This week we have been in Indio, California attending our 4th or 5th Western Regional FMCA Rally. The community of Indio is in the Coachella Valley where Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and all the other high profile towns attract residents living behind the gated communities with manicured golf courses and elaborate clubhouses. The town of Indio is on the far east side of the valley where the working class live.
The RV rally was held at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, better known as the home of the Date Festival. According to Wiki: “The Fair started as a festival to celebrate the end of the annual date harvest in the desert region, the major commercial date-producing area in the Western Hemisphere. Dates were an unknown commodity in the desert until 1903 when date palms were transplanted there from Algeria. By the early 1920s dates became a major crop for the area. Date groves in the Coachella Valley also became tourist attractions.” A popular tourist beverage is the Date Shake. The Algerian roots of the festival are also reflected in the local architecture.
The Magic Carpet Stage was the scene of the two ice cream socials that were served by the Golden Spike FMCA Chapter we joined.
JOINING THE GOLDEN SPIKES
For the second year in a row we were parked with the Golden Spikes Chapter, a group of railroad enthusiasts. Our friends Barbara and Tom Westerfield both come from railroading families and have been active in the chapter for years. Last year Tom retired as Conductor (chapter president) and is now a national director while Barbara is involved in newsletters, shirt and badge ordering, and I’m sure much, much more.
The Golden Spikes also volunteer during the FMCA rally performing two major jobs: serving ice cream at the Friday and Saturday ice cream socials and clean-up on get-away day when the rally ends. Each day the rally attendees started lining up 30 minutes ahead of time for their FREE ice cream sandwich or sundae drumstick. You’d think it was a free dinner at some swanky Palm Springs eatery the way the lines weaved down the walkways.
Sorry, no pixs of cleaning the fairgrounds, but on Sunday morning five teams of four set out in golf carts to assigned zones. We came prepared to work with appropriate equipment: rubber gloves, garbage bags, and “grabbers” to leave the 120-acre site cleaner than we found it. The job was done in about an hour.
RV rallies attract attendees with all levels of experience. In our traveling years we have attended all sorts of seminars from technical to lifestyle to hobbies and crafts. Most of the topics listed in this year’s FMCA program were ones we had either previously attended, had only a slight interest in, or were far off our radar scope. I am not a crafts person, so those definitely fell into the latter category.
My first seminar of the rally was an 8:30 a.m. session on Thursday with writer Judy Howard, author of “Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost” and more recently, “Going Home With A Cat and A Ghost”. It was her topic on “Getting Started Writing” that prompted me to resume this blog. Thank you, Judy (I think).
Other sessions attended this week were:
- Mac the Fire Guy’s Escaping an RV Fire demonstration. Thanks Wendy Lawrence for volunteering to climb out the RV bedroom window.
- Using the Rand McNally RV GPS. I bought one in July while in Gillette, WY so I was looking for additional tips. Unfortunately, I knew more than the presenter.
- RVing New Zealand and Australia with Fantasy Tours. Traveling Down Under is still on the bucket list, but don’t know if we would go with a tour group.
VENDORS AND ONSITE REPAIRS
Another reason RVers attend rallies is to visit vendor booths to see the breadth of products they can spend money on for their home on wheels. For a change, no purchases were made this year by the Rinehimers.
I like to visit the travel and campground vendor booths for the “free stay” coupons they give out if you sign their “raffle slips” which put you on their mailing lists. I have learned to “unsubscribe” pretty fast. In this case, however, I did have my slip from Fantasy Tours drawn for their daily booth door prize. No,I didn’t win a trip to Down Under, but I did get a travel bag with a bottle of wine and a box of Italian bread sticks with olive oil. We also had our FMCA membership number drawn the first day of their door prizes and won a “special” cleaning cloth. People kept suggesting it was time to buy a Super Lotto ticket.
RV dealers from the Palm Springs area also bring in RVs for display purposes. Sales are not allowed onsite, but there were plenty of “sales” people inviting folks in to tour new and used rigs. No takers here. We are happy with our “rolling condo”.
It was football playoff weekend so we were not in a giant hurry to move when the rally ended on Sunday. Luke was watching the SF 49ers beat the Carolina Panthers when the power at our first site was shut down. He turned on the generator to watch the end of the game. He was then anxious to relocate to a different site on the fairgrounds for a 50 amp site with nearby water. We paid an extra $16 a night for the extended stay and we traveled a grand total of 0.7 miles, which included a stop at the dump station.
After getting re-parked, Luke then had to go up on the roof to connect the portable coax cable he had used to “fix” what he thought was a bad connector to our off-the-air antenna. The photo shows the wire from the antenna as it was hanging down and threaded through an open window, across the top of our entry door, and into the TV switch box. With the help of our friend Mike Lawrence, we learned we did not need to run our existing antenna coax through a “digital converter box” because our living room TV was already digital. DUH…. Worked fine after the problem was diagnosed and fixed. Thanks Mike.
My Monday started out with a wonderful round of golf with my buddy, MerrieAnn Martin. We originally met as RVers on a Monaco Forum, they sold their RV and she has now started playing golf. She and hubby Jeff split their time between Desert Hot Springs, CA and Hoodsport, WA. We have visited and golfed in both locations. This was our second time playing the 18-holes at the Del Webb Shadow Hills North Course. Weather was great and we had fun dodging (or not) the bushes, bunkers, and ponds surrounding almost every hole.
Lunch (and more visiting) was at the lovely Shadows Restaurant overlooking the 18th green at the nearby South Course.
From golf I was off to the local laundromat. Only two loads, but now caught up. Chores must continue while on the road.
To wrap up our stay in Indio on Monday night we went to dinner at Fisherman's Market & Grill with Mike and Wendy Lawrence and Tom and Barbara Westerfield. As usual, we had lots of travel and caching stories to share. We will all be together again at the Geocaching Rally in Quartzsite later this month.