The FMCA Rally in Perry Georgia

We went back to Paradise Lake RV Park in Tifton, GA to be able to meet the Fingerlakers the following morning. The park was filled with coaches with the FMCA “goose egg” fore and aft. Everyone was headed for Perry. In the morning we joined the exodus and drove up the road to Cordele. As we pulled into the WalMart parking lot, we noted that there were a lot of RVs there already. A call to our leader, Walter, sent us up the highway to a rest stop where we finally met up with 15 of the coaches we were to caravan into the grounds with. I took my place at 15 with two behind me and we rolled out onto I 75 nose to tail. Later in the day we saw a caravan of 60 coaches roll into the grounds. We saw a sign on one coach that it was in a group of 250. I would not have wanted to anywhere near that group when they were rolling at 60 plus mph.

As we entered the grounds we paused long enough to disconnect our tow’ds and then we were guided into position in a herring bone pattern with our front ends almost touching. There was enough space left to park the tow’d, open our sides and set up a patio area.

Nose to nose at Perry
Here is the view looking down the inner area.

The inner area became happy hour row. Later it became the walkway out of the mud. Saturday we set up and got to know the group we were traveling with. Walter Linden and his wife were very kind and made us feel very welcome. We got to know Sherry and Tony Wilson quite well since our patio areas were touching. That first night we got together with the Wilsons and two other couples and went out to dinner.
Waiting to Seated
Waiting to be seated

During the day we wandered around the grounds as caravans were pulling in. I had been in touch with leaders from the Chai Chavurot Yehudim Chapter, the first Jewish Chapter in FMCA and knew they were in the Volunteer area someplace so that was where we wandered until we found the group. As we knew, but had never had proven, we are not the only Jewish RVers out there. This group has 120 member coaches – in FMCA we do not count people we count coaches no matter how many people are onboard. There were something like 18 coaches that came in with them.

Carol kept telling me that this was our first rally and we were not going to plan to attend them on a regular basis. I kept saying OK and “sure” and wondered whether we would even want to stay through this one. Sunday was a kind of lost day as the exhibits were not open and the rally had not started yet. Again we wandered and met people and talked. At one point a service truck for an awning manufacturer came by and I flagged him down and arranged to have awnings installed over some windows to provide shade should the sun ever shine and let us open the windows in the rain. This was the beginning of a spending spree the likes of which I have not experienced before. We have a lovely coffee table and several maintenance items that I had been looking for and when we get home, a screen for the windshield and other items we didn’t know we needed. There are a couple of items that remain to be bought.

Very early Monday morning we got in line to sign up for a driver safety class that only admits 300 participants. We were among the last 30 or so to enroll, everyone else got there at 6:30 AM we waited until 6:55, they didn’t even start enrolling until 7:00. Between this course, a Weight and Tire safety course and a Fire seminar we learned a lot and learned that we were not always being as safe as we could be.

Tuesday it rained, I should say it poured. The downpours were not long, but they put a lot of water on the ground. We were all parked on grass in huge fairground parking lots. The roads began to turn to mud. We started to worry about how we would ever get out. The rally went on and we were promised that this quick draining Georgia clay would dry and be sold for our departure on Friday if we didn’t panic and try to move about while the ground was soaking. The roadways became almost impassable. We took to walking the lane between the fronts of the coaches to stay out of the mud, foot traffic did not stir it up.

Monday night Chai Chavurat Yehudim went out to dinner together and had a grand time. Thursday afternoon we had a potluck dinner and Purim Spiel
in the Volunteer area with them before going to hear The Oak Ridge Boys (a gospel country group!). we also spent time with the Fingerlakers. Along the way we met Dottie and Larry Humm. We had met them recently at a Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert, their seats are near us, and we had no idea they would be at this Rally. We were in the same Driver Safety, Part 1, class. When we talked it turned out that we were going to the same campground after the rally to do laundry and clean up the coaches before heading north.

