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10 Years Ago This Month

To Boldy Go

Date: April 24, 1999
Time: 10:00 AM
Place: South Carolina Welcome Center
Members Present: Brian Bogardus, Donna Bogardus, Jim Creer, Hilda Delionbach, Leroy Delionbach, Jill Dobson, Susan Harrison, Kris Kaufman, Ron Kaufman, Stephanie Kaufman, Russ Schwalbert, Cindy Timmerman, Stacey Timmerman, Ernest Van Horn, Rudy Wilmoth and Brian Wynne.

….as usual, it took an act of congress to get the assembled to stop looking under hoods or checking out new Miata goodies and actually into their cars for the drive to Columbia. We finally got going with Ernest in the lead of a 9 strong line of Miatae. Jim Creer, with co-pilot Ronald Reagan (really Shawn Arrowood with a RR mask), took up his usual position at the back of the pack.

We began with a short 4-mile trip on I-20 until we could exit onto US25 for the mostly back road trip to the State Museum. The first few miles of US25N are lined with the elaborate homes of the infamous Travelers, also known as gypsies, that have “starred” on such shows as CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s 20/20. Soon we were on two-lane blacktop zipping through the South Carolina countryside, slowing only to pass through little towns with strange names, like Smegma, Spasmodic, Frog and the far-flung Islands of Langerhands.

First stop was Shealy’s Bar-B-Q in Leesville. This is the official Master’s Miata lunch place on our trips to South Carolina’s capitol city. We always park across the street in a gravel lot, ignoring the numerous No Parking signs, as this is the only place to park a group of cars and you know us, we’re a lawless bunch. Shealy’s is a buffet style restaurant with so much variety I always get to the end of my plate before I get to the end of the food selections. After lunch the group reassembled in the parking lot to dust off cars, open hoods, blah, blah, blah… I swear, we need to issue the Rally Master a cattle prod.

Finally, on the road again. We had mostly smooth sailing until we ran into the town of Lexington, here traffic and traffic lights made keeping the group together interesting. Thank goodness for CBs. Somewhere between Lexington and Irmo we picked up a blue Miata on the tail end of our group. The trip to Irmo was just so that we could drive over the dam that forms Lake Murray before heading into Columbia. Cool side-trip, not exactly Hoover Dam, but big lake on the left and a big hole on the right. Wouldn’t want to drive off either side. Somewhere near the dam we picked up a black Miata, but they didn’t stay long.

Just as we were getting ready for the final sprint down I-126, we snapped the last three cars from our tail by taking a right turn just out of their site. Fortunately we realized this while they were still in CB range and circled the wagons in a strip shopping center while waiting for their return. It took a while because the road we were on didn’t have a left turn arrow to it. Kind of interesting to watch the drivers of giant SUV get frustrated waiting for a line of Miatas to exit the parking lot and have to back up and go use the other exit.

While in line to pay at the museum someone noticed that we could save 50¢ if we were a group of ten or more. Somehow I got elected to collect the money. High finance ensued, fives, ones, twenties and tens flew. When I got to the cashier I handed her a wad of money, but I had no idea how many people were there. Two people counted and came up with 16 so that is what I told her. Well, it turns out I gave her $18 too much. We got the overage back in ones and started to pass them out to everyone as a rebate. Then I handed out the tickets. We were three short; turns out there were 19 of us. So I collected back the dollar rebate from everyone and got back in line. When I got to the same cashier again I told her we miscounted and I needed three more tickets, could we get the discount still? She handed me three tickets and said, “Don’t worry about paying, just go, it will be easier.” For her. I was the one who went back around and handed out 18 ones to everyone again. (I don’t know why there were 18 dollar bills and 19 people. Who got shortchanged? Was it me? Who knows.)

We all made a beeline for the Star Trek exhibit. So had everyone else, it seemed, who was visiting the museum today. This area was packed, so much so that the rest of the museum looked empty. The exhibit was labeled “The Science of Star Trek” and most of it looked like Next Generation computer consoles that were hands-on type of things spaced about in three galleries. Hard to tell what they were about though, as you couldn’t get close without pushing your way through lots people. There were several costumes and make-up heads from Next Generation, as well as costumes from a couple of the Star Trek movies sprinkled about in glass cases. All this was filled in with those cheesy “life-size” cardboard cutouts that you can buy at the mall. The best thing there was a place where you could stand in front of a blue screen and get “beamed” off the Enterprise and then interact with computer generated images on a distant planet. Unfortunately everyone there knew it was the coolest thing as well, because the line for it looked like the one outside Mann’s Chinese Theater for the “Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.” I guess that maybe I was spoiled by the National Wild Turkey Federation museum last month, because we were the only ones in the place.

Still in all it was a great time, a nice top-down drive with all-you-can-eat barbecue for lunch.