Somewhere around 10am, I think I've got things all buttoned up and tied down so I'm about to get on the road. Not knowing much about the area, I figure I'll ride I-80 till I can link up with Hwy 380 to Scranton.
Now the Quality Inn in Stroudsburg is practically on I-80. I'm warming the the Helix when I notice that I-80 is not moving. Oh crap! Do I want to get in that mess. Carl and his lovely bride, of 32 years, are standing nearby so I ask them about another way to go. They tell me about Route 611, a much nicer back road way to get to 380. They say that they're on their way to visit a candle factory that's on Route 611 and I should follow them. When they turn off, I should just go straight.
As they turn off, I beep, wave and ride on. This area must be known for it's candles because candle factories/showrooms are every few miles along 611. Just a few miles after Carl and Barb turn off I find this.....
I did see people going into the candle factory/store but it looked like the Haunted House was closed. I wasn't sure if it was closed because it was early in the morning or because they saw me coming. Later, I noticed that quite a few places had signs out front that said, "closed for the season".
Hwy 611 is a real nice road to ride. At Tobyhanna, Pa. Route 611 merges into Hwy 380. I ride north to Scranton. In Scranton, it's back on the interstate as I pick up I-81 heading towards Binghampton, N.Y.
I think I mentioned before that I'm a bit of a baseball fan. Not so much the major leaguers but everything below that level. Way back in North Carolina, I had wanted to stop and see the Durham Bulls play. The same Durham Bulls made famous, or more famous, in the Kevin Costner movie, Bull Durham. That never happened. In Stroudsburg, I'd search the internet for a baseball game in this area. There is a team in Scranton but they're playing on the road. All I can find in this area are the Binghampton Mets so now I'm headed to Binghampton to see the Binghampton Mets play. The Binghampton Mets, as you might suspect, are a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. They're the Mets double A ball club.
At the ballpark, NYSE&G Stadium, I asked a guy who looks like he work's there who the Mets AAA team is. He says the Las Vegas 51's. I immediately say, no way. The 51's are the Dodgers AAA affiliate. He says, that was last year, they're the Mets AAA affiliate this year. He has no idea where the Dodgers AAA affiliate went but it isn't the 51's this year.
Years ago, I lived in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where the Mets single A club is located and saw them play many times. This year I got the AA club and before the year is out, I'll see the 51's play in Tucson. You might get the idea that I'm a Mets fan.....but you'd be wrong!
My 14th state on this trip.......
My nothward trek was supposed to take me as far north as Binghampton but.......
Do you know why we make plans? So we have something to base the changes on.
There have been so many changes in my original plans that one more won't make any difference. For a few years, I've been keeping track of a friends son through Facebook. I knew Derek way back when I lived in Florida. I think it's been around 18 years since I last saw him. When I first attempted to find him, he was working on a master's degree in Spain. After that, he moved to Mexico and was working in a hostel. I thought, great, I'll just ride down there and look him up. As I'm making those plans, I discover that he's moved to Carrboro, N.C.. Ok, no problem. As this trip was in the planning stages, I'll just ride to wherever Carrboro is and look him up. About a month before this trip, I check Derek's Facebook page. Oh crap, he's now in Ithaca N.Y. I'm just about to blow off the idea of looking him up when it dawns on me that I'm probably going to have some time to kill before the race starts.
In Binghampton, I try calling him, on the odd chance that I'll actually answer. He picks up!
"HI, is this Derek?"
"Hi Derek, it's Stan Scott"
"Wow, this is a call that I wasn't expecting" or words to that effect.
We yack a bit and I tell him I'm about an hour away and I'd like to see him, if that's ok. He invites me to Ithaca and to stay over at his house.
I think, wow, the kid must be doing good, he has a house.
I continue up I-81, blowing off the baseball game, and turn off on 79 for the ride to Ithaca, the home of Cornell University.
In Ithaca, I call Derek and we arrange a meeting place. His house turns out not to be his house but a big house that he sublets a room in. This being a college town, it seems that all the big old house near the university are rented out by the room. His "house" is a 5 bedroom house where mostly students rent a bedroom. His "room" rent is $550 a month. Can you say ouch?
This is the house he lives in. He lives in the room with the partially open window.
After yacking a bit, we walk up through the Cornell campus. When I say up, I mean UP. It seems like everywhere we walked was up hill. I was getting so tired, I thought it was uphill both ways!
On our walk through campus, I noticed these deer. They even stayed around for me to take the picture. I'm guessing that they're regulars here.
Now I know that this hill doesn't look like much from this point of view but, trust me, I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to this vantage point.
One of the many great old buildings on campus.
Somewhere on the top of one of the many hills, I told Derek to pick out a restaurant and I'd buy dinner. He picked a Korean restaurant. Funny thing, he's very good with chopsticks. I ate with a spoon as they have no forks.
Now, before anyone asks, this is the only picture I took that actually has Derek in it. Good picture, huh? What with all our talking and catching up, it just never occured to me. It's also a picture of the salmon dish that I had. It was very tasty but just ok to me. I guess I'm just not into Korean food.
Next morning, as I'm all packed up to go and can't really ride two up, Derek gives me the address to a little restaurant on the pedestrian only part of State Street, if anyone knows where that is. I ride down the hill and he walks. At the restaurant, whose name I don't remember, we meet up with Lauren, Dereks BFF, so to speak. (Lauren, I hope that's how I spell your name.)
After breakfast, we say our goodbyes, Derek heads off to work and I try to find another road out of Ithaca. Today I ride back towards Binghampton and the baseball game that I blew off yesterday. For the visit that I had with Derek, I was very glad that I blew off the game. I'm hoping that it's not another 18 years before our paths cross again. Maybe Derek will head off in search of America and one day come through Tucson.......here's hoping!