2008 Region 7 Voyageur Rally Report
The Region 7 Voyageur Rally was a great time, with just the right mix of traditional activities and new adventures for everyone to enjoy. If you were unable to come, you missed a good one! We met up with the Don and Lillian T. on Sunday afternoon at the Grand Marais city park campground, right on the bay. We found a nice restaurant downtown for supper and had a leisurely stroll on the beach at sunset. The Minnesota unit caravan of about 15 Airstreams were also at the park, and they invited us to their pancake and sausage breakfast Monday morning.

Crossing the border at Grand Portage went smoothly and we were parked in Thunder Bay before noon. Region Seven President Don Rogers and First Lady Terrol were right there to greet the new arrivals and his parking crew made sure we were precisely lined up so we would present an impressive site for visiting media. Joining Region 7 members were International Secretary Carolyn Florence and her husband, Ron, from Washington state. Forty Airstreams were parked at Confederation College on Thunder Bay’s west side, and our group used several buildings for dining and meetings, and shower and washroom facilities. There were units from Manitoba, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Washington state. The Region staff hosted a welcome barbecue with hotdogs and smokies and the usual fixings. Following the barbecue, the opening ceremony was held with a welcome from the Thunder Bay Mayor Lynn Peterson, and from the Convention and Visitors office, Paul Pepe and Rose Marie Tarnowski. Evening entertainment back at the trailers followed for a relaxing close to the day.

The Minnesota Unit hosted Tuesday’s breakfast of pancakes and sausage, and then the group lined up for a caravan out the Amethyst Mine Panorama, about 40 miles northeast of the city. The owner of the mine gave us a personal tour of his facility, explaining the legends of Amethyst and the processes to extract the purple gemstone from the granite mine. He took us into the restricted area where you were literally walking on a bed of purple – but you were not allowed to touch – this is where they make their money. Afterwards, we were allowed to dig for our own gems in the piles of tailings, and keep whatever we found for three dollars a pound. Many people took advantage of this activity for the opportunity to take home a very unique souvenir – it was a big hit with “kids” of all ages. The gift shop certainly was not overlooked either, where you could find the finished products, from small polished stones, to clocks, wall hangings, and fine jewelry.

From there, the caravan proceeded on to the Suspension Bridge. The entrance fee to the Bridge was $18 per person and some people declined at the price, and continued on to Ouimet Canyon where they had their picnic lunches. We, on the other hand, were still at the mine, but the “Purple, Sparkly and Big” mission was accomplished, so we finally left. As neither Larry or I would set foot on such a high bridge, we decided to take a scenic and leisurely route back to the city that we spotted on the way out. We stopped along Lakeshore drive at a public beach access and had our picnic lunch. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the water of Lake Superior was crystal clear. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park was in full view across the bay and looked like a picture postcard. Bathers were already arriving for the afternoon, and by the time we left the parking lot was very full, and more were still arriving.

We enjoyed an leisurely afternoon visiting with our neighbors who were back from the caravan, and a wee nap to recharge. Pete Yanke from the Minnesota unit brought out his guitar and several joined him in singing folksongs It was easy to take a nap with a serenade outside your window! Tuesday evening’s catered dinner was absolutely scrumptious and plentiful, with mile high lasagna accompanied by a beautiful salad and breadsticks and followed up with ice cream for dessert! After dinner, activities were set up for the kids, while the adults had the option of going to the Casino down beside the Bay. Those not going to the casino spent the evening at their leisure, or socializing with their neighbors.

The North Dakota Peace Garden Unit served Wednesday’s toast and cereal breakfast. Following breakfast and clean-up duties, we headed out for Fort William Historic Site, about 10 miles southwest. The re-enactors at the fort are in the year 1813 and know nothing beyond that year, and visitors are treated to a leisurely walk through the many building, or with a knowledgeable guide at hand. This was a fully working fort with horses, cows with calves, a sow with new piglets, sheep and lambs, and chickens of all colors and varieties. For those who preferred, there was a horse drawn wagon rides around the fort and a tram to take you to a from the Visitors’ Center. A short visit to the gift shop proved fruitful, and we had a lovely lunch at their deli, with a piping hot bowl of beef stew and a wedge of stone baked crusty bread.

In the afternoon, the Region executive and business meetings were held. Next year’s Region Rally will be held in either Brainard or Alexandria, Minnesota, to keep it more centrally located in the region. The board approved President Rogers’ request to use his discretion in the final selection of the rally location. A region logo had been finalized and is now available for embroidery on shirts, hats, and other items. Ordering details will follow at a later time.

Dinner of roast beef with all the usual accompaniments was followed by a short trek to the Harbor front for an open air concert. Playing when we arrived was the Thunder Bay Symphony playing Big Band tunes, followed by the Pipes and Drum Band with Scottish dancers. Following an intermission, the Canadian folk band, Tanglefoot entertained the crowd, which normally was in the hundreds, but had swelled into the mid-thousands to see the band.

