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April, 2000

Monday, April 10, 2000 - We left home about 9:00am driving eastward on US76 through Hiawassee and Clayton, Georgia into South Carolina. Then through Clemson and Greenville to Columbia where we camped at the Barnyard RV Park, a spot where we stayed once before. The weather was cool, clear and nice. The drive took about 5 1/2 hours.

The Region 3 Rally of the Wally Byam Caravan Club,in Myrtle Beach this year, will begin on Wednesday. We look forward to seeing Airstreamer friends from caravans past. That's what these rallies are all about. Two or three hundred RVs are expected.

As I sit here writing this, I'm looking around our Airstream trailer. We're really roughing it. The Braves are playing on TV. (We've got two TVs in the trailer.) We cook with gas on the few occasions when that is necessary. We have a refrigerator/freezer that works off either AC or gas. Solar panels on the roof keep our four 12V batteries at full power. A 12V:120V inverter provides enough 120V AC power to run everything except the airconditioner. We have two computers aboard - both laptops - that connect to the Internet through a cell phone for easy email. We carry enough water to last about a week, and we can go about a week without dumping our waste water tanks. In this campground, as with most, we are connected to water and electricity though, so don't have to use the reserves. So, camping like this is a pleasure.

Gasoline is cheaper in South Carolina - at least in some places. We saw regular as low as $1.26 per gallon - about a dime less than at home. Even at home prices have come down from their high of a couple of weeks ago: $1.42 per gallon.

Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - It was an approximate 150 mile trip on I-20 from Columbia to Florence, then on US76 and US501 and SC544 to the entrance of Ocean Lakes RV Park on Myrtle Beach. This park is huge - 3350 sites. The few hundred Airstream units engaged in the rally are lost among the many other brands. We were assigned Lot #2085, about 75 yards from the beach - a good spot.

After getting set up, a stroll on the beach seemed in order. There was a pretty good breeze coming out of the south. It was low tide, leaving about a 200 foot wide beach. There were quite a few people out sunning, though it was not crowded. Small children were playing in the sand and at the edge of the surf. There was no one swimming. The water temperature was still pretty cold. Seagulls and sandpipers were skipping along just at the edge of where the waves run in, pecking at the sand for sand roaches or other tender morsels. A couple of teenagers were trying without success to fly kites. Maybe the wind was too brisk. Walking was easy when moving from south to north, but more difficult facing the wind the other way.

After an evening meal at the K&W Cafeteria, we were sitting at our campsite watching workers repaint the outside of a 20 story high rise next door. They've been there all day, working in a brisk wind, from a swinging scaffold, painting the building a bright yellow - from the top down. Obviously, they are being paid by the job. It's now past sunset, growing darker by the minute, and there's no sign of them stopping. They've almost completed a scaffold-wide vertical strip the full height of the building. They'll have to move the scaffolding at least twenty-five times to get all the way around. What a way to make a living! Wonder what the contract price was to do the job.

Wednesday, April 12, 2000
- The workers were back at work early on the building next door, but upon closer inspection they're not painting at all. They're applying an insulation board that's yellow on the outside. It looks like it will be stuccoed over later. That's even a bigger job than just painting.

The sun is shining brightly again this morning, and the wind seems to have died down a bit. We checked in at the rally registration desk, reserved some flea market space, and signed up for the Joker tournament. After saying hello to a few friends, we took off for Brookgreen Gardens - about 15 miles south on US17.

Brookgreen Gardens is the site of four old rice plantations - 9,000 acres that were abandoned following the abolition of slavery after 200 years of production. In 1930 the plantations were purchased by Archer Huntington, son of Collis Huntington, at one time the wealthiest man in the world. The younger Huntington was a poet, and his wife a sculptor. They built a magnificent home and created the gardens as a place to exhibit her work. The home facing the beach and its land are now Huntington Beach State Park. The gardens were beautiful with dogwoods and azaleas in full bloom. With some 560 pieces of sculpture placed at strategic spots, this is a remarkable place. We took a tourboat excursion through the canals that irrigated the old rice fields and walked a nature trail through a wildlife section of the gardens.

We stopped by Applebee's for lunch on the way back to camp to watch the Braves on TV lose to the Cubs.

Opening ceremonies for the rally took place this evening.Twenty unit presidents marched with their flags down the aisle as each was announced. Betty Kenney sang the national anthems of Mexico, Canada and the United States. Clarence Grubbs entertained with his laid back country humor. Following all that, there was a reception with cookies and orange juice.

Thursday, April 13, 2000
- Deteriorating weather during the night left it overcast and chilly in the morning. The wind blew with a vengeance for several hours. With a weather triggered damper on rally activities, we sought refuge in the local shopping mall. At least the mall was warm and dry and out of the wind. After a couple of hours there, we drove down to the main part of Myrtle Beach where the streets were quiet. This is obviously a fantasy atmosphere,playground town. In almost every block there is an elaborate carpet golf attraction. There is a huge roller coaster under construction in the center of town.

A barbecue dinner for everyone at the rally was given by the Airstream dealer who brought trailers to the rally for sale. They served everyone a generous helping of pork and chicken then turned the crowd loose on a whole pig that was on a table in the middle of the room. You could help yourself to as much as you wanted, but you had to dig the meat out with only your fingers. Of course, by then most were full, but there was little left of the pig's carcas when it was over. We were then entertained by Dennis Smith, a very good singing comedian.

It was announced that there were 268 Airstreams at the rally, meaning about 536 people.

Friday, April 14, 2000 - What happened to spring? The morning brought another gray day, scattered showers and cool temperature - not good beach weather. It's another day when the workers on the building next door can't work. Most folks went down to the recreation building for breakfast together furnished by one of the vendors.

We were quickly eliminated in the Joker tournament - bad cards. Ann attended a safety seminar for women only. Bob Bennett conducted the caravan seminar. He explained what folks could expect on a caravan, what the leaders do, etc., and showed the caravan promotion video I prepared.

The Tampa Bay Unit had dinner together at the J. Edwards Restaurant.Then it was time for the evening entertainment which was so-so - a country singer by the name of Vikki Potter. We played Joker again after all that was over.

We've met more old friends today than before - Al and Sara Jacocks, Inabelle and Don Sides, the Easters, the Walkers, and a lot of Tampa Bay folks.

Saturday, April 15, 2000 - It rained all night, but though still overcast was not raining in the morning. The temperature has risen a bit - to about 60 degrees. Some units are pulling out. By afternoon the sun came out and the temperature reached 75 degrees. Before long the beach was full of people. The rally flea market ran from 1:30 to 3:00pm, and we were able to sell quite a few items of junk - at giveaway prices. At least we don't have to haul it back home.

In the evening we all - all 560+ of us - went to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center for a banquet and entertainment. The food was good. The entertainer was an impressionist - John Timerelli - whom we had seen back in January on the cruise ship Rembrandt. He impersonated several deceased stars and sang well. Afterwards, we said goodbye to friends, wishing all good travelling as we headed our separate ways. Now we have a two day trip to get home.