Trip Report: Remember WENN Get-Together/Vacation 2000

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Note: This is our entire vacation report; if you want to simply read the WENN get-together events, please click on Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday only. Thanks! Linda

• And So It Begins...                        
• Thursday
• Friday
• Friday Evening
• Saturday
• Sunday
• Monday
• Tuesday

"Today there'll be a never-ending highway,
And yesterday a half-forgotten smile
But I can hear tomorrow singing from around the bend...
"...nothin' I know beats this feeling of not knowing
where you're going or what you're going to find..."

                                                           .....The Partridge Family, "On the Road"

THE NIGHT BEFORE vacation is usually the worst of all. It's a welter of laundry, packing, collecting funds from the bank, and worst of all, remembering all those little things you wanted to take with you and trying not to forget them all.

And trying to sleep is almost impossible with the excitement—and frantic packing—you expect in the morning...

Thursday, May 25, 2000

...but then it's finally time: early morning, the air above the grass still foggy with dew, as you yawn, awaken and suddenly realize you're "burning daylight."

Back in April, during one of the bimonthly Cobb County Civic Center computer shows, a vendor had shown up with a rather eclectic selection of books, not all computer oriented. One was Dave Hunters's Along I-75, which, to you familiar with AAA services, looks rather like an Auto Club "Triptik" with its page-per-so-many-miles-of-road map crossed with the accompanying Tourbook that details attractions and points of interest. Anticipating our upcoming trip, I snatched it up, and it became our bible for the journey.

In any case, packing the car last night was a great thing. This morning all we had to do was put the "perishables" in, like the little cooler, the videos, the laptop, and the camera, plus James' CPAP machine, then load the animals and drive off. I was at least 15 minutes behind my usual commute time, but amazingly traffic wasn't too bad, even if we did get on I-285 East, a perpetual trouble spot during rush hour.

Still, we didn't have to worry about getting to the vet before they opened, either. We arrived about 7:35. We were surprised by how many animals were there early also to board for the weekend. We figured the busy day would be tomorrow, but there was already a woman there with a cat, a couple with two Bichon Frises, and a man with a Dalmatian and a cat so big that we thought it was a tom. The man said the cat had "raised" the dog and they played together sometimes like cats.

Willow of course did not want to go away and was carried off pitifully wagging her tail. Bandit started talking the moment I uncovered him and finally gave me a budgie kiss goodbye before he too was taken away.

We figured there was no way we wanted to go plowing through that mess that was I-285 West at this hour—it was already backed up to Georgia 400, we'd noticed from the eastbound lane, so we went next door to McDonald's for breakfast. When we finally did leave, at 8:30, the traffic had eased, so technically we started from Cobb County at 9 a.m.

I drove until we got to the Tennessee Welcome Center, then James took over. While he was in the bathroom he discovered that on his glasses the metal piece across the bridge of his nose that connected the two lenses had broken at one end. Luckily the upper crosspiece was still intact; still it is worrisome.

Since we were near the Hamilton Mall and stuck in a terrible welter of construction traffic around Chattanooga, we stopped at the local Lenscrafters, but they didn't have anyone who solders there. Nor at their store across town. So we drove on. Maybe Biz can find us someone in Columbus, or we may stumble across someone in Dayton.

[NB The glasses lasted through the trip, but when we finally got them to a repair shop the following Wednesday, the repair couldn't be done. The glasses are tungsten steel and can't be soldered under a normal environment.]

The traffic wasn't much better after we emerged from the mall, but we got out of it eventually, and the rest of the ride was marvelous. As we moved north (chiefly north of Knoxville), the heat disappeared and it was nice and cool driving, although it was warm in the sun.

Sometime after James began driving, I put one of the radio tapes on. We listened to The Saint with Vincent Price (rather risque for radio at the time!), an episode of Have Gun Will Travel with John Dehner as Paladin, a short episode of Vic and Sade (I guess it's an acquired taste; I wasn't really fond of it), and a Christmas episode of Lum and Abner where they rediscovered the spirit of Christmas after helping a family who was stranded in a barn (coincidentally, the father was named "Joe" and his wife was having a baby <g>).

Photo Stop The mountains of Tennessee

After leaving Chattanooga the land was flatter for a bit—James thought it looked like south Georgia—but then as we crossed the Tennessee River and then approached Knoxville (a city we thankfully skirted), we began to climb in altitude until we were at the highest point on I-75, according to our guidebook, 2,180 feet (this is, according to the guidebook, Pine Mountain, with Elk Valley to the west). The road made great cuts into the layered rock buried under the ridgeline and one could see how the layers were canted because of folding.

We also saw great quantities of wildflowers, including pink and white clover, red poppies, and lavender thistles as big as the artificial one I bought at the Highland Games one year.

We didn't stop for lunch until after one because we were waiting for a rest area. The rest area came right after the last town in Tennessee, Jellico, where we stopped for gas. Gad, $1.58 a gallon! It was next door to a Stuckey's—I didn't know there were any left—and I got a quarter of a pound of fudge for dessert.

Photo Stop Luncheon guest

Three miles up the road was the rest area, also the Kentucky Welcome Center, and while the others had covered picnic areas, this one did not. But we found a table and were sitting eating the Blimpie sandwiches we bought last night and the drinks we packed, when I saw little flutterings in the trees. Sparrows! Of course I immediately started tossing them bits of bread and then so did James. Oh, how they loved the treat! The tiny brown sparrows seem braver than the black-capped ones. One of the sparrows even had a baby that was chasing after it begging to be fed. Anyway, they were a great amusement. I would have fed them all of my bread if I could.

The fudge was rich and delicious and a perfect dessert to carry us for the rest of the afternoon.

Once over Pine Mountain and going through Kentucky, the landscape grew flatter; James commented that this also looked like south Georgia. But it was a great deal cooler than South Georgia would ever be at this time of year and we drove through a spotty rainstorm at one point. Once past Lexington the book indicated we were passing horse farms, but ironically we only saw two horses and they didn't look like Thoroughbreds! The rest of the animals in their pastures were cows!

