Monday, August 24, 2015

McGee Park and Fair Grounds - Farmington, New Mexico

Our caravan to the Wally Byam Caravan Club's (WBCCI) International Rally arrived in the early afternoon at McGee Park, the event's site in Farmington, New Mexico. It was impressive how efficient and quick the volunteers were checking everyone in and escorting us to our site. Since we arrived with the caravan from the Southeastern Camping Unit, we were assigned sites together as a group. That turned out to be a great thing because the members of that unit took us under their wings and included us in their many activities during the rally.

Rosie parked at McGee Park in Farmington, NM

Our electrical connection wasn't working when we arrived. Since the sites behind Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, were not filled yet, I connected to their electrical service to get Rosie's air conditioner working. In a few minutes, a park electrician arrived, changed out the faulty circuit breaker and switched Rosie's electrical service to the correct feed. That was good because we knew the row behind Rosie was going to quickly fill up with more Airstream trailers.

Airstream trailers parked at the rally

And many more trailers arrived as the rally started. It didn't take long for Farmington's Fair Grounds to turn into an Airstream community. There were workshops for just about anything you would want to know about camping in Airstream trailers. There were also many entertainment opportunities and social events. We quickly learned that Airstreamers love ice cream parties. As the temperatures soared into the upper 90s and the low 100s, ice and ice cream became precious commodities.

Airstream trailers at the WBCCI International Rally

One of the first things we noticed was that we were seeing a surprising number of people we knew at the rally. We were running into people we knew from our previous travels on the Cajun Caravan and from our trips to the Airstream factory. Plus we were glad our neighbors in this park were the great people from the Southeastern Camping Unit. It seemed that this vast sea of silver trailers was actually a community of people who have Airstream trailers in common and who love sharing their knowledge about these great campers.

While camping recently in Ohio, we were advised by friends to get involved in things while at the International Rally. I guess I took that advise to heart as I quickly started working with the radio amateur operators at the rally. There is a WBCCI Amateur Radio Club and it scheduled several events while in Farmington. Before leaving, I was elected 2nd Vice President of that group.

Steve being installed as an officer of the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club

We ended up eating out more than we planned because it was too hot and we didn't want to heat up Rosie while warming our food. Sadly, most of the restaurants in Farmington like to set their air conditioner to either hot or uncomfortable. That made it difficult to find a cool spot in town except for our rally's main center, classrooms and the bathhouse, which were all pleasantly cool.

Eating out in Farmington

About every three or four days, the "honey" truck would come along and empty all the trailer's waste tanks. You always knew when the truck was in your loop by the smell. While the odor was temporarily displeasing, we always welcomed the "honey" truck and were glad to have empty tanks.
There are always things to learn about the Airstream lifestyle and lots of people at the rally were willing to share their tips. One of our big concerns was our hitch. We doubted the non-Airstream dealer we used correctly installed it. Turns out that several other people who watched us arrive also thought there was something wrong with our hitch.

It didn't take long after getting Rosie's manual and the hitch's installation guide out to discover the problem. I didn't have the tools to fix the hitch, but I figured the guys with vintage Airstream trailers probably travel with a complete set of tools. I was right and a group of guys quickly helped with the needed adjustments needed to properly set Rosie's hitch. We were able to feel the difference when we pulled Rosie away from the McGee Park.

We went to Durango, Colorado on our free day. The temperatures there were significantly better than in Farmington.

We went on two tours arranged by the rally. The first was to a local museum featuring lots of old electronic equipment. I found an old Collins 20V 1,000 watt AM transmitter in one of the buildings. That was one of the first transmitters I worked with as a teenager and I remain very fond of that model. (I noticed that the power amplifier and modulator tubes in this transmitter were wrong. I guess this museum could not find the old 4-400 tubes.)

A Collins 20-V AM Transmitter

An 892 type tube

The second tour was very special. The WBCCI people were able to arrange a tour of the Aztec Ruins at night. The National Park Ranger conducting the tour was very knowledgable and she had a wonderful personality. She helped make a great tour more memorable.

Aztec Ruins Tour

There were always things to do at the rally. We found that visiting with our friends, both old and new, was one of our favorite activities during the rally. We also enjoyed the many impromptu cookouts and gatherings with our Southeastern Camping Unit friends.

Becky attended the "tea"

While the heat was oppressive and brutal, the fellowship among our friends made this long trip worthwhile.

Here are some specifics about McGee Park:
  • Sites are side-by-side left-to-right and back-to-back. It helped that everyone was there for an event and we all had something in common.
  • The water lines are all above ground. This normally would not be a problem. In one hundred degree heat, it became an issue as the water temperature reached dangerous levels.
  • AT&T placed good 4G data and voice signals over the park.
  • Our site had 20 and 30 amp electrical service. A site near us had 20 and 50 amp service.
  • There were no sewer connections in this park.
  • We found two dump stations in the park.
  • We were able to watch all of the networks using Rosie's antenna. We were not able to see our favorite digital channels.
  • There was one large bathhouse serving the park. It was clean and the air conditioner kept it pleasantly cool.
  • There were horse stables all around this park and signs said that horse racing was returning to the casino next door the day after we left the park. It was fun watching the horses as they were being trained.
This is not a park that someone schedules on his or her vacation. You end up here because of an event. We enjoyed seeing our friends and making new ones at the rally.

Horses training near the camping area

Another sunset

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