***You may want to look at older posts as well. We've done several posts in last few days!***
Finally! Our first official national rally with literally thousands of other 'escapees'. For those of you unfamiliar with the RV lifestyle, let me explain. There is an organization called Escapees, http://www.escapees.com/, it is made up of mostly full-time RVers or extended time RVers.
Ken and I have belonged to the club for a couple of years now but never had the opportunity to participate face-to-face. That's not to say it hasn't been a valuable association since they have a great magazine and website, full of valuable RV lifestyle articles and lots of people contributing to online forums. It's amazing to me the way technology is embraced in this community. When you are 'affluent street people', a label I found particularly endearing, and don't have a home base, then your laptop, your cellphone, and your wireless and satellite connections are your communications portal with the rest of the world.As Ken and I find ourselves much closer to retirement right now than most people know, the timing of this rally seems very synchronistic. The stars keep continuing to align for us. The timing of this trip gives us the opportunity to commune daily for an entire week among the largest annual gathering of people living the fulltime lifestyle dream. The appreciation for this group is SKP and the are famous for the SKP hug. Since Ken and I are tagged with yellow ribbons as 'newbies', people go out of their way to come give us welcoming hugs.
Another first for us was to spend the night along the road rather than in an official RV or state park.
After work on Friday, Ken had everything ready to go, so we hit the road about 5:30pm.
Our planned stop over point was Kingdom City, MO. where we knew we could park for the night at the Petro truck stop. This turned out to be an excellent plan. While we only did a couple of hours, it meant that Ken and I could have dinner in their very good truck stop restaurant and hit the sack early.
It was actually much quieter and more comfortable sleeping that we had expected.
This way rather than piddling the morning away in a campground or at home before getting on the road, we did a quick breakfast in the restaurant at 6:30 and were back on the road by 7 a.m.
The actual 'Escapade' does not officially begin until late Sunday afternoon. However, we chose to do the early-arrival option for Saturday since we were rookies and wanted to get our bearings.
Parking a thousand rigs is quite the organizational feat. They have an extensive volunteer parking staff who only work between 8am and 2pm. If you arrive after 2pm you are turned away and they are serious because we saw it happen. This is another reason we wanted to be sure that we didn't get held up be leaving Saturday morning.
We were actually to the parking area by a little after 9.am. and while there was a line it was not long. Since we had all our paperwork in order we processed through very efficiently.
I would have never thought the Sedalia State Fairgrounds had over 1000 full hook up sites! We are in the part of the West Campground where the rigs are organized in pods of 4 around the central hook up location. The 4 RV's are situated in a sort of windmill formation which allows for privacy. But, since everyone in the pod is parked within minutes of each other, you quickly get acquainted with your pod mates at the central hookup sites where everyone is attaching at the same time.
Once we completed our set up we proceeded to one of the registration booths. and picked up our program guide and goodie bag.
We did a light lunch in the RV, a review of the program guide and a short nap before walking over to the hospitality room and the vendor barn that opened at 3pm.
'Too Crazy Ladies', well known vendors among the RV community, had a line of people ordering Escapees name badges. Understanding this line would only get longer, we decided to get our badges ordered and then browsed the vendor fair.
Ken is interested in the special shades that are available to see out of the front windows while blocking the view in. After checking them out and doing some measuring it appears this would be about a $150 investment that should be at least partially returned by reducing costs of keeping the rig cool. We also picked up a 'sewer donut'. It goes on the end of the sewer hose when the hookup has a larger opening than our sewer hose. We'd never needed one before, but as usual the fellow RV hooking up besides us came to the rescue, having an extra 'donut'. Ken gave him the new on we'd purchased later in the day.
One of the lessons learned is that these reallies are a perfect place to bring bicycles. With so many RV's, it's about an 8 block walk from our site to the main activity buildings. Sunday the will begin running trams. To Ken's relief, considering he consider 'walk' a bad word, a staffer came by on a golf cart and offered us a ride back to our site.
We enjoyed a leisurely evening back at the rig, taking our time with a bottle of wine enjoyed under the awning before doing ham steak on the grill for dinner.
About the time we were finishing our meal, a couple dropped by asking about the dogs. As usual, Sox and Ditka are great conversation starters. The couple, from Champaign, IL, sat with us for awhile, filling us in on their soon-to-be move to fulltiming. He is an assistant DA and she is a legal secretary with both having retirement dates set in the next 2 months. They've already moved in to their 5th wheel and by the end of summer will be on the road. Between them, they have seven adult children and 17 grandchildren spread across the country from the east cost to Colorado so their are some general stopping points for them.
After they departed, Ken and I took a late night dog walk. Some observations from the walk: these types of RVers are quiet after 10pm compared to weekends at state parks. They are also not in to the extensive decorative outdoor lighting that seems to be a big thing with weekend RVers. The other noticeable difference was that they really limited the number of indoor lights on--even with full hookups. I guess years of conservation and learning how to keep bugs away with limited lighting become a habit.
Well, we obviously aren't going to get the kind of sunsets we enjoy sitting in the Missouri State Fairgrounds but we did notice this interesting cloud formation as the sun began to go down. Yes, one of Sedalia's claims to fame is being considered 'tornado alley'. It is good to know that there is a storm shelter just across the street and a weather radio on the wall next to the bed so not-to-worry in that regard.
Tomorrow will be the official opening on the Escapade so stay tuned, so long as the campground wireless holds up, we'll try to post updates daily.