After three years of not attending, I decided to travel to the 47th Annual The Dayton Hamvention®. Thanks to Trans World Airlines, I was able to cash in some of my Frequent Flyer Bonus miles for a free round trip!
(For the purists, the TWA's FFB program is now called "Aviators (sm)".)
As is usual with me before a trip, I checked all major car rental agencies for the best rate. In this case, Avis was the lowest, so I made a reservation and got a confirmation number.
I knew that it would be difficult to get a hotel reservation, so I didn't even try. Since Dayton area hotels and motels fill up three or four times per year with major conventions, each property usually gives first priority to those who stayed there the prior year. On my last trip (1994) I had been lucky and found a place to stay. However, since I had not been there for some time, I had no "recent history," and therefore no reservation. Rather than agonize over it, I decided not to worry about it.
On Tuesday, May 12, I took Barney to the Wagon Yard Kennels, because they take such good care of him while I'm gone.
On Wednesday, May 13, I set the alarm early, then took some Motion Mate (natural ginger root-peppermint capsules) to prevent travel sickness and made it to the airport just in time to take TWA's first flight out to St. Louis (MO) and then to Dayton (OH). The flights were fine, although we arrived 20 minutes early at Lambert Field (St. Louis) and had to sit on the plane, on the tarmac, while they arranged for us to use another gate. It was approximately 85 degrees in St. Louis.
The next flight segment was uneventful; it was also warm in Dayton, but that gave way to thunderstorms. See below.
This was my second flight experience with the Motion Mate capsules and I'm happy to report that they worked very well. I never felt sick to my stomach and totally avoided the drowsiness that comes with taking standard travel sickness medication.
I rented a brand-new Oldsmobile Achieva, a four-door front-wheel-drive GM product. The door locks were automatic, locking the doors when the gear selector was put into "drive" and then unlocking the doors when the ignition was turned "off." It was hard to get used to turning the key "off" and THEN opening the door. (I guess I didn't realize it, but I open the car door before turning the ignition switch "off" quite frequently.)
I made some calls from the airport but was unable to find a motel that could house me for five nights. I found a room at the Fairfield Inn on Miller Lane just off I-75 at Little York Road (those of you who have been there may be familiar), but they told me I would not be able to stay more than one night.
As I dined at Bob Evans Restaurant (on Miller Lane south of Little York Road) that evening, we had thunder, then rain, and then hail was hitting the windows so hard that some customers asked to be moved to other tables. The storm passed in about 20 minutes.
On Thursday, May 14, I knew I had to move on. After checking out at the front desk, I partook of their Continental Breakfast, consisting of several juices and hot drinks, fresh fruit, cereals, English muffins, bagels, toast and a few others. (I did NOT have one of each.)
After a little bit of checking, I lucked into a room at the Ramada Inn ($94/night!) on Little York Road. It was not very special, but it was better than sleeping in the car, and they said I could stay through the weekend.
[It was interesting to note that their Continental Breakfast was orange juice, apple juice, coffee and what appeared to be day-old donuts. They also had "mass quantities" of three breakfast cereals in plastic storage/serving containers. I assume milk was available but I didn't see any.]
I bought a single-use camera and managed to take 27 pictures of stuff around the area over the next few days. Watch for pictures to be posted.
I spent most of the morning at the United States Air Force Museum on the grounds of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on the outskirts of Dayton. I've been there two or three times before, but they constantly add new exhibits. Particularly notable this time was an exhibit related to Francis Gary Powers and his U-2 flight over the Soviet Union. I also saw the North American XB-70 Valkyrie and the Lockheed F-117A "Nighthawk."
This time I went over to see their "Presidential collection" at "the Annex," a hangar just a few minutes away by car. Visitors can see an additional 50 airplanes and are allowed to go aboard three presidential airplanes including the so-called "Sacred Cow" on board which President Truman signed the Executive Order creating the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force.
That evening I spent a couple hours with the rest of America watching the Seinfeld "Clip Show" and the finale episode, along with extensive CNN coverage of the death of Frank Sinatra.
