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By Larry Palguta

Once again, the Brits gathered for their annual 4-day Fall Tour drive. This year’s destination was Madison, IN, an old Ohio River town that we visited back in 2010. This trip would encompass a larger group of travelers – 26 total. The actual number of Brits varied each day as some joined and others left the Tour.

Thursday 19th - The rally point was Stack’s Pancake House on the east side of Elkhart. The Brits starting at this point were the Glanders and Wishmeiers (Spitfires), Shumakers (TR7), Shepherds (Mini Cooper), Wiltshires (Jaguar F Type R), and Palgutas & Scullion/Bloom (MGBs). The Petersens (MGB) had an immediate fuel leak and had some repair work at home before they could join the Tour. Shortly after 9 AM, the caravan of 7 LBCs headed out to jog our way to IN 5 southbound.

Shortly after we turned onto IN 5, the Wiltshire’s Jaguar blew out a tire. It was ironic that the most modern car (2017 Jaguar) had become our first casualty and only the 4th flat tire in all of the years of the Tour.

Philip was close to a BP gas station and drove the car into the parking lot, where we all congregated. The sidewall of the low-profile tire had a hole ripped into it, and like many current vehicles, there was no spare tire provided by the manufacturer. So Philip called Jaguar road assistance and they finally arranged to have a tow truck sent to take the Jaguar to the dealer in Indy where the tire and rim could be repaired. The Wiltshires would join us later in Madison. With the car pickup arranged, the remaining 6 LBCs headed out on IN 5. Little did we know that few tow truck drivers wanted this tow, resulting in one finally arrived from Jackson, MI after a 3 ½ hour wait.

Of course, Philip and Jan got to share a single seat all the way to Indy.
The now 6 LBC caravan picked up the Birchs (TR6) in Ligonier, the Deans (TR8) in South Whitley, and the Achors (MGB) at SR 18, bringing the group to 9 LBCs. And the Betzs (Mini Cooper) were already at Clifty Falls State Park on the west side of Madison.
After this slow start, lunch was finally determined to be at Payne’s in Gas City, a bit of a detour off our route. But Payne’s is a well-known and liked restaurant serving British dishes, and was well worth the side trip. Everyone got to relax and have a good meal. Being a bit behind schedule, our caravan drove for two hours before stopping at the Obermeyer Marathon station in Oldenburg, just north of I-74. Everyone got a good stretch and something to drink during an increasingly warm afternoon. The last leg of our drive ended at 5:30 pm when we pulled into the Comfort Inn located a bit west of Madison at the intersection of SR 62 and SR 56 (a good location). Much to our surprise, a 1949 MGTC was sitting in the parking lot. It belongs to members John & Cathy Bushnell who decided to join the Tour as a surprise.
Dinner was at El Nopal Mexican restaurant on SR 62. The Petersens were already there (a leaky fuel hose led to replacing the fuel pump to repairing another fuel hose) after driving straight to the restaurant. We were joined by Jim & Kim Betz who were “camping” at Clifty Falls State Park (motor home, Mini Cooper in tow). The food and drink were good and the service quick until everyone had to figure out which dinner being served belonged to them. But everyone left well-fed and ready to relax in the evening.

Mary Petersen tells Bev Glanders how glad they are to be there

After spending considerable time in Indy, the Wiltshires were given a loaner Jaguar 30t SUV but arrived in Madison too late to be at dinner. And they would have to leave on Saturday to pick up their Jaguar in Indy.

Friday 20th – this day was devoted to local activities of your own selection. Some headed to nearby Clifty Falls State Park for a morning hike, or straight to downtown Madison for sightseeing, shopping, etc., or for a drive through the nearby Hanover College campus. After breakfast, a group of us went to Hanover for a tour guided by former student Kai Shepherd. The winding road into the campus is close to a mile long through a large forest and rock formations. The campus has Georgian style buildings located on a plateau with beautiful overlooks on the Ohio River. Those on the drive got to walk along the major overlook on the Ohio River which is so beautiful and serene that it doesn’t look quite real. This is one of the most beautiful campuses in America. Don’t miss seeing it.

From Hanover College, we made the short drive to downtown Madison. An old river town settled before 1800, the town has many old buildings built around 1800 and later, including 150 shot gun style homes.

There are plenty of shops and restaurants in Madison; the proverbial something for everyone. From Madison, we back tracked a bit for lunch at the Clifty Falls Inn in the State Park. The lunch was good and the dining room has a nice overlook of the Ohio River. The chimneys of a power plant are literally next door but they were not in the overlook view from the Inn.

It was then back to Madison for more shopping and sightseeing, then a brief break at the hotel before back to Madison for dinner at Rembrandt’s Gallery and Wine Bar. This was the first time the restaurant had tried handling a large group (26 Brits) and, unfortunately, provided only one waitress for our large group. The wait for drinks and food was much too long, the food orders mixed up and not accurate, but the food was good. Definitely not a place to host a large group for dinner.

