1.7. My First Rally

On the 18th day of my new life as a fulltimer, I approached my first rally with some hopes.  Since it was a rally of like motorhomes, Safari Treks, I hoped I’d meet someone with a coach similar to mine who would let me go to school on their experience.  Perhaps someone who would help me hurry up and learn what I had gotten myself into with my 16 year-old 28-foot fading rose.

I learned about the rally a few weeks before in my first brave week as a fulltimer.  I had left everything except a P.O. box behind in the San Francisco Bay Area in early October.  During the first shakedown leg of my voyage, I decided to loop north into the Pacific Northwest.  As though a gift from the motorhome gods, the Northwest Trek Fun Club was holding a rally at Centralia in Southern Washington the last week in October.  I looked forward to casual conversational seminars to help me tame the mischievous goblins living in my electrical system, get some tips on tire care, and solve the mystery of mail.

I’ve been in clubs for other hobbies and passions in my life and I know that putting together events like rallies do not happen without the hard work and enthusiasm of dedicated people.  In this case Penny Braden the driving force behind the rally and Bob Beers, whose elfin smile was one of the first to greet me and introduce me to others.  Bob is also a e Family Motor Coaching Association director for Safari International Club.

Although I was a bit disappointed there were no other coaches from my era, I was given contact information for the owners of several.  My disappointment was washed away when I realized what an enormous resource I had stumbled upon.   Doors were opened to my new world and over the next few days I learn the secrets of the practiced boondockers, and get the tips and tricks of the fulltimers, and the secret handshake.

Bob told me of the caravan to Alaska being put together for the following summer.  What a good idea to venture into a long trip in the company of experienced travelers.

And someone else asked if I planned to get to Quartzite.

“Quartzite?”  I asked.  “What’s Quartzite?”  Just a gathering of dry-camping motorhomes so vast that it takes an aerial photograph to begin to capture its size.  As I talked with people who’d been there, I got the idea it is Woodstock, Burning Man, the Orange Bowl Halftime show, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and a Native American Pow Wow all stirred into a giant chili pot.  The spectacle takes place in Arizona in January.  What a coincidence—exactly where I plan to spend January.

I learned the weigh stations in Oregon are open after hours and weigh vehicles in motion.

I learned about FMCA’s towing insurance.

I learned that an honest, friendly RV service center is to be treasured. One like Brazel’s in Centralia, Wa, who hosted our rally in their small, tidy, grassy campground.

I reaffirmed that land yachtsmen are distinguished from their sea-going cousins only by their vessels.

On the first day of the rally I met Doug and Vera.

“Where are you from?”  they asked.  I told them I wasn’t sure how to answer since I was a fulltimer for 18 days now and my odometer had turned over its first grand since leaving the Bay Area.

“And how about you?  I asked.

“We’ve been fulltiming for 18 years.  This is our second Trek and we’ve logged over 90 thousand on it.  We had one just like yours that we put over 190 thousand miles on.  We even shipped it to Europe for a couple of years.”

I felt like I had just met the encyclopedia of Fulltiming.

I don’t know if rallies are always this much fun or whether this one has a special energy at the intersection of dedicated organizers, light-hearted informality, and a coach with a few unique features that lends itself to cult-like gravitation of its owners.

But I know this as dawn breaks on my next life as a full-timer.  And even though I seek the privacy and solitude of escape from the bonds of the routines of daily life, rallies are more than a tailgate party.  And I will seek one out anytime I need a people fix.

Sunday morning at the last of the daily coffee and bagel breakfasts, the conversations were livelier.  There were lots of hugs and flashbulbs.  People squeezed last stories and future promises as they stalled commencing the two or ten hour drive home.  I was reminded of Sunday morning at the Levenson family Thanksgivings of old, the bittersweet leave takings of people with a full fix of family love not to mention the pumpkin pie and mom’s patented cinnamon cake.

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2010 from an I-5 rest stop near Eugene Oregon, on Day 24, at Mile Marker 1284 of my Year on the Road.

15 Responses to 1.7. My First Rally

  1. Pingback: Welcome | AL's Blog

  2. Karl Baeck says:

    Hi Al
    I was wondering how it is to travel alone. Over the years
    I had a hankering to travel but I didn’t want to travel alone.

    Otherwise it’s Monday here in Marvelous Marin and it’s a
    beautiful fall day and getting ready for the ball game.
    Go Giants.

