I am happily surrounded by tank geeks.
My son, who at the time we downsized our lives was 9 years old, loves WWII history. He watches “The Great Courses” lectures about famous battles, reads (and talks about) tanks and starts conversations like “Dad, which tank is your favorite and why?” This boy is obsessed with tanks.
When my husband, another tank geek, decided to plan a day or overnight trip so they could indulge their passion I was given the chance to put up or shut up. Here is how it went down:
- First, Mr. TMC looked into the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. We drove by it on frequent trips to Baltimore and he thought it was military related. It turned out to be an active ordinance facility with historical pieces for the public to view. Sounded good, so he called for more information.
- He found out the museum at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds was moving to another location and all the items were in storage. Unfortunately, the move was on hold due to budget cuts. No plans to reopen.
- Next, he Googled “tank museums” and found The Tank Museum in Bovington England, 3 hours west of London. According to the website it is “regarded as the best in the world and includes the world’s first ever tank – Little Willie, the feared German Tiger tank and the modern Challenger 2.” It looked seriously cool and he put it on the mental ‘someday’ list if/when we get to England.
- Just before logging off the site he saw an advertisement for a special event called Tiger Day. The museum is home to the first captured and only fully authentic and functional German Tiger tank in the world (you may have seen it in the movie Fury.) Once a year they take it out for a drive on their tank parade ground and that day was coming up in a few weeks. Holy Shitake! – Little TMC would go crazy over this! “Someday” came sooner than we thought. Truth be told, I was a little like “you want to do WHAT?” and my hubby happily reminded me of my ‘time, money and choices’ mantra. Oof.
On April 29, Mr. TMC and our son, flew to London for a 3 day whirlwind tour. They landed at Heathrow, drove to Portsmouth castle then kept going to Bovington, England. They stayed at a B&B which was packed with other tank enthusiasts all heading to The Tank Museum the next day.
Saturday, May 1, was an incredible memory-making, once in a lifetime experience for my boys. The museum had over 300 vehicles on display with more to be seen in the repair facility. After seeing the Tiger tank close up inside, it passed 30 feet from them on the parade ground. Little TMC was awed at the size and power of the tanks and said being up close was nothing like he imagined. After 9 hours, they were the last ones out of the museum as the lights were turning off.
It is 2 years later and they still talk about the trip regularly. While they loved different aspects of the trip they both told me – unprompted – that the best part of the trip was being with the other person.
So, this is what we chose to do with our time, money and choices and it was worth every.single.penny.
This may not be how you would choose to spend your time and money – I get it. Tell us what you WOULD do or what you HAVE done. Would love to hear from you!
By the way, love tanks? Tiger Day is happening again at The Tank Museum on April 29, 2017.