By Charlie Schrenkel, L140050
I open the door and step out into the quiet, dark, crisp air that has descended over the campground while we slept. The dawn is just about to break over the distant mountains, and I can barely discern the outline of the giant trees that surround my motorhome. The smell of last night’s campfire lingers in the chilly air, as the first faint songs of the early-rising birds reach my ears. I hear the panting of the furnaces in the other rubber-footed cocoons that rest near my RV, much like the peaceful breathing of a sleeping person just before he or she awakes.
I sip my coffee and I think to myself how fortunate I am, to be able to stand here and enjoy all that nature has to offer, such as this pristine morning, the aroma of the woods, the campfire smell. And to top it all off, I slept in my own bed last night, steps away, and awoke to this splendor about me. It is magical.
These were my thoughts when I took my first new motorhome, a 1989 Pace Arrow 37J, for its first weekend up into the campgrounds of Maine. I was still employed but could get away occasionally for a long weekend, leaving home Friday and returning on Monday.
I am still amazed at the sights I see every morning in different parts of the country, as Jean and I travel to rallies and international conventions. And always, I awake in my own bed, in my own house on wheels!
That brings me to Albuquerque, New Mexico, this month. That’s right; FMCA’s 83rd International Convention will take place in Albuquerque March 22 to 25. It’s not too late to join us, and for many of you, this isn’t too far from home. We’ll enjoy some special activities during the event. Albuquerque is one of only two places in the world where a hot-air balloon can take off, drift in one direction for a short time, climb to a different altitude and reverse course, then descend and land back where it started. (The other place is in Japan.) FMCA members will have an opportunity to experience what for many will be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill as members lift off on a hot-air balloon ride right from Balloon Fiesta Park, where most of us will be parked during the convention. Those who prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground still will be able to enjoy the majesty of these colorful craft taking off and landing each day. On Thursday, we’ll be treated to an early-evening balloon glow, when a collection of tethered hot-air balloons will fire up their burners and light the night sky.
Many more great things are planned for this convention, including a Monday golf outing at Sandia Golf Club, located two miles from Balloon Fiesta Park at the Sandia Resort & Casino; an “FMCA’s Got Talent” daytime variety show showcasing the winning talent show ensembles from several FMCA areas; and a games and movie night to allow members time to socialize in a relaxed setting. Of course, that’s just the beginning of the fantastic lineup of daytime and evening entertainment, including an appearance by singing sensation B.J. Thomas. We’ll also enjoy a fabulous motorhome showcase; a lineup of 125 informative seminar presentations, among them approximately 19 new offerings; and organized tours of the local area.
Recently, Jean and I attended the Western Area Rally in Indio, California, and the INTO (International Area) Rally in Quartzsite, Arizona. We had the opportunity to meet and talk with many of our members, including quite a few from Canada. It is so nice to put a face to names on the many e-mails I receive from members. I am inviting you, all of you, to come to Albuquerque. Let’s sit and chat about this great lifestyle, where we have been, where we are going next, what we should and shouldn’t see. We are family; so come, let’s get together!
Membership dues. I wanted to let you know firsthand that the FMCA Governing Board voted by mail ballot to increase the FMCA membership dues by $5 per year. That’s less than the cost of one postage stamp per month for a year. Out of a possible 497 votes, 322 voted in favor of the dues increase and 91 voted against it. Effective April 1, 2010, your annual dues will be $40 instead of $35.
Steps have been taken in the past couple of years to reduce expenditures while at the same time keeping the quality of an FMCA membership. As I am sure you are aware, the motorhome industry, including many companies that are commercial members of FMCA, has experienced a downturn for the past two or three years. A number of companies have even gone out of business. As a result, the revenue FMCA receives from these commercial entities has declined substantially. Some companies are now in the reorganization process and should be back with us soon, advertising in Family Motor Coaching magazine and participating in FMCA international conventions.
It is important that we keep FMCA the organization that it is, which enhances your motorhome lifestyle with the exceptional benefits we offer. To name just a few:
- 12 months of Family Motor Coaching magazine “” Value $30
- MEDEX emergency medical evacuation program “” Value $99
- International conventions and area rallies that allow you to interact with other FMCA members enjoying the lifestyle; to connect with the motorhome products and the companies that produce them; and to avail yourself of many, many informative seminars and also some top-notch entertainment
- Full access to FMCA.com, which puts a wealth of motorhome-related information at your fingertips and also helps you to connect with fellow motorhome owners
- Great and lasting friendships “” an FMCA member benefit that is priceless
The dues increase will take effect for those who renew on April 1 and beyond. Regardless of your renewal date, you can go online at FMCA.com now or call the national office (513-474-3622 or 800-543-3622) and renew your dues at the old rate and also take advantage of the multi-year discounts (two, three, and five years) at the old rate up until April 1, 2010.
Until next month, safe and healthy travels.