GT-35 Delavan, WI USA

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Dash Plaque

GT-35 was held July 26 through 30, 2010 at Lake Lawn Resort on lovely Lake Delavan, WI. Delavan is known for its circus history. The P.T. Barnum Circus, “ The Greatest Show On Earth,” was founded in Delavan in 1871. For many years, hundreds of clowns and circus performers from over 26 circuses set up their winter quarters in Delavan.

Pre-GT MGAdventure

Delavan is about 75 miles from our house so we had a real challenge to fulfill our MGAdventure expectations. So this year, Diane created a "trip to the GT" in miniature and invited some friends to join us on the adventure: of course Bruce Nichols from Three Rivers, MI; Don & Linda Holle from Edgewood, NM; Ken & Kathy Nelson from Grand Rapids, MI, and Chuck & Jean Sanno from Ingleside, ILs. Our destination was Spring Green, WI, to an outdoor theatre, enjoying the Wisconsin scenery along the way.

Janus 750
Janus 750

Bruce Nichols drove in the Friday before to help celebrate Steve's birthday a week in advance. Then on Saturday morning we three drove (the SAAB) to Racine, WI for the "Micros on the Monument" car show featuring vintage micro cars from the 50s and 60s. Micro cars are under 11 feet long and/or have engines with less than 700cc displacement. Some had three wheels and others had four. We saw Isettas, Citroëns, Crosleys, Messerschmitts and our favorite, the Janus. It has two front doors, one at each end, with two bench seats, each facing a door. The engine is in between the two seats which could fold into a bed across the engine. It was only made in 1958, and a mere 10 were sold in the US.

While in Racine, we decided to drive to the O&H Danish Bakery to pick up a kringle. Kringle is a Danish pastry which takes three days to make. The day's flavor was Key Lime (yuk!), but since Diane was buying, we enjoyed cherry. A real treat.

That evening Ken & Kathy arrived and the five of us (now in MGAs) drove over to Firtzgerald's Octagon Restaurant in Genoa City, WI, for a fish boil dinner. Afterwards we returned to the house for an accordion and piano concert. We ended the evening with our traditional champagne toast and home made praline candies.

MGA at Taliesin
MGAs at Taliesin Visitor Center

Sunday morning the five of us gathered together again and motored to Millie's Restaurant in Walworth, WI to meet up with Don & Linda and Chuck & Jean. Chuck & Jean were GT first timers. Of course there were the obligatory introductions and tire kicking before breakfast.

After breakfast and after a drivers meeting with tour director Diane, we made our way through glorious Wisconsin back roads to Spring Green with an interim stop at the Unity Chapel, designed by J.L. Silsbee and his young apprentice, Frank Lloyd Wright. This is where Frank buried Mamah Cheney who was killed in one of the fires at Taliesin. Frank was also originally buried here, but his last wife, Olgivanna, stipulated in her will that when she died, hers and Frank's ashes would be mixed and buried at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. We drove over to the Taliesin Visitor Center to check out the bookstore and restaurant. Then we drove on to the Usonian Inn, also designed by a FLW apprentice, and checked in.

Group Photo APT
APT Front: Steven, Diane, Bruce, Chuck, Jean
Back: Don, Linda, Ken, Kathy

Soon it was 4PM and time to head over to the grounds of the American Players Theatre to partake in Fat Jack's Barbecue before enjoying APT's production of Lillian Helllman's Another Part of the Forest. Talk about a dysfunctional family! After the production and impromptu car show in the parking lot (of course everyone has to stop-by, chat, and tell you their MG or British car story), we returned to the Inn for wine and conversation under a beautiful full moon and no mosquitoes.

Prior to the mini-trip, Diane had arranged with everyone to contribute something small and hopefully novel for a travel gift bag. Now was the opportunity to rummage through the bag's contents, which included wine and other thoughtful gifts akin to those the stars enjoy on Oscar Night in Hollywood — but oh so much better!

Group Photo Usonian
At The Usonian: Steven, Jean,
Kathy and Chuck — No Pain

Monday morning dawned too early but certainly very brightly. At the suggestion of our innkeeper, we drove over to the Piccadilly Lilly restaurant at the airport for breakfast: what you can't do with a double wide house trailer. But the food was really good! Then the group disbursed for individual tours. Ken & Kathy had scheduled a tour of Taliesin; Chuck & Jean toured House on a Rock; Don & Linda drove to Mineral Point; and Steve & Diane and Bruce headed to Dodgeville.

