By Charlie Schrenkel, L140050
The first gray and white threads of dawn were just starting to streak across the eastern horizon. It was the third week of July, and Jean and I were getting ready to depart for a rally in North Carolina. The birds had been up for about a half-hour, and the fresh, sweet, moist smell of clover in the field gave a special welcoming perfume to this new day. We like to get an early start on our first day of driving, so we can get the bulk of the trip out of the way and then have a leisurely drive into the rally grounds the following day.
Our itinerary took us south on Interstate 70 out of Breezewood, Pennsylvania, down to Interstate 81, then south to pick up Interstate 77 south toward Interstate 40 near Statesville, North Carolina.
I truly believe the trip is the destination for motorhomers. I have seen that statement in new car ads, and some journalists have used it also. Sliding behind the wheel of your motorhome and starting out on a trip is a trip! The beautiful landscape of south-central Pennsylvania slides into the rolling hills of Maryland. Continuing south on I-81, one can’t help but marvel at the ever-changing scenery: the rock formations, pine trees, and shallow gorges cuddling small but energetic streams ever running down toward their reward in that reunion with mother ocean.
Several hours and 400 miles later, we pulled into Mayberry Campground, in Mount Airy, North Carolina, an FMCA Campground Connection commercial member. This campground lies off of Interstate 74 at exit 11. TV and movie star Andy Griffith lived nearby, and some of his TV hit series was filmed in and around Mount Airy. You can take a ride in one of Andy’s police cars and visit Floyd’s barbershop and the Bluebird Diner, along with the old city jail and the “Mayberry Courthouse” as seen on the TV series.
We usually try to get a pull-through space at these overnight stops so we don’t have to unhook the towed car; that way we can get an early start the next morning. This stopover was no exception. Our spot for the evening was a pull-through, in a parallel type of situation. In other words, we just pulled in behind the coach in front of us that was already parked; there were five of us lined up on the right side of the street.
Our neighbor to the front was also an FMCA member, F318396. These folks were out at the time we parked, but in true FMCA fashion, when they returned, instead of parking behind their coach and making it tricky for us to leave in the morning, they repositioned their towed car in front of their motorhome. Thank you, Bill and Jo Ann Neith, of Jacksonville, Florida! Nice to have you as members.
Early the next morning, we departed for our destination, the 20th anniversary campout and rally of the National African-American RVer’s Association, or NAARVA, being held at Tom Johnson Camping Center, an RV sales and camping complex in Marion, North Carolina, and an FMCA commercial member. NAARVA is a large RV group based in Charlotte, North Carolina. We had been invited to attend the event by NAARVA national president Elbert D. Smith Sr. Tom Johnson Camping Center has two locations, one in Concord, North Carolina, and the other in Marion, our rally destination.
On the way to the rally, we hooked up with Otho Tew, FMCA national vice president, Eastern Area, and his wife, Alice. Upon arriving at the campground in our coaches, we were greeted and parked within walking distance of all of the activities. Also on the grounds was Jerry Yeatts, FMCA executive director. We all operated an FMCA membership display and presented a seminar to promote our association.
During the next few days, we visited with many NAARVA members, some of whom were members of FMCA also. The conversation with most, if not all, of the members of this enthusiastic group centered around — you guessed it — motorhomes: their care and feeding, mileage, space inside, what we all would like to see included in new models, trips we have taken and enjoyed, discussions on where to go and not to go. We find this type of camaraderie wherever we travel, be it in Canada or throughout the continental United States, including Alaska.
NAARVA, like FMCA, has a very active youth program. We were amazed at how smoothly this group managed the 25 to 30 or so children of all ages who were at the rally.
Tom Johnson Camping Center in Marion is one of those dealers with a huge camping facility attached to it. We have been to several RV dealerships such as this, including Lazydays in Seffner, Florida, just east of Tampa, also an FMCA commercial member. Lazydays operates a second large campground/service facility and showroom in Tucson, Arizona.
We spent a few days at the Tom Johnson facility, enjoying the hospitality of the NAARVA folks, then headed out to enjoy another destination on the road. At press time, we were getting ready to travel to FMCA’s 87th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana. We hope many of you were able to attend also.
Until we meet at our next destination, safe and healthy travels.
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Please keep the FMCA national office informed when your contact information changes. You can make changes to your own membership records any time at FMCA.com, or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Changes also may be submitted by calling the Member Services Department at (513) 474-3622 or (800) 543-3622 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
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