Second Time at a Reunion Rally

Months ago we asked Linda and Howard if they would have a reunion rally when they announced they were coming out west, and despite having a very crazy work schedule, they decided to have one.  We knew it would be a relatively small group (55 people), but we also knew that the majority of our group of friends was able to come.  It had been a long time since this many of us were together and everyone was very excited about it. Since lots of people had some extra time prior to the rally several smaller groups formed as folks boondocked in various places around Pahrump, Nevada waiting for the rally to start.

We were with Jo and Ben and were actually one of the last ones to arrive at Wine Ridge RV Resort. People, as always, were very gracious about giving us time to set up and then everyone gathered down in the lower pool area for check-in.

Lower pool area was great with a kitchen, fire pit, pool, and picnic area.  The upper pool area also has a pool, awesome hot tub, and a fire pit with a view of the mountains.

 

Folks gathering around the kitchen area.

 

Linda getting us all organized, which is absolutely like herding cats.

 

Loved the cake!

The first night they had a catered dinner, and then most of us gathered around the fire pit.  Generally I am not a huge fan of gas fire pits, but this one had incredibly comfortable chairs around it and even though it was windy we were able to use it which was nice.  I’ll be honest here, I got a little drunk.  (I got a lot drunk. – Lee) In all fairness to me, I only had two glasses of wine, but it went right to my head since I didn’t drink the entire time we were gate guarding.  I also was very excited to see everyone, and truly my heart was filled with love for people.  So I was pretty chatty and hugged and kissed a ton of people, but everyone was pretty nice about it since I was obviously having a really good time.

The next morning I remembered why I am not  that big of a drinker, as the combination of desert dehydration and alcohol gave me a splitting headache.  But I was not going to miss a moment and I drank a big glass of water and downed a couple of Advils and was up and excited to hang out with people by 8:30am.  The nice thing about reunion rallies is they have a very loose schedule, but that also means that if you want to have time with everyone, it might require some coordination.  Thankfully we have some natural leaders in this group, and in no time plans were made for dinners and other activities.

Before I start with the pictures, let me say it is almost impossible to capture the spirit of these events in a few pictures.  The activities are great of course, but the real magic comes in those one-on-one interactions that happen multiple times throughout the day. Little things like Pam showing me how she is using a shower curtain in her rig, or Bridget telling me a story about her daughter was accepted to Vet school, may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but are the small things that deepen relationships.  And of course we got to spend more time with Howard and Linda, which is always special to us.  At the reunion rallies, their workload is a little lighter (but not nonexistent) and they can play with the rest of us a little more!

A big group of us enjoying the fire pit.

 

Desert table at the pot luck. Betty’s Chocolate eclair cake was so good I had to get the recipe.

(I completely forgot to put this in the original post about the reunion rally, so here’s a little video I made for the attendees with photos supplied by RV Dreamers of their travels that was shown at the potluck dinner. For those that attended the rally and want to save a copy of the video to your computer, you can start the video and then ONCE IT IS PLAYING, right click on it and select “Save Video As” to download it so you can have the file permanently on your computer. If you don’t want to download it you can just watch it. As always, video looks best full screen and in HD, and those controls can be found in the lower right corner of the video player window. Plus it looks better in this format rather than all washed out with a projector and a screen. – Lee)

 

Linda held a lock hooking class which I really enjoyed since I am not very crafty.

 

Enjoying the potluck.

 

Happy faces!

Several of the guys took advantage of the light schedule, being in one place, and being able to help each other  work on their repair lists.  Lee got a ton done so here’s an update on the list of repairs we mentioned the other day.

  • Bent stairs-REPLACED. Many thanks to Bill and Ben for helping, would have been impossible without them. Also, I washed the stair covers when I put them back on.
  • Inner drop sleeve on front right jack difficult to raise and lower. – FIXED! Removed the JT Strong Arm Braces which were binding. We never use them anyway.
  • Consistent error messages on autoleveling system (seems to clear when panel is reset but still occurs on occasion)-I think related to the JT Strong Arms. We’ll see.
  • Light under stairs not working. FIXED. New bulb installed.
  • Wiring harness connector from truck to trailer needs replaced – FIXED before the original post went out. 
  • Hot water hose to washing machine has pinhole and needs to be replaced or spliced. – REPLACED entire hose. 
  • Super squeaky bathroom door (Lee has tried multiple fixes for this but then the noise comes back)-Diagnosed, squeaks if trailer isn’t level. 
  • Rusted lever on hitch (oiled recently but still too hard for me to push down, needs to be taken apart, cleaned and lubed)-Smooth like butter now. 
  • Trim and wood squares need reattached. – REATTACHED. Thanks to Dan & Rhonda for loaning me a compressor and nail gun!
  • Squeak in kitchen floor (needs looked at but not in a place that is easy to inspect)-Diagnosed, squeaks if trailer isn’t level. 
  • Front door latch is sticking. – Diagnosed: Problem is not the latch, but the door swelling when it gets hot later in the day or when it’s humid. Not sure how I’ll fix it. 

