By Jerry Yeatts, F390000
I recently read a Facebook post that stated, “The first step of a new adventure may start with a simple message.” The photo attached to the message showed fingers painted with smiling faces — one with a hat on it — and the words “Where will your friends take you?” The reference was to the vicarious traveling that we can do courtesy of our friends and social media such as Facebook.
My first thought when I read this post was, where do people come up with these clever and humorous quotes? Then, after reading a few of the comments, my next thought was that people who read and post on Facebook really have a little too much time on their hands … pardon the pun! I chuckled when one person posted a note wondering why someone would have only fingers for friends, and what kind of adventure would they have. Again, a little too much time on their hands!
However, when I reflect on this particular post, I do see a great deal of relevance to the FMCA family. Just think how many adventures you have experienced in your lifetime. Do you remember your first camping trip adventure? Perhaps it was in a tent deep in the forest. I can still smell the mustiness of the woods, as well as the smoke from the fire that seemed to invade every thread of my clothing and every pore of my body. I can still hear the rustling of the leaves behind the tent and wondering whether a skunk or raccoon was investigating what it perceived to be intruders, or whether it just might be the footsteps of another camper. The sounds are also still vivid, as I can hear the crackling of the fire, the noise of the ax splitting the firewood, the banging of the cast-iron skillet as it was being prepared for an early-morning feast of eggs and bacon cooked over the fire. Yes, it was quite an adventure.
My first adventure in an RV came when I was a high school student. My mom bought a small travel trailer that we would occasionally take out to a local lake. Our church had a campout at Deer Creek State Park, and I recall the time that mom trusted me to take the travel trailer out to the lake by myself. I towed it behind a big burgundy Chrysler Cordoba with large mirrors strapped to the passenger- and driver-side doors. Boy, I still remember backing the camper into the spot, putting the cast-aluminum levelers underneath the frame, and gently disconnecting the car from my weekend home away from home.
My wife and I didn’t get involved in motorhoming until after our son and daughter left for college. We visited Ed at an RV dealership in Dayton, Ohio, and found a very gently used motorhome. The Itasca Cambria had only 700 miles on it, barely more miles than the journey from the factory to the dealership. The Styrofoam was still in the convection oven, and plastic was still on the carpeting. A few pots and pans remained in the drawer from the previous owner’s brief adventure. We discovered that shortly after the owners had ordered and taken possession of their new motorhome and began to start out on their new adventure, one of them became sick and couldn’t continue on their journey.
Having actually never driven a motorhome before, I was a little apprehensive yet excited about the opportunity to test drive this 5.5-ton home on wheels. Surprisingly, we drove down Interstate 675, stayed in the proper lane, returned to the dealership, and declared that we were ready to begin writing the next chapter of a great adventure. We spent a few weeks making dry runs — loading, or probably overloading, the motorhome with all the personal items to make it our true home away from home; testing the generator; filling the water tank; emptying the gray and black tanks; studying all the booklets on what we should and should not do. Then we took our maiden voyage to Blackhawk Valley Campground in Rockford, Illinois, to pick up our nieces and then return to Cincinnati. While the initial trip was flawless, I discovered on the return trip a week later that sometimes people experience motion sickness while sitting in the banquette and traveling at the speed limit. Yes, it was another step to a fun adventure.
Since then, we have planned many more adventures and have written many more chapters in our motorhoming experiences. Many times, it has begun with a simple message: “Where are we going this weekend?” It may take us to our favorite Ohio state park, where we ride bikes, hike, relax by the beach, and watch the sunset on the lake. We have invited friends to join us for a cookout and to enjoy the crackling fire in the pit. Our adventures also have taken us to our alma mater, where we have entertained dozens of our son’s and daughter’s college friends for burgers, beverages, and lots of laughter. It doesn’t take a lot of convincing that food seems to taste better and beverages seem to be enjoyed a little more when experiencing fun, fellowship, and camaraderie.
June is Great Outdoors month, and for RVers specifically, that means it is camping month! It’s time to stock up on marshmallows, hot dogs, and your favorite beverages and head out to your preferred camping spot, whether in the country, at a state park, or at an FMCA commercial member campground (see FMCA’s Campground Connection for a listing of FMCA campground members on www.fmca.com or see the RV Marketplace beginning on page 130) of this issue. Get away from desks, television, and the Internet for a couple of days and experience the tranquility of camping in the great outdoors.
If you are so inclined, embark on an extended adventure over the summer months and head out to Redmond, Oregon, for FMCA’s 90th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase, set to take place August 13-16. A registration form appears on page 71 of this magazine and online at FMCA.com.
No matter how long you are away from your stationary home, you won’t miss a beat if you utilize FMCA’s Mail Forwarding Service. This is one of FMCA’s best home-grown benefits, making it convenient and affordable to travel worry-free. While making your plans, consider FMCA’s Trip Routing Service to map the route to your next destination. And, while you’re at it, you better check your tires. FMCA’s Michelin Advantage Program may save you hundreds of dollars on the purchase of new tires. The program now includes light truck and passenger car tires at select Michelin dealerships.
So, what’s your next adventure? Make the best of it. Invite a friend or, better yet, several friends to join you. Extend the FMCA hand of friendship and invite them to be a part of an organization that truly represents the best that this lifestyle has to offer.