I didn?t spend much of the first half of March at home, being on the road 11 of 15 days. The experiences logged, needless to say, were widely varied.
These travels got under way on the first Sunday of the month with a drive to Madison to attend the 76th anniversary coin show hosted by the Madison Coin Club, recounted in my previous travel commentary. The following Tuesday found me putting the Town Car back on the road, this time for the short drive to the Appleton airport and departure for the ANA?s annual National Money Show in Phoenix.
Outside temperatures were in the single digit range as I hit the road for Appleton about two hours before my scheduled 9:11 a.m. Northwest Airlink departure for the Twin Cities and a connection to Phoenix. Chet Krause joined up with me as we awaited boarding of the flight. A scheduled 40-minute connection had us hustling to cover the ground between our arrival at the end of the ?B? concourse to our connecting departure out of gate G13 on the far side of the airport at 11:15 a.m., the 757 flight pushing back on time and fully loaded.
On the Phoenix end we were treated to a 1:33 p.m. on-time arrival. On the way to our accommodations at the Hyatt Regency, having struck up a conversation with our taxi driver, he apprised us that while we were traveling the news had broken of Brett Favre having announced his retirement as quarterback of the Packers, which came as a bit of a shocking surprise for both of us. Reaching our room by 2:30 p.m., Chet and I unpacked, then caught a light bite to eat at the snack bar before opting for a short nap.
Having arrived on the scene a day early, with no familiar faces in evidence, we spent the balance of the day relaxing in the room until heading out for dinner at about 7 o?clock. Our only option turned out to be the Compass, a revolving restaurant atop the Hyatt, where the food was enjoyable, the experience relaxing, but the prices a bit steep. Returning to the room at about 8:30 p.m., I closed out the day with a walk that ended up being about an hour in duration, exploring the Copper Square area in a T-shirt thanks to the high-60s temperature.
My Wednesday morning got off to a refreshing start at about 6 a.m. with another hour long constitutional, again exploring the streets of the Copper Square area, this time taking note of the preponderance of banks, hotels, parking garages and construction sites, along with the dominating sporting arenas hosting Phoenix?s professional baseball, basketball and hockey teams, interwoven with trackage for a light rail transit system to come. Chet and I headed down for breakfast at the Terrace Cafe at about 8 a.m., where we encountered ANA treasurer Adna and Joanne Wilde. While Chet headed off visiting friends in the area following breakfast, I headed off to the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting on the eastern edge of Phoenix proper, where I was treated to a two-hour tour of the facility by curator Peter Malloy.
My interest in visiting the Museum of Firefighting had its genesis in a contact established with Mr. Malloy three years ago when the Iola Historical Society came into possession of a 1912 Waterous Pumper on which I was doing some research. The Phoenix museum has a similar model of the pumper on display, and I wanted to do some comparisons between their model and the one in Iola, which was the village?s first mechanized piece of firefighting equipment. The spacious Phoenix museum, the roots of which date to 1961, displays 90 fully restored pieces of firefighting apparatus dating from 1725 to 1960.
Returning to the Hyatt around noon, I immediately made my way across the street to the West Building of the Phoenix Convention Center where ANA activities were beginning to spring to life. Encountered in the registration area were ANA staffers Jane Colvard, Brenda Bishop and Barbara Olson getting things organized for dealer registration, which was scheduled to get under way at 4 o?clock. They were assisted by national volunteers Merna Lighterman from Florida, Kathy Rowe from Oregon and Paul Whitnah from Texas. Having exchanged a few words with each of them, I adjourned to one of the convention center Metro Lounge snack bars for a light lunch before returning to the Hyatt to relax for a bit.
Returning to the convention center around 2:30 p.m., it was beginning to buzz with activity. At 4 p.m. I had to adjourn to an executive session of the board, at which we conducted interviews with the final two executive director candidate finalists, which didn?t conclude until about 7 p.m., at which time a convention volunteers meeting for both national and local volunteers took place in a nearby convention center meeting room with about 80 in attendance. Then it was dinner at Kincaid?s Fish, Chop & Steakhouse in a nearby office building, a gathering of the full board with informal discussions continuing until about 10 p.m.
My Thursday again began with another hour long constitutional exploring the streets of the Copper Square area, embarking on it at about 5:30 a.m. while darkness still blanketed the city. Heading down to the Terrace Cafe for breakfast at about 7:30, Chet and I were shortly joined by fellow board member Walter Ostromecki from California. At 9 o?clock our executive session board business meeting got under way with a short break for lunch.
At 3 p.m. we broke for the start of dealer and exhibitor setup, returning to executive session at about 5:30 p.m. and continuing until 7. Following another brief break we reconvened for a working dinner in president Stuppler?s suite, which played out until about 10:30 p.m., by which time we had made and confirmed our executive director decision.
