Monday, November 2, 2009

LCC-LMR Fall Driving Tour 2009

Finally...a weekend without rain! A few weeks ago, the LCC-LMR hosted the last official driving event of the year that combined two great interests of mine. Cars and architecture!

Mario and I met at the garage where the Clenet is being stored, lifted the overhead door and pushed it out into the driveway. The garage being located under a lakefront home has a pesky CO detector in an adjoining room that enjoys hampering our day by quietly phoning ADT Home Security Services should we dare turn the ignition key with the car parked inside.

With the Clenet outside and the overhead door closed, we fired up our baby and headed for the far western suburbs of Chicago to meet with the LCC-LMR guys. We drove just under two hours & over 90 miles to enjoy a 1-hour driving tour...go figure!

Bright and early this wonderful crisp & sunny Sunday morning, about 50 guys met up at a riverside park at Batavia, IL. We enjoyed hot coffee & cider with our morning pastries while gossiping and checking out the fabulous cars brought out for this drive. They were all quite wonderful and ranged from the 50's through modern. Mario and I were nearly the last to arrive and quickly parked behind a white-on-white Cadillac Eldorado Convertible.

A good hour of lively morning banter had passed with the guys were ready to assemble the caravan for our drive to Farnsworth House in Plano, IL. This would be my third visit to Farnsworth, the first being in the late 90’s just after Peter Palumbo finished an extensive renovation. The driving tour was somewhat uneventful and the fall colors were mostly hues of yellow and gold due to the very wet fall season. Along the route, we passed through several small villages with interesting architecturally-significant homes and wide open farmland.

We arrived at Farnsworth and enjoyed a private tour of the home and grounds. The home is now owned and operated by Landmarks Illinois, a not-for-profit organization that purchased the home in a much-hyped auction back in 2003.

I want to copy and build this home for myself out here in Michigan! I have become a fan of the mid-century style even though my taste has leaned towards traditional architecture and decorating. The home is basically a sparsely furnished glass box with travertine floor and white plaster ceiling yet surprisingly retains a feeling of warmth. It’s very calming.

The group toured the home and grounds for about two hours before departing for a late lunch. Mario and I said our goodbye’s after dining and drove through the southern suburbs of Chicago into Indiana towards Michigan. We returned the Clenet about twelve hours after meeting earlier in the morning and truly enjoyed our day.

Very Wet and Cold Midwest Fall Season

I feel cheated! A friend all the way back from High School posted "I can't believe it's November" on her Facebook wall this morning. I had to comment that I couldn't believe August had arrived and am in denial that September and October have come and gone!

Last Fall was warm and dry here in the Midwest. Shuttling between Chicago and the HarborCountry area of Michigan allowed me many opportunities to drive the XK8 with the top lowered. With my black leather driving gloves, I'd retrieve the Clenet from the garage and motor along the open country roads with the cool wind in my hair. Had I tried doing so this year...well, I'd still be pulling wet and slimy leaves from my face! LOL

At least I'm keeping a humorous attitude! The sunny and warm fall days were few this season and I made good use of them by taking the Clenet out for short drives.

The Clenet and my XK8 will be tucked away for the winter within a matter of weeks and I'll have to redirect my focus on other things until Spring of 2010 arrives!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Something about Saugatuck 2009

Mid September came around with the LCC-MDR guys hosting an extended weekend in Saugatuck, Michigan. My first visit to Saugatuck, MI was the summer of '89 when the Lake Michigan Region (Chicago) chapter of the LCC journeyed around the lake from Chicago. Back then, us Chicago guys would take several extended weekend trips to Saugatuck throughout the "driving" months.

This year my brother and I wanted to show the Clenet, complete with facelift and our Cadillac Fleetwood that hasn't been driving much since purchasing the Clenet last year. The weekend prior to the Saugatuck weekend, Mario pulled the Cadillac out of the garage and we spent a few hours working on it. I mentioned this in a prior blog post when I had the Clenet out front of Milda's Corner Market in Union Pier on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Our good friend Larry from Chicago wanted to join us in Saugatuck; however he recently sold his weekend cruiser, a stunning '84 Riviera Convertible named Carlotta...because she was a lot of car! I convinced Larry to bring one of the commuter trains from Chicago to nearby Michigan City, IN mid-day Friday. Mario then would collect Larry from the depot, continuing up the lakeshore to Saugatuck. I would drive the Clenet solo from New Buffalo and meet up at the host resort. Mario, Larry and I blew-off the Friday evening reception and invited antother five guys to join us for dinner in neighboring Douglas, Michigan. All eight of us nestled in the Fleetwood, we certainly made our presence known as we secured rock-star parking right out front the restaurant. Mario docked the Cadillac next to a Toyota Pius with a few chuckling as we disembarked for the restaurant. Our table being reserved allowed us to glide past those waiting in the crowded reception area and we immediately ordered several fine bottles of red. Frank and Mike…thank you for the libations!

Several Midwest regions of the LCC join the fun when the Michiana Dunes Region hosts this annual meet. We always enjoy seeing a good number of friends from both the Eastern and Western parts of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minneapolis. Many fabulous cars were driven with an (almost) matching pair of '56 Continentals, early 50's Bentley and the proverbial plethora of 50's / 60's chrome & fins! Muscle from the 60’s and 70’s, fully restored pick-ups and early smog/fuel shortage runabouts brought back memories of grade school and high school years!

The nice thing…our Clenet was the one and only, with the exception of a long lost relative being shown! An absolute immaculate 1979 Mercury Cougar Wagon in Forest Green graced the weekend show! The Saturday afternoon car show could not have been nicer with the weather being very cooperative and pleasant. Last year’s event was curtailed with biblical rainfall and an almost flooded Clenet!

Much fun was had all weekend with activities taking most waking hours. Sunday morning came and I had to leave early to meet Ken who was visiting with a cousin that he hadn’t seen in many years in nearby South Haven. With my weekend duffle packed, I said my goodbyes to a few friends milling about and wiping the morning dew from their cars. With coffee in hand I motored away knowing that the driving season of 2009 is just about over. I savored each and every mile driving the Clenet from Saugatuck.