INTERVEC-PHOENIX TRAVEL CLUB
A history

InterVec, short for International Vehicles, was a small Bristol, Indiana factory, formed in 1980. It specialized in Class B van conversions. The company put out two models, Horizon and Falcon, which ran in length from 17’ – 19’ – 25’, with a few stray 28’ models occasionally thrown into the mix. However the 17’ and 19’ models formed the bulk of their production.

The Original InterVec Factory

The President was Kermit Fisher and the Vice-President was Joe Bostian, and it was in Joe’s fertile mind that a factory travel club began germinating. Upon flying it past a few Horizon and Falcon owners, he and Kermit decided to go for it. But who to organize and run it? After casting about they settled on Ralph Rosenlund. After all, though he was currently acting as a factory representative for the western states, he was semi-retired and had lots of spare time! Ralph finally agreed and very generously offered his wife Nancy’s skills to produce a monthly newsletter. Together they would arrange rallies and tours. For all this the factory would be the banker.

So, in 1993 it began and everyone supported the nascent club in every imaginable way. This even included all the InterVec office gals, especially two, Rochelle and Glenna, who went above and beyond. They helped organize our first rally in 1994, to be held at Shipshewana, Indiana, a quaint Amish town near Bristol. They helped with all the "coolie" work: designing a club logo; shopping for necessities; coordinating the rally activities; making name tags; and helping with food preparation, because in those days we did everything. I will never forget how we all got up at the crack of dawn to collect breakfast items and chop fruit to go along with the day’s chuck. We were basically on our own for other meals and activities, except for a great steak Farewell Dinner. We also had our first "Cichon" campfire and, though it was officially unplanned, it was enjoyed by all. We didn’t dream it would become a reunion tradition. Through all this we were all feeling our organizational way.

The First Reunion Site - Shipshewana 1994

Now we were beginning to roll. An InterVec Club tour to Alaska was organized in 1995, as was our 1995 rally in Sisters, Oregon. This selection was not so much by club choice but because it was convenient to Ralph and Nancy’s hometown of Portland, Oregon. It turned out to be a popular site because there was so much to do, aside from whitewater rafting and hot air ballooning. The little town of Sisters is supremely funky and magnificently sited, and so named because it is tucked in the foothills of three snow-capped mountains named the Three Sisters. This is also when we discovered the really terrific measure of our members. Practically everyone showed up to help in one way or another, supporting a nucleus, which I called the "Slice and Dice Gang". And, Bleu Stroud and Florence Maddox did yeoman work manning the kitchen area.

On the Road in Alaska

Also, in 1995, Chuck and Jean Moore organized a regional mini-reunion which was held in June in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a lovely, historic town high in the Ozarks.

In 1996 a second Alaska tour was organized and our rally site was determined to be Sevierville, Tennessee. This was a "first" in a couple of ways. It was selected by member-vote and our first "coordinators" came forth in the forms of Florence and Bob Maddox. The factory came through with some wonderful eats and some super door prizes. This site was in Dolly Parton and Gatlinburg country and comfortably near the lovely Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We also came through unscathed, though we had a hurricane sniffing at our flanks.

After our Sevierville rally our factory string ran out. International Vehicles disbanded and along with it our club support group. What to do? When we contacted our club members they unanimously voted to continue the club with the full knowledge we would now have to pay our own way. This meant dues, This meant we paid for our campsites. This meant we donated to a kitty to pay for our food, including our farewell dinner. This brought about our Potluck Dinners, which developed into a reunion highlight. I have since wondered why we hadn’t thought of that earlier. It is fun and the food is uniformly wonderful. This brought about our Auction where we all donate a "yahoo or yummy" item. The purpose is that all monies gained will go into the club coffers, thus helping support our club. This is also when our gatherings changed from rallies to reunions because now we had truly become a "family". We cared!

The "Slice n' Dice Gang" at Sevierville - 1997

Now is the time when Kermit Fisher organized a new company, though on a very short string. He named his product the Phoenix Cruiser. This was six years ago and while he is currently supporting us in all ways except monetarily, I’m sure even that day will eventually arrive. Currently the struggle continues, as does our club, though things are beginning to perk up.

