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The Falls in the Fall: Thanksgiving-Week Road Trip Report

For all of today’s images, click to enlarge

The Tugboat Captain and I recently spent eight days on the road, from the Saturday before Thanksgiving through the Saturday after Thanksgiving. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we traced an 1150-mile clockwise path through northern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and large swaths of western and upstate New York. The route shown in the map below is approximate (the most northerly stretches were right against the lakeshore, among other minor discrepancies) but it should give you a rough idea of the ground we covered:

Here’s how it went. Some of the photos that follow were taken by me and some by the Captain (you can usually assume that the better ones are hers), plus I grabbed a few from the internet because there were some things we neglected to document. The videos were all shot by me.

Saturday, Nov. 21: We left Brooklyn at about 11am and headed to one of my favorite roadside stops: Hot Dog Johnny’s in Butzville, New Jersey (a town name that was a source of endless amusement for the Captain). I’d been here many times before, but this was the Captain’s first visit, and she was intrigued by Johnny’s two signature beverages — birch beer and buttermilk. We partook of the former and wondered how anyone managed to force down the latter:

After Johnny’s we headed west toward Pennsylvania. We stopped at a really great biker bar near the NJ/Penn border, but I don’t recall its name and didn’t take any photos. Eventually we arrived in the Pennsylvania town of Old Forge, which we were very interested in seeing because it’s the self-proclaimed Pizza Capital of the World — a particularly audacious claim for a burg with a population of only 8300:

Old Forge pizza has its own lingo. A pie is a referred to as a sheet, and a slice is a cut. By any name, the pizza looks a lot like Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza, which is to say not very appetizing. Still, we were game. We sampled the wares at two places, beginning with Arcaro & Genell, an old-school Italian restaurant that I really liked. The pizza here wasn’t bad — not “World Capital”-caliber, but plenty enjoyable:

From there we went to Salerno’s, a bar that serves pizza. Here we got more ambitious, ordering “red” slices (with tomato sauce) and “white” slices (no sauce, just cheese, with a top crust sort of like a calzone). This turned out to be a tragic misstep, as the both the red and white renditions were, frankly, awful:

Conclusions: (1) Old Forge pizza is more interesting than amazing. (2) If you have enough chutzpah to call yourself the world capital of whatever, people will be intrigued enough to check out your town, even if your claim is more than a tad inflated. P.T. Barnum would be proud.

Sunday, Nov. 22: Today we headed northwest and crossed back into New York, where we headed to Letchworth State Park, renowned as “the Grand Canyon of the East” and named one of the 10 best state parks in America by someone or other. Old Forge had made us wary of grandiose claims, but Letchworth lived up to its billing. It has three beautiful waterfalls, and we got to see them just as a light snow was falling — not heavy enough to stick or be annoying, but just enough to make everything look shimmery and magical. We started at the Lower Falls:

From there we checked out the Upper Falls, which looked all the more dramatic thanks to a freight train on the rail bridge overhead:

We also checked out the Middle Falls, but apparently neither of us got a photo of that. It was good!

Monday, Nov. 23: Letchworth was a warm-up for the real point of our trip — a visit to Niagara Falls.

But first there was eating to attend to. The Captain has the endearing habit of ordering pie at the end of her breakfast — sort of a breakfast dessert — and on this occasion she got a slice of very nice raspberry pie:

Our next stop was in the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca, home to the wonderful Schwabl’s, which is western New York’s (and hence the world’s) best source for the local specialty known as beef on weck — a roast beef sandwich with horseradish, served on a kummelweck roll (essentially a Kaiser roll encrusted with coarse salt and caraway seeds). I’ve been to Schwabl’s four or five times over the years, and it never disappoints:

And then it was finally time for Niagara Falls — the Captain’s first time there and my first time since I was nine years old. Everyone says it’s better on the Canadian side, but we started on the American side, where we went down to the base of Wedding Veil Falls. It was pretty awesome, especially because it was cold enough for all the mist to freeze on the surrounding rocks:

We also checked out the top of the American falls. Once again, a sprinkle of snowflakes provided some added ambiance:

We imagined that the town of Niagara Falls would be a touristy nightmare (I envisioned an endless succession of fudge shops), but it turned out to be pretty rinky-dink and rather grim. Fortunately, we located a primo tavern — Dueger’s Tenowon Grill (the middle word refers to the bar’s address: 1001 Niagara St. — ten-oh-one), where the titular Mr. Dueger (didn’t get his first name, alas) has been serving drinks since 1967. My kinda place:

After a few drinks at Dueger’s, we crossed over to the Canadian side. Now that was a touristy nightmare — an endless run of casinos, chain eateries, kitschy retail joints blasting annoying music onto the street, and, yes, fudge shops. I can appreciate stuff like this in the right context — I dig Vegas, for example — but it seems really tacky when set against one of the Earth’s great natural wonders. We actually spent so much time fruitlessly searching for a non-loathesome-looking place to eat that we waited too long and our main fallback option closed, leaving us to eat road-trip snacks in our hotel room. Not a good night.

Speaking of the hotel: We got an overpriced 19th-floor room (about $175 in American money, which was more than the internet had led us to expect) and tried to convince ourselves that the two free drinks at the hotel bar and the room’s semi-decent view of the Falls were worth the expenditure. Deep down, we knew we’d been suckered. I went to bed wishing we’d stayed at Dueger’s a bit longer.

Tuesday, Nov. 24: The hotel served the lamest, absolute worst breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen. Between this and the previous night’s hassles, we were in a pretty grumpy mood.

