Looking online for some VW parts, I found a notice on www.thesamba.com about a VW car show in Pensacola Florida. For some of our international followers: Pensacola is at the furthest point West in the Florida Panhandle, on what is known as the Emerald Coast with the whitest and most pristine sand you can imagine. I sent a quick e-mail to the club president. Bill (Wild Bill) Tucker replied with a very welcoming note and suggested we get there to camp on the Friday night before the show.
This was the 14th annual Rare Air Emerald Coast VW Club www.rareairvw.com car show. Well what a time we had with some of the nicest people you can imagine.
Never to miss out on a good ‘Free’ campsite, we arrived before dusk on Friday, and Bill dropped his tent peg mallet and almost ran across the field to greet us. We were treated to some pizza and helped with the stuffing of the registration packages which gave us a chance to meet several of the members. With names like Preacher, Buster, Butch I did ask whether they had run out of real names in this part of the country
Having only seen a handful of VW camper vans in the last few months of wandering around Canada and the US, we were gob-smacked at how many campers were there on the Friday night. Most of the owners of the campers were… well let’s say more than a few years younger than Wendi and me so we had the feeling they figured we were a couple of old throwback Hippies trying to recapture our wayward youth. Hmmm! I guess they weren’t far off the mark were they? So we all circled our vans and socialized until the late hours even though our definition of late was a little different to the younger crowd.
We, including Pumper, were so warmly welcomed that at the end of the day it was hard to say goodbye.
What a great show they put on… with around 100 VW’s mostly air cooled and everything from very early standard and custom beetles, Ghia’s, campers, pick up’s, and transporters to Beach Buggies, a few ‘Thing’s’, and even a Jaguar kit car with a VW engine. In total some 21 categories to be judged. And, if we weren’t surprised enough the night before, there had to be 3 times as many campers and vans show up for Saturday’s event.
This was a real treat. If you don’t know Wendi well… let me tell you, she was salivating with all the artistic foto opportunities. … especially with her new 12 Megapixel SLR camera.
So, we figured that at somewhere between 1300 and 1700 miles, depending on the GPS options programmed, we were probably a shoe-in for the award for the furthest driven to the show. In reality with the route we took driving south we probably travelled more than 4000 miles.
But what happened at the end of the show was a complete surprise and something we will never forget.
So first of all there was a recognition prize from another Florida VW club ‘Kusten Kreuzers’ www.kustenkreuzers.com for the vehicle with the best story. They felt our adventure, ‘Living The Dream’, was an inspiration. The prize included a bottle of home brew called ‘Oil Bath Brown Ale’ —-. It says on the label that it is Guaranteed 3000 Miles old, so at the suggestion of a member, Jay, we plan on cracking that one after another 3000 miles. That should put us somewhere in Southern Mexico. Hope it doesn’t get confiscated at the border…!!!
K, so that award would have been a great thing all by itself, but how thrilled we were when Pumper was awarded ‘First Place’ for air cooled Campers!!! Wow what a tremendous recognition. Pumper was all choked up at that point, I’m sure she was leaking windshield washer fluid from under her eyelids.
So there we were on cloud nine already when Wild Bill announced his personal President’s Choice…. And the winner is: … Pumper! Man, were we overwhelmed or what?
We were blown away and then, well we did in fact win the furthest driven award.
What a day! And what a reception! We are sooo happy with the number of people, younger and older, that said they were inspired by our journey, and determined to Live Their Dreams.
Thank you everyone that made us so welcome and making this a memorable experience. Buster for the Fire Department patches, Randy for the Fire Department lead in Dallas. Karla and Bob for feeding us. Linda and Butch for letting us sleep on their driveway after the show. Kevin for the maintenance tips, the key and lock advice, and the window screens. And of course Bill … for everything.
We have dozens of new friends that we hope will follow our blog perhaps register, and hopefully we will get a chance to revisit perhaps at the 16th or 17th annual Rare Air Emerald Coast VW Club Car Show.
Congratulations to all the other winners, because that’s what makes this so rewarding: … the quality of vehicles at the show was truly amazing, and the dedication of the owners in restoring and creating their babies was magnificent.
Peace to all – Live Your Dreams.