By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers
We have returned from the Good Sam Rally in Phoenix with a story to tell. We were compelled to leave early for a family concern and because we were heading for our cabin in the mountains. We realized that if we waited until the rally ended, we would be delayed an extra day or two to get up the mountain until the snow
stopped and the roads were re-opened. The alternative was that I would have to dig tire chains out of the back of our truck – a daunting ordeal – and then install them, which I had never done before. I don’t even know if it would be safe pulling the 10,000-pound trailer on the winding ascending roads.
There we were, in the RV parking area of the Phoenix International Raceway, squeezed in among more than 3,000 RVs – it felt closer to 10,000. We envisioned at least a day of waiting anxiously while rigs peeled away row by row, space by space. I decided to go for it early to snake our way, literarily, out of the spot we were in.
At this point, I want to say that several Good Sam members proved once again they are good Samaritans ready to go above and beyond to help a fellow RVer. We would still be there today without the help of everyone who volunteered or who we asked for assistance in extricating our rig.
I’ll continue with that story in a moment, but first, a review of what we experienced at the gigantic rally. The size of the show, our first Good Sam Rally, was mind-blowing. The big tent houses what seemed like a week’s worth of shopping and learning. The smaller tents were venues for seminars, and all of the ones we attended were enlightening in one way or another (we learned at one that it could necessitate costly add-ons to increase our diesel mileage).
And the attendees: we enjoyed talking with everyone we met the whole time we were there, both Good Sam members and vendors. I wish I could report on Bill Cosby and other performers, but honestly, we didn’t get a chance to attend any of the shows. [I welcome comments at the end of this blog from anyone who can fill us all in.]
Back to our predicament. We were jammed in the parking area, with ALMOST enough space to maneuver our 50 feet of truck and trailer out into the narrow corridor that forms the path between rows. Two good Samaritans and their wives sacrificed their time to be at the rally to help me as I drove forward and backward, moving side to side but never quite able to clear the rigs on my left, the mirror of a Class A on the right or the front of another rig across the way. Minutes turned into an hour, and they wouldn’t let me quit trying.
The Class A owner returned from the show to say how sorry she is that her mirror was not movable, so that was no help. The owner of the rig across the way returned and moved his truck, but I was too stuck by then to make the turn. Finally, the driver of the rig to our left returned and was happy to back up his motorhome far enough for us to make an easy get-away.
No one balked at helping – if anything, they were eager to come to our aid. That’s what being a Good Sam member, a good Samaritan, is all about. Thanks to all. And, by the way, I never identified us as “the never-bored RVers.” I was a bit embarrassed by our situation.
The title of this blog includes the word “rocks,” and that leads me to “The Rock Pile.” As we plied our way along the I-10 from Phoenix, we learned that the impending family concern, a heath problem, had passed. Our tiny, precious granddaughter had been to the doctor and was found to be recovering. The prayers of our Good Sam members back in Phoenix was, no doubt helpful.
Since we had left four hours later than hoped, we realized that we would not be able to climb the mountain toward the cabin and park the trailer that night, so the draw of Quartzsite, Arizona, on the way to California was too great to miss. As we toured the scene of the January mammoth RV shows, we found very few vendors still open.
We crossed the I-10 and went down Main Street until Monique spotted a rock dealer. We need colorful rocks for part of the cabin addition underway, so did a U-ey and we drove over the desert sands to visit with Alex, the Uncle Remus-looking proprietor of “The Rock Pile.”
Even if you have no interest in rocks, just visiting outlets like this is fascinating, and Alex knows his stuff (as does Monique) about the different types of rocks, state or country of origin, what works where and history of Quartzsite (he’s part of it).We bought 20 or 25 pounds of minerals at a reasonable price. And then we were on our way again.
And now a bit about our two-month trip. IT WAS WONDERFUL in everyway … well, except fuel costs, but that’s a part of traveling, right? We drove 5,800 miles in seven weeks. Our first fill-up was in Quartzsite at $3.79 a gallon. Our last fill-up was at the same station at $4.10. The highest $/p/g was $4.35 in Tucson last week. Oh, and when we crossed into California, we were looking at $4.58 a gallon on I-10. Total spent on fuel — $2,092, waaay over budget! But, what can you do except stay home and watch the National Geographic channel.
The only day we didn’t participate in life around us was on a rainy day in New Orleans. Other than that, we did the following (I don’t blame you if you skip over part of this): We met BUTTERBEAN and his wife in Texas; we walked through the beautiful riverside downtown of NATCHITOCHES, Louisiana; we visited my son’s family and then my sister in Louisiana; and we attended a fabulous 10-day Mardi Gras rally with Adventure Caravans, which included dozens of memorable trips, tours, walks, parade-going, history, food … on and on.
We left New Orleans in time to visit the Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and left in time to arrive at PALMETTO ISLAND STATE PARK, where we met my two sons and their families (and had a family golf outing). Here, I have to add that yesterday, March 24, my son David shot his first hole in one on a 164-yard par three while wearing Crocs. In 60 years of golf, I’ve never aced a hole.
Okay, on with the trip. We did a 250-mile loop to see the Parmentier District of LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana, (where lumber barons and businessmen built their mansions); driving back eastward along Hwy. 82 through the South Louisiana marshes; then along miles of moored fishing boats down to GRAND ISLE STATE PARK on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico; and up and over to meet Monique’s son in Belle Chasse for a day-trip down the river in his van to EMPIRE at the mouth of the Mississippi River; next to GULF SHORES, Alabama, for four days in a resort atmosphere in the state park.
Almost over. We returned to New Orleans for my 50th -year HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, reconnecting with about 47 people I hadn’t seen or missed in over 50 years … both Monique and I enjoyed the entire food-and-friendship filled three days. We detoured for a day to visit ROCKHOUND STATE PARK in New Mexico,
and then continued to hustle our way to Phoenix and the GOOD SAM RALLY. That, my friends, takes us back to the beginning of this blog.
Thanks for joining us. We recommend every place we’ve been, and once again, we are happy to call ourselves the “Never-Bored RVers.” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved