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Unexpected rally!

One of those wonderful and strange coincidences occurred today, throwing all our plans into disorder. As we were leaving Ft Wilderness with trailer in tow, we noticed a large number of Airstreams parked together in another loop of the campground. This couldn't be a coincidence, yet how could there be a rally here that we hadn't heard of?

As we pulled our Airstream slowly through the loop, I immediately spotted Norm, a fellow I'd met a year ago at a rally in St Petersburg. Seeing him confirmed it: there was a rally going on! Trailerworks, a restoration company in Beaufort SC, was sponsoring its 2nd Annual Vintage Rally, and as it turned out we knew several people who were attending, including Forrest and Jeri Bone of the Tin Can Tourists.

I had heard of this rally months ago but discounted it because we didn't originally plan to be in Florida this early. Then I just plain forgot. But it has worked out well, because the Eric Drugge of Trailerworks generously gave us one of their spare campsites. So we settled in for another day.

Why not? The weather is perfect again (mid-70s, sunny, and dry), we have no pressing obligations, and our schedule can easily slip back a day. This has to go on record as our shortest day of towing yet: less than a mile.

I got a chance to meet with the Trailerworks staff and see some of the restorations they've done. There are some spectacular vintage trailers here, which I'll document in photos soon. Among others, a Vagabond, a Boles-Aero, a Shasta, three Avions, many Airstreams, and an Airfloat.

Ft Wilderness Shasta.jpg

But today was a day to chill, so instead of wandering around taking photos and interviewing owners as I usually do, I spent the afternoon in the Airstream reading my second book from Bobby: "Over The Edge of The World," by Laurence Bergreen. This is a spectacular history of Magellan's voyage around the world. It's a riveting tale of challenge, disaster, and death aboard an armada of wooden ships attempting to find a route from Spain to the fabled Spice Islands. This one has many grisly forms of drama: political intrigue, religious conflict, mutiny, sex, and even torture, set against a background peppered with 16th century kings, aboriginal societies, and the unexplored open sea. It doesn't have much to do with travel by Airstream (fortunately!) but it sure is a heck of a travel story.

Speaking of reading, Brett gave us about a dozen "Little Golden Books" that he picked up at a garage sale. Emma read one of them to us today, "The Little Red Hen," which really psyched us. Her reading is coming right along and she is picking up new words quickly now. Eleanor has been doing flash cards with her in the car and we take every opportunity possible to get her to learn new words: signs, labels, menus, emails, and many other things.

A reader of this blog asked for more info about Ft Wilderness. If it weren't located at Disney World, it would still be a top-notch campground in its own right. The sites are generally shady, set in circular loops, and separated by 20-30 feet with scattered pine trees. All sites are full-hookup, with dead-level paved pads surrounded by gravel and sand. The area is carefully maintained -- they even send through a street sweeper. Sites are swept and raked between visitors.

Ft Wilderness site.jpg
A typical Ft Wilderness site with an atypical trailer

There are lots of little thoughtful touches. The bathrooms are exceptional (and of course, air conditioned). The trash cans are half buried into the ground to lower their visual impact. Asphalt is kept to a minimum. Recycling boxes are everywhere, which we appreciate since many campgrounds don't recycle. Internet is available via cable modem on the "preferred" loops but you have to pay to activate it. We didn't bother since we use cellular Internet from the trailer. There is also Internet service available in the reception area.

The campground is enormous, with hundreds of sites, but it never feels that way since the trees preevent you from seeing much beyond your own loop. There are multiple swimming pools, nightly sign-alongs & movies, and pretty much every other facility you can imagine. Transportation to any part of Disney is free by bus and ferryboat, and people are encouraged to rent golf carts to get around the campground (or ride their bikes) rather than drive, which keeps the campground relatively free of traffic and noise.

Rangers subtly patrol the campground, enforcing rules about parking on the narrow loop roads (one car blocking part of the street is enough to prevent most RV's from getting by) and helping out where needed. Only charcoal fires are allowed (not wood), which is perhaps not as romantic, but something we really appreciate. Most other campgrounds get horribly smoky at night due to the numerous wood fires, and we usually have to keep the windows closed after 5 pm -- or end up smelling like wood smoke in the morning. Here we can leave them open all night and enjoy the balmy late-fall Florida air.

Staying in Ft Wilderness gets you all the same privileges as guests at other Disney resorts: free parking, free transportation, extra "Magic hours" in the parks, charging privileges using your keycard, etc. There's no "second class" stigma about it at all. Overall, I can recommend it. But if you want to save a few bucks and aren't concerned about being on Disney property, you can try Tropical Palms in Kissimmee. We stayed there last April, although I didn't talk about it on the blog at that time. While it was no match for Ft Wilderness, and quite a bit more crowded, it was fine and less expensive.


Perhaps they have changed their name to the spelling you use, but the web site appears to be

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