On Saturday, October 24th, 20 people headed towards Auburn IN. The morning was cool but sunny and the afternoon temperature rose into the upper 50s, making for a nice fall day. Most started the journey with breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Belleville. Some joined the caravan midway in Hudson, and a couple joined us at the first museum.
While we were likely a week behind the peak color change, we did see nice yellow, orange, and red foliage remaining on the trees along the 130-mile journey.
At the Auburn Cord Dusenberg (ACD) Museum, a National Historic Landmark, we were guided by the husband and wife team of Bill and Donna. They made the perfect docents for our group, as they own an XK-120 and an XK-140. The 120 has been restored, and they continue to work on the 140. Our tour coincided with a roaring 20’s wedding, replete with the period attire. We observed the staging of photos with the historic and period cars. We felt a bit like time travelers with a glimpse into the past.
The ACD Museum, where America’s landmark automobiles were created, has two full floors of beautiful cars. We were given the history of the Auburn, Cord, and Dusenberg manufacturers. Then we were told the specific history of many of the examples in the museum. We toured the design studio and the clay model studio. We also spend some time viewing the Maroon E-Type owned by our own Matthew Nold, that is on loan to the museum.
After checking in to the new “European Themed” Tru by Hilton, we had a nice, leisurely dinner at the upscale Auburn City Steakhouse. During the evening lots of catching up with old friends took place, and with a few new faces in the group, the making of new ones.
On Sunday morning we drove a couple of miles to Garrett, IN. a small railroad-themed midwest town, with their building murals and even a buffalo statue overlooking Main Street. We had breakfast at the Garrett House of Pancakes. They met us at the door as they noticed us driving past their storefront as we made our way around to the parking lot in the rear. The restaurant manager, Neele, and one other waitress give us some “over-the-top” service. The menu was extensive and the portions were more than generous, with five-egg omelets being the norm. Check out the pictures of the Hawaiin Omelet that Jackie Forkner found so unusual that she just had to try it. Their front private dining room was small but held us all comfortably. Much jubilation, triggered in part by the lively restaurant staff, filled the room at least until the food arrived. No one walked away hungry.
Our next stop was The National Truck and Car Museum, which is a next-door neighbor to the ACD Museum. It is a diamond in the rough, but not too rough. Our docent was Don. Don is a bonified car guy, who knows the history of each of the more than 150 vehicles in the museum. He led us briefly through the “diecast” room for those interested in model cars. They have 3.200 diecast cars on display, without duplicate cars being displayed. And they have about 4,500 diecast cars yet to be curated and put on display.
Don then took us around the main level and delivered details and history about most of the vehicles on display. And one of the old School “Hacks” (what they called school busses in the day), that he restored himself. And he shared a story of an 80-year old female visitor who shared her personal remembrance of riding to school in one with him.
Don took us to the basement, where we viewed the cars they are not able to display on the first floor and the ones that are awaiting restoration. He took us through their restoration area, where we say many project cars and cars still needing just a bit of work to be running dependably.
One interesting program they have is the use of youth volunteers. The students are from 13 to 18 years old, but they can remain a part of the program longer if they wish. The student volunteers must put in a few hours each Wednesday unless it conflicts with school, church or family commitments. The students do actual hands-on work with adult guidance. The process helps them build confidence in themselves and teaches them how cars work and the process of car repair and restoration. The students even get to drive many of the vehicles they work on during the parades and car events the museum supports in the local area.
On our journey back we stopped in Hudson, MI at the Rumors Restaurant. There we had a late lunch (or early dinner) before we started for home individually. Yet another opportunity to enjoy the company of the group.
Cars, scenic backroads, good food, and great conversations. Sprinkle in a bit of fall color and who could ask for more.