But then — the Falls. They really are majestic, and the Canadian side really does provide an amazing view, where you can see both the American and Canadian cascades. We spent a nice morning gawking, oohing, ahhing, and, in my case, getting very close to a gull:

Our good mood restored, we crossed back into America and headed east along the Lake Ontario shoreline — a gorgeous drive. We stopped at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park so we could check the beach along the lake, which turned out to be full of stones that were Just Right for skipping. Before we left, the Captain — who’d never before been at the shore of a Great Lake — dipped her hands in the water of Lake Ontario (or, as we’d begun calling it, Lake Inferior, because it’s the smallest of the Great Lakes):

Eventually we continued on to Rochester, where we had dinner at a pub and then checked out Don’s Original, a roadside stand with the best slogan ever: “Where Quality Predominates.” We’d been told by a friend that Don’s has excellent frozen custard and onion rings — not the most natural pairing, but we couldn’t resist. Both were quite good (that’s chocolate-almond with hot butterscotch for me, and eggnog for the Captain):

While driving toward Don’s, we had noticed a place with a neon bowling pin sign in the window, so we went back to check that out. It turned out to be the exceedingly wonderful Parkview Bowl, an old-school eight-lane beauty with 1960s Brunswick fixtures, above-ground ball returns, and manual scoring:

We spent a lot of time at the bar kibitzing with the owner, Kevin Martin — a real character whose family was big on the Olympic bobsledding scene several decades ago. He showed me a photo of his uncle’s Olympic jacket from 1960, which he still has (but not at the lanes, unfortunately — I would’ve loved to see it). Didn’t get a photo of Kevin, unfortunately, but the Captain did get a classic, pathos-laden shot of the Parkview’s lonely-looking repair engineer, Jerry (another real character), nursing a beer at the bar, his cap worn almost impossibly far back on his head:

The good news was that I was in heaven. The bad news was that my broken left arm hadn’t healed enough to let me bowl (I tried a few balls right-handed and was comically inept). But the Captain tossed a game:

Wednesday, Nov. 25: We woke up in Rochester and began the day at Mark’s Texas Hots, a 24-hour joint that supposedly had good breakfasts. We ordered the usual — eggs for the Captain, pancakes for me. But since we were in a place with “Hots” in its name, we felt compelled to get a white hot (a pork hot dog) and a Texas hot (a beef hot dog). They arrived split down the middle, which allowed them to fit perfectly on their Portuguese-style buns — I really liked that. Both were excellent (good thing, too, because my pancakes were pretty bad):

After breakfast it was time to check out another waterfall — Rochester’s High Falls, which was the basis for the city’s early industrial development and is still used to generate hydroelectric power. It was a gorgeous day, and the falls were strikingly beautiful:

By coincidence, the High Falls are located right next to the Genessee brewery, so we stopped in for a tour and then sampled a flight of their specialty beers (including a salted caramel and chocolate stout that was so sweet, it was basically soda):

After the tour we once again drove east along the Lake Ontario Inferior shoreline. This was the best driving of the trip — great weather, great afternoon light, small towns, and lots of very picturesque apple orchards (New York is the No. 2 apple-producing state, after Washington). The trees were mostly picked bare, but a few still had a bit of fruit on them, so I pulled over and encouraged the Captain to jump out and grab us an apple. She came back with a Red Delicious — not one of our favorites, but it tasted better because it was stolen. Mmmm, burgled apple.

We stopped at a few taverns along the way and then headed south along the western shore of Cayuga Lake (one of the Finger Lakes). We actually passed another waterfall along the way — Taughannock Falls — but it was too dark for us to see anything. Too bad, because it’s apparently a real beauty.

We eventually pulled into Ithaca, where the Captain’s brother and sister-in-law live. This was the first time I’d met any of her family, and they were super-welcoming. Very nice cat, too. We went out to dinner and then the Captain spent the rest of the night baking two pumpkin pies and maybe some other stuff (it was all kind of a blur). As I went to bed, I thought, “That was a really good day.” And it was.

Thursday, Nov. 26: I can’t remember the last time I woke up somewhere other than Brooklyn on Thanksgiving morning, but it was a nice change of pace. We all spent the morning cooking (I was responsible for roasted vegetables, if you can believe that) and then went to a neighbor’s house, where we were part of a 15-person Thanksgiving gathering. There was sooooo much food — an excellent smoked turkey (cooked on the host’s Weber in the backyard), mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, my roasted veggies, stuffing, biscuits, two kinds of gravy, salad, cranberry sauce, apple and pumpkin pies, chocolate cake, and a whole lot more that I can’t remember:

Great people, too. And croquet in the backyard! It was one of my best Thanksgivings ever, even though I ate about four times more than I should have.

Friday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving leftovers for breakfast, of course. Then we checked out yet another waterfall — Fall Creek, which is just a few blocks from the Captain’s brother’s house. This might have been my favorite of the bunch, because it had so many ridges and ledges:

Then we said our good-byes and headed down to Binghamton, where I went to college. I wanted to stop at Sharkey’s, home of Binghamton’s (and hence the world’s) greatest spiedies. I’ve probably spent more time at Sharkey’s over the years than at any other non-Brooklyn eatery (plus my name is included in the fine print of a document on the wall, but that’s a long story), and it was as wonderful as always:

From there we drove east to Saugerties, where my friend David had invited us to stay with him and his family at their weekend house. David lives just a mile or two from me in Brooklyn, but we hadn’t seen each other since the summer, so it was great to catch up.

