(under construction) [toc] In March 2017 I made my first motorhome “rally” adventure to the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally/international convention at the Rawhide Western Town & Event Center near Chandler, AZ.
Two and a half days and I was there. It can be done in two days — total of about 950 miles — but that makes for long days. After leaving a gorgeous sunrise behind I took the “back road” — TX71 to Llano, TX29 to Menard and US190 — to intercept I-10 thus getting a headstart Westward with less interstate. US 190 includes some of the classic Texas long roads as you get further West. Living in the gorgeous Highland Lakes of Central Texas — getting accustomed to trees, terrain and lakes — I forget the raw, very earthy, beauty of the Western reaches.
At this roadside park (one of the few left in Texas) I enjoyed the rugged vista while visiting with a trucker from the Midwest who was taking his mandated break.
I tried to get a first-night reservation at the Balmorhea State Park but the park ranger, after a thinly-disguised chuckle, let me know they were full. That led me to the Saddleback Mountain RV Park just short of Balmorhea. Nothing fancy, but it afforded me another nice sunrise, had a view of the Davis Mountains, and had a decent restaurant associated with it. There was also a bar but several voices in my head said that might not be a good idea.
A night at the KOA in Lordsburg, NM and eventually I would see mountains and shortly thereafter found myself wandering through the fertile Safford Valley of Arizona, one of Arizona’s most productive agricultural regions. Soon I was at Rawhide after a beautiful off-the-beaten-path route up US70 to Globe and across on US60.
I had dumped the waste tanks and filled the fresh water tank at the KOA the night before and now fueled up while passing through Phoenix before dropping down to Chandler and finding Rawhide. I was prepared for my multi-day stay, but not for the arrival. I was now on the Gila River Indian Reservation which houses not only Rawhide but the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino. There is also an outlet mall on the premises.
After soaking up those views, all I could see were Class A motorhomes.
There was a lot to my left that was rapidly filling, coaches on the road ahead of me and more coming behind. It was a steady stream.
We were first herded like a ramuda of wild horses (after all, we are on an indian reservation) into a preliminary staging area, then to one where we remained for a while longer.
We would stay there waiting until a golf cart arrived to escort small groups of us to our eventual
spot that would be homebase for a few days. We were parked and packed like a carefully crafted can of sardines. I thought the layout, pre-planning and overall organization of the evolution was quite impressive although later I would read and hear rumblings that it was not as good as “before” or otherwise as it should have been.
Let’s put this in perspective. There were just under 2,300 coaches of participants and another 300 bearing vendors. Average two people per coach and you are well over 4,000 people in all of these coaches churning the caliche parking areas into a finely ground powder. That would get everywhere. And I mean everywhere.
Here is what it looked like from the air. If you can see the red arrow toward the right edge, it points to about where I was.
Nestled in my spot I had a lot of company. Behind on each of the right-rear quarter and left-rear quarters was a coach pointed the other direction. This allowed everyone to put out their awnings and, for the most part, avoid the neighbor’s exhaust from the generator that would be running in the evenings and on the hot days. Georgie is shown here with the aluminum mast attached to the rear ladder, flying the Guilford Courthouse Flag.
RV Basics Seminars
My arrival on March 4 — having departed on my March 2 birthday — was to attend the RV Basics course. I did just that and learned a lot in the many seminars that took place. I was just glad there was no test at the end! The extra two days were well worth it. At the end I had the coach 4-wheel weighed and sure enough, I was within all of my weight limits and well-balanced left to right.
Lot’s of people, coaches, vendors, food, walking, entertainment and dust. 2300 participant coaches and 300 vendor coaches. More seminars every day, mostly oriented to something that was for sale inside the exhibition hall, and a giant exhibition area that managed to pry me loose of some spare change.
Then there was the ice cream wagon with hand-dipped ice cream. I was located in such a place as to be kinda hard to walk by. So I didn’t. I did keep it to one cone per day.
There was entertainment several nights in the rather spacious stadium at Rawhide. The night shown was Dick Hardwick, comedian. He was really quite good.