(Makes a certain deal of sense. If you had horses worth $$$$ you wouldn't keep them in fields near the freeway!)

All was well until we approached Cincinnati. We had stopped at a rest area and decided that because the distance was so short James could drive the rest of the way to Dayton. They had one of those traffic warning signs as in Atlanta, but it was blank, and a good deal of traffic was heading east around the ring road, and since it was 5:30, we thought rush hour might be over.

Photo Stop "...we're sailin' down the river, sailin' down the O-hi-o..."

Sorry, no luck. Traffic abruptly slowed to the proverbial crawl just south of Cincinnati and we moved very slowly through the downtown freeway system. I did take a photo of downtown (where's WKRP? <g>), and also of a big cabin cruiser pumping its way upstream on the Ohio River.

What was aggravating was that even after we passed downtown and were ostensibly back on the freeway toward Dayton (three lanes) the traffic would speed up and then abruptly slow down to a stop. There were no accidents and it seemed no reason for it at all.

So we had a good deal of time to look at North Dayton, which looks like East Boston or the northern Boston suburbs of Malden and Everett, the same narrow houses which look about the same vintage.

Finally, as suddenly as the jam had begun, the road "opened up" again and we flew the rest of the way to Dayton, passing the Cooper Tire factory and, oh, also a Jim Beam distillery! We'd wondered why the air had such a funny sweet smell!

Our motel was at Exit 60 and quite visible from the road, surrounded by restaurants and other motels. Our room is small, with only one bed, and very plain, but since we are only going to sleep here, it doesn't matter much. The television was a disappointment, though, as it only has network channels, HBO, and ESPN. Ugh.

Once with all our things upstairs, we went out to eat and ended up at Ryan's. James said it was the scruffiest Ryan's he'd ever seen, but they had delicious pork riblets and I hardly noticed. In fact, I ate everything that could have made me sick—barbecue and salad with Italian dressing. Now I remember that I forgot the Pepto Bismol! (wry <g>)

[NB Foreshadowing here without knowing it...]

When we finished, we surveyed the Sam's Club nearby to see if they had a gas station (none, more's the pity, as gas is $1.58 here, too), and showered and relaxed. We ended up watching Whose Line is It Anyway?, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and something on PBS about Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.

Friday, May 26, 2000

Photo Stop South entrance of the U.S. Air Force Museum

When the get-together was first being planned last year and we knew it was going to be in Columbus, James' interest was piqued immediately. After all, it would have been cruel to drive all the way up to Ohio and not allow him that pilgrimage to that holiest of holies, the largest aviation display in the country, the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright Brothers. Thus our stopover in Dayton the previous night.

We ended up getting up at seven, doing the usual ablutions, and were out of the room by eight. We had breakfast at a Bob Evans, which was surprisingly good; my French toast was very light and James had some type of pot roast omelet which he said was delicious. (I hadn't wanted to stop at the place because the last time I was in one, south of Atlanta, the food was terrible, greasy and nasty. I suppose it was just a bad cook that time.)

Photo Stop Statue of Icarus in the entry hall

Our motel was one exit up from the route to the air museum, so we got on the freeway south and then down the access road—a little industrial, then residential highway (it looked like one of those typical little Midwestern villages that you see in books talking about wholesome neighborhoods)—to the exit for the museum. It is a modern-looking building set on a greensward with hangar type buildings in the back and a flight line to its "left" as you face it. Set back from the buildings proper is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base itself.

Since it was still early—about 9:10; they had just opened—and still delightfully cool, we walked the flightline of airplanes first.

Photo Stop Reproduction of World War II control tower, Eighth Air Force, England

Well, actually, first what we saw was a reproduction of a ground control station as it would have been built on an American airbase in England (reminiscent of the one in James' favorite movie The Battle of Britain). The docent, Smiley, was a jolly elderly man who was delighted to find out that James knew so much about what was going on in the building. They had two R&R rooms, a weather station, and a control room with old weather maps and equipment. A big map display showed what type of airplanes were at each base, and then a bigger map showed the whole of England. (There was an air base near Liverpool, but I don't know if it was at Northwich, where Rupert Holmes' mom was from.) Bricked into the wall of this room were bricks from each of the English bases with its name on a plaque on the brick.

Photo Stop Might Victor have flown to Berlin in this plane?

Then we walked down the flightline. I don't remember all of the airplanes, but most of them were post-1960. There was also a train car that carried nuclear weapons and some type of missile transport vehicle. The plane I found most interesting was an older one, a small Junker transport plane circa 1930. By World War II it was rather outdated, but the Germans used it for light duty during the war and Hitler had one as a personal plane. I asked very seriously if the Germans might not have flown Victor Comstock to Berlin in one, and James said he didn't see why not.

Photo Stop You might think James was making a getaway...

There were also a missile and some aircraft outside, including an attractive MiG, unlike that ugly one in Warner Robins.

Photo Stop James and a model of the original Wright flyer

I don't think I can detail everything we saw inside, except to say that you would really need two days to give proper attention to every artifact and read every plaque and board, as there are hundreds of pieces of interest, from the planes themselves to aircraft parts to people's clothing and uniforms, papers and personal effects and artwork and carvings, photographs and diagrams and maps, weapons and medals. It starts out, of course, with the history of flight from Icarus and Leonardo DaVinci, into the Montgolfiers and other pioneer balloonists and Civil War surveying, then segues into zeppelins, blimps, and gliders and finally into the Wright Brothers. I was quite amused to find the RFQ for the heavier-than-air craft that the Wright Brothers later built for the Army. Even on vacation I find contracts!

Photo Stop One-seater Bleriot

And of course they had a Bleriot, but a one-seater, not the two-seater as on Flambards.

Gradually the exhibit moved from early aviation into World War I. I was amused to see WWI-era photos of Fiorello LaGuardia, and of course there were exhibits about Eddie Rickenbacker and the Red Baron. I was very surprised to find out that one of the earliest bomber designers was an Italian man named Caproni. They had several panels about this gentleman and about his aircraft designs.

