Cherry Blossom Rally 2006
Rogers Farm, Upper Marlboro, MD
April 6-9, 2006
My unofficial Rally report...
It's worth noting at the outset of this report that this was the Morrison family's first Airstream Rally. With two very active teenagers, and a business (DigitalSoundboard.net) that has me away recording music festivals with our '78 Excella on weekends, this past weekend was our first opportunity to finally attend a WBCCI Unit Rally.
NOW I know what we've been missing all of these years - great camaraderie and good times. In that this was a Buddy Rally I caravaned down to MD from NJ with our good friends Steve and Braith2, their daughters, their SOB, and Steve's in-laws Howie and Braith1 who are both presently WBCCI members at-large. You can read about our first weekend camping with these folks here. Imagine that - an SOB at an Airstream rally. Which leads me to my first comment - the folks at this rally were super friendly. They not only graciously welcomed us newcomers who are Airstreamers and WBCCI members, but from what I could tell, everyone treated Steve and Braith2 with the same unbridled warmth that we "members" experienced. And many were curious to see their SOB and all of it's nice features and functions. I don't mean to imply here that we were all expecting the worst - not the case. But we have heard over the years how some Airstreamers have been known to look down their noses at non-Airstreamers. I'm here to tell you that none of that malarkey exists at the DC Unit.
We arrived Thursday afternoon after a nice ride down the Eastern Shore with a lunch stop at Holly's on the eastern side of the Bay just before the Bay Bridge into Annapolis. The cream of crab soup was out of this world and i'm wishing a bought a few more containers to go. Upon arrival to the Rogers Farm we were greeted by Matt and his parking crew and we directed to our spots for the weekend. If you look towards the right side and second row in the photo above you'll see the SOB. Howie's and my 34's flank Steve's trailer in the picture. I think you're looking at a total of forty trailers. I heard there was close to one hundred people in attendance at the Rally. Also upon arrival we were promptly handed "Save Wally" buttons and it was suggested we wear them all weekend. Not a problem as I arrived with my own supply of buttons, stickers, and a few Save Wally t-shirts I made up. I was armed to the teeth with Save Wally support material and I knew right away we were at the right Rally.
Our Jersey crew got busy setting up our rigs for Rally living. We ran the extension cords and daisy chained the water hoses. All just in time for our first Happy Hour of the weekend. Weather on Thursday was beautiful and Happy Hour took place just outside the big tent. A great spread of treats were presented and the session lived up to it's name as everyone seemed to be real happy to be there. We were on our own for dinner Thursday and Briath1 treated our crew to her wonderful lasagna dinner - yes Katy (my wife)...Braith1 uses her oven! After dinner we headed out to do some trailer hopping of our own and I gladly was able to kick off the festive weekend with my old buddy Airstream Pete (Richmond, VA).
Pete and I had met a couple of years prior at Floydfest (Floyd, VA). Pete was the MC on one of the stages that weekend and my company was there recording the music. By chance, our Airstreams were parked next to each other that weekend - and he's been my Airstream rabbi ever since. Pete was there rooting me on during the bidding process last Summer when I won our 34 on eBay. He was emailing me to "go higher" and threatening that if I didn't he would. If it wasn't for him I may not have gone a little over budget to win our beauty. I'm glad I did to this day. Anyway, Pete and I caught up on life until about 4AM that first night -- ouch.
Friday came around a bit sooner than I needed it to and I missed out on breakfast. The Rally presented a continental breakfast each morning that went until 9:30 or 10. Actually I think I was able to get a delicious muffin Fri morning. Who could remember, I was in too much pain from all the Thursday night fun. By noon I was able to function again and our crew was off for a day trip to DC. We took the Metro into the City and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Get this...we were all standing in line to get it to the museum and I'm bloviating (sp?) on how Bowlus, who built the Spirit of St. Louis airplane, was the owner of the Bowlus Trailer company that Wally Byam bought out of bankruptcy, which then became the Airstream travel trailer company. A nice couple in line right behind us asked if there was a chance we were at the Cherry Blossom Rally as they were. Too funny. After flying through the museum (pun intended) it was back on the Metro and back to the Rogers farm in time for Happy Hour number 2 which was equally as lively as the first.