Saturday, Nov. 28: We woke up to a slow but steady rain, which was a problem, because the Captain wanted to show me Opus 40, a sculpture park created over the course of 37 years by one man, working in an abandoned slate quarry (additional details here). We decided it was worth the trip, rain or no rain, so off we went. And man, it was tremendous — totally worth it, even if we got a little soggy. Unfortunately, the rain limited our photography, so there’s only one photo to show you (but you can see a lot more here):

We had just one more stop to make. Back in 1994, I was driving through the Catskills and came across an amazing roadhouse tavern called Snyder’s. It looks more like the Bates Hotel than a bar, which of course is why I was attracted to it. I’ve been going back there periodically ever since, and it was only a short detour from Opus 40, so we spent a few hours there in the afternoon:

And from there we headed home, where I discovered that I’d gained a whopping 12 pounds in the course of our eight-day trip. I’m usually a welterweight, and I figured I’d come back as a junior-middleweight, but I blew through that and came home as a full-fledged middleweight. That’s what a week of zero exercise, tons of food (much of it junk-y), and lots of beer will do to ya. Now that I’m home and riding my bike again, I’ve already dropped four of the pounds, so I’m back down to junior-middle, but there’s still a lot of salad in my immediate future.

Finally, it’s worth noting that there was a running subtext to our trip, as shown here:

Just back from a week-long road trip. Brought along a cooler for drinks/snacks/etc. and replenished it with a fresh bag…

Posted by Paul Lukas on Sunday, November 29, 2015

That’s it. Thanks for your indulgence. We’ll return to more traditional content tomorrow.

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Gift Guide reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my annual Uni Watch Holiday Gift Guide is now available for your shopping pleasure. Enjoy.

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Too good for the Ticker: If you watch to the very end of the 30-second video embedded above, you’ll see a Browns fan who was so disgusted by last night’s last-second loss to the Ravens that he literally tore the overpriced polyester shirt right off of his own back. Leaving aside the questions of whether this was an excellent commentary on overpriced polyester shirts in general and/or on the Browns’ current uniform set in particular, is it really that easy to tear an NFL jersey to shreds? Perhaps this was actually a cheap Chinese knockoff, or at least one of the lower-priced (but still overpriced) replicas?

(My thanks to Blake Pass, who was the first of several readers to send me this video.)

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

Had one of these (Bengals version) zip-front sweaters with the big ring, and always wondered what “Put On Shop” meant. You put it on — I don’t need a tag telling me that. That plus the Bengals one had white stripes on the sleeve and I always felt they should be orange. Of course, it’s also called an “antique” in the eBay listing, so now I feel quite old. Here’s the original Sears ad. Hurry, Pack fans, the auction ends early today.

Now for the rest of the week:

• Here’s one instance where DeLong blew it. That’s a nice try, but they missed on the font and layout for “Cincinnati” on this jacket. No sign of the Reds’ “C” logo, so this may not have been licensed. Starter has it right.

• We’ve got vintage patches for the Minnesota North Stars, Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks — and they’re still in the package!

• This 1960s-1970s “vintage vinyl NHL poster” has “all the expansion teams post 1967-68.” I like those two hockey sticks running up the center of the design, too.

• Look at the artwork on this Willie McCovey baseball card. That “Super Powers” lettering just screams, “1970s.”

• Nice artwork on this NHL Sabres “Puck Radio” box. (Radio not included!) Note the classic Peignot Mary Tyler Moore font top left.

• Here’s a “New Old Stock” Bills T-shirt from the 1970s.

• Absolutely had this: A 1970s NFL ruler was an essential part of my middle and high school equipment.

• This always irritates me, people making their own stuff and passing it off as legit. This guy has the nerve to print up his own Steelers decals, and he can’t even get the name spelled right. #Youhadonejob

• I’m not sure what a “NY Giants Action Drawing” is, but this poster promoted ’em, anyway.

• In Cleveland, you have to be TOUGH to wear this sweatshirt. Official logo, but no mention of the team name..?

• Looks like the Jets player is flying up, up, away, and out of Shea on this 1960s pennant.

• The auction for this late-1970s Bucco Bruce sweatshirt ends today, so hurry!

Follow Brinke on Twitter: @brinkeguthrie

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New advertiser shout-out: Uniform designer/historian Todd Radom (that’s him at right) has been a friend, ally, confidante, and a source of inspiration for over a decade now. Today, as you may have noticed in the right-hand sidebar, he’s also a Uni Watch advertiser. Please check out his series of super-cool prints, and also keep our other advertisers in mind for your holiday shopping needs. Thanks.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Mike Chamernik

Baseball News: Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that the Padres would be unveiling a new uniform set today, but Paul said he didn’t know the time frame. We’re now hearing that it will be at 8pm Eastern. (Also: Those mock-ups that have been circulating over the past few days are not correct.)

NFL News: Clevelanders using the Uber app got to see prospective cabs displayed in Browns helmet colors yesterday. … According to some fashion experts, there are stylish ways to wear NFL apparel (from Phil). … Yesterday we mentioned Darius Slay was upset that the Lions wouldn’t wear Color Rash unis this year. He also had this to say: “Let’s go all blue, with the white cleats. I’m going to have the blue-white socks on, I’m gonna kill it. Then, with the white sleeve on, the half-sleeve. With the white sleeve with the all-white cleats, oooh-weee. I’m gonna kill the game. They don’t want to see me like that.” He’s probably right about that last bit (from Phil). … The 1966 film The Fortune Cookie has clips of Browns vs. Eagles and Browns vs. Vikings games. The Browns-Vikings game looks staged for the film (from Greg Mays). … Do any of you remember when the Seattle-based Jones Soda Co. came out with football-themed drinks before the 2007 season? Flavors included Dirt, Perspiration, Natural Field Turf, Sports Cream, and Sweet Victory. … ESPN ran a little-used Ottawa RedBlacks logo during MNF. Unclear if the mark is an official alternate or just one of the unused prototype logos from when the team was created in 2013 (from Marc Viquez).

