I’m guessing that few of you have heard of RVingWomen, also known as RVW. It’s exactly as it sounds, a group of adult women who love to travel the country in their RVs. Tim and I had met a woman earlier in the summer who told us about the group. I joined in September as a promise I made to Tim months before his death, that I’d keep going RVing if something happened to him.
I belong to the Mid-Atlantic chapter of RVW, and this weekend was their final “rally” of the year, celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. Wanting desperately to meet the group before the end of the RV season, I paid two weeks ago to attend the event being held in Lancaster, PA. I was so excited about the opportunity to have an early Thanksgiving dinner with my new friends given that I still have no idea what what I’ll be doing on the actual holiday.
Then came the election, followed by several days of protesting and outbreaks of hate motivated events around the country. I started to question my upcoming journey to PA. I had a cold too, another excuse I could have used to cancel my plans. I was pretty sure that I would be the only African-American participant at the rally and wondered how in this “new post-election world” I’d be received and welcomed. I was actually even starting to question my purchase of MMII and my dream of seeing this country now that so many people feel empowered to publicly display their hate. But I could hear Tim’s voice telling me not to let fear get in the way of the plans I (we) had made. I knew this group of women could help me learn so much about RVing in general and answer some specific questions I had about Memory Maker II.
So with some trepidation, I set out as planned on Friday morning and headed to Lancaster. I had so much confidence driving there, and I parked among the big rigs at a rest stop and a gas station in PA. It was awesome! I arrived at the campground where the rally was to be held. Ironically, it was the same campground where our family stayed three years ago when we took Kendal on the Thomas the Train ride. It felt surreal and so sad being back here without Tim, and once again I felt a twinge of fear as I drove up to my campsite. I could see that I was going to have to make an S-like manuever for me to get into my assigned space. As I was thinking of how to best approach this, my new friend Gayle appeared in my mirror, smiled and said, “would you like some help getting into the space?” YES, I replied. And from that moment on, women came from everywhere to help me plug in and hook up everything I needed to make MMII my home for the weekend. Everyone surrounded me with welcomes, smiles, hugs, and their names, teasing me that there would be a test of names later. Some of the RVingWomen are members of the LBGT community, making them potential targets for hate too. So though I was indeed the only African-American female in the group of 70 women, I felt embraced, loved and right at home.
In the first three hours I was there, I had started to ask questions about MMII, and women showed up with their dogs and shared all kinds of information with me. I was writing as many thing into my phone as I could as fast as I could. My new friend Meg brought over her tool kit and fixed all kinds of things for me, particularly my two piece bedroom door that has never worked properly. She fixed the door in 2 minutes flat. I was amazed! She then began to explain how my propane system worked for my heat and explained many other things I hadn’t previously understood. It was exactly why I came to this event!!
Friday night’s dinner was great!! Everyone brought an appetizer to share, and the main course was a choice of homemade soups, salad and assorted breads. For dessert, offered right before the evening entertainment, there was make your own sundaes. Breakfast on Sat morning were several flavors of oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, cereals, breads, bagels and sweet rolls and fruits. Right after breakfast I discovered that I had no heat, which meant I was out of propane! Uh Oh! But Meg appeared again, and we unhooked the RV from all its connections, drove MMII down the hill to the camp office, got the propane tank refilled and parked it again. What I thought would take 30-60 minutes took less than 15. I think I’m getting the hang of this! Note to self, whenever the propane is showing less than 1/3 full, get it filled, BEFORE I hook everything up! If breakfast wasn’t filling enough, lunch was grilled hot dogs and chips. I only had one hot dog so I’d be good and hungry for Saturday night’s Thanksgiving feast!
Right after lunch was an incredible christening ceremony for new RVs, and Memory Maker II was included in the festivities! The ceremony included reading a certificate from our chapter of RVW and christening the RV with wine!! A large group of women went to all 5 of the RVs that were christened and each was opened for folks to tour. I answered lots of questions about MMII and everyone loved it! I’ll always treasure the christening ceremony and my certificate!
Then came the Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night! WOW is the only word to describe it! There were huge trays of turkey and ham and every side dish you could imagine that group members made. The desserts were also amazing!! There was great conversation at the tables to go with the awesome food!