The Wisconsin unit served oatmeal and ice cream for breakfast on Thursday, and the day was left for numerous avenues of adventure, from golfing and the zoo, to swimming, shopping and sight-seeing. We rode with the Thomsons out to Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park and had a leisurely stroll around the park, taking in the beauty of the falls, with its ever-present rainbow in the mist. A Ladies Hat Tea was held down at the harbor park, or you one could have lunch on their own. We took in some shopping and headed back to the College. In the afternoon, Region 7 Webmaster Bob Manak from Wisconsin had an short, informal seminar for those interested in working on their unit website.

After Happy Hour, dinner was held at the Royal Canadian Polish Veterans Legion in downtown Thunder Bay. The buffet table was overflowing with such delicious offerings as roast turkey with gravy and sage dressing, cabbage roll-ups, potato and cheese pirogues sautéed in onion and butter, steamed vegetables, salad and fresh baked crusty rolls. It was amazing that anyone was able to move after dinner, but the music started. People were able to dance to rock and roll, some slow dance tunes, and the seating was cleared when the Beer Barrel Polka came one. President Rogers had a booty full of prizes to give out from local merchants and even from Airstream.

Friday morning, the South Dakota unit hosted coffee and donuts before everyone headed out. The donuts and sweet rolls from Tim Horton’s were still warm in the box! Some people had already wiggled their tow vehicles and rigs around the parking lot – there are many very skilled and talented drivers in our club. Goodbyes were all over and we headed down the road.

The trip home was uneventful, and most surprising of all, nary a headwind the entire trip – the weather man certainly smiled on this Region Rally. Our heartfelt thanks to the Rogers and the entire Region 7 staff for a Great Rally! Their hard work showed and was most appreciated


2007 Region 7 Rally at Huron draws 44 Units A good time was had by all attending the 2007 Region 7 Rally in Huron, SD.  So many activites were available, it’s hard to detail every one!  Friday, we went on tour of the US Post Office Sorting and Distribution Centerand, had a typical colony dinner at the nearby Pearl Creek Hutterite ColonyOn Saturday, we traveled to Wessington Springs for some shopping and a walking tour around town,  low tea for the ladies at the Anne Hathaway Cottage, a buffet supper and ended the day entertainment with a trumpet quartette, the Stoneback Brass.  At the fair grounds, we were entertained  by a lady playing a saw, Blue Grass music and a lady playing bells. 

Region 7 Business:  The International 3rd Vice President Norm Beu and his wife Linda were there promoting next year’s International Rally to be held in Bozeman, Montana June 28 to July 4.  The 2008 Mid-Winter IBT Rally to be held in Gonzales, Louisiana January 14-18.  Also attending this rally was Region 3 President Tom Tisdale and his wife Jackie. The 51st International Rally will be held at Montana State University, with air conditioned buildings.  Trams will be running from the parking area to the buildings.  There will be a rededication of a Wally Byam Park that was started 19 years ago when the rally was last there.  There will be new vendors, a fly fishing seminar, and a GeoCache search, to name a few activities planned.  There will also be a Host Couple Exchange of 25 Airstream couples with 25 Bozeman couples.  The campus cafeteria will also be open for meals.The Rally colors are electric blue, light gray and a little green.  There is an eagle mascot with the name of Bow. 

Executive Board Meeting:  The only business was the approval of Thunder Bay, Ontario, as the site for the 2008 Thunder Bay Region 7 Rally to be held Aug 11-15, 2008. Voyager is the Rally theme and will be held Monday through Friday to allow for travel time to and from the rally.  Don Rogers,  Region 1st Vice President stressed obtaining your passports as soon as possible, as you will need them to cross the border.  Anyone bringing pets needs a health certificate within 30 days of crossing the border.At this time, there is no confirmed site as plans are still being finalized.  There will be limited electric and water. We will be touring an amethyst mine, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, and a canyon with tropical plants.  Also touring Fort William with lunch or dinner, and a dinner at the Italian Community Culture Center. Around that time, there is also a fair and Pow Wow.  More information later. 

General Meeting:  Two resumes were received for 2nd Vice President,  from  Joan Lahr and Ed Emerick, both from the Wisconsin unit.  President Pearl Adams-Kyle appointed Pete Yanke, John Tetzlaff and Ron Larson to the nominating committee.  Dean Kyle submitted a drawing for a Region 7 logo as we presently do not have one for caps, shirts etc.  After much discussion the design was approved but not the finished products.  Annette Hooker encouraged us to save pop tops, collect hats, blankets and stuffed toys to take to Bozeman next year.