Sunday, May 26
Micah snuck out early on race morning (for a 5-mile walk) and shot this pano of the racetrack before the chaos erupted. It was another two hours before the rest of our crew began to stir.
I would not be going into the track this year – 40 years ended my career from the stands! From bed I listened as the pace picked up and Tom, Micah, Caleb and Halie began to stir; across the way John, Suzie, and Tim were likewise preparing. Carie arrived to buddy-up with John for an in-field ticket, Tom and Micah had new seats in turn one beneath Caleb and Halie, and Suzie and Tim claimed our old seats in the top of Turn 2. I was up and out in plenty of time to get pictures of everything leading up to departure. After Tim and Suzie had time to reach their seats, I strolled up to the front of our parking lot, called Suzie on the phone, and told her to look for me and WAVE.
A bit about the weather: we had been plagued with rain and storms all week, and the prediction for race day was more of the same. In fact, there was very little hope that the race would be able to run today. All eyes were on the radar . . . as those storms magically drifted north of the Speedway, leaving the track high and dry (if a bit hot and humid) all day long!
I have to admit that I missed seeing, hearing, and feeling all of the pre-race pageantry from the top of turn two . . . but, Alan took a Segway stroll over from camp Bremer to visit me at the start of the race! We sat outside and listened on the radio as the count-down began and the engines revved up and the cars roared past for the first time. We walked up to 16th street for pictures of the fly-over – spectacular as always – and then Alan left and I retreated inside where I followed the race.
Because I wasn’t over at the race I wasn’t in place to get pictures inside the speedway -- or of the race itself. For this I relied on Caleb and Halie – who took good pictures from their incredible seats.
What a great race it was . . . my pick (Simon Pagenaud) won, and I received $1 from each of my family! They were all back in the camping compound within 45 minutes of the race end to pay up! Allowing a little time to rest and refresh, Caleb, Halie and Micah took off for home as the traffic eased up. John, Suzie, Tim, Tom and I enjoyed an after-race cookout of hamburgers followed by a flurry of packing up, and then a relaxing evening sitting out and talking post-race-talk.
In the morning it was all over and we hooked up and headed for home -- with plans for the 2020 race already forming in our minds! We had a good 10 days at home to revamp our rig for a 7-week trip to the west coast. Check back to follow our progress from Van Wert to Idaho,Oregon and Washington State as our focus!
Saturday, May 25
My race-team (Tom, Micah, Caleb and Halie) was off to the track for the annual autograph marathon by 7:00. Leaving that early is the only way to arrive in time to line up for the first-row autographs. After two hours of waiting, and the one hour signing session, they were each able to get 6 driver signatures! After that was the free pin line, the memorabilia show . . . and, of course, a turkey-leg gobble up for lunch. As the action kicked into high gear, I received some pictures from the crew.
Meanwhile, Suzie and Tim ventured out into Indianapolis to explore the Art Museum. They spent hours, walked miles, and declared it outstanding!
A storm cell moved through the area in the late afternoon just as everyone was returning. Most found a private place to sneak away and rest . . . I snuck in and got a picture of Halie and Caleb napping in the Silvermine!
Late afternoon we roused for our night-before-the-race trip to the Big Wood’s Grill –QUAFF ON! Arriving at 5:30 we only had a 20 minute wait to be seated, and after that it quickly filled with race fans wanting to get their party on. We had a good dinner with BBQ pulled-pork nacho’s, fish tacos, pizza, burgers, and calzones. Halie and I had Peach Pie wine from Oliver’s Winery . . . SWEET!
We did a fast drive-by of Camp Bremer again – all 8 of us piled out of the two trucks for a quick 20 minute hello, and then headed back to our parking lot. The day had been hot, but by 7:30 it was finally heading into the 70’s, and it was comfortable sitting out and making plans for race day.
Friday, May 24
Action picked up this morning as a full slate was scheduled at the track. . . but not before a pocket of thunderstorms came through and washed our parking lot! Nonetheless, the boys were on their way to the track by 10:00.
I stayed at the parking lot and went for a stroll to take some pictures of the rigs that had filled in around us!
