Another reason why I headed east after leaving Austin instead of the traditional full timer direction westward was because I wanted to attend the National “Skinnie Winnie” rally in Asheville, North Carolina. For those who might not be familiar with what a Skinnie Winnie is, it is a Winnebago, Itasca Navion, or “SOB” (Some Other Brand) built on the more narrow Sprinter chassis. And besides, never in my life have I ever been able to associate with anything that contained the word “skinny!”
Having never been to an RV rally, I had no idea what to expect, but I was certainly filled with apprehension. Although I have had to “work the room” throughout my professional career, at heart I am the epitome of an introvert. I had recently seen some photos on another blog from a rally where they were all wearing ponchos and Mexican sombreros, and playing games like eating a cookie off your forehead without using your hands. There are not enough tequila shots in the eastern USA to get me to eat a cookie off my forehead. I was getting scared. So I emailed my friend Lynne of “WinnieViews” fame, who has attended previous Skinnie Winnie rallies. She reassured me this group was more the wine and cheese set, and not likely to encounter any line dancing dressed in “Western night” garb. WHEW!!!
So I gutted up to make the best of it for the opportunity to learn from another 100 View/Navion owners, immersed among another 50 rigs “just like me.” But not without asking the RV Park office to please assign me a site on the outskirts. 😉
I found this group very friendly and welcoming to the point where I was surprised I suddenly turned so “social.” There were a lot of really interesting people from very diverse backgrounds, yet having so much in common. A few sailors, a lot of adventuresome travelers, many in my age demographic. There would be no need for a Conga line, the ice was broken by the common thread of one apparently well designed, well respected, well loved RV!
One of the local dealers was there with a video presentation on Sprinter’s added safety systems like the “ESP” (Electronic Stability Program prevents roll overs) the “ASR” (Acceleration Slip Regulation gets out out of a skid) and the “Brake Assist” (decides how critical the stop based on the pressure on the pedal.) The video proves that my Mercedes Benz systems are a far better driver than me!
A representative from Winnebago hosted a Q&A, though he had as many questions as he did answers. He was downright interviewing people to find what worked versus what did not work, which is I suppose, the advantage of a “Made in the U.S.A.” company like Winnebago in that they actively solicit feedback from their customers.
But probably the most educational for a “newbie” like me was the “Coach Crawl,” or the open house of RV rallies. At least 30 out of the 50 rigs there opened up their doors to allow a tour to show off their modifications. I really got a lot of great ideas, including how to put a screen over my back “Exit” window, as well as a resource for a great sunshade that allows me to see out while others can’t see in, which will be great for the work day!
Other popular “mods” were a thermostat regulator in the shower, single-lever faucets in the sinks, and LED lighting, of course.
The Bear Creek RV Park was a good venue for the rally with a nice large Clubhouse for a meeting area and a heated pool, but not really my kind of place. At $40 per night, it was a little too rich for my blood, especially for sites so close together.
Besides, after our rally, a FMCA (Family Motor Coach Assn) group rolled in, and it was wall to wall diesel pushers on all sides of me, causing me to suddenly feel very small. It amazes me how absolutely PERFECT the weather has been Asheville, yet I hear the drone of their air conditioners all day and night like they are moving around in an insulated “pod.”
The other thing that cracks me up is how styled out these Class A people are. The Winnie people were all in jeans and tee shirts, but these people stopped just short of the epaulets and white Captain’s cap!
But I am not ready to leave Asheville just yet, so I found a small RV park just 2 miles away, right on the French Broad River, next to a park with a seven mile bike path running through it for $17/night less. So it will be my shortest travel day yet. But I need to get back down to the river with my “tribe.”