Characters

Our typical days have now evolved toward the central event that brought us to Wisconsin: the WBCCI International Rally in Madison.  Over at the Alliant Energy Center there are several hundred (approaching 800) Airstreams parked and socializing.  My primary task this weekend seems fairly straightforward at first: seek out interesting stories and interesting trailers, and document them. In practice, this is a very time-consuming thing, since just one friendly conversation tends to take 20 minutes or more, but it is also fun.

dsc_0538.jpgI spent a couple of hours over at the site on Saturday afternoon, to get an initial lay of the land.  The International Rally tends to attract a cast of characters who are particularly colorful, enthusiastic, and loyal to the Airstream community, and they were immediately obvious.  Just browsing around a few minutes I ran into Forrest McClure (regular contributor to Airstream Life), Luke Bernander (pictured with his 1965 Caravel and 1960 Nomad trailer-boat), Michael Depraida (artist), Rob Baker and Frank Yensan of The VAP, Tommy Green (ukulele man), Don McKelvay, and Patti Raimondo.

dsc_0546.jpgI expect to meet up with many others on Sunday.  Tommy is already planning some uke jam sessions in the evenings, which I hope to join, and Jim Russell is readying his latest gorgeous project for photography, a 1949 Airstream Clipper (pictured).  The really fun part is that the characters in this show are both people and Airstreams.  The Airstreams have the history and the travel stories, the people (who are often legitimately interesting in their own right) add value by interpreting those stories and adding their own personality.  Since the Airstreams range from 1930s models through 21st century models — the people are, as well — there’s a lot of diversity.  It should be a very interesting day, if the thunderstorms hold off.

I expected regular thunderstorms this time of year, but was hoping for fewer.  We’re having one almost every day, which makes photography tough, and planning a day even tougher.  We got decent weather in the morning for the big Farmer’s Market by the capitol building downtown, but last night’s steaks on the grill almost got rained out.  And the bugs in the campground are still a nuisance.  There’s not much we can do about weather, but we are likely to bail out of the state park on Monday for a less forested spot elsewhere. Meanwhile, today’s forecast is optimistic, so I hope for blue skies all afternoon while I’m taking pictures at the rally.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine