The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (July 1 - July 15, 2014)
Tuesday, July 1, 2014:
First order of business today is to change the worn wheel bearing. A road side rest stop and an hour of dirty fingers gets the job done. See following page for more photos and details.
Whoever said "US-1 all the way" must have been talking about something farther up the coast. It is of course more interesting (or less boring) than I-95 or I-295. But first impression makes it loaded with uncountable motels by the mile, restaurants, antique shops, beach shops, and a continuous variety of other tourist trap institutions (and lots of tourists and traffic). I'm not in any great rush, but this is not what I came for.
So we take side from US-1 onto ME-9 and Beach Road to visit the first beach that was handy, Kennebunk Beach. Here we find lots of people, lots of cars and no vacant parking space, so we take one picture and move on. We pass through Kennebunkport (for those who remember political scandals), skip Goose Rocks Beach, but take a short side on ME-208 to Biddeford Pool for Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Photos show the "beach" here to be mostly rocks, but making for happy ducks and seagulls.
Then we check into McD's for a WiFi stint, and while we are doing email and BBS a fellow starts chatting about Little British Cars. He recommends that we should visit Erick Van Sickle of Leyland British Auto in Arundel, Maine. That turns out to be just 20 minutes away, so we do.
Wow. From first glance the variety of cars here is staggering. Erick also has one of the largest collections of parts cars and used parts in Maine, none of which is shown here. We are on a mission to prove that British cars are alive and well in Maine. Erick has given us some leads and business cards that should keep us busy for at least a few days.
On the return trip we pass by The Seashore Trolly Museum. Looks like an interesting place but not about MGs, so maybe some other time.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014:
Cruising up the east coast of southern Maine, we got detoured about 50 miles northwest to Harrison, Maine. Here we met John Campbell of "Sports Cars". He has a bent for TONS of MGs and other British cars, and some non-British vehicles as well.
I couldn't resist a picture of the Ferguson and the Datsun 1600 (a variant of MGB with 1600 engine). See following page for lots more photos and notes.
It was super hot today, so we ran up the road to Bridgton, ME, for WiFi and AC at McD's. Then it rained, turning into a good opportunity to catch up with the web page and start posting the club newsletter on line. The chariot sits here with the tonneau cover on, which seems to be better water protection than the rag top for heavy rain. Late night run to Lewiston, ME, via the shortest route (interesting roads including a little gravel).
Thursday, July 3, 2014:
Stationary day in Lewiston, ME. Many hours posting club newsletter on line. Email and BBS is rather quiet. Hurricane Arthur moving up east coast from South Carolina, rain 6-pm (serious) to past midnight (light), good time to sit still.
Friday, July 4, 2014:
Early morning cruise to Augusta, ME, overcast and no rain traveling, but raining again by 9am. Cruise on to Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head, ME. They will be doing "The Glory Days", 50's, 60's, 70's cars, featuring 50th anniversary of Ford Mustang July 5-6. Would have to kill another day to stay here for that. Decided to visit today and skip the Mustangs.
Well, this museum seems to have its priorities right. This MG TD is the first thing you see right inside the front door, even before paying the admission fee. Then go through the first door and run smack into five more MGs in a circle with another right behind. Move one room to the left, and find two more MGs just through the door. Move one room to the right and find four more MGs, two on the left and two on the right. That makes 13 in all (if I didn't miss any).
The odd bit is, the latest production MG here is a TD. Unfortunately no MGA. I have a sneaking suspicion that may change soon. There is an upcoming auction to remove some of the cars. That may make space for an MGA or two, since all MGA are now more than 50 years old.
For more pictures of contents of the Owls Head Transportation Museum see a following page.
Moving up the coast some we made an evening run at Acadia National Park. We were a little too late to make a complete tour of Park Loop Road before dark, but we did run about 1/3 of it.
We also ran up Cadillac Summit Road to the top of Cadillac Mountain That was a feat in itself, since this was 4th of July holiday, and lots of people were going up there to watch fireworks. We didn't stay long, just got a few pictures and came back down by what was left of the daylight. We then drove farther south on Loop Drive Road to Seal Harbor before continuing west and back north on ME-3, returning to Ellsworth for some WiFi and web work.
This bit about escorting hurricane Arthur up the east coast (and lots of rain) was getting a bit irritating. On a whim we drove 30 miles inland to Bangor, ME, following a couple of cars' tail lights in the heavy rain. I don't know if it helped much, as we still had moderately heavy rain but perhaps not so much wind. Past midnight and still foul weather but not cold, no camping tonight, tired enough to sleep anywhere. So we pulled into a motel parking lot to sleep in the car. After a bit of poking at the side curtains and rag top flaps we seem to get it fairly weather tight. It has been an interesting day; time to catch some Z's.
