This was the third consecutive year that Tom and I have gone to the butterfly conference. I didn't ask him if we could go. I wasn't sure I wanted to go, not after our experiences at the other two.
The conferences were worthwhile all three years, but we had difficulties relating to us alone.
In 2013, the conference was in Cleveland. We decided to make it an extended trip and do some visiting in the area. All of the visits with family and friends were enjoyable. We were in a cheerful mood as we headed on to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Saturday morning. The weather was cold but clear as we pulled into the parking lot and found a Handicapped space.
I pushed the toggle switch which moves Tom's scooter on its lift out of the van. The lift moved out but not down. And it wouldn't retreat back into the van when I pushed the other end of the toggle. The lift extended beyond the back of the van and the scooter sat on the lift. We couldn't go anywhere.
A wonderful mother with two lively preschool boys helped me take the scooter apart and reassemble it on the ground. But we were still stuck. We couldn't drive anywhere with the lift extended, we didn't know the area. Triple A (American Automobile Association) would only pull us to the nearest gas station which was closed for the weekend.
Finally, we called my sister and her husband who lived an hour away. Tom explained the problem. Our mechanical engineer brother-in-law gathered up tools and materials and drove up to the museum. Between Tom and the engineer, (and the instruction book), the lift was repaired. The incident left Tom and me feeling skeptical of the lift so after the conference we headed home instead of finishing the trip. That turned out to be a wise move since Ohio was hit by a late snow storm the next day and our planned trip would have put us into the heart of it.
In 2014, the conference was held at Aullwood Nature Center and Farm which is close to us. Rain poured down as we headed out our driveway. We were late getting to the conference and had to park in the auxiliary parking which had been a corn field, but now was part of the nature preserve.
We listened to an entertaining talk about moths. Do you know that all moths are similar except the ones that aren't?
However, during the time we were inside, the rain turned to sleet and then to snow. When Tom tried to back out of our parking place, the van ended up stuck in the mud.
The snow turned back to sleet.
This time we were near home and had some resources. A Triple A (American Automobile Association) crew pulled us out. And they were cheerful about it which was truly remarkable because they had to lie down in the cold mud to fasten a harness around the front wheels. Of course the sleet continued as they worked.
This year, we had confidence in the lift since we had had it into the shop for a check-up. The parking was on a paved parking lot at the University of Toledo. The weather was cold, 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but clear.
We learned about butterfly gardening, and also heard about a pilot program to gather Butterfly Transit information from across the United States into a single data base. In a third presentation we saw all the instars of dozens of butterfly caterpillars from Ohio. Each time the caterpillar molts, the result is called an "instar". Most caterpillars look different after each molt. Caterpillars often molt at least four times. That can make caterpillar identification problematic. I won't remember all the instars but it helps to know they exist.
We had no problems with the lift or with a muddy parking area. The jinx has come to an end.