College Football News: Navy will wear new uniforms and helmets with ship graphics on them for its game against Army on Dec. 12. Different positions will wear different ships on the helmets — a case of the uniforms being non-uniform.

Hockey News: The Maple Leafs called up goaltender Garret Sparks, who wears checkerboard-patterned pads. … The Rockford IceHogs wore Christmas sweater jerseys on Friday (from Phil). … A Scottish team wore some pretty creative kilt-themed uniforms (from Derek Palos). … The WHL’s Swift Current Broncos have an anniversary sweater (from Patrick Thomas).

Soccer News: New away kits for Scotland (from @holycalamity). … Multiple MLS players typically have wet spots on the front of their shirts. Does anyone know why? Could it be something like Vicks VapoRub? (From Jim Collier).

Grab Bag: North Carolina’s men’s basketball team will wear these shoes tonight. … New logo for CBS Sports (from Conrad Burry). … UNLV’s president says the school’s Rebel mascot has nothing to do with the Confederacy and should be retained. … A lot of bad presidential campaign apparel is for sale (from David Firestone). … Chris Frank went over to his grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving and found his grandpa’s varsity track sweater. Very nice! I love how vibrant the burgundy color is even after 58 years. … Jared Pike is undertaking a really cool project. His website, 30 Year Sports, takes a weekly look back at what was happening in sports exactly 30 years ago. This includes Plays of the Week on YouTube, blogs posts that provide context and trivia, and a Twitter account that posts a new GIF every day. Jared wrote his first blog post yesterday.

Comments (131)

    Thanks for sharing the trip details. Brown birch beer? Out here in Central MA, I’ve only had clear birch beer for 30+ years.

    Clear? Brown? I’ve never seen Birch Beer any other color than red! How many Birch Beer colors are there?

    Great call on Schwabl’s. My in-laws live in South Buffalo and it was one of the first places they took me to. The difference between the American falls and the Canadian falls always surprised me when I have been to Niagara Falls.
    If you like Johnny’s on Route 46, what is your feeling on Rutt’s Hut? That’s about the only positive I can ascribe to North Jersey, and I say that as a lifelong South Jerseyan.

    I like Johnny’s, but I *love* Rutt’s Hut. Been going there since the mid-1990s. One of my all-time favorite places.

    We actually considered making Rutt’s our first stop, instead of Johnny’s, but we had just been there about a month ago, so we decided not to repeat the experience so soon.

    Great road trip! Looks like a good time was had. The bowling lanes were just awesome. Takes me back to an old bowling center I used to go to way back when. They had the same ball returns and such. Schwabl’s looks awesome too.

    Interesting read, love the pictures of the Snyder’s Tavern, as a Canuck, feel bad about your unfortunate time on the Canadian side. Niagara on the Lake is much nicer, but also over-priced.

    Great story this morning, Paul! Sorry you didn’t get to bowl much.

    The family and I took a road trip to Niagara Falls this past summer and had a great time. We stayed on the American side (sadly, as you mentioned, the town is shite). We stood where you were next to the pay-per-view binoculars and I was amazed at the power and majesty of the Falls and the ability to get so close to them. The real treat for us was the Maid of the Mist. As touristy as the whole thing is, the MotM was indescribably spectacular. Worth every cent.

    I went on the Maid when I was nine and loved it. Unfortunately, it had already shut down for the season. The Canadian version — a boat called the Hornblower — was still running, and we considered going on that, but it was pricey so we decided to stay on land. No regrets.

    Having worked in the passenger vessel industry for a few years I can tell you that the Hornblower and Maid of the Mist are owned by the same company, Hornblower Cruises. They have the exclusive rights to both sides of the falls. They also have exclusive rights to the Statue of Liberty and Alcatraz which are massive money makers.

    Niagara Falls, Canada is pretty awful aside from the falls. Luckily for most of Southern Ontario it’s a day trip and we don’t actually have to stay or eat there.

    Great piece Paul, 1 small correction, it’s Cayuga Lake, not Lake Cayuga. Next time you come upstate, you should check out Hunter’s Dinerant in downtown Auburn. Classic diner overlooking a river.

    And while you’re at it, the falls you saw in Itahca is Ithaca Falls. Fall Creek is what’s down at the bottom.

    Wonder if CBS went in-house for the “updated” logo or did they spend a small fortune on some advertising/marketing company? Pretty lame either way.

    The networks usually change their graphics packages when they have a Super Bowl. I would expect a brand new CBS score box for Super Bowl L.

    (Yeah, I’m still using the Roman numerals. Too bad, NFL!)

    Geocaching is sorta like treasure hunting. People hide stuff and post coordinates online. Then other people find the caches and it’s just an ongoing exchanging of random items. The last time I did it, one of the cache locations was inside a rusted out old car in the middle of the woods in a park.

    /Also spent 20 minutes in the back of a police car explaining why we were in the park at 3am. Fun times.

    “Also spent 20 minutes in the back of a police car explaining why we were in the park at 3am.”


