By R.G. Wilson, F21025
As I write this article, my wife, Jeri, and I are spending the night in Amarillo, Texas. We are returning to our home in Oklahoma after attending the Western Area Rally in Indio, California, which took place January 7 through 11.
As usual, our Western Area, headed by national vice president Tony Vincent and his wife, Betty, F161584, left no stone unturned in offering one of the best area rallies I have attended.
This area always has been known for going all out on decorations, and the folks who worked on the decorations committee did a superb job expressing the south-of-the-border theme of “Fiesta de Amigos.” The nightly entertainment, arranged by Paul Lennon, who also acted as emcee, was outstanding. And each morning the Frustrated Maestros, with our beloved Bob Gobrecht, L14273, entertained us at coffee hour. Seminars included a new educational session for national directors, which was very beneficial and will be offered at this month’s international convention in Albuquerque. The Coaches for Christ and Roamin’ Catholics chapters offered morning devotions.
A large group of indoor exhibitors brought their merchandise for sale, and motorhome dealers had more than 100 coaches on display. Tony Vincent reported a total of 1,700 coaches at the rally.
The amazing, colorful rally parade emphasized the south-of-the-border theme by including someone dressed as a bullfighter and accompanied by a bull (albeit a stuffed specimen). As in the past, awards were given to the chapters judged to have the best floats. I had the privilege of presenting the President’s Award to the Gold Diggers chapter.
Each year at this rally, the results of the Western Area chapter newsletter contest are proclaimed, and the newsletter editors are given awards. It’s a nice way to recognize their hard work.
We had beautiful, chamber-of-commerce-type Southern California sunshine. In fact, it was so good that the wedding of Howard Brooks, F17304, and Donna Olip was celebrated outdoors by members of the Coaches for Christ chapter. The wedding is the subject of an article written by my wife, Jeri, on page 38 of this issue.
I was very pleased with the warm reception and hospitality that the Western Area FMCA family extended to me and the other national officers present: senior vice president Don Moore, F154921; national secretary Ginger Painter, F23514; national treasurer Connie Pool, F140306; Midwest Area vice president Nelson K. Stubbs, F107765; Northwest Area vice president Jim Phillips, F158824; and Rocky Mountain Area vice president Duane Pindell, F105443. Everyone went the extra mile to make sure we enjoyed the rally and had a good time.
After the rally, Don Moore, Jim Phillips, and convention parking crew chief Charlie Painter, and I left our wives in Indio and flew to Redmond, Oregon. There, we met with Jerry Yeatts, staff director of FMCA’s Convention Department, and finalized plans for the upcoming convention in Redmond. With it being January, several inches of snow were on the ground in Redmond, which wasn’t very enjoyable after absorbing the warm sunshine of Indio. We believe, however, that we made considerable planning progress, and we will have a very good and fun-filled convention. After we see you this month in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we will look for you again August 17, 18, and 19 in Redmond. Hope you will make plans to attend. Safe travels!
During the last quarter of 2003, the FMCA Governing Board voted to raise the annual dues of family and associate memberships from $25 to $35, and to raise the first-year new family membership fee from $35 to $45. This change took effect January 1. However, between now and March 31, 2004, current FMCA members have the opportunity to purchase up to five additional advance years at the old discounted rate schedule “” two years for $47.50, three years for $67.50, and five years for $100.
The new discounted rate schedule is two years for $66.50, three years for $94.50, and five years for $140. There have been questions about the maximum number of years a member may purchase in advance. Assuming that a member renewed in 2003 and at that time purchased five years for $100 at the old discounted rate, he would currently have four years of advance dues on the books. Until March 31, 2004, a member with up to four years on the books could purchase an additional five years at the old discounted rate even though his membership renewal is not due at this time. This would bring him up to nine years, which is the maximum number of advance years authorized. Don’t hesitate to contact the Membership Services Department at (800) 543-3622 if you want to take advantage of this opportunity or if you have questions. Or visit www.fmca.com and sign up online.
Convention Welcome Bag Pickup Locations
At the Albuquerque, New Mexico, convention, families parked at Balloon Fiesta Park should turn in their locator cards and pick up Welcome Bags at booths located in each parking area. Look for the balloons that will mark the location of these booths. Note that Welcome Bags will not be distributed coach-to-coach as they had been at recent conventions. The Welcome Bag will contain the official convention program and related material, so convention attendees will want to be sure to stop and pick one up.
Change In Albuquerque Commuter Directions
A major construction project recently began at the interchange at Louisiana Boulevard and Interstate 40 in Albuquerque, prompting a change in directions that were printed in the January 2004 issue of FMC. Members traveling to and from Expo New Mexico and Balloon Fiesta Park are encouraged to take the route listed below. Updated copies of these directions will be included in the pull-out section of the convention program.
Commuters from Balloon Fiesta Park to Expo New Mexico
- Exit Balloon Fiesta Park on Balloon Fiesta Parkway.
- Turn right on Pam American Freeway/S. Frontage Road (one way).
- Continue on Pan American Freeway/S. Frontage Road to traffic light.
- Continue straight through traffic light at Alameda Boulevard on Pan American Freeway/S. Frontage Road.
- Stay to the left and enter I-25 South.
- Take I-25 South to Exit 226A (I-40 East).
- Take I-40 East to Exit 161 (San Mateo South exit).
- Gradually merge into left lane on San Mateo Boulevard.
- Turn left on Lomas Boulevard.
- Turn right on Louisiana Boulevard.
- Turn right into Gate 8.
Commuters from Expo New Mexico to Balloon Fiesta Park
- Turn right out of Gate 8 onto Louisiana Boulevard.
- Proceed one block to Central Avenue and turn right.
- Take Central Avenue to San Mateo Boulevard; turn right.
- Continue on San Mateo Boulevard to I-40 West.
- Take I-40 West to Exit 159C (I-25 North).
- Take I-25 North to Exit 234 (Tramway Road/Roy Avenue).
- At end of exit ramp at stop sign, turn left on Tramway Road.
- Turn left immediately after going under overpass (I-25) onto Pan American Freeway/S. Frontage Road.
- Stay to the right and continue on Pan American Freeway/S. Frontage Road.
- Turn right on Balloon Fiesta Parkway.
- Continue on Balloon Fiesta Parkway into Balloon Fiesta Park.
- Follow signs and turn left into Lot DD or continue to designated parking area.
Come To The Chapter Fair
During the convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, FMCA members will have an opportunity to learn more about one of the best benefits the association has to offer “” chapter membership! At the “Chapter Fair” on Monday, March 15, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Tingley Coliseum, representatives from various FMCA chapters will be on hand to greet convention attendees and spread the word about the many benefits of belonging to one or more of these FMCA subgroups. Convention-goers will be invited to stroll amongst rows of tables manned by members of the chapters and explore the many possibilities. FMCA has chapters for those in a particular geographic area; those with a certain motorhome brand; and those with a special interest. Door prizes will be awarded to non-chapter members who attend, but current chapter members are invited as well. Be sure to stop by and catch the enthusiasm for chapter involvement!