Monday, July 2, 2007

International T@B Rally in Minden

After a long day of driving, we finally stopped at a hotel for the night in Lincoln, Nebraska. The next day's drive to Minden was only a few short hours through more cornfields and flat lands. About an hour into the drive, we spotted another T@B heading to Minden and we waved/honked horns excitedly with one another. T@Bs are growing in popularity, but there are still only about 3,000 of them in seeing another one on the road is a cause for real celebration! About 15 minutes later, we saw another T@B drive past us....we were getting close to Minden and the T@Bs were now coming from every direction like alien pods to the mother ship!

Minden, Nebraska is a fairly typical little farm town in the giant expanse of the Great Plains. The town square boasts a courthouse, an opera house, and a few dozen storefronts (some of which have seen better days). The town also has a large grain elevator (gotta put all that corn somewhere!), and busy railroad tracks. But it's main claim to fame is a complex spread out across a few city blocks known as Pioneer Village. A wealthy plastics businessman named Harold Warp started collecting items of "Americana" during the mid-1900's, and he decided to house his collection in his hometown of Minden. It's not a new shimmering, big-money operation like some of the Orlando or Las Vegas attractions, but it still draws some tourists to Minden....and this weekend, those tourists all came with T@Bs!

So, if we got excited by seeing our first "other T@B" on the road, imagine how exciting it was to see 50 T@Bs parked together at the small, cozy Pioneer Village campground. Here are a few shots....

This was known as "Potti-Tent Row" because everyone here had their potti-tents set up behind their T@Bs. On the right is Leslie's "camo" version which she had self-proclaimed as the world's ugliest potti tent on the Yahoo Forum a few months ago when her husband brought it home for her!

Here is a shot of Terry from Seattle, who selflessly logged hundreds of hours organizing this event for the past year. Terry not only arranged all the logistics of getting the entire campground reserved for us and planning all the daily seminars and events, but she also managed to talk Dutchmen (the company that makes the trailers) as well as a number of dealers to pitch in to provide t-shirts, hats, and other goodie bag items.

T@Bbers are a tremendous group of like-minded folks who love to learn, share, and have fun. We all initially met on an online Yahoo Forum ( where many of us exchange ideas, questions and answers about our T@Bs, etc. There's a real warmth that comes across that community that is so rare as online forums go. That warmth continued "in-person" at the rally-- it was like re-uniting with 100 old friends, even though most of us had never met each other in-person before. Here, below, we listened to Carol give a terrific demonstration on the art of Dutch Oven cooking...

The town of Minden really rolled out the red carpet for us. One night, the Chamber of Commerce president came to our pot luck dinner and gave us a quick history of the town. On another night, one of the townspeople brought his "little trailer" to show it off to us...a Mini Cooper towing a mini teardrop! Minden has hosted International Teardrop rallies for the past couple of years (which is how the T@B group learned about Minden).

Mom and Millie pose at our campsite. Our setup worked great with the Paha Que screenroom (which has privacy flaps that roll down to turn it into a tent at night). Millie was not going to budge off of her side of the T@B's queen bed, so Mom and I took turns sleeping on a cot in the screenroom. I got a nice plush 3" thermarest mattress pad to go on top of it and it was actually more comfortable than the T@B's bed! The nights in Minden were very pleasant for sleeping, that is, until the 2:00am freight train came through town with it's whistle blasting you awake!

The T@B factory reps drove a prototype of their new T@DA model trailer for us all to see. It's essentially a stretched out T@B with two "front ends", and has a built-in bath and separate dinette and bed. The T@DA served as a good backdrop for our group photo...

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