One of the coolest parts about camping and traveling is meeting and spending time with so many awesome people from all different walks of life. We got to thinking about how neat it would be to profile some of the people we meet up with on our camping adventures. So earlier this year we kicked off a new feature that we’ve dubbed “Faces of the Campground.” It is our hope that you will be inspired as we take a peek into the lives of people just like you who love to go camping–in all its many forms!
Last month we received an invitation we couldn’t refuse: Come have dinner and hang out with the Al-Mon-O unit of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International! We had read about caravan clubs and rally events before, but we were curious to learn more. So off we went to a little campground in western PA where we met up with a spunky group of campers–and even got to tour some really cool vintage Airstreams!
So what exactly is the Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI) anyway? It all started with a group of people who wanted to travel in their Airstreams, but were intimidated with the idea of going solo on these adventures. So Airstream founder Wally Byam created a solution: He organized a caravan for a group of 50 Airstream-owning friends. The first caravan adventure in 1951 took the fledgling group through Central America, followed by another trip to Mexico and then Canada. A group of Airstreamers formally founded the WBCCI in 1955, and today it remains a great way for fellow Airstreamers to meet people, make new friends, and see the world together.
The fun folks who make up the Al-Mon-O unit of the Wally Byam Caravan Club have decades of camping experience among them. Many of the couples started out as tent campers, including Julia Wagner and her husband Frank. They started camping in the back of a truck in the 1970s: “I cried a lot–I didn’t like it at first,” Julia said, laughing as she recalled those first experiences. Now they spend months on the road in their motor home.
Doug and Cindy Field currently have FOUR Airstreams including the 1967 Caravel pictured above–although they are hoping to sell two of their Airstreams soon. (Anyone in the market for one?) They manage to camp and join in on many of the Airstream rallies even as Cindy attends weekend classes to finish up a degree. The morning after our dinner with the group, Cindy was getting up early and driving into town for classes before heading back to the campground to enjoy an evening around the campfire.
We loved listening to the couples share stories about their camping adventures and exploits–and of course we had to share a few of our own. Beverly Clayton (pictured above) and her husband Don recalled the time they were visiting Gillette, Wyo., and they were towing the camper up a mountain when the truck’s engine died due to the thinner air. Meanwhile there was a stream of vehicles accumulating behind their camper, and they had no idea what they were going to do if they had to wait for someone to come tow them away. Fortunately Don was eventually able to get the truck fired up again, and they were soon on their way.
The Al-Mon-O unit (and others like it around the country and Canada) have camping rallies and meet-ups throughout the year. This year the WBCC 59th International Rally will be held in Lewisburg, W.V., and more than 700 Airstream units are expected! I hope they take an aerial picture of all those gleaming Airstreams!
Since we do not own an Airstream–and thus we are S.O.B.’s (i.e., Some Other Brand 🙂 )–we won’t be able to officially join this fun group of travelers, but we forged some wonderful new connections and we hope our paths will cross again in the future. And Jarrett is already pondering a day when we could rehab an old Airstream that is looking for a new lease on life. 🙂
But if YOU own an Airstream and are interested in learning more about the Al-Mon-O unit or another Wally Byam Caravan Club near you, please visit the region website here.