Tag: paramble

Road Tripping: The Self-Torture of More, More, More

Road Tripping: The Self-Torture of More, More, More

How many times have you been here in your life? Left or right? The blue pill or the red pill? Whatever choice you make puts a different chain of events in to motion.

at the crossroads

Right = Hotel
Left = More, more, more

When I’d reached this sign it was dinner time – the time of the day when it would be smart for me to think about packing it in and finding a hotel. If I chose going to the right a nice relaxing evening awaited. Naturally, I chose left.

According to the EXIF data I took this picture at 5:40pm. According to my camera roll, my last photo of the day was another 2 hours later and it would be at least another hour on top of that when I finally zeroed in on a hotel. This left or right was the point that “well, since I’m in the neighborhood” became a little too obsessive.

Save for eating some trail mix and a banana in gas station parking lot, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at the Wellsboro Diner. My mood is the first thing to suffer when I don’t eat properly. I go from being happily curious to becoming anxious about things that are easily dealt with under normal, sufficiently hydrated circumstances.

Generally speaking, I don’t get crazy about finding a place to stay, the weather, or focus on a random smell that passes through the air. But when being more tired and hungry than I care to admit to myself factor in – I become ridiculous. (What’s that smell? Is that burning? Is my bike on fire? Those look like tornado clouds. What if every hotel from here to Florida is booked?)

This self-torturing ritual is something that I go through when I travel alone. I think it might be my way of trying to wring every last drop out of the day. Very often I feel like my day-to-day life is stationary so when I get out and get free it’s hard to reel myself in from trying to see more, more, more.

Besides, why would I want to waste time sitting in a well air-conditioned hotel or drinking an ice-cold beer in a restaurant when I could be out riding through clouds of bugs in the quickly approaching dark, dodging critters and Bigfoot and werewolves? 


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Road Tripping in Pennsylvania – Zippo Lighter Museum

Road Tripping in Pennsylvania – Zippo Lighter Museum

After visiting the Kinzua Viaduct, I still had hours of daylight left and no particular place to go. Pulling up the list of “favorites” on my GPS showed that there was a Whispering Giant less than 100 miles away in Dunkirk, NY.

True to form, I asked myself the question that helps me make decisions often: When would I be back in the area again? The answer is almost always the same: Maybe never. And so Dunkirk, NY became my next see something destination.

As luck would have it, my route to Dunkirk would take me past Bradford, Pa. – Home of the Zippo Case Museum. Yes, Zippo as in the lighter.

zippo case museum

You might be asking why on Earth I would want to visit a lighter museum. And I don’t blame you. (Or is that… flame… you? Ahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa! Sorry.) On the surface it hardly seems like something that could hold your interest for 5 minutes.

An American Flag fashioned from Zippo lighters:

American flag made from Zippo lighters

As it turned out, seeing how the Zippo played a role in the lives of people and popular culture was interesting. Plus? This:

zippo lighter car

Do you see it? Look at it. LOOK AT IT! The Zippo car alone is worth the stop.

zippo lighter car

The Zippo street light:
zippo lighter streetlight

The attached gift shop (more like the museum attached to the gift shop) makes about a bajillion lighters available. I ended up buying one with a picture of the Zippo car on it. That, a few postcards and a pen.

zippo car pen

When you tilt the pen the Zippo car drives down the street. It reminded me of those naked lady pens I giggled about as a kid. You know the ones – where you tip it and the bathing suit drops off? Ooh la la.

My detour to the Zippo Museum was unexpectedly worth the stop. I pulled out of the parking lot happy.

Zippo Case Museum
1932 Zippo Dr
Bradford, PA 16701


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Road Tripping Though Pennsylvania – Random Snapshots

Road Tripping Though Pennsylvania – Random Snapshots

While I’m riding along, I often pull over and snap photos of things that would be best described as random. Though I think they’re cool I sometimes struggle with a way to weave them into a post because they don’t really have a narrative. Often the images are just something that caught my eye or made me laugh. Now that I think about it, that is a narrative.

STOP! Hammatime.

This giant Pepsi-Cola cap was on top of a building along route 219 somewhere. I saw it while I was on my way towards the Kinzua Bridge State Park.

Something about it makes me nostalgic for my childhood but I can’t put my finger on it. In my mind’s eye it involves Pro-Keds and knee-high tube socks.

On the corner of 6 & 219, the Barrel House makes good use of an old Texaco sign:

When I left Kinzua Bridge State Park, Connor’s was just up the road. I couldn’t resist stopping. What an excellent re-use of old license plates!