    Why does this not surprise me in the least

    Geocaching is oftentimes confused with the sport of orienteering, but they are quite different.
    (Paul, I came to the UniWatch party in Seattle a few years back and I have a hand-drawn membership card based on my club’s orienteering jersey).

    Both involve finding stuff, but one heavily relies on a GPS to tell you where to go, the other relies on a very detailed map and you have to figure out the best way to get there. One involves finding a cache that’s usually hidden. The other involves visiting a bright orange flag (more emphasis on routes and navigation than hide-and-seek).

    Incidentally, the US Orienteering Championships were held at Letchworth State Park in 2014!

    arrScott, they are basically running shirts in club designs, sometimes they can look like bike jerseys.

    Back in the 1980’s they were all nylon long-sleeve pajamas, but the trend is to go more form-fitting, since that’s less fabric to get caught on stuff as you’re running through the woods.

    Here’s a sample of clubs in the US (there are more clubs than this, though, so it’s hardly extensive. it was just the quickest link I could find)


    “a case of the uniforms being non-uniform.” So, would Alabama-Tuscaloosa be “non-uniform” too?

    Eh…since every player’s jersey is different already, I’d say they’re still uniform. Every player has a number. Uniform to that extent, at least.

    Genesee Bock Beer comes in one of my all-time favorite cans. Look at this beauty: link

    Sounds like an awesome trip! What a nice read to start the day.

    I have good memories of leaving pony bottles of that stuff in the freezer overnight and waking up to beer slush and shards of glass everywhere!

    The signature dish at Mark’s Texas Hots (as well as most any other hot dog/hamburger, and even some pizza joints around Rochester) is the “Garbage Plate”. That term is the property of Nick Tahou’s, a downtown Rochester eatery that started the dish (which has been widely copied, under different, but similar names, and generally just known as “a plate” in the Rochester area), but the basic concept is this: a base of home fries and mac salad or baked beans, topped with two pieces of meat (usually hots or cheeseburgers, but other options are available depending on what establishment you are dining at), then finished off with some diced onions, a few dollups of mustard, and a splash of the spicy meat sauce seen on the hot dog in the picture. Although I’ve never seen them offered anywhere, I think capers would also go good on a plate. Might have to try that next time the wife & I get plates.

    My neighbor (also a regular reader here) and I were thinking that you should do a western NY Uni-Watch Meetup in Rochester sometime. Maybe do it at Parkview Bowling. I also have a friend who owns a similar old-school bowling alley in Rochester, and would be happy to host us!

    Yeah, we noted with some amusement that Mark’s features a “Sloppy Plate.”

    I’ve been to Nick Tahou’s several times. Not a huge fan of “the plate,” because I don’t like mac salad or baked beans, so we didn’t go that route.

    Nice to see Johnny’s is still around, as a kid we would go there after the weekly flea market down the street. I remember the swing sets and the small white stones around the parking lot.

    Paul, how do you find so many awesome places? Do you do research ahead, or is it just about taking back roads and happening upon places. Just curious if you’d share some of your trip process to help me take better vacations!

    Well, it didn’t take too much work to find Niagara Falls!

    Seriously: I’ve been a hardcore road-tripper for over two decades, and I wrote a travel column that was largely about road–tripping for six years. I keep notes, I do research (travel books, websites, etc.), I collect recommendations from other travelers (one of the comments posted to today’s entry was about an awesome-looking diner in the upstate town of Auburn, and I’ll definitely be checking that out the next time I’m in that area), I put lots of pins in lots of maps, my friends know what I like and give me tips, etc.

    Also: I’m lucky enough to have a good nose for good eateries, good roadside attractions, and, especially, good bars. As soon as we drove by Dueger’s, I knew. As soon as we saw Parkview Bowl, I knew. Back in 1994, as soon as I saw Snyder’s, I knew.

    Anytime I see an old sign on a neighborhood bar and grill, it’s a tip-off that there’s a reason it’s an old sign. They’ve been doing something right for years and that something is usually pretty dang tasty and/or they have something really cool inside.

    Paul, if you come to Auburn, lunch at Hunter’s is my treat. A Uni-Watch meet-up in Syracuse or Rochester would be pretty cool too, Rochester especially since it’s the former home of Champion.

    When I saw the smaller version of the image, I thought that at least some of the designs were of sailing ships. It might have been nice if, in addition to current ships, they featured some historic ones.

    Nice road trip report! Waterfalls – I know, the Finger Lakes are loaded with them, but when you get back up that way, you should visit Moutour Falls:


    That video of the guy ripping his Browns jersey is so perfectly Cleveland. We – as Browns fans – all feel this way. We are tired of losing. We are tired of incompetent general managers, jr. high school coaches and ineffective, costly, pathetic players (lookin’ at you, Dwayne Bowe). We are tired of “wait till next year.” In all my life (I’m 48), I’ve never given up on my teams. That ended a month or so ago. I’m done with the Browns. I’ve been with them thru thick and thin since the ’70s. I’ve bought years’ worth of season tickets, apparel, and ephemera. For better or worse, I watched every game till the final second. Well, no more. The Browns have lost me for good. I will no longer waste my time or money on this joke of a franchise. From their pitiful on-field performance and bust-laden drafts to the ridiculous Garanimals-inspired pajamas they now wear, this franchise is incomprehensibly terrible and a complete and total embarrassment to a city and fan base that deserves much, much better. Thanks, NFL, for coddling Art Modell and tricking Cleveland fans into thinking they got anything but a raw deal.

