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Early arrivals

We are now officially set up at the WBCCI International Rally in Perry GA. Despite being nearly a week early, we are probably about the five-hundredth Airstream to arrive.

I have to assume with all the new people reading this blog that many of you don’t know how this particular event works. The club that runs this large Airstream rally has been in existence for fifty years as a volunteer organization, and this means that things are run a bit differently than at commercially-sponsored events.

A commercial rally would hire professionals to do most of the tasks, including the mammoth job of setting up facilities for 1,000 or more trailers and their occupants (water, sewer, electricity, parking, food, etc). These tasks would be done with the intent of making a profit, so efficiency and speed would be paramount. Since the club is dependent entirely on the efforts of volunteers, it takes longer. People start arriving at the rally site weeks in advance to set up, hobnob with their friends, have meetings and dozens of other things.

So even though Brett and I arrived on Friday June 22, which is five days before the official opening date, we are relative latecomers. There were already hundreds of Airstreams here, and most of them seem to have arrived two weeks ago.

Perry bullpen car moho.jpg
Parked in the bullpen

This morning at 8 a.m. the parking committee members knocked on our door and informed us they were ready to escort us from the bullpen (holding area) to our permanent parking spot. This was a drive of about 1000 feet, and we could have easily parked ourselves, but in a rally this large there are procedures and traditions, and being parked officially is one of the most sacrosanct.

Being in advance of the official schedule, there wasn’t much to do today. The Airstream store has opened to sell parts and trinkets and overstock bargains, the service guys are running around doing their thing, and some meetings were held (internal politics of the club), but otherwise it was a day for people to visit their neighbors and catch up on things since last year’s rally.

Perry fountain Airstreams.jpg

After exploring the grounds — which are very nice when the wind is blowing and the gnats are discouraged — we took the Fit into town and checked out Perry’s two-block “restored Colonial downtown”. There’s not much there but it’s quaint and there’s a restaurant we might try later. Lunch was at “My Sister’s Cafe”, which was virtually deserted at 1:30 despite a pretty good lunch buffet for $7.50.

For a small town Perry seems to be very into tourism, and so there are a disproportionate number of motels, chain restaurants, and traveler’s services compared to the apparent population. We found all the requisite services of the full-time traveler: Post Office, ATM, groceries, auto service, laundromat and of course the ubiquitous Wal-Mart. In short, it is an extremely convenient place to be, if not an exciting one. We may not be overwhelmed with thrills but we will never be short of the practicalities.

I have never come this early to an International Rally before, so for me this is an odd experience. Riding around among the maze of Airstreams, I wonder, “What are they all doing here? Why do they come so early? Don’t they get bored waiting for the rally to start?”

I interviewed a few briefly to see, and generally they say that they come to help set up and that they like being among all their friends for a few weeks. But most people have hardly any work to do. So many volunteer that the axiom, “Many hands make light work” applies. All you need to do to get early parking is raise your hand to do the simplest task, like setting up tables for an hour or two, and you automatically become one of those privileged to come a week or two early.

For the people here, coming early is not a boring obligation but the central focus of the event. Once the schedule actually begins, it’s almost anti-climactic. But I am looking forward to the friends who have not yet arrived, because that’s when the fun will really crank up. If you are looking for us at the rally, we’re parked in Green section 1, row 1, moho ##5501. Drop by and say hello!

2 Responses to “Early arrivals”

  1. Lois Grebowski Says:

    I can’t wait until we buy our airstream. Hubby and I are heavily considering one. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll be meeting y’all at the big rally.

    Have a great time and build lots of memories!


  2. Anonymous Says:

    My husband and I were overjoyed to finally meet you in person at Perry. He really looks great in the Airstream Life cap purchased at the flea market. Keep up your great work! See you down the road,
    Rachel and (Martin)