The night ended with 10 rousing games of bingo! I haven’t laughed that much in forever! These women are hysterical! Information was also shared with the group about my book, and I sold quite a few copies to members, which was just icing on the cake for this great weekend!
Sunday morning breakfast was as elaborate as the Thanksgiving feast. On the menu were pancakes, and many choices of egg, meat, veggie and cheese casseroles and lots of fruit, pastry and muffins too! I sold more books and then we took a group photo as some of the group, including me, had to leave today. The lucky rest of the group gets to stay until Monday morning! I can’t wait to come back to RVW’s Thanksgiving rally next year, only 363 more days to go til next year’s event. I’m also hoping to get to other Mid-Atlantic chapter events next year too!
For the entire weekend, there wasn’t any discussion to the large group about the election. There was just fellowship, food, games, alcohol and an incredible amount of fun. None of these women are oblivious to the potential ramifications of the President-Elect taking office in January, and I had brief discussions with a few of them about our own individual fears, however I also believe that when we drove into the campground we chose to leave the outside world outside just for this weekend. I was happy with that. Reality will still be waiting for us as soon as the rally officially ends. The RVW women are a force to be reckoned with, so whatever may come in the future, I’m betting they are up for it!
Here’s what I learned this weekend… Those of us who believe we are potential targets still have to go out and live our lives the way we always have, just with an abundance of caution. I’m thrilled that I attended the RVW event and I’m grateful that I met some women with whom I will be friends for life! I’m thankful that I didn’t let my fear of hate hold me back. I still look forward to our trips in MMII next season, but I’ll do everything in my power to ensure that Kim, Kendal and I stay safe while trying to continue our adventures and learn new things. What I’m so dismayed about is that in addition to our adventures, we also have to explain to Kendal why some people hate others. While I’m great at teaching, it’s a lesson I’d rather not have to give! Miss you Tim, now more than ever! But know that we’ll keep our dreams alive and will show Kendal everything we’d planned to even before she was born! Rest well babe, I’ve got this!
Loretta, there is so much, too much on which I could comment and no matter what I write, it would not be enough to do justice to the breadth, depth, and height of passion you’ve experienced and poured into this post.
Hence, I shall write simply and sincerely that I honor you – your courage, your perseverance, your faithfulness to the vision of life that you and Tim began to realize, truly, your everything!
Sally forth! Carry on! Be secure in the knowledge that you are living the dream! Be safe as you go!
YES, I absolutely did pour myself into this post. Interestingly, as long as it is I even left a lot out that I could have added in attempt to adequately describe all of the range of emotions I experienced in just 2 1/2 days. Fear, terror, joy, sadness, tears, laughter, excitement, pride, happiness, and a huge sense of accomplishment. I’ll keep carrying on for sure! It’s my calling to live this dream, and to keep moving forward to honor Tim’s approach to life.
Love you back.
I am SOOOOOOOO GLAD YOU WENT!!!!! These ladies seem amazing!!!! Yes, we will do everything we promised Daddy and know that he will always guide us. Watching her just be her joyful fearless self gives me peace though I am scared each moment we are apart. Nothing new, just more pronounced. Truth be told, I was scared the second she left me womb. I could no longer hold on to her, no longer able to hide and protect her whole being with mine. Never the less we will be fearless and steadfast!
I’m happy I went too. Kinda hard to really explain how great a weekend it was! I learned so much about myself and how therapeutic all of my time spent with a variety of people are to my grieving process. It’s making me a better person, Mom and Grammy. We will be fearless for sure! Onward and upward!
Thank you for such an enthusiastic report of the RVW weekend and the women who attended. What you did not mention, however, was that we enjoyed meeting you every bit as much as you enjoyed meeting everyone else. Your energy and drive are wonderful to experience, and I am happy to have had the chance to share the weekend with you. I hope to see you in April.
Thanks Lee-Ann!!! How nice of you!!!! You and I are a mutual admiration society!! I told everyone I’d met someone who loved learning and education as much as I did!! Loved spending time with you!! You will definitely see me in April!!!
Really nice blog, Loretta. We’re so glad you joined the Midatlantic group. Nice rig! Can’t wait to see you at RVing Women events next year! Kim and Kathi Miller.
Kim, thanks soooooo much!! I love our rig. called Memory Maker II. I’m already looking forward to next year’s events!!