2018 RV-Dreams Spring Educational Rally

2018 RV-Dreams Spring Educational Rally

This was our second RV-Dreams Rally.  Our first rally, the 2017 RV-Dreams Spring Educational Rally, was super good but felt like we were drinking water from a fire-hose.  We came to another rally to complete our full-timer education.  This year’s rally is being held at the Nevada Treasure RV Resort in Pahrump Nevada.  The rally formally started on Monday afternoon April 23 and ran through Sunday Morning April 29.

Howard and Linda Payne of RV-Dreams organize these educational rallies to help people change from a sticks and bricks lifestyle to a full-timing RVer lifestyle.

In this post, I’m just going to cover some highlights and key learnings that resonated with me.  I’m not going to try to describe all aspects of the rally.  If you are at all interested in pursuing a full time RVer lifestyle, you should signup for this rally.  As I’ve said, this is my second time at this rally and I intend to do at least one more in a few years.

We arrived at the rally site on Friday.   We came early so we could do laundry, clean up our rig, buy groceries and plain old just hang out.

Saturday April 21

As is the custom at RV-Dreams rallies, informal gatherings are organized by Howard and Linda in advance of the rally.    Saturday, we went to an evening circle.  People brought their camp chairs to an empty campsite to form a circle starting around 7:00 PM.  As each new person or couple arrived, Howard and Linda greeted them and either knew their name already or asked for their name.  Howard or Linda made announcements and we had a chance to ask questions if we wanted.  We were also encouraged to talk to the people around us and we talked to couples on both sides of us.  After it looked like there were no more people coming, Howard stood up and went around the circle and introduced each person by name.  About 15 minutes later, Linda stood up and did the same.  Even though I’ve seen them do this before with an even larger group, I’m still amazed at how many names and faces Howard and Linda can remember.  This is one of those things that helps make me feel special and makes these rallies a positive life-long memory for me.

Monday April 23

Monday afternoon we went to registration.   During registration we received an agenda and seminar outline.  We also got t-shirts unique to this rally and a gift bag full of swag.  In the evening, we had an excellent catered BBQ dinner.

Following the dinner was an ice breaker.  We were assigned to tables (splitting Linda and I up) and formed teams to assign a team outlaw which we created a persona around.

Linda Payne Choosing Teams During Outlaw Ice Breaker
Linda Payne Choosing Teams During Outlaw Ice Breaker

Then each team’s outlaw participated in a quick draw competition (of sorts) with another team.  The winners advancing to the next round.  My team’s outlaw made it to the second round but sadly didn’t advance to the finals.  The whole outlaw thing was hilarious and was a big hit with the participants.

Tuesday April 24

Howard started the first seminar with There is no right way to full time.  There is no wrong way either.

Howard Payne - "There is no right way to full time."
Howard Payne – “There is no right way to full time.”

From this simple statement, both Howard and Linda filled the morning sessions with exploring the full time lifestyle.

In the afternoon Glyn Carson, RV Driving School instructor talked about driving safely.  Lots of good tips.  One thing Glyn said that stuck in my head is that the US Highway standard for minimum overhead (overpass) clearance is 13 feet 6 inches.  However some US Highways have lower clearances that have been grandfathered.  Know how tall your rig is.

NOTE TO SELF:  Measure the camper height and affix it to the truck’s dashboard.

Glyn Carson, RV Driving School Instructor
Glyn Carson, RV Driving School Instructor

At one point, Glyn said that the diagram he was showing came directly from the Texas CDL book.   I made a note, raised my hand and asked if CDL meant commercial drivers licence.  Glyn replied that it was the commercial drivers handbook.  A few days later I followed up with a Google search and found the official TEXAS COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVERS HANDBOOK  in PDF format on the Texas Department of Public Safety website.  This is a free text book on driving large vehicles and trailers safely.  Large vehicles include most RVs.  Free educational materials courtesy of my home state.

We had another catered dinner on Tuesday.  Excellent food.   Generally, there were three couples at each table.  We had fun talking to the other couples.  After dinner we had a gadget show and tell.  Earlier I had asked Howard if we could show more than one gadget.  Howard said yes.

Larry's Three Gadgets for Show and Tell
Larry’s Three Gadgets for Show and Tell

My show and tell gadgets were:

  • Two by four with camouflage tie down strap with hooks and tightening ratchet.  I use this to remove the large plastic hub covers on my Ford truck so that I can access the lug nuts holding the tires on.
  • Infrared thermometer gun (yellow-orange and black pistol looking thing) used to measure tire, wheel and hub temperatures so that tire and bearing failures can be detected and/or avoided.
  • My favorite flashlight/lantern.  See my previous post Poppy Lantern and Spot Light – Yellow.

