By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
Happy New Year and welcome to 2009. Although much of the recent news has been negative and discouraging, there is always some good news. The United States is a strong and resilient country that will look inward to find the strength and faith to pull us together as a nation and pull ourselves out of this hole. I am an eternal optimist and can find good news in every situation. I have tremendous faith in our system of government. While it is far from perfect, we have always had the ability to put personal feelings aside and come together in a bipartisan way to accomplish things quickly. There are trying times ahead of us, but it is nothing we haven’t gone through before. Unfortunately, we seem to have to relearn some lessons once again.
As most of you know, the current economic crisis has placed the recreation vehicle industry in a precarious position, with the loss of some large and small manufacturers along with the closing of several dealerships. Does this signify the ultimate demise of the RV industry? Not hardly, but it will drive what type of products manufacturers design and build in the future. This will be a positive move for us as consumers as a new generation of coaches will result, with higher quality, sleek design, greater fuel efficiency, and, finally, appeal to the baby boomers, who will continue to seek the RV lifestyle. Lifestyle is what it is all about, and many of us will refuse to give it up. Oh, we as individuals may delay purchasing that new motorhome, whether we have a desire to upsize, or “” as is the case for my husband, Corbett, and me “” to downsize. And as we enjoy our existing motorhomes, many will just decide to stay a little longer in one place or not go as far as we previously might have.
One major good news item in late 2008 has been the drastic reduction of fuel prices. Since July 2008 we have seen fuel prices drop an average of 72 percent, with some analysts believing the price per gallon of gasoline will drop further. Locally here in Texas, at the time of this writing we have gasoline prices at $1.46 per gallon and diesel fuel around $2.40 per gallon. These prices are all driven by the price of light sweet crude oil, which with its low-sulfur content is ideal for the production of gasoline and diesel fuel (as well as jet fuel and heating oil). The price of crude has dropped dramatically from a high of $147 a barrel to below $41 a barrel this past week. The continued drop in fuel prices comes as a result of decreased demand and a buildup of inventory and reserves.
As most of you know, from a historic standpoint, we literally “spend” our way out of an economic depression, so this may be the time to relax our spending habits a bit and take advantage of the lower fuel prices and exercise our motorhomes that have remained idle a bit too long. What better way to enjoy our committed lifestyle than to do it with family and friends? Corbett and I are eagerly awaiting our next endeavor, which will be to join the FMCA River City Travelers chapter to help them celebrate their 20th anniversary in Bandera, Texas.
I would urge all of you to check out the “Association Calendar” section in any issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine, or view a list of upcoming rallies online at FMCA.com, and look for those chapters in your area of travel that have extended a welcome to all.
FMCA also has three major events in the next few months that will provide an outstanding opportunity for you to enjoy motorhome and related vendor exhibits, seminars, entertainment, and fellowship. The first event is the Western Area Rally, January 7-11, 2009, in Indio, California. For those wintering in the Southwest, this is an excellent rally to attend without traveling great distances. To register, call the FMCA national office at (800) 543-3622 or visit FMCA.com.
For those of you who are wintering in the Southeast, or just want a good excuse to fire up the coach and head to warmer climates, the next event is the Southeast Area Rally, February 4-8, 2009, in Brooksville, Florida. This rally is popular with the many snowbirds who choose to winter in Florida to escape the harsh weather of our northern states and Canadian provinces. You can register for this rally also by calling the FMCA national office at (800) 543-3622 or visiting FMCA.com.
The third event that I hope you have already marked on your calendars is the “Great Georgia Getaway,” FMCA’s 81st International Convention, set to take place March 16-19, 2009, in Perry, Georgia, at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter. Many activities have been planned, including a full array of seminars, coach displays, and indoor and outdoor vendors with a complete line of RV lifestyle products. On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Tony Kenny’s Ireland will entertain us with Irish songs and dance in a Celtic variety show. The two other nights of entertainment will feature Restless Heart, a chart-topping country music/crossover band who had a variety of hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and Jerry Farber, who is a very popular Atlanta-based comedian. Wide-screen televisions will be set up in the Community Center during the convention for those who would like to gather as a group to enjoy watching the NCAA Final Four basketball games.
Look for the “Great Georgia Getaway” registration form on page 64 of this issue, call the FMCA office at (800) 543-3622, or visit FMCA.com. The early-bird registration deadline is February 23, 2009, and signing up by this date will save you $30 as compared to the gate registration fee.
The Association Calendar in this issue of the magazine also contains a list of the seven other area rallies that are scheduled from May through October 2009, as well FMCA’s 82nd International Convention, set for July 20-23, 2009, at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. As you plan your travels throughout the year and are looking for some exciting and different things to do, consider that each of these events is unique and a great opportunity to fully experience what being a member of FMCA is all about.
Sometimes when Corbett and I have a few days before we are due at a particular event, we look to the Association Calendar to see whether any chapters have planned rallies in the general vicinity of our travels. The chapter rallies that are listed are open to all motorhome owners, and thus all are welcome to attend. Each time we attend one of the chapter rallies listed in the calendar, it seems we know at least one member attending the rally, and by the time we leave, we have many new friends. Even if you do not know anyone going to a particular rally, you will have a group of new friends waiting to welcome you.
Our members are what make FMCA such a great association. Whether you attend an international convention, an area rally, or a chapter rally, or visit a “Stoppin’ Spot,” you will be taking advantage of the best benefit FMCA can offer, and that is the fellowship with other members. In case you have forgotten what a “Stoppin’ Spot” is, refer to the Executive Director’s Commentary on page 14 of the December 2008 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
Until next month, may all your travels be safe and trouble-free.