I was feeling somewhat down after a long and challenging week. My wife must have noticed because just after putting our daughter down for a nap on Saturday she suggested that I go for a ride. I just wanted to clear my head so I resisted my natural inclination to set a destination. I queued up some terrible music on my iPhone and popped in my ear buds before slipping on my helmet (I'm not sure how safe that is but I could easily hear the growl of the Yoshis and figured it couldn't be too
much worse then wearing ear plugs, but it did help with putting on the miles!) On the way out of town I topped off the tires and tank, not sure where I was going but wanted to make sure I got there
I started out just heading south, hoping to find some nice roads. Some were smooth and well maintained, others weren't but it was nice just to be out on such a beautiful day. After a little while I could start to see hills in the distance so I started to work my way in that direction. A little more time passed and I started to see signs for Letchworth. As I've just been wandering I'm not exactly sure where I am or how far the park is and decide that it would be the perfect day to hit the 17 miles of park road and see the sights.
I pulled into the park and pulled over to take my ear buds out and get out my cash. When I pull up to the gate there was a sign that said "If booth is unattended you may proceed to the park," or something along those lines. I had hoped to get a park map but figured I could call one up on my phone if absolutely necessary.
The first overlook I came to also had a gift and snack shop so I pulled in, parked near a few Harley's, and walked in, hoping again for a map. Inside I found the Harley owners, grandparents taking picture of a cardboard cutout in front of a carved Native American a la "the Roaming Gnome." Turns out their grandson considers them world travelers and asked them to get snap shots wherever they went! While inside I also discover that they have my favorite ice cream and free maps. While munching on my kiddie sized (
) Mint-Ting-A-Ling and a sugar cone I perused the map while looking out over the Mt. Morris dam and a somewhat pathetic looking Genesee River. Sometimes when there's something that you need the universe provides it and for whatever reason that ice cream was it!
While outside I see that 8 or so more Harley's have arrived accompanied by a sportbike painted matte black and devoid of any markings, still not sure what it was, and another small group consisting of a Road Star and an 850 Special. Beautiful day, lots of other bikers, I'm not alone in my spur of the moment idea.
I head out onto the road and start to enjoy the low speed twisties inside the beautiful park. The bike was running great and the scenery was beautiful (though not as green as I was expecting.) Riding through the park is really relaxing, the roads are narrow and reasonably smooth with lots of twisties and elevation changes. There are loads of stone bridges and walls, as can be seen in my pictures, and make for a picturesque setting.
I tried to stop as much as possible to take pictures. As often as I could I tried to get the niner in the foreground but because not all of the overlooks have parking right up front it wasn't always possible. The bike looks a little orange with my crappy iPhone camera but I assure you it is candy apple red!
One of the first viewing areas, back behind the curve somewhere would be the Mt. Morris Dam:
I thought it would still be a little early for "white water rafting" but you can see the group way down in the gorge:
The niner again, just your basic canyon shots:
These pics are from Inspiration Point. I came across a group of kids having their prom pictures taken but did manage to get a few (of the scenery) myself. I like the first one better, but think that the hawk and the gorge wall are cool in the second one! I believe that in the distance is "Middle Falls."
One of the cool parts about doing this ride is that at some points you're down near the floor only to climb back up to the rim again. There are turns so tight that I don't know how a car can make it and yet I passed a school bus coming in the other direction!
Right near the end is the Glen Iris Inn. I think it'd be fun to have dinner there some day, it looks like a lazy, old-timey kind of place. People were strolling around the pond or having a cocktail on the porch when I passed (the first time.) Just after is the turn off for Upper and Middle Falls. It's a one-way loop and you have to get off the bike to see the sights:
It's possible to climb down to the river which really reminds me of Treman Park in Ithaca.
When you climb the road back out you end up north of the Glen Iris in again, but with my map in my pocket I crossed the road instead of going left and back down hill (towards the falls.) And for the second year in a row I found myself at a caretaker's cottage, looking at my map. And for the second year in a row I headed back down hill and passed the Glen Iris (the second time.) This time I didn't
take the turn off to the falls and instead climbed the hill out of the park.
Once back out on main roads I beat-feet home. Each time I came to a junction I'd pick a road that sounded like it'd get me home or toward a town whose name I recognized. I had to find my own detour because the bridge was out in the sad little town of Rock Glen, but generally just worked my way back north. I got home just in time to change into street clothes and go out to dinner with friends at our favorite local Mexican place, Chilango's
In all, 120 miles in 4 hours. Between the ride, scenery, music, weather, and especially the ice cream my head was clear and I'm ready for the week ahead.