You could say I have a penchant for license plate covered buildings. As I see it, the license plate and travel go hand in hand. Maybe that’s why I gravitate to them.

If this sign tickles your fancy, you might like: The Grassy Lick License Plate Barn

Kids in my daughters generation might not even know what this is at first glance. When’s the last time you saw a phone booth?

phone booth in pennsylvania

I have found my town, my people!

triumph town sign


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Road Tripping in Pennsylvania – Visiting the Kinzua Viaduct

Road Tripping in Pennsylvania – Visiting the Kinzua Viaduct

Pulling off route 144, I wheeled into the parking lot for what was signed as a scenic view. I had to jockey to find a parking space. Can you believe the crowd?

After parking I marched up the grassy knoll and had a look around. Rolling green as far as I could see.

While standing there, I debated on whether I should just keep riding for the sake of riding or if I should go see a couple of things. You know, since I was in the neighborhood.

Seeing stuff won.

kinzua bridge state park

My first order of business was to head to the Kinzua Viaduct since it was less than 100 miles away. It has been on my list of things to see for a few years now. It would have been silly to skate by. So off I went…

Once the longest railroad structure, the bridge was partly collapsed by a tornado in 2003.

After parking my bike, I walked to the end of the viaduct to get a look at the downed towers.  There at the end was a bench on which two women sat.

With them only about 8 feet away, I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation as I snapped photos. In their not-so-hushed-but-not-really-meant-for-me-to-hear tones I heard one of them say “don’t drop the camera through the railllllinnnng,” obviously watching what I was doing. I must have that camera-slayer look about me.

When I turned around to look through the plexiglass viewing window in the floor between me and the bench, one of the women looked at me and said, “you must be freezing! It’s a cold day to be on the bike.”

Since it was about 70 degrees and I was wearing my Klim jacket and pants, I was a little caught off guard by the question. Do I need to adjust my expectations? Because this is a whole new genre of motorcycle seasonal questioning. I’m sure I sounded like a snarky bitch when I blurted out, “Uh, not even a little bit.” No doubt it had the stink of what the hell are you talking about all over it.

Maybe she was just being friendly. And had poor circulation.

As I travel around I’ve come to realize that many people who take selfies at a place – maybe a landmark, park, a natural wonder – aren’t getting the whole picture. You can see just by the way that they’re holding the camera that whatever they’re selfie-ing at, is being missed. Oh, look – it’s your face again… with something… I can’t quite make out… in the background. There was a bit of that going on up there on the viaduct.

Traveling is really an incredible education in humanity. Keep your eyes, ears and heart open out there.


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Road Tripping Through Pennsylvania: Sights on Route 144

Road Tripping Through Pennsylvania: Sights on Route 144

Making a left off of Route 6 in Galeton, I followed PA 144 south to what the map says is the town of Clarence. That stretch yielded about 75 miles of backroad rambling on good tarmac.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record… I saw little to no traffic as I rode along. I’m sure it helped that I was riding in the middle of the week while everyone else was at work.

Even so, there was no shortage of “grass farmers” out tending to their yards everywhere I went. Lawn care seems like serious business in rural Pennsylvania.

Here on Long Island, most people I know (myself included) have someone cut their lawn for them. A truck pulls up, the mower rolls out of the trailer and an army of men swoop through cutting, edging and trimming for all of 5 minutes. Then they pack up their circus and drive away like they were never here. The whirrrrrr of the weedwacker, nothing more than a memory. It is a precision operation. Mo’ lawns, mo’ money.

The people I saw riding mowers appeared deep in thought, turtling along, cutting a path across their grass with deliberate care. Is there something to Zen and the art of Lawn Maintenance? Perhaps I’m missing out on something.

Whenever I pass through the town of Renovo, I’m struck by how it carries nostalgia in the very bricks that make up each building. It cuts the image of a town trapped by its own past.

mailpouch in renovo pennsylvania

On the surface, there isn’t much going on save for a main street of largely empty buildings. But I suspect there are all sorts of busybody, goings-on in the lives of its inhabitants – just like anyplace else.

ghostsign coca-cola renovo pennsylvania fading ad

Renovo reminds me of an ember, a faint glow of its former self. That’s what I love about it. If one day I were to pass through and it was polished like a diamond, I think it would lose its appeal to me.

And so it goes, I pressed on.


Other Posts from this Road Trip

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