For those of us that own an Airstream, the factory is often referred to as the “Mothership.” In thinking of when and where I wanted to host a fall rally, this popped in my mind . . . and I began the plans for the “Bring It On Home To Mama” rally.
My contact person for mapping this rally was Tim Maxwell – Regional Director of Sales for Airstream. He agreed to set aside campsites in the Terraport for us and to help arrange some very special events. As rally-time rolled around, I had confirmation of 9 Airstreams -- 18 people hoping to attend!
On Wednesday morning, Oct. 3, Tom and I arrived at the Terraport at 10:00. Tuesday had been a busy day/night for Airstream, and every Terraport spot had been taken. We were glad to see it cleared out by Wednesday late morning, and we hustled around “C” loop staking our claim to a circle of consecutive sites for the rally.
Several others arrived on Wednesday, each with a short list of fixes to be “worked in” at the factory, if able. The fix-it crew (better knows as Factory Service Department) is scheduled solid until January, but having a few quick-fix items to do on a short-term notice seems to fit their work plan. In years of working with Airstream I have never heard of them not bending over backwards to accommodate an owner’s needs. This fact was to be proven time and time again at this rally!
Wednesday evening we gathered outside in circle-groups that grew, and shrank, and rearranged, as people and topics of conversation cycled. Joe, WBCCI historian, headed-up a discussion of round-the-world-trailers. Joe is restoring one, and our NOVA member Dan is also working on one. There were some outdoor theater presentations to test the system and make sure it was in working order. It was an animated group; next door to us was one of the new Atlas Airstreams, and owners Wayne and Jean had no choice but to come over and join in! That’s how Airstreamers make friends wherever they go!
Thursday, Oct 4
I woke to Tom stepping in the trailer at 7:20 and announcing: “They’re coming to get our Airstream for service in 10 minutes.” Quickly we vacated and headed to the near-by “Heidout” restaurant for breakfast. When we texted the group what we were doing . . . 5 more showed up! The Heidout is next-door to the factory, and is frequented by Airstream workers, Airstreamers in for service . . . and the local farmers!
The big rally event for the day was a factory tour by Tim Maxwell. I have always heard that Tim pulls off an exceptional tour – touching on many places that none of us have ever been at the Factory! He lived up to his reputation, and everyone ended up feeling very connected with our Airstream Factory!
Thursday night we caravanned the 7 miles down the road to the Inn Between Tavern. Even at 5:30 the restaurant was crowded, and we opted to eat outside on the patio . . . at the picnic tables . . . with the feral cats! Not a very pretty place, the Tavern seems to host to large groups, and we found the quite of the outside patio a pleasant option to the packed and dark interior.
The evening movie was provided by Larry – “Night of the Grizzly.” It was a documentary-telling of a night in 1967 at Glacier National Park when two grizzly bear attacks occurred within hours of each other in different locations of the park. Aside from being a good examination of the two separate incidents, it also had some very good history about Glacier Park, and it’s lack of bear policy in the 60’s.
As we watched the wind picked up and the temperature dropped . . . but everyone sat out the showing, wrapped in hoodies and blankets and coveralls! Tom also had a fire going in the above-ground fire pit, and several chose to hang at the back of the theater for the warmth of the fire.
Friday morning (after another Hideout breakfast) we drove down the road about a mile from the factory to see the WBCCI headquarters. A small facility, it is comprised of a few office spaces, a work area, and a nice reception area/lobby. The lobby had many nice wall-groupings of Airstream-generated and WBCCI-related pictures and artifacts. While there, several of our members “re-upped” their membership for 2019, and several bought WBCCI swag!
In the early afternoon we had a presentation from Brad Herring, the head of Airstream’s service department. Meeting in the training room where he updates his Airstream dealers in all procedures, he threw out a few topics to get us going – which morphed into a steady stream of questions by the group . . . and answers by Brad. We all left with the absolute certainty that Brad and his crew were dedicated to the Airstream as a product . . . and to us as customers.
Friday night was pizza and a movie. John had obliged by bringing his outdoor pizza oven, and we had a regular buffet line beginning with individual pizza shells and followed by all kinds of toppings. (Sorry I forgot to set the bacon out, everyone.) John played pizza chef while everyone made . . 1, 2, or 3 pizzas!
The pizza fest brought out two high-tech gadgets – thermometer guns for the pizza oven and electronic fly swatters for the flies!
Pizza over and cleaned up we gathered in our outdoor theater for the classic RV movie: The Long, Long, Trailer. Everyone enjoyed the wacky comedy of 1950’s couple (Lucy and Desi) starting married life in a 40+ foot trailer. They go through lots of the newbie issues and the learning curve that we all remember from our early Airstream days. The weather was a bit warmer and without the wind, making an nice little outdoor gathering. Once again, Tom had a fire going in our outdoor fire pit.
Saturday began with a planned power outage at the Terraport. Airstream is in the middle of a big building expansion and updating of their current facility. The good news is that our breakfast extravaganzas don’t require any electricity . . . John fired up his griddle, and he and Tom played chef. On the menu: egg omelets with all the left-over pizza toppings from the night before (onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, cheese, sausage crumbles) and bacon and sausage links, and french toast! LOTS of bacon and sausage links!
The little German town of Minster was in full-swing October Fest mode during the weekend, and a delegation of five headed over to check out the beer tents. The rest of us sat out the power outage in lawn chairs under the tall trees in the grassy corner across from our campsites -- very warm, but a nice breeze! By 4:30, the power was back on, the October Festers were back, and John had set up a super theater for Buckeye Football. The day had been off and on clouds, but towards evening it looked more and more like rain!
We had one more event before shutting down this rally -- a pot luck/fish fry. Tom heated up the oil pit and cooked beer-battered and breaded fish. Everyone contributed fishy sides -- coleslaw, buns for sandwiches, mac 'n cheese, green beans. As the drizzle began the food line was moved under our Airstream awning, and Tom stood his ground cooking his fish. During all this, the Ohio State game continued under John's Airstream awning. With clean-up everyone disappeared for awhile . . . but returned with fruit pizza, homemade ice-cream, and brownies with fudge sauce.
Tom and I were home by noon on Sunday, and according to our calendar we'll be home for the next few weeks! I am counting on something to pop up that requires us to head out for a few days -- the Airstream has been unpacked, cleaned, repacked . . . and is ready to go!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown