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Archive for June, 2006

International Rally, Day Three, Part II

Between one thing and another this day disappeared and I didn’t get to have nearly as much fun as everyone else. The best part was the happy hour we hosted at the trailer, except that Eleanor and Emma were still off at the kid program and missed the party

I was delighted to see Ray and Terri Hodges drop by. They are camphosts near the coast of Oregon who have their own blog. They came over today to check out the rally and (apparently) kiss Carol’s puppy.

Salem dog kiss.jpg
Ray holds the puppy while Terri gives a kiss

I was less enchanted with the visit from a local person who crashed our event and started grabbing magazines and CDs to take with her. I relieved her of the magazine and had to keep an eye on her thereafter. She seemed to be someone with mental disabilities, who just wandered through looking for stuff. She was harmless enough other than her apparent bent toward kleptomania, so I let her stay and play with Carol’s puppy.

This was my first encounter with the local population, but the rally in general has had several security problems. Last week five motorhomes were broken into. This week there have been reports of items stolen, and everyone has been on guard and locking up, which is something we don’t normally have to do at a big rally. This town has quite a population of street people, especially downtown, and I’ve been hearing a lot of comments about panhandling, groups of shady-looking teenagers cruising the rally, etc. There were no such problems at Springfield MO last year, or Lansing MI the year before.

Salem Dicky Larry.jpg
Dicky and Larry giving out door prizes

Dicky Riegel and Larry Huttle spoke this afternoon about the new products, the decision to kill the Class A motorhomes, and other subjects. The Westfalia has been discontinued. The new 27 Front Bedroom floorplan is available in Safari, International, and Classic lines, and looks like a winner. (Carol bought one today!)

Joe was cruising the rally today with his Jamaican hat with fake dredlocks. Everytime he spotted someone notable (or not), he got them to pose in the hat. Thus, he has a collection including Dicky and Larry, Hunter Hampton, Bryan Leipper, me, Rich C, Emma, Dave Schumann, and many others. Rich C and I have promised to mutually withhold the photos of each other … but I bet he’ll cheat.

Finally, this evening Rich C and I decided to use his blue boy to dump our gray tank. The dump station at this rally is well hidden, and we needed about fifteen minutes to find it, with help from other folks. Rich has decided that he doesn’t use the blue tank often enough to justify carting it around in his truck, so he’s going to try to sell it at the Flea Market. Hmmm… can you find a willing buyer for a used blue tank?

Mark asked about our numbers. They are the standard-issue numbers on a sheet of clear Lexan, just lying above our rock guard. I have suction cups to mount them higher but haven’t gotten around to it yet. This way, we can remove the numbers when we don’t need them and transfer them from trailer to trailer. Since we own 2-3 at all times, this is more convenient for us.

Renee Ettline reports that the new Heart of Texas Camping Unit (HOTC) was formally raised from provisional to regular status at the IBT meeting on Monday. Congratulations to David Tidmore and his crew!

International Rally, Day Three, Part I

OK, no more complaints about heat. About 9 last night the temperature plummeted and I ran for my trailer to grab a fleece. The wind picked up enough to force me to bring in the awning, too. This morning has dawned with a thin overcast and it is only expected to reach 80, which is practically freezing now that we’re acclimated to the heat.

Salem ladder view.jpg
View from our trailer of some of the Blue section

Today the schedule is packed with vendor seminars and such. Eleanor and Emma are heading to an amusement park with other kids, and I’ll be holding the 2 pm open house at our trailer (Blue sec 1, Row 8, trailer #9990) without them, unless they get back early. So between one thing and another it will be a very busy day.

Already the Airstream guys have shown up to finish adjusting the door. They had it done in five minutes, with a combination of adjusting (using a sledgehammer on the door striker!) and lubrication. Now the door opens and closes easily. That’s good because Emma couldn’t open it herself before and I felt that was a safety issue. She can open it now!

Rich C is off to Best Buy to get a wi-fi repeater like mine, and he’s also been sent on the hunt for ice pops for the Open House. All the stores in town got cleaned out of frozen stuff during the heat wave.

