Monday, July 04, 2011

Recently we have taken two vacations; the first one to Fort Myers, Florida, and the second to the Western Slope of the Rockies.

On June 15th we flew down to Fort Myers, Florida to attend the 20th anniversary Mercedes M-100 Group meet. Though we attended a Mercedes event, this posting is primarily a travel log.

M-100 is the engine model in Lorelei. It was first put into the Mercedes 600. That engine was then crammed into the 300SEL body to create the 300SEL 6.3. Later the size was increased to 6.9 liters and was installed into the 450SEL 6.9.

On June 15th we flew to St. Luis and then on to Florida. Dianne always sits in an isle seat where she can periodically stretch her left leg. Thus on full flights I sit in a middle seat, leaving the window seat open. An unaccompanied boy sat in the window seat. Until he fell asleep, Dianne and I were his entertainment. We quickly learned that he was going to see his mother, he knew the town he came from, but only knew that he was flying to Florida. Do you know how hard it is to pick the scariest temporary tattoo when you think they are all hideous? When we landed he was not happy that we were in Florida, but he couldn't get off the plane because he was going to the next stop. As we left the stewardess told us that we were abandoning her.

It didn't take more than a few seconds in Florida to know why people visit in the winter and not in June! We collected our rental car and went on to the meet at a hotel in Lehigh Acres, a community outside of Fort Myers. (In the picture, LACPP is the Community Planning Panel. I hope you know what a teacher is.)

The plan was to get together, and then decide where we wanted to go for dinner. Well, another thing about Florida in June; you get tropical storms. We were all in the bar talking and when the wind and rain hit. The car cover on a 450SEL was blown off. People going the few feet between the hotel and the restaurant/bar had trouble with the doors and got very wet. There was no way any of us were going anywhere.

You know how rain will cool things, and after the rain it is pleasant? Not in Western Florida! It was hot and humid before the rain, during the rain, and after the rain.

The second day was the tour day. We started out by going to the Edison and Ford Estates. This is an interesting look at the life and accomplishments of Edison, and the relationship to the Ford family.

After the tour we all went to lunch and then on to a private auto collection. We were not allowed to take pictures in the collection, and instructed that anything in print with the name had to be approved by them. I don't think they intended it to include things like this posting, but to insure that I don't violate this request I will not state the name. I will say that they house the largest auto literature collection in the world, and house the greatest collection of racing cars that I have ever heard of. This collection also houses the largest Porsche collection in the U.S. For Citroen fans, they had a 2CV-4x4. I found out later that they only open the collection to about 6 groups a year, and the value of the collection is estimated to be about $500,000,000.

Well, being tour day, there was a schedule to keep. I wasn't done, but onward. Next was the Seminole Railway Dinner Train/Mystery Play. The biggest mystery of the evening wasn't on the train, but rather it was how to get there. They had a very large sign at the track pointing to the train station, but there was no road. After wandering around we found that you had to turn into a parking lot before the sign, then drive around to the train.

The play consisted of people wandering into the train car periodically and screaming their lines in bad phony Italian accents. The company at our table was better than the plot, and definitely better than the actors.

Apparently some of the m-100 group attendees recommended slowing down the pace, and the rest of the meet was more relaxed.

The next day most of the men went to a garage where a 300SEL 6.3 was put on a lift and we had a couple of tech sessions. I learned a lot, but one of the highlights for me was the ride to and from the garage in a 1956 300C.
Some of the features were:
- when the car is loaded there is a lever that stiffens the rear leaf springs to correct the ride height.
- when you close the ash tray it dumps the ash into a receptacle so the ash tray is always clean.
- it has both a gas gauge and an emergency tank should you run out anyway (which we did).
- the turn signal is combined with the horn ring, and there is another lever that when pushed keeps flashing the high beams until you cancel it.
- as I found out later, it has fitted luggage.

That afternoon Dianne and I went Latin food shopping. I found a 24 pack of Guarana Brazilia for $12. They told us that they are unable to get Antarctica any more.

