Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009 RV Dreams Rally - October 7-11

We just returned from the RV Dreams Rally in Kerrville, TX and what a great event it was! RV Dreams is a website that I stumbled across earlier this year. It was started by a couple, Howard and Linda Payne, who in their mid-40’s did exactly what we are planning to do – chucked it all and hit the road. They’ve been full-timing for 4+ years now and have built a tremendous following. From the first day I found the website, there was a strong connection. As I read through their decision to make such a radical lifestyle change, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. Here was someone who was telling my story. How did he get inside my head? I was so flabbergasted that I sent the Paynes an email that day thanking them for putting themselves out there. The website is full of information and I continue to learn more everyday. I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to learn more about the RV lifestyle check it out: http://www.rv-dreams.com/. Howard continues to post a daily journal and the website also contains a very active forum.

We decided to attend the rally because we thought it would be a great way to “get our hands wet”, learn from those who are actually doing it, and we wanted to meet Howard and Linda in person. We got all that we expected and much more! We discovered that RV Dreams is so much more than a website…it is a family. A few of the attendees had met in person previously, but for the most part people had only communicated online or were new to the family. We met so many nice people, about half of whom are currently full-timing and half who are wanna-bes like us. As we had hoped, we did learn a lot, but I think the biggest thing we left with is the reassurance that we can successfully do this. The support is amazing. It’s like this underground community that most of the world doesn’t even know exists. Everyone is so willing to share their knowledge and their experiences. But more than that, they put themselves out there and are only a forum post, an email or a phone call away. We expect to have our share of stumbles, but knowing that we’ll always have someone to help us get back up on our feet (or our wheels, as it may be) is truly comforting.

So many of you are probably wondering what an RV Rally consists of. Well, I’m sure they’re all different, but here’s a rundown of ours:
  • We arrived Wednesday about noon. The afternoon was pretty open, with the check-in running from 12-5. That gave us time to finish getting set up and meet a couple of our neighbors. Dinner that evening was a catered Texas BBQ, which was followed by a “get-to-know-you” exercise of RVing tips and tricks. Wow, did we learn a lot from that! It all ended around 10 and we were tired, so we hit the sack.
  • Thursday started at 9 with seminars on Full-timing Preparations, Emotional Aspects of Full-timing, and The Cost of Full-Timing. We had the rest of the afternoon to prepare for the chili cook-off that night. 15 attendees, including Tracy, participated in the cook-off. The judges got a sample from each pot and then they were open to the rest of us. Tracy didn’t place in the top 3, but we had fun and enjoyed a lot of good chili. The evening ended with “Your Favorite RV Accessory” Show and Tell. Once again, a great educational experience!
  • Friday contained seminars on No Right Way to Fulltime, Buying an RV, and Packing for Fulltiming. The afternoon was filled with some vendor demonstrations and preparing for the potluck that evening. I had volunteered Tracy and myself to coordinate the potluck. Although there really wasn’t that much work involved, we felt some responsibility for a successful evening. Why we worried (ok, we didn’t worry that much), I don’t know! Of course it was a success. We had a ton of delicious food and I don’t think anyone walked away hungry. The evening’s entertainment was RV Humor with Howard (as in Howard Payne, mentioned above). I think he was a little nervous but it turned out great. Laughter aplenty. Another great day.
  • Saturday – could this really be our last full day? – started off with seminars on Working on the Road, Choosing a Campground, and Boondocking/Solar (boondocking is living without hookups to electric, water or sewer). The afternoon was filled with rig walk-throughs. Many of the attendees were nice enough to open their rigs and allow us to see their floor plans and customizations they made. Yet another eye-opening experience. Prior to this, Tracy and I were pretty much set against a 5th wheel. After towing the pop-up, we really didn’t want to tow something that big, although I know it’s completely different. But after learning a little more about them, we are now rethinking our decision. There are a lot of pros to a 5th wheel, and although we’re not totally sold, we will definitely keep our options open. The evening commenced with a catered dinner of a Texas-sized pork chop – yes, Tracy was not excited, but she was able to get an extra potato and salad – and then a square dance. We were on the floor for almost every dance and had a blast. And I’m sure we provided a lot of humor for the spectators!
  • Sunday morning offered a catered breakfast, a quick good-bye message, lots of hugs and a few tears. It was really hard to leave, but we had a long drive ahead of us. We wanted to get as many miles behind us on Sunday so that we’d get home early enough on Monday to get the rig winterized.
The drive was long -- boy, do we look forward to the day that we don't have such tight timelines -- but the trip was well worth it. Every mile we got closer to home, I felt a little more depressed. We always experience a little sadness dropping the rig off in storage after a trip, but this was worse. Prior to this trip, we had a dream that we were pretty certain we would achieve someday, but it still felt pretty far out of reach. The Rally gave us a few days to actually live the dream and it was everything we envisioned and more…but then we had to hand it back. It’s like being given the cookie your mouth has been watering for, but only to be allowed to take one small bite. We had a taste of the good life and we want more!

The next 6-9 months are going to be very difficult. We know we have a lot to do and hopefully that will make the days go by quickly, but it’s going to be really hard sitting at work every day knowing that we could be making so much more progress at home. But we’ll get there, one way or another.

As we try to focus on the positives, we are pleased with ourselves for taking one more step closer to achieving our dream. Normally, we’d shy away from these types of events. Being a bit timid, it is not always easy for us to reach out and meet new people, but this group made it easy and welcomed us with open arms. While RVers are generally known as being friendly folk, the RV Dreams group is special and we are proud to call ourselves family members.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, We to ran across the RV Dreams web site nad like you felt connected to Howard and Linda's lifestyle. We would have loved to attend the rally but had already had plans for that week when we found out about it. I know that we are planning on attending their Rally in April. Hopefully not to far from us. Thanks for posting and good luck with your dreams. We hope to be able to do the same in 3 years. I look forward to following your blog and please follow ours.