Happy Hour then morphed into the pot luck dinner for Friday night. This is where my rookieness at this Rally stuff took hold. Please note that my wife Katy and our teenage kids have yet to arrive to the Rally. They got in at 1AM Sat morning. With Katy's good suggestion I brought a Chicken Caesar Salad with soft tortillas as the wraps. All told this concoction had two big platters and one very big salad bowl. I walk up to the pot luck tables and there is not a square inch of table space available for even one dish. Can you say rookie? I wound up bringing the whole chicken/ceasar/wraps back to my table and enjoyed most of it there. Now I know - small and tasty is the way to go with pot luck. Oops.
The Friday night action at the Rally was way more subdued than the first night. I walked around the field at 11PM and all was quiet. I waited up for Kate and the kids to show up and then proceeded to pass out for the night from exhaustion. With Saturday AM came the rains. I was hoping to bring my teenagers to the memorials in DC but it wasn't a good day for walking around outside. Steve and B2 took the kiddies to the movies and we shifted gears and went shopping for a new stereo for our 34. The old one was the original radio with cassette deck - cassettes have pretty much gone the way of the 8-track player (have one in our '78 Excella) for me. Howie let me help him do the installation in my trailer - I got to hold the flashlight for him. It was a painless procedure in that we (I use that term freely) had to cut a bigger opening for the new stereo to go in. We (again) hooked up the power and speakers and I was listening to CD's containing beautiful Steve Kimock guitar playing in no time.
Pete and Dave (me)
Weather forced the Saturday Happy Hour in to the big top tent. It was well attended by all and in that this was Saturday the tent was exploding with the chatter of one hundred Airstreamers sharing the love. During happy hour Airstream movies from the past were played on the big screen. I've seen 'Building Dreams' as many times as anyone out there and watching it never gets old for me. It was at this event that I first donned my new Blue Beret (see above). The beret was a wonderful welcome gift from my good buddy Pete, a third generation Airstreamer.
Our friends Tindy and Chris from MD stopped in to check out the spectacle of shiny trailers and joined in on the evenings festivities and are now talking Airstream ;-). And once again hh rolled right into dinner.
Sat nights dinner was hosted by the Rally. The dinner was preceded by announcements, thank you's, and a prayer of thanks. The thank you's were hysterical. Matt Worner, the organizer of all things Cherry Blossom Rally received a beautifully polished and inscribed bed pan as a show of thanks. Roaring laughter abounded. The guy deserves all the praise we can shower on him. Pulling this Rally off as smoothly as he did was no easy feat. Especially because he now divides his time between NM and NJ.
The menu for the Sat night dinner included Beefsteak (london broil) cooked on the big grill with a side of salad. Not to be overly critical but the dinner could have used at least one side dish. I did sneak away to grab a pound of potato salad and cole slaw from the fridge. Anyway, there was more steak that this crew of 100+ could eat and it was super tender. Matt said that the tenderness was due to the slow cook method they employed in grilling the steaks. Whatever it was...it worked. Good stuff. Dessert was pot luck and the spread was out of this world - Braith2 shared the 'Better than Sex in a Pan' which I say lived up to it's name and in my book was the best dessert out there. We shared my Mom's specialty - pineapple upside down cake. I asked her earlier in the week for the recipe and she came over with two baked cakes which was more than fine by me and Katy. B1's double chocolate chip cake is a chocolate lovers dream. I had seconds on that one as well.
