By CHERIE ILG HAAS
Every now and then, on warm Nevada mornings, Rosalie Hart, F108669, would read a newsletter out loud over coffee as her husband, Douglas, listened and relaxed after a tiring 24-hour shift at the fire station. If you could peer through a window into their kitchen and look over Rosalie’s shoulder, you’d see “Vegas Vagabonds” printed in large letters across the top of the page. It was 1990, shortly after Rosalie signed the two of them up to join this FMCA chapter, but before she told him that they had become members.
After Rosalie read one particular newsletter, Douglas announced, “That sounds like fun; we should join.” Rosalie smiled and answered, “We already did!”
Because Douglas was a full-time firefighter, working long hours, including weekends, the couple didn’t go to their first rally for about a year. But since then they’ve become prominent members and have hosted successful rallies. Rosalie has written the chapter newsletter, held office as chapter secretary, and is currently serving as chapter president.
The Harts, along with the chapter’s other 45 member families, can boast busy, yet relaxing rallies with activities such as horseshoes, cards, museum visiting, beanbag baseball, crafts, golfing, and even four-wheeling through the desert. All rallies are held within the chapter’s scope, which is a 500-mile radius of Las Vegas.
“Our Western desert has a beauty that sadly some people don’t see, but everywhere you turn or look down, there is something beautiful to see and enjoy,” Rosalie boasted of their home area. One of her favorite rally sites is in the Grand Canyon Caverns. Here, they once obtained permission to sight-see on private land owned by American Indians. During this particular rally, they all four-wheeled around the desert, and stopped at the Colorado River to enjoy the quiet scenery.
Other than relishing the natural beauty of the area, men of the chapter enjoy swapping their RV fix-it stories and helping each other solve mechanical problems. According to Rosalie, “Just open your motorhome hood and a group will soon form.”
In addition to the typical RVs found at a Vegas Vagabonds rally, park-goers may even spot the “Roach Coach.” Although it hasn’t been used for several years “” because it must be towed, not because of an insect problem “” it served as the chapter’s portable kitchen, hauling tables, a coffee urn, gas burners, paper plates, utensils, and so forth.
The Vegas Vagabonds hold rallies on the first full weekend of every month, excluding January because of the New Year’s holiday, and July and August because of the heat. In fact, thermometers outside Rosalie’s home in Henderson read 115 degrees when she took the time in July to answer a few questions about the Vegas Vagabonds for this article.
Maybe RVers were reluctant to start a chapter because of the heat in Nevada, but the Vegas Vagabonds were the first FMCA chapter in that area, formed in 1989. Later, as the Vegas Vagabonds grew, members sponsored the formation of the Nevada Gypsies. But participation is the key to chapter growth and success, according to Rosalie. “I urge all members to step forward and volunteer to host a rally or become an officer,” she said. “It’s not that hard, and if they enjoy RVing and the privileges of rallies, they should volunteer.”
After more than 10 years of chapter membership, Rosalie and Douglas have formed some very strong friendships. “After we started getting involved with the chapter, we had a fuller life,” Rosalie said.
Chapter dues are $40 the first year for couples and $30 for singles, and then $20 yearly thereafter. If you’d like more information about the Vegas Vagabonds, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622.