After an action-packed and fun-filled
start to my birthday road trip, what else did my wife have planned? We had already stopped by a house shaped like a shoe, lost track of time in a watch and clock museum, worked with glass to create Christmas ornaments (and learned about the history of glassmaking around the world), examined the history of life in western New York, and strolled around a quaint small town. What could possibly be next?
How about a wine tasting at a winery overlooking a gorgeous lake, a pit stop at a historic race track, several glorious hours exploring a classic car museum, stumbling into a car museum of a much smaller scale, and relaxing beside my favorite mountain lake?
Sit back, then, and come along on the second half of the Great Birthday Road Trip Adventure!
The Birthday Road Trip, Part II
The second phase of our travels would take us from Corning up to the Adirondacks, with a couple of awesome stops in between.
With no rain in the sky (!), we set off from Corning, heading toward our next destinations. As much as I enjoy driving my wife’s Jeep, I was glad to have my Accord for this trip. Much of the drive was on two-lane county roads, with sweeping curves, blind crests, tight turns, and a 55 mph speed limit… the Accord and I had some fun. Watkins Glen
We drove about a half hour northeast of Corning to Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen.
Originally a peach and apple orchard, a local family began growing grapes in 1951, and in 1989, Lakewood Vineyards opened its doors to the public.
The vineyard sits on a bluff overlooking Seneca Lake. The lake does not freeze over in winter, and emits sufficient warmth in the coldest months to create a climate that is friendly to grape growing (via Wikipedia). Lakewood Vineyards is one of fifty wineries that are located along the lake.
Beautiful weather, a gorgeous view, and great company… not a bad way to enjoy a glass of chardonnay and a glass of Bubbly Candeo (imagine a champagne that is both fruitier and drier). After enjoying our time at the vineyard, we headed to our next destination… dinner!
We stopped for dinner at Seneca Harbor Station, a restaurant along the southern edge of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. We were seated right by the water – this wasn’t a bad view for a meal!
While I enjoyed the crab cakes (pictured), my wife had the superior meal: sirloin steak and grilled shrimp, served with garlic herb butter.
Seneca Lake is one of the eleven Finger Lakes (so named because of their long, narrow appearance that look like fingers). Seneca Lake is 38 miles long, and its bottom sits at 618 feet below sea level, making it one of the deepest lakes in the country (via Wikipedia).
And of course, no visit to Watkins Glen is complete without a pit stop at Watkins Glen International, a track that opened in 1956 and has hosted countless auto races. Most notably, for two decades (1961-1980), it was the home of the Formula One United States Grand Prix. A list of past winners of the grand prix includes names of Formula One royalty: Brabham, Clark, Hill, Fittipaldi, Stewart, and Lauda. I stopped by to pay homage. The Northeast Classic Car Museum
Our next stop was a suggestion from a family member (and after this suggestion, I mean a BELOVED family member): the Northeast Classic Car Museumin Norwich. Open since 1997, the museum showcases the role of the automobile in American culture, with a special emphasis on cars built in New York.
The birthday road trip was already amazing… but this museum put it into high gear.
One of the first cars to catch our eye was this 1910 Chalmers-Detroit, one of numerous cars from auto manufacturers no longer in business. This is a three-seat roadster, and the rear seat is called the “mother-in-law seat” (no, I’m not joking). Something else notable about this car is the right-side steering wheel. According to the US Department of Transportation, right-side steering wheels were common in this country until 1915 when the left-side steering wheel of the enormously popular Ford Model T single-handedly standardized the industry.
I am fascinated by the art of hood ornaments. This 1915 Scripps-Booth has an ornament that is functional: it is the temperature gauge for the radiator. However, this seems a slightly inconvenient way to check your car’s engine temperature when you’re on the road.
Each era of automobile in the museum had mannequins with examples of fashion from that period. These 1920s cars were parked beside a costume that could have come right from a party in The Great Gatsby.
This 1932 Oldsmobile L32 sedan retailed for $1,090 (that’s $21,000 in today’s money). Before you get too excited at the value, consider the items that were sold as accessories: front and rear bumpers would add $33 to the price ($657 today) and if you wanted a trunk, be prepared to plunk down another $30 ($597 today). The sticker price could rise quickly as you finalized your vehicle of choice.
This 1928 Packard was pretty, but its description is what made me look twice – the car was built with the idea of being marketed to women. With a shorter hood and a less powerful engine, it was thought this would make motoring “easier” for women drivers. A rear windshield was added to help keep the driver’s hair from getting mussed about by the wind, which was also a feature Packard thought women would want. Fascinating.
