I must emphasize once again that the rain and the restaurant management's decision to seat the WDW Radio fan group where they did, were the only factors that initially made me uncomfortable at The Nook.
I had brought along my digital recorder with the intention of asking Lou to record some sound bites and liners for my 2014 Rewind Soundtrack program.
But as I mentioned yesterday there was so much noise in the place that I knew the recording wouldn't be possible.
But our host turned the day around for me. Lou did a great job at mingling with his guests and talking to them. He was as friendly and genuine as he is on his podcasts. He spent as much time as he could with each guest. He posed for pictures with them all as well.
He came to my table and talked with me several times. The first time he came over, I brought up the fact that we were both from New Jersey. We talked about watching some of our favorite shows on New York TV stations when we were kids.
The second time he came by Lou was very impressed and astonished when he found out that I had traveled so far to meet with him.
He then mentioned the tweet I had sent out before I left my house that morning. He said, at first, he thought he had misread it. He then assumed that I must have been coming to Atlanta for another reason and was just coming by because I was there. He was impressed that I made the effort to be there.
He told me that one of his close friends, Glen, had just moved from Orlando to Nashville. His friend told him he would like to have come to Atlanta to meet with Lou but it was too far to drive.
Lou took a picture of the two of us with his phone. He sent it in a text to Glen with a note about me and how far I had traveled.
The third time he came over to talk it was getting close to the time I had to leave so I wouldn't get over tired on the drive home. I made sure I had one of the other guests take a picture of me with Lou using my phone.
He was interested in my phone because it was a Windows Phone and had such a good camera. I showed him how the Windows OS worked on a phone.
I also showed him how his website and app wouldn't work with my phone. He promised me that he'd get his IT people to work on getting it updated and working.
Here's the picture of the two of us.
I can never fully explain the importance of this picture to me. Can you tell how excited I was? Actually I wish didn't look so "goofy" in the shot. It's destined to be one of my favorite pictures of the year.
As the 3 o'clock hour came around I realized that the "official" scheduled time for the meet up was over but only a few people had left. Lou made sure he got up and thanked them for coming as they said "good-bye."
I knew that if I stuck around the opportunity to talk more with Lou would avail itself. But about 3:30 I decided that it was going to take too long for that to happen.
I knew I had to go so I could make it home at a decent hour.
I got Lou's attention to tell him I was leaving. I told him "thank you" for the opportunity to finally get together. In return he thanked me for coming such a long way.
He told me to email him the phrases I wanted him to record. He'd do it from his broadcast studio in his home and send them to me. He also promised that he would send me a gift as a "thank you" for driving all the way to Atlanta.
Since I knew Lou was going to stay in the city for a TV appearance on Tuesday morning I suggested might be interested in seeing the Muppets exhibit at the Atlanta puppetry museum.
Finally and most importantly, after hearing him say it for so many years, I got my Lou Mongello handshake and hug. He was right; nothing beats it.
As I left the restaurant I was conflicted. The adult in me knew that it was time to go because I had to drive home. But the Disney fan in me begged to stay. I just couldn't. I had a long trip home.
I walked back to my car and soon was on my way back to Kentucky. It was about 3:45 EDT. While driving back through Georgia, the rain was still coming down but I did see some clearing in the distance.
As I drove through Nashville, the sunset was beautiful.
I listened to a couple of podcasts and most of the Yankees/Pirates double header on my XM radio along the way.
The last hour or so of the trip I started to feel the fatigue from the long day. The familiarity of the drive from Nashville to Smiths Grove proved to be a good thing. I got back home a little after 8:30 CDT.
So there you have the story of my road trip to meet Lou Mongello.
Ironically, I never got the chance to sit and talk specifically about Disney with him. But hopefully some time in the future I will. It would be terrific if that conversation could be in one of the Disney parks in Orlando.
I can't think of anything I'd like to do more than sit in an Epcot restaurant enjoying a meal, and talking about Walt Disney World with a man who has literally written books about it, my friend, Lou Mongello.
Blogger's Note: FYI. The Yankees lost the game at Wrigley Field that I chose not to go to 6-1. Derek Jeter was honored before the game and went 2 for 4 with a stolen base. Not a bad night but given the choice again I wouldn't change a thing.