Carb day involves some kind of (unknown to me) fine-tuning of the engines and free-for-all practice laps in the morning. There is the “Freedom 100” race early in the afternoon, and a concert late in the afternoon, before things begin to wind down at the track! Our trackies, (Tom, John, and Tim) were all back by 3:00 . . . hot and tired!
Suzie and I had our own agenda! With the dogs in tow we drove over to visit Camp Bremer – an annual campout at Pat and Jennifer’s front yard – less than 2 miles from our parking lot and a mile from the track! Starting out with TAB campers 10 years ago, it is now one TAB, an Oasis, and two Airstreams! A few Bremer-Campers were hanging around the front yard, some weren’t in town yet, and some were off exploring at the track. Suzie, the dogs, and I visited for about 20 minutes. On the way back to our parking lot we hit the Kroger store again . . . hopefully for the last time!
Supper was margarita shrimp on the grill, Armenian rice and corn on the cob. That was plenty, but then a neighbor brought over a big plate of wings and the eating got pretty fancy!
Topping off our evening: Micah arrived at 7:00, and Caleb and Halie at 8:00. There was a flurry of activity as we set up the tent, hooked it up to the tailgate of the mini-van, blew up the mattress for sleeping quarters in the van, and organized everything else in the tent. . . pretty comfy digs for Caleb and Halie! Micah moved in with us in the Silvermine.
We ended the evening sitting around and enjoying the cooler evening with the whole crew in place. As the sun went down in the west, jokes flew, and people stopped by to visit. All in all the parking lot was not nearly as noisy and alive as it has been in years past. Tom and I both ended the night with showers.
Thursday, May 23
It rained during the night . . . it stormed! The alarm went off at 6:00, and by 6:30 we were leaving the fairgrounds and heading for our camping/parking lot. The drive through the downtown was dark and wet, and there was construction! We have this drive down to a science, veering off of 16th street to circle around and approach from behind. We lined up on a side street, and within 5 minutes of our arrival the parking lot opened and we followed a row of campers in to choose our sites.
Although NOBODY is supposed to arrive before 7:00 on Thursday, there are a few (quite a few) people that were already well established. Still, there were enough spots near the front (16thStreet) for us to set up camp. We claimed our 8 parking spots and angled our rigs into position with doors facing each other. Although it was raining it was clearing by the minute, and by 9:00 we were in business. . . . John's flags were flying, and we were ready to cook breakfast!
Usually the track is not open on Thursday before th4e race . . . but today it was! Tom, John, and Tim made a visit, walking all the way over to turn four, and scouting out the layout of the track for the newbies. Suzie and I made a Kroger run, and bought cook-out fixings for the evening. It was warm throughout the day – but breezy – and as long as we were positioned out of the sun, it was nice. At 4:00 Suzie and I did a little scouting trip of our own . . . over to the museum and the gift stores. Tom and Tim followed along and we ended up walking past the legendary cars; they were out revving the engines and taking laps around the track.
Back at the parking lot I took a few atmosphere pictures.
We had a late dinner of steaks, roasted potatoes, and Asian salad. I took a quick shower, John brought out his propane fire pit, and we didn’t shut down the parking lot until midnight.
The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 also happened to be the record of 144 combined turnouts for the Brown Family: Tom, 45; Ella, 41; Micah, 24; Caleb, 24; and Halie 5! I think we’re heading for a new track record . . . .
It might have happened for us every year of our married life, but it is by no means same-old/same-old. This year we were introducing the magic of the track to Airstream friends John, Suzie, and Tim. They were in for the full dose of 4 nights/5 days and whatever it might bring.
We left home at 8:30 Wednesday 22nd, and landed at the Indiana State Fairgrounds at noon. John, Suzie, and Tim pulled in at 12:45 and the 500 weekend commenced.
We only spend one night at the Fairgrounds, using it as a launching stage to land at our parking lot #3 early Thursday morning; the track was just 11 miles from the fairgrounds.
