Recently, after my 2 week, unplanned, solo trip to the Black Hills, I tried something new. I attended my first Roadtrek International rally. It was a smallish (under 50 people), Region 7 rally held in Hutchinson, KS which is not far from my home in Kansas City. I thought I would zip over, since I haven’t attended a rally other than the Roadtrek corporate rally in Branson a couple of years ago. A few of my RT compatriots were going to be there and it looked like the organizers had some interesting activities planned.
I had to renew my lapsed memberships with FMCA and RTI, but still had my name tag from Branson; and FMCA apparently kept my data on file as I have the same number.
Although I’ve lived in KC for almost 30 years, Hutchinson was not on my radar. But the last 3 years in my RT Adventurous have taught me that amazing things can be found almost anywhere- even close to home. So I dropped the dog at my folks’ (to be thoroughly spoiled) and took off for 4 days to check out why these events are so popular.
1. Someone else does all the planning. Not that I am a big planner, but I do have to do some research for my trips. I read about what to see and do, camp sites and routes. This time, all I had to do was get myself there and bring something for a pot luck.
2. And that was the only meal I had to worry about! Since the pot luck was the first night, I could even make it at home, I never had to turn on the propane in my rig. Even though I like cooking in the van, I don’t dine out much when I am on the road solo, it sure is nice not to have to stock up and then unpack. All of the meals were provided and very good, by the way. I’m not sure that all rallies do this, but it was a nice benefit.
3. It didn’t seem expensive to me. The price included all entry fees, meals, transportation and campground costs.
4. I didn’t have to drive once I arrived; we had a comfy school bus that took us everywhere. It was sort of nice to be chauffeured around, not to mention the benefits of carpooling for the environment. There were a few people who skipped a couple of events and did their own thing, and that’s great, no one cares if you take off.
5. I got to see the Cosmosphere which is a surprisingly excellent museum dedicated to the history of rockets and space travel! Did you know they have a real moon rock, actual space suits and original German rockets from WWII along with Russian satellites? Well worth the trip!
We then toured the Strataca Underground Salt Mines, which also happen to have just about every movie and video ever made stored in vaults. Gone With the Wind, Star Wars and The Matrix are stored deep in Kansas. And so is every episode of Friends. Storage is in secure areas, mined as far back as the 20’s, because there is not a drop of moisture. Also on display were a few original movie costumes and posters. The whole place was amazing, 160 miles of blasted rock, 650 feet below ground, but probably not for the claustrophobic. They turned off the lights during the tour and let me tell you, it was absolute black!
6. I got to make several new friends, including Melinda and Al, who are big Giants fans. The rally was scheduled during the start of the World Series, so we had a friendly rivalry going. We skipped the after dinner socials and watched games in my rig along with a couple of my KC pals, Trudy and Myrna. It was so much fun hosting a sports party in my rig. Melinda and Al went on to another rally, waaaaaaay up north to see Polar Bears and we have kept in touch through social media.
7. I got to tour other rigs which is always fun.
8.John Slaughter, one of the organizers and Vice President of Region 7 along with his wife Phyllis, gave a little talk about social media and how useful it is to connect and inform RVers. I believe many rallies include informative seminars. In addition, rallies are a great way to pick up travel tips, hear about other events and hook up with other travelers. I couldn’t help but learn something.
In my travels, I have wandered as a solo, visited friends, been to informal meet ups and now I can say I have been to an “official” RTI rally. (I didn’t count the Branson rally because that happens only once every ten years and was gigantic.) I can see why they are so popular and fill quickly. Rallies are a great way for friends to re-connect, meet new people and learn a few things. I’m already looking forward to my next rally this coming January down in Florida.
My RT family keeps getting bigger and bigger. Enjoy your travels!