First thing I learned was that when they say just follow the signs, don’t count on it. They did have signs at the freeway exits and turns from there but if you come in another way, no signs at all. I managed to find my way in any way. Muwahaha.
Registration was very well laid out and handled. I got my packet full of goodies and a new lanyard to keep with a badge hanging from it that tells everyone my name, state, and emergency info if I decided to drop dead while walking around the enormous fairgrounds. They also had free open computer terminals setup in there if you needed to check your email or browse something. For fun, another station was giving out stackable ribbons to add to your badge to show what groups you belong so such as Good Sam, Coast to Coast, Camping World President’s Club, Trailer Life Magazine, etc. They made it pretty easy to get to know one another fast.
They had seminars scheduled all day every day which is what I was looking for. Experts, including people who have been full-timing for 45 years, came in to teach us the basics like maintaining tires and tank systems and how to handle banking and mail on the road as well as more interesting subjects such as how to travel Canada and Alaska and what to expect, what Tracks tours are like, and so on. I believe I saw an RV cooking class and arts and crafts class on the schedule as well. The speakers were excellent and backed up their presentations with books (many of which they had written) and DVDs which you could purchase afterward.
Outside on the grounds I quickly learned that I could have and should have brought a bike or scooter. I had no idea you could bring your own and ride everywhere easily. There were bikes, scooters, ECVs, and golf carts everywhere. I will definitely bring something next time. They did have a tram running between the fairgrounds and the camping area and I managed to flag down the handicapped golf cart for a ride once.
Food was plentiful. Of course they had to have Georgia peach cobbler there. Mmmm. I managed to drive several people crazy by walking around with my Philly cheese steak sandwich loaded with onions, peppers, and muchrooms. Snicker. One stand that was doing humongous business was Wild Bill’s Soda Pop. For $10 you get a lovely barrel shaped steel mug and all the root beer, orange soda, etc. you can handle all day straight from kegs and taps on the side of the stand.
There were lots of games to play and contests with nice prizes. When you register, they give you a big sticker with a number on it. Find the 3 other people who have your same number and win a prize. I didn’t find even one of them though someone did find all of them. They also had casino day where I finally got to play casino style blackjack with dealers in tuxes. No money needed since we just played for chips which you traded for contest entry tickets. Texas Hold’em Poker was available, roulette, craps, and slot machines.
The State of Nevada Tourism Office ran a geocaching contest one day there. They gave us the coordinates to hunt up 8 coupons to win prizes. I got there late but still managed to find some and get a small prize. It would have helped to know that most were hidden inside the new motorhomes on display when I started. My good manners training from my parents interfered with my hunting at first until I found that out. We were opening up all the cabinets and looking under the beds in $600,000 and more Class A motohomes!
On the last day they had a carnival day with lots of carnival games. All during the rally, they had a youth area for kids to enjoy themselves safely.
At night they had high class entertainment and a tried to break the world’s record for most couples dancing at one time. I have no idea if they succeeded since I had to leave every afternoon to sleep before working all night again.
Out on the grounds were numerous RVs on display, scooters/golf carts/ECVs for sale, and car manufacturer booths. I got a great metal cup from GMC and a nice toy RV from Ford. Fleetwood gave me a very handy new backpack I used the entire time there.
One large building housed the other product displays, most RV related and some like makeup and watches not related but still useful. Camping World was running a mini store there on one side of the building. Escapees, Good Sam, Coast to Coast, Trailer Life, Woodall’s, KOA, RV parks, RVing Women, and many others were well represented. It was great to meet them all and I managed to not go crazy with my wallet which is not to say that I didn’t buy anything. I did. The freebies were very useful and appreciated by all too.
My biggest expenditure there though it wasn’t entirely there was on a Coast to Coast membership and home park buy in. I met a park owner there selling memberships in his park which is required to be able join Coast to Coast, RPI, Thousand Trails, and other private membership campground clubs. Home park memberships often sell for thousands of dollars but his deal was much less. I also met a gentleman who brokers resales of these out of Florida. While they were offering a great deal at the show, I don’t do business with anyone without checking them out on the Internet first. Lo and behold, the resaler had auctions of the same up on Ebay for even cheaper. It never occurred to me to look on Ebay for these before. What a world! I snapped up one of the auctions and went to him at the rally the next day with what I had done. He was very nice about it and apparently I was not the only one who had stumbled on it. A couple was standing there who had done the same thing. He let me pay for the home park auction there as well as the Coast to Coast and RPI memberships, gave me my books and ID cards, and was even nice enough to give me the latest Passport America book which I had not received this year with my current membership. His name is Dan Monaghan from Clermont, FL. Check out his site at http://www.campgroundresales.com/ and his Ebay auctions . I’ll go more into these memberships in another post. I bought both Coast to Coast and RPI even though they tend to overlap at times to evaluate for a year for this blog and you my faithful readers (Yeah , yeah for me too. I ain’t that magnanimous.).