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Fall filled with hobby travels

 

Highlighting this year’s early fall travels was a pleasant and productive trip to Dallas to attend mid-October’s second, and quite possibly last fall ANA National Money Show production. Ahead of that outing, a pair of quick September hobby community jaunts, to Okoboji and Milwaukee, effectively bracketed a month that was otherwise largely spent reveling in home front activities.

For me Labor Day did not end up being a day of holiday relaxation this year. With Sally off on a fishing trip with her daughter, Susan, and son-in-law on the southwestern Lake of the Woods waters, in Minnesota and Ontario’s border country, the day found me batching it at home. With breakfast and Snickers’ morning walk out of the way, shortly after 8 a.m. found me hitting the road for the 20-mile drive from our home on Long Lake to Iola, where I put in a couple hours at the office before hitting the road to Okoboji.

It was around 11 a.m. when I hit the road for Okoboji, having laid in a fresh baked Door County cherry pie from the Crystal Cafe as a treat for the Tuesday morning meeting of my Higgins Museum board associates. A drive of 92 miles found me arriving in Tomah at 12:45 p.m., where I opted for Culver’s and their strawberry fields salad and a turtle sundae for lunch. The contents of a hard copy print of the current Sept. 2, 2012, weekly electronic newsletter E-Sylum produced by Wayne Homren under the banner of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society since Sept. 4, 1988, were absorbed over lunch.

Having driven cross-country to Tomah, following lunch I picked up I-90 westbound at about 1:30 p.m., crossing the Mississippi at La Crosse about 45 minutes later and intersecting with north-south I-35 just east of Albert Lea, Minn., at 4 o’clock, having logged 256 miles to that point. Some of the corn and soybean fields along the way gave ample evidence of the rigors of the upper Midwest’s hot and dry summer.

With the trip log since leaving Iola having climbed to 367 miles, it was about 5:45 when I pulled up at the AmericInn in Okoboji for my overnight accommodations.

After quickly settling into my room, I drove to nearby Arnolds Park to quickly enjoy a nostalgic attraction, a ride on the Legend, a nearly century old wooden rollercoaster that I had ridden on my first trip to Okoboji about 30 years before. One of more than 30 vintage rides and attractions available to visitors to the historic amusement park, it operates only during the summer and as such is not typically operational when I visit.

For dinner I treated myself to mushrooms, scallops and iced tea at Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant overlooking the Okoboji lakes. I returned to the AmericInn and called it a day around 8 p.m. I arose early on Tuesday and headed out for my morning constitutional by 6 a.m., as the light of day was just breaking on the eastern horizon. Walking the old railroad grade that now links Okoboji with Spirit Lake to the north at the Iowa Great Lakes Trail, about a half hour into the outing I came upon a faded right-of-way relic from railroading days – a sign declaring “Station One Mile” ahead – at which point I reversed direction back to the AmericInn.
After treating myself to the offered basic breakfast buffet, showering and dressing for the day, I spent an hour or so working through the contents of the day’s USA Today to catch up on the news of the weekend. It was about 9:30 a.m. when I headed over to the Higgins Museum, first encountering fellow board members Rick Hickman and Don Mark, who had pulled up just ahead of me, with president Dean Oakes and fellow board member Mike Scacci arriving shortly thereafter.

Before getting down to business, we each enjoyed generous slices of that cherry pie, having committed to Don Jensen, a fellow board member who had died unexpectedly just days before, that I’d bring one along for this meeting – along with some fresh baked apple turnovers laid in by Scacci. After pausing for a few moments of silence in honor of the departed, our meeting got under way at 10:10 a.m. and lasted about an hour.By 11:30 a.m. I was on the road headed home.

Those bakery goods having fortified me quite well, the first leg of my drive home was one of 234 miles to La Crosse without a break, there opting for a Perkins tomato basil soup, French dip sandwich and cinnamon bun lunch/dinner break shortly after 3. It was right on 6 p.m. when I pulled the Town Car into the drive at home, having logged 365 miles for the day. Excitedly greeted me upon my return was Snickers, who was eagerly anticipating his customary evening outing.

