H2O International is widely known not only by the Volkswagen community but by all car groups (as we all saw this year), and with that it brings in thousands of more attendees. For the VAG community, this is the premier show of the season and it always falls during the last weekend of September. It gives everyone one last big hurrah to end the year and allows friends who might only see each other once or twice a year to meet. H2Oi is held at a campground in Whaleyville, MD both Saturday for the BBQ and Sunday for the actual show. But if you drive a short distance to the West, you will hit Ocean City, MD which is the resort that EVERYONE descends on for the weekend. Let’s get to the weekend….
After waiting all summer and then getting to September and having to watch the days slowly pass by while keeping up with the continuous social media threads talking about the event, Thursday had finally arrived. We were up bright and early to hit the road and the .:R was loaded down with camera gear, R32 Roll Call bags, and the essentials as we set course for Ocean City. It’s never a fun way to get a trip started off by traveling in the rain for 3 ½ hours but Thursday was the only day with rain and I was glad that the weather got it out of its system to keep the weekend sunny. We traveled the back roads of Lancaster County down through Delaware and hit Rt. 1 which took us straight into Ocean City. I always enjoy driving down because you have a long cruise and you also have the excitement building inside of you because you know you’re about to have a weekend of fun as well as a few cars added in there (that’s an understatement).
After a soaking 3 ½ hour drive, we finally made it to OCMD and wouldn’t you know it, the skies cleared and got sunny. Well that lasted for about an hour and then the rain pushed back in for the rest of the night. This made for a soggy first day of the H2Oi weekend, but we made up for it with some good seafood from OC Steamers. Most of the cars stayed hidden that night and everyone was inside so it was the only “quiet” night of the weekend.
Friday was bright and sunny and it was our only day that we had time to do some normal beach vacation things, so we hit up Fractured Prune for some awesomely warm donuts for breakfast. If you haven’t tried these before, then make it a must next time while you’re in OC! We headed over to the bayside to wash the car and grab a bite to eat at Harborside Bar & Grill, which sits on a back road right on the waterway leading to the bay. After our food stop, we made our way back over the bridge and headed to the Underwraps & Condukt.co GTG at the Inlet parking lot. They had been planning this meet way in advance and had packages for sale which included special H2O International t-shirts, stickers, air fresheners and such. They had a great turnout with cars continuously rolling through. The location with a background of the Atlantic Ocean made for great picture opportunities.
As the day rolled on Friday afternoon, cars were rolling into OCMD and the action was heating up on the strip. OCPD was not far behind either. Many folks found themselves paying tickets and having their cars impounded. The Taphouse once again turned into the place to be during the weekend. After much animosity towards the Taphouse leading up to H2Oi due to business problems with a fellow company and supporter of the VW/Audi scene, that all seemed to go to the way side once the weekend got here because it was a mad house! You can also thank the city of OCMD for closing down any gatherings in other parking lots, which is most likely why the Taphouse had a crowd this year.
People lined the sidewalks watching cars drive up and down Coastal Highway all day long, yelling at drivers to do burnouts and other things. Some people take it a bit too far but it’s all in good fun and part of the fun during the weekend. Parking lots of hotels were packed with groups hanging out and drinking ice cold beer. We spent most of the night watching cars until we got hungry again. When you’re in Ocean City, you need to try Phillips seafood buffet! AYCE crab legs, shrimp, crab cakes, mussels, fish, etc. It is the best seafood buffet in town hands down and is ALWAYS a stop for us. After a late dinner, we headed back to the hotel and hung out there all night.
After getting some sleep, we woke up Saturday morning and got ready for a packed day. Saturday is always the busiest day of the whole weekend with all the get-togethers in Ocean City and the bay side, as well as the H2Oi BBQ over at the show grounds. If you have never been to H2O International, they have a GTG for almost every generation Volkswagen, a GTG for every VW model, a GTG for many Audi models, and then random GTGs for almost any reason. Thanks to a fellow Volkswagen enthusiast on vwvortex who created a consolidated list of all the GTGs, it was much easier to see where each one was and at what time. There is simply not enough time to hit up every meet but we try our best to get to as many as we can.
This year I took it upon myself to organize the R32 GTG and I have to say it wasn’t an easy task. I wanted to do something more than just picking a random parking lot and being done with it. I came up with the idea of creating care packages for R32 enthusiasts, which included promotional items from many companies in the VW/Audi scene. The meet turned out GREAT…..after we were asked to leave our first location by Ocean City’s finest. Many more R’s showed up than I had expected. Thank you to everyone who ventured out and enjoyed the meet. I hope to put it together next year as well.
Saturday came to an end after we grabbed some grub from On the Bay Seafood which has the best shrimp in OC! We cruised around the rest of the night and made a stop at 45th Street Tap House to enjoy some shenanigans. We made our way back to the hotel for the rest of the night and got ready for show day on Sunday. Keep an eye out for Part 2 which will include show day rundown. Go to the GALLERY page for all of our pictures from the long weekend and give us a LIKE on Facebook!
H2O International 2014 part 1
Written by: Justin May
Photography: Justin May