I wasn’t the only one to show and tell gadgets.  Some of the more notable must have gadgets shown were:

After the show and tell, Linda raffled off a number of door prizes.  We won a copy of the 11th Edition of The Wright Guide to Camping with the Corps of Engineers by Don and Joyce Wright.  The book has a picture of Howard and Linda’s old fifth-wheel on the cover.  This looks to be quite the resource for finding Army Corps of Engineers’ parks.

Wednesday April 25

Wednesday morning focused on safety issues.  Some of my key takeaways are actually action items, things I should be doing to ensure our safety on the road.

  • Maximum tire load (weight each tire can carry) is a function of both tire pressure and vehicle speed.  I need to understand how this works for my tires so I can choose the right tire pressure for the load I’m carrying and the maximum speed I’m willing to drive.  We have highways in Texas with posted speed limits of 85 MPH.  I generally cruise at between 55 and 65 MPH depending on road conditions.  From time to time I’ll do 75 MPH when conditions warrant.  Taking the truck and camper to 85 MPH just scares me silly.
  • The Jeep is supposed to have 10 ply in the tread and 3 ply on the sidewalls.  Using the tire rating (I think it should be G), I should be able to tell if the tread is a 10 ply equivalent.  This is important off-road on sharp rocks and where tire puncturing plants grow.
  • We still need to get the the Mountain Directory for Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers.  It provides important details about mountain highway conditions like how steep they are and whether or not there are runaway ramps.
  • Do not rely on GPS directions.  This includes smart phone apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps.  We have gotten some really bad directions that put us on inappropriate roads for RVs recently.
  • Exit number placement (as a separate sign above the exit sign) on overhead Interstate exit signs can provide a clue as to which side of the road the exit is on.  Left exit number sign placement implies left side exit.  Right exit number sign placement implies right side exit.  I can’t find this in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (the big book of traffic signs) so I don’t know that it is in common use across the country.  If true, this is genuinely useful.

Thursday April 26

Something I hadn’t really thought about was how to get cash from cash machines on the road without paying fees.  In the middle of nowhere, what are the chances that my  big city bank will have a branch there?  The solution turned out to be simple but I would not have thought of it on my own.  Full timers shop at Walmart.  Since we will be shopping at Walmart anyway, why not use our debit card and get cash back?  Total duh!

Workamper News Magazine has a free introductory level membership.  Not that I’m looking for work camping jobs.  I’m not.  I am thinking that at some point I might be bored and want to hang out in a scenic area for a few months.    Park hosting types of opportunities on Federal Lands can be found on https://www.volunteer.gov/.  I’ve been theorizing that park hosting (or other volunteer jobs) in parks can provide insider information on the park that visitors just can’t get.  I also think I could get access to Park Rangers who can direct me to where I can view and photograph wildlife.

Thursday evening we had a potluck.  Linda and I made a chicken casserole.  There we a number of excellent dishes.  Some of my favorites (in addition to our own chicken casserole) was the cabbage and kale coleslaw, vegetarian chili and cowboy caviar (a Mexican style dip that was sort of picante-ish).    We had more than enough food to serve three times as many people as participated.  Everyone had food to bring home.

Friday April 27

My RV battery should be a deep cycle battery.  If the labeling on the battery has a number for cold cranking amps then it isn’t a deep cycle battery.  At best it is a marine battery.  Worse, it might be a car battery.  Don’t discharge batteries below 50%.  If you do, the battery doesn’t last very long.

Effective black tank cleaning products:

We have a  leaky black tank valve.  Flush King helps solve the leaky valve problem.

Saturday April 28

When you are moving down the road to the next campground, know where you are going before you leave the previous campground.

Earlier in the week, we signed up to show our RV (along with 20 other couples) to the other rally participants Saturday afternoon.   RV open houses are very popular at the rallies.   We all get to see the good ideas and the good use of space from other RVers.  Participants also get to see how different types, makes and models of RV work with the full timer lifestyle.

About 20 couples walked through our truck camper.

DJ Setting Up Before The Catered Dinner
DJ Setting Up Before The Catered Dinner

Saturday night we had another catered dinner.  It was followed up by an “Old West” themed party with dance music provided by a DJ.

Sunday April 29

Sunday morning was the farewell catered breakfast.  Howard and Linda reiterated their motivation for forming RV-Dreams (to spread the joy that comes from the full timing lifestyle) and said their eloquent farewells.  We said our farewells as well and hit the highway.

Next stop – Overnight in Kingman Arizona.

Hope to see you on the road ahead!

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