By now the restoration was close to completion, but not quite done. Our new goal was GT-20. So with the prospect of traveling in the SAAB once more, Diane planned a cultural tour.
Our first stop on the way east to GT-19 was in Columbus, Ohio, to spend some time with Russian friends who tutored us in Ukrainian while we lived there. When we left Columbus, we took US40, the National Highway. This highway has a history: it was first started by George Washington at its eastern terminus in Washington, DC. A good portion of US40 west of Illinois was replaced by I-70 as part of Eisenhower's national freeway system. This road is full of history, if you take the time to stop and read the historical (or as Diane says, hysterical) markers along the way. Things like the seven statues of pioneer women that dot the National Highway at certain intervals, paying tribute to the earliest women settlers. During the trip we spotted several, including one on the return trip through Vandalia, the first capital of Illinois .
Outside of Zanesville, we stopped at the National Road/Zane Grey Museum. We learned about road building, Ohio's famous potteries and about Zane Grey, author of the best-selling Riders of the Purple Sage. Diane bought the book, curious as to what constituted a best-seller in 1917. She was surprised and, actually, entertained.
FLW: Falling Water
Our next stop was Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Fallingwater. So we stayed on US40 and spent the night at a hill-top hotel, overlooking Uniontown, PA. Our tour reservations were for 8AM the next morning. It is the only tour that allows you to see the entire structure. There has been a lot of restoration taking place here, too. It is, in Diane's opinion, the premier Frank Lloyd Wright structure still in existence: a supreme example of his style and orientation with the surroundings.
From Mill Run, we continued east to Asheville, NC, and The Grove Park Inn Resort in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The original hotel on this site is baronial Arts & Crafts style that takes full advantage of its orientation to the mountains and the setting sun. One evening we had dinner on the Sunset Terrace which is an outdoor dining veranda with incredible views of the mountains and the setting sun. There was live music for slow dancing. Very romantic.
Grove Park Inn
The Inn was built in 1913 out of native boulders which are evident in the photograph. It has been expanded over the years and now sports a modern wing and a convention center. On the grounds, amid the tennis courts, golf course and swimming pools, is an Antique Auto Museum. It's not very large but does boast an MG T series auto. This would be an ideal location for a cozy GT (hint).
While staying at The Grove Park Inn, we visited the Biltmore House, just down the road a piece. This is a European estate, not a "house" as the name implies. We're sure that everyone has seen pictures of the outside, but you cannot begin to fathom the size until you've toured it. We toured and toured and toured some more, having lunch in the Winery Cafe, in the middle of, you guessed it, a winery. This wine turned out to be much better than the Orange Wine we purchased in Florida at GT-8. Diane was very reluctant to leave the English walled garden; it was so peaceful and fragrant.
On The Back
Mouse Over to Read Back
Eventually we arrived in Winston-Salem just in time for registration and a visit to the Hospitality Suite. What's a GT without one? Many hellos and howareyas and howstherestoration, and too soon it's time to hit the sack.
Friday and Saturday brought tech sessions, like the Rolling Tech Session (MGA autopsy) hosted by John Twist. Steven enjoys the challenge of trying to diagnose the problems alongside John, albeit a bit quietly. Todd Clarke had his MGA go kart training aid at his seatbelt tech session, demonstrating the correct way to fit seatbelts to the coupe or the roadster.
We took the advice of the Planning Committee and spent several hours wandering through Old Salem and enjoying the German Moravian influence in this area. Old Salem is a restored 18th-century town. We took a tour of the entire historic area but somehow missed completing the Walking Tour questionnaire. The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts was a real treasure find. There were about twenty period rooms and several galleries exhibiting furniture, paintings, textiles, ceramics and other artifacts of this part of the early south. The docents were especially knowledgeable and eager to share the history of this area with us northerners.
The car show was held at a local park, and the main distraction were those ghastly gnats that chewed on Diane's ankles all morning.
John Twist Rolling Tech Session
This GT was the inaugural of NAMGAR's very special Mac Spears Founders Award. This award was named for, and presented to, the first chairman of NAMGAR, Mac Spears. As Len Bonnay so eloquently put it that evening, no one can beat Mac for his love of the A, for his many years of contributions to the preservation of the A and NAMGAR, and for his genuinely friendly nature.
We missed seeing "Ole Joe", the Camel cigarette camel this trip. He stands in the lobby of R. J. Reynolds. He's about three feet tall and made entirely from tobacco. There are two things they don't allow around Joe: matches and a vacuum cleaner.