Sunday, October 13, 2013

Des Moines Convention

Region 2 Convention- "Thunder in the Heartland"

Let me tell you a story about the 'Birds in Des Moines, IA, for the Classic Thunderbird Club Region 2 Convention called "Thunder in the Heartland" Aug.21-25. 2013.

It was a hot and steamy Wednesday morning, when 4-T-Birds, earrying Bill and Liz Werth, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko, Larry and Karen Kelly, Jim Wilson and one Chrysler Sebring, carrying Joel Greenberg and Annie Luginbill,. whose 'Bird was out sick, headed to the McDonald's on Rte. 53 and Butterfield Road to start our trek to Des Monies at 8:15 am. Three more 'Birds joined us at the DeKalb Oasis: Len and Mary Keil, Tom and Judy Bruin and Lloyd and Joan Schellin.

We stopped for gas and breakfast/lunch at the Village Inn in Davenport. IA. It was free pie Wednesday and no one could resist. When lunch was over and everyone was paying their bills, our jokester, Tom Bruin, took the large bowl of candy suckers off the counter and began passing it around to a table of elderly women playing cards, while waiting for their meal. They laughed joyously and helped themselves to a piece or two and so did we.

As we continued our journey, we stopped at a rest area to stretch and get something to drink.. While
there. Lloyd, Judy and a few others were sitting at a picnic table under a tree, when suddenly a very slinky visitor made its appearance. Everyone scrambled like it was a boa constrictor, but it was only a garden snake slithering around minding its own business.

We arrived at the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel at about 4:30 pm . It was time to register for the Convention and our hotel rooms. It was a long day. Ed and Rose (brave souls) drove all the way with the convertible top down. We hooked up with Ken and Kathy Smizinski. who drove from Missouri. and had arrived a bit earlier than the rest of us. Although everyone was tired, we were also hungry and decided to walk across the road - about 2 or 3 blocks - to Chill's for Mexican food. As the 15 of us waited for our table(s), Tom Bruin, once again, decided to entertain us by handing each or us a kid's menu and crayons to keep the group occupied. Once seated, the food and margaritas were abundant.

Thursday afternoon there was a Fashion Show in the hotel atrium. It was a short presentation, but Judy and I managed to buy something to enhance our wardrobes. Afterwards, while our men were cleaning and polishing the T-Birds. Kathy Smizinski invited all the ladies to her room for some "juice" - which consisted of Bloody Marys and Margaritas. Needless to say, we were not missing our men.

At 7:00 p.m. that night we had our traditional Pizza Party outside on the pool patio of the hotel. It was a beautiful night with lots of laughs, libations, conversation, and silliness.FUN! FUN! FUN! The rest of our club members. Mitch and Pat Mitchell, Bob and Kathy Lindsten. Gordon Gluf'f. Mike Puvlak, Mary Jane and Dave Osborne and Bill and Sharon Jurkonie joined us. Bert and Jane Eisenhour also joined us later.

On Friday morning, those who were judging or had cars being judged were outside doing their thing. At 8:30 am the girls went on the Taste of the Heartland Bus Tour. While on the bus, our tour guide played some games, where if you answered a question correctly, you would win some Mardi Gras beads. Whoopee! We won some.

Our first stop was at the American Machine Shed Restaurant for enormous cinnamon rolls and coffee. They have a cute store front where some purchases were made by many. Alter our breakfast, we continued on the bus to the Last Village area in downtown Des Moines. We walked the quaint streets lined with various little shops and. of course, did some shopping.

Back on the bus, we headed to the heart of downtown Des Moines, to the top of the Ruan Building for lunch, with a breathtaking view from the 34th floor. Lunch was delicious with salads, mushrooms, nuts, berries, cheeses, fruit, soup and desserts. While we were waiting for our turn at the buffet. Annie gave each of us a cute book mark, unique to each one of us: Kathy and Rose was "she who loves to travel;" Karen, "she who loves her dog;" Judy, "she who is a free spirit:" Joan, "she who has a great attitude;" Mary, "she who loves her cat." Very sweet and thoughtful of Annie.

After lunch, we traveled to West End Architectural Salvage. There you will find four floors of antique furniture, vintage lights, hardware and building materials, stained glass, etc., etc., etc.. located in a downtown warehouse. They also have a coffee shop on the first floor with various types of coffee, cookies and cakes to purchase and relax. The West Hnd Salvage is very well known from the IKJTV television show.

Our last stop on the tour was to the Jasper Winery near Gray's Lake, to sample wine pairings with Iowa cheeses and locally made chocolates. The people at the winery made an excellent presentation. We all had our share of the tastings and were ready for our return to the hotel. But. before leaving, Kathy and Karen bought a couple of bottles of wine to take home.

That evening, our group split up for dinner. Some of us drove to Nick's Steakhouse, while others decided to eat at restaurants near the hotel.

On Saturday, there was a large group of beautiful Thunderbirds thai caravanned to the Karl Kustoms facility. It is a modern 65.000 sq. ft. building housing JR. Motorsports, a machine shop, an all-wheel-drive chassis dyno, engine dyno (a computerized engine dynamometer that accurately measures torque and RPM and then can calculate horsepower), two high tech paint booths, upholstery shop and assembly areas, for all their restoration and street rod production work. They also produce the Karl Kustom Corvettes, where they "rebody" the C-6 version of the Corvette to resemble either a 1967 Corvette Roadster or the iconic 1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe. Their Tearn Leader. Dave Carnock. explained each room in detail and answered questions. It was very interesting to see the transformation of these cars and how beautiful they looked.

After visiting the Karl Kustoms facility, we drove to Dennis Albaugh's for a private tour of his unique collection of 145 plus Chevrolets. His collection is not open to the public, only toured by private arrangement. Dennis Albaugh is a highly respected businessman who houses his World Class display in a custom-designed, climate controlled facility under the parking lot of his Corporate Headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa. Among the cars is a vast collection of automotive art and collectibles.

This is an absolutely beautiful display of Chevrolets, with a plaque describing each car's features, options and rarity. Everyone was in awe of this fabulous display and thoroughly enjoyed being there.

After the morning of touring we were ready for lunch. Tom consulted his smart phone and 11 of us ventured to Ray's BBQ. This place was jammed. It was right next to a motorcycle shop where they were having a rally of some sort. There had to be about 100 motorcycles gathered in the parking lot. We were lucky to get in the restaurant and chow down. After lunch, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the Awards Banquet that evening.

The banquet started with cocktails at 5:30 pm. Around 6:30, we entered the dining room to find our tables and to be seated for dinner, which was served at 7:00. On one wall, there was a giant video screen showing all the beautiful Thunderbirds that were at the Convention.

During dinner, it was announced that the centerpiece on each table, a Hurricane glass centerpiece with candle, would go home with the person who had a green ticket under their plate. After dinner - there was the presentation of awards. As the winners were announced, each owner's "Bird and name was shown on the big screen. Beautiful job.

I am proud to say that many of our CTCC members received awards this year. Congratulations to each and every one of the winners,

Sunday was an early start, eheek out and on the road at 7:00 am. All packed and ready to go. we said farewell to Des Moines and were homeward bound. We made one stop for gas and had breakfast at an off-the-road diner. As Karen said, "At $5.99 for breakfast, how could you go wrong?" With our bellies now full, we said our good byes to each other and were on our way.


- Rose Kovalenko

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