Keep on Truckin'

My big brother has been truckin' (think of the dude with the big foot from the 70s) since the craze began in the mid-70s. He bought "Miss Behavin" last year, and she is quite something, especially with how he and his wife stage it with era-appropriate props. She has her original paint and carpet, which is really something--faux animal fur hangs from the ceiling!

We learned that most truck-ins include 2 events: Show-and-Shine and Bright-and-Shine. On Saturday morning, after everyone gets in on Friday, folks are up early shining chrome, cleaning wheels, staging their vehicles with props for the event's theme (this one was "Welcome to the Jungle") or for the particular vehicle. I was most impressed by how these folks--most of whom were 10-20 years older than us--could rise and shine at 6AM when the music just stopped at 3AM and then, of all things, CLEAN their vans. Now, that's devotion to your hobby. Mid-morning, the Show-and-Shine begins and everyone walks around being a looky-loo, talking to the owners and admiring all the rather amazing details of these vehicles, old and new. As a "puppy" (a first time truck-in participant), I didn't want to violate any sort of code of behavior, so I left my big camera behind. I'm bummed I didn't take more pictures, as these vehicles were something.

Miss Behavin' at Show-and-Shine

Now, a word about my brother's outfit. The pair of jeans that he brought with him turned out to be his "skinny jeans" (yes, he and I are definitely related), so he had no long pants. And, after the hellacious hail and downpour on Friday, the weather had turned quite chilly--high 40s, low 50s. So, he is wearing 3 pairs of sweat/lounge pants, including one of his wife's. My brother is resourceful.

(And side note about that 3-hour storm: I managed to run up to our RV as the sky darkened ominously. Lisa was off in the restrooms, so when the skies opened up, I was up in the RV and everyone else was in the metal-roofed picnic shelter. I was so glad to be with the dog--he wasn't scared of the thunder; it was the noise of the quarter-sized hail that freaked him out. He crawled into my lap and I covered his ears! I really thought that we'd lose the windshield or one of the skylights. We just seemed to have a few nicks in the exterior paint, and a new--real--leak around the bathroom skylight that we'll re-caulk now that it's dry.)

We even saw a really pretty Dodge Sprinter van (a class B van conversion, not a motorhome like ours)--it was solid red, towing a matching red trailer with his red motorcycle inside. Red "chandelier" over the bed. Here he is making (of course) Bloody Marys to serve to visitors. We resisted. And that brass pole was nicknamed "the stripper pole." Hmm.

Gary and Miss Behavin' win 1st Place in the Custom van category.

And here's just some of our gang. We had 4 vehicles (2 vans, 1 HHR, and us) in 2 camping spots, with 2 picnic tables and a tent/pavilion between our two sites as our common area. We were really touched by how close these folks are--most have known each other for 30+ years. And bonds are strong, which is good, because unlike RV camping, these folks have to crawl out of their vans at 6AM, bed heads and all, and immediately greet those who are already up. I had to stay inside our coach for a while, drinking coffee, before I could join the lively conversation each morning!

HHRs are very popular with folks now--good gas mileage (30+ mpg) and practicality as a main vehicle around home. Amazed at how folks sleep inside these at night. My claustrophobia would prohibit that! But many had really neat paint jobs--lots of subtle flames (which sounds oxymoronic, but isn't).

Saturday, after Show-and-Shine, was a pool party (too cold for the pool games, so the host club improvised) and then getting ready for the big night. 6PM: Wine tasting. Yes, wine tasting. My brother had given us a heads up about this, so we brought 2 fun wines: 7 Deadly Zins and Twin Fin Chardonnay. Found out that "vanners like sweet wine" so ours were not appreciated. Lisa and I were game about trying all the Rieslings, Gew├╝rztraminers, Muscats, and homemade hooch (Green Apple wine, anyone?). Boy howdy, the sweetness made our teeth ache.

The host of the event was giving me a fair amount of grief. I had observed that what one does in this culture is to give the grief right back, so I did. Mentioned the exchange to my brother, who told the fellow (his name was Frog) that I was his little sister. He said, "Well, that explains it." And he was very nice the rest of the time ;-) Ah, learning the ways of the tribe....

After that was the trophy presentation. We didn't win long distance (although we should have). It went to a double-amputee from Oregon, who traveled 200 miles less than us according to the Rand McNally. But we didn't complain. Just setting the record straight. And then the big party. Wow. These folks know how to do that.

At the first band break was Bright-and-Shine--a show of vans all lit up with their night lighting (neon, rope lights, black lights, etc.). Very cool. We made it to midnight. I was so proud. The band played on till the wee hours, but caused a fair amount of consternation by playing Michael Jackson and Madonna tunes. This crowd prefers AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Squier, Boston, and such. I have to say that I knew all the words to almost all the songs.

Sunday morning was a very different scene--folks were packed up and outta there really early! We were surprised. But most folks had a 6-hour trip, so I guess it's understandable. We took our tired selves into KC for sightseeing and lunch, since we could capitalize on the quiet weekend day to explore. Great city. More on that soon--

All in all, a quite wonderful experience. It's always refreshing to travel, but it's even more fun to be immersed in a new culture. I think I may have offended folks by saying something like that, but I meant that it was really neat to learn about Bright- and Show-and-Shine, all the van distinctions and vocabulary, what van camping is and is not, what wine tasting at a truck in is like, etc. It's a whole world that we have now experienced, and it was really great to do so with my brother and his wife, and to get to meet their very good friends, about whom I've heard stories for years. Welcome to the jungle, indeed!

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