    • Lori says:

      On traveling alone–I have traversed mostly solo, through Africa, the Middle East and Europe and I can’t encourage it enough. When you are solo, you are so much more accessible to people, to events and you also push yourself out of your own comfort zone. You will never have the same experience traveling with a group, or even one other. As long as you enter as an empty glass, and are genuinely interested in people, events, and the lands you travel, there will be amazing people there to enrich the experience.

  3. JSib says:

    Hi Al, Your Pussy is haunting the upstairs looking for her lost love, namely you. Mother thinks she needs therapy but I just give her an extra can of chicken w/gravy. Well it sounds like you are having an interesting time. Have you succeeded in finding free places to park for the night? I’ve never been to a rally but I have observed that friendly, fun loving attitude of the foot loose with RV’s when I’ve camped in State Parks up the coast. Everyone helps everyone else. It’s like a tribe or clan even thou only for the weekend. Did your friend you went to see up there help you solve any mechanical problems. In one email you mentioned that he had helped you organize and throw away things that you found hard to let go of but what about any RV puzzles that needed solved? All goes well around here. I’ve succeeded in being qualified as a Regional Park hiking hall monitor. Actually I just walk the trails and answer questions that hikers may ask me and report any problems I may observe. But I do have a Ranger Rick shirt to wear but I don’t get a smokey the bear hat.

    That be all, just keep RV’ing Friend Jim

  4. sally says:

    Traveling alone is a lot like living alone. You are in charge; you get to make all the choices and decisions. Nobody but you to navigate the adventure of life…..and no one but yourself to blame! Continue the trek in high humor, my friend. I enjoy reading each new chapter.

  5. Michael and Marsha Joyce says:

    Been foolin’ around with these RVs for almost 40 years and have yet to make it to a rally. Think you’ve done a wise turn for your self starting with one. It is time for me to see where the Beavers are gathering!

    Keep us posted! Our paths will cross.

    Michael and Marsha

  6. Gene Morita says:

    Al,
    I usually don’t do logs but I am willing to try just to keep in touch with you. It’s an very interesting way to keep in touch with you through your blog. Stay safe and keep us posted as you have. Will have a website up at sometime in the next couple of weeks or months. Depends how quickly I get the stuff to the webmaker.
    Gene

    • allevenson says:

      Actually I agree. I am picky about what blogs I read. As for my blog it is the only way I can keep in touch with everyone. If I had to do personal notes, there would be a lotta, lotta, lotta people who’d never hear from me.

  7. Joe Jones says:

    Hey Al,
    Sounds like you are having a lot of fun making us all envious of your road trip, Hope you packed a fishing rod as well, I have just taken up the sport over the past few months & can’t get enough of it, I am yet to catch a big enough one to feed the family in one hit but have had some memorable down time trying to.
    With all those lakes & rivers on you journey I wish I was with you.
    Keep that blog going it’s good to hear from you.
    Joe

  8. robbie dimond says:

    Al…..love your writing style! You are seeing the ‘real Americans’–not those in the newsprint nor portrayed in the TV ‘sit-coms’. Plus, you get to go to some of nature’s most beautiful other areas—now that you have left San Francisco, arguably one of America’s most scenic large cities. Robbie Dimond
    Need your ‘Bridge expertise’ here in Lusby, MD>

  9. tanya grove says:

    It’s good to hear from you, Al! We think about you out on the road as we sit around a conference table and try to fill your big shoes at CWC-BB board meetings. Have fun out there. You deserve it!

  10. Al, I can empathize with your periods of solitude broken by people fixes. That sounds like the right mix. Choose to do one or the other as you will. Actually, people who live alone in a wheel-less house do the same thing, only they don’t get the scenic rides. You are meeting a fantastic array of people. Ain’t America wonderful?

  11. Elaine says:

    Your Joy, your smile, your sense of adventure comes through with every
    new blog! Thanks for letting the rest of enjoy the ride with you…………….

  12. Colleen Rae says:

    Al – I envy your travels and I agree with your friend above that traveling solo is very exciting as one breaks new boundries.
    Don’t miss Quartzsite!My parents lived near by in the ’80’s in Parker, AZ. I went to one of the pow-wow’s there. It was a combo of Burning Man, an native-Am pow-wow, Woodstock and a commune. Lots of interesting people and great fun!
    Love your blogs and your writing style is terrific.
    Best, Colleen

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