Photo Stop "Stumpy John" and his message capsules (lower left)

There was even an exhibit of a heroic messenger pigeon called "Stumpy John Silver" who got the name because he lost a leg delivering a message. He was retired thereafter at Schofield Barracks [at Pearl Harbor] and they still call his name at roll call once a year.

Next they went into the research aspect of aviation between the wars, including exhibits of speed and height records—the failures as well as the triumphs. One man nearly died because he was setting a height record and he took off his goggles to change his oxygen tank and his eyeballs froze due to the altitude (it was 62 degrees below zero)! He managed to get back, but he was nearly blind when he returned.

Photo Stop Unprepared on December 7; notice the flyer in his pajamas

Then of course came the World War II exhibit. This was huge, with dozens of exhibits as well as the airplanes, including one on prisoners of war and how they coped, their crafts, escape methods, diet; a model of the Burma Road with accompanying photos; Hap Arnold's uniforms and medals; entertainers in the war including Jimmy Stewart's uniform and Clark Gable's official photo; a diorama of the first pilot out from Hickam Field on December 7; another of Hitler's headquarters after it was liberated; and a whole exhibit on Bob Hope's USO troupe. The history of the European
Photo Stop P.O.W. exhibit
theatre runs down one wall exclusively, the Pacific theatre on the opposite wall. There is also a Holocaust exhibit, most of it tributes from schoolchildren, but photos of Auschwitz when the Germans tried to obliterate it, and shots of the camp and also of the ghettoes.

(It bothered me that the school groups going through this exhibit were so loud and hilarious. I know they're just kids, but it seems disrespectful.)

We managed to make it "through" World War II and were going on to the fifties when it was time for the one o'clock IMAX movie we had bought tickets for. We had been walking through the exhibits for three hours and had just gotten to jets!

Managed to survive the movie line, full of three large school groups, and were grateful to sit down. The movie we'd chosen was The Magic of Flight, narrated by Tom Selleck. It's beautifully done, correlating the story of birds and flight to the training of the Blue Angels. I wonder if Bandit knows he is magic. <g>

We emerged from the movie starving, so we stopped at the snack bar just briefly for a burger (James) and some Hostess cupcakes (me). We weren't even certain if we were going to be able to see everything, and certainly not the Air Force One "collection," so instead of going back to the 1950s, we went to the Modern Aircraft gallery.

Photo Stop This was all of the B52 that I could get into the camera lens...

This was mostly airplanes, so it did not take us long to tour them. When I saw the B52, I just gaped. It is huge. I joked with James that it was bigger than the apartment complex we used to live in. It's hard to believe anything so large can fly.

They seemed to have several exhibits of atomic bombs, and also James' favorite plane, the Starfighter, along with both airplanes that Sky King flew on the television series (at least the military versions of those planes).

Photo Stop World War I ambulance

Despite the name of the gallery, it wasn't solely aircraft, however. There was a World War I ambulance, and homefront posters encouraging purchasing of war bonds and saving of resources from both wars. There was even a radio script that was performed as a benefit and autographed by the performers. In addition, there was an exhibit case full of aviation headgear over the years.

When we finished there, we were able to go back to the 1950s gallery and at least look at the airplanes and a couple of the exhibits, if not in detail. I didn't really care to look at any of the Vietnam exhibits. I lived through all of that, and didn't care to relive it.

Photo Stop Apollo 15 space capsule

The final part of the gallery is spaceflight, with an exhibit of different types of food, some satellites, and flight-ready but never flown Mercury and Gemini capsules—and the actual Apollo 15 capsule!

Photo Stop The Air Force quilt and the Medal of Honor winners

We finished by looking at the tribute to enlisted men, which was on the edge of a central gallery we had perused earlier. One side of the gallery had an Air Force quilt made with pieces from different air bases—we found both Warner Robins and Dobbins—and photos and drawings of Medal of Honor winners (including Chuck Yeager and John Glenn). The other side of the gallery had a mosaic of the famous photo of Wilbur Wright
Photo Stop Wright flyer photo mosaic
staring out after the Wright flyer as it leaves the ground. The tiles were made of 20 separate designs that are actually little scenes, like Wilbur standing or the plane flying, going from a plain white tile through progressively darker ones to a dark brown one. The whole looked like a huge sepia photograph.

We finally emerged through the gift shop (it's a state law g ) and I knew I was in trouble when I saw all the books. Ironically James had more trouble finding something than I did. I found Yorkie Doodle Dandy, about a Yorkshire Terrier who lived through the war (his owner found him on New Guinea in a ditch); War Dogs; Portraits on the Piano, a narrative about a family during World War II; and the museum book. I also got a stuffed falcon chick and two refrigerator magnets.

On the way out I spied a survey form and was filling it in when one of the information kiosk volunteers noticed us talking over it. He thanked me for filling out the survey, then noticed James' T-shirt; he was wearing the one from Mystic Seaport.

The gentleman asked, "Are you from the area? Because you don't sound as if you are."

James said, "No, I'm from Georgia. My wife is from the area."

I piped up, "I'm from Rhode Island."

The man asked, with an odd look, "Where in Rhode Island?"

"Cranston," I said.

"Barrington," he said.

James rolled his eyes. "What is it with you people?" and I just laughed thinking of Daddy being able to find someone from Rhode Island no matter where we went.

When we finished with the survey, James said he thought we still might have a quick chance to see the various Air Force Ones that were in another hanger on the base proper. The docent giving out passes said it was only 70 miles to Columbus and it was only four o'clock, so we ran for it.

Photo Stop The hangar for the various Air Force One aircraft

The four different planes once designated as Air Force One were interesting to see, but to keep people from fooling with the seats and memorabilia inside, everything has been glassed in so the passageways were barely 18 inches wide. It made them very uncomfortable to walk through and you could not really see how they actually looked when the presidents used them. I found it disappointing.

