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Two weeks of travel bring new treasures

My travels in conjunction with this year’s Los Angeles American Numismatic Association convention turned into a two-week outing. Rather than a direct return to Iola, I spent the following week on the numismatic trail to Colorado Springs, Okoboji and Edmonton, travels occasioned by management considerations, educational seminar participation and yet another convention attendance.

My second week of travels got under way with a Sunday flight out of Los Angeles to Denver, where I rented a car and drove 85 miles to Colorado Springs, not arriving there until about 8:45 p.m. due to traffic slowdowns on I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument. It was about 10 p.m. before I called it a day after having a late bite to eat.

Monday morning I took an hour long walking regimen. Following breakfast at the Antlers Grille, I spent some time on the phone back to Wisconsin and organizing the body of notes I’d recorded during the ANA convention, before heading up to ANA headquarters, situated roughly a 15-minute walk north on Cascade.

The next three hours were spent better acquainting myself with the functional layout of headquarters and the skeleton crew on hand for the day, with only a few of the staff who had made the trek to Los Angeles having returned to their posts. It was about 1 p.m. when I walked downtown to enjoy a sub sandwich for lunch at Jimmy John’s.  I then walked up to the Hallenbeck Coin Gallery, spending perhaps an hour there visiting with newly installed ANA vice-president Tom Hallenbeck, returning to the Antlers somewhat before 4 p.m..

I relaxed in my room until about 7 p.m. when I joined ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd, who had just arrived back in town from the convention, for dinner at Giuseppe’s. Located trackside in the old depot of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, the restaurant boasts both a delightful setting and great fare. I opted for the Rocky Mountain trout entree topped off with a raspberry sorbet. While our dinner conversations were laced with discussions of ANA topics, they were extended and relaxing, with Larry dropping me off back at the Antlers around 9 p.m..

After taking another hour-long walk early Tuesday morning, I ate breakfast at the Antlers Grille and then drove up to ANA headquarters to meet with Shepherd. We spent from 9 a.m. to noon talking about  organizational management and directions to be pursued through the coming months.

Shortly after noon I hit the road to the Denver airport, arriving at about 1:30 p.m. and catching lunch at a food court kiosk prior to my 3:45 p.m. United Express departure to Sioux Falls, S.D.  Arriving at 6:05 p.m. I again claimed an Enterprise car rental and was on the road for the 100-mile drive to Okoboji. Driving east on I-90, I broke the drive up with a quick stop at Worthington, Minn., for something to eat at a KFC outlet, arriving at my destination around 8:45 p.m. While retrieving my bags after registering at the Arrowwood Resort, I had a chance encounter with Jim Hughes from the Smithsonian and Don Kelly from Ohio, two of the speakers at Thursday’s 2009 National Bank Note Seminar at the Higgins Museum.

Wednesday morning got under way at 6 o’clock with another hour long walking regimen, this time hiking the Iowa Great Lakes Trail along the abandoned rail bed between Okoboji and Spirit Lake, as would likewise be the case on Thursday morning. Arriving at the resort’s Minerva’s dining room for breakfast at about 8, I enjoyed sharing a booth and conversation with Kelly. It was around 10 a.m. when I headed over to the Higgins Museum, where I met two early arriving seminar registrants, Dan Freeland and Bill Rau from eastern Michigan, with Higgins curator Larry Adams arriving shortly thereafter.

After visiting for a couple hours, at about 12:30 p.m. Freeland and Rau joined me for lunch at Tweeter’s. Two Higgins board members, John Hickman and Don Mark from the Des Moines area, appeared on the scene there as well before we headed our separate ways for the afternoon. The Higgins board met for its fall session at 3 p.m., followed by a light reception for seminar registrants and speakers that got under way at 4:30 p.m. with 25 to 30 of the participants in attendance. With the reception winding down around 7:30 p.m., the speakers were treated to dinner at Gepetto’s as the board’s guests. It was nearing 10 o’clock when I retired for the day.

