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Twenty miles onward to Guttenberg, a couple hours to reconnoiter at the Landings (or nap), and then 20 miles back for dinner. Well, I found a perfectly good bar about a block away from the hotel that sold perfectly decent beer (not microbrews) for $3.00 a bottle! I thought these girls were kidding me! I don’t think I spent over $50 for food, beverages, or snacks the whole trip, and the dining was fine!
The next day (Thursday) dawned clear and bright over the buggy Mississippi. Here was our sunny day, but at least the humidity seemed to have broken. It got hot during the day, so some of us put our tops up after lunch, but most never did. This is a driving event, and the driver tends to keep his eyes on the road, top up or down. There is plenty of time for gawking around at the pastoral splendor Dan has us driving through, but that would mostly be for the navigators. The drivers see plenty, don’t get me wrong.
Vistas opening in the distance with each rise, twists and turns in the shady bottoms, climbing up curving hills and down the roller coaster on the other side. Complete a “set” and take a breath at the stop up over the hill, and let everyone catch up. One does not notice the odometer rolling. Distances measured in bends and twists. It is fantastic for the driver. Other tours set a leisurely pace, not so much this one. Nevertheless, there is certainly nothing to complain about the plenty of scenic stops we make on the Secrets Tour, and we always end the day by the cocktail hour.
Speaking of cocktail hour, socializing is always a major component of the two CMGC multi-day tours. I was able to get to know almost everybody a little better by comingling with different groups at each and every stop. The end of the first night seems to have developed a social “get-together” tradition, with a beverages-on-the-veranda motif, which I closed up quite successfully two years ago on my last Secrets Tour. But this time I unfortunately managed to miss it, which had the side benefit of enabling me to endure the second day heat and drive much better.
When I left Monroe after the heat had broken, I took my 150 miles back home slowly because I was looking at the back of those thunderboomers toward Chicago, and I didn’t want to get in under them. I had a great trip back down 69 to 20 to 39, in 64 to De Kalb, where after another hour-and-a-half on 88 and a stop at the first civilized Starbucks on 59, I arrived home just when it got dark, still without a drop on the windshield. This time, even the leg home was pleasant and cool.
Welcome to the newcomers who participated for the first time: Oscar and Nancy Gonzales who chased with their Mini Countryman, Don Klugman in his gorgeous MGA that he drove all through Mexico and Central America when he lived in California and who now lives in Old Town, Dino and Lisa Perez who kept up pretty well on their first multi-day tour but hopefully not their last (Dino said he never drove his 95 MGRV8 so much!), Bob and Patricia Simon, the first all-lady crew of Sue Sealey and Ellen Silverman, and finally Ric and Nancy Maitzen in their 51 TD that the rest of us could barely keep up with. Ric says he didn’t buy it new, but he has owned it 40 years and driven it to the Black Hills, Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, and all over the place. He organizes the only multi-day tour for the Vintage Club, their Spring Tour, so we were glad for him to see our driving-intensive example. Special thanks to Dan and Mary Kerkman, who brought up the rear in their VW convertible that, did not break down, not even once!
Into every rally a little rain must fall. I won’t say we did not hit any rough (and grooved) patches or meet any “farmer’s daughters,” but I can say we did not get rain. We ate, we drank, we drove, and we gawked. There were a lot of cows. The weather was perfect and not one prognostication of disaster panned out. Only one breakdown—with this many cars—was exceptional. This year, the eighth running of the Secrets Tour rolled through the scenic pastoral wonderlands of three states. But Dan Herman’s as usual fastidious planning, pace, and creative genius left the record number of participants in One State: BLISS!
Thanks most of all to Dan Herman for making it just perfect. See you next year, come rain or shine!