Start: Cicero, NY
Finish: Schuyler, NY
Weather: 75 degrees, sunny
Distance to date: 2,771
I slept in at my beautiful room in Cicero, woke to the sun pouring in my window and took my time leaving. I rode about
ten miles until coming upon Carol and Tony’s Diner in Lakeport. The next time you are in Lakeport you HAVE to go here. The food was very good diner variety, but the waitresses make it worth the special trip. There was a diner wide discussion on how to control your purse at the gaming tables. I think everyone had a comment while the waitresses went from table to table honeying you this and honeying you that. About 9:30 a regular walks into the crowded diner and shouts ‘Doesn’t anybody work in this town?” Obviously he did not see the waitresses who were working their tails off.
Full of hash and poached eggs and rye toast, I pedaled along Oneida Lake on the bike route, then saw a sign that the City of Oneida was off the lake, so I pursued. I figured I should visit the Oneida Community as a counterpoint to New Harmony, IN. The City of Oneida is a very typical Upstate place, seen better days but holding on pretty well. I saw nothing about the Oneida Community, so stopped at the historical commission where a lady gave me directions several miles from town but in my general direction.
The Oneida Community was the longest operating Utopian community in the United States, from the 1830’s until the early 1900’s, when it spun itself off as the Oneida Corporation
and is still very profitable (Oneida stainless, among other things). It was religious and communal, but unlike the celibate Rappists of New Harmony, Oneida believed in communal marriage and free love, though they only procreated on particular occasions, so there was a certain
amount of self-control required of the men. They built a tremendous mansion with many wings where up to 200 people lived at their peak. I had a wonderful self-guided tour. Unlike New Harmony, Oneida is still very much functioning. The tour took me through certain mansion spaces, but the rest is private condominiums and an operating Inn.
I left Oneida and headed towards Utica. I had a craving for a Chinese buffet, but it got on 2:00 pm and I was very hungry so I stopped at Carmella’s Café, where I had amazing Potato Bacon soup and a Utica special, Chicken Riggi, which is pasta with chunks of chicken, pepper, olives and tomatoes. I am not usually a pasta fan, but this was wonderful.
Utica was a drive-by. Route 5 turns into a limited access highway, I missed where the bike route got detoured so I just stayed on the road and sailed through. Not too pretty, but then what I could see of the side roads was not too pretty either. Once on the other side of town I decided to look for a place to stop. Route 5 is littered with little motels. At my first stop the motel operator was talkative to the point of manic, too chatty and gossipy for my taste, so when she told me $75 for a basic strip motel room with no internet or breakfast or
even a convenience store in site, I backed myself out of there. Good thing, too, because only a few miles down the road I came two motels opposite each other. I steered into the Passport Inn instead of the Motel of Mirrors for obvious reasons. Passport is run by a sturdy Indian couple and for $50 I have a vintage room par excellence, no smoking, with Internet. It doesn’t matter that the hot water is tepid, it’s summertime.
Through my entire trip I have wondered if perhaps some evening I will hit upon a local attraction. So far, nothing, but tonight I hit the jackpot. Right next to the motel is Dave’s Diner and on Tuesday nights in the summer they have Classic Car night. There are a hundred or more classic cars all
lined up, sparkling, with people parading around looking at them, eating burgers, listened to a DJ play ‘50’s music. I had a stupendous black raspberry cone and took in the cars. After I post this, I am considering going back for more.
There is not a cloud in the sky, the evening is warm and people’s spirits are full of summer.
Oneida Community ‘family room’ Oneida, NY
Classic cars at Dave’s Diner Schuyler, NY