It took Lee, Ben, and Bill to replace our stairs since they were so heavy.

 

Hooray!! Very happy!

 

Sunsets were beautiful here almost every night and although the sites were relatively close landscaping between spots made it feel less crowded.

(Thursday night a bunch of us went to the local casino, and some of us played slots, and Howard convinced the pit boss to open a blackjack table just for us, and 6 of us owned that table and had a fantastic time playing blackjack for three or four hours. Some were veterans and some had never played before, but everyone helped everyone play good strategy and most of us got to go home with at least what we started with, or a little more or a little less, but we all got plenty of free drinks and had a blast, and that’s all that matters. – Lee) 

 

Instant pot demo was really great. Kelly made Chicken Marsala!

 

I made penne pasta in a pinch.

 

And Linda made this gorgeous (and tasty) cake.

 

Another night our “Class of 14” group has a dinner and Kelly Face Timed Cori and Greg so everyone could say hi and see them.  They were definitely missed!

 

Bridget (who is from Louisiana) made shrimp and grits. WOW!! I am tempted to just follow her around and eat her food.

 

Steven Dempsey was kind enough to take a group photo of us.  From Left:  Red and Pam, Curt and Glenda, Jo and Ben, Pat and Bridget, Lee and me, Steve and Deb, Steven and Linda, and Kelly and Bill.  What an amazing group of people and I am truly blessed to have them in my life.

 

Unfortunately Lee didn’t follow directions (big shock) and his face was half hidden, so he “fixed” the picture. ..goofball

Besides reconnecting with old friends,  I met many new people that I enjoyed talking to, and wished I would have had more time to get to know them.  Hopefully we will see them on the road and have more time to connect one-on-one, because I was really interested in their full timing stories.  Rhonda and Tom both came to say goodbye and asked me to sign their recipe books.  I mean how sweet is that, and as a first time author really is gratifying.

On the last night we had dinner and a DJ and we were all dancing up a storm.  I don’t get to dance much in this lifestyle and it turns out I am woefully out of shape lol.  It was fun though and a great way to cap off the week.  Linda was really tired after her week of “herding the cats” but she had enough energy left to get her boogie on.

From Left” Vicky, Pam, Red, Pat, Bridget, and Harry.

 

From Left: Lee, Steve, Deb, Bill, Kelly, me, Linda, Steven, Jo, and Ben.

 

Love when Howard gets out and dances! They were doing the twist.

 

Sweet slow dance.

 

So I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, I love my RV-Dreams family.  They are the most amazing unexpected gift that this lifestyle has given me, and thank you very much to Howard and Linda for bringing these people into our lives.  Next up is Utah, and we are traveling in a way we never have before.  We have no reservations, no set route, just a list of places we want to see.  We will also have no cell coverage for most of the trip, so don’t be surprised if there are big gaps in blog posts and social media.  Word Press allows me to schedule them in advance, which I will do when I can.  We are VERY excited, and can’t wait to share it with you.

 


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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

 

First Time at a Reunion Rally – Part 1

A year ago Lee and I went to the RV Dreams educational rally in Sevierville, TN and the experience changed our lives.  I do not say this lightly or with hyperbole, but seriously, with a depth of feeling I wish I could express.  Two things changed what was a dream into a reality.  The first was Howard and Linda.  A couple who in their mid forties left their successful corporate lives to go on the road.  In order to really understand the courage of this decision you need to put it into context.  10 years ago the resources for full-time RVers were scant, plus the demographic of folks doing this was largely retired people.  The resources we have today around finding campgrounds and learning about the lifestyle largely didn’t exist and truly I view Howard and Linda as pioneers. That’s not why they changed our lives though.  Howard and Linda shared what they had learned in a way that was credible to me.  I was extremely skeptical (as were many others at that first rally) but after listening to everything Howard and Linda shared, reading Howard’s blog from the beginning, looking at their budgets, and truly seeing in person they were legit, I changed my mind. I have said before that Lee would have done this no matter what, but no way would I have had the courage to take this big of a risk without meeting people who had done it before.  I also was lucky enough to have dinner with Howard and Linda during a work trip and they put the majority of my fears at rest simply by telling the truth and being who they are.  So several months ago when the first ever reunion rally was announced, I knew Lee and I had to be there.