Although Friday would not find me locked up in ANA board deliberations morning to night, I did have an early morning commitment that precluded my getting the day started with another walking regimen. Heading down to the lobby of the Hyatt at about 6:30 a.m., while absorbing some of the contents of the day?s USA Today, I encountered Donn Pearlman from Las Vegas, who was inbound from an early morning public relations appearance on behalf of the ANA and the show. From there I headed over to the convention center to sit in on the scheduled 7:15 a.m. volunteers meeting, joining a group that mounted to about 40, enjoying some extended conversation with Phoenix show committee chairman James Mann and his assistant Ed Brook, who headed up an 18-member local committee.
It was about 9:45 a.m. when the formal ceremonies preceding the opening of the show to the public at 10 o?clock got under way, with president Stuppler presiding, recognizing present and past ANA board members and officers, host committee chairs and local club presidents, along with a few other attendees of special note among the assembled. Those introductions predominated what was really a relatively thin assembly, causing me to wonder if that might portend weak attendance for the show. As it turned out it was anything but, as public attendance for the day built to more than 1,400, with the registration process frequently getting backed up.
Shortly after the show opened to the public I encountered George Fitzgerald from Fort Wayne, Ind., who conveyed into my hands life membership card number 13 in the Old Fort Coin Club, noting as he did so that number was one that he favors. George has been a long-time stalwart member of the club, events of which I have attended on several occasions over the years, and a regular attendee at ANA events and other major shows around the country. At noon I ventured back over to the Hyatt for lunch at the Networks Bar & Grille, being joined there by past ANA governors Arthur and Prue Fitts, along with general counsel Ron Sirna.
The open session ANA board meeting convened at 3 p.m., adjourning at about 5:30 p.m., with perhaps 25 members in the audience for all or a portion of the session. As those proceedings have been well detailed in the interim elsewhere I?ll not dwell on anything that transpired, except to observe that I came away with the feeling that most accepted the reporting on the state of the organization with disappointment but understanding.
At 6:30 I joined a group of about 20 who were bused to dinner at The Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon. The restaurant was established in 1947, being situated in the administration building of the Tovrea Land and Cattle Company, adjacent to the cattle pens where feeder cattle were fattened prior to processing in the firm?s slaughterhouse. These stockyards dated from the late 19th century. The present building dates from 1954, the original restaurant having been gutted by fire in 1953. The cow pens and the Tovrea meat packing empire didn?t disappear until the 1970s.
The evening was relaxing, the food was great and the conversation enjoyable. My ?Best of the West? prime rib was outstanding, as was a baked cherry dessert of some description. The conversation was shared with Lee and Joyce Kuntz and Jim Hunt from California, the Fitts? from Boston, and another couple who were not of my prior acquaintance, and whose names escape me, whom I recall to have been from eastern Pennsylvania. Lee Kuntz, by the way, will be serving as general chairman of the 118th anniversary ANA convention in Los Angeles in 2009. I am certain all of us had fully mellowed out from the day?s activities by the time we were dropped off at our hotels around 9:30.
My Saturday morning began with attendance at the volunteers meeting again, this time sharing a table with Mann, Broock, Whitnah and Mike ?Steamer? Stanley, a national volunteer from the San Francisco area, who had a focused interface with the U.S. Postal Service?s show floor station offering distinctive daily postal cancellations, but in reality serves as a ?handyman? for any tasks that need tending to at ANA?s two annual show events. Attendance at the morning volunteer meetings typically declines day by day, and this time around was no exception, with perhaps no more than 30 showing up.
Attendance on Saturday was strong virtually from open to close, with public registration for the day mounting to a total somewhat in excess of 2,300. At noontime I enjoyed another light lunch at one of the convention center?s Metro Lounge snack bars, sharing a table and a bit of conversation with ANA past president Gary Lewis and national volunteer Sanford ?Sandy? Pearl, both Floridians. By the time the scheduled 6 o?clock ?ANA Town Hall Meeting? rolled around, traffic on the bourse had largely dissipated, but that didn?t translate into heavy attendance at the event. There were only in the range of 20 to 25 members who availed themselves of the opportunity to interact with the board as a body, which was quite a contrast to the turnout I observed at similar sessions hosted at FUN and the NMS in Charlotte in early 2007.
Shortly after 7 p.m. the ANA board and officers joined participating ANA national volunteers, a group numbering about 40 in total, in walking over to 1130 The Restaurant in the nearby Phoenix Center. Over the next three hours everyone enjoyed an informal ?Volunteer Appreciation Dinner,? an outing inaugurated by president Stuppler as a way of extending a heartfelt ?Thank You? to the national volunteers for their ongoing contributions to the successful production of the annual National Money Show and World?s Fair of Money events. Upon returning to the Hyatt, fellow board member Joe Boling from Indiana and I spent a good hour or so lounging off the lobby comparing notes on ANA concerns before heading up to our rooms.
