Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reflections from a First-timer

I wanted to share with you my article that I wrote for the Wisconsin Bulletin which detailed our thoughts and feelings about attending our first International WBCCI Rally:

As we finally were able to load up our 1963 Ambassador, instead of fixing it, we could feel the excitement building for our very first International Rally. This would be my first time towing the Ambassador anywhere, and I was nervous and excited. The kids could hardly control themselves as they got all their things together. Every time I turned around the two year old was in her swimsuit ready to go to the Dells (A trip for the youth that did not occur until Friday, July 3rd!) My husband was worried about what may go wrong with all of the vehicles in our 11-day adventure. Even the dog tried to load up in the truck a day early!

As we rolled out in our mini caravan, we had high hopes for this rally. Our excitement got even higher as we pulled in to the Jefferson Fairgrounds with the 60 or so other vintage Airstreams. Even a fire in our 12 Volt wiring at 6:20 the next morning would not detain us from joining in on the Vintage Parade into the 2009 WBCCI International Rally.

We had done our research for this rally, but nothing could really prepare us for what International was all about. I had even saved up my tears for the dreaded parking police screaming when I couldn't get the ball to line up on the painted dot! My dear husband did save us both the embarrassment, by taking over when he saw that I may have to back in to our spot (if you went to the Fort McCoy rally, you would know that my husband's attempt to teach me backing up didn’t turn out so well). He jumped in my vehicle to park it then ran back to park his own.

Once we got settled, registered and signed up for almost every contest and show we could possibly do, we decided to just hang out in the Vintage area. This actually was the best thing that we could have done the entire week. We came to International with high expectations of programs, shows, entertainment, youth programming, the works and discovered what the true meaning of the WBCCI is: Wally’s Dream of bringing people together and building relationships!

The best thing at International had to be meeting people from all walks of life. We met so many of the people that you usually just read their articles in the Blue Beret, or hear on the Vintage Airstream Podcast. Best of all, had to be the opportunity to hear “Pee Wee” (Dale) Schwamborn speak about his adventures on the African caravan and his mother, Helen’s part in the early years of WBCCI during the Vintage Happy Hour. To top the evening off, the vintage area was treated to a “drive-in” movie of the African Caravan followed by more comments from Pee Wee! If you don’t already have the wandering bug, take a look at what our founders have done in the past, with much less technology!

We began to develop (or should I say enhance) our need to be adventurous and see our United States, every corner of it. Of course, we would love to see the world, but for now, we will pick the adventures that are do-able. It’s not just about the travel though, it is about joining together with people you may not ever have met to see where the road may take us together.

One of the many guests that we had in from the public stated it well, “I have never met a bunch of people who are more willing to open the doors of their campers to share. In my whole life, I have never met a Winnebago owner that would let me just see the inside of their trailer!” That’s us! We all open up not only our trailers to show people the inside, but we share with them the passion that we have to see the world and build relationships with others. We carry on Wally’s Dream!

What have you done to further Wally Byam’s dream lately? Have you gone on an adventure? (I’m not talking about the local KOA with all the amenities either!) Have you caravanned with others to a new place, even just one other trailer? Have you invited your friends to a rally? Have you shared the awesomeness of owning an Airstream with another? I’m sure most of you have. You can’t help but to have the stars in your eyes when you talk about Wally’s dream!

Although our first experience at International was not without it’s challenges. We experienced a fire, two floods, and near winter-like weather on this adventure, but we gained so much more in friendships. The people we have met will be friends we look forward to meeting down the road again someday, and will definitely stay in touch with for years to come! I will close with a quote from Pee Wee, “Keep the road straight, the sky clear, the glass full, good friends, and the laughter loud!”


  1. It's great to see a new post on your blog and hear about all the fun you had. We've been looking forward to a new post for a while, but you're doing better than we are; our monthly email blurb is over two months behind! Keep up the good work and good times!
    Uncle Bill and Aunt Mary

  2. Thanks for the details, I wish I could have joined you up there.

    Steve and Rob and Frank and I are talking about trying to meet up somewhere in the middle, between all of us, sometime next year-- maybe in Tennessee. It would be great if you all could camp with us, too.