Despite Gas Costs, RVers Flock to The Rally
Gas prices may be soaring, but Glenda and Leroy Wilson's love for recreational vehicle travel is not diminished.
The Macon Telegraph reported that the Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., couple, whose top-of-the-line 2006 Bluebird CXI averages four miles to the gallon, were among the throng of RV enthusiasts at the "The Rally" at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry. The four-day event, hosted by Affinity Group Inc., continues through today (March 17).
"Cut down on something else, but don't give up," Glenda Wilson said Friday of RV travel and its accompanying lifestyle.
In all, about 8,000 people traveling in 3,439 RVs joined this year's rally, compared to about 10,000 people in about 4,200 RVs participating last year in the rally in Redmond, Ore., said Susan Bray, executive director of the Good Sam Club, an RV membership organization and one of the sponsors of the rally. The rally was last held in Perry in 2001.
While location may have been a factor in decreased attendance, the downturn in the economy likely accounted for the lower numbers, Bray said.
And although it costs more in gas, in the scheme of things the joy of journey outweighs the extra cost, Bray said. She figured a 4,000-mile trip averaging 10 miles per gallon based on a $2 a gallon gas increase, which the nation has experienced over the past two years, costs an extra $800.
Although the Wilsons have curtailed some of their travel because of the "terrible" gas prices, they didn't let go of a 13-year-old dream to travel to Alaska in their RV last year. She said her husband estimated the couple spent $6,000 alone in gas for the trip.
"You sleep in your own bed," the 61-year-old Wilson said of why she enjoyed RV travel. "You can cook your own meals. You can come and go as you please."
For Pat and Wally Hill of Charlotte, N.C., both in their early 70s, the main attraction to RV travel is meeting people from all walks of life.
"People aren't in a hurry," said Pat Hill, a retired elementary schoolteacher. Her husband worked in marketing for Exxon before retirement.
Fred and Gladi Burns of Sparta, Mich., travel in a 33-foot-long RV that's pulled by a dual-wheel diesel truck.
The quarters are cramped, but they have learned how to maneuver around each other, especially when both are getting ready in the mornings, Gladi Burns said.
Already avid campers, the couple joined the RV circuit eight years ago and dream of September 2009, when she will quit her full-time job and they expect to hit the road full time.
"We're pretty much planning to sell everything and buy a fifth-wheel. The fifth-wheel will be our house," said Burns, a payroll accountant.
The Rally was a first experience for some and a welcomed reunion with friends for others.
The extended weekend included more than 30 seminars for RV enthusiasts on topics from campground safety to RV insurance to pet care on the road. Pets are a welcomed addition at the rally, with many RV enthusiasts out and about Friday walking their dogs. The rally includes a dog show today.
The Rally also features nightly entertainment from varied entertainers such as Frankie Valli, formerly of The Four Seasons, Ricky Skaggs, a country and bluegrass musician, and the Michael Andrew Big Band, a band that offers the music and style of the big bands of the 1940s era.
Throughout the rally, there are other events featured, including a ladies social, a book discussion on "Chasing Fireflies" by Southern author Charles Martin and "Ultimate Campground Cooking."