Thursday's thick overcast and steady drizzle dampened rally setup and foretold the weekend's conditions. However, the nearly 300 COVID weary attendees were not to be denied. Volunteers, vendors & participants alike were all in good spirits in anticipation of a brief return to normality. Albeit masked normality.
38th Winter Rally Photo Album
A mere 10 weeks earlier the possibility of holding a rally was seriously in question. Camp Blanding, which initially seemed available, suddenly wasn't. COVID-19 was showing signs of the predicted winter surge. Willingness of individuals to attend a large gathering was unknown and time was getting short. The feeling among the committee members was that it was better to have one than not. So a survey was sent to determine attendee willingness.
With the viability of a rally established, locating a venue was the primary challenge. Several options were considered and some visited. Some were closed due to COVID. Some, closer to Jacksonville, were available and had positive attributes. However, as a total package, none came close to what Camp Weed had to offer. The speed with which the leadership located and contracted the venue was, to put it mildly, impressive. With the venue and dates locked in, preparations took on a more familiar rhythm. Members quickly set about the thousands of essential details, large and small, that go into holding a successful event.
There was no moss growing under anyone's feet come Friday morning. Registration was a flurry of activity and shortly thereafter the garage sale was doing a brisk business. I sold nearly half of the items I brought before I could get them tagged. There were some great deals available and people were snapping them up.
Visitors to the garage sale were also frequenting the vendor booths in the same room. BMW Motorcycles of Jacksonville, Inear Custom Ear Plugs and PowerSports Specialties all had operations running in the Saffran Conference Room. BMW Motorcycles of Jacksonville also brought an R18 for participants to check out - up close and personal.
SkyMed had displays setup in both the rally central entrance and dining hall. Allstate & Riding Into History were setup in the dining hall and Marty's detailing was providing his service in the parking lot.
During the day, participants took part in multiple activities:
Some took advantage of the ride routes which had been mapped. Both on and off road options were available for those who availed themselves of the off-road facilities detailed by Larry Meeker during the facility tour ride & video.
Others attended one or more of the seminars presented. Vendors SkyMed & Allstate delivered presentations covering their services. Bill Peterson delivered presentations on Garmin's GPS devices, Basecamp software and their use in route planning and execution - AND - the history of Riding Into History. Jack Wells presented his motorcycle tour of Australia. Shep Brown delivered a presentation on Marine 1 and the experience of flying the US President and administration officials. And, the Florida Highway Patrol delivered a safety presentation.
Still other attendees participated in the ever-popular tire kicking and story telling. Discussing favorite rides, farkeling tips and tricks, events and more.
Regardless of how they spent their day, everyone came together in the evening for the evening meal and prizes. As one of the departures from normal, this year the meals were catered by the kitchen staff at Camp Weed. By providing meal services, Camp Weed relieved the club of a significant amount of work and thereby made it more feasible to hold the rally. They did an excellent job and anyone who went away hungry did so on their own accord.
The atmosphere and camaraderie present in the dining hall each evening were testament to value of the friendships & traditions the rally celebrates, as well as, the success of the Winter Rally - even in a COVID world.
Of course - no rally would be complete without an evening spent together. Gathered around a roaring campfire, sharing stories about your favorite parts of the rally and making plans for future rallies and rides. This is when friendships are most created or renewed. This is the time to reflect and connect and it was done up right at the winter rally.
Until next time - below are some of the sights and sounds of the 38th Winter Rally...