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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.