The Franklin Automobile Company manufactured automobiles in Syracuse, New York, from 1902 – 1934. Using air-cooled engines and aluminum construction, Franklins were lightweight and handled better than their competitors (via Wikipedia). Of the 200 built, this 1932 Franklin sedan, powered by a massive V-12 engine, is one of only 18 left in the world.
This 1932 Franklin sedan is the last known vehicle built by the company before it went out of business. The company died from a number of factors, not least of which was competition from an Indiana-based firm…
Auburn Automobile was a strong competitor of Franklin in the 1920s and 1930s. Longtime readers may remember our visit to the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Indiana a few years ago. This 1929 Duesenberg “all weather cabriolet” cost $18,000 when new (that’s about $287,000 in today’s dollars). It came with a 15-year warranty and a top speed of 120 miles per hour.
While I’m a fan of Honda and Acura, if I ever had unlimited wealth (what my wife and I refer to as having “Bill Gates money”), the classic car I would want in my garage would be this Auburn Automobile product: a 1937 Cord Model 812 Sportsman. While Cord cars don’t cost an astronomical amount (recent auctions on the auction site Bring A Trailer had selling prices around $50-60,000), restoration and repairs for a vehicle last made when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President can be pricy. At least one Cord that was listed at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction received nearly $500,000 (!) worth of restoration work. I think my goal of a 1984 Honda Prelude might be a bit more of an attainable classic.
Fill ‘er up! The museum also features a collection of classic gas pumps.
There was only one Honda product in the entire museum. Did I find it? You bet I did. This 1971 Honda CB750 is part of a temporary exhibit on motorcycles.
Speaking of desirable classics, I’m pretty sure my wife wanted to park this 1960 Porsche 356B next to my Cord 812 in our dream garage. This car might be a bit more attainable. Although you’ll need to budget $70-80,000 at auction for one of these, a network of numerous Porsche specialists (along with the fact that the company is still in business) means that you won’t have to re-mortgage your house when something breaks.
This 1967 Chevrolet Corvette hardtop was in fantastic shape. My uncle has hand-restored a 1965 Corvette convertible, and I’ve been fortunate to help him work on it over the years. This model of Corvette is near and dear to me.
One of the newest cars in the museum – the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. Most famous for its role in the Back to the Future movie franchise, these cars were made in Ireland. None of them left the factory with exterior paint – they all shipped with the same stainless steel finish. If you want one, budget anywhere from $50,000 for an example that needs work up to the cost of a nice house for one in mint condition.
Here’s a feature that never really caught on – the swivel seat in this 1959 DeSoto. I would think it would make entering and exiting a vehicle easier.
Defunct manufacturer Studebaker intended the Avanti to be a competitor to the Corvette. It came out toward the end of the company’s existence, and the Avanti never seemed to capture America’s attention. That’s a pity, I think, as this is a beautiful vehicle.
In the same town as the museum, there once existed the Chenango Camp Trailer company. Chenango built campers like this from 1920 until the mid-1950s. The company claimed that the trailer could transform into a fully setup camp site in under two minutes.
I had a wonderful time touring the Northeast Classic Car Museum. After exploring the entire facility, it was time to hit the road (by which I mean “cross the street”) for our next destination.
“Hey, do you want to go across the street?” my wife asked. I had to look twice to see what she was pointing out. This small building, directly across from the Northeast Classic Cars Museum, is home to “Wheels In Time,” a museum dedicated to die cast toy and model cars.
Stepping into the museum was like entering my dream store as a 7-year old boy. So many cars!
We had a personal tour from Eric, the owner, who began collecting toy cars when he was four. He still owns the first toy car from his childhood (which is on display in the museum). When I explained that I was looking for something Honda or Acura branded, he took me upstairs to his import section.
Eric shared that as the demand for classic import cars has increased, so has the demand for toy versions of those same vehicles. As everything on display in the museum is for sale, I bought a 1976 Honda Civic. My wife then picked out a 2001 Acura Integra to hold me over until Acura releases the real thing next spring. We had a great time, and Eric was a wealth of information. My car itch thoroughly scratched, we headed off to our next stop. Adirondack State Park
After a few more hours of driving, I spotted the sign that never fails to bring a smile to my face: “Entering Adirondack Park.”
Our last stop… a few days to park the car and enjoy the beauty of the Adirondacks.
I took some time to wash, wax, and detail my car, before taking its mandatory glamour photos beside Quiver Pond in Old Forge…
I cooled off with a swim in Fourth Lake…
I practiced my nautical photography skills…
And I ate great food! We started off with takeout from the Toboggan Inn in Eagle Bay.
Nothing like Friday Night Fish Fry at Toboggan Inn to get the eating started. The blackened halibut was absolutely perfect.
