This year was my first time attending the Willys Reunion in Ohio, largely due to scheduling conflicts I have never made it. But when you find out most of the Alaska or Rust crew are attending and you have not seen them for ten months, you fix the schedule!
Joe, Emily and I headed out from Maryland late Thursday afternoon after Joe rescued a project car from a mudhole/ hoarder’s house. First part of the drive was rainy as heck but eventually it dried up and we enjoyed clear roads without traffic for most of the run. We pulled in to the Bertram Inn and Conference Center just shy of 1am.
Friday we settled in, caught up with our Alaska or Rust jeep family and took a look at the vendors and vehicles on display.Late afternoon the Willys vehicles lined up and we headed out for a BBQ at a local park. For a bit it seemed like the blind leading the blind but we got there and enjoyed a great meal. After the BBQ the Alaska or Rust gang debated our plan of action and decided to hang out for the evening under the eWillys tent in the show parking lot. This involved stocking up on adult beverages. Oddly, many local stores closed at 8 so we went about 20 miles up the road in the rubber duck (Russ’s jeepster) to find our beverages. Saturday dawned and we had work to do, The job was to build a brand new Allied engine block into a running engine by the end of the day. Bob Christy, Scott Gilbert and I had pulled parts from all over (with extensive parts donations from Kaiser Willys, Allied Jeeps, a head gasket from Ron Fitzpatrick G503, and more). Still, when you have this many over worked people trying to pull together all the right parts some things will come up missing or incorrect. There was a scramble for correct bearings, nuts and bolts etc.. and by 11am we were rolling.
Many folks scrambled to get things we needed and we were even given a donation for lunch. By mid afternoon things were really coming together.By the end of the day we were pretty well shot but the engine was almost all done. by 5:30 it was time to quit and go in for the banquet.
The banquet was quite good and for us Alaska folks it was a great time to catch up for a bit and relax. I managed to get the last of the Alaska or Rust books handed out by the end of dinner. I still have a handful more to mail.And after dinner the “infamous” Dave Eilers gave his talk on the journey of last summer (and Bill started plotting our next jeep jaunt!)
Despite inclement weather the Alaska or Rust veterans gathered under the eWillys tent after Dave’s presentation and spent the evening being silly, catching up, drunk video chatting our missing members and more.The show was fantastic, attendance was great with a really nice variety of Willys products at hand. If you are into Willys this show is a must attend as they put a great amount of effort into organizing it with visible results.