We have figured out the always-mysterious dump schedule. This year they put a little sticker on each trailer that shows the date of arrival. Our says “26”, for example. Five days after that, we will get pumped out by the truck that roams around every day. So we’ll get pumped out on Saturday, at least in theory.

We can easily make our black tank last for five days. But because of the need to make our 30-gallon gray tank last five days, we are being very careful with water in the sinks and shower. We are strictly rationing showers, and we are using minimal dishes and occasionally paper plates.

A member of the club was ejected last week for dumping gray water on the site — he was made into a public example of What Happens When You Break The Rule About Graywater. So if the tank gets full before your pump-out date, you’ve got to hitch up and haul over to dump station across the street, or use a “blue boy” tank to haul your gray away. Since I want a shower today, I may be one of those people towing a blue boy behind the truck tomorrow. Not a high price to pay.

There are also public showers hidden in some of the Fairground buildings. I spoke to a couple of people yesterday who discovered them. Apparently they are available but you need to be discreet about it. I’m not sure what the official policy is, but everyone is whispering about them as if they were secrets of the pharaohs. Given the choice of shlepping across the street with my shower gear, or possibly hauling a blue tank of gray water tomorrow, I guess I’ll use our shower and take a chance.

International Rally, Day Two, Part II

It’s still hot but tolerable. 90 or so is a lot better than 102 …

Salem row.jpg

Dave wrote: did the airstream folks repair your door latch as scheduled this morning?

Nope, we never heard from them. I knew this was a possibility, since I know they are working on emergencies first. Originally I was not expecting them until later this week, so I was surprised to see them yesterday. They have my cell phone # and I’m sure eventually we’ll connect.

Dave also asked: any idea when we will hear about the biggest descision to hit the club since it’s inception?

He’s referring to the name change vote. That will be decided by the delegates on Friday. I was originally led to believe that it was up to the IBT (International Board of Trustees) but in fact it is up to the delegates. I’ll try to be there when the vote occurs.

The new trailer area and the Airstream store were hopping today. It’s very nice to be able to browse the new units indoors. They have several new 25FB’s out, in addition to the new 27FB, and several Classics. I bought a few latches in the Airstream store to replace ones that broke, but otherwise restrained myself.

Salem new trailers.jpg

Rich got parked this morning and registered this afternoon, so he’s legal now. While waiting in line to get Emma signed up for the kids’ program, we met up with our friends Terry and Mike Scherkenbach. Mike (in the blue shirt) posed in front of the board that shows how many registrations there are. As of 4 pm Monday there were 833 units registered.

Salem registrations.jpg

After registration time, Rich, Mike, and a friend named Sam parked themselves in our trailer for a couple of hours, talking. Carol came by today with her new puppy, which Emma and her friend promptly wore out. He crawled under the Nissan and fell asleep.

Salem puppy.jpg

And at 5 pm we headed over to Vintage happy hour and met up with a lot of friends. I was too busy catching up with people and (later) selling back issues of the magazine to take pictures, but I did catch one shot of Rich Charpentier talking to Joe in front of Dr Norman Holman, Jr’s 1935 Airstream Torpedo. By the way, in about ten minutes among the vintage owners, I sold all of my last six sets of back issues. Those were the last full sets we had. From now on, the Summer 04 and Summer 05 issues are collector’s items.

Tonight they are having some opening event but I’m skipping it to catch up on work. Tomorrow the official program really kicks off, with a lot of seminars and events. Eleanor and Emma may take the morning to attend a kid event. We’ll be having an open house at 2pm and Bob Wheeler and Larry Huttle will be speaking at 3 pm. Other than that, I plan to wing it.

International Rally, Day Two, Part I

Given that things happen quickly here at the rally, I’m probably going to post more than once a day during the next week if I have a chance. I’ll try to post photos at least once a day.

