March 4th to the 6th, 2016 was billed as an NRG (Non–Rally Gathering). It all started when one of our very active Bus Conversion International members, Buck Trout, was helping a new member, Sean Bartlett, who had just purchased a bus. In the course of the conversation, Sean asked if converted bus owners ever got together the way classic car owners have met. The inaugural Bus Conversions International rally was held back in March 2015 in Pahrump, NV. At that time Tony Saraceni and I had hosted a full-blown rally with T-shirts, catered dinners, open houses, and a silent auction fundraiser for the local animal shelter, etc. Buck decided he just wanted to host a mini-rally without activities or planned meals. Just show up, meet, swap stories, pack up and go home. Never did he imagine his mini-rally would grow into 25 coaches! There were also a few people in attendance who were in the looking stages that got to see completed coaches, as well as getting educated on the things to watch for when buying their first bus.
The event was held at the East Shore RV Park in SanDimas, CA. It is located high on the hillside overlooking the Puddingstone Lake. If there was one drawback to this large park, it is that it is comprised of loops and unfortunately, all of our attendees were spread out over the loops. Being the troupers that bus people are, we definitely made the best of it! As an added benefit, we all got in a lot of walking while we were there.
Most attendees arrived on Friday afternoon. Tony and I rode around on our motor scooter and handed out Bus Conversion International lanyards with custom name tags. This gave us the opportunity to greet longtime friends as well to meet a lot of folks we had only known via the internet on our BCI Facebook page. Jere and Ronnie Brannon donated nice metal dash and plaques with the SoCal Mini Rally logo embossed on them and Gary Hatt was everywhere handing out Friday evening Buck Trout arrived in his beautiful MCI and provided pizza for everyone. Kenny Polk and Lisa Brent had set up a pop-up canopy at their coach that provided a wonderful gathering area and they also generously provided beverages for the entire weekend.
Saturday morning Bus Conversions International sponsored the coffee hour and Bus Conversion Magazine provided the donuts. This was yet another opportunity for story swapping and fuel mileage lies. The rest of the day was spent milling around touring buses and visiting with new-found and longtime friends.
Sam and Kannika Townsend, owners of Myron’s Extreme Machines, located in Fullerton, CA, provided electric bike test rides throughout the day. Being as the RV park was so spread out this was a great way to see the park and the gorgeous views overlooking the lake.
Saturday evening Perley Jay and Kat Benson generously served up pork sliders and adult beverages at their coach for all in attendance. Once the electricity came back on Perley and Kat fired up their karaoke system. (Oh..for some unknown reason the power was turned off throughout the entire park at 6:30 AM. It finally was back on after 12 hours.) This made for a great gathering with lots of good company and laughter. To quote Perley, “Just because you can’t sing does not mean that you won’t!” That said, there are some very talented singers in the busing community and there are some that should only sing in the privacy of their own shower! LOL
For those that retired early, prior to 9 PM, they missed out on the world-famous “Nordle Puffins”. To quote Art Wales, “This is a secret family recipe that is only known to Pam Noonan Saraceni.“ I had made a big green bowl full that Tony flamboyantly handed out and I got rave reviews, so I guess I will be providing them at our next gathering.
Just as we were all winding down for the evening, it started to rain. That was the end to a great day of shared friendships that included seeing longtime friends and the beginnings of new ones.
Sunday morning we awoke to pouring rain, but when checking on WeatherBug it showed that it would be over by 8 AM. Guess what? The weatherman was correct for a change! We fired up the coffee pots and shared a few more stories before we gradually began packing up and heading for our next destinations.
Tony and I along with Paul and Becky Lawry started the Bus Conversions International Facebook page a little over two years ago, it is a place to communicate without having to belong to any organized membership club. We do not care what make or model bus you have or it if you even own a bus, our only requirement is that you have a true interest in bus conversions. The wealth of knowledge that is generously shared by over 2000 international members is extensive. Young, old, male, or female all are welcome at BCI. Come on over to our page for a visit…and who knows… you may just end up helping to arrange a non-rally gathering or a full-blown rally in your neck of the woods.
Hoping to see you somewhere down the road!