By then it was time for us to leave, so we drove off the base and up Route 4, which took us northeast to I-70. The last time I was on I-70 through Ohio was 22 years ago and I was amused to see it hadn't changed much: newer signs, some more factories, some housing developments, but mostly still beautiful farmland.

When we reached Columbus, still before six p.m., we took I-270, the ring road as Biz instructed, but not five miles up it began to back up and then choked to a stop. I pulled out the map book and noticed with surprise that we were approaching Dublin-Granville Road, the opposite end of the road that our hotel was located on, so I suggested to James that we take it.

Unfortunately it was a terrible idea. The road at four lanes moved at a snail's pace between innumerable lights and then, worse, went down to two lanes, traffic stopping inexplicably. It took us 50 minutes to go probably ten miles, and I took it that this was unexpected traffic for the road, given how what looked like local residents throwing up their hands in exasperation every time the traffic ground to a halt.

But we did finally find the Trueman Club Hotel, checked in, and trundled our stuff upstairs via cart, wondering if everyone had already left for supper and how we would hitch up with them if we had. But while we were trying to unlock the door, we heard voices from a room cattycorner across the hall—then the door to that room opened and who should appear but Biz (Michele Savage), Dana Sherman, Rita Widmer, Alyce (Rita's mom), Joe Mackey, and Dani Calderwood! They were just heading out for supper and nicely waited while we tidied up a bit.

We had supper at a place behind the hotel called Skyline that mostly had chili, but I had a salad and a baked potato. We had a delightful time getting acquainted and soon it was just like old home week. As a plus, Biz's friend Lisa Fournier had come with her baby daughter Honor (yes, she's named after Honor Harrington in David Weber's books! I must tell our friend Sue Phillips, who used to be married to David's brother), eight months old and cute as a button.

Later we retired to the "con suite"—the room across the hall from which everyone had appeared—to talk. Biz passed around some of the great memorabilia she has found, either in antique shops or in her parents' attic, including a booklet about USO canteens in Pittsburgh! I got online but there was no one on chat, not Mike Waters, or Britt Graves, or any of the rest of the usual gang. Gee, I know a bunch of us are here, and Jess is at the prom, but where is everyone else? They don't have to stop chat on our account. LOL.

One thing is worrisome: Rodney Walker hadn't arrived even by the time we returned from supper. We left him a message when we went to eat, then another when we came back saying we were in Room 509, but by the time we all retired at 11:30, he still wasn't here…

Since I'd ended up staying up writing in my journal till 1:30, before I went to bed I called the desk and it turned out Rodney was just arriving! At least he is safe. Whew.

Saturday, May 27, 2000

As James felt about the Air Force Museum, I felt about the initial visit of the morning. Since 1969 and the television series My World and Welcome to It (yet another great series cancelled too soon by nincompoops "suits"), I had been a fan of humorist James Thurber. I simply couldn't visit Columbus, Ohio, and not go to the restored home where so many of the funniest sequences in My Life and Hard Times took place. (And of course, Thurber had a Remember WENN connection, as Betty had almost accepted a job at The New Yorker, where Thurber worked for years.) So this morning, that was to be our first destination.

One of the perks at the Trueman was a continental breakfast (the other was a pool and jacuzzi, which ironically none of us ever used, but Lisa and Honor, who drove home each night, did!). When we went downstairs about 9:45, sure enough, there was quite a nice spread laid out in the bar area (sometimes "continental breakfasts" are simply coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnuts): fruits, a variety of cereals, bagels, bread for toast, coffee, juices, milk, muffins, Danish. We ate while watching the news—mostly a CNN fashion show—and about 10:15 Biz and Dana arrived downstairs, followed soon after by Dani, who had gone to the airport to pick up Diane Valancy, our surprise guest.

By eleven we were back upstairs in the con suite, which was our meeting time, and I phoned Rodney, who said he was on his way. We were standing in the doorway talking and I turned around and there he was standing behind me with a grin on his face, having come upstairs via the stairs from his room on the fourth floor.

(BTW, he said he got online last night after getting in and there was Mike all alone in the chat room. Turned out he'd been without electricity for seven hours due to a squirrel gnawing through his electrical lines.)

After quick division into car parties, Rodney, James and I rode with Lisa and Honor out to the Thurber House, which is off Broad Street, the main Columbus "drag" from the way it looks. (I swear this is the street our hotel was on in 1980, for the Space: 1999 convention, but since we only went about a couple of blocks from it at any one time, I wasn't sure.) Lisa had sketchy instruction and didn't really know where we were going, so we stopped in the parking lot of a Wendy's to look at a map of downtown. It turns out we should have turned right exactly at the place where I'd commented about an old building with a mansard roof, not knowing it was Jefferson Avenue.

Photo Stop The Thurber House

The Thurber House is about halfway down the street, with a traffic island separating it from the opposite side of the street, a nice little two-story brick house with white trim and ivy growing up one side of it and along the front under the windows. It was a little early when we got there, but by the time everyone had arrived, including Rita and Alyce, who'd been visiting relatives in the morning, but sans Joe, who was visiting other online friends, the doors were opened.

Photo Stop The entry hall

I hadn't known what to expect, even though the website said the house was "unstructured," and really enjoyed the visit because no one follows you around to make sure you don't touch anything and nothing is roped off. You receive a brochure and then you are allowed to walk around and look in all the rooms and examine the memorabilia. The house is furnished in 1913 style, as it would have been when the Thurbers moved in, complete to the wallpaper. (In fact, bits of it remind me a lot of my grandfather's house; a lot of the furniture was the same vintage.) As you walk in, there is a front stair to your left and an entry straight ahead leading to the dining room and a small sitting room and the kitchen, and the parlor is to your right. Also off the dining room is the back stair, which leads upstairs to the bedrooms and a bath. The attic (where the bed fell in the classic Thurber story) is now the apartment for the writer-in-residence and of course closed to visitors.

Photo Stop "Jamie's" room

The dining room is also the bookstore, the kitchen the office, brother Robert's bedroom upstairs (with sports illustrations on the wall) another office. "Jamie's" and brother William's rooms are simply bedrooms, and there is also a back room that was locked and a front alcove that's been made into the sewing room. The hallway is filled with photos of Thurber from childhood photos to pictures with both his wives and his daughter.

