I should call this summer the summer of nostalgia. I attended two family reunions and one high school reunion. This family reunion was the first one I attended with the descendants of Peyton Polley, the slave who was freed in Kentucky in 1847 and moved his family to Ohio in 1849. This post covers the reunion in July 2022, our hotel and a note about the drive to Ohio.

The Big Reunion is held every two years. It was cancelled in 2020. This year the reunion was held in Middletown, OH, a small community just between Dayton and Cincinnati, if that helps with orientation. Middletown is about 500 miles (805 km) from my home. Normally, I would fly to travel that distance. This time, the high cost of airfare and rental cars was a determent to flying. Plus, I hadn’t taken a road trip in a long time. So we decided to drive and to make a few detours like the one I recently reported on with Jim Hale.

Trip Tik

I took the opportunity to get a Trip Tik from AAA (American Automobile Association). I hadn’t done that in decades and wasn’t even sure that AAA still offered them.

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They did indeed. They have been computerized since I last used them. Putting the Trip Tik together only took a matter of minutes when I went to a nearby AAA office. AAA also provides state and regional maps on request. The AAA reps also suggested side trips along the route like the Andy Griffith Museum.

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Andy Griffith Museum Mount Airy, North Carolina

Many in the U.S. have probably never heard of Trip Tiks. They are definitely old school. A Trip Tik is a booklet containing a series of maps that cover each segment of the total route. There are step by-step driving directions as well.

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Driving apps are good because you don’t have to take your eyes off the road for long to use them. A Trip Tik is most valuable when a passenger uses it follow along. I used the Trip Tik when Alex was driving. Trip Tiks don’t need cell reception or phone power.

I’ve had an AAA membership for years primarily for roadside assistance coverage and the discount hotels give to AAA members. It was fun to use the Trip Tik benefits after so many years. I wouldn’t be surprised if automobile associations in other countries offer the same type of service.

Residence Inn

The reunion was headquartered at a Quality Inn hotel in Middletown. All of the rooms at the special rate were gone when I tried to book. Prices at other hotels were outrageous. A basic Marriott on the north side of Cincinnati was asking $400 a night. Budget hotels were going for $200+. I have a lot of Marriott points, and this was the perfect time to use them. I booked a room at the Marriott Residence Inn in Dayton.

Residence Inns are great for families and those planning extended stays. Most rooms are one-bedroom suites with kitchens. That is what I booked with points. At check in, I asked if it was possible to upgrade to a two bedroom suite. Under the terms of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, the hotel was not obligated to provide an upgrade. The clerk kindly gave us one nevertheless. It never hurts to ask.

The two-bedroom arrangement was perfect. Alex and I each had a bedroom with an attached private bath.

The room has a large living/dinning room area and a fully equipped kitchen and dinette. We didn’t cook, but the kitchen was ideal for restaurant leftovers and beverages.

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The hotel is located at an Interstate 75 exit that has about every chain restaurant in the book. There must be 20 of them. Other than the 20-minute drive to the reunion sites, the Residence Inn worked out perfectly for our two-night stay.

Reunion

Friday night activities consisted of a reception at the host hotel. It was a good way to meet folks and coordinate activities for the next day — a picnic at a public park in Middletown and then a final gettogether at the local VFW post.

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Cousin Aaron Polley made the arrangements. He had reserved a shelter and catering from a local restaurant. We gathered under the shelter for dinning and getting to know extended family.

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Alex Polley meets Alex Polley

Eating wasn’t the only activity. Youngsters enjoyed throwing a football around. Older folks had a good time chatting and playing cards, chess, checkers and dominoes.

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The reunion was an all-day affair. After a few hours at the park, the gathering moved to the meeting hall at the Middletown VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post for more chit chat, food, and beverages.

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Aaron distributed our official reunion T-shirts. A family reunion isn’t a family reunion without T-shirts. This was the only bona fide family reunion I’ve attended. Aaron lives in Washington, DC; so it was a lot of work to put everything together.

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With Aaron Polley

The reunion concluded with the obligatory family photo.  Getting the photo took a lot of effort as there were many cell phones and cameras to accommodate.

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Overall Impression

The reunion and weekend worked out great. It was a pleasure meeting everyone. Based on this encounter I have to say that the Polley family is a great group of people. Peyton would be pleased I think. I’m looking forward to 2024, location to be determined.

Do you like reunions?