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International Rally, Day Eight

We are in our final days at the rally but we are still going full-bore. It's strange, because the rally winds down in some ways days before it officially ends. Parking stops or slows on the weekend right in the middle of the official rally dates, the vintage area's tent disappeared yesterday, some of the signage that indicates the rows and sections has disappeared, the Airstream store closed, etc.

Despite the official opening last Wednesday, the true rally dates started the previous Monday. This is when most people are expected to arrive. Those unfortunate enough to have to work during the week, and who arrive Friday night or Saturday are inevitably disappointed. They expect to arrive to a rally in full swing but find that nobody is available to park them, and exhibits and services are closed. The message seems clear: if you can't be here during the week, you're not a valued customer.

I am perhaps a bit sensitive to this because I've had to spend much of the past few days counseling folks who tried to join the rally Friday afternoon or later, and found themselves treated as if they had shown up 30 minutes late for a performance of Blue Man Group. These people have been (I think justifiably) disgruntled and wondering why they made an effort rush from their jobs to the rally.

What can I tell them? "You should have been here on Monday," said one of the parkers, when she encountered a couple trying to get settled in on Friday afternoon at 3 pm. Parking hours were set on the schedule for Friday through 4 pm, but the parkers decided to shut down at 1 pm, for their own reasons. That's no consolation for working people trying to attend the rally.

And then, if they are successful getting parked, "late" arrivals find that although the rally schedule continues for four more days, registration has shut down. The Airstream store is gone. The vendors in the Airstream area are long gone. On-site service is gone. The Vintage happy hours are over. Major events such as the Concours d'Elegance are over. The schedule on Sunday is virtually barren.

Our response is again to ignore the formal program, and create our own fun. I encourage others to do the same, because waiting for the rally to entertain you is a formula for disappointment. The rally is what you make of it. But I do feel badly for the people who come just for the weekend and are basically left to their own devices.

Today the kids' program held one more day of fun for Emma and her friends, so she was fully occupied. I spent the day in meetings with advertisers and other folks, planning out the next year of Airstream Life and other ventures.

One of the highlights was a visit with David Black and his wife Anya, who together run Birdy Bikes. As you know from reading this blog, I've had considerable trouble with our bicycles traveling on the roof. Although we finally got a good roof rack, our bicycles have still been problems. David and Anya solved that for us today.

Salem birdy.jpg

We're trading in our set of standard bikes for a pair of Birdy bikes. You can read all about them at the Birdy website, but the bottom line is that these very cool aluminum folding bikes fit into portable carry bags in the back of the Armada. For us, this means we eliminate a few problems:

-- we can once again drive through car washes and into parking garages without trouble
-- we no longer have to fight to get the bikes on and off the tall SUV roof
-- the bikes won't rust on the roof, exposed to the weather, as they have been
-- we can eliminate some aerodynamic resistance and hopefully improve our fuel economy slightly

Plus, the Birdy bikes are pretty darned cool. They are officially licensed by Airstream and so ours proudly say "AIRSTREAM" on them. I rode mine around for ten minutes this morning and got stopped twice to demonstrate how neatly it folds up -- in about 15 seconds! I think we'll be happier with this solution going forward. David is going to ship our old bikes back home to Vermont for us.

This afternoon we were visited by Scott and Shelly, blog readers from Portland and the recent buyers of an Airstream International CCD 25. They came over to ask questions about our full-timing experiences, and we liked them so much we invited them out to dinner with Susan, Adam, and Brett. It was a terrifically fun dinner and I hope we see Scott and Shelly again during our travels.

Photo courtesy of Scott Fassett


Congrats on turning to folding bikes. We have both a tandem and a single, (for when stoker wishes a day off). Ours are Bike Fridays....quite pricy but custom built and suitable for long distances....which we enjoy. We keep them in the back of our pickup.

PS If you ever make it to Cheyenne we'll treat you to a bike ride around our great Greenway system.

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