Photo Stop Shelves full of Thurber's books and the portrait of his mother

The very front room is filled with memorabilia such as a photo of Thurber receiving the Tony Award for The Male Animal and the Tony Award itself, the beautiful portrait of Mary Thurber [James' mother] that was painted of her just before she passed away, a collection of all his books, family photos, and clippings and cartoons from the turn of the last century (with the Columbus Dispatch twitting those who thought the 20th century was beginning in 1900—deja vu!).

Photo Stop Rodney "captures" the Victrola

As I mentioned, the very nicest thing was that everything was just open and informal. We wandered about the bookstore pointing out favorite cartoons ("Touchč" was there, but "the seal in the bedroom" and "the lady on the bookcase" were upstairs next to the Tony Award), and at one point we were just sitting in the living room as if we were guests of the family, talking. There was an old Victrola in the corner and Rodney had opened the top to get a photo, so we ended up looking at the records in the cabinet underneath. Dana told me later she opened one of the glass cabinets and looked at the books.

[NB Thurber's father's, Charles, family was original from the Providence area. He used to comment that he was from the "poor side of the family." The rich side of the family were partners in a jewelry store that was Providence's equivalent of Tiffany's, Tilden and Thurber. There's also a Thurbers Avenue—and the worst curve on I-95 going through the city is the Thurbers Avenue curve...]

Photo Stop Dogs, rather than unicorns, in the garden

It was now after noon and we were getting a bit peckish so after taking some photos of the stone Thurber dogs in the garden next door, we separated for lunch, planning to meet at Mott's Military Museum later.

I'm not certain where everyone else had lunch, but since we knew where it was, Lisa simply turned around and we returned to the Wendy's we had stopped at to consult the map. This, to my amusement, turned out to be the original Wendy's—I didn't know this is where the franchise started.

After lunching—and watching Honor try to grab things from both James' and Lisa's plates—we followed the directions we had gotten to Mott's, traveling via main streets (Broad and then Hamilton) to the museum. Let's say we saw a lot of Columbus going down Broad Street (including South Champion Avenue, where the Thurbers lived before moving to the house on Jefferson Street) before we turned onto Harrison Avenue and headed south.

Photo Stop "It was an Honor to sit with you, my dear..."

We were supposed to make a left turn as we got to a big curve heading toward a town called Grove Point (Mott's is actually in Grove Point, not Columbus), but unfortunately we'd misunderstood that part of the instructions and there is no sign for the museum. Honor is a remarkably phlegmatic baby, a true fannish child who smiles at everyone, but even she couldn't stand the long ride and being hungry and wet. No cajoling from Rodney and I could help once she began to whimper and then cry (and we even tried singing her "Escape" and "Answering Machine" to no avail).

Of course our singing could have compounded the problem… <g>

As it became obvious that we were not going to find a museum on our route and as poor Honor began to sob real tears, we finally turned around and stopped for instructions at a BP station. We indeed should have made a left turn further up. Once we did that, we were at the museum posthaste.

Photo Stop Mott's Military Museum; unfortunately photos were not allowed inside

This is a very small museum, but just packed with memorabilia from all wars, starting from the Revolutionary War all the way to Desert Storm, athough the majority of the pieces are from the Civil War and World War II. They include bullets, weapons, diaries, buttons, uniforms, photos, brochures, flags, mess kits, insignia, paper and coin money, posters, doctors' kits, medals, and POW carvings. Some exhibits were very sad, like the uniform from the only nurse killed by enemy fire in Vietnam (her mother donated the uniform), the others were interesting: a tablecloth from Hitler's home, memorabilia from a gentleman named Fox who was a spy (I wanted to get his book, but it was $30), the bag of a woman who was held captive on Corregidor and managed to hide her jewelry from the Japanese.

What was best was that the curator of the museum kept running up to us to tell us stories about the various objects in the cases! She was so enthusiastic it made our visit all the nicer.

One of the most offbeat collections here was a selection of bricks from various historical places, such as Williamsburg and Appomattox. There was also a coffin case used to transport a young man's body home from World War II. It was found in his father's barn many years later and donated to the museum. Most of these coffin boxes were destroyed after transport, but the father would not allow this. Apparently he used to go out to the barn and sit next to the box in an effort to be closer to his boy.

On the far wall as you entered, there was a large mural of a Civil War battle. The curator told us that this mural was painted as a birthday present for her husband, who is a Civil War buff, and was presented to him at a big party. He was looking at the details in delight without noticing for almost five minutes that an officer in Union dress in front, facing outward, had his face!

Photo Stop "Tankety, tankety, tankety, tank..."

At the rear of the museum they have several military vehicles/apparatus: two tanks, some antiaircraft guns, a transport ship. We walked back there to see them, also to see the replica of Eddie Rickenbacker's childhood home being constructed at the very rear of the property. Right now, only the frame, walls, and windows are in; they don't
Photo Stop Rickenbacker house under construction
even have the insulation in the walls, but they are planning to have it finished by the fall and then use it for various events, including having it decorated in the style of the early part of the century for a Christmas fetč.

Joe finally caught up with us as we were doing last rounds at the museum (he got lost as well) and we made our way back to the hotel. Lisa found a shorter way back, which was good because Honor was pooped.

We had enough time for me to check e-mail and try to start my journal before it was time to dress for dinner.

Photo Stop "That's what radio does to strangers—it makes family of us all."

Biz had said to dress as we would at work, so both James and I wore our work pants, appropriately pressed, with a dress shirt and blouse, respectively. Everyone else looked neat and tidy: and then Joe walked in the door and Diane came out of the bathroom. Joe was in a white suit with matching hat, a tie, and dress shirt; Diane wore an absolutely gorgeous 1940s style red dress with her hair and makeup done to match—and she even had long white gloves. Wow.

Before we left for dinner we took photos outside the hotel in front of the flowers—Diane and Joe were definite ornaments to the shots!

