Category Archives: Rallies

Stittsville News article

We had a delightful interview with John Curry, news editor of the Stittsville News. He found us at the Ontario Airstream Club’s rally in Richmond Ontario. In fairness, he could have filled two more pages about the rally’s crowd, entertainment and great dining.

The Ontario Unit of the Wally Byam Airstream Club is one of the largest, with almost two hundred members. Their rally attendance sometimes has seventy Airstreams, so this rally was a little small at nearly fifty rigs.

More later, wanted to share the fun interview we read today in the Stittsville News online. We hope you have fun reading it too.

 

How many years full-timing?

2-dswkayak2015 was a good year for us. It wrapped up an enjoyable eighth year of full-timing. We began the year in a wet and chilly Corpus Christi TX, and the year mostly improved from there.  Our year was full of interesting travels throughout much of the United States. We visited another FL state park (Silver Springs) for the first time before visiting Sarasota and Miami again. We added another state, Pennsylvania, to our camping list with two weeks enjoyable visits there.

5-liarWe traveled a different path westward to Farmington NM for the Airstream Club’s annual meeting and rally. It was fun to stop at the mother ship of Bass Pro stores in St Louis MO. Along the way we discovered a free city park in Elk City OK (electricity and water,) and nice RVers everywhere we went. While in Farmington at the annual meeting, Jim was elected to 2nd Vice-President of the international Airstream Club. This was an exciting event and promises to provide a lot of hard and rewarding work.

9-ChacoFarmington NM is a great part of the USA to visit. Attractions include Shiprock, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and Aztec Ruins, and Hovenweep National Monument, and Durango, among other ancient and more recently developed attractions. Summer may not be the best time to visit the southwest but we found the weather manageable and enjoyed our stay and the attractions.

3-CWCSadly, Jim’s mother died in mid-March last year. We left Miami earlier than planned to rush home to be with Catie and family during this tough time. Thankfully the campground in southwest Miami was very accommodating about refunding our unused camping nights, and we’re glad we weren’t any further away from the family home. Our full-timing lifestyle allowed us to quickly respond to the family’s needs and care for Catie so she could stay home during her last two weeks.

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One of our daughters and her family repatriated from Vancouver in Canada last month. They’re getting settled in with many adjustments after being out of the country for ten years. We’re excited to have all our children and grands living in North Carolina for the first time. We sense, on the other hand, a tug to start settling on our NC mountain acreage. Doesn’t this look really inviting? We have courtesy parking – let us know if you’d like to stop in. It’s pretty nice.

 

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Two new grandchildren joined our family last year. We’re grateful our travels and their arrivals all timed well, and they’re both in N.C.

 

We encountered our fair share of mechanical issues last year. Our fridge and water heater both failed on our rain-soaked trip from Farmington. Not until we hit some dry pavement in Tennessee did these start working again. Our batteries stopped charging from shore power. We accidentally destroyed our folding step when we ran it into a projecting concrete sidewalk. Precipitates from the water heater clogged our sink faucet completely. The solar charger quit. Debbie’s makeup mirror LED lights failed. We found ourselves needing to replace the trailer’s brakes and turn the drums. We had our worst water leaks into the cabin. One that soaked the fabric base of our sofa and one that dripped onto the floor from inside the roof air conditioner.

These are all pretty routine maintenance issues to us. To have a gaggle of mechanical issues in the same year is unusual for us and was frustrating at times. We sometimes defer maintenance when we think we can count on getting to it before long. Ideally, we catch problems before they catch us. Other times, a delay turns out to be punctuated by a repair instead of preventive or scheduled maintenance. Dry camping is easy when most things are working. Living in an RV is easy for us when most things are working. Our RV is eleven years old and is apparently becoming a little more demanding. Okay – we’re on it!

Our 2015 towing mileage was 11,740, down from 14,866 miles in 2014. This brings our total full-timing towing miles to just under 108,000 miles. Our truck has 157,000 total miles, so towing represents 70% of our total truck mileage. The truck and trailer each continue to delight us with low maintenance needs and costs. We still plan to run the truck to 200,000 miles, or another three to four years, before replacement. Get your bids in soon for future purchase of a lightly used truck!

Our full-timing travel costs continued another year to trend downward. We spent $2,966 on camping sites, down from $4,050 and $4,565 the prior two years. Our average cost of camp site rental for 2015 dropped to $8/night, down from $11 and $13 the prior two years. Our average nights stay per site returned to six nights.