Linda and Howard

Linda and Howard

 

 

 

Rally

Part of the Rally lineup

Class of 2014 rigs all in a line

Class of 2014 rigs all in a line

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of pavillion in rally park

View of pavilion in rally park

 

The second thing the education rally gave me was the Dreamer Class of 2014.  A huge group of people who are ALL on the road now (Ellen finally retired and has talked Mario into trying it for while!!) This support system of like-minded people is what has made this possible for me. I have spent hours talking to these folks about what is happening with them and since we are largely going through the same things at similar times having validation and really just knowing I am not alone has helped  so much.  I don’t know that I would have chickened out, but I can absolutely say my ride would have been much rougher without this support system.  So I was very excited to meet up with several members of the group again in Marion at the reunion rally, and we made arrangements to all park our rigs in a line with each other so we could be together.  Not that we wanted to be exclusive.  To the contrary, the opportunity to meet people who had been doing this for longer at the rally was really exciting for us.  Many of us are on the RV-Dreams forum (a discussion board sponsored by RV-Dreams) and it’s always cool to meet people you have been “talking to” in person. Plus finally we were going to meet up with Pam and Red.  We had met them at the first rally and really enjoyed being with them, but their plans took them to Alaska and out west while we were on the east coast selling the house and generally getting situated.  Since Lee’s goal was always to go out west, he would often look at their pictures and say, “Screw Red and Pam!!”  He meant of course that they were in all the places we wanted to be and we had serious route envy going on.

Pam and here baby Cody

Pam and her baby Cody

Craig and Red in Red's ATV. The dogs like to hang out in back

Craig and Red in Red’s ATV. The dogs like to hang out in back

 

We all came into the rally in ones and twos and it took some coordination to get us all in a line together.  Friday night there was an informal bonfire and then Saturday night things really got hopping.  Folks gathered at our place for a few cocktails and then we headed up to the pavilion for a yummy BBQ dinner.  Because this is the first reunion rally and things are less structured than an educational rally, Howard and Linda took the opportunity to communicate to the team, but I have to admit we were a little rowdy. Linda got us through it and then we all played an ice breaker game that ended up with a huge marshmallow fight.  A ton of fun and a great way to meet some other people.  I sat with a woman named Char who was at the first 5 rallies Howard and Linda had ever done.  This rally is their 16th by the way…quite an accomplishment.  Friday night a small group of us decided to play hooky from the large group bonfire circle, and we had our own small fire down by the creek behind our campsites.  I say play hooky, but I went and talked to Howard and Linda first to make sure we weren’t missing anything.  Yes I was that kid in school…asking permission to play hooky!!  The highlight of the evening was when David got out his guitar and played some original songs he wrote for us.  My favorites were “Simplicity” and “Trippin” which are about a simpler life and the RV lifestyle.  Before hitting the road, David and Sharon owned a small Bed and Breakfast called Butterfly Hollow (you really should click on the link and check it out).  They rebuilt the 100 year old house using reclaimed wood from the house and barn, and turned it into a B&B.  When they grew to the point they knew they would have to hire additional help they had reached a crossroads.  Grow the business to support the additional labor, downsize back into a smaller business, or go on the road and sell it to someone else who would continue the business.  They chose to seek the next adventure, and we have all been fascinated by their story since day one.  It is a beautiful place, a dream place, and the story shows you that your dreams can change and it’s perfectly OK.  Lee and I hadn’t spent much time with them and are so happy they are here so we can get to know them better in person.  Facebook has allowed us to follow their travels…and since they started on the road 15 days before us we feel a particular affinity to them.  Plus they are super cool people…so glad they are here. 

 

Hobie and Laci Lou in Sue's doggie daycare

Hobie and Laci Lou in Sue’s doggie daycare

Howard tending the first bonfire

Howard tending the first bonfire

 

Social time before the first dinner

Social time before the first dinner

Louise is on the left...who Cori says is the coolest RV person she has ever met !! Have to say I was a little jealous :)

Louise is on the left…who Cori says is the coolest RV person she has ever met !! Have to say I was a little jealous 🙂

Bill coming off the dinner line.

Bill Mills coming off the dinner line.