Photo Stop 94th Aerosquadron entrance

Our dinner venue tonight was 94th Aerosquadron, which is a theme restaurant similar to the 57th Fighter Group restaurant in Atlanta, only this is a World War I theme. There is less memorabilia, which is to be expected—but oddly enough the music in the restaurant is from World War II—and Winston Churchill is still speaking in the restroom! <g> (Biz says she now refers to going to the ladies' room as "visiting Churchill.")

We had a great time talking as we waited for dinner. I love this group—where else would you have a conversation where people would talk about the causes of World War I and mention the Monroe Doctrine?

The meal was delicious and most of us had dessert; I had a chocolate cake that was truly "death by chocolate." By then it was dark and we had to light another of the oil lamps on the table because the "ambiance" was making it so dark that we couldn't see the food—not to mention each other!

After returning to the hotel, it was time for the fanfiction awards. We'd hoped to broadcast "live" via chat from the bar/common room downstairs where we'd had breakfast, but there were no phone jacks, only pay phones in small kiosks. However, at the back of the area, we did find a curved inset pair of sofas with some other chairs and tables scattered about, and here we settled to have the "Ruperts." To my complete and utter surprise, I received four! I was hoping for at least one. Wow.

First Annual Rupert Award Winners

Best Series
Michele Savage, Baby Singer

Best Original Character
Michele Savage, Bethie Singer

Best Researched
Michele Savage, Baby Singer

Best Alternate WENN
Michele Savage, "Somewhere, My Love"

Best Comedy
Cagey, "Evil Eye of the Beholder"

Best Post WENN
Jennie Feith, "Lost Joy"

Best Spoof
Susan Minnick, "Sherwood, Scott Sherwood"

Best Romance
Kris Stanger, "Betty's Journey of Discovery"

Best Missing Scene
Linda Young, "Homecoming" and "A Breath of Air"

Best Pre-WENN
Linda Young, "One Good Turn..."

Best Researched
Linda Young, "Beginnings"

Best Drama
Linda Young, "A Breath of Air"

Best Tearjerker
Diane Valency, "Maple's V.E. Day"

Most Improved Author
Rita Widmer

Name the Awards Winners
Keri Mohrer
Emma Redmer

(Dani also gave me two St. Nicholas magazines she had Biz had found at a nearby antique shop. Majorly cool.)

Photo Stop Biz, Diane, Dana, and Rita watching videos

Once finished with the awards, we went upstairs to chill out and chat, nosh on snacks, and watch videos. (I also booted up my laptop and got online, checking my e-mail, then allowing Dana to check hers, and then Rita looked up her grades online—what a neat idea. Also got on chat for a little while—Daniel Taylor and Jess were there and we all crowded about asking Jess how the prom was; she DCC'd some photos—cool, she had a gorgeous dark dress and her hair done up in a 1940s hairstyle.)

Videowise, first we saw the "shorts" I had brought with me, which included the five fourth season promos and various Rupert segments, including Where are They Now? from VH1, his receiving the Tony Award for Drood, and his segment from The Best of Bandstand. Then Biz played two music videos, one by Cindy Neidt about Hilary, and a second one she had done set to a Glenn Miller medley. They were excellent!

(There was a lovely "moment" while the segment from The CBS Saturday Morning News played: Amanda and Mary were singing "Remember When" and everyone began softly singing along. I had tears in my eyes by the time they finished.)

Then we watched "Magic" and "In the WENN Small Hours" before most people retired. James went off to read, but I was sitting with Biz, Dana, and Rita talking about fanfiction till a very wee hour.

Sunday, May 28, 2000

We were up at 9:30 and were ready to go down for breakfast by ten. We bumped into Dana, Biz, Rita and Alyce coming out of their room and all went down for breakfast together posthaste as we thought they would be shutting down the breakfast bar soon. Thankfully there was still food even if they weren't putting more out any longer. We had a nice time, even if Rodney never did appear (but I think he was catching up on sleep after his late ride).

After talking about television and talk shows for over an hour, we went upstairs to wait on Rodney and Lisa with Honor (Joe had to be at work tomorrow, so he had already left earlier.) Rodney showed up and dubbed off my miscellaneous tape; by the time Lisa showed up it was not only pouring down rain outside, but thundering and lightning, and we almost postponed leaving.

(Biz tells us it always rains on Memorial Day weekend due to the local Jack Nicklaus Memorial Golf Tournament. The golf course is built on an old Indian burial ground and this is their revenge...)

Photo Stop Entrance to exhibit

Alyce and Rita, unfortunately, did have to leave, so we said our goodbyes, and soon we were off to the Ohio Historical Society's museum and the exhibit "Kilroy was Here."

Photo Stop Biz and Dana at "Mail Call"

It was a great exhibit: there were podiums year by year chronicling the favorite songs, books, radio series (later TV), sports facts, movies, along with physical memorabilia like uniforms and radios. There was one neat exhibit called "Mail Call" in
Photo Stop 1940s kitchen
which you could read reproductions of letters home from people in the war and there was a diorama of GIs in the field waiting for mail. Another diorama was of a forties kitchen; the enameled stove looked a lot like my godmother's old one.

One interesting exhibit was a strange contraption that was a dishwasher, clothes washer, and sink all in one, made by a company called Lustron. If that wasn't intriguing enough, they had already gotten into the housing market, building homes out of the same material as the appliance was made from: enamel over steel framing! Couldn't make out if any of these houses were still in existence.

There was a neat moment in a living room "set" the museum had prepared so you could feel as if you were in a real wartime parlor. James sat down in the armchair to read a reproduction Life magazine while I was looking at the games and books in the bookcase and examining the globe which resembled the one we had in school—look, there's the Belgian Congo!—and just had commented on that fact to James when a woman walked by him and told him he looked very natural sitting there!

Photo Stop "We're gonna find a paper doll that we can call our own..."

