The New Jersey Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) has had a long tradition of holding summer tours. A tour, as compared to a rally such as the New England 1000, is conducted under much more relaxed circumstances. Tours typically involve leisurely drives along country roads to visit local attractions. Tour participants have the option to caravan together or to follow their own timetables. Planned stops will include sights like museums, parks, and of course eateries. (Rallies require more spirited driving and may encompass TSD [time, speed, distance] measurements of your ‘performance’ versus your fellow competitors.)
Having never partaken of a NJ Regional tour before, and continuing with my pledge to make up for the lost year of 2020, I signed up for my Region’s summer tour, which was held from July 29 through August 2, 2021. A trend I’ve noticed in recent years with both tours and rallies has been to conduct them as “hub tours” or “hub rallies”, which is to say that participants stay at the same hotel for the duration (the hotel effectively operating as the hub), with daily drives heading out in different directions and returning to the same hub each evening. So it was with this event: the Hampton Inn in Sayre PA (a stone’s throw from the NY border) served as the hub hotel, while our daily drives took us into the Finger Lakes Region of NYS each day.
All of the planned visits in which I participated were non-automotive in nature. There were plenty of opportunities to indulge in the local culture, and the significant others who were along for the ride weren’t forced to endure only automotive-related attractions. This tour was museum-heavy, as we stopped at the Corning Glass Museum, the Rockwell Museum (also in Corning), the George Eastman House & Museum and the Strong Museum of Play (both in Rochester), and the Soaring Museum in Elmira. The Corning Glass Museum and Eastman Museum visits were the two I was most looking forward to; the Rockwell Museum (not Norman, but Bob and Hertha, local business owners who collected art and gifted it to the city), and the Soaring Museum (the history of soarers and gliders AKA wingless flight) were pleasant surprises. The Strong Museum was akin to an indoor amusement park overrun with youngsters, but others in the group found it enjoyable.
The weather was outstanding for all but one of the days we were in the area. Unfortunately, the one rainy day occurred on the same day as a planned boat ride on Lake Cayuga, which necessitated the cancellation of our water outing.
There were about 25 people on the tour, mostly Regional members; some folks brought along friends and family members, which was nice to see, and made for an even more diverse group. Of the approximately 12 couples that I counted, 6 drove modern iron, and 6 drove AACA-eligible cars. Excepting the 1930 Ford Model A driven by my friends Dick and Bobbi, the other AACA vehicles were all from the ‘80s and ‘90s, including my 1993 Miata (NOT the newest car on the tour!). A personal thrill was my first ride in a rumble seat, which was offered to me when Dick and Bobbi drove to dinner. (It was easy to get into and less easy to get out of; agility with one’s limbs is a helpful trait when entering and exiting such a conveyance.)
The tour ended on a Monday, and I skipped that morning’s visit to a windshield frame restoration shop as I needed to scoot home a bit early. Would I tour again? Most certainly I would. It’s an additional and wonderfully relaxing way to indulge in the hobby. I would wish for a slightly more varied lineup of activities (not everyone prefers five museum visits in 2.5 days), but having helped organize and having participated in dozens of one-day and multi-day tours, I have great appreciation for the amount of work involved in planning such ventures. The NJ Region put in significant effort to make the event as enjoyable as possible for all.
The Corning Museum of Glass parked this Chevy pickup in its lobby and filled its bed with flowers made of glass; the flowers were available in the gift shop.
This ’30s-era GMC pickup from inside the Soaring museum was used as a tow vehicle to bring gliders up to speed. Its winch held a rope attached to the glider, and there was a mechanism to disconnect the rope from the plane. In the event that failed, the guillotine was deployed to sever the rope!
All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.