One expected decrease is our towing miles per relocation. We averaged 178 miles per relocation in 2015, our second lowest number in eight years. Moving more often within southeast USA from July through December 2015 drove this and other reductions. This year we’re likely to spend more time traveling out west, so some of these may swing upward again.

10-75 degrees

Finally, we now freely admit we’re likely to build a house. We bought very nice land two years ago in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Weeks spent at various times of the year getting a feel for the sun, the weather, the wind, and the neighbors, provide us good ideas for site placement.

This attraction to building a house runs counter to our full-timing ethic of the past 8+ years. We promised we would only stay on the road full-time so long as we wanted. We’re still loving it, but are beginning to wonder how many more years. We think it’d be nice to eventually have a house again.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2016 Dreamstreamr odyssey

Why Are Dreamstreamrs Writing Again?

We had a nice visit to Rayne LA, a small town we’d never heard of and hadn’t realized we’ve driven by it every time we traverse I-10 east or west through LA.  We were in Rayne for the WBCCI mid-Winter International Board of Trustees meeting and Rally.  The folks from the local units and Region 6 of the airstream owners club put on a great rally.  We ate well, always had hot coffee and hot chocolate available (thanks Henry!), and enjoyed fun music performances by local musicians. Check out one of their rock bands, below:

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Okay, I’m kidding about rock band – these guys are both very good vocalists and fun entertainers.  They put on a good show for our crowd.  Rayne is a town of 8,000 people known in some circles for contributing greatly to the national supply of frogs legs.  You probably knew this but it is news to us.  We’ll look carefully at the packaging henceforth.  Here’s one of the clues about frogs legs we found in Rayne:

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Can you imagine how many frogs it takes to make 10K pounds every week?  We heard the frogs grow bigger down here.  We walked most of the town and enjoyed stopping in Worthmore 5 and 10 and in the hardware store.  Funny what you can find in small stores — look at this never-used and a bit aged merchandise:

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When we tell people where we are from, a small town in North Carolina called Kannapolis, they often don’t know about it.  But when we ask if they remember the wash cloths and towels with the little cannon they almost always remember this.  Kannapolis was known from “The Mind of The South” as the last remains of the feudal system due to its patriarchy by Mr Cannon of Cannon Mills.  Its been awhile since we’ve seen product from Cannon Mills — this is an authentic package, not from the company that bought out the name after the mills closed.  The Worthmore 5 and 10 had a lot of older goods in it.

We arrived yesterday in Ocean Springs, a little over 200 miles east of Rayne and Lafayette, LA.  Ocean Springs isn’t simply a nice driving distance for us from Rayne, it also is home to one of Jim’s first cousins and another one lives in nearby Biloxi.  Jim hasn’t seen Cathy in over 20 years.  We’re getting together tonight for dinner and a reunion, and looking forward to seeing them.  Hopefully we can lure them back to the campground and let them see firsthand how the other 1% (no, not like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, we mean that OTHER 1%) live.

About the distractions we mentioned yesterday.  This is not an excuse, nor an apology.  Just some explaining, as promised, about our long absence from writing here.  It started four months ago when an Airstream club friend asked Jim to consider running for International 3rd VicePresident.  We talked it over between the two of us for four days.  

The dialogue was repetitive the first two and one-half days — “Why would we mess up such a great lifestyle?; This offers us nothing, why would we want to do it? This would postpone plans we’ve sketched out for this summer and beyond.  We don’t have room in our wardrobes for the additional required clothing (prescribed jackets, slacks, shirts).”  These, obviously, were only the cons to the argument.

We reviewed Steve’s excellently written request of us and considered the pros.  We love WBCCI, the Airstream owners club.  We have gained immensely in RVing knowledge, caravanning, rallies, and friendships all over the continent from our associations resulting from belonging to, and participating in, WBCCI.  Having served as officers and members in our local unit and in a large intraclub of WBCCI we have firsthand experience with the difficulties in finding members willing to serve.  Did we mention, we love WBCCI?

The third day the tenor of our discussions started changing.  At first we admitted we could do this.  Then we started talking about the changes to our full-timing lifestyle, undoing parts of our 3-year plans (yes, we do plan up to 3 years — just a habit of list-makers like us), and what accepting a nomination could entail for us.

By the fourth day we were leaning forward, toward Steve’s suggestion.  If not us, then who?  We’ve heard that in various leadership seminars through our health care management careers.  We all have talents and may be the ones most likely to underestimate the impact we could have.  If no one volunteers and there is no one to serve, then an organization can fail.  We’ve experienced this at our first WBCCI International Rally when the Full Timers Intraclub conducted their last meeting and luncheon.  No one was willing or able to serve.  Each of us should serve if asked.  