Our Bill in front

Our Bill in front

 

David and Sharon

David and Sharon

Cori and Greg listening to David sing. Hobie seemed to like ti too

Cori and Greg listening to David sing. Hobie seemed to like it too

Another great fire by Mr. Craig

Another great fire by Mr. Craig

Bridget and Pat who are part timers we met in Sevierville

Bridget and Pat who are part timers we met in Sevierville

 

Sunday, I took the entire day off.  Kept thinking I should probably be doing something, but it’s been such a long time since I just chilled, I thought I needed it.  I took a nap and everything!  We did have an ice cream social in the evening which was fun although they only sent two people to work it and my project management and efficiency expert personality just couldn’t take it, so Pam and I jumped in and helped get the line moving.  Once we had a system going things flowed much smoother.  Afterwards we had a small bonfire with James and his wife Cindy joining our circle. James is in a position to go full-time but can’t quite get there mentally..so Kelly staged a bit of an intervention with all the FT couples going around the fire and telling him what they liked and didn’t like about the lifestyle.  At first I worried that we were coming on too strong, but the next morning James came over and thanked us for talking to him.  He said he may need to move up his timeline!!

Pam helping at the ice cream social

Pam helping at the ice cream social

Craig building another perfect fire

Craig building another perfect fire

Cindy and James in the front and Bob behind

Cindy and James in the front and Bob behind.  Cindy is laughing at something inappropriate Lee said

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day was a very full day.  There was a breakfast in the morning followed by group pictures.  Then family reunion style games between 1pm and 4pm and finally a pot luck at 6pm.  Lee volunteered to videotape the games for Linda and I volunteered at the pot luck table and took some stills for the video Lee is putting together.   After dinner (which was awesome), we watched a memorial day tribute Linda had put together.  She celebrated our veterans and asked any family members with active military personnel to stand up.  We were so proud to be able to stand up for our daughter in the Air Force.  Her slide show also showed Dreamer family members who had passed away and two widows of men who had died were in the room.  It was a very moving tribute and I know it meant a lot to the women they left behind.  For many people, fulltiming is their lifelong dream, and when it is shortened by the loss of a partner it is incredibly sad.  Without exception though every single person in this situation says they loved the years they have and encourages every couple to make the most of their time together. Stories like theirs help reinforce our decision to do this.

Group from 2014 Seveierville, TN rally

Group from 2014 Seveierville, TN rally

Everyone was pretty fascinated by Red's drone

Everyone was pretty fascinated by Red’s drone

Red pulled the drone out and drew a crowd

The drone really is pretty cool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill was awesome at this game and was beating Howard

Bill was awesome at this game and was beating Howard

 

Balloon Toss

Balloon Toss

Then Squirt the balloons in to a bottle..whoever gets the most wins

Then Squirt the balloons in to a bottle..whoever gets the most wins

 

And of course at the end it turned into a water balloon fight.

Linda chasing Howard

Linda going after Howard

Howard running away

Howard running away

 

Howard gets hit finally

Howard finally gets hit!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone helped out at the potluck

Everyone helped out at the potluck

What an awesome spread

What an awesome spread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday started off to a busy start as Lee was approached by three different RVers for work on their camper.  Since Tom Johnson is booked out for three weeks, many folks here had something relatively minor they wanted to take care of.  Lee replaced a broken window first thing in the morning and then looked at a couple other jobs for people.  It’s a nice affirmation but the RV Tech school was the way to go and although we are still a long way from getting the business totally up and running, things look very promising.  I worked Tuesday and Wednesday (took vacation Thursday and Friday for whitewater rafting and hiking)  and Lee was editing the video he shot Monday along with researching the RV jobs.  So we were busy, but a good busy, and of course we had time at night to get together with our friends.  Since we had such a good time on Cinco De Mayo we all decided Tuesday was a good party night for us.  We had happy hour, then steaks for dinner, and lots of dancing.  Linda and Howard came over to hang out and everyone seemed to have a really good time.  One thing about the class of 2014 is is we throw one hell of a party and Tuesday is definitely our night!!

Bill surpassed himself as bartender. The Pina Coloadas were so good

Bill surpassed himself as bartender. The Pina Coladas were so good

Howard talking to Cori and Sue. I don't think he got a word in edgewise :)

Howard was talking to Cori and Sue for a long time.  I don’t think he got to actually say anything lol  but he seemed to be having fun

 

 Recipes

Watermelon Fruit Basket

  • Watermelon (Oblong shaped)  I prefer seeded but it’s your choice
  • Grapes (white and purple)
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  1.  Cut top of watermelon to make edges
  2. Scoop/cut watermelon out and place into a bowl
  3. Rinse inside of watermelon husk out removing seeds
  4. Cut watermelon into bite size pieces
  5. Cut strawberries into slices
  6. Place watermelon in the middle
  7. Place a row of strawberries on each side
  8. Place a row of grapes on each end
  9. Put pineapple chunks on top and bottom edges
  10. Mix leftover fruit into a bowl and use to replenish husk when empty or serve separately
Watermelon Fruit Bowl

Watermelon Fruit Basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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