McCormick Place; Chicago
November 20 & 21, 2004
This was a very late addition to our schedule this year. In
October, we received an invitation to be a part of a special
"Chip's Choice Reunion Showcase"
at this prestigious event. How could I pass up an opportunity
to pay tribute to everybody's friend, the late Chip Miller!
In the process, we managed to collect $220.00 for
The American Cancer Society's Chicago office.
Thursday, Nov. 18
The usual Oh-Dark-Thirty departure from Maine.
Sun streaks through the clouds were the highlights of this first leg of the trip.
Yeah, it was that exciting...
I checked into the Super 8 in No. Ridgeville, OH,
then paid a quick visit to Chuck Mallett's shop in Berea before dinner.
Friday, Nov. 19
In spite of steady rain all morning, traffic was light and free-flowing... until the Illinois border approaching Chicago. Who woulda guessed it would change there?
Tip: FORGET THE SKYWAY (see below); take I-94 instead!
Exiting I-55, there's my destination, the Hyatt and McCormick Place.
The directions were good, and we got into the lo-o-ong line, probably 1/2 mile from where
we would enter the North Building. Looking North, that's the South Building in the distance!
Looking East (right) from the line above is Lake Michigan. Really. According to the map,
the lake is just the other side of the trees under that elevated highway! Coulda fooled me, too.
The line actually moved fairly quickly, and we were inside in about 90 minutes.
Side note: One of the rules for entry into the hall was that you could have no more than 1/8 tank of gas in the car. Taking that into account when I gassed up in Ohio that morning, I used the SWAG* method to determine how much to pump. Well, under ideal circumstances it would have been fine, but thanks to the rain taking a penalty on mileage, and the Skyway (1 hour to go a couple of miles), I came up a little short, and was actually sputtering as I maneuvered into final position on the floor! Mercifully, it was the son of one of the promoters who guided me to my space, and he offered to get me a couple of gallons that had been siphoned from other cars that had too much in the tank. He came back a few minutes later with a can of filtered gas from one of the race cars!
(*Scientific Wild-Ass Guess)
To our surprise, we had a double space, right in the center of the front section of the hall!
By dinner time, we were pretty much set up.
Time to figure out how to get to the Hyatt to check in. That was an adventure in itself, with no signage referencing the Hyatt anywhere along the way, lugging bags along the mile (well, it seemed like a mile) of tunnels & escalators. Somebody along the way who was coming FROM the Hyatt tipped me off to just following the signs to the show, in reverse!
Saturday, Nov. 20
This was the view from my room on the 17th fl. of the Hyatt: The tall building in the distance
(left photo) is the Sears Tower. Yeah, I guess there might really be a lake out there! The show
is in the low building with the white support columns and suspension cables.
Elevated views of the show floor, wide and zoomed. We are right in the middle, the only
car in the hall that was displayed on an angle. Hey, why not? We had plenty of room,
so we might as well dare to be different!
Above photos were taken from behind the glass wall in the left photo below, right above the word "SHOWCASE". The yellow barriers had appeared overnight. I have never had so much space to work with!
Saturday featured a great luncheon for the Chip's Choice Reunion Showcase participants,
sponsored by Mike Yager of Mid America Motorworks. The Chevy/Vettefest promoters
presented Chip's wife, Judy, and son, Lance, with a check for $10,000 to the
Chip Miller Charitable Foundation for Amyloidosis research!
Sunday, Nov. 21
Sun, for the first time. Now that it was time to check out, I finally got a clear view of the skyline and Lake Michigan!
A couple of interesting Vettes in the show:
The red one is a '53, heavily (and beautifully) customized in 1959. Check the vertical opening doors on the yellow C5!
The show officially closed at 6:00 CST, and nobody was allowed to move before that.
I started packing up at 5:00, and was ready to start the engine at 6:00. I was out the door
at 6:21 CST. Another 10 minutes and I was back on I-94,
"Eastbound and down..."
The Fairfield Inn in Holland, OH (near Toledo) provided a (short) night's rest.
Monday, Nov. 22
Just shy of 14 uneventful hours later, we're back home again. To a very happy cat!
And so, the 2004 season ended with a big one!