Saturday, July 9, 2011

Spring Tour- 2011

SPRING TOUR – MAY 20-22, 2011

‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’ is no longer just a movie – it’s what we saw on the 2011 Spring Tour! Tom and Judy Bruin put together a great collection of attractions for us to visit. Although the weather forecasters had been talking about storms, there were none to be seen when the majority of the group started from the Hinsdale Oasis after Tom and Judy handed out probably the best-looking tour packets this group has ever had; there were spiral-bound guides with color pictures of what we were going to see as well as Route 66 patches and beer nuts!

We traveled south to Pontiac, where we met the remainder of our CTCC tour group. In Pontiac, we had a chance to go through the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum with the first of several group photos being taken in front of the Pontiac Route 66 mural. A number of us took a trolley tour of Pontiac (which included historic buildings and Route 66 Mural Replicas as well as an opportunity to step across the swinging - or should I say ‘swaying’ - bridges in the town park) while others looked at the new International Wall Dog Mural and Sign Museum (‘wall dogs’ are artists who paint advertising signs on walls) or shopped. We then ate lunch at DeLongh’s on the town square. Of note, in July a new car museum is opening in Pontiac which will feature the Pontiac and Oakland automobiles, and we’re invited to come back for that.

Once we left Pontiac, we headed down to the Prairie Aviation Museum in Bloomington, which houses a collection of preserved aircraft as well as aviation exhibits and memorabilia. Several people tried their hands at the 1941 Link Trainer, and others watched the video, shopped in the gift shop, or viewed the various aircraft, all of which are outdoors, not in hangars. We received Certificates of Appreciation for visiting the museum, and another group photo was taken here.

When we pulled out of the museum, we headed over to the Hampton Inn and Suites for the usual pizza party and some unwinding after a day of driving. In keeping with the traditional need to keep the guys busy, the insides of our car’s passenger window broke – STRIKE ONE – and the parking lot turned into an auto shop. They DID get it back up, but it had to stay that way until we got home. (At least the seat didn’t get wet when it rained overnight.)

The following morning after breakfast, we headed out to Monticello, where we were joined for a while by Mitch and Pat Mitchell (CTCC members who live in Pekin). Our little ‘Birds were among the guests of honor at the inaugural ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’ show at the Monticello Railway Museum. There were also several Model A’s and Model T’s, and one couple dressed in period costume to match their Model T! We toured the museum’s collection of railcars and then boarded the train at the restored Illinois Central depot for a ride into downtown Monticello. We wandered around the downtown area for a while, and most of the group had lunch at one or another of the local eateries. (Instead of lunch, Joel actually had a haircut by the local barber!) We then got back on the train and returned to the museum. While most of the group drove to Allerton Park and Gardens (named one of the 7 Wonders of Illinois by the Illinois Department of Tourism), our gas pedal broke – STRIKE TWO – so we headed back to the hotel with a few other CTCCers who were not going to the Park. It was a challenge, but we made it. Then, when we returned to the hotel – STRIKE THREE – the car wouldn’t start. Another tech session was held in the parking lot, and the consensus was that it was the gas filter. That problem was eventually resolved. Dinner was at Station 220 in Bloomington, and it was another fine meal; we really DO travel on our stomachs! After dinner, we returned to the hotel for more fellowship in the ‘hospitality room.’

Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel and drove to Conklin’s Barn and Dinner Theatre in Goodfield for brunch and the play “The Cemetery Club.” Kathy and Ken Smizinski met us there, and in the parking lot a new gas pedal was installed – hooray! We headed into the barn (it really WAS a barn) and lined up for brunch; gee, what a surprise, we were eating again! Once plates were emptied, the play began. It was a delightful comedy about three Jewish widows in New York who go to the cemetery together to visit their husband’s graves. However, it became a challenge to watch this because the storm that had been predicted came, with hail, and knocked out the electricity. Thankfully no cars were damaged by the hail, and the performers really proved the truth of the saying ‘the show must go on’ as they bravely struggled with only hand lanterns to provide light.

At the conclusion of the play, we went out to dry off the cars, and everyone headed off in various directions to home. On our way back to Chicago – STRIKE FOUR – the fuel pump went, and ANOTHER tech session took place, this time at the side of the road. It’s a good thing the club has an emergency kit because we would have been lost without it, but we finally made it back home.

A big THANK YOU to Tom and Judy for all of their hard work!

Participants in the spring tour included 12 little ‘Birds, a ’95 ‘Bird, two ‘0’ ‘Birds, and assorted other vehicles which carried Rudy and Janet Budach, Pete and Lisa Ekstrom, Maryann Graziano and Paul Ureche, Joel Greenberg and Annie Luginbill, John and Francine Howard (Maryann’s sister and brother-in-law), Larry Johnson and Sue L’hommedieu, Len and Mary Keil, Larry and Karen Kelly, Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko, Pete and Marylu Kramer, Jerry and Doreen Mitchna, Dan Mrozek and Judy Butler, Ron Pavlak, Jerry and Pat Peterson, Doug and Soon Rogers, Lloyd and Joan Schellin, Ken and Kathy Smizinski, Bob Sroka, Len and Irene Vinyard, Bill and Liz Werth, and Jim Wilson.

Submitted by Annie Luginbill