Saturday, February 15, 2014

That Sinking Feeling

I've said throughout my whole life that I never got "the car gene." My grandfather owned a Chevy dealership when my dad was a kid and my dad has always had an affinity for cars, especially corvettes. He passed on his love of cars to my sister and brother, but I never was one to get too excited about them. When my dad was younger he had two vettes - a blue '68 and an orange '72, but as legend has it, he sold the cars when he got married to 'have kids.' He's a great dad and he instilled in each of us the qualities of hard work, perseverance and determination. My dad never wants much and is always happy with just the basics in life. He worked in an aluminum factory for all of my childhood and eight years ago when the workers went on strike and he was out of work, he got a job in a coal mine an hour away. He's nearly 70 and most times works seven days a week underground...

Two years ago, we decided it was time - time to get something that he has worked his whole life for: another corvette. Of course, my sister and brother took more of an interest than I did. They ordered the customized black 2013 vette and within 6 months it was ours (not his). He wanted us all to share in his joy. 

Instead of having the car delivered to us, we decided to get 'museum delivery.' We drove the five hours to Bowling Green, Kentucky together, knowing that on the way home we would be in two cars. We first took a tour of the corvette assembly plant, which honestly was one of my highlights. It's amazing in the plant. So much organization. Everything worked like clockwork. The workers smiled as we were led on our tour and it was evident that they were proud of the masterpieces they were creating.

Next, we went to the Corvette Museum. We had been there about ten years prior but I remember this trip much more vividly solely because when we walked in, one of the eight cars that sat in the main lobby area was 'ours.' The museum has installed security cameras in this area and some of our family members were able to watch online as my dad received the keys to our corvette! 

After getting the keys we took a guided tour of the museum. My favorite part was the uniquely built Skydome. The structure was incredible, the cars are rare and the story told in the building is amazing. The walls and celling are lined with the faces of major contributors to Corvette history. The car that I most remember is the 1983 corvette for two reasons. Not only because I was born in 1983, but because it is the ONLY 1983 corvette left because the cars never went to production that year. 

The "Skydome" Courtesy of @CorevetteMuseum's Twitter Account

Inside the Skydome
Courtesy of The Corvette Museum's YouTube account

We enjoyed the rest of our stay in Bowling Green and then made our journey home - in two cars. My dad wanted each of us to drive part of the way home and we did just that. I remember not wanting to drive it for fear that I would wreck and damage it, but I drove it for nearly the last hour of the trip -- the most I've driven it to date. 

The fun didn't stop when we got the corvette. We now take it to car shows and it's a way for our family to bond together. We also ordered two special puzzles of the corvette that we made together:
A puzzle of our corvette in front of a mural at the Corvette Plant in Bowling Green, KY.

Puzzle #2

I haven't thought about our trip to Bowling Green for over a year and a half, that is until this past week. On Wednesday, Feb. 12, something so bizarre happened that at first, I thought it was a joke. There was a sinkhole INSIDE the Skydome of the Corvette Museum. Sinkholes may not be that uncommon in that part of the US, but for one to occur beneath the exact part of the museum that houses the rarest cars is not only unfortunate but nearly unfathomable. Here's the security camera footage of the sinkhole:
Courtesy of The Corvette Museum's YouTube Channel

After realizing that the news was true, I was unexpectedly saddened - I ironically had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  It was an odd feeling because corvettes/cars have never meant much to me. But I slowly started to realize, it was more than the cars that I was upset about. I thought about the people who designed and built the Skydome and how they must have felt in some way responsible. I thought about those who build the corvettes with pride and love. I thought about the great people we met on our trip who work at the museum. I thought about the rarity of the cars (the one millionth corvette, the 1.5 millionth corvette, etc.) I thought about standing on that exact spot like thousands of visitors had done before and the fact that it occurred during the early morning hours and that no one was injured. After realizing that cars were swallowed up by the 40 foot wide, 30 foot deep sinkhole, my first question was if the 1983 vette was one. Luckily it was spared, but eight others weren't as lucky...
 My dad with the "Blue Devil" in June 2012

The Blue Devil at the bottom of the sink hole
Courtesy of @CorvetteMuseum's Twitter Account

Feeling sad, I called my dad and although he talked with a sense of disbelief he also shared a message of hope. He said that he believed the cars would be recovered and restored. I thought, on the other hand, that the hole would be filled and the cars buried in the process. (Most of the cars appear buried as it is.) However, after reading a few articles and listening to some press conferences, the Corvette Museum's plan is more in line with my dad's initial thoughts.

Over the last few days they have released information on their website, Twitter account, etc. that expresses such a positive message. The plan is for the Skydome to be repaired and reopened, and the cars to be recovered and restored all in time for the Museum's 20th Anniversary celebration in August. Nowhere in the press conferences or releases was there a sense of self-pity. On the other hand, phrases like "just another obstacle," "teamwork," "together," and "family" were used over and over again....

It's an amazing story of hope, perseverance, determination, ingenuity, and love. I feel more a part of the corvette family now than I ever did. To me, it's not about the beauty of the cars, but the PEOPLE who make the corvette experience so unique. It may have just taken this unbelievable occurrence for me to realize it....

So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When a sinkhole swallows eight rare corvettes, instead of burying them, create a plan for recovery and celebration. And in the mean time, laugh at the absurdity of it all....

Courtesy of @CorvetteMuseum's Twitter Account

Good luck to the museum workers, structural engineers, construction company, etc. who will be a part of this huge undertaking! And if you need any help, you may want to call on my dad. He embodies the qualities of perseverance, determination and hard work... oh, and he knows a little bit about working underground! 


  1. Great post. I never stopped to think of all the ways and people that a sink hole could affect. I am really glad to hear the positive side of it all and look forward to another post when they complete, restore and repair everything!

  2. Thanks for commenting Jenn. I'm excited to see what the future holds for the museum and the cars. Time will soon tell!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your family's story. In today's society, it is so refreshing for a younger generation to pay tribute to their Dad. As you may well know, the "Me" society is hard at work doing what it does best with forgoing the wealth of knowledge that an older generation can contribute. Congratulations on the memories that have been made and the future that lies ahead.