After dinner we were presented with a slide show by Colin Hyde of GSM Vehicles. Colin's company, based in Plattsburg NY, does an outstanding job restoring Vintage Airstreams. Colin is in the middle of restoring Rob Baker's Sovereign of the Road. Rob is maintaining a blog on the project here. There is a good chance you've heard these guys share their unbounded knowledge of all things vintage at The VAP podcast show. The slide show and q&a session Sat night went on for a couple of hours and featured a few hundred photos of the project. All I can say is these guys know their stuff and they do it the right way from the outset. For a Vintage junkie like me it seems I can never get enough on the subject. These guys delivered the goods on Sat night. And having listened to Colin and Rob on the VAP from day one it felt like meeting celebrity - which was a lot of fun. They are truly as nice in person as they sound on the program.
After the slide show we moseyed over to the campfire and hung there chatting it up for the balance of the evening. Believe it or not, I was still meeting people I hadn't had a chance to talk to all weekend. And this was after midnight on Sat night!
Sunday morning saw the mass exodus. By the time i rolled out of the trailer at 9AM it appeared the place was half empty already. Again, being that this was my first Rally it was all new to me. Our crew was is no real rush to boogie. Katy and the kids hit the road at about 10:30AM - they headed to FL to visit my in-laws for the week. Steve and I packed up our rigs and were on the road by 11AM. Howie and Braith1 were still there when we left. They have to be in TX by the end of April for a home made kayak gathering. So they're in no rush. Side note - Howie has done a lot of upgrades on his diesel tow vehicle. If you're into diesel it's worth checking out his site here.
Howie's rig adorned with his home made kayak
The trip back to Jersey Shore Haven and then home from there was uneventful. We stopped at a rest area along the way on Rt. 301 and had lunch in our 34. Then it was a straight shot to the Flying J in NJ to dump the tanks. This is where Steve headed north to the Princeton area and I headed due east to Shore Haven. I unhitched the rig and was back on the road in no time. I made it home in time to watch the last four holes of the Masters. Congrats to Phil Mickelson on another Masters win.
In closing, Katy and I did not know about the WBCCI name tag thing. We managed to survive the weekend without the name tags, but the obvious burden was on the person we were talking with. I didn't have a clue that they are as important as they are. I've seen them worn a few times by transients at Shore Haven but never caught on to the fact that the members units give them out. In that we've yet to make it to a Watchung Rally we never received ours. I spoke with my buddy Al during the Rally. Al and Mary Anne (full timers) are slowly making their way to Salem, OR for this years International Rally and are presently roughing it at a beach side campground somewhere in CA. Al said his Unit issues a fifty cent fine if you're caught without a name badge at one of their Rallies. He added that the citations are typically issued by the cutest kids in the crowd and the loose change goes into the kitty. To avoid this fine in the future, I emailed our membership director this morning and he assured me our badges would be in the mail today. Come on...how can I wear my new blue beret without donning my name tag. Sacrilege! ;-)
If you've been to one or a hundred Rally's this report has been nothing but old news to you. For those who have yet to attend one, all I can suggest is go when you get the chance. It's good fun whether you are the type to jump right in (Katy) or prefer to just sit back and take it in (me). One of the things that struck me funny on the ride home was thinking about the set schedules for 'open house'. What a crock. It was open house from the moment we arrived until we pulled out of there on Sunday. We freely knocked on doors and paid visits and were visited all weekend long.
In the end that was the ultimate fun...getting to see what others have or haven't done to their Airstreams. Getting and sharing tips to help make the Airstreaming experience that much better . A highlight for me in that department was Daisy's trailer. She's done a fair amount of customizing, rearranging, and enhancing. Her Airstream features a computer table (which she puts to good use), LED lights, aluminum back splashes, and the such, all has made her rig worthy for the full timing she does. Daisy offers an excellent primer on LED lighting for Airstreams at her website here.
We learned that the DC Unit features a wonderful and welcoming cast of characters. We hope to catch up with them all at another one of their Rally's in the near future. Here is a hearty thank you to the Rally's hosts the Rogers family and the WDCU from the Morrison's - #6481.
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