Last winter Jon volunteered to be the webmaster for the Freightliner Chassis Owner’s Club or FCOC. If your motorhome has a Freightliner Custom Chassis, you can be a member of this organization. The club is similar to other RVing social clubs with Online Communities, Discount Programs, a Magazine – The RV Soul, and they hold rallies to bring RVers together. The rallies will have informative workshops to learn more about various topics of interest to RVers and to learn about the Custom chassis. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation often brings a motorhome chassis and a team to the rallies to give talks to the members, to answer questions, and will give onsite advice at the member’s motorhomes. Besides the workshops, the attendees share meals, have excursions to local attractions, craft workshops, and entertainment. The FCOC sponsors national rallies at least four times each year which are held in different parts of the country. This summer’s rally, which we attended in August, was in Elkhart, IN at the Elkhart Campground.
We got to Elkhart a week early so that we could explore the area before the rally started and for a little self-care. Jon had an eye doctor’s appointment at Lenscrafters in South Bend and got new glasses and I took a spa day for a haircut & mani pedi. We also upgraded to 5G on our Verizon hotspot and got a new unlimited data plan. The Elkhart campground is quite large with lots of nice amenities, and they even have a pickleball court! Jon and I got in several games and seem to be improving just a bit. We at least can keep a volley going for more than one or two hits.
Elkhart is the home of many of the RV manufacturers and suppliers as well as the home of the RV/Motorhome Hall of Fame & Museum. As it was very hot, we took a day in the museum to get our steps in as well as to check out the history of the motorhome.
Though we didn’t have to go far to see historical RVs as there was a club of historical travel trailers also having a rally at our campground. We spent one evening walking around the park and chatting with the owners who admit to having “aluminitis” … many of them own multiple trailers which they have restored and some of them are just plain cute!
Besides the motorhome museum we had two other excursions planned during our week exploring Elkhart. We love supporting local theater and went to the Das Dutchman Essenhaus (a large complex of restaurants, shops, and a theater) for the play, Getting Sarah Married.
This was a fun production, with a tad bit of overacting, but it made for a fun night out.
We also went to Wellfield Botanical Gardens. This is a hidden gem in Elkhart with beautiful gardens and a lovely place for our daily walk.
As our first week closed out the other FCOC board members began arriving so we went out to dinner with them at the Flippin’ Cow and then to lunch at Essenhaus. Both meals were excellent, and we had a chance to get to know the other board members and their spouses.
Before the Rally started, Jon attended the Board Meeting where he was introduced to the board and later was voted into a two-year term as the webmaster at the membership meeting. His main job is to maintain the website, the mailing lists, and answer questions.
We had 80 motorhomes attend the rally and though we limited our social activities we did meet some very nice people.
FCOC is a completely volunteer organization and Jonathan and I jumped in volunteering during the week of the rally at the registration table, serving and cleaning up from meals (though I ate most of my meals at the coach as the community meals were definitely not gluten/dairy free), setting up rooms, taking photos, and helping members with computer issues. We attended the First Timers Orientation and membership meeting, but we skipped the social hours each night, the evening programs of music, card bingo, and an auction.
One of the workshops I attended was on fire safety and I got to use the extinguisher to put out the fire! Not only was the presentation fun (love playing with fire) but also very informative! It refreshed my memory on fire safety at the coach but also reminded me to update our Go Bag. I spent a morning updating medical, insurance, and contact information as I had put together our bag 5 years ago and a lot had changed during that time. I also made sure all of the supplies were still in date and we had what we would need if we had to evacuate the coach in a hurry.
Other offerings at the rally included a craft project, Freightliner Fireside Chat, Camp Freightliner, informative sessions on Allison Transmissions, Cummins Engine maintenance, Onan Generators, and Tire Safety & Wheel Weighing. Seminars presented by vendors were on cleaning supplies, portable lifts, solar energy, pet safety, tank cleaning, tire pressure monitoring systems, & Mary Kay. There was also an excursion to the Linton Enchanted Gardens for those not attending the seminars. It was definitely a packed schedule, and we were selective in what we participated in as we were trying to be socially distant at a social event!
One of the side benefits of the rallies is that vendors attend hawking their products. I can avoid most of their booths as I do not need a lot of what they are selling but we have been considering changing out our lead acid batteries for lithium and putting on solar panels for quite a while. Jon had researched and decided on what he wanted months ago but we were not in an area where we could get them installed.
As Solar Energy Systems of Nappanee, IN was at the rally and able to do the install, we jumped on it and got five LiFePO lithium ferro phosphate batteries. That give us a usable 500-amp hours of power. We also set up an appointment with them in January when they will be at the Quartzite Sports, Vacation, & RV Show in AZ (we will be in Southern California, just a few hours away) to get the new solar panels installed on the roof. Once everything is done, we will be able to boondock for a much longer period of time while running the generator less.
I spent a lot of time the week before the rally in rehearsals. I volunteered to give a performance of my GPS Wars and Other Tales as one of the seminar offerings. It had been 18 months since I had performed, and I was feeling pretty rusty! I had also adapted the beginning of the performance to relate to the RVing audience, so I had a lot of new material to learn too. I am happy to report that it is just like riding a bike … you just have to get back on and pedal away! My audience really seemed to enjoy themselves and the gig went pretty smoothly.
The rally ended with an auction raising money for the local Crossroads United Way in support of their Page the Puppy program. Vendors and members of the group donated items to be auctioned off and they raised several hundred dollars for the program. Page the Puppy is a series of four free bilingual (English & Spanish) children’s books, each with activities that parents and children can complete together to develop skills needed to enter kindergarten.
This was the first major event we have attended since the start of the pandemic. It was hard to be with so many people (mostly not wearing masks) but we tried to keep our distance, wore our masks when inside buildings, and we are very happy to report (as far as we know) no one got Covid from the gathering!
We are currently in Iowa … had to take a side trip to get our hydraulic pump fixed but more on that adventure later. Next up – two weeks in Nashville and a little family time.
Till then stay safe and healthy!