Amelia In the Rearview Mirror

Even the Best of Plans…

Show events always have some elements of unpredictability in them. Lots of variables—transportation, travel, set-up, tear-down—and, try as one might, it’s simply not possible, despite the best planning, to cover all of the bases completely. Case in point—this year’s Amelia Concours.

After months of planning, loading and reloading the ABS containers to make sure they were evenly packed, going through my pre-event check list, curating the exhibit art, and generally fretting over every detail, the time had come to pick up the rental. Yep, you read it correctly…I was going to drive. Between the air freight to get the exhibit to Jacksonville, the plane fare and rental car it would have more than double my show budget. So, I was going to drive this year, stopping at the halfway point in Staunton, Virginia to pick up my pal Steve Knoll who was coming along as my roadie. What could go wrong?

No more room at the inn…

Well, for starters, the rental company could replace the Suburban I ordered with an Armada. Not even close to the same carrying capacity and the change forced me to repack everything as well as jettison a half dozen prints I had planned on bringing. Sigh. Okay, I’ll just have to make a few layout adjustments but I have plenty of time (10 hours) to think about it. Off we go! It’s snowing. Not hard, but steady and the drive from my place out to Interstate 87 South is pleasant with little or no traffic. I’m anxious to get headed south and get to Staunton for my layover so I motor up to 70mph, hit the cruise control and…nothing. Great. 20 hours of highway driving and no cruise. Really?

I pull over at the first opportunity to see if I can figure out what’s going on. First discovery, the Nissan has adaptive cruise control which uses the forward looking sensors to gauge your distance to the car in front of you. Second discovery, the sensors were completely obliterated by snow, I wiped them off and got going again, switch on the cruise and it works! But only for a few miles. Heavy sigh.

On the upside, the Interstates to Staunton were mostly devoid of any meaningful traffic and, once I rounded the bend at Sufferin, New York and headed into Jersey, the snow had stopped and the skies started to clear. Other than a wicked cramp in my right leg I arrived in Staunton in good shape. Steve and I spent a fine evening together and headed off to Amelia in the morning, albeit in a very cramped cabin space.

Once in Ferdanina Beach, we located our AirBnB digs, had a decent dinner at Shucker’s (just under the bridge to Amelia Island) then headed back to get a good night’s sleep before having to load in and set up the next day. Things were looking up.

Friday morning and we’re just cleaning up a few details

Even though our load in time wasn’t scheduled until 2PM we got to the Ritz around 8:30 in the morning to pick up our credentials and get the lay of the land as far as the exhibit space was concerned. One thing you can’t have too much of at these things is time. There’s always something (and usually a few somethings) that needs to be dealt with. So, when the Hagerty folks let us know there was an available load in slot if we moved quick, they didn’t have to ask twice. I was out the door and soon had the Armada backed up on the loading dock. Steve and I managed to get everything unloaded in short order and started on the exhibit set up. Good thing too. It took us longer than usual to get everything put together, not finishing up until well after 7PM which made for two very tired, but happy, guys. Tomorrow was showtime!

Set up and ready to

Got to say, I know the Hagerty folks get a good bit of flak from some of the exhibitors about a collection of things but, from where I stand, the show staff was absolutely superlative, stopping in regularly to see how we were doing and responsive to requests for help. It would be grand to have this level of support at every show. Both Friday and Saturday were smokin’ with more than expected sales as well as s universally positive reaction to my new Shadow Light series which I was showing in public for the first time. There’s always a bit of apprehension when I’m hanging art that departs from cutaways.

Saturday was a very long day. We didn’t shut things down until around 5 in the afternoon and followed that with tearing down and packing up the exhibit then loading everything back into the Armada. Happy to say, we did a better packing job leaving Amelia than I did at the other end which resulted in being able to move our seats so we actually had leg room. Bonus! Kudos to Steve for not only helping with the grunt work but pitching in when things got crazy with people in the booth. Still, he managed to get out and take some pics of just a few of the fabulous cars that were being shown.

And there you have it. Two 20 hours drives wrapped around three 12+ hour days. It’s lot of work but it was great to see my show family and spend some time swapping lies with Steve. Can’t wait to do it again.