The fairgrounds were mostly deserted, although there had been a vintage Mecum Car Show over the weekend. Although it was over and most of the cars had moved on to the next show, Tom and Tim were able to walk through some of the remnants of the cars from the show . . . until they got removed from the storage area! Later, they were recruited by a moving team to help push/load Paul Newman’s 1976 Porsche into the transport van.
Dinner, just for the five of us, was John’s grilled chicken fajitas, bean dip and chips. As it got dark, Mosquitoes came out . . . and we went in to prepare for a 6:30 launch in the morning.
Thursday, May 9
Fresh off of camping on the city streets of Logan, Ohio, we had plenty of home-time this week to refresh the Silvermine (and ourselves) for a weekend of “real” camping at Mounds State Park in Anderson, Indiana.
Six years ago the Indianapolis Grand Prix debuted, kicking off the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it quickly became a new family tradition. Part camping, part racing, and part shopping, the weekend is a nice mix for everyone.
Tom and I drove to Mounds on Thursday with threatening rain and a storm-grey sky. It never did rain! Mounds State Park was decked out in emerald green, and we established camp and enjoyed the overcast day sitting outside with 73 degree temperatures. The campground is nicely shaded with established hardwood trees . . . but also sports lots of green grass. This early in the season, everything was a beautiful emerald green! There is a network of hiking trails venturing out from the campground, following along a river and leading to several Indian Mounds.
After supper we enjoyed a campfire before moving into the Silvermine for the evening. Altogether a very relaxing day!
Friday, May 9
It poured rain for awhile in the middle of the night, but was out of the area by morning. I wasn’t worried when we woke to temperatures in the low 40’s, but by mid-afternoon when the temperature was barely 51 degrees I began to have my doubts. Obviously a cold front had blown in, and it was here for the weekend.
That didn’t stop Tom from hitting the trails with Jasper . . . and the camera. Wildflowers were in bloom, and he accumulated a nice little portfolio of pictures.
Caleb and Halie arrived at 2:30 . . . too cold to enjoy any kind of outdoor camping experience! We fixed that easily by going to a movie (Avengers) and out to eat (Mexican) Both were good.
Usually Caleb and Halie put up a tent that attaches to be back end of their mini-van, and they set up housekeeping in the tent, and a bedroom in the van. But with the weather cold and so much rain, we brought out the dinette bed in the front of the Silvermine, and they bedded down inside with us.
Saturday, May 10
The boys were up and out of here at 7:45 with plans to pick Micah up where he dropped his truck at the downtown Methodist Hospital parking garage. Halie and I delayed our departure for our annual shopping trip until 10:00. We made a bee-line for my favorite store, Duluth Trading Post, and hit the jackpot in a good way. From there we went to Maurice’s where Halie had a gift card to supplement the purchase of two dresses.. Success in a little over 1 hour – my kind of shopping.
It was a wet race, and even though their seats were under a covered awning, it was damp and windy and the guys were chilled the whole race. Nonetheless, they were happy to be there -- as the only picture they took shows!
Halie and I cozied-down in the Silvermine and were able to watch the race on TV. As it ended and the guys arrived back at the campground the rain moved in and Caleb and Halie decided to head for home rather than spend another night. Smart move! Tom and I slogged it out until Sunday morning,
So who is this Baby A? I have already explained that he was a part of our decorating for the “Pimp Your Blimp”/Astronomical Adventure at Urban Air. But, he turned out to be much more than just a decoration! He was a NOVA shared event . . . at it’s best.
He apparently fell from the sky and landed in the ditch outside of our house the week before Urban Air. Tom and I stabilized and cared for him, and took him to Urban Air in an attempt to contact his . . . . folks – whatever form they might take. Via Facebook, NOVA was made aware that he would be there – and that we would need help caring for him.
Meanwhile, at our home we cared for him as best we could.
Baby A started right out with his pranks as we were setting up on Thursday. Across the street from us Moni set up her trailer and some of her embellishments. Baby A snuck over and took a nap beside her "John Glen Slept Here" sign -- a part of her decoration for the Pimp Your Blimp Contest. It was 30 minutes before Moni discovered the little fellow, and scooped him up and brought him back to us!
