The thousands of RVers filing into the Phoenix International Raceway in March were barely settled before the green flag dropped, waving on attendees eager to participate in the Good Sam Rally presented by Dish. Rally-goers disembarked the trams in the infield, a place transformed into a temporary city teeming with new motorhomes on display circling massive tents that housed endless rows of accessories and the other elements of this transient infrastructure.
The spring desert air was crisp early in the mornings, giving way to quick warm-ups that felt good to all – especially those who meandered down from the colder north. Throughout the day, The Rally residents strolled the displays, took in one of the many seminars, and above all, socialized with fellow RVers. At night everyone was treated to great entertainment before moseying back to the outlying areas surrounding the racetrack to either rest or to continue the evening with friends.
It’s certainly quite a sight to see thousands of RVs lined up in an open area that’s been transformed into a vibrant mobile community. Onlookers from adjacent neighborhoods were very inquisitive – local merchants were very appreciative!
The Rally was a great success. Attendees were happy and many of them left with a new motorhome. Most everyone had plenty in their hands after visiting the big tent. But wait a minute, how can that happen? The general media tells us the economy is stalled, fuel prices will keep on rising and we have looming tension in a number of places around the world that can impact oil stability.
Wouldn’t know that from The Rally attendees.
Naturally, I was concerned that rising fuel prices might influence attendance, but deep down I knew that RV owners are not likely to curtail the lifestyle. Everyone I talked to was glad to be in Phoenix and talked about future travel plans. As usual, we made new friends – and reconnected with others we haven’t seen since the last Rally in Redmond, Ore.
One of the big highlights of The Rally for me took place on the second day. I hosted a musical jam session during morning coffee at the day stage. Knowing that this can be a little risky without prior signups of participants, I encouraged a musician I met – and jammed with around the fire – in Redmond to join me on stage. Phil McCracken and I became instant friends after meeting by accident at last year’s Rally. He’s a great guitar player and singer and has a long list of music he shares freely with anyone who’s willing to jam.
It’s not easy to convince musicians and singers to perform early in the morning, so Phil and I anxiously waited for others to show. Just before starting time, a guy carrying a case strolled up to the stage. Mandolin player Bob Fairchild, who hails from Alaska and has a bluegrass band, Sourdough Biscuits, was ready to jam. Within a few minutes we had the stage filled with six more musicians. We jammed for an hour and a half.
There’s nothing more quintessential to the RV lifestyle than playing and listening to music. Phil, Bob and I jammed long into the nights at The Rally. Music is a catalyst for many relationships; making new friends who are motorhome enthusiasts and who have similar interests is what the RV lifestyle is all about.
As usual, the checkered flag in Phoenix came way too soon. Phil, his wife Susan, my wife, Lynne, and I have plans to visit throughout the year. And no doubt we’ll see Bob and his wife sometime in the future. The next Rally is slated for this month in Louisville, June 21-24. I’m thinking another jam session is just what we need to continue what we hope will be a musical tradition at The Rally. Music is the universal language. Let’s connect in Louisville.