NAARVA -SOUTHERN RALLY -TAKE TWO

What is it about RV rallies that make us a little queasy? Typically, RV rallies aren’t high on the list of things to do for families with kids. When we first got the invitation, we were a bit apprehensive about attending a second NAARVA rally. NAARVA stands for National African American RV Association. Our first rally, while it had many pluses, also had its share of minuses.

 

 

However, after speaking with newly elected NAARVA leadership, we were eager to see what changes were put in place. NAARVA, like many RV clubs, has recognized the need to encourage membership of families and younger RVers.

 

Location – Lakewood Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach, SC

 

Myrtle Beach had been on our list of “must visit” locations for a long time. So we packed up the RV and headed out to Lakewood Camping Resort. Checking in was a breeze.

 

 

As we found our site, we were greeted with smiles and waves from the many other NAARVA rally attendees. The rally was packed with over 200 RV’s from nine different states representing the entire Southern Region.

 

 

This was one of the few times at a campground that we felt in the majority rather than the minority.

 

Southern Region Director, Dr. Monica Davis, kicked off the rally with the opening ceremonies in the beachside auditorium. As each chapter name was called, they stood and cheered, announcing their presence.

 

 

Afterwards we hit the tent, grabbed our rally bags, and settled down for some hotdogs and burgers. You could feel the energy radiating inside the tent.

 

 

Our boys had one thing on their minds…the beach…with the sun getting ready to set, we couldn’t hold them back any longer.

 

 

So off we went to enjoy the first of many gorgeous sunsets.

 

That evening after the kids finally drifted off to sleep, we studied the itinerary to plan our week.

Right away we noticed there wasn’t an overload of events we had to attend. So we picked a few local activities to explore.

 

The next morning proved the perfect mix of education for the guys and a social for the ladies.

 

 

Keith attended a tire safety seminar hosted by Michelin. I had a chance to speak with Raymond from New Orleans, who has been RVing for 38 years! He’s a huge Southern University football fan and decided to get an RV to have a better game day experience. Learning from him about how challenging it was for an African American just to get insurance was quite humbling.

 

The ladies got a real treat. This year’s Southern Bell Social’s guest speaker was Barbara Blain-Bellamy. She is the first female African American Mayor of Conway, SC. She led an inspiring discussion about a commitment to giving back to the community. I wish my daughter had been in attendance to hear the words of wisdom.

 

 

Then it was time for some fun. We decided to visit the highly rated, nearby Brookgreen Gardens. These are not your average gardens. They have sculptures, a wildlife preserve, and so much more with over 9,000 acres, the Low Country Zoo, and trails through different ecosystems on the property.

 

 

The boys enjoyed a scavenger hunt through the Ribbit Exhibit.

 

 

Our boys love the junior ranger program in our NPS. Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Site, and they offered a “ranger type” packet for the boys to take around and find the answers. The boys worked extra hard, since they knew if they completed the packet they would earn a prize!

 

As we walked through the lovely gardens, we were overcome with a haunting feeling. When we stopped to read one of the historical signs it became clear why.

 

 

With its origin as a slave plantation, we couldn’t help but wonder what the lives of our ancestors had been like. Could they enjoy these beautiful surroundings or was it just a living hell? It was again one of those moments where RVing gave us a chance to educate our boys on a piece of not so great American history.

 

The next morning it was once again time to explore the beach. We ran into plenty of other rally members taking strolls on the beach.

 

 

We learned how much our boys loved the beach. They could spend all day playing in the sand…

 

 

I have to say we are strictly amateurs when it comes to the beach. I’ve learned that cheap beach umbrellas won’t survive any type of wind. Go ahead and laugh at me.

 

 

As our boys, always hungry, reminded us, it was time to eat. So we decided to head over to Wahlburgers at Broadway at the Beach.

 

Broadway at the Beach is a perfect place to spend an afternoon away from the water. There were tons of restaurants, shopping, and even attractions to ride.

 

To my great surprise we found a honey store and restocked the RV with our favorite honey…

 

 

Tupelo honey. Talk about a great ending to the day…

 

 

Over the course of the next few days, we bounced in and out of different activities. We took the boys to enjoy the pools, lazy river, and the water slides.

 

 

Nothing says “family friendly” more than an ice cream social. Our boys loved this event. Who can say no to free pints of ice cream?

 

Everyone had a great time and it was the perfect chance to meet members from different chapters.

 

So many members went out of their way to speak with our kids to remind them how lucky they are to be RVing at such a young age.

 

The wisdom that was passed down to our children and us has been priceless.