Baby A had many trips up and down Main Street that first night, supervised by various NOVA members and meeting a lot of people. Adults seemed to accept Baby A but children were often a bit guarded when meeting him. Dawn took Baby A to her trailer for the evening, where he met up with her giant Flamingo!
Friday Baby A started out at M&M Family diner for breakfast, where she garnered pictures with Michelle (restaurant owner), some of Logan's key citizens, and a book author that was autographing and selling his paperback.
Tom and I took Baby A to the downtown library where I was going to work on my blog awhile. The librarian would not issue Baby A an honorary library card, and when asked if he could just have his picture taken holding one -- she replied "we don't take pictures with library cards!!" (All those personal numbers, you know.) Later, I found out that the librarian was a bit suspicious because the night before a loud and disruptive man came into the library saying Aliens had landed and were trying to abduct him . . .he said there was even a Baby Alien!!!!!
My thinking on that is that at least one citizen of Logan was not handling the Airstreams on Main Street and the Astronomical Adventure theme very well!
I sent Baby A off with Tom for a morning on the town, and the pictures Tom took show the various escapades of Baby A all morning long.
Baby A was shuffled around all weekend long by all the NOVA members. Some supervised him a little better than others!
On Saturday, during the Pimp Your Blimp contest, Baby A had a job to do . . . he was in charge of collecting tickets (votes!) at our Astronomical Adventure display! My ploy to garner votes didn't work. . . Baby A didn't bring in enough votes for us to place in the contest!
Down the road from us was the exhibit of NOVA members Suzie and John. It wasn't until late in the contest judging that I walked down to see their "Area 51 display -- complete with with an active bar passing out booze shots and mini-margaritas! Evidently, his strategy for votes was better than mine -- he won that contest!
The saving grace was that that we had accomplished our goal of reuniting Baby A with his long-lost kin! I took Baby A down to see Bartender A, and it was an obvious match! So ends the story of little Baby A, who fell from the sky, traveled all the way to Logan, Ohio, and reunited with his kind!
Friday morning began with a walk across the street (and down a block) to M&M's Family Diner. We discovered M&M's several years ago, and it has been our favorite place in Logan to eat! Owner Michelle always welcomes us and poses for a picture with the guys.
Hanging' around and visiting was the menu for the day. The evening included a Happy Hour hosted by Haydocy Airstream out of Columbus where many of our NOVA group had purchased their Airstream.
There were door prizes and an auction of three commemorative items made by Tom, Sue, and me to raise money for the Urban Air project to restore the downtown theater. Sue and I made pine needles baskets with Urban Air logo bottoms, and Tom sculpted a 3D scene of aliens, Airstreams, and UFO’s from wood. All together the auction raised over $300 for Urban Air!
I didn't get a picture of my basket, but here is the lovely one Sue made bringing in $100. Tom used the Urban Air logo and his scroll saw talent to create these unique basket bottoms!
Tom's 3D Alien scene was purchased by Carl Fisher, one of the masterminds of the whole Urban Air affair. Carl makes beautiful Ukuleles that have become very popular with our NOVA group! Talent runs in the Airstreamer veins!
Friday ended with some pretty awesome lights up and down the Main Street of Logan, OH!
Saturday May 4
I don’t think it rained last night, but the weather cooled off and the inside of the trailer felt “damp” when we woke up. We took showers and then headed for M&M’s Diner for breakfast. Here's a picture of the inside of M&M's!
Today was dedicated to the "Pimp Your Blimp" decorating contest. It was advertised by Urban Air with some pretty awesome artwork to get us motivated.
I also created a button to go along with our "Alien" take on the theme and passed out 120 of them all weekend long.
After walking the dogs we hauled out our decorating stuff and began to “pimp or blimp” to the Astronomical theme. All up and down the street many were doing the same as the decoration judging was to start at noon.
With this in mind, several weeks ago we started searching for some props for the “pimp your blimp” contest. We accumulated a few items, and then I found . . . . Baby “A”. Our theme was going to be based on aliens (thus my alien-themed button) and when I saw this little baby alien on Amazon . . . . I pushed the “buy now” button without a second thought! More . . . MUCH MORE . . . about Baby A . . . later!
