My May travels featured out-of-state trips to attend a pair of hobby community board meetings in Denver and Okoboji, Iowa, the former of the American Numismatic Association and the latter of the Higgins Museum of National Banking. Both were tightly scheduled, one being a flying destination, the other a drivable outing.
The first outing got under way on the second Thursday of the month. What would have probably been a five-day outing was truncated to three, on the front by a requirement to remain at home in deference to a scheduled court proceeding on a property matter that has been simmering for nearly three years, and on the back end to be able to participate in a family Mother’s Day outing.
A drive to the Appleton airport that got under way at about 7:15 a.m. initiated the trip and was intended to leave me with more than ample time to catch a scheduled 9:18 United Express departure to O’Hare. More than ample time, except, 28 miles into the 44-mile drive I glanced in the back seat of the Town Car only to discover I had failed to throw my suitcase on board. A quick illegal U-turn on the expressway to retrieve it, breaking the speed limits along the way, found me just emerging from security into the boarding concourse shortly after priority boarding had gotten under way. Thus, I ended up having but minutes to spare.
Thereafter, my travels came off like clockwork. Arriving at O’Hare at about 10 o’clock, I was left with roughly two hours to transfer from concourse “F” to “C” to catch my scheduled noon departure to Denver. That provided the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing Cuban sandwich lunch at the Berghoff Cafe. With the flight touching down at Denver at 1:10 p.m., about 25 minutes ahead of schedule, a taxi ride delivered me to the Hyatt Regency hotel by 2:15, where I unexpectedly had the opportunity to briefly exchange greetings with ANA controller Carol Shuman, as I was registering for my room.
It was about 3 o’clock when I walked across the street to the adjoining Colorado Convention Center, where I was greeted by Denver Coin Club member Stan Weddle, who pointed me on the nearly three-block hike to Hall C at the other end of the facility, where the spring National Money Show had gotten under way with dealer setup about 24 hours earlier. Along the way I briefly exchanged greetings with dealer Ira Goldberg from Los Angeles at the convention center business center.
Upon reaching the registration area, having forgotten to bring my photo ID badge along, I was quickly provided with a replacement through the efforts of Emily Silver of the convention department and Florik Botvinik and Ben Scott in IT. My objective upon entering the bourse area was to do a clockwise circuit of the perimeter of the room, which progressed only to about the halfway point after nearly three hours, having found myself engaged in many chats along the way. One of the longer visits was with George Mountford and Bruce Bredlove of the Colorado Springs Coin Club at their table. Another was with Greg Ruby, who was representing ANA at the message center. As the collector exhibits area setup had been completed, I also took the time to survey those offerings as well.
It was nearly 6 p.m. when I headed back over to the Hyatt to catch a quick dinner prior to the ANA board executive session, which was scheduled for 7 p.m. back at the convention center. My arrival at the Altitude restaurant happened to coincide with that of fellow board member Gary Adkins from the Twin Cities, who invited me to share a booth with him and his wife. The board meeting, which was scheduled for two hours, did not actually adjourn until about 1:30 in the morning, by which time I was growing bleary-eyed and probably somewhat inattentive, as I am sure was the case for most of the others as well.
As I didn’t awake until around 7 a.m. Friday, I opted to forego getting the day started with my customary morning constitutional. For breakfast I visited the Regency Club room to avail myself of the complimentary continental offerings. It was about 9 o’clock when I found my way over to the convention bourse area, when I found the day’s activities slowly getting into motion. The next three hours were spent largely visiting with dealer and collector acquaintances around the floor.
Having grabbed a quick hotdog at the concession stand in the hall, shortly after noon I headed back over to the Hyatt, there joining my fellow ANA board members in the conduct of full board interviews of four finalist candidates for the executive director position. Immediately following their conclusion we traipsed back to the convention center, where an open session board meeting and associated Town Hall meeting was scheduled to get under way at 4 p.m. This was a relatively orderly and quick paced affair, with roughly 30 members in the audience. It was followed by a closed door meeting of the board to discuss reactions to the executive director interviews conducted earlier and how to proceed on selecting a finalist, which broke up shortly after 7 p.m.
Returning to the Hyatt, after relaxing in my room for a bit, I wandered into the Regency Club, contenting myself with the fruit and dessert offerings to suffice for dinner. There I encountered fellow board member Wendell Wolka from Indianapolis, ANA District Representative program coordinator Oded Paz from Idaho, treasurer Larry Baber from San Diego, general counsel Ron Sirna from Flint and tabled dealer Gary Groll from Oregon. We six were engaged in a wide ranging confab for nearly an hour, until we were kicked out when the room closed at 9 p.m., at which point I called it a day.
Having recovered from the short night I had endured 24 hours earlier, on Saturday morning I was out in pursuit of a morning walking regimen by 6 o’clock. Heading over to the 16th Street Mall, I walked up to the Capitol, then down to the Union Square area and back past the Federal Reserve Bank branch. Before returning to the Hyatt I looped over onto Colfax and past the U.S. Mint. Having returned to my room around 7 a.m., it was about 8 when I found myself sharing a table with Wolka in the Regency Club for breakfast.
