Thursday, August 11, 2016 – Two of the motor home companies proudly displaying their 2017 models at the FMCA Convention were Entegra and Fleetwood. We toured several of them and I wanted to share here what we saw for those shopping for a motorhome.
FIRST ARE THE ENTEGRA MOTORHOMES
Outside second freezer that slides into a storage bin
Really nice carpeted storage areas with slide out bins
These show special signs will precede the interior photos for that coach.
This really nice young lady gave me her business card when I asked for one so yall would have a contact, but I can’t find it now. Sorry!
This is their top of the line model.
These are the Fleetwood models (like Dora). There is one model we really liked and it’s the first one below. Maybe because it’s laid out very similar to ours, it’s the same length and I love the flooring!
The white spots are the ceiling lights shining on the floor
Sunday, August 6, 2016 – We arrived on Tuesday morning, August 2nd on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition, known locally as the Big E. The Big E is a massive place with several convention buildings all being used by the Family Motor Coach Association for this Convention which RVers know as a “Rally.”
The photos below are of the main expo center and several of the buildings along the Avenue of States that are not even on the aerial photograph of the Big E.
We helped Curtis set up our booth on Tuesday. Wednesday the convention started and we worked 1 pm to 5 pm. Thursday Friday and Saturday we worked 9 am to 5 pm. Ours was the “RVillage” booth. FMCA members are mostly older folks our age and much older. Most of them have not heard of RVillage. I can say that most all of them at the Rally know who we are and a lot have signed up to be RVillagers.
We smiled, introduced ourselves and shared the RVillage love all day every day. We truly loved every minute of it, mostly because we love RVillage. We are beyond exhausted right now (Saturday evening) since we just left the exposition hall for the last time and are now back, enjoying our wonderful Dora who hasn’t seen much of us these last few days!
Curtis and one of our RVillage Ambassadors Jim Hollis (Jim is the FMCA Chaplain). Jim and his wife Jan were delightful to visit with.
Curtis put on two RVillage seminars. I attended this one with him and operated the computer showing the attendees all about RVillage.com.
A tiny bit of the the main exposition building.
Our RVillage booth showing my boss Curtis in one photo, Roy in another and me in one!
One of the booths adjoining ours!
One night we went out to dinner on the convention center grounds in an area of old New England homes in Storrowtown Village. The restaurant was the Storrowtown Tavern. If you’re from Hammond the inside was similar to Jacmel Restaurant with the big fireplace and old wooden floors. I enjoyed Yankee Pot Roast and Roy enjoyed Fish (cod) and Chip. As we walked out the restaurant door we were surprised by some wonderful jazz music being played in the Storrowtown Square Gazebo. Everyone brings their lawn chairs and claps and taps along with the music.
RVillage was so well received that our booth stayed very busy through out the convention so we all needed to be there most of the time. Roy was able to attend two seminars, Catepillar Diesel maintenance seminar and the Cummins Onan Generator maintenance seminar. He learned an awful lot from these two seminars. The Spartan Chassis seminar was the main one Roy wanted to attend but it was scheduled at the same time the seminar Curtis and I did so Roy was needed at the RVillage booth and couldn’t go to that seminar.
Other than visiting the other booths we were also able to walk through dozens of new motor homes. FMCA is predominantly Class A motor home owners, so that is what was for sale here. The ones inside right by us were Entegra motor homes. The ones like ours (Fleetwood) and other brands were all around the grounds outside. I want to share with ya’ll what some of them look like but that will come next time. These are motor homes ranging from $200,000 to $675,000!
Saturday, July 30, 2016 – We’re in a fairly boring location right now so I’m really looking forward to next Tuesday when we drive over to West Springfield, Massachusetts for the FMCA Convention.
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the recreational use of motor homes. With approximately 75,000 active member families, FMCA is the largest association dedicated exclusively to the freedom, fun and enjoyment of owning a motor home.
We have been a member of FMCA for a couple of years now. When my boss, Curtis, made it known he was looking for a couple of RVillagers to attend the conference with him representing RVillage, Roy and I considered it and let him know we were his couple!!
We will help man the RVillage booth, #720 at Eastern States Exposition Hall. I’ll be sharing with ya’ll our experiences while we’re there but I wanted to take a little time today to share with you what they are about and what we think we’ll be experiencing there.
