The 2014 BMW MOA International Rally: St Paul, Minnesota
The last rally we attended in this area had been cursed with hot, humid, and at times extremely violent weather. In a fit of just-in-case advance planning I had reserved a hotel room in nearby Stillwater. Suffering from a case of CRS, I had forgotten to cancel the reservations before the charges stuck. No matter; it’s nice having a roof over your head at the end of a long trip. And as luck would have it, we awoke that first morning to the sound of wind-driven rain pounding on the window.
The wind passed fairly quickly though a gentle shower lingered, and we rode the twenty or so miles to the fairgrounds in raingear beating the morning commuter traffic. As we arrived shortly before seven o’clock I noticed a few tents upside down, a bit of unsecured gear scattered by the wind. I smiled, remembering a time when I had assumed the weather would be static, that I really didn’t need to stake the tent down. Others, it seemed, had just learned the same lesson.
We parked the rig, shed our gear, then grabbed a breakfast sandwich, finding a dry table on a covered patio area. The showers lessened, but gusts of wind still chilled. Barley, ever hopeful, hovered nearby hoping I would drop a few bits of my breakfast. Those big brown eyes caused me to be a rather sloppy eater, and Barley was quick to clean up after me. Shortly after finishing, while waiting for the weather to clear, we were joined by a couple of fellow Vermonters: Dave and Liz. It was great to see them again!
We had camped next to Dave and Liz in Salem, Oregon, and enjoyed their company at monthly breakfasts of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of Vermont, the MOOVers. Liz was a sucker for Barley’s expressive face! Not only did she become an exceptionally sloppy eater, but she encouraged Dave to be sloppy as well. By the time they finished their breakfasts, there was a plate of scrambled eggs left over for my extremely food-motivated golden retriever!
We wandered around that first morning getting the feel of the place. It’s all well and good to know that your first seminar is in Building X, but it really helps be on time if you have an idea of where that building actually is. We also checked out some of the campsites, always looking for ways to make our own camping experiences more comfortable, easier to set up and break down, more efficient means of packing.
Another big rally attraction for me is the chance to see all the different vendors. We have one BMW dealer in Vermont, but it’s tiny and owned by a man who really ought not to be allowed out in public. A few hours ride south of home are the trio of Max BMW stores, each excellent in every sense of the word, but space constraints limit what they can stock. So coming to the rally lets me examine acres of goods I just can’t put my hands on in my little rural state. And of course many of the vendors look forward to seeing Barley each year.
But the big attraction is getting to see dear old friends, and to meet new friends that we’ll look forward to seeing again in the future. I get so excited among friends that I invariably forget to take photos of them! Of course traveling with the dog as cute and outgoing as Barley makes it extremely difficult to remain introverted, but we do enjoy some quiet moments together.
We again volunteered this year, this time doing the Gunga Din thing refilling drinking water stations with ice and water. It’s a lot of fun, gave us a chance to meet new folks, and, well – volunteers make the rally happen!
HOMEWARD BOUND, WITH A STOP IN SOUTHERN WISCONSIN