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The closing Sunday of September found me getting the day started taking Snickers on his early morning walk before driving into Waupaca to pick up Colin Bruce and Randy Thern. We hit the road to Milwaukee to attend the 77th anniversary coin show of the Milwaukee Numismatic Society. It was roughly 9 a.m. when we pulled up to the venue site, the American Serb Memorial Hall on the city’s near south side after an easy drive.

The 75-table bourse was already abuzz with activity when we entered, with traffic in the aisles packed shoulder to shoulder. In point of fact, the level of activity was such that I found rather limited opportunities to visit with the tabled dealers, let alone scour through their offerings in most cases, so I managed to carry away but a couple of goodies that popped out at me. But I had enjoyable conversations with Eugene Freeman, the Chicago Coin Club’s scout chairman at the 2011 ANA convention, Mark Melby, the hospitality and greeters co-chair at the 2007 ANA convention in Milwaukee, and Tom Snyder, who serves as bourse chairman for the annual Waukesha Coin Club show.

At 11 a.m. the dozen or so Numismatist of Wisconsin board members in attendance adjourned to a meeting room for their fall session. With president Thad Streeter presiding, the discussions largely concerned the status of future annual meeting venue planning, audit committee report, membership status and concerns, Internet presence enhancement, and governance issues. It was shortly after noon when the meeting adjourned, after setting the board’s winter meeting in conjunction with the Racine Numismatic Society’s annual show in late February, 2013. The RNS will host NOW’s 2014 annual assembly in conjunction with its annual show and 75th anniversary observance.

Hitting the road north around 12:30 p.m., it was about an hour later when we pulled up at Schreiner’s restaurant in Fond du Lac for a late lunch. I opted for a thick cut pork chop and kraut plate, topped off with a tasty slice of fresh baked mince pie, both of which turned out to be delightful. Back on the road by 2:15 p.m., I dropped Randy and Colin off about an hour later. Rushing home I was able to catch all but the first couple minutes of the Packers-Saints late afternoon game, which the good guys managed to squeeze out 28-27, before taking Snickers out for a very late evening walk.

My travels to Dallas to attend the ANA event got under way late in the day on the third Tuesday of October, after having spent the body of the day at my office tending to local involvements. Heading home just after mid-afternoon, I took Snickers out for his evening walk and fixed a sandwich for supper before hitting the road for Milwaukee around 5 p.m.

My mission was to pick up my granddaughter, Natasha, who was flying in to the Milwaukee airport from New Orleans, where she and two schoolmates from St. Norbert College in De Pere, a Green Bay suburb, had appeared at a professional conference to deliver the results of a research project they had conducted. After I dropped them off at St. Norbert, rather than head back home I drove down to Appleton, a distance of about 30 miles, where I claimed a room at a Country Inn around 11 p.m., having logged roughly 300 miles since leaving home.

This allowed me to enjoy a relaxing start to my outbound travel day to Dallas on Wednesday, getting it under way at about 6 a.m. with an hour long morning constitutional walking the perimeter of the adjacent Fox River Mall. It was about 8 a.m. when I headed to the Appleton airport, a 2-1/2 mile drive on this occasion, rather than the usual 44 miles, to catch my scheduled 9:15 a.m. United Express departure to O’Hare. With a 2 1/2 hour connecting time for the ongoing flight to Dallas, I availed myself of a visit to the United Club room and the Berghoff Cafe in the “C” concourse for lunch before heading to the boarding area for the 12:28 p.m. scheduled departure.

With the flight arriving in Dallas about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, a taxi ride delivered me to the Omni Dallas Hotel well before 4 p.m. Casting about for the pathway to the convention center at about 4:30, I happened to cross paths with Doug Davis of the Numismatic Crime Information Center, who was stevedoring a cart of materials there for the free numismatic theft law enforcement accredited training seminar he would be conducting for about 50 local, state and federal investigators on Thursday. His intentions are to present similar seminars in association with major coin events across the country.