Long story slightly shortened, we accepted the challenge and are really excited about it.  Several issues immediately popped up.  We developed and submitted to the WBCCI Nominating Committee our letter of interest for International 3rd Vice President.  We joined in a couple of busy forums about good leadership.  We started reading and writing club-related emails  nearly constantly.  We began preparing for our interview for the position.  

Unrelated, Jim’s daughter announced her wedding date last June as we were enroute to Huron SD and Vancouver BC.  We would have twelve days from Vancouver to return and prepare for the wedding in Asheville NC.  We’d already traveled from San Diego to Key West and North Carolina, then to the West Coast in 2013.  We decided we would stay the first part of the winter in North Carolina instead of returning to Arizona’s fabulous weather and daily tennis and good friends we’ve made there over the past three or four winters.

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Can you tell Jim is the proud dad?  He and Hannah are riding in the horse drawn carriage from the Bride’s room down the road to the ceremony.  We’re tickled, love her groom and family, and had a wonderful wedding and celebration.

We enjoyed travels to four rallies and to the Christmas luncheon of the Carolinas Unit of NC, our local airstream owners chapter of WBCCI.  We posted about a great odyssey along the NC Outer Banks, from Manteo to Ocracoke and then Beaufort NC.  Otherwise, we traveled very little — except for frequent trips regarding an exciting new development in our lives that I’ll just wait until tomorrow to talk about.

And we postponed posting to our Dreamstreamr blog site.

This past week we sat for our Nominating Committee interview.  The club conducted it at the Rayne Meeting and Rally, and advised us we passed muster and are now “certified nominees”.  Our CV will appear in the March edition of the club’s magazine, The Blue Beret.  That accomplished, we are still interested and participating in the forums yet feel a load lifted.  We’re traveling again, looking forward to three great Florida rallies in February and March and April (I’ll get back to this, too), and we’re glad to be on the road again.

Thanks for riding along with us.  Thanks for your encouraging words and for waiting for us.  We hope you are staying warm and healthy, wherever you are.  And we’ll deliver tomorrow about our next exciting life news — check back with us then.  

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™


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©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

Sitting in the Shade

We’re at a rally of our airstream club, Carolinas Unit of NC, encamped under grand white oak trees. The trees around us are massive, strong and broad. They form a beautiful grove of sheltering long-limbed giants. Throughout the day they allow sunlight to filter through a little. And they add to the night-time darkness, allowing starlight only in the center clearing.

Rally camping in the shade

Rally camping in the shade

Camping in the shade, we can keep the trailer cooler but cannot maintain the batteries with our solar panels. We’re in our third day and still have 80 percent battery capacity remaining despite lots of laptop charging, use of water pump and fans, and lighting throughout the day and evening the previous two days. Battery voltage is sitting at 12.5, so everything is in good shape inside.

Camping in the shade we enjoy the shadows and calm filtered light entering our trailer. Sort of makes an argument for remote solar panels, I guess. But ours are so easy to work with, ninety-five percent of the time sitting in bright sunlight atop our trailer.

Oh — there is shore power too. But Jim enjoys seeing how many days we can thrive on just batteries and solar re-charging. Call it our small contribution to reduced carbon footprint.

See you down the road!
Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2013 Dreamstreamr

Alumapalooza, to Make & Renew Friendships

We are tickled we could attend Alumapalooza 2013 at Airstream’s trailer factory campus. Last year we missed by a few days attending and immediately marked our calendar for this year’s festivities. Lucky for Jim, the world’s largest ham radio convention occurred a couple of weeks before so he didn’t miss it, either. And we had time in between to visit with good friends in Dayton OH.

Our first Airstream trailer, in 2004, led us to many enjoyable weekends RVing throughout VA, NC, SC, and GA. We didn’t go much further afield in our first two years because we were working very full-time. Membership in the airstream owners club introduced us to our favorite thing in RVing, making friends and spending time with great people. Our number one priority for nearly every rally we attend is PEOPLE! We enjoy renewing friendships and making new friends.

Our home awaits her adjustments

Our home awaits her adjustments

We arrived at the Airstream Factory campus a few days before the Alumapalooza event. Our almost nine-year old trailer receives a lot of loving maintenance from Jim but there are a few jobs he doesn’t mind passing on. These we save for our occasional visits to Airstream Factory service in Jackson Center. As good as the service is, the visit to the factory is great icing on the cake for us.

