By CHERIE ILG HAAS
otorhome owners are not typically known for carrying many extras on the road, for obvious storage reasons. But on board coaches in the GMC Cascaders chapter, you can expect to find a variety of extra essentials. Starters, fuel pumps, and carburetors are just some of the spare parts that members pack just in case something is needed on the road for these one-of-a-kind coaches. But don’t be misled; according to chapter president Tim Jones, F161023, “It’s insurance, not need.” Approximately 13,000 GMCs were manufactured from 1973 to 1978, and some folks estimate that as many as 8,000 of them can still be seen across the country in all their reliable glory.
Every two years this chapter holds a rolling rally, wherein members caravan to a different place every day, traveling up to 1,500 miles within two weeks. Tim acknowledged that there is “safety in numbers” when it comes to GMC motorhomes. “When they’re this old, you have to travel in groups,” he said. But it’s because the GMC is such a dependable, well-built coach that owners can continue to fulfill the legacy of freedom in them, from nearby weekend rallies to cross-country adventures.
In addition to rolling rallies, every other month Cascaders gather within the scope of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, northern California, Idaho, Montana, and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
According to charter member Elaine Fry, F54137, the chapter’s name was inspired by the local Cascade Mountain range. Elaine remembered her first encounter with the Cascaders in 1983, when she and her husband were told of a small group of GMC coaches at a nearby campground. “We were thrilled to see a bunch of GMCs,” Elaine said. At that time, the chapter was just forming.
Today 170 GMC Cascaders families share their common interests in GMC motorhomes. On a broader note, FMCA boasts a total of 22 chapters devoted to the GMC. To join the Cascaders, members must own a GMC, but they can remain in the chapter if they buy an S.O.B. (some other brand). Only five or six chapter members currently own S.O.B.s.
Twelve years ago, Tim and his wife, Cass, joined this particular FMCA chapter because it was composed of GMC owners and met within a day’s drive of their home. He said that joining the chapter was a good way to get assistance in maintaining their GMC but that they have made great friends as well. “The secret to the success of the chapter is that everyone is interested in the GMC motorhome, and that is the catalyst,” Tim said. “It’s a wonderful group of people who own GMCs.” Members believe that participating in this chapter is also a great way to learn the history and lore of the GMC.
The GMC Cascaders Web site is another resource that members can utilize. At www.cascaders.org, members can post motorhomes for sale, contact chapter officers, and use a list of GMC Web site links for even more information. The chapter’s bimonthly newsletter is another source of facts about chapter activities, and it can be read online as well.
Also available online are details about past and future Cascader rallies, which typically attract anywhere from 30 to 65 coaches. Technical seminars and crafts are common activities during the wet winter months in the Northwest, while local interests and goings-on are always in season. Of course, potlucks and social hours are staple pastimes.
If you own a GMC motorhome, live within the chapter’s scope, and would like to join the GMC Cascaders, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622.