I recently returned from a trip to Georgetown, Kentucky for the Annual Gathering of the Clan MacNicol Society of North America. I just thought I’d share a little bit about my trip.

I live 11 hours drive time away from Georgetown and about 5 hours flying with layovers. However gas, even at 18 miles per gallon, was less than half of the cost of a plane ticket even before renting a car or a 30 minute cab ride to my hotel. I was actually looking forward to the drive, because for quite some time I had been wanting to dedicate a day to listen to the entire Metallica catalog from first release to most recent. All in all it was a smooth and uneventful drive, except for one major issue (see the end).

I arrived in Georgetown on Thursday night just in time to head to the pub for our first event – drinking. It was a little more than that, but there’s nothing like starting out a Clan Gathering with an informal meeting at a pub. I got to see some old friends and some friends I hadn’t seen in a few years, plus had a chance to sample the great local cider (unfortunately I don’t remember it’s name).

Friday we just did a lot of hanging out and catching up. I took care of a personal errand related to the aforementioned travel issue (see below). We ended the day with a long dinner at Cattleman’s Steakhouse right next to the hotel. The only thing I can say, is that with a name like Cattleman’s you expect a great steakhouse and they did not disappoint!

Saturday was the business meeting, and as I am one of the Clan’s Directors I of course attended. There we deal with all of the boring business like membership, budgets and such like any nonprofit might. But we also get to do things like review our new website which launched that same day and do strategic planning to grow and streamline our operations. Saturday night is also the time we typically all kilt up and have a ceilidh which is a combination banquet, party, concert and everything in between.

Sunday is the day that some people head home and others stick around to tour the local area. The biggest thing we did was visit Old Friends Ranch non-profit that was set up as a thoroughbred retirement farm. Without a lot of knowledge of horse racing, I can say they had a lot of nice horses there. If I was a horse racing fan I can tell I would have been impressed with some of the champions they house like Silver Charm and Touch Gold, as well as the horse that played Seabiscuit in the movie. We hit Cattleman’s Steakhouse for dinner again and pretty much ended the day, although I did knock out a meeting to work out more details on a book project before calling it a night.

Then on Monday, I started the long drive home, once again dealing with the aforementioned issue.

So What is that Issue I Mentioned?

Well, it seems like it wouldn’t be a Clan Gathering without me having some kind of car trouble. If you remember, last year in Scotland I had a flat tire on the way to Portree that resulted in a 6-hour tow. This year, less than 100 miles into my trip, my check engine light came on. To many people this is no big deal. But I don’t think I’ve ever had this light come on in my Jeep. So I decided to make a stop and see if I could get someone to at least run the code. A Ford Dealership told me it was “a generic transmission error, probably minor, just get to your destination and have someone look at it there.” So I did.

On Friday I took it to a local shop that said they could look at it “next week,” but I got them to tell me that it was a transmission clutch error and that my transmission fluid was low. So they refilled it and suddenly no light. So problem fixed. Monday I took it to an Aamco for a more thorough check on the error code, but they gave it a “clean bill of health,” which lasted for about 50 miles until the light came on again. So I drove it 700 more miles and dropped it at my local shop on the way home. More to come…

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