It was around 8 o’clock  Thursday morning when I headed over to the museum, by which time the program presenters, museum board members and many of the 30 seminar registrants were already milling about enjoying the breakfast snacks that were provided. It was about 9 o’clock when the program got under way, with introductions provided by me and remarks offered by Higgins president Dean Oakes from Iowa City. Assisting curator Adams in accommodating the needs of the registrants and speakers was Rick Brosseau, who was ever present tending to details.

The day’s program featured two speakers in the morning and three in the afternoon, followed by a question and answer roundtable session. Splitting the morning program were Jim Hughes, whose presentation was dedicated to an overview of the Smithsonian numismatic division and its “Upper Midwest National Bank Note Treasures,” while Don Kelly offered his prognostications of the “‘Surprise’ Discoveries Awaiting National Bank Note Collectors.” The afternoon session featured Allen Mincho providing his overview of “Marketplace Evolution Observations; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” while Jim Ehrhardt and Steve Sweeney shared the final presentation on “Dissecting and Updating the Iowa National Bank Note Census.”

With the roundtable discussion session drawing the formal program for the more than 40 participants to a close at about 5:30, shortly thereafter I adjourned to The Wharf restaurant, overlooking the waters of the Okoboji lakes. There I joined the Wisconsin crew of Bill Brandimore from Wausau, Tom Snyder from Waukesha, Dave Hunsicker from  West Bend and Mark Anderson, a New Yorker who claims strong family roots to Grantsburg in northwestern Wisconsin. By eight o’clock I’d excused myself to return to the Arrowwood and called it a day.

On Friday morning I rolled out of bed to a 3 o’clock alarm, hitting the road back to Sioux Falls by 3:30, arriving at the airport there at about 5 as dawn was breaking. Breakfast was a cinnamon roll, a banana and an apple juice at the Sky Dine snack bar in the terminal. My 6:20 United Express commuter flight departed on schedule, arriving in Denver about a half hour ahead of schedule at 7:20. That provided me with a connecting time of a full hour for my United Express flight to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which turned out to be on a lightly loaded 66-passenger commuter aircraft.

My flight arrived about a half hour early. I arrived at the Delta Gateway Hotel at about 11:30 a.m. This was the venue for the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association’s 56th annual convention. It was the third time the organization gathered in Edmonton, having previously done so in 1979 and 1998. There I was greeted by convention co-chairman Jamie Horkuluk, from whom I learned my early arrival had blown the timing for an intended courtesy pickup at the airport by fellow co-chairman Marc Bink.

Familiar faces encountered early on included Phil Carrigan from the Chicago area, Lee Gong from northern California, Brett Irich from the Detroit area and Bill Kamb from central Ohio, the central U.S. director of the RCNA. Among the other familiar acquaintances encountered early on were RCNA president Michael Walsh from British Columbia, past president Charles Moore from California and incoming president and CN Journal editor Dan Gosling from Alberta. Then there were Canadian Coin News publisher/editor Brett Evans from Toronto, long-time Ontario hobby stalwart Bill English, veteran world paper money specialist and IBNS supporter Milt Blackburn from British Columbia and private minter Tolling Jennings from Lasqueti Island.

Having availed myself of lunch from the hospitality suite buffet organized by Tony Peter, and after spending a couple hours exploring the offerings of the convention bourse, at about 4 o’clock I adjourned to an informal meeting. This session was with RCNA executive secretary Paul Johnson, incoming president Gosling and incoming first vice president Bill Waychison from Timmins in the northern Ontario metals mining district, to discuss the possible exploration of undertaking jointly developed organizational pathways towards greater numismatic impact across North America. Our discussions extended over an hour or so, with an understanding that we would undertake to assemble on a more formal basis in the near future.

