Friday, July 29, 2016

98: ATM Inside

Corn here is not looking so good. They need rain, and soon!
Forgot to mention yesterday how warm and steamy it's been up here. The locals are all complaining and apologizing for how hot it is. Of course, it would be silly to complain about temps in the 90s when much of the country is baking over 100. But the mugginess here is giving us a foretaste of what we are likely to encounter as we move east and south. It does tend to sap our energy. Yesterday was just 54 miles, but it felt interminable. 

Another reason for that is that we have left the flat canal route and are now climbing up towards the Adirondacks. We climbed about 3000 feet yesterday, all between 250 and 500 feet. That is to say, we gained a few feet overall in elevation by climbing the same 100 feet over and over. It was sort of like a roller coaster ride, with really steep uphills and short descents. On at least 5 or 6 occasions, I looked down and caught 14% on the Garmin. These were mostly on little bumps - 60 or 80 feet uphills that truly tested Roger's shifting skills. We did at one point have enough of a downhill to get up to 40 mph - probably the first time that has happened since we left Montana!  Today we climbed about 2000 feet, but at least we gained some real altitude, ending about 700 higher than we began.  This is the Tug Hill plateau, which gets 300 inches of snow most winters. 300 inches! I was trying to imagine what that would be like as we rode along today.  That's 24 feet - if it all came at one time it would completely bury the trees in the orchards here. Something to think about.

And then there is the curious (to us) issue of the cash economy up here. Way more caf├ęs and such up here are "cash only" than anywhere else we have been, except perhaps on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie, where our money wasn't any good anyway. We were dead out of cash yesterday when we hit the only bike store in 40 miles either side of our route to pick up a spare tire. We didn't want to enter the Adirondacks without one, and we had not been able to get one at our previous stop.

But that shouldn't be a problem, right? Since when have you been in a bike shop that doesn't accept credit cards? But this shop uses a Square for charges, and apparently his Square won't work with a card with a chip, which all of ours do now. He's ordered a new Square, but it's not here yet. So that's cash for the tire, sir. But wait! Roger has a debit card without a chip. Will the Square work with that one? No, it will not. So Roger heads over to the ATM to get some money that we can use on this strange and exotic land of upstate, rural New York! 

So Roger comes out of the store with the tire, which we bungee to the packs because they did not have a foldable tire - not one - and I ask for the receipt.  Because I am tracking our expenses.  And he says, 'no receipt.' OK.  What's the total? 'Twenty bucks.'  Exactly?  'Exactly.'  So that's how we do business up here. Cash on the barrelhead, no records for anybody.  Heck, for all we know, this was just some dude that wandered in to the store a few minutes ahead of us, and the shop owner is tied up in the back someplace!  If this were not enough, I will add that this was the oddest bike shop I've ever been in.
Music and games in the bike shop
There were a few bikes, true - but virtually no other bike-related merchandise.  Like, no clothing.  No gear, no goop, no accessories.  There was, however, a full drum set, complete with four cymbals. Racks of video games, DVD box sets of TV shows, boxes of electronic equipment and power tools strewn across the floor. While we were trying to complete our transaction, a woman came in with two youths. There was a used recumbent near the wall, and she asked how much it was. (There were no prices on anything.) The guy says, 'maybe like a thousand.' Yeah, whatever!

The customs here, they are so strange! I think we have maybe wandered into another country, yes? But such a deal they have for breakfast!
Look at those prices!

Maybe it's just another time. Perhaps we have passed through a worm hole into an alternate universe. Certainly we do not often pass the farm equipment on the road. But here in this alternate universe, we are faster than the horse-drawn reaper!
Horse-driven reaper

The old cemeteries are so cool. 
This is old country. In the cemeteries as we pass by, I sometimes see gravestones with death dates of 1860 or so. Those would have been people born two hundred years ago, or more. The home we stayed in a night ago was built in the 1840s, I think they said. So things around here have a kind of stateliness to them, even when they are falling down from lack of repair.

We passed through several small towns along the Ontario shore today with some nice buildings downtown, and great old houses here and there.
Downtown storefront

The Silver Queen gets a bath
Riding along the Erie Canal towpath for several days in the gravel had really gotten the bike dirty, so we stopped today to give it a bath.  Just part of what you do on tour.

The day's report:  Fulton to Redfield, 44.9 miles/4934 to date

The route map:  Fulton to Redfield
Our stop for the night: restaurant, store and inn all in one!


  1. I would suspect there are a lot of unregistered guns up there also. Seems like the Otter Limits has control of your tv set and placed you in the twilight groan.

  2. Do not adjust the horizontal. Do not adjust the vertical!


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