October 31, 2012 – Wednesday, Halloween
After a historic visit to New York City, our next destination was Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. Since getting there required a longer drive than we were willing to make, we looked for a place that was about midway with a well-reviewed hotel. The place we picked was Cortland, New York. We headed out of NYC at about 1:00 PM.
In the aftermath of Sandy, gasoline in New York City was difficult to come by. Our rental car had only a quarter-tank of gas when we picked it up, and during the first hour of the drive we passed by quite a few gas stations with signs stating that they had no gas. I started to worry a bit in the second hour as the needle crept closer to “E” and we passed by a long line of cars waiting to get gas. It was a risk, but rather than wait in line I continued driving hoping to find a station without one. Finally, we found such a place in Sloatsburg Travel Plaza, near the village of the same name. We filled up the gas tank and then had Burger King for lunch.
Having taken care of gas, it was leisurely driving for the rest of the afternoon through the southern edge of New York state. It was my first time driving since Scotland, but it was much more pleasurable and natural as I was driving left-hand drive. Driving through the hilly and forested terrain in damp and gray conditions felt like an authentic East Coast experience (or at least how I’d imagine it). I didn’t realize it at the time but we skirted the Pennsylvania border. We made one additional stop at the East Branch Rest Area before driving all the way to Cortland.
With all the focus on Hurricane Sandy in recent days, we’d forgotten that it was Halloween. The treat bags at the hotel reminded us of that. I grabbed a free USA Today. Once settled in, we searched online for Chinese food and a liquor store. I was craving Scotch after a long drive. The place I found had a good selection, but I didn’t want to get a full bottle so I bought the only half-size available, a Glenlivet 12. On the way back I picked up the Chinese food that we had ordered, and that night we learned that “chow mein” in Cortland is completely different from “chow mein” in the Bay Area.