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Old 07-12-2004, 08:42 AM   #1
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Rivet Campers rate Lansing high

Campers rate Lansing high - Airstream international rally winds down
By Chrystal Liebold - Lansing State Journal
Published July 03, 2004

Residents of the "silver city'' of 1,224 aluminum travel trailers that have called Lansing home for at least the past week are getting ready to move on.

And when they do, they'll have good things to say about their host city.

These campers have Airstreamed from every state - and some from Canada and England - to take in the food, sights and culture of Lansing.

"I can't say anything's wrong with your city, because it's gorgeous," said Mary Sharrock, 60, a retired nurse's aide from Milwaukee.

"And it's got a Wal-Mart," husband Bob, 64, a retired engineer, chimed in with a chuckle.

Participants of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International Rally have spent their time exploring the city and enjoying activities at the Lansing Center, such as choir practice, computer classes and line dancing. Many are traveling for the summer with their grandchildren.

Most of the Airstreamers will take off Monday. Here's what some of them had to say.


For couples Fran and Dave Perucci and Lou and Jean Fox, it's the camaraderie that separates Airstreamers from "normal" campers.

After striking up a friendship four years ago on a tour of the national parks, the couples were delightfully surprised to meet up again Friday while getting the afternoon mail.

"Everybody helps one another," Jean Fox, 75, a homemaker from Grosse Pointe said of the Airstream crowd. "If you have trouble with your unit, you have 10 men there looking at it."

For these couples, Airstreaming has become a way of life that consumes several months out of their year. They say they couldn't imagine spending their retirement any other way.

"I always tell my husband: A bad day traveling is always better than a good day in the condo," said Fran Perrucci, 68, a retired secretary who lives in Pompano Beach, Fla.

"We've been to 49 states. We'd go to Hawaii, but they don't have a road tour there."

Call it home

For more than 20 years, John Tetzlaff and his wife have practiced the art of Airstreaming.

After serving as vice president of Region 7 of the caravan club for four years, the 68-year-old Minnesota native will be named president of the region today.

His experience in Lansing over the past week has been nothing but positive, he said.

"This is a college town; it's the center of government - it offers a lot educationally and culturally," Tetzlaff said.

He said the best parts of his week were getting together with old friends, making new ones and welcoming more than 100 new members to the rally.

"We're full timers," he said. "We live in a rig - that's home."

Teen pageant

Self-described tomboy Delaney Eldridge was one of the more unlikely candidates for Friday night's Teen Queen pageant.

Unconcerned with the state of her hair and nails - and sporting track pants to a practice session - the 15-year-old from Santa Clara, Calif., sticks out among the nine contestants.

"My mom was a California teen queen for three years in the 1970s, and I thought it'd be cool if I did it," said Eldridge, who has been in Lansing since June 18 with her grandparents.

She's less than enthused about the city, although she enjoyed watching a Lugnuts game. She couldn't pinpoint what exactly was missing.

"In all honesty, I like California better," she said with a laugh. "But I like the people here - they're a lot nicer."

Contest veteran

Chelsea Newlun is no stranger to getting all prettied up and performing and prancing in pageants.

In her hometown of Frankfort, Ohio, she's competed in five of them. When her grandmother told her about the Airstream Teen Queen pageant last month, she immediately signed up.

"I love pageants because you get a lot of attention, and I love attention," the 13-year-old Ohioan said enthusiastically as she fidgeted with the curly ringlets in her hair. "I like having the spotlight on me."

Newlun has spent the past three weeks in Lansing with her grandparents, who encouraged her to participate in the event.

She says she'll miss Lansing when she leaves Monday - but she won't miss the city's roads.

"There are way too many one-way streets," she said. "But everyone up here is really nice. And the food is good."

As for the pageant, she says there is no cattiness or cutthroat competition: "All of us are just here for fun."

Contact Chrystal Liebold at 377-1286 or cliebold@lansing.
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