The first two days of last week (24-25 July) were busy ones at the rental branch. Things were challenging at times, but not enough to trouble us and we made sure our customers were well taken care of. At the end of business that Tuesday, I picked up a Nissan Sentra that I would drive on my vacation, which started the next morning.
Early Wednesday (26 July), I headed for Omaha, Nebraska, site of this year's International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention (http://ipmsusa2017.com/). It's slogan was "Going Downtown," harking back to the US air attacks on North Vietnam's capital of Hanoi during the Vietnam War. After arriving in Omaha, I checked in at the convention venue, La Vista Conference Center (http://embassysuites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/nebraska/embassy-suites-by-hilton-omaha-la-vista-hotel-and-conference-center-OMAESES/index.html). I then registered my contest models and placed them in the contest room, and started checking out the vendors at the show. A few people I knew were there and briefly I chatted with them.
Late that afternoon, I checked into the Travel Inn Omaha hotel, which I found on hotels.com (https://www.hotels.com/). It was a rather sparse room, but it was enough for me, since I would hardly spend much time in it. I got dinner at the nearby Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q restaurant (http://www.hogwildpitbbq.com/), then turned in for the night.
There was much to see and do at the convention, including a raffle of model kits. I bought a few tickets on the first day, and they paid off on day two when I won a very nice ship model kit. (I also had won an aircraft kit from one of the vendors, but I missed that and could not claim that prize. Win some, lose some.) I also took in a seminar on using computer programs to catalog your model kit and reference stash. Quite informative.
Thursday night, I joined with other attendees to go by bus to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum (http://sacmuseum.org/) in Ashland. We enjoyed a buffet dinner before checking out the aircraft and other artifacts on display. It was very nice to go through there and see the aircraft up close.
Friday (28 July), I took in a seminar on the F-105 Thunderchief, then saw my old friend from the Scouts, Tom Tokos, an Omaha resident. I showed him around the contest and vendor rooms and he was impressed. Tom told me he did some car models when he was young. We then had lunch and had time to get caught up on our lives before Tom had to leave. It was great seeing him.
There was to have been a tour of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base that day, but that was cancelled when the convention began. I understood it was due to the aircraft that was to be displayed not being able to be at Offutt that day.
That night, I joined with 219 others to judge the model contest. After a briefing by the head judge, I joined with other aircraft judges to get our team and category assignments. I joined with three others--a team head, another experienced judge, and an On the Job Trainee (OJT) rookie--and we set about doing one of the propeller aircraft categories, which had 16 aircraft. It took us about 90 minutes to evaluate the entrees and to determine the three places for awards. I then helped with one of the special awards, for US Navy Vietnam War subjects. I was in the contest room for about 4.5 hours, leaving there about 10:30 pm for my hotel room. There were 2160 contest entries in 199 categories at the contest.
Saturday morning, I did some last viewing of the contest room models and shopping from the vendors. I also took in one more seminar, on little known colors used on US Army and Navy aircraft between the World Wars, which I found most informative. I retired to my hotel room for some rest. Early that night, I returned to the conference center where the banquet was being held. I and others went to an adjoining room to listen to the awards presentation that followed the meal, which included a slide show of the award winning models in each category. A few people I know from the St. Louis area placed in the contest, so I was very happy for them. None of my models placed, but I wasn't too concerned.
Soon after that, I went into the contest room to get my models out of there and to talk to a few people I knew or wanted to know. It was quite a show. An online gallery has been posted for the convention: http://www.ipmsusa3.org/gallery/v/events/2017Nationals/.
I retired for the night at my hotel, then checked out early the next morning and began the drive back to St. Louis. I arrived home in mid-afternoon, and unpacked at home. The next morning (31 July), I returned the Sentra to the Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html) and put in my full day of work.
After work yesterday, I went to Mark Twain Hobby Center (http://www.hobby1.com/) in St. Charles for the Mark Twain Model Club meeting, which had a recap of the IPMS Nationals and the World Expo figure show earlier in July in Chicago.
I was off work today and will be tomorrow. My manager asked me to take the extra day off this week so I could work all week (Monday through Friday) next week. We have some personnel changes, with assistant manager Cayla leaving after this Friday to go over to Enterprise Car Sales (https://www.enterprisecarsales.com/) in St. Charles.