First-Year FMCA Membership is only $50 … Renewal $40. The value of FMCA’s member benefits far exceeds the cost of the annual dues. Benefit highlights:
Family Motor Coaching magazine — receive the monthly print edition (we receive ours online) and get immediate full access to the Web version and digital edition, including back issues, after you set up your online account
FMCAssist Medical Emergency and Travel Assistance Program — included with membership. As soon as you join FMCA, you are automatically enrolled in this program. It covers you worldwide, as long as you are 100 miles from home. And you can be traveling in a motorhome, car, plane, ship, or motorcycle.
Michelin Advantage tire purchasing — save on RV tires and passenger car tires with this popular benefit
Discounts at FMCA commercial member campgrounds
FMCA RV Insurance — priority access to the industry’s leading RV insurance experts who can find the right carrier for you and your motorhome
FMCA Roadside Assistance Program — group rates on this customized program
Approximately 475 special-interest chapters to join
Chapter rallies, area rallies and Family Reunions (aka conventions)
Exciting RV caravan tours at discounted rates
We’ve received the 112 page digital version of the Conference Magazine and the theme is “Celebrating Your Freedom.” You guys know we definitely celebrate our freedom of living on the road! We are looking forward to getting to attend some of the following:
Several big named manufacturers will have their motor homes on display for us to check out! We love Dora but we always love seeing what’s new! We just don’t talk about it in front of Dora!
Evening entertainment by “The Texas Tenors” that was featured on America’s Got Talent, Dave and Daphne, and American Idol semifinalist Ayla Brown.
We just know we’ll win the Grand Prize of a 34 day Mississippi River Run RV Vacation for Two!
We will attend the “First Time Attendees” Get Together!
Lots and Lots of play opportunities!
Roy’s going to attend the Spartan Chassis Maintenance Seminar and the Caterpillar Engine Maintenance Seminar.
We hope to attend as many seminars as possible in some of these areas as they relate to our Full timing RV life. There are dozens of seminars within each area below and several other areas:
Communication and Technology
Satellite TV and Sound
Websites and Blogging!!!
Motor home living
Coach interior upkeep
Travel – from how to travel to what to see when you travel
Motorhome maintenance and operations
A big major thing that Roy’s all excited about is having Blue Ox rebuild Boot’s tow bar. This tow bar goes between Dora’s rear end and Boot’s front end.
Since the list of seminar topics within each category is very long it will take some time to narrow down the most important ones we want to see.
The list of Exhibitors (which includes RVillage) is quite extensive and should provide us with a great learning experience!
I will be spending most of the time 9-5 in RVillage’s booth but Roy will have plenty of time to learn more about this lifestyle we love. I hope to get out of the booth to take in the sites at all the other booths and to learn a little bit at a seminar or two. I like the Blogging, Cooking and Travel seminar categories! Roy will like all the maintenance and technology stuff! Hopefully we’ll get to meet and become friends with the almost 10,000 that are expected to attend.
I hope this gives ya’ll a little idea of what we are going to be experiencing next week at the Conference.
If you haven’t already checked out RVillage.com, click on the link and go on over there to sign up – it’s free!
Saturday, July 16, 2016 – We’ve experienced challenges RVing in the Northeastern part of the United States that we haven’t experienced anywhere else. Don’t let this stop you from traveling up here because what you see and experience far outweighs the challenges, just be prepared for it. We were not!
If we were quite wealthy we could probably avoid some of these issues because we could choose to stay at the one that has it all regardless of the cost.
We have some criteria I use when finding a place to stay: Do they have space for Dora’s length? Do they have 50 amp, water, sewage or any combination of those. Are they along the way or are they way out of our traveling path? Is there a Coast to Coast resort in the area? How much do we have to pay if we’re not staying in a free Coast to Coast resort.
The issue with length is a problem with a lot of Boondockers Welcome, National Parks and State Parks RV spaces which cannot handle a 39 foot RV. Most regular RV parks can but others (like those I just named) cannot. We haven’t found traveling anywhere on the roads and highways up here to be a problem with Dora’s size, but finding a place to stay has been difficult because of this.