We had a few things to set up outside the Silvermine to follow our Alien theme: a life-size Alien and an astronaut cut-out that gave strolling people a photo-op.
Riding on the Airstream back window was a little Alien Joy Rider. Tom made a UFO from two cast-off snow saucers and some little lights. Our little electric campfire, hung upside-down, gave a credible presence of a rocket blasting off!
Sue and Terry decorated with a NOVA theme -- displaying each NOVA trailer that was at Urban Air.
Randy and Chris' Airstream glowed with constellations.
Many other NOVA members decorated . . . but I didn't get around for pictures of everyone! I must say that NOVA was well-represented in decorating the downtown area!
I did get pictures of the contest winner -- NOVA's own John and Suzie -- sporting an "Area 51" theme . . . complete with a bartender serving some pretty out-of-this-world shots and treats!
You have been seeing a few pictures here and there with Baby A in them. In my next post I will tell the whole story of Baby A.
May 2, Thursday
Moving Day dawned with the silver trailers engulfed in heavy fog at the Fairgrounds. As it lifted, the parking committee formulated a plan to park our NOVA faction first and as close together as possible, a challenging proposition with over 20 in the group!
The fog lifted, and the move started. A washing/waxing service was available for a fee, and some lined up for the clean-up before heading downtown.
The parking committee worked efficiently and quickly and over 100 trailers were parked before 2:00 p.m. Main Street and some side streets were closed to traffic and our trailers pulled in with doors opening to the street, down both sides of the street. No parallel parking was involved as the Airstream was pulled forward and over to the curb and straightened out and then just backed up to the trailer behind. It took lots of boards to level the trailers on the curb side. The parking committee members are HEROES!
Thursday was mostly a day of setting up and settling in. It took awhile to get electricity routed to the ‘streams, and with temperatures in the 80’s we warmed up a little bit before we were able to get the fans running. All up and down the streets the Airstreams were settling in for a long weekend in the downtown atmosphere.
At 5:00 a thunderstorm moved in causing a scurry as people packed away chairs and outdoor rugs and put the awnings away. It was a very hard shower that lasted about 40 minutes, and then trickled off as the pot-luck dinner approached. The large round dining tables in our large indoors headquarters allowed for a great gathering for this first evening of Urban Air.
When we emerged from the pot-luck – the sun was shining and the temperature was 68 degrees and dropping. Circle groups started appearing, the fire pits came out, and everyone settled into a social evening. Tom and I made it a little past dark, and then came to the trailer – me for a shower!
We’ve been waiting for this one for 365 days. . . . Urban Air in Logan Ohio! This is the second year for this venue, the creation of Kirk McKeller. If you want to read all about Urban Air, click here to visit the official website https://wakeupdowntown.com
May 1, Wednesday
Cleaned-up and repacked with a two-day breather from the Great Smoky Mountains, we headed out at 9:00 a.m. for a 4-hour trip to Logan, Ohio . . . just southeast of Columbus. Hometown nearest Hocking Hills State Park, the location is ideal for a little metropolitan camping, while being able to sneak off to nature through the beautiful ravine featuring Old Man’s Cave.
The “staging” area for the rally was the County Fairgrounds, and when we arrived trailers were lined up and primed to be led to downtown parking at sun-up. All afternoon the number of trailers increased and our circle of chairs got bigger as we hang out. Last year it was mostly NOVA folk that adopted this pre-rally strategy, but this year at least 50 other trailers were in on this scheme!
In small groups we walked the blocks to downtown restaurants for dinner, or cooked out at the fairgrounds.. The temperatures peaked at 85 with a stiff breeze, but rapidly cooled off in the evening for a comfortable overnight.
As it got darker at the Fairgrounds we noticed some very strange reflections on the many of the silver trailers . . . it was almost as if something extra-terrestrial was trying to signal us from above! NOVA was harboring a little stranger among the group, and this was our first sense that contact was trying to be established. You'll be reading all about this throughout my Urban Air Reports.
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2018 25' Airstream Serenity with Salsa interior and front twin beds., and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown