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(There we are: upper right, inside the white frame)

What's not to love about a great Corvette event
in Florida in January?

(Going back to Maine when it's over, that's what! More on that later...)

Once again, many thanks to Ed Augustine and the dedicated, hard-working Florida Chapter of National Corvette Restorers Society for including us in another memorable Winter Meet! We managed to raise some money for the American Cancer Society as well: $1090, and NCRS National matches up to $1000, for a total of

$2090.00!

Here's how it unfolded:

Sunday, Jan. 16

Leaving home 5:22 am.

Storm damage in PA.
(A sign of things to come???)
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Arrival in Phila. for a brief visit with my parents.


Monday, Jan. 17

Really Early start (4:39) from Phila. as it started to snow. Lots of snow squalls
along the PA Turnpike to Carlisle, but negligible accumulation on the pike.
Into NC before noon; bottom of GA by 6:00.

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Tuesday, Jan. 18

Leaving Kingsland, GA, a few minutes from the FL line.
 
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Ft. Myers before 3:00.

I spent the night in Ft. Myers with Sandy's sister Peggy and her husband Bill.
Sandy's parents were in Ft. Myers from NJ for the month, so we had a nice visit.


Wednesday, Jan 19

Spanky, Bill and Peggy seeing me off.
(It was Spanky's 16th birthday!

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First stop was a few miles further south in Ft. Myers Beach
to connect with Ohioan Carl Zander at his winter home.

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Carl led me to Kissimmee via back roads.
Here we were passing through Sebring.

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Arrival at Old Town in Kissimmee.

After finding and checking into my hotel,
the first order of business was WASHING the poor Vette!

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Thursday, Jan 20

After some confusion over space assignments,
we finally got set up in the same spot as last year.
The Comfort Suites in the background of the first photo is where we stayed this year -
a  monumental improvement over the Day's Suites we were in last year!

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Carl had his beautiful C6 front license plate brackets on display at my table
while he worked at NCRS judging seminars.

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Fringe benefit of our location was having a front-row seat to see (& hear!) these
special Corvettes come out of Kevin MacKay's trailer. $1.2 Million blue '67 is one
of 20 L-88s built that year. The white '60 is Chip Miller's Le Mans 1960 winner.

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Friday, Jan 21

Traffic really picked up as the sunshine faded.
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Saturday, Jan. 22

Dense fog and a brief sprinkle started the last day.
It got a bit brighter than this, but remained threatening and windy all day.

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Saturday night Awards Banquet

My table-mates enjoying themselves!
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Dave & Glenda McLellan were celebrating their 40th Anniversary!
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Michael Leeds, Richard Fleming and his fiancÚ Lynette
aggressively selling my 50/50 tickets for the American Cancer Society.

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Special guest told interesting tales of working
on the '53 Corvette production line in Flint, MI

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...and the winner is:
Robert Kline, Ocean Springs, MS

who held the winning ticket for the 50/50 pot totaling $925.00.
He declined his half, so that the entire $925 could go to the American Cancer Society.
This is the 2nd year in a row that the winner at this event donated his winnings back!

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Thank you Robert!!!

As the party was breaking up, two people came up to me with additional
donations, adding another $15 to the pot, making the 50/50 total $940. I
added the $150 donations received at our table outside, making the total
received $1090. Since NCRS matches up to $1000,
the total
contribution to the American Cancer Society became
$2090.00

Thank You NCRS!

 

Sunday, Jan. 23

Since the forecast for Sunday called for a high dropping from 50 with 40 mph winds, this did not sound like a good day to be sitting outside tending a table covered with printed materials. Besides, this was the weekend of the Great Blizzard of '05 in the Northeast, and the cause of the cold and wind in Florida as well. Watching the national weather maps, it looked like I could sneak home behind the blizzard, through a hole between it and the next system coming from the West. With that plan, I left Old Town before 11:00 Sunday morning, about 1/2 day ahead of the original schedule. I made it to Statesville, NC before 7:30.


Monday, Jan 24

Departure from Statesville, NC.


16 degrees there, but the weather maps still showed the same gap between
weather systems. Possible flurries in western PA late in the day. No problem,
I'd be well past PA by evening.

Snow made for an interesting texture on the hills near the NC/VA border.
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By WV, the sunshine was long gone.
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PA had more snow on the ground, but still clear, dry road and nothing coming down.
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What a difference an hour and a quarter made! This is what it turned to just above Harrisburg. The local radio station was reporting "Flurries later this afternoon, possible snow showers by the evening commute." It wasn't even 3:00 yet! In the very same news break, the local news reported dozens of accidents and areas to avoid because of them!!!

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This told me to quit for the day. 
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The Frackville, PA exit had a Holiday Inn Express. I tried. I really tried. No relief for the white knuckles there. Off the highway, there was about 2" (of possible flurries) on the road, and I could barely move. The ramp to the HIE proved impossible, then it took me 1/2 hour to get back maybe 100 feet of almost imperceptible grade onto the local road!

From there, the ONLY possible option was anything downhill. Here we were all crawling along Eastbound on SR 61 at 10-15 mph, with the tail end still occasionally drifting toward the ditch from the crown on the road. All the while I was PRAYING that this didn't lead to the bottom of some valley in the middle of nowhere with no way out but UP! Indeed, the Westbound traffic was unable to move at all. They were trying to go up! The Vette's traction control and anti-lock brakes were getting the workout of a lifetime.

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Mercifully, I ended up 7 miles from I-81in downtown Pottsville, and was able to get
to the Quality Inn Suites. I couldn't begin to get into their parking lot, so I had to
park on the street overnight, and hope that I didn't get plowed in... or towed.
 
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Tuesday, Jan. 25

Neither plowed in nor towed, I departed beautiful downtown Pottsville the next
morning. Again, the weather maps showed clear sailing along my chosen route
up I-81 and East on I-84... right!

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20 minutes later, barely back onto I-81... snow showers and these reassuring scenes!
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An hour later, Scranton and East on I-84, it was still snowing, but getting brighter.
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It finally cleared up in New York, and from there on it was full speed ahead...
and I could at last get some circulation back in my knuckles!

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Back in Maine, with clear skies and clear roads, somebody had
managed to get an SUV upside down in the median of I-295!

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Home at last! My good neighbor, as always, had the house and garage
plowed clear, although my company Escort was barely visible.
 
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Final stats
     

That drive through Pennsylvania was without a doubt the most harrowing in my 47 years of driving. But, I made it through without damage this year, which is more than I can say for last year, ironically also in the Harrisburg area! Check it out if you haven't seen that.

A few days later: 50+ degrees - time to wash the poor thing!
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