As you can imagine there is a lot of planning involved with a project like this. First of all we have to pick out a destination and then find a way to get there and finally find the clues along the way. As we were in the early stages of the rally, we ran into this case of "vehicular flambé" along the route:
Oh, well, this was (in retrospect) a hint of things to come.
Lest we forget, the original 2004 Sun'N Fun Run was to have roared off on August 21st. It was postponed with the help of hurricane Charlie and his friends. The devastation was so widespread that the hotel was full of displaced homeowners and FEMA personnel. For that reason we had to move the run ahead a few months. The hotel and dinner train were very accommodating and agreed to keep the rates at the "summer rate."
The 2004 Sun'N Fun Run finally took off at 8:30 AM on October 16th starting from Mimi's Café in Brandon:
As you can see, Billy decided to have an audio recorder on hand to document the day. We had seventeen cars participating. In spite of the early hour, the start went very smoothly:
Once everyone left, Jackie and I went to our hidden checkpoint to check out the progress. We had earlier had our daughter and her boyfriend do the first part of the rally; they had completed it in an hour and fifteen minutes. We got to Kash 'n Karry approximately two hours after the first car left:
Hmm; we see no cars. Jackie starts pacing,
..then the cell phone rings. It's Billy; he and Linda have once again gone astray. Since they were the first to leave, the question was where are the others; in front or still behind them. Now Jackie goes from pacing back and forth to starting to chew her nails:
Oh thank God! We see Corvette daytime running lamps coming down the road and it's a first timer, Jack Hawkins and his navigator, Andy Kerler. Well at least we know some are able to navigate okay. We stayed at our checkpoint for a half hour and only saw five cars go by:
Maybe we missed a few or they had slipped by earlier but, whatever the reason, Jackie & I were worried that the rally was too hard. Well we, too, must be on our way, since it was only fair that we should be at the hotel to greet them and we still have a way to go. Even with the highway, we wanted to be sure to arrive well ahead of the first car.
We made our trip to the hotel without any problems. There was even time to stop and fuel the bodies for the long afternoon ahead. We set up in the lobby, and put out a few munchies to welcome all our arriving friends. We figured the first car should roll into the final destination (the Courtyard by Marriott in Ft. Meyers) between 2:00 and 2:30 PM. We were once again wrong. The first car was a bit later than that. It was the bright Millennium yellow coupe of Kimberly and Paul Mesa:
Now we felt a bit better. Buzz went out to greet them with the official checkered flag (it was the one used to end the race and signed by many of the drivers of the Petit LeMans 2003):
Everyone was still conversing with each other and that's a good thing! Most seemed to still have smiles on their faces. Now, after they thought it was all over, we handed them yet another sheet with more instructions. We have to say that everyone took this in stride. There wasn't much time to rest or even have a little drink, as we had to once again saddle up and be ready to leave at 5:38PM. Two of our rally runners were still not in at 5PM so we had to call and tell them to stop writing down answers and head for the hotel ASAP. They were very close to the end but we felt dinner was more important. These two couples had both started toward the rear of the pack and one was a "newbie"; being late was not due to constantly getting lost but simply a matter of time and distance:
At exactly 5:38 PM we left the Marriott for the long drive (a total of maybe eight minutes) across the street to the Seminole Dinner Train:
I think this was a pleasant surprise for all. One rallyer was so sure that we were going to some track in the state, just not expecting a "train track". We had a wonderful dinner and great entertainment:
One of our rallyers, Mike Nostro, solved the mystery and was awarded a really beautiful mug for his sleuthing:
The train returned back to the station around 10PM.
Sunday morning had everyone having breakfast at their leisure at the hotel. All had been asked to assemble in a meeting room at 10:03AM. Here is when all learned who won the coveted trophies. Buzz did a great job as master of ceremonies. He put a lot of humor in presenting each trophy. First place winners were Paul and Ruther Byther:
Second place went to Ted and Shelly Blakeman:
..and third place to Glenn and Toni Nagle:
We did have a bringing up the rear trophy; this was quite a close race but after going through the clues -- and thinking about the telephone calls we received -- and, of course, the "not so neatness" of the answers -- the trophy went to Bill and Linda McKenzie:
We also had a few ribbons that were given out. They went to Art Haedike and Sara Cramer along with Jeff and Anne Bleiweiss. This year we didn't do a raffle but we did have several door prizes.
Once gain we would like to thank everyone for their generous donation to buy a brick to be placed at the National Corvette Museum. This rally started as a small fund raiser for the Museum and we're glad that we were able to continue this tradition. It was great for us to be with repeat rally runners but to also meet some new ones. Wish we had a little more time to spend with everyone but this is one of those times that we spend much time going over all of those very precious answers. I believe that the midnight oil was burning in our room until around 3:07AM.
All but five die-hard couples left after the Sunday morning meeting to head home or just dilly dally on their own. We five decided to play tourist and off we went to the Edison and Ford Homes. For some reason, Jackie & I were given the job to guide the caravan through the streets of Ft. Meyers; we only had to turn around once. We took the tour of the homes and gardens. One can only imagine the damage sustained by the grounds after the hurricanes. There were still some areas that needed cleanup, but the groundskeepers were doing a great job. It was fantastic that they were even able to reopen. The homes didn't receive much damage, mostly just the gardens. It's still a beautiful setting even after the devastation:
We even managed to bump into a couple of fellow rally people who had left for the homes earlier. I believe we even left a note for one couple.
Of course the ladies decided that a trip to a mall was in order. In order to persuade the guys to go, the women tempted them with the promise of sweet treats which turned out to be ice cream. So like the preverbal wind we were off to Bell Tower Mall, and the Mole Hole. I think all of us went home from there with something to add to our various collections. After a long day of shopping and spending money, it was back to the hotel for a slight rest and dinner at the Ft.Meyers Ale House, which was only a brief walk away. After dinner we (well, almost all of us) met in the lobby to discuss the weekend and partake of some libations until the small hours of the morning. The next morning found some leaving early (there may be another story here, but you won't hear it from us) and others were having breakfast together before heading on our separate ways. We decided to stop at the outlet malls on the way home, and were pleasantly surprised to meet Jim & Judy Chevillot who also took advantage of the opportunity.
This brought to a close another great rally and once again we send a big "THANK YOU" to all of you for putting your faith, trust and most importantly your weekend in our hands. Until next year, we wish you all a great year.
Buzz & Jackie, Rally masters
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