It was in 1997 that the Sparks/Reno, Nevada site was chosen, again for the convenience of Ralph and Nancy, as they had to organize everything at "semi-long distance". We all discovered that some pretty famous Old West history was at our doorstep, that Lake Tahoe was indeed gorgeous, that Basque food was a unique treat, and that you can’t really beat the slots!

It was also in Sparks that Ralph’s club-life underwent a bountiful revision. Ed and Cindy Baron and Doug and Agnes Kujala volunteered to coordinate the 1998 reunion. By unanimous agreement it was determined the site was to be at Mackinaw, Michigan. And, what a wonderful site it was. Aside from being located on the scenic shores of Lake Huron we were surrounded by several fascinating bits of history to examine. The Kujalas and the Barons also installed some excellent innovations. They organized our first group "activity". This was a charming carriage ride around Mackinac Island culminating in an elegant lunch at the gorgeous, historic Grand Hotel. This was seriously a "Somewhere In Time" event that will be long remembered. At this time we were practically all Falcon and Horizon folks, but things were about to change!

Mackinaw brought changes for Nancy too. What had begun as a piece of cake was turning into the whole enchilada as our membership grew and club activities became more time consuming and complicated.

The Mackinaw Carriage Ride - 1998

So, at our business meeting I placed a request on the agenda for help, at least, with the newsletters. Upon contemplation, I think it should be phrased, "I begged". Quietly, Ken Humphreys said, "I can do that", and a world of change settled in. When Ken discovered we were no longer affiliated with the InterVec factory, and our tax status was up for grabs, he also volunteered to act as Secretary-Treasurer and get all our ducks in proper order. This was no time to take a poll. I jumped at the offer, and have been beyond grateful ever since. We then asked Ed Baron if he would act as President of the club. Another "Executive Choice" decision. He was an exuberant club member and has been a caring, reliable President. Things were shaping up just dandy.

Luncheon at Shields Tavern in Williamsburg - 1999

Now we could concentrate again on reunions. In 1999 Carl and Joan Abrams enthusiastically took over the reins and we centered on Williamsburg, Virginia. This is one of the most seriously exciting areas in our country, just dripping in history. The group activity arranged by Carl and Joan was truly a winner as it was a Colonial lunch in Old Williamsburg at the authentic Shields Tavern. Just like the "olden days". And, aside from our campfire, more traditions were beginning to kick in. Annabell Leckler compiled a collection of fun golden oldies, with music, for the times we might want to gather together for a Sing-Along, mostly around the campfire or on a dreary rainy day. And, it was in Williamsburg that we missed, by less than a week, being blasted by a very business-like hurricane. Our luck holds!

The year 2000 found us in Colorado Springs, Colorado and it was here that we noticed several Phoenix Cruisers tucked in amid the Horizons and Falcons. Nelliemay and Colbert Dixon were the coordinators with Bleu Stroud helping where she could, as usual. With a highly organized Nelliemay supervising a clutch of helpful gnomes, some great food showed up on her table. The Colorado mountains are fabulous and the touring was great, with the U.S. Olympic facilities, the Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak, various old west sites, and an archaeological park or two to visit. Our group activity this time was a fun rail trip/tour through the sensational Royal Gorge near Canon City, and our farewell affair was at the Flying W Ranch where we all enjoyed a chuckwagon supper and western show - an unusual treat.

