When we started fulltiming, a veteran road warrior told me that you’re not a real RVer until you have accomplished most, if not all, of what he called RVing’s Top 10 experiences. We must be slow learners, because after eleven years on the road, we still have a couple to go. So are we real RVers yet?
1 – Boondocking: To truly experience the freedom that the RV lifestyle has to offer, at least once you should spend a few days or even a week or two boondocking, also called dry camping. I define boondocking as living without being hooked up to a water source or electrical outlet, living off my RV’s systems. The feeling of independence you get when you sever the campground umbilical cord is something you must experience to understand. Whether you prefer to camp for weeks on end on BLM land in the desert or just cross the country spending the night in the parking lots of RV friendly businesses like WalMart, boondocking can save you a lot of money, and once you get used to it, it is lots of fun!
2 – Quartzsite: If you spend any time at all around fulltime or snowbird RVers, before too long someone will ask you if you have been to Quartzsite yet. Located on Interstate 10 about 125 miles west of Phoenix, Quartzsite is a sleepy little Arizona desert town of a couple hundred people most of the year. But every January, thousands and thousands of RVers descend on Quartzsite to boondock on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the surrounding desert, and to attend the big Quartzsite RV Show and the numerous flea markets, rock and gem shows, and other events held every winter. It’s big, it’s crowded, it’s dusty, and it’s fun! Some people love it and some attend once and seek quieter activities for future outings. If you have not been to Quartzsite yet, you owe it to yourself to experience it at least once.
3 – Rainbows End in Livingston, Texas: Rainbows End is the Mecca for serious RVers. National Headquarters of the Escapees RV Club, literally thousands of RVers “live” on Rainbow Drive in Livingston, the address of the Escapees Mail Service. Rainbows End includes a very nice RV park, the club’s National Headquarters, and CARE, the adult care center the Escapees created to provide assistance to retired RVers and those recuperating from illness or surgery. RVers come to Rainbows End to license their vehicles and become “legal” Texans, to tour the club’s mail forwarding service, to meet friends, and just hang out with like-minded folks.
4 – The Rally: RV rallies offer the opportunity for fun, fellowship, and education, and the biggest RV rally is the Affinity Group’s annual mega-event, known simply as The Rally. Thousands of people come to camp, shop the vendors, attend seminars, enjoy entertainment from top named performers, visit with old friends and make new ones. This year’s event will be in Louisville, Kentucky July 22 – 25.
5 – Escapade: Though not on the huge scale of The Rally, the annual Escapees Club Escapades are events no RVer should miss. You will meet lots of nice people, attend some excellent seminars, and enjoy the entertainment every evening. This year’s Escapade will be in Goshen, Indiana September 12- 17.
6 – Slab City: Located on an abandoned military base in Niland, California, Slab City is a popular gathering place every winter for RVers who come to boondock and enjoy what many call the last great bastion of freedom in America. Populated by serious RVers, snowbirds, eccentrics who live there year round, and an assortment of colorful characters, Slab City is another one of those places you either love or hate. Check it out once, and draw your own conclusions.
7 – Elkhart Indiana: Home to at least half of the RV manufacturers in the country, Elkhart, Indiana has a lot to offer RVers, from factory tours to RV surplus stores, displays of some of the earliest RVs at the RV Hall of Fame Museum, RV rallies, and lots of fun exploring the Amish countryside just east of town.
8 – Highway 101, Oregon Coast: This is surely one of the most spectacular drives in the United States, offering beautiful ocean vistas, charming fishing villages, beach combing, whale watching, lighthouses, and memories around every bend in the road.
9 – Padre Island: Every winter RVers come to Padre Island National Seashore, near Corpus Christie, Texas to dry camp at Padre Island National Seashore. A $10 annual permit is required, and water and a dump station are free. There is no time limit, and many RVers stay the entire season.
10 – The Alaska Highway: This is the ultimate RV destination for many. A trip up the Alaska Highway includes adventure, wonderful scenery, wildlife, history, and memories to last a lifetime. The road is not nearly as bad as some people would want you to believe, but the experiences you will have are more than anyone could ever describe.
Well, are you a real RVer? How many of these Top 10 can you lay claim to?
Thought For The Day – If God is willing to forgive us, why do we sometimes find it so hard to forgive ourselves?
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I’ve noticed you’re posting blogs that you’ve previously posted within the last year. What’s up with that?
Gee Susan, maybe he’s busy getting the new issue of the Journal out, and maybe its kind of hard to find something new to write about every night??? Ya think????
And not all of us have been reading for years.
I have been a steady reader for over 2 years and I don’t remember this blog before. But it looks like Nick writes a blog between 500 and 800 words every night and sometimes even more. That doesn’t count Bad Nicks blog. That is a very minimum of over 185,000 words a year just in this one blog. The average paperback novel has about 90,000 words. How many authors do you know of who are that prolific? And that doesn’t count the Gypsy Journal itself!
LIke I said, I don’t remember this blog post, but even if it has been posted before, just think of it as summer reruns. 🙂
We’ve been fulltiming for 3 years and we’ve done 4 of the 10 you listed including Quartzsite about 12 years ago before it was so commercial. Our ultimate adventure was the Alaskan Highway in the summer of 2009. Your right when you say that it’s very difficult to describe that experience in words. The adventure and beauty are unequaled anywhere else we’ve been and the road is NOT as bad as portrayed. Everyone should have that experience at least once in their RVing lifetime – including you and Terry. Go for it!!