Jim and Nick check out Mike's chairs

Jim and Nick check out Mike’s chairs

Every time we visit the factory campus we meet and spend time with fun and very interesting people. This year, because of the impending Alumapalooza rally, the camping area was chockablock full of fun folks. We enjoyed talking in the customer service waiting and camping areas, meeting people from NY City, San Diego, and many places in between.

Big Shaggy Buffalo Ranch sells wonderful bison steaks

Big Shaggy Buffalo Ranch sells wonderful bison steaks

A favorite Airstream rallies meet-up for us is with friends Matt and Beth. We enjoy their company and have had great expeditions with them. This time we rode down to Big Shaggy Buffalo Ranch somewhere near Sidney OH and then to The Spot in Sidney.

THE place to eat in Sidney

THE place to eat in Sidney


If we didn’t want the best pie or bison burger in all of Ohio, Sidney would still be a neat visit. It still boasts a downtown square, solidly anchored by the Shelby County Courthouse, surrounded by neat old buildings. One of many is the very notable Peoples Savings and Loan designed by Louis Sullivan in 1917. Click on that link to see Mary Ann Sullivan’s great photo work of this important example of early modern American architecture. We did eat in The Spot. The food is tasty and we’ll go back.

Our real reason for this visit, though, was to attend Alumapalooza 4. Are we ever glad we did! Great seminars, fun chidren’s programs, no flag ceremony (gasp!), inventive approach to arranging afternoon socials locations, and the best run rally announcements and door prize sessions we’ve seen in almost nine years.

R&B Events (Rich and Brett and many good-hearted crew) planned and orchestrated a week filled with fun events for attendees of all ages. Our airstream owners club could take a few lessons from this great rally. It seemed the assigned representatives of the international airstream club might have remained rooted in the vendor tent instead of attending the great seminars. Fortunately Joe and Sandy Perryman (WBCCI officers) were browsing the activities and seminars and taking notes — good for you two!

Jim joked with the current president of the international airstream owners club recently about R&B Events success in operating rallies. Jim asked John Boutwell if perhaps R&B Events should take over the annual airstream club rally, an event which is shrinking rapidly and appears nearly ready for withdrawal of life support. If the choice becomes shutting down the annual international rally or giving it away then MAYBE our airstream club’s leaders might condescend to allow professional management.

Some of you know R&B Events recently took over the former Florida State Rally — the airstream club gave it up for dead and R&B said, “May we?” Jim postulated that R&B Events could operate in the black, unlike the airstream owners club international rally. Too, the rally would be a real kick. R&B Events know how to excite things, and aren’t bound so tightly to toilsome traditions.

We’ve followed Airstream Life magazine and Man in the Maze blog for years. We met Rich (the R of R&B) in Perry GA in 2007, when we were embarking on our full-timing and he was full-timing in his Airstream bunkhouse trailer. We enjoyed swapping tales then and occasionally since. Brett usually was moving too fast for us to catch up with him at airstream club events, but we had admired his charm as an emcee and from watching him work with people. They’re great people we enjoy seeing and talking with.

Would we recommend an R&B Events rally? Absolutely, before we had ever attended one. Their track record is fantastic. We already committed for next year’s Florida rally named Alumaflamingo, the replacement for Florida State Rally. We’re sure it will beat the pants off any Florida State Rally we’ve attended, and we have attended several over the past six years. Why would we have more faith in R&B Events than in the prior organization?

Rich & Brett keep it short and to the point -- FUN

Rich & Brett keep it short and to the point — FUN

Simply stated, these guys are fresh, dynamic, insightful, energized, and keen to try interesting and different concepts to attract appreciative attendees. Oh, and they know how to run introductions, announcements, and door prizes meetings – crisply and without demonstrating too much attention to themselves or to their admittedly recent traditions. We look forward to our next R&B event. Thanks Rich and Brett, for showing how much fun a large rally can be!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2013 Dreamstreamr

Homecoming for Our Rolling Home

picture of airstream service center

THE Airstream Service Ctr

We are in Jackson Center Ohio, home of all modern Airstreams and our favorite place for service work. Our Airstream trailer was born here almost nine years ago. Bringing it back is a fun event for us, if sometimes expensive at $109/hour for service work.

