By Charlie Schrenkel, L140050
It is 6:45 p.m. on April 16, 2012. The weather is absolutely beautiful here in central Pennsylvania as I write this. I grew up in this part of the world, and learned the lessons of life from a caring grandfather and grandmother with whom my brother and I spent most of our summers and holidays. Both of our parents worked in those days, and we were fortunate to be able to spend time on our grandparents’ farm.
I have always been fascinated by the return of the barn swallows. In past years, too many to recall, it seemed as though the swallows would just mysteriously appear one day. We would awake on a spring morning and there they were, congregating on electric wires and covering the roof of the barn. However, this year, lo and behold, I was able to witness the return of these migratory travelers to our farm.
Big deal? Yes, it is. It was like watching the RVing snowbirds return to their loved ones all across North America. On our trip north last week, we took Interstate 95 from Stewart, Florida, to Frederick, Maryland. We saw many northbound RVers heading home. I believe the warm and placid temperatures accelerated the human migration this year. Whatever the reason, my fellow motorhomers and other RVers were streaming home. Rest areas on I-95 were full of all types of recreation vehicles. Many of them sported Canadian license plates, and quite a few were members of FMCA.
It got me to thinking how similar we motorhomers are to the diminutive barn swallows. We head south in the cool fall months of the year to predetermined locations in warmer climes. Those who own motorhomes and are still employed often manage to take a trip or two to enjoy the last warming rays of the late summer sun before winterizing their coaches. And we do it all together, whether we know each other or not, whether we meet casually on the road or we plan to travel together. Some of us are truly snowbirds.
During these sojourns we can also take advantage of the many resources available to us on the road provided by FMCA commercial members, be it engine service, awning replacement or repair, fuel stops at travel plazas, and so forth. Many times, work on our motorhomes can be fit into our schedule as we migrate to and from our winter habitats. (A listing of FMCA’s commercial members appears this month in the “RV Marketplace,” which begins on page 128, and online year-round at FMCA.com.)
FMCA’s partner Coach-Net provides RV technical and roadside assistance service to help ensure that our trips will be uneventful, mechanically speaking. The Michelin Advantage tire program, also known as the FMCA Tire Connection, benefits us where the rubber meets the road (literally). Some of us even manage to work in visits to the manufacturing companies where our motorhomes were built or where our chassis and engines were given life.
As with the barn swallows, traveling together offers enjoyment, safety, and companionship. It lets us experience an interesting place together or take a day and visit a place we’ve wanted to see for some time. Travels are always more fun and exciting with company.
Membership in FMCA provides us with that type of companionship. Quite a few chapter members travel about our continent together every year. I have mentioned in this column before that joining and belonging to a chapter of FMCA opens many more doors into the enjoyment of our motorhomes. While I was still working, Jean and I would look forward to traveling in the motorhome every weekend or so, when we would dream up someplace to go for a few days. Once we joined a chapter in FMCA, it gave us not only a destination, if we chose to go, but also a reason to “hang out,” so to speak, with like-minded and interesting people. True, coming home on Sunday night or Monday morning was a bummer, but that gave us more reason to look forward to the next weekend trip.
Check the Association Calendar in this magazine (beginning on page 86) or visit FMCA.com for listings of upcoming chapter rallies and area rallies. And don’t forget our Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 27-30. Register for one of these events where motorhome owners will flock together for a super couple of days of fun, enjoyment, relaxation, and good company.
Tip of the month. If you change your pattern while hooking up and getting ready to leave a campground, always communicate the change to your copilot. We recently installed a new TV dish on our roof, a heavy-duty antenna that gives us HD reception. The old dish gave an audible signal if it was up when the ignition key was turned on. This one does not. We were almost to the campground exit when I casually mentioned to Jean, “Oh, by the way, I put away the coat hanger you left hanging on the steering wheel.” To which she replied, “Oh, so you put the dish down also? That was to let you know the dish was up!” I tried to respond with something like, “I knew that,” but somehow it seemed inappropriate.
Thank goodness, there was no damage. But it was a hard one to swallow.
Safe and healthy travels.