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With fond memories of our last convention in Gillette, WY we have jumped at the chance to register for 2018. The facilities were excellent, we enjoyed the various trips offered and had a lovely time. I used the link on the e-mail announcement to get to registration. I looked for a way to access registration here on the website but couldn't find it. I guess it will surface sooner or later. Louise and I are going to try working the welcome committee this time. We're looking forward to welcoming you to Gillette in July!
We are in rally mode. We do this every two or three years. It is a fun thing to watch the coaches gather, a small city literally pops up almost overnight. Thousands of people bring their houses, whether full timers or just camping for the week, they have almost all the comforts of home. And, at the end of the week we will all scatter to the four points of the compass and the city will just disappear - poof! Our rally attendance began last week. We were one of the last arrivals at the Monaco International Pre-Rally in Celina, Ohio. Monaco International is a chapter of FMCA, in this case the chapter is open to owners of all the Monaco family of coaches, including Safari, Holiday Rambler and Beaver. We like their pre-rally before an FMCA Convention and this one lived up to our expectations. We arrived Wednesday, July 5, in time for the 4th of July Picnic. Many gathered earlier in the week just for the chance to sit around and visit informally before the actual rally began on the 5th. By the time we arrived, most of the coaches were already parked. There had been significant rain so they were being quite selective with the parking. Even so we were directed to drive across a field up to a road on the far side. As I did so, I could feel the coach lugging in the soft ground. I kept a steady foot on the accelerator and managed to pull up to the road. More rain was forecast so after seeing some of the coaches that had arrived earlier, now with wheels sunken well into soft soil, I went in search of lumber to place under my rear wheels. At Menard's I purchased two 3/4 inch plywood pieces 2 feet by 4 feet. I also purchased four 2x12's four feet long, one for each tire. The 2x12's supported the tires while the 3/4 inch plywood under the 2x12's kept them from sinking into the ground individually. I now had a 2 foot by 4 foot pad to put under each rear dual. At this point let me point out our coach has air leveling only, we have no jacks which could be used to raise the rear of the coach. So I pulled forward far enough to put the pads behind the wheels and backed onto the pads. It worked, I was solid, for the moment. The front wheels sunk in some but being near the road, the soil was more solid there. I could move them if I had a solid surface for the drive wheels. By the end of the rally on Sunday, the whole assembly on the left rear had sunk into the ground about 3 inches. Still, the tires were now on a solid surface. It rained several times more during the rally, such that there were large puddles in the street which weren't gone by Sunday, our planned departure date. Saturday afternoon as festivities were winding down, I made a run to Menard's and picked up two pieces of 3/4 inch plywood, 2 feet by 8 feet and four 2x12's six feet long. This would give me additional support as I pulled off the pads I was parked on. I was certain enough that the wheels would just sink into the now saturated soil when I tried to pull out if I didn't have some support under them. Part of the convincing came from watching other coaches being pulled out by wreckers. Louise described our departure from our parking spot as the Egyptian method, kind of like moving stones for the pyramids. Place a set of boards in front of the tires, pull onto them, move the set that were under the wheels ahead, pull onto them, move the boards again. By then we were close enough to the road to put the short 2x12's in front of the tires and the plywood in front of that. I accelerated firmly until the tires were near the end of the plywood and then eased off to let the rear tires "coast" across the last of the soft soil. The left rear was running on mud and the tires pushed mud up eight inches between them. The resulting mud sculpture was impressive. We were out without damage, delay or expense. Yes, I could have used my road service for this but if I can keep the wrecker away from my rig I'm happy. We left Celina Sunday afternoon and drove to Anderson, Indiana. We spent the night at a very nice RV park, Timberline RV Resort. There we purged our waste tanks and recharged the fresh water tank in preparation for our stay at the FMCA Crossroads to Fun, Indy-2017. We arrived at the north campground shortly before noon Monday. There was a line of coaches waiting to be parked. We waited patiently and then impatiently for more than 30 minutes before finally reaching our assigned space. The north campground is pretty far from the activities of the convention but we have bicycles and they run a shuttle so we are happy to be here. More importantly, we are in a real campground with 50A power (which we paid for), water and sewer at our site (which was a pleasant surprise). We have learned never to expect this but sometimes we just get lucky. Louise was ecstatic. She can tolerate dry camping for a short period of time, we had just completed 5 days living on our tanks. She much prefers to have all the nice features of our coach working fully. I am certainly happy. It is Tuesday, the convention starts tomorrow. We woke up to thunderstorms this morning. It continues to rain this afternoon. Almost 3:00 p.m. now, we are under flash flood warnings until noon tomorrow and it continues to rain off and on with the occasional lightening and thunder. We are not in an area subject to flash flooding but if we travel we know there are already roads closed in the area due to flooding. We are parked on a solid surface, gravel is below the grass growing in this area. No worries about tires sinking into a soggy grass surface. So this year, we won the lottery. Now if we can get the storms to move on we'll let the fun begin. I certainly don't know for sure but I think FMCA may have scheduled us to be in the campground on Monday because the full hookups makes it easy for us to be on-site for a week. I assume then that those without hookups are being parked this afternoon or tomorrow morning. It would be a tough day to arrive and set-up. My heart goes out to those who are faced with this challenge and to the parking crew that is out in this weather getting everyone safely situated for the convention.