At 6:30 I joined perhaps 90 or so other attendees in being boarded onto two buses destined for an evening barbecue outing in an authentically reconstructed early 19th century Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in the setting of historic Fort Edmonton Park. We were treated to narrated tours of several of the structures, following which we sat down to dinner in the Clerks’ Quarters. The menu for the enjoyable meal was a throwback to the frontier era, prepared by Elizabethan Catering Services and accompanied by musical entertainment in keeping with that time. It was about 10 o’clock by the time we were returned to the hotel.

On Saturday morning I rolled out of bed at about 5:30 to put in an hour long constitutional along Gateway Boulevard and paralleling Calgary Trail. It was about 8 o’clock when I headed down for dinner at the hotel’s Botanica restaurant, joining Johnson, the Goslings (Dan and Judi) and the California trio of Gong, Mike “Steamer” Stanley and Stan Turrini, the latter being the western U.S. director of the RCNA. The conversations were light and enjoyable, breaking up around 9:30 a.m.

With the 50-dealer, 74-table bourse opening to the public at 10 o’clock, within the hour the floor was very active, significantly more vibrant than it had been on Friday afternoon. Traffic and activity appeared to be steady and healthy throughout the day. With the bourse scheduled to close at 5:30 and dealers generally well into the process of packing up their wares for departure, as the only lingering Sunday activities of the convention would be a couple business meetings, by about 5 I decided to return to my room and relax for a bit in advance of the closing banquet.

The reception got under way at 6 o’clock, and the banquet at 7. At the banquet I was invited to take a place at the head table to bring greetings from the ANA. My brief message focused on the interaction between Canadian personalities and the ANA over the years, emphasizing that some had been centrally involved in the ANA’s rescue when it was foundering in the early 20th century.  I also presented Paul Johnson with a Numismatic Ambassador Award that he had been named the recipient of at the Numismatic News breakfast at the ANA in Los Angeles. Banquet attendance was probably in excess of 100.

Others seated at the head table were convention co-chairs Bink (master-of-ceremonies) and Horkulak, outgoing RCNA president Walsh and his companion Edi Oelin, and Allan Lee. I was seated next to Lee, an engineer who spent 32 years with Sherritt Gordon Mines in nearby Fort Saskatchewan, retiring in 1994. Much of his work was in developing and marketing metal products to the minting industry. I enjoyed discussing his role at the Sherritt Mint in some detail. He was the banquet speaker, offering attendees insights into the competitive environment involved in Sheritt’s development of aureate-bronze plated nickel production for the launch of Canada’s “loonie” dollar in 1987.

It being somewhat after 10 p.m. before the banquet broke up, I passed on an invitation to adjourn to the hospitality room before retiring, as I had scheduled a 4 a.m. wakeup call for Sunday. I caught a SkyShuttle for transportation to the airport at 5, clearing U.S. customs, immigration and security around 6, which allowed me time to have a couple breakfast rolls and some juice before boarding a 7:29 a.m.  United Express departure on a fully loaded commuter flight to Chicago.

I arrived at noon with a three-hour connection layover that deteriorated into one of some six and a half hours as a consequence of weather and equipment delays. The scheduled 2:55 commuter flight to Appleton did not depart until about 6:25 p.m. Having opted for the snacks in the United Red Carpet Club room for lunch, anticipating that I would be home for supper by around 5, after repeated delays I decided to step across to the Chili’s in Concourse F, treating myself to a plate of nachos, which turned out to be supper. The flight didn’t land in Appleton until about 7:15 and I didn’t get home until around 8:30 p.m..

Having ended up with considerable time during my the O’Hare layover to ponder the experiences of my two-week outing, I was returning home reflecting on the exhaustion I was feeling. I actually found my thoughts slipping back to the 1982 Boston ANA, an outing that embraced 10 or 11 days on the numismatic trail as I took in that year’s full run of both the ANA and pre-ANA events. At the time I swore that I’d never again subject myself to such a taxing outing; I didn’t for 27 years!         

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