Thursday night the sky was clear, the moon was full and there seemed to be no reason to hurry in the morning, we only had a 60 mile drive and did not want to get aggravated fighting through the 5,200 family coaches plus another 1,000 coaches for sale for space on the highway. We turned in with full grey water tank and half full black tank and half a tank of fresh water and planned to sleep in. At 5 AM we woke up to the sound of rain. By 5:15 the rain was joined by a chorus of large gas engines and larger diesel engines starting up. I went outside to be greeted by the site of coaches moving out. I was not clear to move easily so I determined to wait. While waiting I put away everything I could and Carol set about making the interior ready for travel. The Bluebird that had me thoroughly blocked from the front offered to back up a few feet which would free me to pull strainght out onto grass and drive right up a clear lane to the road. I have never run the departure checklist so fast.. With in a matter of minutes we were underway. A brief stop on the grass let us hook up the tow’d and we rolled.

We had not had time for breakfast, we had no idea where we would stop. We had directions to Lane’s Packing, a peach orchard, that was not out of the way. We headed there and pulled into a large empty parking lot at 7 AM. Not 15 minutes later the Humms’ and their friends Jim and Mary pulled up along side us in the parking lot. Pure coincidence. Very few other coaches stopped there by the time we left at around 10:30. Did I say we shopped and bought some stuff?

We pushed on to Forsyth KOA where we have spent three nights and in the morning we will head for Charlottesville and hope to find someplace interesting to visit along the way. Carol had attended a digital photography seminar and many people were disappointed that he did not talk about composition and picture taking. Carol sought out the organizer of the seminar programs and has spent much of the last two days developing a seminar proposal for a program to present in Minot, ND next
August. We are also looking into regional seminars for her to offer her presentation. If that goes well, I may see if I can develop a financial planning seminar that meets the needs of FMCA members and will pass compliance. Are you reading this Perry? It could be how we plan our travels in the coming years, or not.

Friday the 13th Fell on Sunday

Don’t you just hate it when Friday the 13th falls on a Sunday? It was not one of best days. We left South Padre Island with mixed feelings.

The beach was nice, the wind never let up – 20 miles an hour from the south – except for a grey and cool period. And the Texas Spring Break was filling every available nook and cranny with people. The brief period before these arrivals was great. The county park was a lovely if crowded campground and the people around us were very nice. It was a very short walk from our door to the beach and the beach runs forever. It is not likely we will hurry back; there are other places that are more pleasant and less crowded with less wind.

As we drove up US 77 the traffic was heavy, but moving right along. There were a lot of people on the move on this Sunday. Somewhere near the middle of King Ranch which 77 cuts through for miles, there was a Border Patrol Inspection stop. As we formed into two lanes and moved toward the inspectors, a car swerved into our lane, pulled up way to the right of the lane and stopped with his four-way flashers on. Not knowing what was happening I pulled way left and moved up along side. He pulled in his side view mirror and signaled me through. The clearance was very tight. It was so tight that the minor protuberance of our water heater cover coupled with a twitch on the wheel, or maybe a bump in the road, reached out and snatched his mirror (which he had let go of) off of his car. It was not pretty. I pulled up after the inspection area and waited for him. We were both angry. We both cooled down and exchanged paperwork and went on our way. Two days later there is no apparent sign of the contact on Gee 2 The black marks rubbed off and I removed and straightened the grill cover that got dinged. We shall see what the damage to his car was, probably more.

Two hours later with Carol at the wheel we pulled into a gas station. I think it was Victoria, TX but don’t hold me too it. The station was tight and I got out and guided Carol into a perfect location to fill the tank. The fill cap is on the very back of Gee 2 set in a couple of feet from the left edge. This almost always requires an outside spotter. Also, this is ten feet behind the rear axle. It really swings to the side when you turn the steering wheel. After we filled, I offered to get down and give some guidance as we pulled out into traffic. Carol told me to stay seated – driver is boss! (She explains she thought I intended to go out in the street to stop traffic). As she pulled forward she began her turn to line up with the exit and big pickup trucks kept blocking our way even as they wanted us to move so they could get to the pump. In the distraction neither of us remembered the swing and the left corner hit the big RED post that protects the pumps. I got down, surveyed the damage and had Carol pull the wheel the other way to clear the car (tow’d ) out of the pump it was almost hitting. Still flustered I jumped back aboard and failed to comment as Carol pulled the wheel back to the right to get to the far driveway. THUMP! THUMP! from the rear. Traffic cleared at that moment and we pulled into it and immediately entered the expressway. We pulled onto the shoulder as soon as we could and discovered that we had taken a fair amount of RED paint with us on the rear of the coach and the side of the car.

