What I want to share is my own personal experiences & observations...I apologize for the lengthy post ahead of time, but I want to share my impressions while they are still fresh in my mind and don’t want to gloss over and just say ‘it was great’.
To begin with, I was a bit skeptical of this whole ‘International Rally’ thing...not knowing what to expect, imagining all the horror stories I had heard of coming true. Those of you that I have met me, know I am not a formal, pomp & circumstance type person. Much to my surprise, I am walking away with a much better understanding of the whole club and the traditions that are held onto...some more tightly than others.
I started off my journey with courtesy parking on my way to Springfield with some old friends in Salina, KS and then with Mr. & Mrs. 'Silver67' in Leavenworth, KS. Also had the chance to meet 'Eljay' & her hubby who came to join us for dinner...great fun!
Okay, so after a 14 hour drive over three days, I finally arrived at the rally site...what an amazing sight to come up over the rise and get that first glance of the "Silver City"! I arrived on June 21st and parked in the Gold Section designated for the Unit Presidents, Regional Officers & International Officers. I felt a little out of place in my tiny little vintage unit amongst all the newer trailers & huge motorhomes! But, being that I was going to re-park with the VAC later in the week, I was parked in a primo spot on the end of a row, right by the main road, to make it easier for me to relocate mid-stay...I sure couldn't complain about my site, that's for sure! There’s a shot of my view below. I was told time and again by everybody I met that they were using my little trailer as a directional marker on how to find them. Lots of lookie-loos curious about the shiny little trailer...the early workers were wonderful and very helpful to this first-timer...especially when they realized I totally green and by myself.
The toughest thing for a first-timer was knowing what to do...everybody else around seemed to know the routine and they seemed to be rekindling old friendships with those they had met at previous rallies...I didn't know but a handful of people that had arrived earlier than I, but wasn't sure how to locate them. With over 900 rigs already parked, it was a bit overwhelming. Now I know, there is a locator board, it’s updated every other day or so...but as a newbie, you don't really know anything until after registration...which wasn't for another three days. So I had lots of time to get orientated with Springfield, rested & settled in and wandering around looking at all the trailers. That was really nice, because once the rally officially
started...I didn't have time for that luxury!
There is so much to do...whether you chose to do any or all or none of it, it's entirely up to you...unless you represent a Unit in some form or another like a President or Delegate or something, then you are expected to take part in certain activities representing your Unit. Even the obligatory events I attended were interesting and fun...I always seemed to find a friendly face or two or ten to hang out with!
The 'official' activities...like the Opening Ceremony, Delegates Meetings & Seminars were not nearly as 'silly' as some folks have made them out to be...yes, there were lots of people, young and old, in berets...but it really wasn't a big deal. Yes, I even wore mine to the Opening Ceremony while participating in the Presentation of the Flags...
At the Delegates Meeting there was lively discussion about the candidates, changing the club's name to include 'Airstream' in it and also to modify the Bylaws & Amendments, one of which I had to present regarding the wording to 'officially' grandfather in vintage trailers without grey tanks into the club. That was a bit intimidating...but I am proud to share that both these changes were voted in unanimously. It really does feel good to be a part of change...
On Sunday, VAC gathered at a nearby fairground to caravan in together...that too was a sight to behold! It's amazing how long the 'parade of 50+ trailers was! Yes, the separation between the 3 amp & 30 amp sections was less than desirable...but we all dealt with it. The VAC Open House on Wednesday, was wonderful as always!
It was amazing to me how often my path crossed with several forum members…seemed like everywhere I went after the rally was in full swing there was a familiar face with a AirstreamForums button…thanks Edie! We got together on Tuesday evening for a great Italian dinner…but it was a quickie, as a bunch of us arrived late and others left early to make it to the evening’s entertainment.
The biggest frustration for me, was how far the Expo Center was to the campsite…it took about 30 minutes each way…which is no big deal unless you had to go back and forth a couple of times a day…which I usually did. I understand that in Salem, OR next year it won’t be so remote. I put an additional 750 miles on my truck during my stay…by the end of last week, I just wanted a time-out! So I took it…
Happy Hours were always the best…just hanging out with friends old and new under the awning sharing beverage and a snack…we usually just moved into dinner, then sat around & recapped Fred’s vintage presentations informally or watched the Cape Town to Cairo caravan movies. If vintage trivia wasn’t your thing…there were always gatherings at various trailers you could join in or take in the entertainment in town.
The highlights for me were:
- The Delegates meeting, which is very surprising as I am not a politically minded person
- The Vintage Airstream Intra-Club Concourse de' Elegance in which Maxwell was awarded a Gold Merit Award for 60's decade trailers
- The Denver Unit winning the Best of Show for the Bulletin Board
- Being elected 2nd VP of the Vintage Airstream Intra-Club
Not a bad first experience at all! As a matter of fact, I am really looking forward to my next International in Salem next year…hope some of you will decide to give it a chance.