The relentless power of nature was in full display at a wonderful park I visited in Lewis County, where a snow and ice-covered waterfall was a thing to behold. Just a few minutes later, a wonder of the manmade variety — a mechanic’s garage — provided a far different, but still interesting, view and perspective.
Friday was a good day to travel to Canton to pick up Daughter B and her Friend S from St. Lawrence University, which is on a weeklong spring break. I made a quick pit stop at B&L Italian Bakery in Rome for a couple of pusties and a loaf of their fine Italian bread before heading to Whitaker Falls Park in the town of Martinsburg (not to be confused with the Whetstone Gulf State Park just a couple miles away).
The town park offers camping, a picnic pavilion, and a trail to the falls, which are spectacular. The bedrock is cleaved straight down the middle, allowing the water to pour in from both sides as it works its way down one drop and then another. Tucker the New Dog and I walked along the edge to view the ice sculptures and to track the quickly flowing water as it dipped and dived under the ledges of snow. The water tumbled down into a gorgeous gorge lined by evergreens dusted with snow.
After taking in the views of the Black River Valley up top near the pavilion, we headed back to the car and quickly discovered a flat tire. I can’t remember the last time I changed a tire. And I can’t remember the spare tires getting that small. The doughnut spare worked, though, at least for the five miles it took me to get into the village of Lowville.
When I do stop for directions, which Wife L will say is rarely, if ever, I don’t stop at gas stations anymore. Usually the kid working the register knows as much about the area as I do, and I’m the guy who is lost. Now, whenever I’m in need of directions or suggestions, I head to a diner or other locally owned eatery. (It’s true, I’m not just trying to justify this post with a “food” connection).
I asked two guys who were yakking outside Lloyd’s of Lowville diner about where I could get the tire fixed, and one pointed me to the WalMart (bad suggestion) and the other pointed me to a local garage just down the street (good suggestion).
This is a garage like your grandfather might remember a garage. It’s white on the outside with an old, red Chevron sign. I thought if I breathed heavily I might force a wall to collapse. Paint peeled from parts of the ceiling, spare tires and parts were here and there and back over there again. No fancy waiting room here. I milled around inside the two-stall garage and let Tucker jump from the car just as it started to rise — slowly — on the lift. Glenn the mechanic, who reminded me of a bigger Wilford Brimley, was moving kind of slowly, too, but with determination.
He had taken my car right away, no big explanation required. He found the hole in the tire, jammed a skinny screwdriver in it, and proceeded to plug it. A customer stopped by to ask if Glenn was free later that afternoon to work on his pickup. Glenn was.
When Glenn was done he ambled over to the well-used register and charged me $10.24. I was flummoxed. I handed him a $20 and thanked him for fixing me up right away. I wondered how long I would have had to wait over at WallyWorld and how much they would have charged me.
Another customer jangled the bell on the door and came on in just as Glenn was guiding me out. I was late getting to St. Lawrence, but I got there on a real-sized tire that was repaired and holding steady.