Day 2: July 23, 2004
Back to PA



A Canadian location may offer a great view of the falls but the deck of one of the Maid of the Mist boats lets you hear and feel them as well. The boats pass close enough to the American Falls to catch spray from the crashing water then pull into what seems the very center of the area enclosed by the Horseshoe Falls. From that vantage point, the incredible turmoil at the base of the falls can be clearly seen, heard, and felt. The plastic ponchos are not just for show.

Back on dry land, I got yet a different view of the falls. All that water does not just flow quietly to the big drop. The white capped waves start well back from the precipice and show their own sort of watery violence.

It was now time to start down US-62 and, after checking out the scenic drive between the falls and the I-190 bridge, I did just that. There are lots of motels along the first few miles. Some active and some long since shut down. There is a stretch of abandoned large factory buildings or warehouse similar to the one I drove through entering Niagara Falls on US-31. This drive is pure city until well past Buffalo and I would not recommend it to anyone. I wanted to cover Sixty-Two from its start but aside from meeting that goal, and some interesting motel signs, there is little to see here. The motel signs I've included here are not the best the road has to offer. They are just some I could conveniently stop near.

It was not until I reached Lackawanna, some thirty miles from the beginning of the road, that the drive started to became enjoyable. I first saw the huge dome shown in the middle photo but pulled off before reaching it to take a look at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. A pleasant park surrounds the building housing the gardens with a circular drive for bikers, hikers, and convertible drivers wanting to shake some ugly city. Rain had seemed almost likely when I started so the top was up and I had no reason to open up before this. Now the top came down and I think I started smiling, too.

The dome I had seen sits atop Our Lady of Victory Basilica. This huge and most impressive building is part of the legacy of Father Baker who, a passerby told me, is well on the way to sainthood. I sampled Fran-Ceil's product in the form of a banana & vanilla swirl cone. I believe that Ted Drewes was my first experience with frozen custard but I've since tried a few other, including Ritter's. I have been by Debby's, on Sixty-Six near St. Louis, twice but both passes were too early in the day. I'll time it right, someday. Ted's rank is not in jeopardy but that banana custard was mighty good.

With Buffalo fading behind me, things did get increasingly pleasant. This detour, south of Dayton, NY, didn't really bother me but it does mean that I missed a bit of the current US-62. Sorry I missed you, New Leon. Something for the future. From here, passing through forested hills and even some farmland, Sixty-Two is pretty much two-lane to the Pennsylvania line.

It was in Warren, PA, that I had switched from Six to Sixty-Two when I came through here in May and the two share a path through much of the town. I noticed the row of microphones being setup just across the street from the "flatiron" building and asked about them. I was told that there was to be some free music here in the evening. The man motioned toward an area across the street and nearer the river and said someone would be playing there, also. I was more or less expecting this to be my stopping point for the day so I said I just might be back.

I got a room in the Holiday Inn near the west edge of town. Holiday Inn is usually a little pricey for my taste but the independent motel that I first targeted did not look too inviting and the fact that its only posted bragging point was "weekly rates" clinched it. After a less than successful struggle with an internet connection, I returned to downtown for some street music. The first three pictures are of "supporting" acts for the Robin Stone Band - the only official part of the show. The first picture is of a rock trio that played a 6:00-8:00 slot in the area next to that row of microphones. I caught a couple of tunes (pretty good group) then walked around the corner for dinner.

The second picture is of the construction of a new bridge across the Allegheny River. This construction seems to be providing quite a bit of entertainment for the town. I had noticed a few folks watching from folding chairs when I had been through earlier. Work was still going at 7:30 and it easily held the focus of the crowd that awaited the main act. When I returned from dinner, Robin Stone was performing a set of original songs with a backing rhythm section. Simultaneously, a seven member group was performing at those microphones up the street. The group of seven performed "inspirational" music and the three guys that had played earlier did Christian-rock. The RSB was billed as "folk rock". The music on the riverside was part of a corporate sponsored series presented by the city. The others were not. I didn't detect anything particularly threatening in Stone's lyrics but this may have been closer to a "Battle of the Bands" than to a three stage street festival.

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