The motor home had been sitting still since Easter, so it was time to give it a little exercise before we head off to Israel. Where to go? We weren’t looking for an epic journey, but wanted something interesting and useful to do. The annual International Newmar Rally being held this year in Syracuse NY fit the bill. Newmar is the manufacturer of our motor home and after its recent sale to the Winnebago company, there was tons of buzz online about whether things would change as a result.
The rally was sponsored by Newmar, but much of the organization and heavy lifting was done by volunteers. The rally was held at the New York State fairgrounds, which is an impressive mix of classic buildings erected in the early 1900’s and modern facilities. Newmar sent 55 technicians to the rally and after they completed warranty work on newer coaches, they traveled from coach to coach in golf cars fixing anything that could be done on site. They fixed our stairs and generator switch at a price much lower than we expected. We also had a fire suppression system installed in the engine compartment. All the vendors who had installed products in our coach were there, giving talks about how best to use and maintain all our systems.
After all that learning it was time for more lighthearted fare. We went to presentations about the nearby Erie Canal and learned how to make pizza from scratch from a passionate chef totally in love with his work. In the evenings we enjoyed live entertainment: musicians and a prize winning story teller.
After the rally we wanted to make use of our newly purchased Harvest Host membership. Our subscription gives us access to a variety of businesses that allow us to camp overnight on their property for free all over the country. Because we carry our own water and could make our own electricity once the generator was repaired, we traveled from one Harvest Host site to another for a week, enjoying what each had to offer. The Finger Lakes area is full of HH vineyards. It was fun to sample a flight of wine and simply walk back to our home away from home without worrying about the designated driver. The smell of grapes hanging nearby waiting to be harvested was also intoxicating. We camped at the first hole on a golf course and played a round. We camped on a farm next to the chicken coop and the Mennonite owner encouraged us to gather all the eggs that we could find. We visited her gift shop admiring her extensive collection of quilts and bought a variety of jellies and marmalades. We camped at the Soaring Museum and learned about what today is a sport, but began as brave flight enthusiasts like the Wright Brothers learned about aerodynamics as they figured out how to build planes. All the Harvest Hosts seemed as enthused about having us on site as we were being there.
We rarely drive directly from home to an event and back without a bit of moseying and this trip was no different. The highlight was a stop at Niagra Falls, last visited 43 years ago. They looked just the same, of course, but now that we have visited Iguazu Falls in South America and Victoria Falls in Zambia, they seemed so much smaller than they did in 1976. We added another national park to the list, stopping in Cayuga Valley in Ohio to ride our bikes on the tow path along the canal which joins up with the Erie Canal. We visited another Frank Lloyd Wright home in Buffalo. The Martin House was actually a complex of homes, built by the budget busting architect and loving restored recently for a cool $50 million.