The intense application of elbow grease and strong detergent has removed almost all sign of the paint from both vehicles and a new marker light cover graces the left rear corner of Gee 2. The RAV 4 will require some professional attention at Vogel’s upon our return so Carol’s “beautiful munchkin” will be restored to its virginal glory.

The weather on the 13th was lovely and hot, Carol’s favorite kind of weather. It would have been nice to stop and enjoy it, but I wanted to get past Houston while the traffic was still light (only by LA standards could that be called light). Using our campground books, we located a likely overnight stop in Winnie, TX (yeah, I haven’t a clue either). It was a very nice parking lot with grass between paved parking slots behind a motel next to I 10. For a dinner appetizer I scrubbed at the RED paint, removing quite a bit. In the middle of the night I had a bad thought and woke up to find the refrigerator was not cooling and freezing adequately, by now it was the 14th but it had started on the 13th. I removed stuff that really didn’t need to be in the freezer to let air flow better and pushed the temperature control to its coldest and prayed it would be alright in the morning. It was. We must have not gotten the door closed fully at some point. We will have to defrost it soon.

Now fully past the 13th the weather brightened again and we moved on down the road. Not being able to take the tedium of I 10 across Louisiana, not to mention the lumpety, lumpety of the road (familiar to anyone who has traversed western Louisiana and eastern Texas on the worst Interstate in the system) we turned off onto the Creole Trail, route 14, across the Creole Country of southernmost Louisiana. It is low flat land mostly at 0 feet above sea level with rice paddies and oil and gas fields as far as the eye can see. The high spots are the bridges over the bayous and the people are very pleasant and friendly to us northerners. We made our way to Morgan City, the Lake End Park city campground and found a spot we want to return to. Here is a picture taken through the windshield before the clouds came the rain began to fall. Through the windshield I built a campfire and we had cocktails at the fire once Carol was satisfied she had removed all of the RED that was removable without application of power tools. This is the first time we have had the weather and the time and space to build a fire. It was very nice.

Today we took a tour of an offshore oil rig. It is the first one built called Mr Charlie. The tour was very interesting and it was exciting to go out onto the drilling floor, even if it is only used as a training platform these days. The equipment is massive and my respect for the “roughnecks” who make their living working in this very dangerous environment is greatly heightened. I am appending some pictures taken there.
Mr CharlieBig Blockturntable

Tomorrow we will move on. The weather is not good enough to hold us and we need to be in Cordele, GA, at the Super WalMart, Saturday morning at 9:30 to link up with the Fingerlakers to caravan into the Rally at Perry Georgia.

Random Stuff

Here are Carol and me enjoying a picnic stop some place in the Anza Borrego State Park along S 2 in California.
Carol at lunchPaul at lunch
I’ve been trying to keep up with our travels and have skipped over a fair amount of stuff as we went. In Julian, as we pulled into the campground, the office was closed and we were wandering around looking for a place to camp when a truck headed out of the area pulled up along side us. I rolled down my window and greeted our soon to be neighbors for the night and asked where the overnight area was. Dale and Carol (his wife Carol not the Carol that rides with me all the time) had just set up and pointed out the area they were in. We found a nice reasonably level spot that was not under water and set up. Carol prepared dinner while I tried to be useful. After dinner we went out for a walk and saw that our neighbors were back from their expedition and we invited them over for a class of wine.

According to their email they really enjoyed the Yellow Tail Shiraz and in the morning they gifted us a bottle of “2 buck chuck” as a thank you. For those of you who have never been in a Trader Joes, they sell a line of wine named Charles Shaw for $1.99 a bottle in California. Hence the name “2 buck chuck” – it is better than many wines for which I have paid much more and it is enjoyable enough on an evening in a campground.

