Another Camping World/Good Sam RV Rally


Camping World is United States’ largest RV and outdoor retailer; Good Sam is the world’s largest RV owner’s organization. Together they host America’s largest RV Rally. We attended our first Rally in Syracuse, NY in 2013.This year The Rally was held near Phoenix, only an hour away from us, so we had to go.

We signed up for the Early Bird Special and arrived at the venue, Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, at 4:30 on the Tuesday afternoon. We were very impressed with the way all the rigs were neatly and efficiently directed to the parking spots by volunteers. Once we were installed a friendly lady was at our door with our registration package, which meant we didn’t have to walk to a booth and stand in line like last time. The window stickers with QR codes, which came by mail after we’d first registered online, were a major help, and this time they didn’t have rain and mud to deal with. There wasn’t much happening that first night so we just relaxed with our books – no electricity unless we ran the generator, no Wi-Fi.

When we got up the next morning at 8:00 am we were still the last coach in our designated row and we could look across the massive parking lot right out to the entrance. We watched out the window as a new procession of attendees, in everything from small camper vans to forty-foot-plus luxury coaches or fifth-wheels, began. Over the next few days thousands of RVs would fill the several acres of space.

Rows of RVs under the sunset

Rows of RVs under the sunset

We met our next-site neighbours, Bill and Jan Mains, from Casa Grande, who are avid RVers. Jan had her one leg in a cast, due to a broken foot, but she determinedly got around using a little scooter to support the foot that couldn’t touch the ground.

We got our bikes together and went for a ride around the top of the raceway stands, chatting with people along the way. Our fold-up bikes are always a topic of conversation.

Jim on fold-up bicycle overlooking speedway

Jim on fold-up bicycle overlooking speedway

At noon we were allowed into the Rally area, the infield of the race track. We looked through some new RVs until it was time for a seminar on making your RV more fuel efficient, at 1:00 pm. We got some good information. By then my stomach was grumbling. It was a long way back to our RV, so we chose to have pizza from one of the few food vendors that were open that day. There was a Craft Show that Jim wanted to see, but by the time I’d come back from the restroom next door he’d seen it all; not many vendors and not many customers. We toured through a few more new RVs, just for curiosity sake. These $400,000 to $800,000 luxury models wouldn’t have interested me even if we had the money to spend. They are very pretty and have all the bells and whistles, but most are not very well laid out and they are too big to fit into many campgrounds. We soon made our way back to the gate where we’d left our bikes chained to the fence.

Back at the camp site, Jan and Bill were trying to entertain some friends on the tiny spot of empty space in front of their fifth-wheel. The sites were wide enough for only a rig and a pull or tow vehicle beside it. “Patio” space was practically non-existent. More of their friends arrived so we invited them to join us on our site, since we had no extra vehicle, leaving us plenty of patio space. We all visited until the sun went down and the temperature dropped. Then we retreated to the comfort of our “homes” for dinner and downtime.

Jan and Bill on right

Jan and Bill on right

During the next few days we rode the shuttle trolley back and forth between the rally exhibits and our RV, to take in a few more seminars, listen to afternoon entertainers and view more RVs. The most appreciated information we came away with was the value of having a voltage protector plus surge protector rather just a surge protector on your RV plug-in. We heard horror stories about some campgrounds/RV parks having open grounds or reverse polarity in their wiring systems that can cause major damage to an RV without a voltage protector. The Wi-Fi at the media centre was spotty so posting blogs or anything else other than doing emails was difficult. We managed to spend some money at the huge vendor tent, and dropped $14.00 for two cheeseburgers and $4.00 for a bottle of water at the Food Court, the second day there. The next day I packed a lunch. We saw a few lower-priced RVs that we really liked, but because of our poor Canadian dollar exchange even those were beyond our budget. I was disappointed because I would so like to have more kitchen space and closets.

