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NCM 20th Anniversary Caravan Was RVC Trip Of A Lifetime

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The National Corvette Museum 20th Anniversary Caravan to Bowling Green, KY was not about Corvettes. It wasn’t about driving two-thirds of the way across the USA. Nor was it about seeing the infamous Sink Hole.

The NCM 20th Anniversary Caravan was about members of Rogue Valley Corvettes sharing an experience and a trip of a lifetime. It was an event all will remember for years.

Nine RVC members – Rod McLeod, Roger and Pat Puhl, Dan and Cyndi Richards, John and Sharon Warren, and Tony and Diane Wiggins – embarked on the NCM 20th Anniversary Caravan from the Rogue Valley to Bowling Green on Thursday, August 21, 2014. The last of the Caravan crew returned home on September 27th – some 8200+ miles later.

On Day 1 of the NCM Caravan, the RVC ‘Gang of Nine’ had a pre-launch breakfast in Shady Cove. Jim and Marilyn Pack and Dave and Linda Guches join the group as the first-ever patrons at the new Mac’s Diner. After some well wishes and goodbyes, the RVC Caravan Crew headed to Sandy (outside of Portland) by way of Bend. In Bend, RVC had lunch with some High Desert Corvettes members. That afternoon, the five RVC cars made their way to Sandy for the official start of the Pacific Northwest National Corvette Museum 20th Anniversary Caravan launch. On the evening of Day 1, the RVC crew took part in a dinner attended by many of those who would embark on the Caravan the next morning – it was exciting to be surrounded by so many Corvette enthusiasts, all of whom were making the trek to Bowling Green.

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Day 2 of RVC’s NCM Caravan started at Suburban Chevrolet – the largest new Corvette dealer in Oregon. Suburban Chevrolet provided a first-class breakfast buffet for upwards of 200 people – it was wonderful hospitality, great food and an exciting atmosphere. After breakfast, the RVC five cars and nine members grew to a Pacific Northwest NCM Caravan group of 85 cars. Television, radio and print media – along with many daily commuters – witnessed our mass exodus from Suburban Chevrolet. It was a thing of beauty. After pulling out of Sandy, we headed around the base of Mt. Hood and into the Columbia Gorge. From Biggs, OR, the Caravan headed north and east toward central Washington. In the Tri Cities, the Caravan grew to 150+ cars and 300 or so Corvette nuts – all of whom were treated to lunch at a local Chevrolet dealer. By the time the Caravan reached the Coeur d’Alene, ID Resort Hotel in Worley at the end of Day 2, there were 200 or so Corvettes in the parking lot.

Day 3 of the Caravan saw the RVC ‘Gang of Nine’ grow to the ‘Gang of Ten’, as Rod McLeod’s friend, Bob Korbol, joined the ranks. Rod and Bob worked together at REI and have been friends for years. Day 3 also saw the RVC crew roll across most of Montana – mostly at high speeds, and all of it in the rain. At mid-day the Pacific Northwest Caravan had the unique opportunity to visit one of the world’s great Corvette collections – the Dave Ressler Collection. Ressler’s collection includes the oldest known Corvette (Serial #3, 1953) and numerous unique and very rare Corvettes. Lunch was served, but it was the opportunity to view the collection that satisfied every Corvette enthusiast on the Caravan. By nightfall, the Caravan had made Billings, MT – it was a long, rainy day. But it was a chance to see the best privately owned Corvette collection in the world.

On Day 4, RVC and the Pacific Northwest Caravan traveled from Billings to Cheyenne, WY. The RVC ‘10’ toured The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper. The Trails Center interprets the significant role of the area’s historic trails in the history of the United States, and seeks to promote public understanding of both America’s western Native cultures and historic westward expansion while highlighting BLM’s role as active stewards of public lands. With a posted speed limit of 80 MPH, RVC had no trouble making time across Wyoming after the museum visit, and arrived safely in Cheyenne by dinner time.

Day 5 of the Caravan saw 300+ Corvettes depart Cheyenne for Lincoln, NE. RVC opted not to attempt lunch with 600 of our closest Corvette nuts – instead, the group found a bowling alley in North Platte that served chicken wings. ‘Winging it’ for lunch proved tasty and saved time. At 80 miles an hour, the Cheyenne to Lincoln leg of the trip was a pretty easy day. By the time the Caravan reached the Holiday Inn across from the University of Nebraska’s famed football stadium, 800 Corvettes blanketed the six-level parking structure – every spot had a C-something parked in it!

Day 6 of the NCM 20th Anniversary Caravan took RVC from Lincoln to Columbia, MO. RVC traveled on Interstate four-lanes, State Highway two-lanes and country roads to make Columbia. At the auto auction yard east of Columbia that evening, nearly 1000 Corvettes converged for a barbeque dinner and a chance to wash the cars. After days that included rain, road construction and thousands of 80 MPH bug splatters, an hour wait in the wash line and a donation to a local children’s charity was worth getting the RVC cars clean again. That evening at the hotel, a high velocity thunderstorm made sure every car was thoroughly rinsed – thoroughly.

Day 7 of RVC’s adventure in the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the NCM saw the group drive from Columbia to Bowling Green – sort of. Up to this point, all of the routes, plans and preparations had been meticulously prepared by the Pacific Northwest NCM Caravan Captain, Robin Forrer – she did an outstanding job. From Columbia, RVC was in the hands of some less prepared individuals from the Midwest. The plan – if you can call it that – was for the Caravan to meet in a small town about 30-miles outside of Bowling Green, then follow a State Police escort into the NCM. But, there wasn’t really a plan and there was no communication about the non-existent plan. RVC arrived at the small town at the designated time and … Nothing. No Corvettes. No Caravan. No plan. As RVC made its way through a town the size of a Costco parking lot, the group found hundreds of other Corvettes – driving in every direction possible, with no one knowing where to go or how to get there. A receptionist at a local law office called the local police department, who then, in turn, called the local sheriff, who thought they knew where the Caravan was supposed to meet. RVC and hundreds of other Corvette nuts found the designated staging area shortly before the scheduled police escort – again, however, no plan. The State Police pulled out of the staging area and left 1000+ Corvettes in their dust. In Bowling Green, a Corvette with some engine warning light issue pulled off at a freeway exit, only to have hundreds of Corvettes – and RVC – follow them. Getting to the NCM in Bowling Green was, well, a cluster of magnificent proportion. But RVC got there! In time. All cars present and accounted for. And still laughing and loving the time together.

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Once in Bowling Green, RVC members enjoyed the National Corvette Museum, the Corvette Assembly Plant, the new NCM Motorsports Park and Bowling Green in general. As had become a tradition on the NCM 20th Anniversary Caravan, RVC members gathered every night for Happy Hour and dinner – the ‘Gang of 10’ spent nearly every waking, non-driving moment together. And they enjoyed it!

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After four days in Bowling Green, most of the group toured the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery in Frankfort, KY. Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America. During Prohibition the distillery was even permitted to remain operational, to make whiskey for “medicinal purposes”. Following the distillery tour, the RVC group headed back to Bowling Green before the five cars and 10 people began making their own trips back to the Rogue Valley.

As a group, the RVC cars traveled nearly 40,000 adventurous miles across America – from the Rogue Valley to Bowling Green and back. It was not, however, the miles or the museums, or the Corvette Assembly plant that RVC members will remember most. It was the Camaraderie, the fun, and the experience of a lifetime with friends that will be remembered most.

RVC’s participation in the National Corvette Museum’s 20th Anniversary Caravan was what the Corvette culture is all about.

 

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