In our normal traveling life throughout the South, Central, West and North Westany the RV parks we stay at provide us with water, electricity and sewage hookups. This is considered a Full Hook Up to RVers. In the Northeast we’ve become use to not having at least one (sometimes two) of these at every park.
At some parks in the rest of the country, we have to pay $2 to 5 dollars a day to get 50 amps and we always gladly do that. Up here, either they only have 30 amp (which is a huge difference from 50 amp) or they have no sewage hookup. All have had water but not having a way to get rid of the water (dishwashing, bathing, clothes washing water which collect in the gray tank or the “stuff” that goes down the toilet into the black tank), life is difficult.
Not having 50 amp, like I said, is a huge difference from having only 30 amps when you have a large RV like Dora is. We have two air conditioners, a full size refrigerator, a microwave/convection oven, washer and dryer, hot water heater and television with a speaker system. To run all that at the same time you need 50 amps. Smaller RVs have only one air conditioner (which is all 30 amp can handle), no washer/dryer, smaller refrigerators, smaller powered or no microwave/convection oven, and no speaker system to drain the power.
When we only have 30 amps we can only run one air conditioner. We also can only run one of the following: hot water heater, or microwave, washer/dryer at a time. Life becomes a little like “Green Acres” when they only had so much to use and had to alternate between appliances. This does not make for a relaxing, good quality life which we love to have! It’s become our norm lately to just have to accept being without.
We have an adapter that lets us plug into two side by side 30 amps to get 60 amps allowing us to run everything. To be able to do that you have to have no one parked next to you which has only happened once since we’ve been up here.
The issue with the sewage seems to be handled by the parks without sewage hookups, by a “honey wagon” which is just a large tank driven from RV to RV on specific days of the week after you’ve signed up and paid for it. I just think this is terribly crude. One park I asked about it when it kept happening that there was no sewage hook up offered, said that their RV park is built on granite and that they’d have to blow up the ground to install the sewage connections. I haven’t asked others but we haven’t had a sewage hook up for weeks since we started traveling throughout the upper northeastern states. Even with them sucking it all out, we’ve been faced with our tanks being 100 percent full of grey water before the sucking day arrives. We’ve had to ration water so that we don’t fill up before our time. The disgusting thing is that when your grey tank starts to overflow it doesn’t do it outside, it does it in the shower coming up through the hole in the shower floor.
The issue with Coast to Coast up here has been a severe lack of parks. Three of the northeastern states have zero Coast to Coast parks in their states. Two others only had 1 or 2 and not in a good location for us. One of our options is to stay in a Good Neighbor Park using trip points through Coast to Coast. Normally parks in the rest of the country ask for 1500 trip points per day. In the upper north east they want between 3000 and 4000 per night. Because of these limitations up here we’ve paid more for RV stays this last two months than we normally do in a full year or more. We really work at creating a traveling path that cost us the very least in diesel for travel and in which park we stay in for cost.
Passport America up in the northeast does not allow you to stay at their park normally for more than a day or two at a time, and a lot don’t take PA during the summer months. I did find two places that let us stay there for five days and that was after searching through dozens of RV park listings in Passport America. At those two parks we paid almost twice the normal daily rate we are used to at other Passport America parks.
The hills, mountains and valleys are beautiful up here but a good number of the parks have very unlevel parking spaces which cause us to have to use blocks and even one time our back tires were up off the ground. At the one park we were still leaning which causes some disorientation when walking through Dora.
Lastly reservations need to be made up here at least a month in advance to be assured of a spot. That is not the cast in the rest of the country. As long as we made reservations three days in advance we’ve always been able to get a spot.
This will continue until we return to the South which makes for a little darkness over the otherwise amazing places we’ve been blessed to visit. Roy has jumped in and is helping me now with the planning for our travels. It gets so complicated sometimes that I just can’t do it and he even gets quite frustrated with it.
We’ve honestly wished we had unlimited funds to be able to not concern ourselves with this but then we know we are “quite” blessed to be able to do this at all.
I don’t like to complain about things so I hope you find this a little unusual for me. My main reason for sharing this is to prepare other RVers for what to expect in this area.
I’m happy to say we have reservations most everywhere along our path until mid September except for a week or two around Virginia Beach near the end of August.
That’s it for our issues up here in the northeast! Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!!