InterVec RVs at the Royal Gorge Railroad - 2000

2001 found us in Branson, Missouri where we could all watch shows ‘til our eyes crossed. Chuck and Jean Moore coordinated this reunion and added more to our agenda. Ken Humphreys put on an AARP driver safety course. This is something many insurance companies consider a right good affair for the Senior Citizen, and some not so senior. Our group activity this time was the Ronnie Prophet show where our in-house auctioneer, Hank Oestreich, was a star. Of course, we may be prejudiced! Our traditional campfire was a bit quirky this year since Branson didn’t allow any fires at the campground. So, we gathered on a stormy night in the "Great Hall" and Rita Pereira and Helen Cichon set up a large circle of candles. We had our "Campfire" along with a rainy night "Sing-Along". It should be noted that after this event it was decided we needed a music director of a sort, as a more mismatched vocal group you’ll never find. And, it was at this reunion that Chuck established another "tradition". He built the "Membership Tree" upon which those in attendance could hang their personal name plaque. This he expands for succeeding reunions.

Hank Oesterich Clowning Around at Branson - 2001

We moved east again for our 2002 reunion - Far East to Scarborough, Maine! Roger and Milly Gaumont took over the coordinating chores. And what a great job! Also this year the Phoenix Cruisers began creeping up on the Falcons and Horizons until it was almost a half-and-half distribution. We also have collected some Born Free, Winnebago, Coachmen and Pleasure Way rigs to add spice to our club gatherings. We are becoming quite cosmopolitan! This year Ken Humphreys gave computer lessons in the "Great Tent" and we dragged out our old Bingo game for a few rounds. Of course, the Auction and PotLuck took place and, as usual, were a welcome highlight. Our group activity this time was a fun, old fashioned, memory-filled Trolley Ride. We planted our Membership Tree, noting that Chuck Moore had to do some up-dating big time. Further proof that our club is a’growing. It should also be duly noted that most of the gang did a fairly good job at pigging-out on "lobstah" while there. Even our Farewell Dinner was a traditional New England Clambake with lobster as the star attraction.

Marion Weiman Entertaining at the Scarborough "Cichon" Campfire - 2002

It was also at the business meeting in Scarborough that more changes took place. Recognizing reality, we changed the Club name to InterVec-Phoenix Travel Club. With our growing club it was felt we simply had to keep up. A position called President-elect was also established, thus developing an easy, organized transition system regarding the presidency. Ed Baron has been club president for several years, and he felt it was long past time for more of our membership to have the pleasure of being involved in the club and its activities. Stan Wilen was a fine choice for President and Gail was be a grand "First Lady".

Seashore Trolley Museum Trolley Ride at Scarborough Reunion - 2002

And, stride forth we did, to our 2003 Reunion and to the celebration of the Club's Tenth Anniversary. This was held at the Casa de Fruta Campground in California’s beautiful, fragrant, serene Monterey country, which is quite often called “Steinbeck,-artichoke-and-garlic-land”. Don and Gladys Stewart were our imaginative coordinators and held our hands through the many activities they planned, over and above our normal stuff, such as our delicious potluck, our quirky auction and our “fun-for-some-and –frustrating-for –others” bingo evening. As usual our terrific family pitched in and helped with all the extra housekeeping-type duties that come with holding a successful reunion.

The Mill Pond at Casa de Fruta Campground - 2003

This year the group activity was a tour of the famed Steinbeck Center in Salinas, with an accompanying lunch. Nancy Roosenlund commented afterward, "In my young salad days Steinbeck was a part of my school’s curriculum and I remember slogging my way through Grapes of Wrath and understanding very little. After my tour of the Center, discovering where he was coming from and generally filling in the cracks and connecting the dots, I re-read Steinbeck and not only enjoyed but understood."

Our gang moseyed far and wide, enjoying Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey and the local Missions, then returning to settle around our family campfire, nosh popcorn and compare notes. Our farewell dinner was a bountiful Luau with all the accouterments. All in all a wonderful reunion, with a touch of sadness at seeing it come to an end, but with joy and anticipation of our next gathering.

2004 was a manifold year for our club. It found Phoenix USA in a new, beautiful home, and it found us in Wisconsin Dells for our reunion. Stellar in all respects! Though the old factory had served Kermit Fisher and his worker bees well for years, it finally succumbed to age and space restrictions. It was time for a change. And the change is a pleasure indeed. It is large and new and will proudly service our Phoenix RVs for many years to come.

