This is my 13th 'MOA International Rally since 1986 and I congratulate the organizers on the best-paced, most concise Saturday evening awards program I've ever attended. Yeah, the P.A. system left much to be desired, but they spread the prize drawings out to keep things interesting, spared us the usual inside jokes, the excruciating skits and other annoyances and got us in and out in about an hour.
But riding home to Indiana this morning, I realized it didn't feel like I'd been to a rally. The usual rally experience eluded me this time because the venues were so spread out.
It was a brave experiment to try an urban setting like Charleston. The local folks, especially the police, were exemplary in their friendliness and hospitality. It was also clear that they noticed we were spending a lot of money - a guy at the Ritz Photo store in the mall across from the Civic Center said their rally sales were comparable to an entire Christmas season and they were selling tons of high-end digital cameras to BMW folks.
But the cheers and applause for the announced return to a conventional rally setting in Spokane next year confirmed my belief that a lot of us like our rallies all in one place - not spread out. The sense of community is a powerful draw for a rally and it was seriously compromised by Charleston's multiple venues. It was my wife's first 'MOA International Rally and she was very disappointed and kept asking me what the big deal was about these events. All I could say was, "This one is different. I'll show you how they're supposed to be next year in Spokane."