Perhaps you remember the old TV show “Wagon Train.” As a kid, I loved that show. At the end of every show the wagon-master would bark orders to line up all the Conestoga wagons, the drivers would yell back, and then he would yell “wagons, hooooooo!” The horses strained against their harnesses, the dust would rise and away they went into the rising sun. It was quite dramatic. Now I am living the life. Those of us going on to the next stop were to line up early Sunday morning to be ready when the wagon-master called.
Lining up 35 coaches is quite a task, particularly when there are several who want to travel together. Being able to park next to your travel buddies is important. Signage to accomplish this is required. First is the entry pass for the arrival point. The next sign was “Monaco Caravan Coach 1 of 35” and so on, which identifies you a a member of the larger group. Next is a sign that identifies you and your travel companions. In our case it was “Schmidlap, 1 of 3, Schmidlap 2 of 3” and so on. The Schmidlaps had adopted us at this rally, and we became a part of their entourage. Our windshield was plastered with paper.
The parking “Captain” for our section was a formidable woman, with a stern updo and even sterner red lipstick. She looked quite a bit like one of Gary Larson’s Far Side matrons.
She lined up each coach with a space of about three feet between bumpers, using her personal space as a yardstick. I’d seen some of these folks run over and bang into stuff all week, so she must have possessed the fatalistic outlook of a Valkyrie queen. When we were all lined up, there was a check of CB radios: “Number 12 is go” (our coach), Number 15, go” and the wagon-master gave the signal. Off we went in a cloud of dust and diesel.
Our route took us from Manitowoc, past Lake Winnebago to Fond Du Lac and down to Madison. Traffic was light, but 35 huge vehicles do take up a lot of real estate, so I felt sorry for anyone who had overslept for church. In each little town the local sheriff was at the main intersection to shepherd the group through. It was a pretty trip, through rolling miles of dairy and wind farms. I was surprised at how many farms had windmills, they seemed more prevalent here than in Ohio. We rumbled along causing great consternation for motorists, who blared horns at us and wove in between the coaches at every blind turn on two lane highways, even though we were traveling at the legal limit. Over this trip alone we’ve had several nervous moments with people roaring by on the shoulder and cutting in inches from our front bumper–while yakking on the phone. I’ve learned to have sympathy for the tractor trailer drivers.