Chimney Rock at Wisconsin Dells - 2004
(Photo courtesy of the H. H. Bennett Museum)

Our reunion choice of Wisconsin Dell was inspired. Not only is it a basically unexpected area but our coordinator, Harry Priester, knows the region intimately and led us in some very special directions. Ones we most likely wouldn’t have found for ourselves. He treated us to several group activities including a novel Duck ride of the Upper Dells where we surveyed the unique rock formations. We even took a short side trek to the famous Stand Rock. In case you don’t know, the “Ducks” are restored World War II amphibious machines, devised to travel on land as well as water. Harry also arranged for a typical buffet-type breakfast at a Norwegian B&B. The food was impeccable. Sardines anyone? This was followed by a tour of the H.H. Bennett Museum. This honors an innovative local photographer who took most of the pictures of Wisconsin’s early days. It is a surprisingly fascinating collection. Our farewell dinner was an all-out treat aboard a tour boat that plied the Upper Dells. The scenery was delightful, the food was excellent, the evening was mellow and the sunset startling. What a marvelous way to end a week of marvelous days.

A Highlight of the Gettysburg Reunion - Boyd's Bear Country

In 2005 we returned to our historic ties and sited our reunion in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Tippy and Bob Martin were our coordinators for this year. Our group activity was a splendid Gettysburg Battlefield Tour and if you weren’t up on that period of our history you surely were after the tour. So much was decided in such a basically tiny area. It struck me that during the fighting one could always, almost see the whites of their eyes. It was such a compact battlefield that soldiers seemed to be fighting atop one another. We also had the pleasure of visiting the rather small and very homespun Eisenhower Farm where the “ex-first couple” spent not only their retreat days during the presidency but also their retirement days afterwards. Its utter simplicity spoke well for the character of the inhabitants.

This is an area rich in sightseeing opportunities and our gang was busy touring as many diverse places as possible……from funky restaurants, to antique stores, to the near-by town of Hershey, to an intimidating Teddy Bear factory where one only had upwards of 1000 to choose from…..to list only a few of the options.

We had our tasty potluck as usual, which was enjoyed by all. The auction and bingo generally provided the comic hour and the campfire was a toasty event sparked by cozy conversation and our normal off-key singing. But we had fun! And this is one of the years that the AARP-sponsored driving course was offered. Plus, Chuck Moore’s Reunion Tree is a’growing! So, all in all, our plates were full to overflowing.

The Oregon Coast at Bandon-by-the Sea

We traveled all the way west to the gorgeous Oregon coast and Bandon-by-the-Sea for our 2006 reunion. Ralph and Nancy Rosenlund coordinated this year since it was practically in their backyard. Our campground was in the southern coastal town of Bandon, at the Bandon-By-The-Sea RV Park. The manager was terrific and her crew of busy, helping hands were without equal. They catered our meals and spoiled us with scrumptious home-made goodies. The members had manifold entertainment choices: Lighthouses to visit, along with Seal Lion Caves, the amazing Shore Acres Gardens, whale watching off the coast, Cape Arago where the noisy Stellar seals may be viewed, almost up close and personal, local seafood canneries, cheese and ice cream factories, cranberry bogs, unique coastal sand dunes, beach or deep sea fishing, funky coastal fishing villages, and all topped off with some very satisfying beachcombing. So much to do and see and so little time! It is always amazing how fast a week can evaporate.

When dealing with Oregon one soon discovers that the weather can be quirky, especially the coastal stuff. After a stiff beginning Mother Nature settled for balmy, brisk days. Our group activity was a tour of a fun local Wildlife Safari, with untold wild animals wandering about, even some babies. Aside from our regular activities ……. Potluck, Auction. Bingo, Campfire….which were wonderful as always….we were also treated to a Candy Making Seminar and a Flower Arranging Seminar. Both excellent and imaginative.

