|Members and guests are encouraged to attend club drives; drive your British car or non-British car - join the fun!
Brits Tangle with Mad Dogs
By Larry Palguta
The Michiana Brits LBC driving season usually kicks off with the annual Spring Drive. The Drive is typically to a destination in Michigan (e.g., Marshall, Holland) or even a more distant locale (e.g., overnighter to Wilmington, OH). This year ushered in a new concept - a combined drive by the Brits and some members of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen Club from Kalamazoo, MI. The designated spot for lunch being the Fisher Lake Inn in Three Rivers, MI, it was decided to have a generally east-west route to make attendance easier by members of both clubs. The result was a morning drive by the Brits, lunch together at Fisher Lake, and then a combined drive to Dowagiac, MI.
Tom & Debbie Shumaker developed the routes for the morning and afternoon drives, and Debbie wrote the scavenger hunt questions. But the Shumakers opted for a vacation on the beach in Destin, FL, so I drove the route with Tom on the Saturday preceding the May 19th Drive.
The starting point for the morning drive was a new gas station/convenience store on the east side of Mishawaka, IN. Eleven cars responded that they would show up for the drive, but non-RSVPs kept showing up until the parking lot had about 16 LBC’s. A couple of non-fellow travelers also were there: a member who needed info on an electrical issue (ssuuurrrpprrise, surprise, surprise!) with his Spitfire; he got some assistance from one of the club’s experts on Spits - Randy Glanders. Our faithful Treasurer David Piser was there to visit and wish everyone a good drive, and picked up some dues $ along the way.
Brits congregating before the drive
I handed out the scavenger hunt and route instructions, but only three cars had CBs, so Randy & Bev Glanders volunteered to be the tail ender and John Eslinger in the middle of the caravan. The drive included two cars from the Austin Healey Club of Northern Indiana - John & Rita Eslinger, and Jack Summers (and Dante & Theresa Kobek who belong to both cubs). We ran out of handouts and the Glanders (who absolutely needed a set) didn’t get a copy. But under a very clear sky and an increasingly warmer temp, we headed out at the 11 AM departure time.
The initial portion of the drive was local roads around Granger, and we quickly hit a delay on Redfield Road when we got behind two slow moving hay wagons. But we jogged roads to Edwardsburg and then had to stop briefly at a very busy gas station to wait for a car that supposedly broke down (Randy and the car appeared quickly). Once north of Edwardsburg, the caravan covered a lot of rural Michigan, making only one missed turn at Mount Zion Road. The group followed a scenic route by Birch Lake, the north shore of Harwood Lake, and four other lakes. Everyone arrived at the Fisher Lake Inn at 1:10 PM to join Brits members Chuck & Blanche Knight, David and Teresa Terhune, and a contingent of Mad Dogs led by Marna Prine. The parking lot was filled with 20 British cars and the restaurant had 41 Brits and Mad Dogs for lunch.
Parking lot of British iron
Expecting 25-30 for lunch, the restaurant was a bit overwhelmed but got most of the group served quickly. However, serving the remainder of the group took much longer, so lunch was an hour and a half affair. Nevertheless, everyone got in a lot of enjoyable socializing. The scavenger hunt was won by Stan Glanders and friend Pam who had 6 out of 10 points; they received a hummingbird feeder. When lunch was finished, some drivers chose to head home, some to take a different route to Dowagiac, and some to do the afternoon portion of the drive to Dowagiac.
At the Fisher Lake Inn
After lunch, a caravan of about nine cars headed out for the afternoon drive. This part of the drive had the longest stretches of relaxing cruising – 9 and 5 mile straight runs on Dutch Settlement Road. The group drove past several lakes and St. Greggory’s Abbey, before one wrong turn and arrival in Dowagiac. John & Kathy Bushnell, in their 1949 MGTC, consulted their map and headed back toward the starting point to make an evening activity. Those staying in town expected to see some of the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival – but the art work in store windows was hard to find. So several people hit the ice cream and soft drink store, while others wondered about. Deb and I headed into the Wounded Minnow Bar and found the Kobeks, Eslingers, and Jack Summers enjoying the air conditioning and cool drinks. Our appreciation of fine art was limited to watching advertisements for the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival on the TV set. But the cold drinks made up for the hard-to-find Festival activity.
At an agreed upon time, Deb and I met the Jim & Kim Betz in their 1960 MGA and headed out of town only to attach ourselves to the back of the Eslinger-Kobek-Summers group headed south. We arrived home shortly before 6 PM, having had a full day of LBC driving and enjoying the companionship of both clubs’ members. The drive traversed many scenic back roads, the weather warm and delightful, and the fellowship of LBC enthusiasts couldn’t have been better.