Saturday, July 5, 2014:
We must be getting better at tucking in the rag top, as we are actually dry inside the car after all night rain. Early morning, time to toddle along to McD's to use the WiFi and shelter. I spent hours posting photos and notes from day before. Half past noon and it appears to have stopped raining (temporarily) but is still overcast and wet.
Reverse route and go back to Ellsworth to carry on up US-1 North (actually going east then). Raining again (pretty much all day), so we might as well be driving rather than walking. Always searching for end of the world, we find Roque Bluffs State Park off of Old US-1 south of Machias, ME.
Nice beach with some seaweed and friendly seagulls (one of my favorite birds). Given the right circumstances they will do a well correographed line dance in unison. They can also hover close at hand and catch food out of the air when you toss it upward.
Fighting rain as we go, farther along the coast we visit Quoddy Head State Park. Don't bother getting out of the car here, just get some pictures of the lighthouse. I believe this is the most eastern point of the United States.
A few miles farther north we visit Lubec, ME, the eastern most town in the United States. A small fishing village with some tourist restaurants, it may be end of the world in many ways.
It also has a bridge going to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. This is home of Roosevelt Campobello International Park. Since the island is part of Canada, there are international checkpoints at the bridge, and we don't have passports, so this is end of the world for us today.
Heading back west we get pictures of storm damage (which is everywhere), reminding us we are still flirting with hurricane Arthur.
Going back to US-1 and continuing north, we stop in Calais, ME, for the night. Here is the second McD's in a row that has no wall outlet for the laptop charger, so this time we move over to Burger King for WiFi and web work.
Sunday, July 6, 2014:
Still heading north, not so much to see for long stretches here, so did some night driving again. Finally drove out of the rain, then stopped for a nap after midnight. Was shorty visited by a United States Border Guard who said he was checking to see if we were okay. But we know the real reason he was checking. An hour later we were visited by another USBG going the other direction, same story. Moral of this story is, maybe don't park so close to the country border?
Moving on in the morning making more miles north on US-1, we run across Aroostook State Park near Spragueville, ME, a nice pace to camp (but we didn't). Around the corner from the park is the site of launching of the first successful trans Atlantic balloon flight in 1978.
By 11:00 am we are in Madawaska, ME, which must be the farthest point north in the continental USA (not counting Alaska). From here US-1 North goes west and south as we are head for Fort Kent.
From there we proceed west another 30 miles west through Alagash to a tiny place named Dickey at end of ME-161 (dead end road again). The claim to fame here is that there is a part of the North Woods that was originally intended to be part of Canada. Apparently surveyors messed up and followed the wrong river, so some land north of the St Johns River and south of the St Francis River became part of the United States.
Checkpoint at Alagash/Dickey.
A bit farther than the last checkpoint:
St Johns River, Alagash Museum, Alagash diner:
Back in Fort Kent, we felt obligated to at least get a picture of the Fort before heading south on ME-11.
This is part of ME-11 under construction for a few miles on the outskirts of Fort Kent. The entire pavement had been removed and the road bed was hard clay, very rough, and launched the car and trailer a few times before we got it down under 20 mph.
Elliot had been complaining for three days that in spite of signs all over the place declaring "Moose", we hadn't seen any. Half way down ME-11 we finally saw one (and lucky we didn't hit it on the road). The picture is crap, but that's all we could get with the moose in flight after we hit the brakes.
Much of ME-11 was nearly straight line with disregard to the hills, so lots of it was in lower gears and/or on the brakes going down, and sometimes lower gears to get up some of the longer grades. Absolutely delightful.
Have driven over 1000 miles in the past three days, the best we could find of MGs during that time were 13 of them in Owls Head Transportation Museum. Early this afternoon we had a report of an MGB owned my a lady in Presque Isle, ME, but could not get contact information.
Monday, July 7, 2014:
On prior request we decided to attend British Cars of New Hampshire club meeting at Weathervane, 393 Route 101, Bedford, NH. That's a bit out of our way (230 miles and 4-1/2 hours), but has a fixed schedule, so we go today. Towing the trailer, we told Mapquest to "avoid tolls", so it routed us down US-1 again through nasty traffic in very hot weather. We tried a stop for ice cream, but the promising looking shop was not open before noon, so we fixed lunch from the trailer and moved on. Arriving in Bedford a few hours early, we stopped in Manchester, NH, to do some computer work, and we looked up a nice state park campground just northeast of Manchester. Just as we wanted to move in that direction it started to rain lightly, so we put the top up before rolling. It was about 10 miles to the forest entrance then another 5 miles up hill to the campground. The higher we went the harder it rained, and when we were well entrenched on the mountain it was pouring buckets and windy. So we changed minds, changed direction, and came back down the hill. By the time we were back in Manchester there was no more rain. So we think it only rains on the mountains while we are up there. Okay think about it later.