This Reunion saw Stan Wilen step down as President of the club and Milly Gaumont was elected to take his place. Milly enthusiastically jumped into the role along with her husband Roger who stayed on as Chair of the Reunion Site Committee

Chuck Moore's Reunion Tree of Attendee Names

Our Farewell dinner consisted of seasonal Oregon-type seafood, local to the area and freshly caught or dug! Then Chuck Moore dismantled the Reunion Tree and we wistfully bid adieu for another year.

In 2007 we returned to where it all began, Elkhart, Indiana……the home base of the original InterVec Falcons and Horizons and now home of our new Phoenix Cruiser. This year our reunion was handled a bit differently. Instead of one coordinating couple we were blessed with several to help Lillian and Louis Albert, who did yeoman duty. We were privileged to have private, guided tours of the new factory, and it was a win-win experience for all. Our members gained unique knowledge of exactly how the Phoenix is built, and why! The factory gained from the many ideas offered by the members, which if past experience tells, will find their way into future RVs. And the factory folks discovered something we all know already….how great our members are. More than once I heard them say, “They are the nicest people”!

Members' Rigs at the Motor Home/RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN

Another group tour was to the colorful Motor Home/RV Hall of Fame. This is a fantastic collection of all manner of recreational vehicles, many dating back to the early 1900s. Some were jerry-built concoctions, some carefully and professionally executed, some outrageously devised. It all pointed up the fact that we “have come a long way baby”!

As usual our regular reunion activities chugged along in delightful fashion. From our opening “meet-and-greet” gathering down to our delicious steak and chop Farewell dinner which, by the way, was hosted by our benevolent Phoenix USA family. The Bingo was successful as usual, due in good part to the innovative and clever prizes collected by Barbara and Charles Pierce. Our laugh-filled, annual Auction also had a distinctive array of items, which made for rigorous bidding. Our club coffers were well served. The comfy Campfire was again pleasured by the talented Evelyn Marker and the discovery of S’mores! The AARP Driver Safety Course was also on tap. This is a valuable addition to our reunions.

So, another reunion evaporated. With love and hugs we bid our family adieu to eagerly look forward to 2008 and Sevierville, Tennessee, the land of the Smoky Mountains, Dollywood, Gatlinburg and the nearby Biltmore Mansion.

A small part of the Sevierville auction items

We gathered in 2008 at the River Plantation RV Park in Sevierville, Tennessee. President Milly Gaumont, Vice President Sharon Faulk and Secretary-Treasurer Ken Humphreys did a yoeman's job in organizing the Reunion events. The campground had a large convention center and full catering capability and catered all of the group meals and the final dinner. They did a simply fantastic job.

The highlights of the Reunion were a guided bus tour of Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our famous "bingo with a twist" game with Sharon Faulk as the caller, and a great auction led by Past Past Prez. Ed Baron. We had a record turnout of 51 members and couples including 19 first timers.

During free time, folks enjoyed the many attractions of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg including Dollywood and the plethora of shopping malls in the area. It truly was a "shop until you drop" venue.

The Slice 'n Dice Gang at Plymouth, CA

2009 took us to the West and the Far Horizons 49er RV Park in Plymouth, California. Our three host couples, Jim & Kay Eldridge, Jim & Robyn Ronan and Nancy & Guy Hoffman, really put on a great show. In addition, Milly Gaumont revived our "Slice 'n Dice" gang for the opening gathering and the pot luck dinner and outfitted them with aprons bearing the Club logo and the words "Slice 'n Dice".

The Saturday tour took us through the area countryside to visit the Bella Piazza and Sobon Wineries and the Amador Flower Farm. It never rains in this part of California in September but our gracious hosts overlooked nothing. They even arranged for it to rain during the tour just to make the Easterners feel at home.

In additional to our traditional Reunion activities, a team trivia contest led by Ken & Betsy Humphreys was added to the agenda as was a non-denominal church service on Sunday morning. The church service was led by Ken and Jim Weston. Ken is a Presbyterian lay pastor and Jim is a Pentacostal minister. Ken & Jim also coordinated the annual Reunion auction.

As we departed the Reunion and went our separate ways our thoughts were expectation of getting back together again for another great Reunion, this time at Branson, Missouri in 2010.

