Our Autumn Drive for 2013 was a multi-part event which brought together old friends, new acquaintances, participants from all over the Ottawa-Gatineau as well as Montréal and even France, and eight gorgeous Citroëns.

Early risers gathered on Saturday morning at Bob and Claudine’s home in Carp, where café and freshly baked croissants were waiting.  Regular participants included Michel L (DS21), Cor and Carla B (2CV), and Ian and Margaret (DS21).  Welcome visitors and new friends included Franck P and his son from Montréal, Audric L and Louise from France (Audric and Louise are living in Ottawa while Louise pursues some studies; Audric is a 2CV fanatic, from a family of Citroën fanatics), and Denise and André from Gatineau (future Citroën owners, if we have any influence).  Regrets were received from Bruce G and Diane.  Their 425 cc 2CV had broken a universal joint the day before the outing.  What bad luck!

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After “le petit déjeuner”, and as the convoy formed up outside, we were joined by Christian and Fabienne T and family (DS21 and 2CV).  With them was a friend from Switzerland Antoine J, who is president of the Amicale des Grandes Citroën Hydrauliques .  Soon we were off on a scenic drive which included a section of the Old Almonte Road, and then through the village of Appleton.  Here we took the opportunity to stop for some “official photos”.  Once the paparazzi were finished, we continued to our destination, the Sam Bat Company factory in Carleton Place.

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In the Sam Bat parking lot we were delighted to see Sam H’s CX and Neil B’s DS21.  Our impressive line up of eight Citroëns was complete.  It was pointed out (mostly by some smug DS owners) that for the first time, DSs outnumbered 2CVs.  That made it even more of a shame that Bruce’s 2CV had been unable to participate!

Sam H (who was the founder of the Sam Bat Company) and the current president Arlene Anderson introduced us to Scott and Alfred who would be leading our tour.  But not before they took a good look at the cars.  Alfred took a particular interest in Bob and Claudine’s car, because it bore a striking resemblance to one he had ridden in, in Corsica in the 1980s.  Bob’s car carries stickers indicating that it spent at least part of its life in Corsica.  Hmmmm, what if…..

The factory tour was very interesting.  We learned about the fascinating details that go into the specification and manufacturing of custom baseball bats for Major League players.  The variables are so numerous as to be dazzling:  the weight of the bat, the distribution of that weight, the diameter of the bat (at multiple points along its length), the profile of the various tapers, the texture of the finished bare wood, and the stain or varnish finish that is applied.  We learned a only few of the endless details that go into running this very successful business.  For baseball fans, examining many of the finished bats and realizing that they bore the names of some of the biggest players in MLB was a brush with fame.

(I found this site which does a great job of explaining the entire process that Sam Bat uses to produce their bats)

The tour wrapped up with a visit to the Sam Bat shop, where some future All-Stars were outfitted with the tools of their future greatness.  As we left the shop, Scott presented each visitor with a souvenir miniature bat, proudly decorated with the logo of Sam Bat.

From the factory, Sam H led us into the centre of historic Carleton Place, and to our lunch destination, the Bridge Bistro.  This gave us a chance to engage in our second-most-favourite activity: eating!  We were (at least) 24 people at the table.  As always, conversation was rich and varied, and bilingual.  New stories were shared, old stories were remembered, and new friendships were developed.

Eventually, everyone returned to their Citroëns in the parking lot and headed for home, through a free car wash provided by Mother Nature.

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