I then hopped the car to drive to the outside of Indianapolis to Bob's house where I was spending the night. I presented him with a gift, a picture of his serval Sugarmint that I took the last time I stayed at his house and fixed up. Bob is a very kind and generous soul, and it was another very happy-making affirmation to see how much he loved the picture.
Here's a sample of the image. (The image is actually on my website. Sometime very soon I hope to have some HTML on the website that will display it, along with other stuff.)
Friday was a good day.
Saturday got off to a poor start when I woke up at about 4:15 and couldn't get back to sleep. I finally gave up on dozing and got up at about 7:15. We were supposed to be leaving at 8:30 for the MEFES (that's the Midwest Exotic Feline Educational Society) meeting, but didn't get in the car until about 9. Then we were further delayed, because we were picking up Harold and Peggy. For some reason I had thought that they were Bob's neighbors, but they actually live quite a bit of city/suburb driving away. And we had to get the car loaded. All in all, it was 10:10 by the time we got onto I-69; since our destination was exit 150 on I-69, and we were supposed to be there at noon, it was apparent that we'd be late. I've noticed at past meetings that Bob is always late for MEFES meetings, but I hadn't experienced the process before.
The meeting was to take place at the Fun Spot amusement park in Angola, IN, which is about 3 hours from Indianapolis. My not wanting to drive all the way there and all the way back in one day was the reason for staying at Bob's in the first place. As to why we were having the meeting at the amusement park in the first place, all I can say is it wasn't my idea. They do have a small zoo with cats at the amusement park, so there was some relevance, but the main idea was supposed to be that members would come for a day of fun at the park with a meeting on the side. It would have been a reasonable idea if the amusement park wasn't so far away that driving there and back ate most of the day, even for the preponderance of members who live near Indy. And it might have actually worked out reasonably if the remnants of Dennis hadn't picked Saturday to produce more rain in Indiana than they had for the previous several days when the storm was supposedly stronger. It didn't rain the whole day, but I suspect the forecast deterred some people who would have come despite the distance.
The meeting itself wasn't terribly exciting. It was a meeting. The main items of business were discussing whether the host should be reimbursed for the costs of hosting the meeting when it is held at someone's home (which is more typical) or when someone rents a place for it, and the locations of future meetings. I don't think I managed to learn any names of the people who were there that I didn't already know from previous meetings. Several people looked at the pictures I bought, but only one showed any interest in buying anything, and that was a future interest and not an immediate purchase.
Then, as we broke up and went to see the sights, Bob dropped the bombshell that we would be leaving quite soon, because he and Patty wanted to shop at someplace they referred to as Shipsewana. This was the first I'd heard of this plan, and I was somewhat miffed. I am prone to becoming miffed when someone wants to take me away from tigers so they can go shopping. But I decided that my life would be better if I just went along with it rather than making a fuss. We did see the zoo, which was mostly cats, and I did get to take pictures of the animals. The animals weren't interested in interacting with me, and there was set-back fencing which kept me too far back to interact mich even if they'd been interested. So I didn't actually miss a whole lot.
The zoo itself was better than many, but not great. The cages were fairly small, but solidly built, apparently well maintained, and clean. The animals appeared to be healthy and in decent psychological shape. They didn't show any obvious signs of stress, and if they seemed mostly interested in just lying around on an afternoon that by this point was pretty hot, they weren't different from the animals at most any other place on a hot afternoon. I was disappointed that the tigers didn't respond to my chuffing, but I guess that to adjust to living in a place where that many strangers are staring at you every day, they have to learn to ignore people. (When I visited Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden in Vegas, the only time I got any reaction from one of the cats, it was hostile, and I know those cats are well cared for and very used to relating to humans.)
After we got the van loaded up again, we drove off to the shopping at the mysterious Shipshewana. I was pretty tired, so I actually dozed off for the drive and wasn't paying attention to our route or our approach. I woke up to discover that we were parked in front of a building with a kitchy sign noting that it was "The Corn Crib / The Quilt Shop". I needed to pee, so I went inside, whereupon I discovered that (though I was unaware of having died) I had descened into the Hell of Cheap Kitsch. Cheap in the sense of aesthetic quality, at least -- the prices on the stuff struck me as ranging from high to outrageous. It turns out that these shops, and several others, are outgrowths of the Das Dutchmen Essenhaus, a restaurant founded about 35 years ago on a platform of providing good Amish style home cooking, and apparently found real financial success in the synergy between decent food and the kitsch trade. It was like Cracker Barrel on steroids -- lots and lots of highly effective steroids. We ended up eating there after the required shopping had been accomplished; this required a remarkably short wait (considering the size of the mob in the restaurant itself, I expected a party of 5 to be doomed to wait for hours for a table). It seems that the standard booth seats 6 (reasonably, not just by stuffing real hard). The waitress knew Bob and Patty and remembered their order, which was a little scary. But she took our orders promptly, the food arrived in reasonable time, and was pretty good for "home cookin'" style food. The prices were slightly high for the food, but not insane.
On the ride home, I was frustrated by being in the far back seat of the minivan while the people in the front and middle seats conversed in quiet tones about matters I was actually interested in, mostly about FCF (of which Bob is the president and Harold the treasurer) and the politics surrounding exotic cats. By the time we got home to Bob's, it was nearly midnight, which I wasn't too thrilled about; even though I was staying that night also, I still wanted to be up at 7:30 to leave at 8:30 to get to EFRC. And I was quite tired from the short sleep the night before.
In the middle of the night, my new cell phone rang. The caller ID said "private number", and by the time it had penetrated my sleeping brain what the noise was and that the letters on the screen I was holding said private number, they'd hung up. About 3 rings. Seeing as how the only person who has the number for the phone is birder2 and she (a) wouldn't be hiding her number, and (b) wouldn't call at 4 AM unless it was important enough that she would stay on the line until I answered, I am assuming it was a spammer. Which doesn't excatly make me dance in the streets with irrepressable joy, I might note.
Morning came too soon, but I was up and ready for breakfast at 8. Unfortunately, breakfast wasn't ready for me. It was 9 before I got in my car, and the directions for getting to I-70 efficiently were garbled, either Bob told me wrong or I misunderstood, but I missed the turn. But this gets into the EFRC report which I will put in a separate entry.