Not A Hoary Old Chestnut
By: John P. Weiksnar
No, it was far from the same old story when the Niagara Frontier section’s group drive visited Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park on Saturday, July 11, 2020. This was only the second one for this chunk of TOCNYS, following up last month’s successful caravan to historic Lockport. Except with a yawn antidote of a surprise our group has never seen. . . .
This time we converged on “Chargetowaga,” a/k/a the new(ish) Supercharger in Cheektowaga, just outside the City of Buffalo. Sixteen of us arrived in Model 3s and, for the first time at a Niagara Frontier meetup, a bristling new dual motor AWD Model Y, from Wyoming County. In fact, it was the daughter of new TOCNYS member Nate Spencer behind the wheel, along with one other teen passenger, making the surprise entrance that earned this trio of newcomers instant celebrity status.
Just like any Supercharger meetup, everyone got a chance to meet and greet for at least half an hour. Also in the crowd was another newcomer who gave his E-ZPass the biggest workout: John Hudson, all the way from Onandaga County. Along with Niagara County local Wally Smith and his granddaughter from the Carolinas, we welcomed other top-notch owners including Ludicrous members Kenny Martin from Tonawanda, Eric Milligan and his son from East Amherst, and Andy’s father Jeff Porcelli from Clarence Center.
Everyone (besides Andy), preparing for lift-off. Photo by Andy Porcelli
The weather cooperated and we shuffled off southerly by 10:35. It was Yours Truly leading the pack again, but take note that this role is always up for grabs!
That probably wasn’t a concern during the steady procession down Union Road, or even through the Cazenovia Creek Wildlife Management Area, where Leydecker Road makes a narrow swoop down and across the creek bed. It was a bit later, when Kreskin would have made for a great co-pilot. That’s because our first turn from there was coned off for construction.
Detoured but undeterred. Photo by Andy Porcelli
No problem. We stopped on the shoulder for a one-time mass-up, getting the attention of a resident who asked whose birthday it was. As I jogged from car to car, telling everyone we would just head straight and hang a right, I asked him if maybe our exhaust fumes were a problem. He really did seem wowed by all of those vehicles arriving and leaving without a sound!
You gotta luv having a Model Y in the mix! Photo by Andy Porcelli
Okay, maybe there was a problem. Since the in-car nav and web browser both cannot give turn-by-turn voice directions for a custom route in Google Maps, we have been counting on opening the map in the Google Maps Go app. Only it decided not to resume the route automatically after the detour, making it just a bit tricky to drive solo and keep an eye out for the next turn visually. One of our members suggested a workaround; unfortunately I had my hands full at the time, even with FSD.
We were doing fine, though, winding our way through pretty rural stretches roughly along Cazenovia Creek and into the Town of Aurora (a nice tune by Azymuth, if anyone is into Brazilian fusion, but I digress!). What happened next on the secluded stretch through Knox Farm State Park won the popular vote, hands down: a cyclist all decked out in Lycra and approaching us gave Tour-de-France-grade victory punches as soon as he noticed the Tesla parade.
That thrill of victory highlight gave way fast, in the thick of a wooded residential area, where I made a wrong turn at a Y in the road (not a Model Y!). This ended up splitting the pack into at least two but we were relatively close to the destination. The sky was still sort of clear, we made it to the scenic overlook with a hazy view of Buffalo and Niagara Falls on the horizon, and everyone gathered for some of future owner Andy’s drone shots.
Just prior to a little fine-tuning of the parking. Photo by Andy Porcelli
A few minutes later it poured. Still, our second-ever group drive was another “Yeah, Baby!” of a winner. Stay tuned for our August plans, and thanks to all who took part in this ride to yonder.
Who brought their rain gear? Photo by Andy Porcelli