Some of the weekends had themes and this weekend the theme was "What Shall We Wear?" They had people walking around in period costumes and also a little hands-on section in which you could color and cut out paper dolls of 40s fashions. Biz, Diane, Dani, Dana, and Lisa were soon gathered about the table making their own.

They also had some touch-screen quizzes about sports, music, and movies and other displays.

Around the corner from the exhibit were two dealers of memorabilia. They had mostly costume jewelry and I asked one of them if they had any Trifari pieces. Actually she did, small and mini pearls set in a swirl of gold. I told her that both my dad and mom had worked at Trifari and that if the piece was from the late forties he might have polished it and she might have set the stones. [NB Mom told me later she only did rhinestones, never pearls.]

After finishing looking through the exhibits, James and I went upstairs to the gift shop, which was probably a bad idea. James saw My Folks and World War II, a book of memories from World War II participants, which I snatched up, and I found one called To Hasten the Homecoming—hardback…sigh—about how the war was promoted in the media. Also got an Ohio magnet for my mom and a "Kilroy Was Here" magnet, and a book of cookie recipes.

Photo Stop Clerestory windows—look at the detailing

Not surprisingly, we bumped into Rodney up there, and then Dani showed up, saying everyone wanted to take a photo near the trolley downstairs. James and I had seen it earlier: it was a horsecar that had later been electrified. The craftsmanship was gorgeous; the entire top of the body was lined with small clerestory windows for circulating air in those days before A/C, each individually etched, and the paint job had been painstakingly reproduced from the original! It also had a faceted glass bubble at the top to let in light.

Photo Stop "Take us to North Gedney and Isabella, please..."

After taking pictures in front of the trolley, some folks went upstairs to visit the gift shop, but James and I walked through the historical section of the museum (they also had a palentological exhibit that we didn't see), a timeline of Ohio history with pieces like Ohio-made glass, heating stoves, an old steamboat whistle,
Photo Stop A Winton
various models of cars including a Winton, memorabilia from the Depression, both World Wars, the Civil Rights movement, also children's toys and household items, and even models of a tire manufacturing plant.

Photo Stop Sentimental journies: Rodney, Diane, Dani, Biz, and Dana

Since we'd only had breakfast and Rodney hadn't even that, we were ravenously hungry by three o'clock. Lisa was looking for a place to change Honor, so we all waited by settling down on the carpeted steps in the center of the museum to listen to the forties music being played on the piano nearby—people had been taking turns at the keyboard since we had arrived. Now the pianist began to play "Sentimental Journey" and softly, one by one, we all began to sing along. (We wondered what would have happened if we all began singing "Remember When" as we had done last night. <g>)

For an early dinner (or was it a late lunch?) we went to a Chinese buffet, which was fine—except they put out the crab legs just as we were leaving. Darnit.

Photo Stop The photographer photographed; the guys enjoyed the videos, too!

It was raining once again as we left, so we "dashed between the raindrops" and returned to the hotel for yet another "film fest" which began with "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece" and then Rodney showed two episodes of Hometown, with John Bedford Lloyd at his manic best (JBL played Peter Kincaid, the college professor, in the series). Biz also had some other music videos that we watched: her salute to Star Trek's 25th anniversary (set to "Calypso") and a Gulf War video set to a song I didn't recognize. Next we watched "A Capital Idea," then I showed Rodney the "bloopers" that had come with the Paramour tape before we settled on the next selection, "The Ghost of WENN."

Now, Diane and Dani had gone off to see Cabaret at the theatre, but we sat, viewed, and noshed on the various goodies until about ten o'clock, when Dana went off for some "real food"; a few minutes later we decided to follow her and stretch our legs. We walked across the street to Wendy's but Dana wasn't there, so we figured she had gotten it "to go" and also got ours that way as well and walked back.

It turned out she'd gone to Bob Evans, but that was okay. We sat down, and to musical accompaniment from WENN-related MP3s and WAVs from Rodney's computer, we had a very late supper!

Since Dani and Diane had finally returned, we were able to watch some of their favorites (Biz promised we'd wait to watch these—or else Diane would have killed her <g>): "I Now Pronounce You Man and Wife Again…" and "Valentino Speaks," followed by "Close Quarters," "Two for the Price of One," and finally "At Cross Purposes."

Somewhere in there James wandered off to bed.

Even after the show was over, we just sat there talking, mostly about fanfiction and what makes it good or bad. Dani was teasing Rodney that he should be writing fanfiction—and how good Mike's stuff was. We were also wondering where some of the former regulars had gone in the past year or two: Lee, Emily, Doug, Mallory, Joanne.

But it was bedtime, and about that time all the good times went bye-bye. I'd posted my diary to the mailing list and thought I'd get up a bit earlier and do the rest tomorrow.

When you're having so good a time, your brain sometimes goes on vacation, too.

As I may have mentioned "up top" a bit, I'd forgotten to pack the Pepto Bismol. This was my first mistake. The second was relaxing enough last night to munch on some popcorn.

People who recommend low-cal foods will tout the joys of popcorn for hours. Unfortunately, although I love the stuff, it does a number on my digestive system that won't quit. Usually having a Pepto with the snack or afterwards alleviates all or most of the problem, but the Pepto was, as they say, missing in action.

Which left me missing of sleep when, after only two hours snuggling with my pillow, I developed severe cramps that kept me in the bathroom almost until it was time to get up (I did manage to curl up again about 8:30, but never fell back to sleep). The first few trips were made in darkness, then I gave up and read the three Babylon 5 magazine short stories Rodney had kindly remembered to bring to Columbus with him—neither James nor I knew they existed. I enjoyed them very much despite the circumstances.

Monday, May 29, 2000

Although I was still borderline sick and moving very slowly this morning, we both were dressed quickly, and I packed the last of our things together and was tottering to the elevator when I met Dani coming upstairs. She said no one was downstairs yet and she had come up to see if they were in the con suite. I told her about my problem and asked if there was a drugstore around where I could get some Pepto Bismol and she volunteered to go for me and meet us at Bob Evans. Bless you, dear.