The last couple of days have been frustrating. We are trying to get east so we can get to Perry, GA on the 19th without getting so far east that we have to encounter cold weather too soon. Also Texas is a very large state in case you haven’t heard. We left Las Cruces, NM (30 miles east of El Paso) and stopped for gas at the border and encountered a long line at the pump and an even longer line inside as the computers were working a half speed, the staff of that “Flying J were not keeping up with their computers. 45 Minute later we pulled out and drove two miles to get to a brand new Camping World to pick up some items we were looking for. It was major disappointment, this newly opened store in Anthony, TX is half the size of any CW we have been in and was so poorly stocked that we did not find much of what we wanted to look at. Camping World should not have permitted their name to be used on this store.

Finally we got moving down I 8. As you might guess we could not bring ourselves to cross Texas on an interstate. At Van Horn we picked up US 90 and headed for Falcon State Park, 550 miles away. We did not count on getting there that day. We passed Marfa, the home of the lights in the field that we didn’t see when we stopped there one night, Alpine and Marathon. After that the towns become so small that they don’t have dogs (I haven’t got the foggiest notion where that came from). In the dripping rain and fading light we decided that a campground would be more comfortable than a wide spot in the road picnic area and we pulled into Canyon RV on the edge of Sanderson (can’t call it the outskirts since there are none – the edge is a good definition on one side of the campground is Sanderson on the other . . . nothing). Anyhow, the owner escorted us to our site and then commented that I had no lights on the back of the motorhome. Baaad news! Sure enough, although I had brake lights and turn signals all the marker and parking lights were out as were the parking lights on the tow’d. Called Workhorse and they pointed me to a service center in Mission, TX, just 400 plus miles down the road. I called and spoke to Doug who said “come in when you get here.” In the morning we set out for Falcon SP a bit late because we had to chat with our neighbors, one from Romulus, NY and another with an old (mid ‘70s) Vixen MH. The day was bright and the temperature rose all day. Mid day we stopped to change into shorts and kept on moving. At 6:30 PM with 15 minutes of daylight left we pulled into the park and found it more beautiful than we remembered. The shame is that we had to leave first thing in the morning to get the lights fixed.

The lights are fixed and it is raining and we are in Bentsen Palm Village, a two year old RV resort outside Mission, TX. The problem with the lights turned out to be some lousy connections in the connection cable. Somehow the screws that hold the wires in the plug came loose and they were shorting out. It took the hand of Doug, the service manager, to make the diagnosis. The techs were looking all over the car for the problem once they figure out it wasn’t in the motorhome. Doug told them to pull apart the plugs first, sure enough that was it. As we drove away it was with a sigh of relief that didn’t last an hour. When we checked the lights again they were not working right. I had a bright idea and switched the connector cable end for end and that resolved it. One end of the cable had been rewired at Meyers Campers and they did not get it secure and the cable is not a straight pass through anymore. Now that I know, at least I can keep things straight.

We planned to spend the night in Bentsen State Park and were shocked to find a closed gate across the entrance with no place to turn. They have turned the entire park into a bird sanctuary and no longer permit vehicle entrance. They have no advance warning on the road. A ranger saw me coming and let me through the gate to the former entrance turnaround. Some welcome! The resort we are in is just outside the gate. It is quite nice, I think, it has been raining since we got here and I have not been out since we set up.

And the Sun Continued to Shine!

We finally had to leave LA and the family and begin to trek eastward. It wasn’t easy, and I am not referring to emotionally. The roads that would have provided a more direct route out of Malibu were still closed. We had to head north (really west) on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) because there was no place to go to the south PCH was closed as was Malibu Cyn. The routes to the north were impassible because they were too steep and were closed to vehicles weighing over 8,000 pounds (we check in at about 21,000 pounds even with my reduced personal weight). We went almost to Ventura before we could finally turn north to pick up the 101. All told we spent three hours covering 50 or 60 miles trying to get out of LA.

