Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wisconsin Day Trip Tale

The Rain in Spain may fall lightly on the plain, but in Wisconsin, it was quite a different story!

EARLY MORNING FOUND US FACING overcast skies, but hoping that the rain clouds would not materialize.

As we headed for the assembly point, the first drops of rain dictated the need to start the half-century old (vacuum) windshield wipers! Luckily, they responded without hesitation and effectively removed the accumulating raindrops.

The skeleton crew at the Road Ranger included 5-classic T-Birds a Lexus and a... Cadillac! At the appointed time, Bob Hoge signaled for us to start on the first leg of our Mini-Tour - to the famous Millie's Restaurant in Delavan, Wisconsin.

photo caption: We boarded car No.30 and our group settled in for the approximately 8 mile rail trip. This rail car was built in in 1926 and has since been maintained mechanically, but not restored.

As we entered Harvard, IL, Len and Mary Keil and Jim Elijah joined our caravan as the light rain continued.

We arrived at Millie's right on-schedule at 9:15, and were soon joined by members Dave and Mary Jane Osborne who reside in Oregon, Wisconsin. Ron and Donna Pavlak arrived a bit later, completing our group.

While we enjoyed the tasty offerings at Millie's, the rain gods took over in earnest, serving up a serious amount of "liquid sunshine!" Although the two-passenger Thunderbird engines were "designed" to be liquid-cooled, I suspect that some (diabolical) design-engineers unwittingly carried the theme over to the T-Bird tops. In any case, if an owner claims to have a top that doesn't Ieak, his secret could be worth a fortune!

The Osbornes bid us farewell and departed for home, as the rest of our group started out to the rain-soaked parking lot. Bob Hoge wisely opted to omit the Snake Road segment of the tour, as the rain continued with no sign of relief. (Snake Road is a designated "Rustic Road" and it is a very colorful 3.2 mile drive, especially when fall colors are at their peak.)

A glance at any of the 'Birds revealed an array of towels and assorted rags being utilized to stem the flow of water into the carpeting, etc.

In spite of slightly dampened spirits, our caravan reformed for the 2nd leg of our Escape to Wisconsin. We survived an unbelievable amount of Sunday traffic as we inched our way through downtown Lake Geneva. The cool weather did prevent any overheating problems!

The rainfall persisted as we arrived in East Troy, home of the East Troy Electric Railroad. The siren call of a roped-off parking area beckoned us, it being, to all intents and purposes, our "promised" reserved T-Bird parking area.

We entered the train station, purchased our tickets and boarded car # 30. This rail car was built in in 1926 and has since been maintained mechanically, but not restored. The presence of countless Duct Tape patches on the seat-coverings attested to this claim!

As our group settled in for the approximately 8 mile rail trip, a conductor suddenly shouted out the words no T-Birder ever wants to hear, "Your cars will be towed!" Somehow, our 'Birds were not in a "protected" parking area, so we bailed out (pun intended) of car # 30 in a desperate attempt to save our T-Birds from the tow-trucks! The train's departure was held until our return, so we left the station several minutes behind schedule.

We finally arrived at the Elegant Farmer in Phantom Woods, where we found the unique "bazaar" crowded with people! The Pavlaks returned toting jugs of cider and other items. Our return trip was uneventful, while the rain persisted its assault on our "parade."

Our visit to an old-time ice-cream shop in East Troy was most enjoyable as we savored sundaes, sodas and other soda-counter treats. The shop's owner indicated that he owned "several" Studebakers, as he joined in on our T-Bird related conversations.

The rainfall notwithstanding, the one-day event planned by Bob and Helen Hoge was most enjoyable. The essence of any club event is being with fellow T-Birders and enjoying the camaraderie that the outing provides.

Members participating in the event: Bert & Jane Eisenhour ('57), Jim Elijah (Ford Focus), Bob & Helen Hoge ('56), Len & Mary Keil ('57), Dan & Joan Mrozek (Lexus), Dave & Mary Jane Osborne (BMW coupe), Ron & Donna Pavlak ('07 Buick), Jerry & Pat Peterson ('57), Ken Smizinski & Len Vinyard (in Ken's '56) and Bill Werth ('55). The Cadillac was piloted by our invited guest, Rich Bennett.

-- Ed., Bird-News

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