Smiling in our first "dream" Coach

Smiling in our first “dream” Coach

On Thursday night we sat in the grandstand to watch and listen to the Tina Preston Band. They were pretty good. It was unfortunate that the stage was set up in the infield a hundred feet away from the first row of seats, and the bleacher seating was protected by wire mesh fencing, making it difficult to see. There were TV screens though. On Friday night the entertainment was provided by Ticket to Ride, a Beatles Tribute Band and they had the bleachers rocking and stomping until 9:00 pm.

Looking at the Band Stage

Looking onto the band stage from our seats in the bleachers

Saturday afternoon the good weather ended and it started to rain as we were riding the trolley back to camp. We didn’t go back for the Neil Diamond Tribute Band that night. It rained all night long. We’d seen everything we wanted to see, so after breakfast Sunday morning we packed up and left for Mesa Regal. It was a fun few days, but if we do another rally I think I’d rather spend more time getting to know some of the other RVers and less time dreaming about impossibilities.

Dentistry, Optometry, Puppies and Sand – A few Days in Mexico and California


A few weeks ago we took the recommendations of friends and drove the three hours towards Mexico for some dental work that Jim needed done.

It all began a week earlier with a trip to a local dentist (also recommended by friends) to get an annual check-up, cleaning and x-rays, which we both got done for one-eighth of what it would cost us at home. This was an immaculate office with state-of-the-art equipment. I was particularly impressed with the ease and speed of getting the x-rays done. Because of the shape of the floor of my mouth, these are usually quite painful. I was even more impressed when a tiny camera was used to record the nooks and crannies of my mouth, and I was able to see the images on the computer screen in front of me.

We had learned that, because we have spent more than three months in this Cal-Am Resort, we could visit any other one for a week, free-of-charge, so we took the motor home to Fortuna De Oro in Yuma, not far from the Mexican/California border and our destination of Algodones, where Jim had an appointment set up with Amazing Dental Care. Because there was no transportation to the border we had to take our rented car along with us. We arrived mid-afternoon and had time to explore the resort and get in a pickle ball practice before bedtime.

Sunset at Fortuna De Oro

Sunset at Fortuna De Oro

Early the next morning we took the car to the parking lot provided at the border, and then we walked across to Algodones Mexico. We were greeted by vendors already setting up their shops along the sidewalks, and advertisers for the various dental offices, eye doctors and pharmacies who were anxious to place business cards into our hands or even lead us to their employer’s place of business. But we knew where we were going and managed to stay on track as we walked the few blocks.

Algodones

Algodones Shops

IMG_9973Jim required a couple of crowns, and a new upper denture, which would cost him less than a quarter of what it would have cost him at home, or even in Arizona. This office, too, was clean and modern. Jim was impressed. They even had free internet so I could take care of emails while I waited.

The dental work was a three-day project so there was a lot of waiting time. We made the trip across the border three times, without any hassles. During the waiting we decided to get our eyes checked and purchase new glasses. We chose the shop next door to the dentist office. The prices and frame selections were good, but the promise of same-day service didn’t happen. It took as long to get the correct glasses as it did to get the dentures and crowns done, and I will still be visiting my ophthalmologist when I get home. My prescription doesn’t seem right. We wouldn’t recommend this place, even though they seemed to be trying hard, and we were entertained by this sweet puppy named Monica. She was the only thing I wanted to buy and bring home with me.

Monica

Monica

When Jim finally had his new teeth and we both had our glasses, we went back across the border and got lunch at the Quechen Casino before driving a few miles down the road to the Imperial Sand Dunes, located in the south east corner of California.

We didn’t plan far enough ahead to rent dune buggies so had to be content with climbing up the huge mounds and watching, while filling our shoes with sand. Despite several dumpings, I still find sand between my toes after wearing those shoes.

Walking the Sand Dunes

Walking the Sand Dunes

A party of dune buggies

A party of dune buggies

dune buggy

Looks like fun!

shoe sand

shoe sand

shoe sandIt was a worthwhile trip. Sadly, we couldn’t bring Monica back home with us.