Total Elevation Gain (ft): 2398.3
Weather: Sunny, Cool
Hillbilly Insults: 0
Roadkill: 16 (7 Birds, 1 Rabbit, 2 Possum, 3 Frogs, 3 Unknown)
Bugs Swallowed: 0
Mean Dogs Chasing: 1
Animal Rescue: 0
The middle of the ride passed through Palmyra, NY. It's the birthplace of the Latter Day Saint movement and Mormonism. Founder Joseph Smith, Jr. lived on a farm here where he claimed to have been visited by "Heavenly Father" and the Jesus Christ in 1820. This event, known as the First Vision is either true or one of the most successful despotic acts of charlatanism in the modern era.
As a believer in the patent ridiculousness of organized religion, I find this claim no more outstanding than God losing a wrestling match to Jacob in the book of Genesis. Live and let live. Worship trees for all I care, just like my father's ancestors did. Was that convention so crazy?
Joe Smith wasn't the only player getting his groove on in this region of northwestern New York. He had good company and competition in what became known as "The burned-over district." It was the religious scene where revivals and Pentecostal movements of the Second Great Awakening took place. The name was used to denote that the area had been so heavily evangelized as to have no "fuel" left over to "burn" the unconverted.
William Miller founded the Millerites here and preached that the Second Coming would occur on "October 22, 1844." He missed the mark and forgot the old showbiz rule, "Always leave 'em wanting more!"
Adventism, the Spiritualist seance movement of communing with the dead, Shakerism, Quakerism, the free love group marriage Oneida Society and the Social Gospel all got started here. Joseph Smith wasn't the only philandering prophet of his day, but he proved to be the most successful by leaps and bounds.
This hilly dairy farm region also fostered the abolition movement, women's rights, and utopian social experiments. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a proto-feminist and suffragette bravely founded the Seneca Falls Convention which is still active today.
Now, making my way through, I don't see any evidence colorful whack job religions or social activism present anymore, just a lot of pretty pastoral farms and dying small towns. It's too bad, really. I love to be witnessed to by people fervent about the only "true belief system" we all must to abide by, especially if I'm able to annoy them with absurd counterpoints.
I asked two local pastors in a cafe what they knew about the burned over district. They never heard of it. That's blaspheme.
I holed up in a shoddy motel room above a bar in Wolcott, NY and really hoped the bed bugs wouldn't bite.