Last night it was still sunny and over very warm at 9 p.m. We are in the western portion of the Pacific Time Zone, and somewhat north, near the longest day of the year, so sunset is quite late for us. We dared to leave the air conditioning of the trailer for a walk-about, and found that many other people had the same idea. I ran into Jim and Paula Maddox, who I had last seen at the Region 3 Rally in Myrtle Beach. Eleanor and Emma found a 9-year-old girl doing cartwheels on the grass, so Emma quickly made a new friend and stayed out till after 10 p.m. with her, when it was finally dark.

This morning it is much nicer, only in the low 70s. We have all three Fantastic Vents running to bring the cool air from the north side of the trailer in, and it is comfortable without the air conditioning. Today is only supposed to peak in the upper 80s. With all three Fantastic Vents running on low, we’ve got an solid indoor breeze and it feels great.

Since we are parked on a grassy field that was cut apparently a few weeks ago (in the Blue section), we are surrounded by dry hay everywhere. It tracks into the trailer all the time. Many people have raked their areas to try to control it, so there are hay piles around. With all this dry hay around, and a nice breeze, we can’t risk a barbecue, unfortunately.

Rich C just called. He’s in the bullpen awaiting a second chance at getting parked in the 30-amp section. Already he’s getting a bit of a run-around, even though he has a paid receipt for parking in 30-amp. I think we can expect another ranting blog entry from him …

Today should be fairly quiet. There’s nothing of significance on the program, since the rally officially starts on Wednesday. But the vendor areas are open and George M Sutton RV has a huge indoor (air conditioned) display of the new rigs, and I expect to find a lot of people over there. I’ll take pics of the area for posting later tonight.

International Rally, Day One

We’re parked at the big rally. As usual there was a good share of SNAFUs and confusion, but not for us this time. Rich C got here and was told he couldn’t get 30-amp power (on a 100-degree day), so he turned around and went back to the commercial campground. That information was bogus, and we told him so. He returned later to register and he’ll park tomorrow, hopefully. You can read his account here.

We got parked pretty quickly, and about 15 minutes after we arrived we had 30-amp power, too. So we got the A/C cranking right away and our trailer is comfortable. We are parked in a grassy field across the street from the fairground’s main buildings: Blue section, Row 8. I’ll have my flags up later this week, when my new flagpole holder arrives in the mail.

I zipped over to the vendor area and got Fantastic Vent and Airstream to schedule us for service. At 2 pm, the Fantastic Vent guys arrived to install our third and final vent in the trailer. We are putting in a Fantastic Vent 6600.

Salem Fantastic Vent inside.jpg

Dave Pierce and Jim Wood work as a team to install these vents, and they really know what they are doing. They had the vent in place in 32 minutes, including a few minutes to chat and wait for us to write a check. It was quick partly because the vent opening was pre-cut and pre-wired by the factory, but still I was impressed. Service fee: $70.

Salem Fantastic Vent outside.jpg

Airstream’s service techs showed up about the same time to check out our hard-to-open door. After a bit of consultation, they took off to get some materials. We failed to link up again because we had to go to registration, but they called and we agreed to meet tomorrow morning.

Salem Airstream service.jpg

We’ve been busy saying hi to people and meeting new ones. We’ve already met up with numerous Airstream friends, including Renee and Fred Ettline, Herb and Sidra Spies, Linda Amme (of South Jersey RV), Bill and Beth Kerfoot, Dave Pierce, and several magazine and blog readers who are parked near us.

The Board of Trustees did their business today, but the club name change vote will be done by the delegates on Friday … I’ll report on that.

Salem whale tal.jpg

I noticed a SNAFU when walking around in the 100+ degree furnace this afternoon. A large section of the vintage 30-amp section is without power. Apparently one of the big diesel generators overheated and so everyone in that area, about 40 trailers, is melting in the heat. Nobody knows for sure when they will get power, which has led to more a few grumpy comments over there.

