Becky and I and the Pirate ship set off for a 12 hour hunt, 833 miles from our house to Aylmer, Ontario, Canada. We left Kansas City on Wednesday night, driving north to 36 hwy and heading east. Our goal was to make it to Springfield, IL. Well after 3 close calls with the local deer, we decided to call it a night in Pittsfield, IL. The next morning we left early and headed north towards Canada. That afternoon I was getting tired of driving and Becky offered to drive for a while and I told her what highway to watch for but needless to say, I woke up about an hour later to see the skyline of Chicago. I said oh no!!! and she pulled over and I got back into the driver's seat and back into the right direction. We did laugh and we did get to see some nice sights in LaGrange, IL. That evening we crossed the border at Port Huron, MI and with about 3 hours to go to get to the truck-in. We arrived there about midnight and George Spadafore (Teabag) a fellow vanner and long time friend was waiting at the gate for us. He got there that morning and set up his camper so we would not need to bring ours and save on some gas.
The next morning George and I went to town to wash the bugs off the van and then we went to H.B. Cal Trade & Arts School. George's friend is the auto body teacher. They arranged for me to bring the Pirate Van there to show the students and that alone was worth the trip. To see their faces and listen to their comments, like that makes me want to get a van. We then returned to the Truck-in and Becky was getting the VIP tour of the campgrounds from Howard and Tim. At that time the vans and trucks were pouring in thru the gate and yes I said trucks. I was not sure how that would work out but I heard nothing but good things about the combination. After the weekend progressed and I talked and watched some of the the truck participants, they reminded us of ourselves (vanners) 20 years ago. Everyone got along great and some of the trucks were very nice. With 336 vans & trucks in attendance and 156 in the show-n-shine and I believe that was a new record. George and I were asked to help judge two classes in the truck class. It was fun but boy did I get sunburned. The temp. was in the upper 80's during the day and in the 60's during the night.
Saturday night after the awards, they had a light-n-brite with both vans and trucks showing off their lighting. Taz & Jill had their van in both shows, after having a little trouble 20 miles into Canada. Taz lost his rear axle and some vanners arranged a trailer to get it to the campgrounds. Taz had his son bring his truck, trailer and his car on the trailer to the border along with a new axle. His son drove his car back home and Taz brought the trailer back to haul the van home and needless to say he received the hard luck award and several others. Taz & Jill took 2nd place early van, Best Mural and 3rd in the brite -n-shine. Becky and I also were fortunate to win a couple of awards. Becky doesn't normally show her emotions but she did and when I saw that I did as well. Everyone asked if we had a good time and enjoyed the bands and the truck-in. The answer to all their questions were YES, and if we would come back. I told them I could not next year but would love to after I retire so I can spend more time up there.
The next morning we left for George's place, 174 miles north to his place at Wiarton, Ontario. It took us about 4 hours to get there because there is no straight shot or major highway. It was a very scenic drive thru several small towns, right on Georgian Bay. George was a great host and Becky did not have to cook at all and he made some great ribs with a little hometown BBQ sauce on them (Wyandotte BBQ from hometown) His place is kind of out in the country with cows in back of his place and a stream running thru his land. They call it cottage country cause it's so close to the bay. He took us on several sightseeing tours, nature walks and scenic overlooks of the country and lakes. We went to a farmers market with lots of stuff for sale and Becky had a heyday looking and buying stuff to bring back. Tuesday night it was time to pack up and head home because I had to be back to work on Thursday. We took George out to dinner at a restaurant by the bay and the food was great. George gave us our directions back to Port Huron and the border. Our goal was to get back in the states and down past Detroit to miss the morning traffic and we did, making it to Lansing, MI. The drive down the coast along Lake Huron was breathtaking and the highways are clean and smooth, you never see any trash along them. Canada's gas prices and speed limits in KMS and gas in liters took some adjusting to. The next day we drove about 10 hours, going home a different route, down thru Indy to I-70 and home.
I would like to thank Kevin Lundy and his group for putting on a very well organized and very special event. Thanks also goes out to George (Teabag) for all of his hospitality at the campground and his home. It is truly amazing the friends that you make at Van-ins. You may change vans over the years but the memories and friends that you make can last a lifetime.
Don & Becky Noone