All that's left of the side window

We long ago planned for this service visit. The timing is great, just after Hamvention Jim is willing and able to do almost all our RV’s maintenance work. Some things, though, are either more daunting or just plain messy. We replaced our rooftop antenna recently and figured the factory guys would be better fishing the coax above the ceiling into the front roof locker. Jim has cleaned and repacked our wheel bearings and decided this is a job worth paying for.

Having broken one of the expensive tempered windows, Jim is reluctant to mess with hinge adjustments.

Our rolling home has been here previously. The Airstream Service Center has done some great work on our RV. Full-timers need a good place to have work performed. One could go anywhere on the continent for this, especially as full-timers. Although 500 miles distant from our former home in Charlotte NC, many of our local unit members preferred to bring their Airstreams to the factory for excellent repairs and ready access to all needed parts and materials. We brought ours here for warranty work and were similarly impressed. We’ve returned a couple of times.

We’re parked in Airstream Company’s terraport, a nice camping area 150 yards from the customer service center. You can hardly beat the price, $10/night or free the night before and after your service appointment. Where else can we find water/electric/sewer connections for $10?

The customer waiting area is very comfortable, if chilly from over-cooling. Great wifi (can you tell? Jim’s using it now), free cookies and coffee, and comfortable seating. Best benefit? The company store has all the parts and accessories we need and many we don’t need but enjoy browsing through. It helps keep our minds off the rising labor cost of our repairs and improvements in the service center.

Verizon seems nearly non-existent in Jackson Center OH. Verizon provides all our phone AND wireless stuff, which usually works just great. Not here. We’ve been fortunate to use courtesy wifi at Airstream’s customer service center, but it only serves 25 users.

Within a couple of days we expect another one or two hundred RVs to Jackson Center OH for Alumapalooza, a big fun RV rally held on the Airstream factory and service center grounds. There may not be enough wifi to go around a few days from now. We’ll post again when we find connectivity. Or maybe we can use the phone in the dishwashing kitchen while we’re working down our repair bill.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie

locate us here
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©2007-2013 Dreamstreamr

The dreamstreamrs go back to work

We went to work yesterday for Bates RV in Tampa, transporting RVs from a show he held in Sarasota back to his place sixty miles north of Sarasota. It was easy work, but for the car fire on the shoulder of I-75 at our exit to I-4. I’ll get back to this. . .

We spent last week at WBCCI’s Florida State Rally in Sarasota FL. This was a great time for catching some seminars about using and fixing our RVs, for meeting new friends, and renewing friendships too. And we did a little work helping the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club.

The seminars we enjoyed were on RV air conditioners and refrigerators maintenance and troubleshooting, interior and exterior adjustments to Airstream trailers, amateur radio introduction, update on Airstream manufacturing and sales, and status of the WBCCI club.

We helped present the amateur radio seminar and helped with the licensing exams for amateur radio, and manned the club’s table at the flea market. This paid off, we recruited a couple of members and renewed a couple, plus were able to hand out some leaflets about NOMADS and Escapees to prospective members.

Our radio club’s name badge supplier gave up their business a year or two ago, unable to maintain their expensive equipment. The name badge guy at the ham radio show two weeks ago is very expensive. We found a much better price supplier at the Florida State Rally and worked with them on artwork and pricing for new and replacement badges for our members.

Lots of good work for our clubs, not as much down time for us at this Florida State Rally. One adventure we had not counted on was introduced by the Florida State Rally emcee. He announced Sunday night we could help Bates RV return some of the 100 RVs they had brought for the RV show at this rally, and get paid for it.

Debbie towed a 25′ Airstream International Sterling (the one with the purple floor) behind our truck. I towed another brand 25′ trailer behind an Airstream Interstate Mercedes van. This was fun — I wish I had taken time out for a picture. Hey look what the dreamstreamrs are towing now!

The Mercedes Sprinter van is a dream to drive. Rob and Jan Wilson demonstrated this in spades three years ago with their epic year touring all the national parks in 217 days. Driving one myself was still a nice surprise, and I really could hardly tell there was a trailer behind the van.

The van’s driving picture is huge. You are sitting up relatively high so can see over cars and pickup trucks. BIG windshield. Comfortable driving seat and great driving position with a nice dead pedal for left foot.

The diesel engine is smooth and quiet and the four-speed transmission works wonderfully. Oh, and I made 14 mpg towing in heavy traffic on mixed roads. Our truck made approx 8.5 on the same drive towing the slightly heavier Airstream trailer.

Our thanks to Frank Bates and Company for employing us yesterday morning, and paying us in advance. Debbie and I are thinking we may have found another career – transporting cars, trucks, and RVs. Any employers listening?