Time for the club meeting anyway, so we moved on to Bedford, nice weather and a very nice club meeting. After the meeting a local club member offers use of her back yard to pitch our tent for the night, and we acccept. Another nice run up the hills, dodging deer repeatedly as we go. Just as we get to the top and pull into the yard the sky opens up with another deluge. We can take a hint, so we bid farewell and head (very carefully) down the hill toward town. The only thing we know how to find here is the prior McDonalds, so we fight our way through the torential rain back to McD's. Another hour of computer work here, and it quits raining again. We may be nuts, but not entirely crazy. We ended up "camping" at McD's.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014:
Still in Manchester, NH, area. Killed most of the day with web work. Short run to USPS for a mail call. Short run to Hannaford for groceries and ice. In the evening we went to British Beer Company in Manchester for "Cruise In".
This is what CMGC call "Natter 'n' Noggin", but perhaps more emphasis on bringing your LBC. Small turn out, only three on the patio besids myself and Elliot. One other showed up just as we were leaving, may have been there earlier indoors, but didn't see either person or car. This is the lady who has owned her MGA since it was new. Sorry I didn't get that picture as we were on our way out of the car park. But I did get the picture of the TR6 needing a jump start.
Heading north on NH-28 after the meeting, short stop for WiFi in Alton Bay, NH, at dusk. After dark we traveled another 50 miles north to overnight in Hemenway State Forest. This is a tiny little forest near Tamworth, NH, that is supposed to have a campground, which we couldn't find in the dark, but we stayed anyway. We got rained on again in the night but survived nicely.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014:
Today we took a cruise on the Kancamagus Highway (NH-112) from Conway to Lincoln, NH, through the White Mountain National Forest. A very nice tour, first twisting along the Swift River, then climbing through a mountian pass and down the other side. The MGA had a serious workout towing the trailer up some 9-1/2% grades, barely making it in 3rd gear around 40 mph. We moved off once to let some other vehicles pass. But it always gets there in the end.
Then we continued west on NH-112 to Woodsville (near the NH/VT border), then north on US-5, then northwest on VT-15. Approaching Lake Champlain we made a slight diversion south to Chimney Corner, VT, then took US-2 north along Grand Isle up the center of the lake. Just shy of the Canadian border US-2 turns west again running into New York state.
From there we followed US-11 west to Malone, NY (where we intend to stay the night), having traveled just under 400 miles since leaving Manchester, NH, the evening before. New York this far north appears to be filled with traffic, farm land, windmills, and not much else. A friendly bloke at McDs in Malone spent time chatting about his (local) MGA, some other MGs in the area, and some people with a loosely formed and informal British car group. No contact information, so no luck finding them here.
Thursday, July 10, 2014:
A couple of pictures from North Lawrence and Brasher Falls, NY. Not MGs, but cute. There are a fair number of the Amish carriage in good working order in upstate New York (modern daily drivers). Later in the day I got a casual wave from one Amish driver. I trust that may be their version of a thumbs up. The Sunbeam Alpines appear to be "in process". The complete but rusty one may be a daily driver.
No rush to go anywhere, so hop over to Massena, NY, and take a casual picnic lunch at Robert Moses State Park on Barnhart Island. Well trimmed and kept with picnic grounds, camping, boat launch, marina, and a shipping lock.
Rolling westward from Massena along the St Lawrence River, there are regular viewings of the river, although it helps to get off the highway and into some local streets on occasion. The bridge is a friendly link between USA and Canada, complete with tolls and custom stations at both ends. There are hundreds of the giant windmills on the Canadian side of the river, but ony a few on the US side.
The next pictures are Tibbetts Point Lighthouse on the cape 18 miles west of Clayton, NY. Another end of the world destination, although not so far from the main track
This seems a little strange, making like a tourist, as this is not the primary purpose of this trip. But I'm having trouble finding MGs in upstate New York.
Friday, July 11, 2014:
Still a bit bored driving the open highway, we take the occcasional right turn going easward toward the water front. Not always the perfect result, but it pays off enough to reward the effort. The fishing villages are usually interesting.
The next lighthouse we found was somewhat obscure. From NY-3 and NY-178 just west of Henderson, go east on Military Road (NY-123) for 1.3 miles, then fork left onto Lighthouse Road. Follow Lighthouse Road 1.8 miles, then fork right to stay on Lighthouse Road. Another 2.6 miles where the road turns hard left and changes to Stony Point Road (marked Pivate, Dead End), you find the lighthouse. This one is privately owned (very unusual) with "no trespassing" signs, so we took the picture from the roadway and moved on. Reverse travel 2.6 miles and turn sharp right on Rays Bay Road for another interestng way back to NY-3.
