fifth-wheels and mobile homes are camping in city parking lots
because the ground is still too wet for them to move into EAA’s
Camp Scholler. Photo by Jim Koepnick
More than weeds are sprouting in Oshkosh
after the city received about 12 inches of rain so far in July.
Improvised campgrounds for the largest of
the campers—the fifth-wheelers and mobile homes—are sprouting up
around paved parking lots in Oshkosh, since the ground at EAA’s Camp
Scholler is still too wet to accommodate those heavy vehicles.
By Sunday, hundreds of recreational
vehicles filled the parking lots at Aviation Plaza just northwest of the
airport, the former Russ Darrow Kia lot across Highway 41, the former
K-Mart and Sears lot on Koeller Road, and the Country USA grounds across
from the EAA AirVenture Museum. Another 60 units were parked on Ripple
Communications Director Dick Knapinski
said EAA continues to look into additional hard surfaces that could be
used to park RVs, if the need arises.
All the parking lots were being furnished
with 24-hour security and portable toilets, and were being serviced with
bus service to the EAA grounds. But just as important, all the lots were
starting to resemble communities, with people walking dogs, sipping
beverages while sitting in lawn chairs or at picnic tables, and chatting
with their new neighbors.
“I prefer being here than being in a
sea of mud,” said Robert Koehn, EAA 292161, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who
was camping in the Aviation Plaza lot. “This one is pretty heavy,”
he said, pointing to his RV. “If I got mired down I wouldn’t be able
to get out.”
Bob Matteson, EAA 43205, of Jonesboro,
Georgia, arrived at Oshkosh Saturday morning, and also was put in the
Aviation Plaza lot. “It’s inconvenient, but it’s certainly a lot
better than it could be,” he said.
His main concerns centered on getting
water and finding a dump station. Knapinski said fliers are being
distributed to campers in the parking lots to answer many of their
Matteson said most of the people in the
outlying lots are in good moods. “I haven’t heard or seen anyone
being really upset.
“But then it really isn’t anyone’s
fault,” added Rod Schneider, EAA 324983, of Woodstock, Georgia. “You
can’t help bad weather. As long as airplanes are involved, it’s
going to be a good week.”
John Brusseau, EAA 691927, and Roger
Chism, EAA 863850, both of Chapter 1259 at Houghton Lake State Airport,
Michigan, agreed. “We’re doing OK,” Brusseau said. “Keeping a
positive attitude,” Chism added, as they sat outside an RV in the old
Kmart and Sears parking lot.
Brusseau said the only thing he was
missing was portable showers. “I’d prefer to be on the field, but
whatever happens will happen. We’ll just deal with it.”
Lorraine Drewlo, of Beausejour, Manitoba,
was pleased with their offsite camp. “I’m grateful they sent us here
and I don’t have to worry about bringing mud and grass inside.”
However, her husband, Bob, didn’t
agree. “I’d sooner be stuck in the mud and be on the grounds,” Bob
quipped. “Instead, we have a shopping mall next door.”
“My husband is a pilot, so AirVenture
is the next best place to heaven for him,” Lorraine explained.
Lorraine said people have been friendly
in the makeshift campground, and they’ve met two others from Canada.
“All it takes is for you to mention you’re a pilot and the
conversation starts up.”
Even Bob said they were fortunate to be
there. “Even though we’re not on the grounds, we can still see the
action in the air. That’s a positive.”
Nancy Schilling, of Franklin, Indiana,
said they were able to park with their group from Nebraska, Oklahoma,
Indiana, and Ohio at the Aviation Plaza lot. “The boys aren’t happy
where we are, but we like it here,” she said. “We have grass and a
nice tree that provides shade,” she said.
“It’s our own veranda,” added
Roxanna Wood, also of Franklin, Indiana.
“Besides after looking at engines for
45 seconds, I’m done—and I’m a pilot,” Schilling said.
Schilling and Wood planned to spend most
of their time shopping and relaxing, while their husbands are at
AirVenture. At night, they have “pitch-ins,” with everyone bringing
food and eating together.
And even more rain—thankfully not
forecast until Wednesday—wouldn’t even dampen their spirits. “Good
friends make AirVenture good, regardless of mud,” Wood said.