Chicagoland MG Club
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Road to Parsippany (and back!)
June 20-27, 2004 - by John M Schroeder
We are back from the NAMGBR convention in Parsippany, New Jersey. This was Ann and my first NAMGBR convention. We enjoyed traveling with veterans of the annual get together.
We left June 20, at 6 AM from 95th Street and I-294. There were three cars starting out as we headed east. Roger and Shirley Goebbert, Oscar and Diana Gonzalez, and John and Ann Schroeder headed across I-80 to Cleveland, Ohio where we met Kim and Diane Tonry who had left the day before. We traveled to Indiana, Pensylvania the first day to have dinner at the Coventry Inn. To our dismay, the Inn has permanently closed, so we walked across the street to Ruby Tuesdays for Dinner.
Grand View Hotel Site at Mount Ararat, Pennsylvania
Next morning, we set out for Gettysburg. We followed state roads south to US 30 (the Lincoln Highway). Traveling East on US 30, we saw some beautiful scenery including the site of the Grand View Hotel at Mount Ararat, Pennsylvania. All that was left of the hotel was a lighthouse marker and the grand view. They say you can see three states and seven counties from there. The hotel had burnt sometime since 1999. We left and traveled through Bedford and Breezewood, and landed in the first of many construction areas on 30. We toughed it out to Gettysburg, where we had lunch and toured the battlefields and museums. Monday evening we had dinner at a microbrewery called Gettysbrew. The food was excellent but the beer was pretty watery.
Tuesday morning we met up with the three cars from Indianapolis and headed for Philadelphia. We were driving on US 30 through southeastern Pennsylvania. There was not quite as much construction and we headed into downtown Lancaster looking for some Pennsylvania Dutch food and culture. I didnít realize when I planned this part of the trip that the Pennsylvania Dutch area is east of Lancaster and we got lost in a rather large city. I pulled into a very small gas station for directions. I think almost everybody gets lost and pulls into this gas station as they had an instruction sheet printed with directions to the road to the Dutch country. I asked Bob Morgan and his wife to lead us out of Lancaster. We did OK until we got to the right turn at the town square we needed to make to get back on the right road. At this point we were all driving with our tops up. It is amazing how difficult it is to see a traffic light in a B with the top up. Anyway, there were three lights, so Bob was looking out the driver s window. When the light changed, Bob drove away, only to be immediately pulled over in front of the local police station. It seems the right turn arrow is delayed for some reason (probably just for unsuspecting travelers trying to escape Lancaster). The light finally changed and the rest of us lined up behind the police car in what turned out to be a no parking zone. We must have been quite an attraction as several officers on foot, one on a bicycle, and even one horse patrol, along with many of the locals stopped to see the spectacle.
We escaped Lancaster without tickets, just a warning, and made it to Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania where we had lunch and did some shopping. After lunch, some of us put the tops down, in case there were anymore strange town squares and moved out toward York, Pennsylvania with Ann and I in the lead again. We took a brief break at the Pfaltzgraf factory outlet store, got back in the cars and headed on toward Philly.
Traveling with four cars in a convoy was a breeze compared to trying to keep track of seven in major traffic with traffic lights seemingly every few feet. After getting separated and regrouping far too many times we decided to proceed to the hotel and regroup there. We promptly got separated into two or three groups. I think everyone found a slightly different way to the hotel, but we all arrived within minutes of each other. Some of our rooms werenít ready so we got to sit in the lobby for about an hour and a half (our only bad hotel experience). After we got our rooms we left on a walking tour of Philly that ended at a great pub called the Dark Horse Inn. This was another of Kim s finds through a friend. Ann had the best epherdís pie she has ever had including pubs in England.
Wednesday morning we did a walking tour of the Philadelphia historic area. We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the original US Post Office and other sites. We had a great Philly cheese steak sandwich on our way back to the cars. We left for Parsippany around one o clock and arrived at the Hilton around four. After checking in, we left for refreshments and promptly got lost for the first of many times. There are few left turns in New Jersey. To make a left, you go through a Jug Handle to the right, stop at the street you were just on and go straight at the light to head left. If it sounds confusing to read it, driving them is worse. I think we almost got used to the traffic patterns by Sunday.
Thursday, we climbed on buses for the Circle Line Boat Tour of Manhattan. We traveled into New York City and boarded a large excursion boat to cruise around Manhattan. We went south on the Hudson, cruised by Ground Zero, The the Manhattan bridges and Yankee Stadium among other sites, then west through the Harlem River and back to the Hudson. The cruise guide was excellent. We all learned many bits of the history and lore of NYC. By the time we got back from the city, most of the cars had arrived, so we walked around the parking lot for a preview of the show. The four Chicago couples left for dinner got totally lost trying to find a recommended restaurant that had actually moved from where the phone book and hotel guide said it was. We had, of course, gotten separated quickly, and missed a turn. Roger, Shirley, Oscar and Diana made it far enough east to get caught in a huge traffic mess where Robby Knievel was going to jump twenty-five police cars. People were dashing across the highway in front of cars to get to these two car dealerships where the jump was set up. They realized they had gone too far, turned around and had to drive through that mess again. We all got back together and after searching a while longer for the restaurant found a pub that was listed in our convention packet. We had had an adventure and ended up with good food and good company. What more can you ask.
Friday, some of us headed for Moss Motors New Jersey warehouse. Some of us even got there! The rest of us had a nice drive through northern Jersey, found a little diner and had lunch before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the picnic. The weather was looking pretty threatening but we decided we could make the few miles to the park before it rained. We got almost half way when the drops started falling. We were stuck in heavy traffic with no place to pull over. We finally got through the light and to an area where we could put the tops up, continued to William Morris State Park in Morris Town, NJ, and we were only slightly damp. The picnic was held under a tent that had been ordered by the organizers with much foresight and we stayed dry and had an excellent catered meal. William Morris encompasses Valley Forge so the organizers had a Revolutionary War re-enactor explain his uniform and equipment. We left the picnic and retired to a slightly damp parking lot party. When the weather got really nasty we retired to the hospitality suite in the hotel.
Saturday arrived with a heavy overcast. We left the tops up as we drove back to William Morris Park for the car show. There were about three hundred cars on the field, accompanied by owners and other car lovers. Soon the sun came out, we dropped the tops, and the day turned beautiful. (See cover photo). There were many great looking and unusual cars. Everyone had a great time wandering through the show. Afterwards we returned to the hotel to get ready for the awards banquet. The banquet was held in a large hall and the food was excellent. After dinner the awards were presented. Roger and Shirley are one of only six couples who have been to every NAMBGR convention. Later we headed back to the hotel to get some rest and prepare for the trip home.
Sunday morning we all met in the parking lot for a final picture before heading west on I-80. There was beautiful scenery punctuated by sunny weather for the ride across northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
We certainly owe much to the MG Club of Central New Jersey for their hard work that went into putting this convention together. Their president and organizer died suddenly in December, but they regrouped and pulled off a great convention.
On Sunday, Ann and I both said we werenít going to go to Olympia next year. But, by Saturday evening, we were having such a great time and meeting so many people, that we started thinking seriously about MG2005. So now we are planning to go again next year, thinking about routes and things to see on the way. Hope you can join us!
I would recommend these conventions to anyone who loves our cars. It was a great time and we met many friendly MG people. Hopefully some of you can join us on the road to MG2005.
More photos and notes at: www.chicagolandmgclub.com/photos/mg2004