For the past several months we’ve been saying, “We’re going to a Rally!” Many people who have heard that have returned blank stares, as if to say, “What’s that?” Or, “So what?”
Truth be told, we didn’t really know ourselves. All we knew is that lots of people with Grand Design RVs would be getting together at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in Goshen Indiana. It ran from Tuesday morning through Friday dinner, so now we have some answers.
Top 10 things about an (this) RV Rally
10. This fairgrounds has a really big power capacity. There were approximately 375 RVs at the rally, and all of them had either 30 or “50” (really 100) ampere power connections. Even if all of them had 30 amp feeds, that still requires 11,250 amps (@ 120V). Glad we don’t have to pay that power bill (OK, we did–through our nightly camping fee).
9. RV owners are very friendly. We hadn’t even set up our rig before we were invited over to a neighbor’s to sit, have adult refreshments, and just chat. It is fun to meet face to face people with whom you have been corresponding on the Internet for months!
8. You don’t come to a rally to be alone, or have large “campsites”. A rally is all about community, and the rigs are packed in tightly. Even so, there had to be three separate areas in which the rigs were parked.
7. It is possible to feed 800+ people at a pot luck dinner in 18 minutes! They set out 12 serving tables, and assigned every unit (RV, usually a couple) an item: main, starch, salad, dessert, etc., and a table to put it on. Then the roughly 100 tables at which we ate were each assigned a serving table. It worked wonderfully. For the first helpings you had to use the assigned serving table. For seconds (thirds, anyone?) you could go to any table–so many of us grazed and sampled a huge variety of foods.
Sorry, no pics of the potluck. We were too busy eating!
6. There is lots to do! There were seminars going all day, some purely educational, some educational about the advantages of a product (i.e., ads). But even the ads were helpful to people who are new to the hobby / lifestyle as we are. One that Al found especially useful was on general maintenance, given by an independent mobile service tech, and another one on holding tank maintenance (that stinky “black” tank, especially!), given by a person whose job is, yep, cleaning out people’s black tanks when they’ve not maintained them properly.
5. There is lots to do! Every day offered things off-site. Each day you could take a tour of the Grand Design factory, or you could take an excursion, such as a trip to a museum or shopping in a nearby town. Kathe will tell you about her Amish brown-bag tour in an upcoming post.
Each evening there were several campfires around the site. One night was storytelling, another night was s’mores.
Two young (5-ish?) girls had a great time going around to the crowd and asking if they could cook a marshmallow for them. They’d even burn it on request!
4. There are a million ways to make your RV your own. The only limit is your imagination! It was fun to be able to go through other peoples’ rigs and see how they have modified them. Some were minor touches–others were major reworkings of the interior or the inner “workings,” e.g., the plumbing.
3. There is a wealth of knowledge in the community. The air was filled with conversations about things to watch out for, ways to do things more simply, what is good to add, which tools do you really, really want to have with you (and which you can leave home–oops! too late!).
2. The service was phenomenal! To understand this, you need to know two things. 1. Driving an RV down the road has been likened to a Richter 6.0 earthquake. Things are always breaking. 2. RV “manufacturers” are to a large extent parts assemblers. They get a chassis from one company, axles and brakes from another, the refrigerator from another, water heater, furnace, microwave, etc., etc.
This rally was sponsored by our manufacturer, Grand Design, and not only did they have their service techs on site, but they also arranged for all the other companies who supply major parts to have their techs on site as well! All this service was gratis; we have no idea of the total value of all the service performed in these four days, but those service teams were busy from 7:00 AM to well into the evening every day. Thank you Grand Design and partners! We had our refrigerator serviced (it was not closing properly), and see another bit of service we got, below the list!)
1. The people who organized this rally put in an INCREDIBLE amount of work. The planning for the rally started about a year ago, and their work allowed a large rally to come off seemingly without a hitch. I’m sure that there was lots of work behind the scenes during the rally to make it seem that way. Pam and Red Beers were the main organizers (“wagonmasters”), and they were assisted by about 50 other volunteers. THANK YOU!
We got our hitch!
Small things can make us very happy. Up until now, we had been keeping our bikes in the bed of the truck in a moving blanket, with the front wheels in the back seat of the truck. Any time we wanted to take a ride (which we’re trying to do each day), we’d have to unwrap the frames and put the wheels back on. Not difficult, just a bit time consuming and a hassle. Here at the rally, we had a hitch welded on by the chassis manufacturer. (No, this part was not free!) So now, we have our bikes on the back of the trailer–easy to use and no longer taking up space in the truck.
Why we’re traveling
As we said in an earlier post, one of the main reasons we’ve taken to the road is to see areas of the US and Canada other than New England. We’re already seeing differences, at least different from the parts of NE in which we have lived.
We are in Amish country. One of the things we’ve noticed is that all the stores, restaurants, and public buildings have places to hitch up horses and buggies, in, or adjacent to, the parking lots. Here’s a Walmart parking lot!
Another difference we’ve noticed is the cloud formations are different from what we (usually) get in Maine. The cloud structures are quite dramatic, but don’t (or haven’t while we’ve been here) block out the sun for more than a few minutes! Some days we could have used the shade; we had several days that were quite hot. The afternoon clouds have been like this every day we’ve been here. Quite different from our coastal Maine low cloud decks.
Having worked at Jackson Laboratory, I couldn’t pass up this piece of garden humor at the Fairgrounds!
A certain co-worker of mine who shall remain nameless (I’m talking to YOU, Dave!) teased me for quite a while when he learned that we bought a Ford F350 “dually” to pull our rig with. “You don’t need a dually to pull an RV!” But at the rally we learned that we weren’t even trying when it came to tow vehicles. Now HERE is a real tow vehicle!
There were THREE of these at the rally!
On to the next rally!
After wending our way through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, we’ll be attending another rally in Delaware. It will be interesting to see how this one differs; it is entirely owner-based, without the sponsorship of Grand Design.
We have one more rally scheduled, but not until January. We’ll attend a rally in Quartzsite, AZ, near where we will be spending the winter.