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I can't believe that the MAINE CHANCE is over already....and I also can't
believe that it went off without a hitch, Bertha notwithstanding!

For anyone who is not sure what I'm talking about, the MAINE CHANCE was a
tour conceived by the WNY Iris Society.  The idea was to gather a bunch of
like-minded iris-type folk... and plan a trip that would ultimately land us
in the fabulous japanese iris garden of Currier McEwen.  What follows is a
Kathyguest summary of that mission - and (since it's reasonably fresh) this
may get loooooooooong and boooooooring, so

fair warning (delete, delete, delete)

The WNY Iris Society has been doing this sort of trip for about 5 years.  We
invite everyone in Region 2, but with few exceptions, we find it mainly
appeals to our local club.  Our first trip was to Virginia Beach for a Region
4 spring regional.  Who WOULDN'T go to VA Beach in the spring when you live
in Buffalo???  We've also done southern PA/Maryland (Sterling Innerst,
Kegerise sisters, George Bush, Carol Warner), the Siberian Safari (Hal
Stahly, Anna Mae Miller, Ensata Gardens, Hollingworth) and we did the JI
convention last year.  At the convention last year, we spoke to Currier and
his charming wife Elisabeth about the possibility of coming their way
sometime.  They were enthusiastic - and the MAINE CHANCE was born!  

Our tours consist of many stops and lots of variety - a reflection of the
people who join us.  I think that in both the iris and daylily groups, we are
first of all GARDENERS, and after that, we may specialize.  Anyway, we are
fortunate to have two fabulous people, Don and Donna Lowry, who travel
extensively and who are, therefore, expert at plotting out a trip - finding
hotels, restaurants, gardens and points of interest...and generally planning
the schedule so that we step off the bus at the prescribed time, and get back
on with no-one feeling like they didn't have enough time.  This was our
longest trip ever...from Buffalo to S. Harpswell, Maine and back... a full 5
days!  We worried that we would not get enough people... but we ended up with
24 happy "Chancers" - or 12 per van (15 passenger vans... leaving enough for
suitcases and 'can't live without' plants).  The biggest surprise is that
John Coble and Bob Bauer of Ensata Gardens contacted us and said they wanted
to come!  We've always considered them a part of our group anyway, but now
they're like one of the family.  Shortly after that, Dorothy Stahly
approached us at a convention and said that she'd like to go - and although
Hal was not enthusiastic, she prevailed and he had a WONDERFUL time.  Not
long after Hal and Dorothy signed on, we got a message from John and Bob that
they had a visitor from Australia who was interested in the trip, so we
signed HIM too!  A truely ecumenical group.  Somewhere along the line, my
friend Marilyn Harlow from San Jose said that the trip sounded like a good
one to her, and we signed HER up!  So, we ended up with 14 members of the WNY
Iris Society, 2 daylily people, 2 hosta people (Ransom and Katie Lydell -
commercial hosta growers), one Aussie and 5 'notables'.

The first person who arrived for the trip was Marilyn who flew in from San
Jose on Tuesday.  Marilyn and I have become friends through AIS Membership
business, so I was especially thrilled to be able to spend time with her
without the distraction of a convention going on around us.  We had a lovely
day in Chatauqua County...but she was not feeling terrific and by the next
morning she felt lousy enough that she felt she had to back out of the trip.

Everyone else wandered into town on Wednesday and we started off the
festivities with a Bon Voyage party at our Chairman's house.  We decided that
since we had some real 'heavies' joining us... and since many of our members
are not able to go on trips or conventions - this would be a good opportunity
to mingle!  Peter served Buffalo cuisine - chicken wings and Roast Beef on
kimmelwick and we handed out tour shirts.  We decided early on that since
this was a special trip, we should do tee shirts like the Grateful Dead do.
 Using a computer image of a handpainted japanese iris (antique), we had
shirts made with MAINE CHANCE written above the image, the dates below, and a
list of gardens on the back.  The shirts were a big success and on the 'day
in question' - the day at Currier's ... we all wore our shirts and looked
like so many kiddos at camp!

Then we all went to our various homes or accomodations with instructions to
be back at Peter's at 6:30 am!

continued on next posting.... remember 'delete, delete, delete'.

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