I’m back from the Florida State Rally. It was a good trip, primarily because I was able to visit Floridian friends who I haven’t seen in many months. As the weekend approached, more friends showed up. Most of the people I hang with have jobs or businesses of their own, and so they took advantage of the new weekend rate offered by the rally to come for just a couple of nights.
One person who dropped in was Forrest Bone, organizer of the Tin Can Tourists. Their vintage rally is this week, in nearby Bradenton FL, and it’s always a fun event. We used to go in years past with our 1968 Airstream Caravel, but I haven’t been able to make it lately. I’m seriously considering whether we can get over to Florida next year to attend that. (Speaking of vintage rallies, we have 20 trailers signed up for the Vintage Trailer Jam 2009, with 5 – 1/2 months to go. Looks like we’ll have a full house in Saratoga Springs, NY.)
I made a new friend as well, an author from the United Kingdom who happens to be a fan of Airstreams, and who happened to be visiting Florida. She came up for a few hours to tour the Vintage Open House on Saturday, and then we browsed the new Airstream display.
Our friends Wendimere (“The Health Chic“) and Bill came by late Friday night to spend the weekend and deliver a seminar on Saturday. Wendimere did an interesting seminar on “cleansing” while I was on display as a human prop. My job was to sit at the front of the room with my feet in a salt water bath. At the end of the seminar everyone got to admire the gunk in the water.
On Thursday Brett and I also presented a seminar, entitled “So You Want To Be A Blogger?” which was well received. On Saturday we ran a double booth at the flea market and sold aluminum tumblers, shirts, hats, back issues, subscriptions, books, stickers, and giant “Airstream” slippers. The slippers were a huge hit. We sold our inventory and took orders for several more pairs. From a commercial viewpoint, I was pleasantly surprised to do fairly well. People still buy stuff, even in a down economy.
It is not well-known, but in Sarasota there is an Amish community, and they have restaurants. We celebrated our successful day by skipping the rally dinner and going to Yoder’s. Good move — it was a seriously good meal at a very reasonable price. Three of us ate for $38. I love the cinnamon apple butter that’s on every table. I ate nothing all day except a little cottage cheese, in preparation for what I knew would be a huge dinner. I wasn’t disappointed. I wish we had a place like that in Tucson.
Sunday is traditionally a day when everyone clears out of the rally grounds, but since we were all facing the prospect of work on Monday, no one in our circle was eager to rush home. Brett fired up his Cobb grill and roasted his marinated salmon steaks, scrambled about a dozen eggs, and set out the toaster with Ezekiel Bread and English muffins. Bill & Wendimere, David & Becky, Brett & Lori, and I (odd man out) hung out by the motorhome and had a very lively brunch for about an hour while we watched the Airstreams depart. This turned out to be the most fun we had during the entire rally, so I expect it may become an annual event.
I was probably exceptionally lucky in that my flights both to and from Tampa were uneventful. But I discovered a new twist on airline flying: Bathroom Bingo. These days there’s a new regulation that prohibits passengers from forming a line for the forward bathroom during flight. I got up to use the aft bathroom midway through our five-hour flight to Las Vegas, and found myself in a line of four women at the back. After 10 minutes of waiting (and the line didn’t seem to be moving), someone said, “Hey, the front bathroom is available,” and pointed to the indicator light. I scuttled up to the front of the cabin to find the someone in the front of the aircraft beat me to it.
Since I wasn’t allowed to stand up there and wait, I was sent to the back again. But of course, an opportunistic aft-plane passenger had joined the line, so the wait was longer. At this point, some seated passengers were chuckling at my trips back-and-forth, and a few people even made comments as I went by, which made the whole episode much more amusing (for them). Once again the front bathroom opened up, and about the time I reached the fifth row a first-row passenger casually stood up and snagged it. I was beginning to think the passengers up front were toying with me.
The man in the fifth row where I was standing was observing all of this. He said, “I think you’ve got a shot here.” So I stood in contravention of TSA regulations next to his seat for a few minutes, and eventually — BINGO! — I scored a chance at the coveted front bathroom. A few minutes after I returned to my seat, there was an announcement from a flight attendant reminding all of us to please not stand up front waiting for the bathroom. “I don’t make these rules,” she explained. No, somebody on the ground, who didn’t just drink a large bottle of tea, did.
After all the conversation and seminars from The Health Chic, I’ve been paying a bit more attention to what I ate. Upon arrival in Las Vegas I had a two-hour layover and a serious appetite. Unfortunately, I’d made the critical mistake of not bringing my own lunch. “Eating healthy” and “airport food” are not concepts that mesh well.
I thought of calling Wendimere and asking, “OK, what’s the least bad thing I can buy here to eat?” but eventually I chose a “Wolfgang Puck” turkey remoulade sandwich on my own. Then I read the Nutrition Facts label. 730 calories. Total fat 42g, 65% of Recommended Daily Value (DV). 25% of the DV for saturated fats. I’ve been trying to watch my saturated fats, so that bummed me out. It also had a whopping 1900 mg of sodium (79% of DV). I ate half of it and then emailed Wendimere for a consult. She wrote back, “Airport food is always a challenge, you did pretty good. I try to always have a few protein bars in my bag when I travel. Sushi is usually my first choice, which I think you can get in Vegas.” I think she’s got a business there, providing consultations to people on the go.
Well, often the best part of any trip is coming home, and in this case it was. I haven’t really had the experience of coming back to a home base after a week and re-joining my family. There was Emma in her white karate uniform and Eleanor in some new clothes she bought while I was gone, and the house looking like a home instead of a project. Our Qwest DSL was up and running so I’ve even got my parents available on Skype video calls now. And later this week we’re expecting more friends to arrive. It’s been a good week and the next one looks to be good, too.