Lingering over conversation, it was somewhat after 9 a.m. before I headed over to the convention center to see what the morning would have to offer. More of the same, it turned out, as I spent most of the time engaged in conversations, both casual and serious. What with my abbreviated time at the convention this time around, and given the extent of the meetings requiring my formal participation, I was left with precious little time to pursue personal interests. As I cast about the room I noted, not unexpectedly, that it was riddled with vacated tables. Commercially, I gathered, results around the bourse had been a mixed bag.
At about 12:30, having just closed off an extended impromptu discussion of a couple long range ANA perspectives with author Ken Bressett from Colorado Springs, an acquaintance of roughly 50 years standing back to his days with the Whitman organization when it was based in Racine, Wis., I headed to the Hyatt to pick up my suitcase and hail a taxi to the airport. Having checked in for my 3:57 United flight to O’Hare by 1:30 or so, I opted for lunch at the Pour la France Cafe, tomato Florentine soup and a French dip sandwich, before heading through security to the boarding concourse.
At O’Hare supper was grabbing a quick bag of popcorn at a Nuts on Clark stand in Concourse F between flights. The scheduled 8 o’clock United Express departure delivered me to Appleton by 9 p.m., with arrival at home right on an hour later. While I was delighted to be home to enjoy Mother’s Day with the family, awaking on Sunday morning I discovered that a combination of the hectic pace of my travels and the inordinate meeting sessions had worn my system to a frazzle, from which I would not fully recover for two or three days.
The following Wednesday found me hitting the road again, however, this time embarking on a drive out to Okoboji, Iowa, to participate in the spring meeting of the Higgins Museum board, on which I have been serving for more than 20 years.
While I normally embark on these semi-annual drives late morning, on this occasion, in deference to a monthly board meeting of the Iola Old Car Show non-profit corporation scheduled as a noon luncheon, I wasn’t able to hit the road out of Iola until about 1:30 in the afternoon. I’ve been serving on this board in an ex-officio capacity since its establishment in 1985.
Driving cross-country to Tomah, there picking up I-90 westbound, I crossed the Mississippi at La Crosse at about 4 o’clock having logged 138 miles. It was 6:40 when I pulled up to the Hampton Inn in Fairmont, Minn., for my overnight, with the mileage log having climbed to 313 for the day.
Opting for dinner at the nearby Perkins, I treated myself to a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a strawberry-nuts salad, then indulged myself with a slice of banana cream pie, before returning to the Hampton at about 8 p.m. I’m not the least bit musically inclined, but as I’ve come to enjoy viewing the elimination sessions of “American Idol” with Sally the past four or five years, I closed out the evening taking in this year’s final three-competition session before hitting the pillow.
On Thursday morning dawn was breaking as I headed out at about 5:30 on an hour long constitutional walk about the quiet drives in the immediate area. Having availed myself of the Hampton’s continental breakfast offerings, I was on the road for the final lap of my outbound journey to Okoboji by 8 a.m., arriving there around 9 o’clock following a drive of just 54 miles.
With the meeting not scheduled to get under way until 10 a.m., I burned off a few minutes driving around the local area before pulling up at the Higgins Museum property at about 9:30 a.m. Within minutes board president Dean Oakes from Iowa City and fellow board member Don Jensen from Humboldt pulled up as well, followed shortly thereafter by the other board members and curator Larry Adams from Boone.
The Higgins Museum is open to the public from just before Memorial Day weekend to just after Labor Day weekend. The hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. In addition to presenting a comprehensive exhibition of Iowa National Bank Note issues, it also features substantial offerings from Minnesota and Missouri, along with collections of the South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin emissions. This year a special exhibition of the rarities selected from the Missouri collection was mounted for display in Memphis at the 36th annual International Paper Money Show.
It was a relatively short meeting; we were adjourned inside 90 minutes. By 11:30 a.m. I was headed up US-71 to catch I-90 eastbound at Jackson, Minn. For much of the afternoon the drive was lightly obscured by windblown soil lifted from the many freshly tilled and planted fields along the way.
I’d logged 129 miles by the time I pulled off at Austin for lunch shortly after 1:30 p.m., enjoying Applebee’s N’Awlins Skillet of chicken, shrimp and sausage. With a service station stop following to top off the Town Car gas tank, I was back on the road about an hour later. Shortly after crossing the Mississippi back into Wisconsin at La Crosse at 4 o’clock, virtually 24 hours to the minute after crossing it westbound, I pulled off at a Culvers for about a 20-minute break, enjoying a large marshmallow sundae made with chocolate custard. From there it was a nonstop drive to home, arriving there at about 6:30 p.m.
Back home, Sally and I spent the evening soaking in the week’s “American Idol” results night installment, which turned out to our desires and satisfactions. Likewise, the five of eight days of travel I’d endured, which met my expectations and acceptance, notwithstanding the resulting rigors on my body and mind.