Since Mineral Point and Dodgeville are in the same direction, our three cars caravanned together as far as the Don Q Inn Hotel with its landmark 1952 Boeing C-97 airplane on the front lawn. We toured the plane, the lobby with its barber chairs around the fireplace and the dentist chair before we separated. In Dodgeville Diane visited the Land's End Outlet while Steve and Bruce visited the local bakery and bought rhubarb and apple popovers for lunch. Dodgeville is the twin city of Oakham, Leicestershire, Great Britain, but no one in town seemed to know why.

C-97
MGAs with Boeing C-97 Plane

At 1PM we all met up at Taliesin, sans the Holles, for the drive back to Delavan. We made it there in time to register and attend the First Timer's Reception and Welcome Address by Chairman George Merryweather. After viewing the First Timer's Car Show and a quick brat, we headed back home with Bruce. So far, we'd had two sun filled road days. For this GT, we made the decision to commute each day.

Tuesday morning we stopped at Bobby's Barrel Inn, a motorcycle favorite, in Volo, IL for breakfast before heading back to Delavan for the car show. The setting, on the shores of Lake Delavan, was spectacular. We looked at cars, mingled, shopped, drank, ate, but forgot to vote! There were 31 Magnettes in attendance, the largest number anywhere ever. We don't know if anyone contacted Guiness. Diane bought a vintage record of Sports Car songs by Oscar Brand, with an MGA on the cover, from long time friend Pat Newman who was selling her duplicate collectibles. That evening we hooked up with several Rowdies (Hollidays, Nelsons, Pittmans, Bruce and honorary members, Newmans) for dinner at Hernandez El Serape, a GT favorite, in downtown Delavan for a fun Mexican dinner. Then we were on the road again for home.

Wednesday was tour day, and since our tour of Yerkes Observatory was not until 2PM, we slept in. It was a very hot and humid day and threatening rain, so we decided that we would enjoy air conditioning and took Diane's SAAB to Williams Bay, WI. It poured on the way there. Yerkes has a 90 foot dome, one of the largest of its kind ever built and a 40 inch refractor, the world's biggest lens (refraction) type telescope. We also visited the Quester Museum and took pictures of MGAs and Magnettes in front of the dome. We returned to the Resort for a late lunch and camaraderie in the hospitality room, and then on to Lake Geneva for dinner at Popeye's on Geneva lake before heading home once again.

GT35 Postcard GT35 Postcard
On The Back

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GT Commuting

Thursday morning was the Board and Staff Breakfast so we left home at 6AM on another clear, cool morning. After the breakfast we had time to converse with friends, attend the Chapter Contacts' meeting and lunch and wait for our room to be ready. Since the banquet was tonight, we decided we didn't want to drive home in the dark after a long evening of food and drink. At the banquet we reconnected for our annual meal with Cecelia Bruce, her mother, Rebecca and Aunt Nikki, along with Bruce and Chuck & Jean. We were happy that Ken Nelson won an APEX Award for his "At Leisure" column in MGA! NAMGAR also honored him with an award. The hospitality room closed way too early, so we didn't have enough time to spend with everyone. Per usual.

Car Show
NAMGAR Car Show

Friday morning we bade farewell to our friends until next year and enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the Frontier Room Restaurant at the Resort. Our plan was to drive west to Rockford, IL to visit a car museum, but as we headed in that direction, there were sprinkles on the windscreen and black clouds ahead. So we turned around and headed home where we relaxed, rehashed the events of the week and dined at an Indian Restaurant.

NAMGAR Banquet
NAMGAR Banquet
Front L-R: Rebecca, Nikki, Cecilia
Back L-R: Bruce, Diane, Chuck, Jean, Keith

Commuting to the GT turned out to be fun because we actually then got to drive the MGs and enjoy the roads. Our normal 3, 4 or 5 day Adventure getting to the GT and 3, 4 or 5 day return home was shortened due to our proximity to the site. But, commuting has it draw-backs. You cannot spend as much time with your friends, acquaintances, and new folks, because that time is lost to the back-and-forth travel time.

Wrapping-Up

After a couple of weeks, when everyone was home and settled, we received pictures from everyone on the mini-tour. Steve assembled them onto a DVD along with a short slide video with music and commentary, a commemoration of the two day adventure, and sent it to everyone.

Well, next year it will take us three days to get to Reno via MGAmtrak. We (Steve, Diane & Bruce) already have our tickets for roomettes, and Diane is busy planning our sightseeing and activities while we are there.

See everyone in Reno and Safety (not-so) Fast Amtrak - our personal Rallye to Reno. End Column