Some miles on, navigator decided he wanted to go to Mexico, so we did. Mexico, New York, that is. The town is large enough to have a McDonalds, where we stopped for the WiFi connection. After checking our "Friends" list and making a few phone calls, we have appointments and plans for the next few days.
We then turn south for 25 miles to visit Marty and Dave Winne in Liverpool, NY (just north of Syracuse). Dave is newsletter editor for MG Car Club of Central New York. He has a very nice daily driver 1977 MGB (converted to dual SU carbs). He is thinking about buying back an MGA project car that he sold some years earlier.
We take time here to put oil in the front shock absorbers on the MGA, which was quite badly needed, taking anout 4 onces each, meaning they were virtually empty. With all this, dinner and chat run very late, after which navigator crashes while I do WiFi for a few hours more (the guru's work is never done).
Saturday, July 12, 2014:
In spite of short sleep we are up relatively early with a new appointment. We gas up the car and head south, arriving Lansing, NY, at noon to visit Roger Garnett (and a few more people who would show up later). While he does seem to have too many toys, he also seems to know exactly what he wants to do with most of them. The MG PA Midget has a long history here, the Bugeye Sprite is a regular racer. The MG ZB Magnette is a very nice daily driver car. Other cars within and without have definite plans.
But let us get quickly to the real reason for my visit here with some urgency today. Roger has a 1903 curved dash Oldsmobile which he was trying to get running to attend a Horsless Carriage car show on Sunday, and I thought perhaps I could lend a hand. We spent a good part of the afternoon flushing the fuel tank to remove some flaky varnish deposits, cleaning the ignition switch, and rewiring the whole car. See following page for lots of additional photos and notes and video on the 1903 Oldsmobile.
Sunday, July 13, 2014:
Today we are off early, two hours north to Webster, NY, for Sports Car Festival 2014, organized by MG Car Club, Western New York. There was significant rain today (comes and goes), so attendance was somewhat depressed. There was a decent turnout of MGs, several MGB a few Midgets, a few MGA, a couple TDs.
The red and white MGA Coupe, quite rusty, mostly complete, not running had a sale sign on it (asking $3000), not sold, seems to be making rounds of car shows for quite a while by now. I told them to make it run and it would be worth more and easier to sell.
The blue rubber bumper Midget got a trophy for Lowest Mileage, but it went home on a trailer. The VW Bug was electrified with nine 8-volt batteries for 72 volts. It makes 40 mph easily (on the level), maybe a little more, has a range of about 40 miles and an on-board charger that works on 115-VAC (but takes a long time to charge up). The dark blue MGA Coupe took Best Of Show.
My red MGA with trailer attached got three trophies, one for Longest Distance, and two for Best Patina (not sure why two). Since the paint is only six years old (some of it a lot less), I suppose the voters were mistaking dirt and bugs for patina. Voters seem to gravitate toward the vintage cars as the newer cars seem to have garnered nothing.
After the car show we crashed a party for the organizers at the home of one of the club members. The car that was escorting us to the party got lost twice (in the rain). My cell phone and a copy of the club newsletter saved the day. A good time was had by all. Club meeting coming up Thursday night, but will have to see where we are a few days hence.
Monday, July 14, 2014:
No apppointment today, so I spent the entire day doing WiFi and web site work. Made a few phone calls, and have an appointment in Altoona, Pennsylvania, tomorrow evening. Now for some personal entertainment I pull one of my favorite tricks. Open Mapquest.
Input two towns over 200 miles apart in different states. Click on "Avoid Tolls" and "Avoid Highways" and "Shortest Route", then drive it over night in the dark. Lots of twists and turns, plenty of 3rd gear hills in the forest, a few gravel roads. Goodbye New York, and Hello Pennsylvania at 1:30am. We lost count of the deer in the forests, but maybe 20 or so, had to stop for a few of them. One little fawn misjudged a jump and smashed his nose on a guard rail. Lots of fog, only a little rain.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014:
After nearly 200 miles driving in the dark we caught some sleep 5:00am to 10:30am in a wildlife viewing area in Wykoff Run in the middle of Elk Scienic Drive in Pennsylvania. Also nice viewing and driving Pennsylvania roads in daylight. Stopped for WiFi and lunch in Phillipsburg, PA, leaving the MG to bath in some warm rain.
Another short stint down the twisty roads (could do with fewer guard rails) puts us in the driveway of Jim Pastore, in the north end of Altoona PA. Where do people get all these neat toys?
Morris Minor Woody Wagon, TR3, MGA, all in the first garage.
B, B, B, B, C, TR4, XKE-V12 in the second garage.
Morgan Plus-4 in the trailer.
And in a third garage, B, B, B, A, another E-type, and one of these things that is not like the others. The Celica and Camaro are just visiting.