After parting ways with Davis at the convention center, I immediately headed to the dealer registration area where I obtained credentials from Jake Sherlock and Emily Silver. Shortly thereafter I enjoyed short exchanges with Donn Pearlman from Las Vegas, who develops the promotional exposure for ANA conventions, and veteran dealer Julian Leidman from Maryland. Then there were national volunteers Merna Lighterman and John and Nancy Wilson from Florida, ANA president Tom Hallenbeck from Colorado, and curator Doug Mudd and crew from the museum staff in Colorado Springs applying finishing touches to the Museum Showcase exhibits.

Heading back to my room at the Omni somewhat before the bourse was locked down for the day, at about 7 I wandered down to the hotel’s Texas Spice dining room. There I invited myself to join a table at which I was welcomed by a trio from the Pacific Northwest, national volunteer bourse assistant Larry Gaye and dealers Scott Loos and Bruce Wonder. Some two hours of conversation over a leisurely dinner was enjoyable, as was my snapper entree selection. When nine o’clock arrived I was ready to call it a day.
Thursday morning found me heading out on a pre-dawn constitutional at about 5:30, the hour long path of my walk effectively boxing the nearby downtown area by way of Young, Houston, Elm and Akard streets. Along the way I passed the scene of the assassination of President Kennedy and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas building. It was about 7:30 when I headed down to the Spice restaurant for breakfast, opting for French toast and “natural” sausage patties, then headed to the convention center about an hour later.

Seated alongside local host chair Tony Hales for the 9:45 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony inaugurating the convention to general attendance, we exchanged observations and thoughts on the inclinations of collectors and clubs, which I found enjoyable and encouraging. The balance of the morning was largely spent absorbing the Collector Exhibits area offerings, of which I found quite a number of presentations which were totally new and quite informative. For lunch I availed myself of a buffet tucked away behind the perimeter draping on the bourse for ANA staff and national and local volunteers. In the afternoon I spent a good bit of time making my way up and down the aisles of the bourse surveying for shopping targets.

At about 6 o’clock I joined ANA president Hallenbeck, vice president Walter Ostromecki and fellow board member Mike Ellis from Georgia in availing ourselves of the livery services of Dallas Coin Club president Allen Scott for conveyance to a special joint meeting with the Collin County Coin Club. Hosted at the Celebration restaurant, about 50 members and guests head a presentation from ANA executive director Jeff Shevlin, the appearance having been arranged by DCC vice president Stewart Huckaby, exploring his perceptions, plans and dreams for the organization. It was around 9:30 p.m. when we were returned to the Omni.

On Friday morning I again headed out in my daily constitutional at about 6:30 a.m. in the pre-dawn darkness, with this outing taking me up Market Street, through the West End Historic District, then down Field Street to Young and back to the Omni about 45 minutes later with the sun breaking on the eastern horizon. Heading down to the Spice restaurant for breakfast around 8, opting for their Texas griddle cakes offering and the natural sausage patties, which proved to be more than I could handle, it was about nine when I headed over to the convention center. The balance of the morning was spent seeking out additions to my collectible accumulations and enjoying the visits that materialized along the way.

At 1 o’clock I sat in on a “Money Talks” program – “Extraordinary Collector; A One-of-a-Kind Collection” – presented by ANA board member Gary Adkins from Minnesota, exploring the background of Texan Harry W. Bass, Jr. and the unprecedented collection that he formed of the known die varieties of early (1795 to 1834) U.S. gold coins. The Edward C. Rochette Money Museum at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs has been the home of that collection for more than a decade. The $3 gold pieces, including the unique 1870-S, was featured in the convention’s Museum Showcase. This and another Money Talks presentation that I sat in on at three – James Bevill’s exploration of the “1817 New Spain Jolas; The Origin of the Lone Star Symbol for Texas” – both drew audiences in the 25 to 30 range.