    How exactly did Cleveland get a raw deal compared to the other cities that have lost teams? They got to keep the old team name (which I personally think is beyond stupid) and got a team back after just 3 years. Houston didn’t get to keep the Oilers name, and Baltimore went a lot longer without a team than Cleveland did. Then there’s Los Angeles losing 2 teams in the same season and still not having a replacement 20 years later.

    If you hate the Browns 2.0 that much now, you could always go cheer for the Ravens.

    Well, the Ravens did win two Supes since they left the Mistake on the Lake. There’s probably some of the bitterness and resentment right there, not to mention they lost to the “old Browns” in the most Cleveland way possible last night.

    But it’s a fair point — other cities have lost teams and none of them (we can debate the “Seattle SuperSonics” later) got the treatment Cleveland got, by keeping the name and colors (and records).

    It is a shame that the revived Browns haven’t been very good, because Cleveland was indeed granted a rare gift. My two hometowns – Brooklyn and Milwaukee – are still stung decades later by teh relocation of beloved teams.

    Wanted to chime in and say my Ugly Sweater shirt showed up in the mail yesterday, and it’s just glorious. Bang up job, Paul and co…I’m gonna wear the hell out of this thing this month!

    I just received mine as well, and I think this is the best shirt of the batch. All credit goes to my Teespring partner/designer, Bryan Molloy — this one was his baby.

    Not sure what kind of phone you have but the Android phones can keep a fairly accurate record of where you have been. It can be reached by going to My Timeline under Google Maps.

    I love when you travel during football season. Nice change of pace for the blog, plus you get the possibility of wonderful snow pictures like today’s.

    Spiedies…basically “de-boned” city chicken on a bun. I’d eat that!

    I miss road trips…

    Cleveland went out and did the impossible… they made the Browns uniforms even worse!

    How about a “rebrand” the Cleveland NFL franchise contest?

    Paul, did you try Arcaro’s stuffed white broccoli pizza? (Sounds gross, but it’s amazing) Haven’t been there in years. My Mom’s from Wilkes Barre, and we would also order out a sheet of it when we visited her family.

    So sorry you hit Aracaro’s and Salerno’s…. they’re both pretty terrible. the place across the street from Arcaro’s – Revello’s – is better. And different. They use American cheese.

    Next time you come through NE PA, send out a casting call. If you like chicken wings or Texas dogs, there are a bunch of good places within 20 minutes of Scranton.

    Hell, I’ll buy.


    Probably missed an explanation in an earlier post, but where does the title “Tugboat Captain” come from? I’ve seen her referred to this name before, but for whatever reason I’ve never been this curious about it. I keep picturing her literally captaining a tugboat.

    Great travel piece as usual!

    My local bowling place has that same ball return system with those fabulous 50s-style boomerang shaped pieces on the sides. I absolutely love these little remnants of that era.

    Two things I noticed in today’s column:

    The video of the Browns fan: it looks like the tear went easily through the numbers, which would tell me they’re screen printed, so it was one of the “cheaper” replicas or a knockoff (though the real jerseys look like they’re screen printed on a twill layer).

    The bowling lanes in the vacation may have had Brunswick ball returns (and other decor), but the masking units on the pinsetters are definitely the AMF Magic Triangle I’ve often seen in the 1980s (and in some centers through present day).

    I wish I had known you’d be in my neck of the woods Paul (Buffalo). I’d love to have bought you a beer. Maybe next time.

    I used to work at the (now shuttered) gas station across the street from Schwabl’s for about 5 years while I was in college. But honestly never had their beef on weck. But it’s definitely a staple of the area.

    The American Falls city is indeed a shambles, which is really a shame. But it sounds like the glossy experience across the border was no great shakes despite the shiny buildings and promises. Bummer.

    Until next time Paul!

    The beauty of this site is that all of the content is interesting and captivating. I enjoy some lede’s more than others, but I read all of them. And the trip report … wow. Just when I thought “This can’t get better or more fun!”, it got better and more fun.

    Seriously … Paul, thank you for once again providing a fantastic lunchtime diversion – and echoing what you and Rob said, I got my Ugly Christmas shirt yesterday, and LOVE it! The pseudo-chain-stitching is a great touch. I can’t wait for the comments from people who see it!

    Great piece today. I’m always amazed what a talented writer you are.

    The comparison between Niagara Falls and Vegas is apt – there’s the “strip” and there’s the places the locals go. Ask a casino worker where they eat. There’s lots of actual restaurants (not tourist experiences) towards the Whirlpool bridge or south towards Chippawa.

    Multiple MLS players typically have link. Does anyone know why? Could it be something like Vicks VapoRub?

    That’s exactly what it is is. Pretty sure the trend was started by Arsenal captain link back in the early 2000s.

    That REDBLACKS (yes that is how you’re supposed to spell it) is definitely one of the prototype logos, and not one of the better ones.

    Thanks for the trip report. Lots of good stuff “upstate.” I enjoy reading your non-uni posts. I seem to recall you have an interest in abandoned spaces and think that next time you visit you might want to check out the Rochester subway, a section of which runs right past the hockey arena

    The Canadian side of the Falls used to have a fantastic restaurant.
    I’m not a wrestling fan (mildly intrigued in the Piper/Hogan/Savage/Okerlund days, but just mildly). The Wife isn’t either. And yet when we stumbled across Big Anthony’s while walking through the touristy stuff, we gave it a try. I liked the old posters on the walls and the ring in the middle of the restaurant. I LOVED the food…some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had. I ordered some type of coffee drink where they gave you the coffee and the liquor separately and you’d pour them together yourself. Tried the coffee by itself, and it was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. Did the same with the liquor, and you guessed it, some of the best I’ve ever had.

