Even if you’re not big on planes, Oshkosh has plenty to keep you busy.
REO Speedwagon played on Monday.
Past years have featured the Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Foreigner, and the Beach Boys.
You get it, right? The bands are always 70s and 80s groups whose stars have faded enough to make them affordable, but who have enough hits to keep the audience saying, “I didn’t know they played this” and “I forgot about that one.” Not so popular with the young folks but well-received by the aging baby boomers and the “Generation Jonesers” like myself. (Never heard of Gen Jones? We’re the ones between the baby boomers and gen x-ers.. At least that’s what Wikipedia [http://tinyurl.com/4lr38h] says).
My husband was temporarily sidetracked by a trip to the post office so I headed off with Steve who led me through the crowd and beneath the sound tent. We walked right under that canopy and plopped ourselves down.
To my astonishment, no one challenged us. I was ready to whip off my hat and play the cancer card, pleading that I needed the shade. (No lie — those chemo drugs mean I’m especially susceptible to the sun, plus I’m not supposed to get burnt, especially on my right arm, which has no lymph nodes to protect it). Since every other square inch of the concrete was pulsing with heat and the sound tent provided the only available cover, I figured it might work. But the roadies didn’t even glance our way, and eventually Dave joined us.
With the exception of a few amateur photographers who came and stood directly in front of me, we had a perfect view of the stage. When the shutter bugs over-stayed their welcome, which I judged as more than one song, I politely asked them to move. No woman should have to stare at a middle-aged butt for longer than that. Don’t you agree? Even if said woman’s butt is also middle-aged.
Of course, REO had to play “Time for Me to Fly.” It was the best part of the show.
On Saturday, there was a Blues Brothers tribute band, and country music star Aaron Tippin brought his “Red, White and Loud” tour to the stage.
Remember Forrest Gump? Gary Sinise played Lt. Dan in the film and now has a band called “Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.” They played on Friday. Perhaps this clip will refresh your memory as to who Sinise is. Other than an accomplished musician, I mean.
Speaking of movies, the EAA Fly-In Theater shows one every night, usually (but not always) featuring aircraft of one kind or another. Executive Producer and EAA member and pilot David Ellison introduced “True Grit,” George Lucas opened the preview of “Red Tails,” and Astronauts Gene Cernan and Dick Gordon discussed “Apollo 13.”
Harrison Ford came on Wednesday to introduce “Clear and Present Danger.”
Unfortunately, he was a bit … under the weather and introduced “Air Force One” instead. Too bad I missed it, but that theater is a l-o-n-g walk from camp.
Oshkosh also has an outlet mall. More importantly, it has a bus that will take you there. http://horizongroup.com/our-centers/oshkosh/ if you want to plan your shopping for next year.
When Sarah was younger, we always visited KidVenture, where a host of age-appropriate activities are provided for children, but now our days usually center around volunteering. All three of us sell raffle tickets for a brand new Mustang at the Young Eagles booths. Young Eagles is an EAA effort to introduce aviation to young people. All across the country, volunteer pilots (like Dave) take kids up for their first flight for free. (If you know someone under eighteen with an interest in aviation, check it out at www.youngeagles.org). There are many opportunities to volunteer at Oshkosh, and it’s a great way to meet people.
Lastly, camping at AirVenture brings with it many of the same activities as camping anywhere, some of them fun, some of them not-so-fun. These include being away from your job and ordinary life for a few days (or even ten), sitting outside counting shooting stars while chatting with friends over a cool one, and enjoying coffee perked over a propane stove. Or not. At the MWB camp, we’ve found that Irish Cream greatly improves the flavor, should you choose to take that option.
Swatting mosquitoes is a popular camping pastime, as is dousing yourself and anyone else in the vicinity with bug spray and/or sunscreen. And there’s nothing quite so adventurous as using a port-a-potty at night. You can never be sure what surprises await you in the dark.
A more challenging daily pursuit is wrestling with a shower head that requires you to squeeze it with one hand at all times if you want any water. Then again, why bother showering? The race to get everything stowed in your tent when a sudden thunderstorm hits will only make you sweaty again, as will hanging on to someone else’s tent so it doesn’t blow away during the next day’s unexpected high winds. (Smug note: Our own tents remained fixed firmly to the ground).
I must admit, it was entertaining to watch as an air mattress took to the sky — I kept picturing someone in Fond du Lac finding it in their back yard after work and saying, “Now, where on earth did that come from?” (Smug note #2: Both our mattresses stayed in their respective tents where they belong).
Whether you like planes or not, watch at least one of the air shows. If you can only handle one, make it Saturday night’s. Although I missed the debut of this event last year, this year’s fireworks held me enthralled. You can catch glimpses of it on this video, which gives an excellent overview of Oshkosh 2011.
And, if you are big on planes, you certainly don’t need me to tell you what to do. You’ll have a great time just walking around.
Oshkosh. It’s not just for overalls anymore.
Photos of seaplane base by Sarah M. Lucas.