At 5 o’clock I joined the rest of the ANA board and officers in attendance for an executive session meeting. Prior to getting down to business we were treated to a catered meal, one that I have to say was pretty darn good considering that it was provided by the convention center’s food service unit. While the agenda was not laden with numerous topics, the session dragged on until about 11:30 p.m. For me, fatigue, boredom, frustration and tedium had set in well before the end.

While I awoke on Saturday morning still a bit groggy at about 6 o’clock, it seemed my system might be well served by a brisk constitutional. Thus, I embarked on what would be a roughly hour long walk up Market Street to Pacific Avenue, then down Harwood Street to the Farmers Market area, where the day’s activity was springing to life, and back to the convention center area by way of Canton Street. My choice for breakfast was again Spice.

Heading over to the convention center shortly after 8, at 8:30 I attended the first of what would be a nearly unbroken run of meetings that allowed for only a couple cameo appearances on the bourse for the day. First up was the ANA District and Club Representatives meeting presided over by Oded Paz, the national coordinator who hails from Idaho, which garnered the participation of only a disappointing half dozen or so. Only a short break followed prior to the 10 o’clock open session ANA board meeting.

The agenda of this meeting was dispatched in about two hours. One of the outcomes was personally disappointing and short sighted, in my opinion, as the board tabled a motion that I had advanced, with a second provided by fellow board member Ostromecki from California and supported by Jeff Garrett from Kentucky. It would have authorized the ANA to fulfill a $100,000 pledge over four years in sponsorship support for the development of a new “Gallery of Numismatic History” at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. It was an outstanding educational outreach and promotional exposure opportunity that would present the appeal of coin collecting to 4 1/2 million visitors a year for 20 to 25 years. Having explored the concept with all board members in advance, I was shocked when they overwhelmingly rejected the concept in the face of a handful of objections from the 12 to 15 members in attendance.

The audience rapidly depleted following the discussion of the Smithsonian proposal at the mid-point of the agenda, to the point that when the meeting ended at 12:12 p.m. there were only two. The Town Hall meeting scheduled to follow adjourned at 12:15, certainly the shortest on record.

At 1 o’clock the board members in attendance – all except Wendell Wolka from Indiana who was absent due to a conflicting obligation — along with the executive director, senior staff manager Kim Kiick and a management consulting facilitator, returned to a closed door meeting. This was the first of two sessions planned to exchange views and begin formulating pathways for implementing the ANA Strategic Plan adopted earlier this year. It did not adjourn until around 5:30 p.m.

We reassembled for dinner at Bob’s Steak & Chop House, a restaurant at the Omni. My entree choice was a fresh crab capped small tenderloin, a really tasty offering that was just the right size. With the evening’s relaxing and enjoyable conversations ongoing, I was the first to call it a night at about 10 o’clock.

With a second Strategic Plan facilitation session scheduled for Sunday morning and a long day of travel ahead of me, I decided to forego getting the day started with a walking regimen. With my suitcase packed and in tow I stopped in at the Morsels coffee shop off the Omni lobby for a light breakfast snack shortly after 7 a.m.

The Strategic Plan facilitation session got under way around 8 o’clock, breaking up near 12:30 p.m. Hustling back to the Omni from the convention center, I arrived just in time to catch the 12:30 shuttle to the airport. With somewhat over an hour available between clearing security and my scheduled 2:35 departure, I caught a fish sandwich for lunch at a Burger King stand.

My United homeward bound travels involved three-flight itinerary via Cleveland and Chicago with arrival in Appleton just minutes ahead of schedule at 10 p.m.

Reflecting back, while my numismatic community involvements during September and October were rather limited, not so where local community involvements were concerned, as I found myself constantly treading water, so to speak, having bitten off a bit more than I could easily chew. On the other hand, notwithstanding the frustrations expressed with the ANA experience in Dallas, I always look forward to my numismatic getaways with intent and anticipation.

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