Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting my kicks on Route 96

I grew up road-tripping with my family. My parents would put the back seat of the station wagon down, put down sleeping bags, carry us down from our beds and we would wake up halfway to Ohio, or Tennessee, or the Adirondacks, or wherever we were off to this time. We grew up doing it and I've gotten pretty good at it - timing the rest stops and the coffee stops for highest efficiency, packing food to take with you so you save time and money, good cds for music, good books to read out loud (I highly recommend the Princess Bride). I don't even know how many times I have driven from Texas to New York and back again (at least 5).

So I really wasn't prepared for how grueling the drives back and forth from Rochester to Binghamton would be. This is only a 2.5 hour drive no matter how you slice it - 90E to 81S or 390S to 17E. The only thing I can point to is that we do this drive frequently, especially last summer when I was here alone, and last fall after Foster came to NY from Texas. Our friends and family expected us to be in Binghamton ALL the time and we wanted to oblige.

One fortituous day we noticed that Route 96 would take us from Rochester through Pittsford, Victor, etc. all the way through Ithaca and Owego straight to Endwell if we didn't want to get on the highway at all.

Eureka! We decided to give it a try one day last fall. What a difference - while the time of our drive was actually extended from 2.5 hours to 3 hours we discovered that it seemed a lot shorter and faster. Our senses were active the entire drive. Rather than miles upon endless miles of asphalt on the highway, not to mention the new wind farm, we drove through small towns. Romulus, Phelps, Waterloo, Trumansburg...what a feast for the eyes. Occasionally we would stop off at some winery we would pass one of the wine trails. Sometimes we would stop at Taughannaock Falls to walk and splash around. Finally, the trip was no longer just about the destination but about the journey.

What does this have to do with preservation? Well, consider the following views...the first of I90 and the second of downtown Waterloo.

Isn't this the definition of Heritage Tourism? Lets get off of the beaten (and beat down) path and experience the places on the road less traveled. These are the places that I had in mind when I thought about coming back to New York state. I am such a small town girl at heart.

posted by Rebecca Rowe, Preservation Program Coordinator for The Landmark Society.