2010 - Branson, Missouri

Though our initial days in Branson were marred by the remnants of a tropical storm, nothing slowed us down. We were a tough bunch, and 90 members, (with 46 rigs and one cabin) were pleased that the weather quickly turned pleasant for us. As you can see on the map to the right, members arrived from the four corners of the country.

We had our normal excellent work by this year's Slice n' Dice crew, and the business meeting brought about same changes. Ken Humphreys, who after 12 years decided that he had other interests that he would like to pursue as well, retired. The retirement was accepted with regrets. The members presented and engraved wooden Phoenix Cruiser model to Ken in appreciation for his many years of total involvement in the activities of the club. The officers elected, and committee membership approved during this gathering include, President: Milly Gaumont; President-Elect: Donnas Weston; Vice President: Kay Eldridge; Secretary-Treasurer: Dave Van de Water; Newsletter: Margaret Potvin; Site Selection (for 2012) members: Dale Lipke (chair), Bob & Betty Hawker and Merlin & Claudia Ballensky.

During our stay in Branson, we bussed to one of Branson's live shows - the Doug Gabriel  Show. We had our normal, and always enjoyable Team Trivia Contest, and of course our infamous Bingo With A Twist comedy hour.

Our Pot Luck Dinner was up to it's normal grand standards, and the final dinner was great as well. 

The ABC folks (America's Best Campground) treated us very well. They put on a Hillbilly Party - we are in the Ozark's after all - and we discovered that several of our members have a lot of hidden talent. And for some of them, it should stay hidden. We learned that Ken's imitation of a rooster crowing leaves something to be desired, but the Kitchen Band which consisted of a washboard, spoons and a jug was not too bad.

Next year, we will be heading toward Freedom New Hampshire and the Danforth Bay RV Park.


2011 Reunion - Danforth Bay RV Park, Freedom, New Hampshire


The Class of 2011

     We arrived just as Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene had past, leaving road damage over the northeastern states; Tropical Depression Lee had just concluded its deluge on us just as we were checking in the first of our 71 members and their 35 rigs. Then the sun came out, and we had great weather for our entire Reunion's activities.

     The Danforth Bay folks were fabulous, and so very accommodating. The facilities were grand, the meeting room perfect for our meals, Bingo with a Twist, and Silent Auction.

     Our adventure trip included sailing on New Hampshire's largest lake (72 square miles with some 240 islands) Lake Winnipesaukee on the M/S Mount Washington (photo on the left).

     We had many helping hands with eager volunteers operating them this year. All that individual volunteer participation made it so much fun, as we got to know each other better.

     In 2012 we will be off to Texas in Kerrville at the Guadeloupe River RV Resort.
 


2012 - Reunion - Kerrville, Texas

Hot, yes we had a HOT time in Kerrville.

     But we will remember the good times as well. 56 members braved the drive to Texas in 28 rigs. We were at the Guadeloupe River RV Resort, yes, right along the river, where we quite often watched deer watching us in the evening.

     Again, our members loaned us their helping hands and backs as we prepped the Meet 'n Greet snacks, prepared and served at the Pot Luck Dinner or shuffled the tables and chairs from one place to another, as we shifted from Eating, Meetings, Bingo, the Silent Auction and the outdoor BBQ. We couldn't have done it with out our willing volunteer hands and backs each and every day.

     Many of our members visited the nearby Texas Hill Country locations, such as Fredericksburg, or ventured into San Antonio for the River Walk experience during our free time.

     Our final grand dinner, Monday evening featured a real Texas BBQ. a special treat for all.

Next year - to northern Michigan, to the the Petoskey KOA in Petoskey. See you there!

 


2013 - Petoskey - Our 20th Reunion Anniversary

 


Our 2013 Class Photo

A great time. An Anniversary Time! We had a fun time on Mackinac Island as well.

With many helping hands all on Celebration mode, we gathered our 31 rigs together, and 59 members enjoyed this scenic area of northern Michigan