Everywhere this rally goes, the temperature inevitably reaches record-breaking temperatures. Salem set a record at 102 today. As one person noted, the International Rally “curse” continues…

Prepped for International

We are getting ready for the rally now. Today was scorchingly hot for Oregon — 100 degrees and sunny — and that slowed things down a bit, but we needed to get ready for the long rally and that’s what we worked on today.

Most of it was routine stuff: laundry, cleaning the trailer, washing the exterior, and taking care of last-minute business stuff… We also sanitized the fresh water system, which I mention because it seems to be a big mystery for many people. Unlike many RV’ers, we do sometimes drink the water from our fresh water system. (It depends on how good the local water tastes.) So it’s important to occasionally sanitize the system.

This is easy: we just add some bleach to the fresh tank, let sit, and flush. (I posted more detailed directions here last October.)

At the International rallies we are supplied with water and electricity. The fresh water is daisy-chained from one trailer to another, so technically your water is only as good as the next guy’s water hose. For this reason, many people avoid drinking the water at big rallies. We haven’t had a problem in the past, but this year we’ll mostly drink stuff we’ve prepped ourselves. Eleanor made some terrific raspberry lemonade that I think I’ll be consuming gallons of tomorrow ..

Parking at an International Rally is another mystery for people. The procedure seems complicated, but it’s really easy once you know how it works: Follow “WBCCI” signs to the rally site, stop at an area marked “BULLPEN” and wait for a parker to come get you. The parker will have you follow them to a particular spot. They park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m most days with lunch breaks. If nobody’s there, just wait. If you arrive after hours, you’ll be there overnight.

Our plan was to arrive as early as possible in the morning but given that it’s 10:45 p.m. now and Emma’s still up, I doubt she’ll be ready early. We’ll still try to get there as early as we can to avoid the worst of the 100-degree temperatures that are forecast again. Tomorrow will be a busy day.

Tonight I went over to Gunny’s again to try some more dusky shots of his trailer, but couldn’t really get anything spectacular. Here’s one of the out-takes.

Gunnys trailer 2.jpg

Salem, OR

We arrived in Salem yesterday afternoon and immediately were greeted by Rich C and Gunny, both of whom seemed more than ready for some new faces in the RV Resort. That pretty much took care of the afternoon and evening, because there was a lot to catch up on.

This place is loaded with features. Continental breakfast in the morning, movies every evening, ice cream social from 6 to 8 pm on weekends, daily newspaper on the doorstep, game room, hot tub & pool, etc. All free for us, for the price of $33 per night with Good Sam discount. We’re going to try to take full advantage of everything … but today I spent the entire day in the trailer processing subscription renewals and other paperwork.

It was absolutely gorgeous yesterday and this morning, but the heat is building now. We’re expecting 98 degrees on Sunday and 100 on Monday. Remember two weeks ago, when we couldn’t break out of the 60s? That’s a distant memory. This is more like Death Valley, with humidity. Fortunately, the temps are expected to slide down all week. That’s the way Oregon is. Huge swings are commonplace — at night our temps are supposed to plummet 50 degrees. I suspect we’ll be happy we elected to get the 30-amp power option, once we are at the official rally site on Monday.

Gunnys trailer.jpg
Had to borrow Rich C’s tripod for this shot: f4.5, 4 seconds at ISO 800 (exp bias +1.7)

Gunny is parked down the row from us. Tonight he demonstrated his trailer lighting system for us at dusk. It’s pretty fun to watch, especially since it’s under a very cool new Safari 25FB Special Edition. He’s a rebel at 60+ …

A couple of administrative notes: I was finally able to upload some Crater Lake pictures to the Flickr site, after several days of trying. Apparently Flickr doesn’t the intermittency of my cellular connection. Usually I go to a coffeehouse to do big uploads like this, but haven’t had the chance lately. I’ll get more photos up from Lava Lands and Salem next week.

Also, I’ve added an open house to our Schedule page, on Wednesday June 28 at 2 pm. If you’ll be at the International Rally, drop by for a cold popsicle and some chat under our awning. Once I know where we are parked in the maze of trailers at the rally, I’ll post our location. Or, check the locator board for #9990.

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