 

 

The biggest event of the rally is always the Saturday night banquet. This year’s theme was Africa. All attendees were encouraged to dress in their best African outfit.

 

 

It was an incredible sight to see so many people dressed in African attire, and that party went on well into the evening.

 

 

As we packed up to leave another successful NAARVA Southern Rally, we’ve come to the realization that change is happening, albeit slowly. We have come to recognize that instead of waiting for an entire organization to change to fit our needs, we just need to adjust our expectations.

 

 

Embrace the items we can only get from attending a NAARVA rally. We will look to these rallies to help us connect, to learn, and for fellowship in large numbers with other African-American RVers.

 

That feeling, let’s just say comfort in numbers is priceless.

 

 

NAARVA will be celebrating its 25th year in the summer of 2017. We are proud to be members of NAARVA. They are true pioneers in the RV world.

 

VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS

They say that Virginia is for lovers and it’s true. Lovers of national parks, hiking, scenic overlooks, nature watching, cavern exploring and night sky star gazing! Virginia is the place for all of those things. I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to do a four day getaway to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Shenandoah National Park is one that I have often gone to as a day tripper when visiting friends in Front Royal, Virginia which is at the northern most end of the national park that runs north to south in the rolling hills of Virginia.  Its 105 mile Skyline Drive along the ridge is a great place to take a Sunday drive, stopping at the many scenic overlooks along the way. I had always wanted to spend more than a few hours there and get a little further south along Skyline Drive to capture some of the beautiful vistas there.

 

Read More

10 TIPS FOR HAVING A MAGICAL RV VACATION AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

When I was a little boy, my mom and dad never had money for family vacations.  Thankfully, my grandparents did.  They had seven kids and eight grandkids, but they still managed to take all of us to Disney World for four different family reunions.

 

We stayed in a hotel for most of those trips, but the one I remember most vividly involved a Winnebago RV rental, an epic road trip, and a campsite at Fort Wilderness. My grandfather always recalled that trip as his favorite too. He loved renting the RV and getting out on the open road–and he LOVED the wild west theme at Fort Wilderness.  That trip with my grandfather happened over thirty years ago, and I have been dreaming of replicating it with my own children for many years.

 

This past winter we finally had the chance to take our three boys to Disney in a Winnebago rental of our own–and it was epic. We brought the boys on classic rides like Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom, and we ate wiener schnitzel and yodeled in Germany at Epcot.  But more than anything else, we all loved our time relaxing together at Fort Wilderness, which is truly one of the world’s greatest campgrounds. Our boys have not stopped talking about this trip to Disney World, and they probably never will.

 

Is your family considering an epic RV adventure to Walt Disney World? If so, here are 10 tips to make your trip magical and memorable–and worth talking about for years to come.

 

  1.  Camp at Fort Wilderness:

 

There are other campgrounds nearby, but if you can, book a site at the Fort. It may cost a little more, and you do need to book months in advance, but it is worth the extra effort and money. The Fort is often called America’s favorite campground–and for good reason. It is packed with Disney magic around every corner, and it makes visiting the theme parks incredibly easy. Plus, you get all the perks of staying at a Disney Resort like early dining reservations and extra Magic Hours.

Read More

COME BACK FITTER

Hello from The Fit RV Headquarters! James and I just got home from a whirlwind RV trip in the fantastic stat of Arizona.

The trip went off without a hitch, I’m happy to report. We finally got to bust out our bikes OUTSIDE! It’s been a long snowy winter in Utah, which meant the only biking we were getting was on the spin bike in our basement. Not nearly as fun as the real thing. So, the warm Arizona sun was a welcomed break. It felt great to temporarily shed my parka and pull on a pair of shorts.

Read More

HAPPY CAMPERS

One of the best parts of promoting Girl Camping is watching women go from thinking that it looks like a fun thing to do, to actually going on their first campout. I have had the pleasure of mentoring many women in the beginning of their journey before passing them off to someone back in their geographical area for their first official campout.  It’s disappointing not to be there for the fun part but I recently got to experience the excitement of three first time Girl Campers at our annual Kickoff Campout at Turkey Swamp Campground in Jackson, NJ.

The excitement had actually been building for months within our online community. Facebook comments and shares about gear and menus and the potential for bad weather abounded. To manage the excitement of an upcoming camping trip it helps to talk a lot about it. We booked the first weekend the park was open knowing the weather could be unseasonably warm or annoyingly cold! We didn’t care. The winter was too long and part of the fun of camping is dealing with the elements.

 

Making camp with the girls is half the fun. Everyone lends a hand to make it happen. Jean created centerpieces from the downed pine branches from the previous nights windy storm. 

Read More