Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:02 pm
Darlene and Steve Bono created this year’s North Jersey Regional Group tour. As has become practically a tradition, it happened outside North Jersey, this year in Hamilton, NY. As has also been a tradition, we had participants from the Southern Ontario RG, who were deemed for the purpose of this tour to include Charles Tosch and his 1915 White from way out in Manitoba. North Jersey’s boundaries expanded some, too, since we had participants from all over the U.S. , including Florida and California. And somebody’s boundaries - Canada? U.S.? – stretched all the way to Australia, since Gavin Mutton and Loretta Marron came all the way from Queensland to drive their Maxwell. This annual event is becoming huge!
There was a warm-up tour on Sunday, for early arrivals (I was not one), on delightful back roads with an ice cream stop.
We drove about 5 miles to an excellent catered opening breakfast on Monday.
After breakfast there was quite a long tour to the Central New York Living History Center. This comprises three museums: early tractors, Brockway trucks (they were built nearby), and a collection of military and railroad artifacts dating from the Civil War. There were a lot of hills, as there are wherever you drive in central New York state. A couple of country lanes were in poorer repair than some folks would have liked. I missed this tour, because I was sick the night before. After breakfast I went back to the hotel and slept. In the afternoon I drove my one-cylinder Cadillac on the Sunday pretour. It was lovely, but the car ran terribly, so I dropped it off at Jeff Keysor’s (formerly Steve Bono’s) restoration shop for some tweaking, which was ably performed over the next two days; the car has run fine ever since.
For those who share my view that the three basic food groups are beer, pizza and ice cream, Tuesday had the makings of a perfect day. The destination was the Utica Club Brewery, which had a tour and generous samples.
We had a catered lunch in the Stanley Theater, an old Warner Bros. movie house that, in its restored reincarnation, also offers live performances. The return trip included several miles along Skyline Drive, with beautiful views. Excellent ice cream meant we were hitting two out of three. For those who wanted the trifecta, there were two pizza sources within walking distance of the hotel. Many of us preferred really fine dining at the local golf club. We joined the local car club for its show in downtown Hamilton; they have mostly modern iron, some of it modified, but there was a 1929 Lincoln phaeton I could have fallen in love with. Our two steam cars attracted a lot of attention.
Wednesday’s tour was long – 126 miles – but very scenic. We went to one of New York’s famously beautiful Finger Lakes, Skaneateles, where we enjoyed a two-hour boat cruise and catered lunch. Back at the turn of the 20th century, when wealth inequality was about as great as it’s becoming today, some of the barons of the Gilded Age built sumptuous part-time homes along the lakeshore. They’re still there, even more sumptuous because their trees are fully mature, and best appreciated from a boat ride.
Fred Enstrom from California ran out of gas in his gargantuan Pierce-Arrow limousine while entering the town of Skaneateles; I picked him up in my Stanley (the Cadillac being down for maintenance) and off we went, looking for gas for him and water for me. A modern car broke down in traffic in the middle of town; Joe Swann was pressed into service as an auxiliary traffic cop while the local policeman radioed for a tow truck.
I almost made it home, after a few fires on the road. Three miles from home I got one fire too many and called Steve for help. He towed me the last three miles, in growing darkness, with about 6 feet of towline. I’ve been aero-towed in gliders through violent mountain rotor and been less scared than I was at the end of that itty-bitty rope!
I don’t understand why the Northeast Car Museum in Norwich, N.Y., isn’t better known. It’s excellent! It has well restored or preserved cars right back to the beginning, spectacular classics, Franklins from an early cross-engine to two(!) V-12s, nifty fifties, convertibles, and more. Thursday’s tour included a catered lunch there, too.
An important back road to Norwich was closed at the last minute, so the trip to Norwich was on the main road. How did it get to be so long? I’ve driven it many times with my tow car and trailer in just a few minutes; it’s much further away in a one-lung Cadillac! Marvin Feldman from Florida was touring in a beautiful 20-hp Stanley. He’s working on a one-lung Cadillac and had never toured in one, so I took him for a ride; we found some hills he’ll never see at home. The food at the golf club was so good that many of returned for another dinner.
Friday’s tour inspired the title of this report. We were treated to extremes of travel speeds. Our coffee stop was at the shop of Ray Hedger, who builds race cars. He also fabricates parts for Steve’s/Jeff’s restorations, including the fenders and the high-speed clutch disc for my Cadillac.
From there we went to an equine rehabilitation center that help injured horses recover. It includes a swimming pool that lets the horses exercise their legs without gravitational load, just like rehab at the Y for people. Did you know that not all horses are natural swimmers? They have to be guided around the deep end of the pool.
And there’s an underwater treadmill that we got to see up close, but only from the back, so now we can say we had a real horse’s ass on this tour!
We had a catered ice cream stop about 5 miles from the end of this final run – and the skies opened up. When the storm had passed, I started for home – and ran out of gas! A gift of half a gallon got me to a gas station, where I got caught in another driving rainstorm while filling up.
The place that had catered our opening breakfast on Monday outdid itself with a really fine closing banquet. Andy and Trish Wallace announced that next year’s tour would be the same week at the Delaware Water Gap; some of it may even be in North Jersey! The Canadians have promised to host the 2019 tour in Kingston, Ontario. And so another fine tour entered the record books.
Gil Fitzhugh the Elder
Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:05 pm
This is a great summary! Thanks for making the effort. Looked like a good tour.