What trip to the Adirondacks is complete without a visit to the Donut Shop of Eagle Bay?
That will be one cinnamon old fashioned fry cake, please.
And that’ll be a couple of lattes from Blue Line Coffee House to wash down that donut.
I’ve driven past Tony Harper’s Pizza and Clam Shack in Old Forge countless times over the past several years. My wife decided that it was time for me to act like a tourist and give it a try.
Given its central location in town and high number of out-of-town guests, you might be fooled into thinking Tony Harper’s will be your typical tourist trap. Don’t fall for it – the wings were fantastic, the clams were terrific, and the salad was fresh and tasty. To quote The Terminator: “I’ll be back.”
Our relative treated us to dinner from Billy’s, an Italian restaurant in Old Forge. My favorite meal at Billy’s is the shrimp and scallops fradiavolo, and this was as good as always!
After a fun-filled and relaxing weekend, it was time to begin the return leg of our journey.
We did make one quick detour on our way home. My wife is a fan of Beekman 1802, a skin care and personal beauty company started by author Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge. The couple moved from New York City to a farm in Sharon Springs in upstate New York. Using goat milk, they created a line of skin care products that are gentle on skin and hypoallergenic. Their flagship store required only a 15 minute detour from the highway.
I think my wife enjoyed the shop as much as I enjoyed the car museum. I had no idea the sheer number of products you can make with goat milk! After thoroughly exploring the store, we were on our way.
Instead of backtracking to the NY Thruway, we drove through the rolling farmlands of upstate New York along US Route 20. Established in 1926, it is one of the original transcontinental highways. Route 20 runs from Boston, Massachusetts to Portland, Oregon (via Wikipedia).
Before leaving the Adirondacks, we had picked up lunch at Dough A Deer Bakery. Dough A Deer prepares meals and baked goods with healthy, locally-sourced ingredients. A rest stop along the New York Thruway may not have been the most scenic spot to eat lunch, but the meal made up for it.
We both ordered the Cobra Kai bowl – chicken, edamame, carrots, cabbage, sesame seeds, and either quinoa or rice. The meal hit the spot! Full, we set off to begin the most challenging leg of the day’s drive.
After having started our trip with a tropical storm, why not bookend it with another? Having fought Tropical Storm Fred on the way to New York, we were now set to do battle with Tropical Storm Henri on the way home.
Compared to the nightmarish drive through TS Fred, the return home wasn’t awful. Henri brought heavy rains, but thankfully, the predicted hurricane-force winds never materialized.
The Accord once again brought us home safe and sound. Along the way, it even crossed a new mile marker: 179,000 is now in the books! Trip Summary
This adventure truly was a journey down many miles of the open road ahead!
The birthday road trip was absolutely terrific. I thought it might be interesting to share a few statistics my wife recorded during our drive:
Total trip mileage: 1,058 miles
Average miles driven per day: 176
Amount of gasoline purchased: 27.5 gallons
Amount spent on gasoline: $96.72
Average miles per gallon: 29.8
Value of memories from trip: Priceless
Before closing, I had a few updates I wanted to share, including high mileage achievement from a friend, some Accord news, and a few souvenirs from our epic road trip adventure.
Keep On Rollin’
First, you may remember my friend Josh, whose 2015 Honda Accord continues to accrue higher and higher mileage. He recently took an epic road trip of his own. Here you can see his car parked near Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (movie fans might recognize Devil’s Tower from Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
On his road trip, Josh’s Accord crossed the 600,000 mile mark! Congratulations on another high mileage achievement! And you get new tires! And you get new tires!
After putting a set of Nokian WR G4 SUV tires on my wife’s Jeep a few weeks ago, it was time for a new set of Nokians for my Accord as well. With a fresh set of all-weather tires, my Accord is now prepared for the coming winter. Onward! Souvenir Updates
My souvenirs from the “Wheels of Time” museum were placed in our curio cabinet at home.
Finally, the Christmas ornaments that we created at the Corning Museum of Glass arrived! I was thrilled with how my red and green ornament came out, and my wife was equally happy with her blue and white ornament. What a fun way to remember a great experience! Wrapping Up
My birthday road trip was an amazing adventure. We saw terrific museums, ate amazing food, witnessed beautiful natural scenery, and created fantastic memories. The Northeast Classic Car Museum is open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, and costs $12 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-18, and children under 6 can enter for free. The Wheels In Time Die Cast Auto Museum directly across the street from the Northeast Classic Car Museum is open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, and by appointment during weekdays. Finally, Beekman 1802 is open 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, seven days a week.
Thank you for coming along on this epic birthday road trip on the open road ahead!
‘Til next time.