Hi Nick, after 15 years of fulltiming we are like you and have done all but 2 of your top ten. But we aren’t done yet and who knows we just might make hwy 101 and the Alaskan hwy.
But you know what, if we don’t it sure won’t kill us, cause we’ve sure had a blast and wouldn’t change a thing…….
Mike & Pat
Just like David Letterman’s TOP TEN list is different every night, every RVer’s TOP TEN list is different. Only two items from this list would make out top ten list. Everybody’s different, thank god, it would be pretty boring if we were all the same.
Nick, you could come up with another list–Bottom Ten! Ten things that are either unavoidable, accidental, or simply so run-of-the-mill that all RVers will probably do them at least once! My list starts out, spend the night at Flying J or Walmart; back out or reroute at the last minute because of low clearance ahead; break down on the side of the highway; set up camp in a teeming downpour; search desperately for a gas station before it’s too late (bonus points if you are pandhandled by someone really unsavory in the very out-of-the-way, one-pump station you finally are fortunate enough to find); major dumping fiasco; etc. I’m sure there are others we haven’t been lucky enough to experience yet!
I’ll add to the Bottom Ten List….clipping a car in an RV park when pulling in with the 5th wheel….and the car belongs to the campground owner ! LOL
We’ve only been full timing for a year and a half and we’ve done 7 on your list. Guess we’re well on our way. However, no idea when we’ll get the other three done but it’s the fun along the way that counts.
Wow – I have not yet really started to fulltime but have been RVing/Camping for over 50 years and have already got 4 of the 10 under my belt and enjoyed every minute of them. Might add a Gypsy Gathering as #11 for me, making 5 of 11.
Only one I can’t remember doing and that’s the Rally. Won’t join Good Sam again. Too much junk mail. Had roadside insurance with them once, the junk mail comes through but not the renewal notices (4 notices sent 4th class…not forwarded) and I broke down 10 hours after it had expired and they wouldn’t honor it. Did call for me but I had to pay. Gee do you think one 1st class stamp would have been cheaper than four 4th class stamps.
We’ve been on the road nearly two years now and have done 7 of the 10. I love your lists that say we must be on the right track. Or are very ordinary. 🙂
Six for us after nearly 8 years. We COULD count the big Q, but we only visited there once, and we weren’t RVing at the time. Did The Rally before it was called The Rally — back then it was The Great North American RV Rally (GNARV). That was our first year out, it was our first rally ever, and it was SO BIG (even then) that it scared the crap out of us. We spend most of the time NOT going to things! Never again!
We must be THERE! We have done all 10! Of course we have owned an RV for 40+ years and have been full-timing for over 14. Some we have done more than once. 20 Escapades and the Oregon Coast for example. Some we will do again. Alaska in 2011 is on our list for re-do. The beauty of our life-style is you can do any or all, and find others equally as nice to add to your own “top ten”.
Went to “The Rally” in Albuquerque and it was terrible because of the bus transportation between the two sites. Never again will we attend a Rally and cancelled Good Sam membership and cancelled the MotorHome Magazine because it is an Affinity product. I do like the Trailer Life Directory and found it cheaper on Amazon.
I would say we have done all 10 as I would substitute an FMCA International Convention for the Rally. I love the idea of a bottom 10, not necessarily in any order.
1. Major dumping event like hose comes off and it’s all over!!!!!
2. Tire blow out especially if it’s the right front tire.
3. Sunk up to your back axles in a designated camping spot.
4. Sunk up to your axles in a non-camping spot.
5. Dragging the tow car behind the RV because it’s still in gear.
6. Driving a back road, ahead you would go under a bridge with a 10 foot maximum, you need 13 feet and there was no pre-warning sign. You have to stop, unhitch and turn the coach around all while blocking traffic.
7. Driving a road you shouldn’t be on, like the southwest road around lake Tahoe in you big RV and tow car.
8. Husband and wife disagreement while backing into a site, also funny hand signals from one partner to another.
9. Your pet gets out and you can’t find them.
10. You hit something like a low rock, post or cone or an overhang of a building or tree damaging your coach.
I also have to say we score 10 of 10 on this too.
We have been on the road full time now for 6 years, we have done 6 of the ten listed and hope to do the rest sometime. We have also done 5 of the ten of Connie’s list. This is the fun of full time RVing. We also agree that the Gypsy Gathering should be on the list.
Great post Nick 🙂 We’ve been on the road since Jan. 2007 & have done 6 on the list + 2 Gypsy Rally’s & not Livingston but several other SKP parks. I noticed all except Elkhart are West coast things. There must be some East & mid-west things too? On our must do bucket list is the Maritimes. Ok rethinking Boondocking is all over & Escapade seems to be east now 🙂 We did Stocton, Ca.
Thanks Nick…Now we know were on the road to being true Fulltimers. Looking forward to repeating some 🙂
Just because some says you should jump off a bridge doesn’t mean you should do it! The top 10 list is interesting but many of the things such as the Rally and Quartzite are of zero interest to us. As the Palm’s said everyone’s list is different. That being said over the years we have done six of the 10 and will repeat many such as the Oregon coast as that is one of our most favorite areas.
We’ve been on the road almost 10 years and have done all but “The Slabs” and “The Rally”….but we’ve been to Quartzsite several times and several FMCA International Rallys……and as for Connie’s bottom 10 we’ve done all but have a tire blowout or sunk in the mud…several of those multiple times as well….life on the road is a real experience!