On Friday, May 15, I headed toward the Hamvention®. Since I got an early start, I "toured the countryside," looking at the extension of Turner Road across Wolf Road (all the way to Salem Avenue-State Route 49) and watching Trotwood police officers posting temporary metal signs on existing sign posts, showing changed traffic patterns around the arena.
There is no visitor parking on the grounds of Hara Arena, so everyone was encouraged to use shuttle buses. I parked at Forest Park Plaza with about 50 other hams. It was well after the published bus starting time of 8 a.m. when a security guard came around to tell us that the place we were supposed to be was at the rear of the shopping center. Either all 50 of us missed the signs, or else the posted signs provided insufficient location information. (I vote for the former.)
Upon arrival at Hara Arena, I toured the entire 10-acre outdoor Flea Market with all the equipment and junk for sale. I did not find any "superlative values" but I'm sure a lot of people found wonderful treasures to take home.
I visited many of the indoor vendors and picked up some new-product literature. According to radio station reports, it was the hottest day of the week; approximately 88 degrees outdoors and not much better indoors. The humidity both indoors and outdoors seemed to be about the same - 88 per cent. Rumor had it that a major generator at Hara Arena had failed and there was no air conditioning indoors.
I stopped at the local AAA office on Main Street at Turner Road to get a current Dayton-area map. The one I had gotten from the CSAA before leaving was three years old.
On Saturday, May 16, it was Hamvention via shuttle bus again. I attended some interesting forums and visited many of the vendors. It was another hot day and the air conditioning wasn't working very well. It was extremely crowded and quite unpleasant indoors.
On Saturday evening I went over to the Nutter Center at Wright State University for the Grand Banquet. They let us into the building but then stopped us in the hallway. Picture about 500 hams who had gone back to their homes or motels to shower and shave after walking in the burning sun for several hours; picture them arriving at the appointed time; then picture them having to stand in the hallway with their wives and girlfriends for about 15 minutes with no explanation of delay. Finally, we were seated at tables on the main floor of the gymnasium. Both the salad and the dessert were already on the table. The only choices of beverage were coffee, iced tea and water; nothing else was offered; I was a little disappointed. The prime rib was okay but there were too many carrots!
After dinner, we enjoyed a concert by country music star Ronnie Milsap.
On Sunday, May 17, I spotted some geese by the side of North Dixie Drive near the Dayton Cemetery. When I stopped to see if they were concrete or real, they started honking at me, so that answered that question. Evidently they live near a pond on the premises.
Again I took the shuttle bus over to the Hamvention. It was hot outdoors and not too bad indoors. The prize drawing started at 3 p.m. and was finished shortly after 4 p.m. I didn't win anything.
After I got back to Forest Park Plaza, I took another tour of the area. This allowed me to take a few pictures of geese on front porches*, to stop at the Holiday Inn Dayton North (where we used to stay), and to pick up some spaghetti to go at Marion's Pizza on North Main Street at the traffic circle at Wagner-Ford Road.
* = I was able to answer the question "what is the proper way to ask a lady for permission to photograph her goose?" The lady on Siebenthaler Road came out when her dog started barking at me. I explained that I was photographing geese and she apologized that hers were "undressed," but she'd been traveling and hadn't had time to do so.
On Monday, May 18, I got up early, checked out of the Ramada Inn, returned the rental car, took the first flight out and returned to San Jose late in the morning. The flight from Dayton to St. Louis was packed "like a cattle car on wings," but it was on time. The flight from St. Louis to San Jose was much less crowded and arrived about 10 minutes early. The Motion Mate proved worthwhile by keeping me comfortable and alert during both flight segments.
Upon arrival in San Jose I took the shuttle over to the parking lot and headed to the kennel. Barney was glad to see me [ ! ]. When we got home, he checked the whole house, then took to the pool for some drinking water. Fifteen minutes later, he was resting comfortably in the hallway, glad for things to be back to normal. So was I.