Waiting for drinks in Rembrandt’s

After the long dinner, everyone headed back to the hotel or State Park and relaxed during the evening. Saturday was to include more driving than usual for one of our two “local” days, but all were looking forward to the activities.

Part 2:

Saturday 21st – today was a planned drive back to Metamora, a pre-Civil War canal town. The Whitewater Canal was to be the gateway to the interior of the country. Construction began in 1824 and finished in 1846. However, the Ohio part of the canal was much more expensive, and several major floods and one in 1853 nearly put the canal out of business. Most significant was the canal’s bankruptcy which caused the State of Indiana to be insolvent, and that led to the new Constitution of 1851 which forbade nearly all bonded indebtedness. Those on this drive went up IN 421 and onto SR 62, one of the most challenging roads in Indiana, and from which trucks are banned. Although a part of SR 62 was closed, the drive still was great fun. We then headed up to Metamora, while the Wiltshires headed for Indy and the Petersens and Shepherds headed back to the hotel. The Petersen’s MGB had a failing water pump. Fortunately, O’Reilly’s in Madison would have a water pump by 4 pm.

We arrived in Metamora a few minutes before noon and went into the Martindale House (above) for a good, relaxing lunch and recitation of the house’s history by the owner. Some took the canal boat ride while others shopped and enjoyed the old canal town.

During the afternoon, it was discovered that our “dinner” reservation at the Mad Paddle Brewery presented a problem – the brewery was not a restaurant and it did not tell us that important detail. So we canceled the reservation and began looking for a new dinner location. Arriving back at the hotel, we found Bob Petersen and Kai Shepherd finishing up the installation of the water pump. As planned, the Bushnells trailered the MGTC and headed home. But back to the dinner crisis. Madison was hosting a weekend festival (2nd year of small boat races on the river) and finding a spot downtown would be difficult if not impossible. Michele Shepherd suggested a place, and Mary Wishmeier called and secured a separate room and reservation for 22 only an hour before our arrival. We dined at Harry’s The Stone Grill on SR 62. The service was great, the food and drink good, and our separate room a real benefit. A really good spot for a large group and not being located in downtown Madison helps with reservations.

Sunday 22nd – Sunday is always a drive home by the shortest route that does not include a major road (Interstate, etc.). We agreed to gather at 8:30 AM and leave at 9:00 AM. The Wishmeiers had to head straight home separately to handle a minor emergency. The Betzs were headed to Columbus, OH to await the soon hoped for birth of grandchild #2. The Achors decided to drive a separate route home to Sweetser, IN. Eight LBCs actually left on time at 9:00 AM and headed for US 421 North. Our route was primarily US 421 – SR 3 – SR 218 – SR 15. We stopped on the north side of Greensburg for a gas and bio break. North of Muncie, the Dean’s left to take US 35 to LaPorte. Our caravan stopped north of Hartford City for a quick lunch at a Burger King (choices few on the lesser roads). Somewhere north of Hartford City, we pulled into a large parking lot because the Shumaker’s TR7 was making a lot of noise at the front right wheel. The wheel was removed, the wheel nut tightened, and some grease added to the bearings which appeared to need replacement. While this was ongoing, the Achors turned into the parking lot. They happened to be passing by and joined the caravan.

Back again on the road, the Achors left us at the IN 18 intersection. At Warren, we turned onto SR218 and head west. About three miles west of I-69, The Shumaker’s TR7 suddenly went off the road and onto a broad grassy shoulder area. The right front wheel had partially collapsed and dragged them off the road. Both the outer and inner bearings had failed and the axle broke. Fortunately, Tom and Deb were fine after the bumpy ride onto the shoulder.

Bob Petersen and Mike Scullion wait

Tow truck for the ride home

Tom called Haggerty Insurance and they arranged for a tow truck to arrive on an hour. Then everyone relaxed. A couple LBCs transported Brits several miles to a gas station for a bio break. While waiting, a kind lady stopped and gave us a dozen bottles of cold water. She saw us as she drove by and knew we would be thirsty in the warm sun. So she purchased the water bottles and stopped on the return drive. True Hoosier hospitality. As promised, the truck showed up in one hour (a real surprise). The remaining 5 LBCs made it home without any further problems.
The visit to Madison was a very enjoyable one and we had a record number (26) of Brits on the Fall Tour, at least at one point during the trip. As usual, the Brits always help members who have car problems and that makes our long trips enjoyable for everyone. A special thanks to Keith Wishmeier who once again handled planning for this trip, and to Mary Wishmeier who found restaurants we all could enjoy (she is really good at that!). Mike Scullion arranged the hotel, and Randy Glanders lead some of the driving and guided us home on Sunday.

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