Trip Log – Day 17 – Corning, NY to Elmira, NY

Corning ElmiraMiles Today: 22

Miles to Date: 976

May 22, 2015 – Sunny, 60 degrees


The history of the Chemung Valley can be described in four phases: before settlers, after Corning, before the flood, and after the flood. The flood occurred on June 23, 1972, but for many it is fresh as yesterday.

IMG_1929I spent a day as tourist in Corning. After a big breakfast I got a private tour of the Patterson Inn by Events Coordinator Pat Monahan. The Inn was built in 1796, one of three built in this region to accommodate settlers coming north from Philadelphia and New York to tame the land between the New York line and Lake Ontario. It is the centerpiece of Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes, which also includes a restored schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, barn and log cabin. The Inn is beautifully restored with period furnishings and accessories, as well as one of the most intricate looms I’ve seen.

IMG_1931From there I passed Corning headquarters in the center of downtown. The company took the town’s name when it moved from Brooklyn to this rail hub closer to coal sources essential for glass furnaces, and then the company put the city of Corning on the map. The Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), like so many places in Corning, marks the high water line of the 1972 flood that changed Corning and its sister city Elmira forever. Both cities downtowns were completely underwater, and each has addressed significant reconstruction.

IMG_1934I met with CMOG’s Director of Communication, Yvette Sterbenk, and Chief Scientist, Glen Cook, to talk about tomorrow. Afterward I toured the galleries, which are housed in four interconnected buildings dating from the 1970’s to this year. The span of the collection is tremendous, a balance between demonstrating glass’ technical attributes and artistic possibilities. The new addition by Thomas Phifer is stunning and worth a visit alone, but don’t miss the rest. I met an assortment of people, including a transitioning transgendered person who had incredible ideas about tomorrow.


IMG_1940I didn’t leave Corning until after 4, and had my easiest cycling day in every respect. The weather was perfect, the wind at my back, and the road through the Chemung Valley a gentle slope. Of course, it was only 20 miles, so that made it easy as well!

I had a delicious dinner with my warmshowers hosts Paul Kingsbury and Wanda Tocci, along with Paul’s father, Paul. That made three Paul’s. Paul Jr. owns a local bike shop and gave the Surly Long Haul Trucker a once over – the Crown Victoria of bicycles is holding up like a charm. Wanda and Paul live above the shop, in a cool penthouse with a roof deck that would fetch millions in Manhattan. Paul opened his bike shop in 1981, when he was twenty years. This led him to quip that tomorrow would be just like every other day for the past thirty years, but that’s definitely not true. There was a lively energy to our foursome. Not only because we had good food and wine and companionship, but the other two Paul’s possess a zest many 50+ and 80+ year old guys lack. I figured it had to do with romance. Paul and Wanda have been married less than a year, while Paul’s dad, widowed a few years ago, is “communicating every day” with a woman he met on With so much good vibe in the present, we didn’t spend much time talking about tomorrow at all.

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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