    Note to the Parisi family: if you ever get back into the restaurant business, let me know. I’ll be there.

    If the bidding hadn’t already ended, a Big Anthony’s menu could have been Collectors’ Corner material:

    Great lede today, accompanied by some superb photos. Also got my Ugly Sweater shirt today, and it really is a masterwork. I am psyched to unleash it on the unsuspecting!

    I want to like the Navy uniforms for the Army-Navy game. Like, the idea seems sound to me, but good gosh it all just looks like crap to me. And I’m kind of into action shots of Navy ships. First off, the uniform just doesn’t look like Navy to me. Beautiful colors, but the blue is just a touch too bright and the gold is so yellow I wouldn’t even call it “athletic gold.” Just doesn’t look like Navy to me. On the helmets, I can’t put my finger on why they don’t work for me. Too much fine detail, maybe. The photorealistic painting just sort of reads as a blue-gray bruise. Football helmets require simpler design and bold shapes and color blocks to “read” properly. And to some extent, this seems to me to push the Navy side of things a little too strongly at the expense of the future Marine Corps officers among the midshipmen (typically a little under a quarter of students).

    I think the concept required a different visual approach. For example, what about gray helmets to match the painted hull of a Navy ship, with each player’s number rendered on the helmet in the same type as Navy ship graphics, and then somewhere on the helmet the name of a vessel that bears or bore that number. So, like, #75’s helmet would include the name USS Harry S Truman, and mids on track for a Marine Corps commission could have their helmets named for amphibious-assault vessels.

    “Put On Shop” – I have a couple of 70’s shirts from my youth that were from the Sears “Put On Shop” – they are very “groovy.”

    I don’t have these any more, but they are zipper-ific.

    This might be my favorite Uni Watch column, ever.

    I grew up in North Tonawanda, just outside of Niagara Falls. I have not felt this homesick for a long, long time.

    One quibble: while Ontario is the smallest lake in surface area, it’s quite deep. The maximum depth of Lake Ontario is something like 800 feet. Lake Erie is only something like 175 feet deep at its deepest point. If any Great Lake is inferior, it’s Erie.

    If any Great Lake is inferior, it’s Erie.

    This is the wrong day to give your typical Clevelander another reason to feel inferior…

    Let’s be honest Jimmer. Is there ever a right day?

    I mean…don’t they feel inferior 24/7/365?

    Nobody that grew up in that area can say the words “North Tonawanda” without prefacing it with the words “fire in…” in Irv Weinstein’s voice.

    That is so bad. I mean, aside from what a person might think about Ted Cruz, either the individual or his policies. 45 on the font and back, but 20 and 16 on the shoulders? And why does USA have periods? Is this jersey actually just one of 36 matching jerseys that form a complete sentence, and so the abbreviation needs to be noted with periods? If not, you don’t need the periods; anyone who’s eligible to vote in next year’s election will understand just as well what the letters U, S, and A arranged in that order mean. And the need for white inset sleeves illustrates one of the several ways in which Cruz’s campaign logo is terrible. It really can’t be color-reversed; it has to be on white. I know the Cruz campaign uses a variation on blue, with the blue part of the logo reversed as white, but the red-on-blue effect of the stripes/flames is almost literally painful to the eye. Also, the guy advertises himself as an ultra-patriot, but the logo is literally a burning American flag. Who wants that on his arms? Finally, the white double-outline on the numbers gives the whole thing more of a clip-art vibe than a football vibe. It’s like, yeah, that font came pre-installed on my PC too, but just because it’s called “Varsity” doesn’t mean you should use it on this jersey.

    In short, this is to football jerseys what your average state-legislature candidate’s yard sign is to signs. Both over-designed, in terms of trying to cram in way too much symbolic content for the medium, and under-designed, in that it shows not one iota of thought or consideration of the piece as a whole beyond an amateurish first draft. It has all the charm of one of those foam-core budget charts members of Congress like to set up on easels while they make speeches to the CSPAN cameras.

    Ted Cruz jersey? That’s a lot of USA for a Canadian. Should be a Calgary Stampeders jersey.

    Thanks, GC. It’s really gratifying to hear how many of you like these travelogues. I always feel a little guilty posting them — it feels a bit self-indulgent (“Hey, forget about uniforms and check out what I did for the past week”). But then the response is almost always very positive. Thanks for all the nice feedback!

    I’d be happy if you did mostly travelogues but occasionally said, “Hey, forget about the road and check out this uniform!”

    Either way’s good, though.

    Part of what attracts me (and I suspect many here) to uniforms is not just design, but the history behind, evolution of, and nostalgia for those designs. I think pieces like the travelogues hit a lot of those same chords, just with a different flavor.

    Going to college in Cleveland (Case Western), we always called Buffalo Wild Wings “BW3’s.” I later learned it was because the original name was Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck.

    Apparently, the first BW3’s was the one in Kent, Ohio, which I occasionally went to to watch sports when I was in college. Most folks I know still call it (and any other Buffalo Wild Wings) B-Dubs, probably always will.

    Thank you for this today. Very enjoyable. Don’t ever feel guilty posting stories such as this.
    My daughter and her boyfriend moved to Rochester earlier this year and we happened to be up there for Thanksgiving. We were in the Genesee Brewhouse on Wednesday as well and I had that caramel/chocolate porter. First sip, thought it was the best beer I ever had, but by the end of the glass, I felt it was just a tad too sweet. Still did enjoy it. Rochester is an interesting city.

