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.
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 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.