ST. REGIS, A TRIP TO REMEMBER

(A father and daughter take the Cade North)
By Joe Secor


My daughter and I were embarking on our first ride together since I'd purchased the Silver Cade ('87 LX) in April of this year.  Crystal had forgiven me for selling her favorite ride, a '89 Honda "Pacific Coast" in 1999.  We both couldn't wait till Saturday came around, for vacation to begin, and for our ride up north to St. Regis Indian Reservation, in our home state of New York.  This trip would serve two purposes.  The first was to check out the Cade and the second was to look for more family ties. 

Saturday came, and we made our final checks and started our ride up north.  We decided to keep in touch using our cell phone to keep taps on the weather.  At 12 Noon we left our home in Rochester, NY and proceeded to 490 E, then splitting off to 590 N, till we headed east on 104.  We'd purchased several rain suits that were only good for a few times out, not the expensive ones that don't leak after a few wearings.  (This proved to be a mistake later in the ride).

We made several small stops, stretching our legs before we met Interstate 81.  It was time we headed north to the beginning of Route 11.  We headed east on Rt. 11 till we  reached Potsdam, NY,  where we checked in the Chalet Motel (6:21PM).  The clerk was very helpful.  We settled in and ordered our favorite dish .... Pizza!  We planned to continue our trip the next morning to Rt. 56 and head north to Potsdam.  So, we checked in with home base (Sue) for a weather report and concluded that the next day could be a wet one.  The bike was secured; alarm was set and we both settled in for a night's rest.

Morning arrived with heavy dew on the bike and ground.  We decided to head towards Potsdam where Rt. 37 east joined (8:30 AM).  We then proceeded on 37 east to St. Regis and a stop at the Bear Cave Restaurant for breakfast.  This has been my favorite place to stop whenever I visited the tribal area.  It was Crystal's first visit to the reservation.  She couldn't wait till go into the gift shop for a look-see. That's her favorite thing to do when visiting new areas. As we started to eat, it began raining hard.  We thought "perfect timing!"  An hour passed while we ate and by then the sun was out drying the ground.  It was time to ride again.

We found out that on Sunday all the Indian information centers were closed.  But we managed to see the local Memorial Day parade that started at noon.  There were about thirty Harleys leading the parade which included veterans, fire trucks, dancers, 4 wheelers, local school clubs, etc.  That lasted for a small route of about 3 miles.  Crystal wanted to check the local senior house to see if we could make contact we someone about her grandfather's background.  To our surprise, an elder was there, cleaning up, and decided to speak with us.  We exchange information, phone numbers and she was to have the tribal council contact later in the week after we arrived home.

After that visit, we headed east towards Malone to find a motel for the night.  We arrived around 3 PM in Malone, checked in a nearby Motel 8.  This chain seems to be reasonable (& clean) throughout the East, when we've visited New England on other vacations.  To no surprise, this one was even nicer then our stay in Potsdam the day before.  Again, we settled in, then proceeded to walk around the local area and pick up some odds and ends.  Crystal was tired and went to bed early (she wanted an early start on Monday to begin the other half of our trip around New York).  This part would be to continue east to Plattsburg, then head south to Ft. Ticonderoga.  We planned, time permitting, to cross over into Vermont.

Monday morning arrived and I checked the local cable channel.  There was a stationary front all over New England and (you guessed it) the area we wanted to travel on the other half of our trip.  It was decision time.  Do we take a chance and travel east to the Lake Champlain area or head back home to Rochester?  I called home and had Sue check a few more channels.  Same report, no clearing.  We looked at each other and made the decision to return home and save the rest of the vacation for car travel.  Now that we knew our course, it was time to check out of the motel, head back to St. Regis for a late breakfast and then be homeward bound.

Once at St. Regis, we made our stop back at the Bears Cave restaurant and one more trip to the gift shop.  During breakfast, I checked the map for a possible route home.  I decided to return by Rt. 37 to Interstate 81 head south to the Mexico exit then continue on 104 west back to Rochester.  Again we missed the rain, spotted areas but the first 3/4 quarters of the trip was OK.  We had avoided really bad weather.  This was about to change for the worse.

Once we arrived in Mexico, it was time for a late lunch (4:45 PM) and a stretch.  By 5:20pm skies were getting darker.  We put on the rain gear and started for home.  I told Crystal, it looks like in the next fifteen minutes we will get it.  We headed north on Rt. 3, instead of 104 west trying to go around the storm.  It was about 5:30 PM when all hell broke loose.  The sky seemed to be rolling, less then a mile above it was almost pitch black when the wind picked up.  Rain came in all directions.  We rejoined 104 west and the road in front seemed to be just a blur.  All I could see were small taillights about two miles ahead.  The shoulder of the road disappeared, and behind me was a caravan of cars and trucks.  We were surrounded by water on both sides (felt like I was in the Twister movie when this hit us).  I was traveling between 60 and 65 mph when the storm started, and the traffic behind me didn't let me slow down once.

Crystal was holding on to me real tight by now.  She yelled to me to see if I was all right.  I didn't want to worry her, but in my mind I was concerned and placed the rest in God's hands.  I had to stretch above the windshield to see now, and open up my helmet shield.  The rain bounced off my face causing me to wipe off my face repeatedly.  The temperature change caused both to quickly fog up.  For the next two and half-hours, all I could think about was getting home safe with Crystal.  We were cold now, the rain felt like a thousand hailstones beating on us.  Both of us were fatigued and weather-beaten.  Finally, I saw a small clearing ahead, only to have it disappear by the time I arrived.  Webster was now behind me, and for a few minutes the rain stopped. 

As I crossed over the Bay Bridge for the final stretch home, (590 south to 490 west) the thunder and rain returned with a furry.  We were both soaked and cold from the storm, rain-suits blown apart to the crotch on both of us.  I pulled into the driveway 2-1/2 hrs later, tired, but relieved (7:30 PM). 

We had survived the storm, intact and safe.  The Cade proved its worthiness.  It stayed true and ran without a glitch.  Gas mileage was in the high thirties.  There was no hydroplaning encountered during the storm with the Cade.  All in all it was a good ride (549 miles round trip) with memories to share. ~ Joe Secor 87 LX

Last updated:   Wednesday, February 06, 2013

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