    Paul,enjoyed hearing and seeing about your trip. Nice to see people that still appreciate the simpler things in life. Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination.

    Worst part is the split D. My biggest baseball pet peeve, and the reason pullovers definitely have a place in the baseball world.

    I absolutely adored today’s column. As a travel and Americana junkie, it really piqued my interest. Just shared it with my SO as well and she loved it. My only complaint is that it made me incredibly hungry ;).

    Here here, concur. Giving business to small local places gives you culture in a way Holiday Inns cannot. Looks like a great time. Thanks for sharing!

    Scotland in pink? What’s wrong with white with a little navy – or even purple? Yellow and red like the Lion Rampant flag would work too – but pink? Doesn’t make any sense.

    And it looks crap.

    It makes plenty of sense; it’s a historical callback to pink-inclusive kits the Scots wore often in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the major patrons of Scottish football at the time, Archibald Primrose, Earl of Rosebery, was also a racehorse owner who dressed his horses in the colors of primroses, i.e. yellow and pink. At the time, the team wore them only occasionally for “big games” much in the way that Notre Dame used to.

    The away kits that Scotland have been using since were an even more direct callback since they had pink and yellow: link
    I was personally a pretty big fan of these kits. Very sharp IMO and a nice change kit from their traditional navy.

    [Late] proofreading: “Salerno’s, a bar that serve pizza”

    One reason it’s so late is that the iPad (mini) couldn’t handle this post, through Twitter or with Chrome.

    I’ll finish reading after dinner.

    More: “After a few drink’s at Dueger’s”
    “were wroth the expenditure”
    “This was the best driving of a trip”
    “home of Binghamon’s”
    “and the still in the package!”

    The Fortune Cookie begins with a game between the Browns and Vikings, but also includes a clip from a game between the Browns and Eagles. Whoever added that clip must have thought the helmet designs were similar enough to pass, but no one could miss the shoulder hoops on the Eagles’ uniforms!

    Rebel imagery for UNLV goes back to when it was a satellite for the main campus upstate in Reno. Viva Las Vegas contains a scene that’s set in the gym of the “University of Nevada – Southern Division”.

    The new Padres home uni – What’s up with the SD interlock? it’s messed up.

    Toronto Maple Feafs’ Garrett Sparks’ pads caused a little deja-vu. Trevor Kidd wore the same design (same company too)


    But first wore the design in Carolina, where it made a little more sense:

    And even wore it in Florida:


    BTW. Seeing pictures of goal pads that actually fastened at the high area is a hell of a throwback!


    Kidder started in Calgary, where his Brian’s pads had a link, and not checkerboard.
    Then Carolina, then Florida, where and when he went to Vaughn and continued picking up team motifs. Here, he mimicked the link.
    But then, back to Brian’s, and back to checkerboards as his new appropriated signature look. No more picking up team details.
    I always loved Trevor Kidd’s Brian’s style. Feels like goalies today either use the color-by-numbers set by default, or else go completely off the board. Kidder’s pads took the company look to new heights. “Those are Brian’s, they re flipping sweet, and that’s Kidder.” Now, I can’t even readily identify Jimmy Howard without his iceberg graphic. Good thing he’s still #35 on Detroit.

    Hey, Buffalo boy here living in Lockport. You didn’t miss much if you didn’t stop at the locks on the canal here. Canal is drained this time of year anyway. Lived in Bingo for 3 years, can’t believe you like Sharkey’s haha. Next time you go through, check out Water Street Brewery, it’s a new place in town and just a great spot, not pretentious or too many undergrads. You’d think you stepped right into Brooklyn there. Nice read, Letchworth is amazing and you stopped in West Seneca, where I was born and had the best Beef on Weck in the world. You know your shit if you chose weck over wings.

    Form follows function, but later things start getting crazy. Green camouflage helps a soldier blend into the surrounding woods. Brown does the same for dessert soldiers. But unless the Navy paints the decks of all its ships various shades of blue, the only time a sailor will achieve the purpose of a camouflage uniform is if they fall into the ocean. Not the best time to blend in.

    The Navy’s actual pattern does look better.

    I wonder: are the yellow/blue jerseys are just a one year thing? Kind of like the Athletics did in 1950 with blue and yellow to celebrate Connie Mack? Anyone ask them if after the “All-star jersey” they’ll revert to just blue and white in 2017?

    Glad you enjoyed Niagara Falls. I grew up three blocks from the brink and Goat Island was my bike ride when I was a kid. In fact, you could have stayed at my old house, it’s now a B&B. While Canada got the view, I will always think you can only feel the power of the Falls on this side. And to think, what you saw was only 25% of the water that could go over them.
    I know live in Rochester and actually work summers at Seabreeze, the amusement park next to Don’s. Next time you visit, come when the weather is better – ride the Jack Rabbit at the park, and after Don’s, you can visit Marge’s across the street for an adult beverage on the beach of Lake Ontario.

    Add my to the camp that really enjoy your travel stories, it’s a nice break from the norm and a great way to ‘see’ parts of the country one may not travel to.

    Had the Ugly Sweater ordered for myself as a gift from my mother, It’s at her house and I won’t get it ’til xmas when I travel back to Chicago for the holidays. Can’t wait after seeing the delight from others in the comment section. I have a feeling this will be my ‘go to’ shirt for holidays to come.

    The photos of Letchworth State Park brought back some memories. I used to go there often when I lived in Rochester, NY. I had many a fond memory from there. Thanks for the photos.

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