Above: Mt. Views at Rivers Edge RV Resort & Park south of Creede, CO.

Below: Rhonda Cooper stirs the chuck wagon size pot of Alfred Packard Chili for the Friday night chili dump. “Good chili doesn’t have beans in it,” she was told, “just meat!”

Crisp air and an unforgettable view of the La Garita Mountains greeted us for the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Vintage Airstream Rally in Creede, Colorado. The rally started with the bang of thunder and an afternoon shower. What more could you want than to bring everyone together with some good victuals in a cozy mountain lodge. The Alfred Packer Chili dump was a big hit as usual, and there was more of it than you can shake a thighbone at. This explosive opening event has become a Rocky Mt. VAC Rally tradition where everyone dumps their homemade chili into the community cauldron. This results in a tasty and sometimes dramatic culinary experience.

Packer, Alfred (1842 - 1907)

The name conjures up gruesome thoughts. Packer was convicted of murder and admitted to the cannibalism of his victims.

An epileptic, he scout­ed for gold prospectors in the Rocky Mountains. On February 9th, 1874 Packer led five men from Montrose into the San Juan Mountains. A blizzard hit, forcing the party to camp at the base of what is now called Slumgullion* Pass (11,361 ft.), about 25 miles NW of Creede. What happened during their prolonged and bitterly cold encampment has always been questioned because Packer was the lone survivor.

Ironically, his cause of death in 1907 is listed as “stomach trouble.”

*Slumgullion is a descriptive term for a watery meat stew!

In the Colorado Rockies
Where the snow is deep and cold
And a man afoot can starve to death
Unless he's brave and bold

Oh Alfred Packer
You'll surely go to hell
While all the others starved to death
You dined a bit too well

---from The Ballad of Alfred Packer

Alfred Packer in 1901,
 after his release
 from prison.

Saturday morning greeted us with clear blue skies and a hearty pancake breakfast.

We followed breakfast with a day of open house. The open house in the morning was private to give rally participants a chance to look at each others trailers. After lunch, there was another open house to give the local public an opportunity. For some of us our pancake breakfast had to last us all day. We were having so much fun looking at each other’s trailers and talking, we forgot to eat lunch. An afternoon mountain shower came rolling down the valley giving us a short but much needed break. Then we were off to happy hour and our western dinner. Do cowboys really wear some of this stuff? Well, anyway the food prepared by a local Mennonite family was mighty tasty, particularly all the fantastic pies. I won’t say how many pieces of pie I had, but I do know I was not the only person in line for seconds. The evening was topped off by a story and magic show that still has a few of the rally go’ers baffled.

Oh, the smell of cinnamon rolls and fresh coffee.  Sunday morning, started with a sugar and caffeine rush quickly follwed by a fast paced swap meet.  If you were not on your toes here you missed out on some of the great deals.  We returned home with far more stuff than we sold.  I'm not sure how this happens, but it always works out that way.

Above left: Jim Cooper pours batter, while Chris Hildenbrand (hidden behind) flips the flapjacks.

Above right: Forrest McClure had to work fast to 
keep the serving table loaded. Cute apron though!

Right: Chris Hildenbrand 
samples New Belgium’s 
Fat Tire Beer at the Saturday 
evening happy hour.

Below: Yes, the beer really is named after the company’s fat tire bicycle, shown here with raised letter tire tread.

After the sugar and caffeine wore off some of us headed to town for a quick lunch followed by a 4x4 tour to the top of the Rockies. We toured the Bachelor historic mining district. The views, the history and unbelievably large mushrooms left us all in a state of Rocky Mountain High.

The last two days were pretty much on our own. Some happy campers took advantage of the many things to do and see, while other folks tried their hand at fishing in the Rio Grand River. Some toured the Silverthread Scenic & Historic Byway; a few took in the Creede Repertory Theatre and the tired just hung out and relaxed.

We topped all this off with some great seminars. We had seminars on polishing, tires, axles, weight ratings, electrical systems, disk brakes, trailer identification and much more.

We had a great time meeting friends old and new. The food and drink was superb, the seminars very informative, the scenery was awe inspiring, and the aluminum very shiny.

– Chris Hildenbrand

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2006 Rally Report Website Designed by InsideOut Design
Photo Contributions by Forrest McClure & Pat Glick-Huizinga
Content Contributions by Chris Hildenbrand & Forrest McClure