Portland, NY to Irving, NY

26.1 mi / 11.1 mph / 550 ft. climbing
Home: Evangola State Park Campground

We’re usually some of the earlier people out of the campground in the morning, but by the time we woke up today, all the MS charity riders had silently packed up and disappeared. They had 97 miles to go today, a distance I used to do somewhat regularly (even when loaded, unlike them), but one that sounds pretty insane today. Not only that, they had to do it into rain chances for much of the day. Brutal!

But they’re on a tight schedule, and we’re not. And that’s wonderful. Because, with that rain threat (and following, once again, a new record our longest 3-day riding stretch in the last 9 months) we were able to use that flexibility to plan a short day for today. It was a little surprising that it was dry when we woke up, but no complaints! And then we continued to get lucky throughout the day. Rain (sometimes intense) was all around us on the radar (and even visible in towering clouds), but it never actually hit us.

Leaving Lake Erie State Park on their unnecessary “highway entrance ramp” loop-around.

We made a mid-day grocery stop at Tops Market in Silver Creek, and it was funny that we both remembered stopping at that very grocery store in 2014, even though nothing else about the day’s ride struck us as familiar. Thanks to the worker taking a break out front who says she keeps telling management to install bike racks!

At a bio-break stop in Irving, the strong scent of marijuana revealed a fancy dispensary living inside the gas station/restaurant facility. As we continued on, we passed another five dispensaries in the course of a few miles. We knew that recreational marijuana had been legalized in New York relatively recently, but why the sudden density after it was invisible yesterday? A little research revealed that the state regulators still haven’t gotten their shit together on licensing dispensaries (and won’t for quite some time), but here we had entered the lands of the Seneca Tribe, and it seems that tribe members had (almost unilaterally) decided that it was ok for them to start selling, because the state doesn’t precisely have jurisdiction over their land. And a bit like casinos, it appeared that these shops were drawing people from significantly outside the region to partake in their not-available-elsewhere product. A great business for now, but it seems like there will need to be a significant fallout/consolidation here once dispensaries start opening on non-reservation land and their customers start shopping more locally.

A storm cloud visibly billowing-up south of our Evangola State Park campsite.
The cloud was rising and puffing up so fast, it nearly looked like the cloud from an explosion or volcanic eruption.

New York State Park campgrounds have some particularly terrible rules at the moment. Reservations are now required, presumably as part of COVID-related staffing issues that makes it difficult to guarantee on-site registration. That’s annoying, but understandable, and at least they allow reservations to be made up to 3pm on the night of your stay. But then there are parks (like the one we were targeting tonight) that have a longer-standing 2-night minimum for reservations. Huh? In combination, that makes it impossible for bike tourers who just want to roll up and spend one night. I could see on-line that there was no shortage of sites available tonight, but they wouldn’t let us stay in one (and take our money we’re waving at them)? Well, upon calling, they said “oh, sure, no problem coming without a reservation for one night”. Ugh, ok, great, but is this a standard rule-breaking? Or specific to this park? Or this day that had plenty of openings? What can we count on in the future? I then wasn’t particularly surprised that upon arrival and registration on-site, they still charged the $7 “reservation” fee. Oh well, at least they let us camp for any amount of money!

The campground wasn’t particularly scenic or exciting, even though it abutted the shore of Lake Erie, but our short-day early arrival did give us a chance to take a bit of a hike around the grounds, talk with interested fellow-campers, and generally relax more than usual. It’s the second New York State campground in a row with a laundry machine, a thing essentially unheard-of in other states, so is this a standard here? If so, that’s very helpful for us! Also, they had a Rett-exciting explicit dish-washing station (very clean and nice, though a bit of a hike from our loop), but I tricked her out of enjoying it by offering to do the dishes this evening.

Bluff-top flowers on the edge of Lake Erie at Evangola State Park campground.
Eroding bluffs at the edge of Lake Erie.

It got dewy as the sun set (something we had a hint of last night, but much worse tonight), so we might be waking up to a wet morning.

Rainbow bagels from Tops Market for tomorrow’s breakfast!



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