Just a Simple Wrench
by Ann & Jake Snyder
Amtrak Road Trip 2003
(See Cover Photo)
This year our Amtrak Road Trip took us to the Corvette factory and museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. A group of 9 CMGC members and guests left Chicago a little after 8 pm on Thursday, January 17 and returned around 9:30 am Monday, January 20, making this the longest trip yet. As dictated by established schedule, we started the party soon after arriving at Union Station, where the food court contains a very adequate pub, complete, that evening, with live blues band. Once on the train, we were able to find comfortable seats in a group and continued the party with the usual provisions that comprise half of our luggage: cheese, cheese dip, crackers, shrimp, tuna salad (with fresh tomatoes, red onion, serano peppers, and cilantro), assorted fruit, vegetables, cookies, candy, and, yes, even red wine and brandy. We had so much food, in fact, that on Saturday we put together a buffet of the leftovers for lunch- and we still didnít finish everything.
New this year were that two nightsí accommodations were on the train. No, there is no sleeper car to Bowling Green, but the seats recline nicely and those green CMGC blankets came in handy. Actually, the train goes only to Louisville, but the tickets included bus transportation from there to Bowling Green. That was when we encountered a slight problem. There had been ice storms south of Bowling Green, along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. As we were waiting for the bus, along with what seemed to be several hundred other passengers for other destinations (most of them had been stranded in Indianapolis overnight), we were told that the previous dayís bus had still not made it through to Nashville. Shortly after that, however they heard that the road was again clear, and we actually got to Bowling Green in time for the 1 pm tour of the Corvette factory. The reasons it worked out for us were that 1: the factory is within a mile of the bus station, and 2: Louiville is in the Eastern Time Zone, but, strangely, Bowling Green is in the Central Time Zone, which gave us an hour we didnít realize we would have.
New owners, such as these Texans on the right, can
request to pick up their Corvette at the Museum to drive away.
The factory tour was exceptional. It was interesting to see the assembly line in operation- especially steps like the chassis being lowered onto and attached to the drive train and the cars being tested on a dynamometer immediately after being driven off the line. The workers who drive the finished cars around inside the factory seem to have a lot of fun doing it.
The hotel had a holidome-type pool and the biggest hot tub weíve ever seen, and most of us made use of both at least once. There was a Dennyís attached, which was fine for breakfasts. For our dinners we found a really nice restaurant just across the street from the hotel. That was a good thing because Friday evening there were record low temperatures (2 above zero instead of the normal 40) and the ground was covered with ice, and Saturday evening it was snowing. Anyway, if youíre ever driving Interstate 65 through Kentucky, we highly recommend the Cumberland Grill at Exit 22. Itís family-operated and the chef is an Aussie who prepares some interesting cajun-style dishes. Weíve already tried replicating his salad with spicy pecans, red onion and blue cheese.
The pace was really relaxed compared to our other trips. Instead of meeting at the crack of dawn for breakfast, most of us met at 9:30 am. On Saturday we spent about 3 hours at the Corvette Museum, which is a lot bigger than it appears from the outside. The exhibits are attractive and informative, the cars, from the earliest to the most recent, are beautiful. Yes, the ashes of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the engineer-racer who brought the concept of high performance to the Corvette, are there, also. The Museum is not run by GM, but by an independent nonprofit organization, and some of us bought raffle tickets from them for a new Corvette. The drawing isnít until next June, but the odds have to be better than the Illinois Lottery, and the tickets will make nice souvenirs.
Diana and Oscar Gonzales pay their respects to Zora
One of the unexpected treats of the trip was the old Union Station in Louisville. It now belongs to their local transportation agency, which is remodeling and restoring it. The stained glass windows and roof are beautiful, and the floor is a mosaic of small tiles that has been in place since the station was opened in 1891. We had it essentially to ourselves for a couple hours Sunday evening. Since there was no place to check the bags, some of the group went out to a rather unusual fast food place and brought back supper (shrimp, cat fish, spicy rice, apple cobbler, etc.), which we ate amid the grandiose surroundings.
We were only about half an hour late returning to Union Station Monday morning, and some of us even put in a few hours at work before heading to the monthly club meeting that evening. We hope you can join us next year, assuming that Amtrak is still in operation.