Our time with family camping in Door County was short as the weather decided not to cooperate, but it was still great to see everyone and spend a little time at the campfire and playing games. After leaving Door County after a month and a half, we headed south to do a night of moochdocking at my Dad's, get some laundry done and visit with the boys and my mom quick before we needed to head south to Goshen, Indiana for our first RV rally.
We got to Elkhart just at 4pm…um, Central time, ie. 5pm Eastern Elkhart time, which is too late to check in for the rally. We headed over to the Elkhart campground to spend the night. We weren’t alone though because there were several other Grand Design RV’s doing the same thing. We were planning on spending the night at our first boondocking site at a casino, however, with temps being well over 90, we would be running the generator all night long and it just didn’t make sense to burn through propane, when we could get closer to the rally site and have FHU pull-thru site with a Good Sam discount. We got a good nights sleep and were up early and over to the rally shortly after they opened at 10am to check in.
The Elkhart County fairgrounds is a gem of a fairground in every way. It is huge, has beautiful grounds and can accommodate around 500 RV’s. There are numerous FHU sites with 50amp, numerous more 30amp with water and the ability to create many more temporary sites with 30amp and water. Being that we were coming in the second day for arrival, we were escorted to a temporary 30amp and water site. Holy RV campground! It was a bit overwhelming to see over 375 RV’s and over 800 people milling around. The Grand Design rally started Tuesday with a hilarious “presidential” entry by the CEO of Grand Design and wrapped up Friday with an arial shot of all the participants surrounded by Grand Design RV’s, followed by a concert at one of the stages. This rally far exceeded our expectations and the organizers really did a great job organizing the events, meals, seminars, excursions, creating an amazing swag bag and just plain herding cats, i.e. attendees! Every day started with a full breakfast and announcements and then the day wrapped up with a full meal and fun event such as line dancing, campfire stories, concert and S’Mores. We, however, did not take part in all of the evening events as we met many new friends that we just plain hung out with at our RV’s and got to know one another. It was a very casual environment, with more folks stopping by to say hey or pull up a chair and sit awhile.
We signed up for the Amish Brown Bag excursion and spent the day touring Amish sites, with stops at a woodworking shop, buggy shop, quilt shop, E&S wholesale, bulk foods and a bakery. At each stop we received a gift for our brown bag. We scored Amish pretzels, popcorn, jam, and cinnamon rolls. We also attended an Amish Threshers dinner at an Amish families homestead. This was followed by a very interesting Q&A session with the owners on Amish life. Very interesting!
One of the benefits of coming to the rally is having the ability to choose 3 things you would like to have fixed while at the rally. Being that our RV is relatively new, we choose a couple minor things that we could think of at the time, which was 4 months ago. Additionally, they added our bent hydraulic jack to our list that we damaged in Door County. When we arrived we checked in with service to ensure they had all of our requests, including the jack and to let them know we were there. Within 3 hours we had a knock on the door from the tech and he was ready to take care of our items. He did a great job fixing those items as well as checking out a couple other items we inquired about. He also let us know that he would check to make sure the tech who would be installing the jack knew we were there. He came by the following day to install the new jack right at our site. Strangely enough, the last day of the rally, I went to open the microwave and it sparked and went dead. Dead as a door nail. Rick went over to the service desk and because it was the last day of the rally, they were unable to get a new microwave to the rally, so they will ship s a new one to our next destination. While there, Rick also got a couple packages of LED light strips for the outside lighting. Did I mention that all of this was FREE?!?!?!?! We were one of almost 400 RV’s there and just about everyone submitted a list of repairs of varying degrees, from minor things to larger items like awnings, leaf springs, jacks, etc. All were taken care of and then some. I can’t even tell you how many techs were there from Grand Design and Lippert, a major supplier of RV parts. Grand Design has a company motto, “We strive for nothing less than customers for life.” I think they definitely have a few!
In addition to Grand Design and Lippert booths, there were numerous other RV parts, supply and product vendors set up with booths and conducting seminars. We went to several seminars where we learned some new things and affirmed some things as well.
We also visited the vendor booths (insert large amounts of dollars leaving the wallet here). First, we found a fellow RV’er selling sink cover storage racks for an Amish gentleman who makes them and stains them to match the RV wood décor. They were very well made, including backer braces and I am always playing move the sink cover, while doing dishes, so this was something that would help to organize the kitchen area and reduce the clutter.
Next up was a extension pole and microfiber, double-sided mop heads for the wonderful Wash and Wax All I had bought Rick for Christmas. This stuff is amazing and allows you to wash and wax your rig in one step without water. Soo many RV parks today do not allow you to wash your rig with water in their park and with a Beacon wash running well over a hundred bucks a shot for truck and RV, this was a wise investment. Rick got to work on Sunday washing half of the RV. It works amazing and the mop heads clean up easily in the wash.
We then came upon the sign vendor that creates any type of vinyl monogram of sayings or pictures to put on anything, including your RV. We had talked about getting something for the back of our rig and after seeing all of the other great things they were producing, we succumbed to ordering ours. It really turned out nice and we put that on Sunday as well while we were washing the RV. Watcha think?
On Saturday morning we said goodbye to all of our newly made friends and as luck would have it, we will be visiting next week with one of the couples who are staying for a couple weeks, just 20 miles south of us when we get to our next workamping gig in Hanover, IN. We will meet up with another one of the couples when we get to our workcamping gig in Mesa, AZ next spring and will possibly be crossing paths with a couple others as we move to different areas and try to fit in some of the smaller Grand Design rallies held across the nation. Grand Design is definitely like family, everyone from GD staff, to techs, to fellow GD owners. An amazing experience!
We stayed at the campground through the weekend to avoid the mass exodus of RV’s and enjoyed a couple quiet days taking in the horse show and racing events. We were able to get most of the RV washed, our new rally acquisitions installed things organized and stowed for our travels.
During our time in the greater Elkhart area, we also had time to visit the RV Hall of Fame and Museum, some local eateries, the laundromat and of course Walmart. We also stopped at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and picked up a CD driving tour of the area, including the Amish countryside. We split the CD’s up into two days and really enjoyed the wonderful things we learned about the area.
We left the fairgrounds Monday morning and made our way south to Hardy Lake State Park. This location puts us close to our next workamping gig, which we will travel to on Tuesday. This park is quiet with most of the campers checking out to get back to the daily grind after the holiday weekend. The campground here, as well as the park, is very well kept, clean bath houses and we even scored a 60ft paved site with 50amp electric. Rick was able to get the rest of the RV washed in the shaded area of the site, which was good because the heat index was 100! A quiet dinner and a relaxing night of TV was in order, followed by a good night sleep so we are fresh for our next big adventure on Tuesday.
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