43.6 mi / 10.9 mph / 836 ft. climbing
Home: Fels Three Crown Motel
The dew that had put a slick coating on all of our gear as we went to bed, had apparently been scared off by the dark, and everything was completely dry in the morning. We’ll take it!
My directions leaving the park had us heading a bit inland on NY-5, a New York State Bike Route, but I made an on-the-fly decision to keep us on the Lake Road, and it turned out to be a great choice (at least I choose to assume so, without actually comparing it to the other route!) Smoothly-paved, nearly free of cars, and with hints of the lake and the beautiful lakefront properties. There was one Confederate flag displayed in a window, showing that New Yorkers can be just as historically-ignorant as Ohioans, but in this area it felt clear that his display (I’m confident saying he was a “he”) mainly served to turn him from an asshole to a fully-ostracized crank.
Since we weren’t visiting Niagara Falls this time, we didn’t go through the center of Buffalo, and instead skirted around it to the east. It was a little disappointing that we weren’t able to observe whether the economy and feeling of Buffalo had undergone a rise over the last decade like its football team had (and similar to the ones we’d observed in Cleveland and Erie). But on the other hand, it was also nice to see more of Buffalo’s suburbs, including an endless line of (curiously-fenceless) cemeteries in Cheektowaga, or the backed-up traffic(?!) that slowed us down through Williamsville.
After four nights of camping and five days of riding, it was time for a motel stay. Luckily the proprietor of the Fels Three Crown Motel in Clarence was observant enough to have noticed us pulling into his parking lot as he was pulling out to run some errands, so just as we were reading the “I’ll be back in…” note taped to the office door, he pulled up after turning around and got us all checked in.
After getting cleaned up, I took Rett on a date, first through an elegant and busy stone-walled town park, then down a rail trail walking path, and then to a brick church. Except it was no longer a church, it was Morluski’s, a combo Polish and Italian restaurant. We both went with the Polish side of the menu, given its relative rarity (though for days we’ve been going to grocery stores that have a “Pierogi” section listed on the aisle signs, which may have primed us). Excellent food (the sauerkraut was incredible!), and giant portions that even we had a hard time putting down. And the setting was very unique.
For the walk home we took the road route, but even there, it was a magically beautiful perfect New York summer evening. The setting sun put a warm glow on everything, and definitely gave some nostalgic echoes of the endless summers of our youth. So a stop to goof around in a playground older than both of us made perfect sense.
We had tipped eastward, leaning far enough towards the more-direct route across New York (rather than the Erie Canal Trail) that we’d essentially made our decision by passing the point-of-no-return. But now we still needed to figure out the details of that route, and setting a new record with a sixth day of riding in a row sounded unnecessary, and the motel was a relatively good value, so we made a rare 2nd-day decision to book a 2nd night.
The biggest downside to the motel was its distance from food and groceries, so I rode back into the Clarence gas station to put together a lunch for us, and we got takeout from and Italian place I could walk to for dinner. As planned, we’re doing way more consistent riding than we’ve done before, so that makes our less-frequent off-days even more valuable.