It was up at the crack of dawn for the 6 a.m. drivers meeting in Columbia, Missouri, before heading down the road again.
Photo: our fearless leader, Gary Stephen from Calgary made sure we knew what we were doing, where we were going and how to get there every single morning of the trip.
We’d had a great stop in Columbia connecting with the Missouri-Kansas Caravan. The Mid-Missouri Corvette Club and Bob McCosh Chevrolet/GM put on a smashing party with more (you guessed it) pulled pork sandwiches at the Missouri Auto Auction Facility. Service techs and parts people were on hand for anyone needing an oil change, tire service or anything else.
Although there was a huge group of cars, many of us clustered together with five to 10 cars. It had taken us up to now to get our radio to work, so it was fun connecting to other drivers and hearing the comments along the way.
Photo is me with some friends from the Spokane club.
Another friend from Spokane, Yellow Ralph, made up a game for our group. We all had to pick up a $2 souvenir, and at lunch do a brown-bag exchange.
I gave away a little shot-glass of Nebraska and got back a nifty punch-thing for my iPhone. (Wreck-it Ralph drives a yellow Corvette and dresses in yellow sneakers, yellow shorts, yellow shirt, and has yellow hair sticking out of a yellow sun-visor.) We had a heck of a time getting him out of the Yellow Cab exhibit at Museum of American Speed.
We were well on our way when the sun came up over Missouri. All of us Canadians were surprised at how warm it could be that early in the morning.
Heading into St. Louis, we were told it would be impossible to take a side-trip through town to see the Arch as downtown would be too busy but due to a wrong turn, we ended up downtown anyway. Only got a glimpse of the Arch, however. Then back on the freeway and over the bridge.
Some of these photos were taken by Canadian driver ??.
No one could bare the thought of entering Bowling Green with a dirty car, so we stopped (at Mt. Vernon?) for a once-over.
It was a tight day, as we had to make it to Morgantown by 3 p.m. to assemble for our line-up into Bowling Green. Morgantown’s population is only about 2500.
By the time we arrived, there were anywhere from a few hundred to 1,000 cars squeezing in and out of the small town, driving through the streets, parking on lawns, in alleys and driveways. The nice people at the town’s council office let us use their bathroom. But it was hurry, hurry, hurry as we scrambled to keep up with our Canadian team.
We left Morgantown in a neat row of colourful cars. As we got closer to Bowling Green, the highways were jammed with Corvettes coming from every direction.
We were routed right through town – the factory and museum are on the outskirts. As painful and slow-going as THAT was, we were in great form compared to some of the troops on the interstate. As our parade increased in size, slowed to a crawl, and gridlocked the entire county into a parking lot, local police were tearing out their hair trying to keep control.
Dan and I had the good fortune of taking advice from our Spokane friends, Roger and Diana Johnson. They’d been to a Kentucky Derby earlier this year and warned about parking. At the museum, you could make a $500 donation for a prized parking spot right at the museum’s door. (That was $556 Cdn.) Taxable receipts were available for Americans. We didn’t care. We paid it anyway, and it turned out to be the best investment we made all weekend. We had our own parking spot for the whole four days and could come and go as we wanted.
As other cars were routed around the museum, we were able to pull right in and park. We found out later that quite a number of cars (in the hundreds) had been turned back on the freeway and not allowed to get near the museum at all. The cops just gave up and closed off the road. Quite a disappointment for many who’d spent the last five days getting there.
This was on the Wednesday evening.
Outside the museum, there were distributors of various wares setting up their tents. The whole event didn’t really start until the next day. But we were able to get in, register, pick up our goody-bags and have a look around to get our bearings.
Not having eaten all day, we were quite starving. There is only one place to eat there – the promising-looking Corvette diner. But don’t be fooled. The food was expensive and gross. I got a wrap and a salad and Dan got a small hamburger and a bag of chips – for $27. We didn’t eat there again.
We then headed down the road to our hotel, which was in Franklin – about a 30-minute drive south towards Nashville. We’d seen a hotel right at the entrance to the Corvette Museum and said, “gee, if we ever come back here again, THAT would be the most convenient place to stay. You could park right there and walk across the road to the museum and events.”
But then we ran into some folks from New Jersey – 12 people staying at that hotel. They said it was a disaster – dirty sheets, mold, bugs, horrible breakfast. And it was too late to move anywhere else.
We got reports later of other travelers being stuck in terrible accommodations. Our hats go off to our organizers who picked all Hampton Inns, Holiday Inns, a Best Western and a Spring Hill – all super good hotels at reasonable rates throughout the entire trip.
The next day we went back to Corvette Central and toured the museum, walked around the various dealers, and listened to the worst singer we’d ever heard at an event. I mean, they were that close to Nashville. Surely with all the aspiring or declining talent, they could have hired someone who wouldn’t sound like bad karaoke. But it was still fun, connecting with people from all over the place. Every person there had the same thing in common – their love for the illustrious Corvette.
(More posts coming in the next week or so as I get time to finish this. You can always subscribe to the site and it will let you know when I put up the other posts. Then you can delete your subscription, if you want, after you’ve gotten them all. I expect to have ones on the museum, the assembly plant and track, Nashville and the way home.)