Biz and Dana were in the con suite waiting for Diane to finish getting dressed, and when everyone was ready we went downstairs to wait for Rodney. Once assembled, we went across to Bob Evans and were seated only a few minutes before Dani arrived. It was liquid Pepto where I usually have the tablets, but at this point I didn't mind at all. I had a slug before breakfast—more French toast and bacon—and another afterward.

In the meantime we had a nice breakfast, if somewhat mournful since the weekend was over.

I was a bit surprised to know there was no "itinerary" today, but after last night, I suppose I was glad. Both Dana and Diane had to be at the airport by five, but that was about it.

Photo Stop "Now it's time to say good-bye to all our com-pan-yyyyy..."

Eventually, after everyone loaded cars, we just sat around and talked, mostly about music, but also how to get Diane access to another computer, until one o'clock. (James suggested maybe we could send her his old Packard Bell with a new modem/sound card; it's creaky but it's a computer.) Then I took a final photo, we said final farewells, and Rodney hit the road and the ladies were off to I know not where. {NB: They went to Biz's house, talked, ate lunch, then were off to the airport.]

(I cannot believe this weekend is over already. It happens every time we take a holiday: I spend weeks counting down the days and then it zips by as if the clock is possessed.)

While James was looking through the phone book the other night, he noticed there was an aviation museum behind the Columbus airport (it was just down the road from where we had had dinner on Saturday). So after we left the Trueman Club we zipped down the freeway to the airport—only to discover the museum was closed on holidays. Oh, well…

Photo Stop These pretty flowers also grew wild between the northbound/ southbound freeway routes

So we started south. I was desperately tired after last night's "marathon" and dozed for about an hour until we got to a rest area about 30 minutes from Cincinnati. We used the facilities and noticed with interest that they had some of the pretty blue, white, and blue-and-white wildflowers that we'd seen growing in the median on the way up.

Cincinnati was not crowded on this holiday and we drove through town without incident, unlike last Thursday, and kept going until we reached Lexington, Kentucky (and this time we did see some horses in the paddocks!). By this time it was 5:30, so we stopped at a Super 8 Motel (there was a coupon in the Kentucky coupon book we got at the rest area). It was next door to a Bob Evans, so we "bookended" the eating portion of our day by walking there for supper, then coming back to watch television and check e-mail.

Found something interesting while we were channel-surfing: The Nashville Network shows The Real McCoys and tonight they were having The Real McCoys Reunion. My gosh, there was Kathleen Nolan! I haven't seen her in years! Fancy her doing the reunion after all the badmouthing I understand she did of the series/television back then! Richard Crenna was doing most of the talking, but Tony Martinez (Pepino) was also on; today he looks like a dignified Spanish grandee with his white hair and goatee.

Tuesday, May 30, 2000

We were up at 7:15 a.m. and packed and ready to go by eight. Breakfast was at Waffle House.

It was lovely this morning for the car and for riding—it was overcast, although it never did rain, which was fine, too. Even "Mr. Always Warm" James asked for his jacket before we began riding!

For the next few hours we went in and out of cloudy areas. Sometimes the clouds were so thick they hung over the tips of the hills, although it never did get low enough to be called fog. The sun didn't break through until Knoxville, which of course is where it began getting hot again. I'm really going to miss all the coolness we had this weekend!

Photo Stop Where Kentucky Fried Chicken started, Sanders Cafe, Corbin, Kentucky

We were down to a quarter of a tank of gas when we reached Corbin, Kentucky. Now, a few weeks ago on Game Show Network, Sunday night's I've Got a Secret featured Colonel Sanders, who at that point had just sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise for two million dollars. (His secret was that he had started the franchise for his first social security check, $105!) Well, Corbin was the home of that original restaurant, and since we were stopping for gas anyway, we drove the two miles east to the Dixie Highway (the original "road to Florida" from Michigan) and saw the restoration of the original Sanders Cafe.

Photo Stop The motel model as it would have been for the descriminating housewife

It was pretty cool. There is, of course, a KFC inside today, but it is free to look at the memorabilia. Originally there was also a Sanders Motel, and the Colonel had a reproduction of a room put next to the ladies' room so a woman going to use the rest room would see that the room was clean and neat and decide to stay there for the night. The sit-down portion is furnished as it would have been in the 1940s, and there is a reproduction of the kitchen, which was glassed in so that patrons could see them cooking and know that the place was clean.

Other memorabilia included original menus, photographs of Sanders when he was young, snapshots of the original buildings and the road, silverware and china, etc.

Photo Stop Rock cuts along I-75

From when you leave Lexington until you get to Knoxville, you are in the mountains, cutting through the peaks of the Cumberland Gap and environs. Even with the low clouds it was gorgeous, and in several places the skies cleared enough for James to get some scenery shots.

Photo Stop Notice the addition to the handicapped symbol at Mayfield Dairy!

By 12:30 we had reached Athens, Tennessee, which is the home of Mayfield Dairy. Since the weekend had gone by so quickly, I figured we deserved some type of treat, so we veered off the road the 4.5 miles to see their ice cream store and dairy. The Along I-75 tour book refers to the Mayfield ice cream as "the best on I-75."

Photo Stop Old milk bottling machine with bottles; note memorabilia in rear

Since we were already going to end up in Atlanta smack in the midst of rush hour, we didn't take the dairy tour, but we did get two cones of ice cream—their $1.50 double scoop was enormous!—and walked around looking at the different press clippings from the first announcement of the Mayfield farm to their involvement with Dean Foods. They also had a 1930s bottler—ah, nostalgia, milk bottles—and also a cooling plant.

Then we had to hustle, but we didn't run into traffic in Chattanooga and were able to zip down I-75 at the usual Atlanta speed. I called the vet when we got on I-285 and it only took us 20 minutes to get out of the office. Bandit kissed me when I called to him, but was cross the rest of the way home (I think the swing kept boinking him every time we rounded a curve). Willow burst into hysterics the moment she saw James and was all over him, then came bouncing up to me, and remained dashing back and forth like a dog on an elastic string until we left.

And so we were home.

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