The next day we had a combined auto show with the Mercedes Benz Club of America.

Most people departed on Sunday, but Dianne and I stayed another day. We started out the day by going to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. These following pictures are of the Preserve.

This is a wet lands park with lush vegetation in several micro-climates. (Double clicking a picture will expand it.)

There's at least 5 fish in this picture.

In general the birds didn't cooperate with my picture taking.

There are exceptions though.
One problem I had was that I only took a point and shoot camera with me. I figured that most of my pictures were going to be of the mechanics of Mercedes.

There is one creature that repeated posed for me; lizards.
The Crocodiles were harder to capture.
It was already getting hot and sticky by the time we got back to the car. We went out to lunch at a Puerto Rican and Cuban restaurant, then drove out to the beach. The beach consisted of almost solid houses between the road and the beach.

The second trip Dianne and I took was to celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on July 3rd.

I seems that each anniversary has themes. This year it was water, flowers, and acting like we did 20 years earlier.

Water - This year the front range had very little rain and snow, but some places in the mountains had more than 200% of normal. Even with the above average temperatures in some places only half the snow had melted. People were skiing on July 4th. Also streams were running high and fast.

Rest Stop off I70 in Glenwood Canyon.
Flowers - Dianne wanted to visit Crested Butte because of the wild flowers. The abundance of water and the above average temperatures made this a good year.

Acting like we did 20 years earlier - um .. ah ... More on that later.

On Friday, July 1st we drove to Carbondale Colorado to visit Mary Lilly. Mary Lilly is a childhood friend of Dianne's mother.

This picture is of Mary Lilly's flowers and a truck next door. I recommend double-clicking on the picture to see the flower details.

We stayed in her guest room. She drove us to dinner, and in the morning she took us out to breakfast. I hope that if I live to 95 I can be as independent as her, and still a safe driver.

After breakfast we packed the car and headed for Crested Butte. This was a relaxing trip over Kebler Pass.

Shortly after turning onto the road to go over the pass a large herd of elk started to cross the road. I tried to get a picture, but the cars kept scaring them, and then they got nervous about me. The second picture is of part of the group that retreated even with the ones on the hill calling them.

We slowly continued over the pass and got the Crested Butte in the early afternoon.

After looking around town we decided to go on to our hotel in Gunnison, and return early the next day to take a hike to see wild flowers.

Flashback to 20 years ago: On July 3rd after the wedding Dianne and I started out on our honeymoon. When we got to the hotel we were staying in that night we discovered we had left our hanging close at the house, and the next day we had to go back and get them.

We checked into the Hotel in Gunnison and discovered that we left our hanging clothes at Mary Lily's house. So we changed our plans; we were going to take our flower hike early as planned, then head back to Carbondale for our anniversary night.

The next set of pictures are of our hike. I've included a lot of them. I recommend double clicking of the flower pictures.

Water fall across the valley from where we were hiking.

Notice the bee.

The waterfall at the far end of our hike.
My favorite model resting.

Being a destination, people stop to eat. Others hope for leftovers.

On our way back to the car.
This is a research village.

We headed back to Carbondale. What took me all morning and into the afternoon to drive one way took me two hours going the other. By the way, 4 wheel drive is only helpful when it is engaged and you need it. Gravel roads are not it. A Land Rover that tried to keep up with me learned that lesson when I went into a corner with loose gravel. I looked in the rear view mirror to see him fishtailing.

Because we made such good time we decided to detour south and ended up at the Cherry Festival in Paonia. That sounded like a fun place for lunch, so we stopped. They had a food court, a carnival, and booths. There was one thing they didn't have. I didn't see a cherry anywhere.

After lunch we went to Carbondale, collected our clothes, and check into our hotel. This was our 20th anniversary; 20 years after forgetting our clothes the first time. We discovered that we left the charger for our tooth brush in Gunnison.

On the fourth we headed home going through Aspen, over Independence Pass, to Twin Lakes, then home.
River paralleling Highway 82

Near the crest of Independence Pass looking back at where we had been.

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