By GT-16, we were both heavy into our careers with Ameritech and so tired of airplanes and hotels that we decided to drive. Our project car was still in restoration, so again it was in our new SAAB, "Red Sonja." Since we were traveling to the south where things are a little slower (yes!), Diane planned a leisurely trip down with plenty of time to relax on the way.
One of our planned stops was Lynchburg, TN: the home of Jack Daniel's Distillery. The Distillery itself is located in a beautiful setting, and the rushing creek actually gives one the illusion of coolness. We were ready for some right about then after being in the car most of the day.
Steven has a special relationship with the Jack Daniel's Distillery: he's a "Squire" and owns land on the Jack Daniel's reserve. Yup, he even got himself a piece of paper with one of them there shiny gold medals on it. A few years before, Steven spent several weeks at Duke University as part of an intense Management Training Seminar. While there, he met up with an Australian fellow who happened to be an executive with a company that represented the distillery, and in honor of their inebriated friendship, he bestowed upon Steven the title of "Squire."
A View of Steve's Land
When we arrived at the Distillery, and they found out that Steven was a Squire, we were ushered off to the "members only" lounge to sample the new Gentleman Jack and have a short meeting with the Distillery's head dude. The tour was especially entertaining because our guide was a good ole boy, proud of it, and with a sense of humor to match. We were also escorted to our plot. We had the photograph (if it looks a bit fuzzy, there's a reason) with us and were able to spot it immediately. A couple times a year, Steven gets a letter from someone in town, letting him know his property is being well cared for. Steven has a thick manila folder of correspondence that he has carried on with the Distillery concerning the workings of the Distillery and his land's management.
After the tour we meandered into the Historic Town Square and did some souvenir shopping, including a bag of Jack Daniel's charcoal briquettes. We were amazed that the county is dry — we certainly were ready for some cold libations after all the touring in some mighty humid countryside, pretty as it is. We settled for lunch and a dime cola at one of the two local restaurants. The hottest spot in town is the local hardware store, dueling rocking chairs on the porch and all.
On The Back
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Finally, we managed to meander over to the Marriott in Huntsville for the meet. The Southern hospitality was what we remember the most. Even though there were planned activities to keep us all occupied, we never felt rushed to do it all. One of the activities was a driving tour to Lynchburg; obviously we didn't need to do that again. It was rather warm in Alabama in July, so the primary consideration was being within a reasonable walk of an air conditioned facility. Yankees have developed that southern sense of movement: too fast and you generate more heat than the sun; too slow and the perspiration won't keep you cool.
We did make a point of taking the bus tour of the Space and Rocket Center. It was very close to the GT site which was nice for everyone who needed a respite from driving. We found the bus tour of the astronaut training facilities fascinating. Steven was like a kid in a candy store at the museum, though Diane wasn't quite sure if he was looking for more MGA parts. There was an SR-71 Blackbird parked out front, and Steven desperately wanted to put a for sale sign on it. Diane didn't think that the folks at the museum had a sense of humor — the saner head prevailed. The GT-16 information letter suggested that we allow about five hours to see everything: we took all of that, reading everything and exploring all the nooks and crannies of the exhibits. We especially enjoyed the Soviet space craft and art that were on display. It's always fun to see the competition, whether it's an MGA or something much bigger.
A Sea of MGA Cockpits
Like every GT, the car show is the centerpiece. Again, so many pretty cars to see and friendly people to meet. One of the best photos of a GT car show is the one on the cover of MGA! Volume 17/Number 1. In the background of the show field are several rockets, such a cool counterpoint to our little MGAs.
But there's only so much sunshine that you can stand and soon Steven, Len Bonnay, and Butch Smith were off looking for a local public house. Steven won't say much about the afternoon, except that they did find a place under an expressway viaduct that had cold beer and continuous entertainment. Where was Diane?
We don't even remember much about the drive home, except that we may have stopped at a couple of art galleries or museums along the way.
Dan Perkins, a wonderful Southern good ole boy, Frank Tarpley, Doug Nixon, and the rest of the Alabama gang did a remarkable job of putting together this event.
The Southern hospitality was just as advertised.