Having eschewed morning or evening constitutionals the previous two days, on Sunday morning I got my last day in Phoenix started with one last walking exploration of the very quiet streets of the Copper Square area from 6 until 7. Shortly after returning I bid adios to Chet, who departed for the airport and his return home. It was about 8 o?clock when I headed down to the Terrace Cafe for breakfast, joining the Wildes who were in the midst of theirs.
It was past 9 o?clock before I finished picking up my things and checking my luggage at the bell stand before heading over to the convention center.
Surprisingly, a fairly strong attendance flow developed when public registration opened for the day at 10, with upwards of 800 ultimately being registered, I understand, for a grand total of around 4,500 public attendees coming through the doors for the weekend.
I took leave of the convention center and caught a taxi to the airport shortly before the scheduled 2 o?clock close down of public registration.
Arriving at the airport somewhat before 2:30, with my flight not scheduled to depart until 4:50, I started wondering what I might do to kill all that time. Walking down the concourse I first encountered John Parker from Georgia, who joined me for some conversation at the Taberna del Tequila, where I put away a plate of nachos that would serve as my lunch and dinner for the day, while he awaited his flight back to Atlanta. Continuing down the concourse to Gate 26, at Gate 20 I encountered fellow ANA board member Wendell Wolka from Indiana, with whom I also visited while he awaited his Frontier flight to Indianapolis. Upon reaching gate 26, I then encountered Numismatic News Editor Dave Harper, with whom I shared more conversation, before sharing flights back to Appleton by way of the Twin Cities.
While our Twin Cities arrival and departure gates were in the same concourse ? C4 to C18 ? it was quite a hike that didn?t leave Dave and I much time to spare. On this flight Dave and I were able to share adjoining seats and thoughts on ongoing hobby critiques. Then, however, we took about a half hour delay in getting airborne, as the aircraft had to be de-iced before heading for the runway, so it was right on midnight when we arrived in Appleton. By the time I pulled into the garage at home it was 1 o?clock Monday morning . . . and I was dragging.
The following Tuesday afternoon found me on the road again, this time driving to Milwaukee, to attend the monthly meeting of the South Shore Coin Club. Hitting the road from my office in Iola at 3 o?clock, it was about 5 when I pulled into the Cracker Barrel at the Highway Q intersection in Milwaukee?s northwest suburbs for supper. I?d logged 121 miles, with 26 to go to my destination, the parish office of St. Romans Church on the south side, where the meetings are held, so there was no need to hurry this break.
Back on the road by 6, I arrived at the meeting site at about 6:30, just as the first locals were arriving on the scene for the 7 o?clock meeting. Total attendance ended up being about 30 members and guests. Much of the business of the meeting was concerned with the club?s then impendi ng annual show. I also had the opportunity to address the membership on the topics of the effort that is underway to exempt numismatic sales from the state sales tax, and put in a plug for the Numismatists of Wisconsin annual event set for Iola in mid-May, which had provided an abortive result when I had driven down four weeks earlier attend the February meeting, which ended up being cancelled due to snow
There was also a Show ?n? Tell session, at which I shared the promotionally packaged 1878-CC silver dollar unit that I had picked up at the Phoenix ANA. My drive home to the Mishler Family Retreat on Long Lake south of Waupaca ? 240 miles ? was uneventful and unbroken, arriving there right around 11:30 p.m..
Thursday found me hitting the road yet again, this outing requiring a really early departure from home. It was only about a quarter past 5 in the morning when I hit the road for a scheduled 7:03 a.m. United Express flight out of Appleton to O?Hare and an ongoing connection to San Diego. This trip was occasioned by a commitment to be a speaker at the 40th annual educational symposium sponsored by the California State Numismatic Association, this being the third or fourth occasion that I have participated at this hobby event over the years.
Upon checking in at the ticket counter I discovered the departure time for my flight had been pushed back to 7:30 to enable the crew to satisfy mandatory rest requirements following a late arrival into Appleton the previous evening, with a resulting computer rebooking of my ongoing travels out of O?Hare. That itinerary had me pushed back to a San Diego arrival, by way of an additional connection in Denver, somewhat after 4 o?clock. Checking in at an O?Hare Red Carpet club room, I was able to get rebooked on a scheduled 9:50 a.m. direct departure, that didn?t actually push back until about 10:20, but put me on the ground in San Diego at about 12:30, about 15 minutes earlier than my originally scheduled arrival, sans my luggage which was traveling via the Denver routing.