We finally broke out of the congestion on the 5 as we neared our turn at Ensenada to head inland to Julian. HAL hiccupped. I had failed to double check the location of one VIA and HAL took us on a special excursion that had us doing circles in Ensenada. We had to disconnect the tow’d to get turned around and out of town. This is a very special happening and leaves me less than thrilled, not to mention the people in cars trying to get past us as we pulled the cables and pins, then moved the car out of the way and then finally clear Gee 2 and get it turned around. We made it to Julian and Pinezenatta Trailer Ranch by late afternoon and settled in for the evening. We did go into Julian in the morning to buy an apple pie, a specialty of the town. It was worth it, we got one with plain crust (the crumb top has more sugar and is too sweet as we learned last year). It lasted three days.
Mom's Apple Pie

From Julian we drove through the Anza Borrego State Park with Carol taking us down the Banner Grade (6 miles of twisty 7 to 10% descent). That is quite a ride. We kept going and made it to Yuma, AZ before nightfall. We signed up for two nights at Suni Sands RV Resort just across from the airport. It was awful. We had less room than in Malibu Beach. no room
Out the back gate of the Resort was a walkway to WalMart. Time to get a life. During the day we drove out to the Imperial National Wildlife Reserve along the Colorado River, above the Imperial Dam. While hiking in the Painted Desert Section of the reserve we met a couple who were boon docking at the Dam. They explained where they were and Carol and I decided that it was time for us to have a different experience. On our way back to Yuma we drove into the LTVA to see what it was all about. LTVA means Long Term Visitor Area and is a BLM (Bureau of Land Management – Department of the Interior) designation for a place where it is legal to camp for up to five months for a fee that amounts to $160. Near the LTVA was a Limited Use area which has a daily use fee of $5.00 (reduced by half for holders of Golden Access Passport) or a weekly or seasonal fee.

We liked what we saw and returned the next day with Gee 2 and picked a spot where we felt we could be comfortable. We were not alone, but everyone was friendly and we had several interesting cocktail hours and Carol and I had a chance to try out a Folboat Kayak that Jay and Joan Becker had brought along. It was fun. We will never return to Yuma for camping. The Limited Use area is only 30 miles away and for the space and the price it cannot be beat. Squaw Lake CG Thank you all for paying your taxes, Carol and I are enjoying the benefits. After four days of limited phone service and no internet, we decided to empty the holding tanks and refill the freshwater tank before moving on. As we prepared to roll our only plan was to move east.

The first stop turned out to be Benson, AZ at the Pato Blanco Lakes CG where we have been twice before (maybe three times). We had laundry to do, a meal to prepare and too much internet work to catch up on for it to be a restful evening. Eventually it all got done. The campground seemed quite empty to us and we attribute that to the wet, cool season so far, but the sun was still shining for us. We arrived there with more bugs on the front of Gee 2 than I had ever seen on Goliath. We had driven through storms of bees. The sound of their bodies hitting the front and the windshield had been shocking. During a fueling stop at a Flying J, the talk up and down the waiting lines was about the bugs. It would have to wait another day before I could clean them off.

Over dinner I told Carol that I really wanted a steak dinner and I wanted it at La Posta in Las Cruces, NM. We figured it would be a short driving day, but it would give us a chance to catch up on cleaning and maintenance items. We agreed. We have now returned from that meal. Naturally Carol did not have steak or any other meat, but I did. It was grand. I am quite full. Back to veggies tomorrow. La Posta makes no pretenses; they serve good quality food, prepared in Mexican manner with plenty of chili, red or green, your choice, on everything. During the afternoon, I had devoted myself to removing all of the bugs from the front of Gee 2. Washing is not allowed here so I just removed bugs and all the associated dirt from the front and the lower sides. I feel better having some relative cleanliness. It’s amazing, I can go for days with a filthy car in Rochester and it hardly bothers me, but when Gee 2 is dirty, I get very anxious to get it clean. Oh yes this campground is RV Doc’s, we have stayed here at least four times. It is not the greatest, but there is adequate space, the internet is free, the sites are level and the location is perfect for our wants.

Our goal for the next couple of days is to make it to Falcon State Park along the Rio Grande in Texas and then to head for Perry, GA. I will let you know our progress as we have service.