It was a short ride from there into Albany, but my god at the traffic.  Bumper to bumper at 80mph.  Unless you've been to the northeast corridor you will never understand it.  All you have to know is crowded.

The motel was located on I-90.  I had to fight my way into the city, find the right exits and at the same time not get run over.  Done it before I can do it again.  Things got wild when I entered and began looking for I-90.  Cars were zipping by from all directions, and the signs confusing.  Somehow, I made it to I-90, and found the motel without too much fumbling around, ending a 411 mile day.

I got out the Visa card and checked into 45 dollar a night room.  Typical Motel 6, clean and orderly, only problem all the ground floor rooms were being shampooed, so I had go to floor #2.  What a hassle to unload.

When I entered the parking lot I noticed there were no eating establishments near the motel.  The unit wlocated in a crowd of office buildings etc.  I didn't feel like getting the bike out, and riding all over a strange city looking for something to eat, so I ate junk food from the vending machines.  I wasn't hungry anyway.
I returned messages, and checked in with ChrisK to set up a time to meet in NH.  After talking to Chris, I decided to skip Maine and spend the day riding with him in the White Mountains, coming back and spending the night in Concord.  

I was speaking to my wife when I got a brain storm.  I always leave her a signed check in case she needs emergency money.  I have a small savings account at out local credit union, mostly a place I park money for trips.  I have THAT ATM card in my wallet.  The only problem, I withdrew most of that money to my checking account at Regions to make this trip, leaving less then 50 dollars there.  I told Debbie to cash a check at Regions, and deposit it at the credit union, that I had access to that account.   I would need about 200 bucks to finish the trip.  Sometimes I surprise myself at how resourceful I can be.

I was looking forward to spending the morning riding across Vermont.  Chris reported one of my chosen routes, SR 9, was under heavy construction and that I might want to pick a alternate.  I got out my atlas and planned my ride to NH, from there I would follow the Black Knight, aka ChrisK.

I did my journaling while watching the Red Sox-Yankees on TV.  I grew sleepy with the news was on, but managed to stay up long enough to get a weather report.  A storm out of the west was closing in on the northeast, and would arrive by tomorrow night, the riding should be ok till then. 

I took comfort in that, and went to sleep with visions of Vermont dancing in my head.

Next:  Vermont in fall.  What else is there to say.

Footnote: My new card was waiting for me when I got home.  I managed the trip with only minor problems without my checkcard.