I caught a taxi to my accommodations at the Holiday Inn Mission Valley in the Qualcomm Stadium area, a ride that clicked the meter through the better part of $40. After napping a bit, I walked over to the Jack in the Box next door for a bite to eat, settled the contents of my luggage into the room when it arrived at about 6 o?clock, then headed out for an evening constitutional along Murphy Canyon Road, calling it a day at around 8, after walking for about an hour. Along the way I passed the headquarters of the San Diego Chargers professional football team.
Friday got under way at about 5:30 with another hour long walking regimen along Murphy Canyon Road. Later Holiday Inn shuttle driver Gabby provided me with a ride down to the bay-front area, arriving there at about 9 o?clock. I spent about six hours there exploring the Maritime Museum, reputedly presenting the world?s finest collection of historic ships, with visits to the 1863 Star of India merchant sailing ship, the 1898 steam ferry Berkeley, and the Soviet attack submarine B-39. I also toured the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier that served the U.S. Navy for a record 47 years, from 1945 to 1992. The exhibits on the Midway provided the opportunity to view up close 25 aircraft attached to the ship at one time or another, from an A-1 Skyraider to an F-14 Tomcat.
Along the way by mere chance I crossed paths with ANA controller Carol Shuman, who was in town with her husband visiting a brother-in-law and his wife. They were on their way to an afternoon whale watching outing. I enjoyed lunch at Anthony?s Fish Grotto overlooking the bay, a San Diego destination since 1946. Before catching a taxi back to Mission Valley area at about 3 o?clock, I also walked up the hill to the El Cortez, situated at Ash and Seventh streets, which in 1968 hosted the 77th anniversary ANA convention. As with all cities, the cityscape has changed a lot over the past 40 years.
Back at the hotel at 5:30 p.m., I made my way to a hospitality room hosted by CSNA education director Jim Hunt and his wife, Ellen, as an ice breaker for the next day?s activities. Also on hand in addition to fellow speakers were ANA editor Barbara Gregory, associate curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Jim Hughes, and Bay area activist Michael ?Stan? Turrini. Bringing the count up to an even dozen were Barbara?s husband Steve Bobbitt, a former ANA staffer, Michael Stanley, who accompanied Turrini for the drive down from the Bay area, CSNA president Freddie and William Grant, and CSNA past presidents Phil Iversen and Lee Kuntz. The gab session broke up around eight o?clock.
Saturday was another morning and another hour long walking regimen, which I had dispatched by 7. Following that up with breakfast in the dining room of the Holiday Inn, I was joined by Turrini and Stanley. By 10 o?clock an attendance in the range of 65-70 had assembled for the symposium.
Leading off the symposium was Gregory, who explored her 27 year experience at the ANA, coupled with an overview of the founding and development of The Numismatist. My presentation developing the history of the birth and evolution of the Standard Catalog of World Coins closed the morning session. Following lunch, Jim Hughes shared insights on the in-house and outreach numismatic efforts at the Smithsonian, with a particular focus on its San Diego area National Bank Note resources. Closing out the symposium was Turrini, who conducted attendees on a tour of the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939-40.
The symposium broke up at about 4:30 following a speakers? roundtable session moderated by Iversen that stretched out to about an hour. A gang that included the speakers, hosts and a small group of attendees, upwards of 20 in total, adjourned to dinner in the hotel dining room shortly thereafter. With the assembly dwindling and conversation dragging I excused myself at about 8 o?clock to head out for an evening constitutional, one that I cut well short of an hour when light sprinkles started falling with rain in the forecast. Upon my return I discovered that a small group comprised of Gregory, Bobbitt, Hughes and local symposium attendee Andrew Woodward had commandeered a table at the edge of the lounge just off the lobby, which I joined, resulting in it being near 10 before I closed out the evening.
On Sunday morning at about 7 o?clock I headed out on yet another hour long stroll along Murphy Canyon Road, one that was rather cool by San Diego standards. It was about 8:30 when I headed down for breakfast, joining Jim Hughes, with whom I shared extended discussions of Smithsonian?s outreach possibilities. My limo pickup was scheduled for 11 a.m. and by 11:20 I was at the airport, with plenty of time to spare for my scheduled 1:40 departure.
While the flight was delayed upwards of a half hour, arrival at O?Hare was on schedule, leaving me with just over two hours for my connection. There was ample time for me to sate my appetite at the Chili?s in concourse ?F? before catching my scheduled 9:40 departure to Appleton. With arrival in Appleton about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, I was back home by 11:15 p.m., certainly a welcome improvement on my experience of a week earlier.
I?d packed some really varied activities ? local one day show, national convention, local coin club meeting, and a time-honored educational symposium ? and experiences into 15 days, having determined that they were commitments that I could contentedly shoehorn into my life of retirement and that I would emerge from the challenge unbowed and encouraged. I can assure you that I have.