After attending the big FMCA rally down in Perry earlier this year, we had been told to expect quite a contrast experiencing the Escapee crowd.
We’re not normally ‘rally people’. In our many years on the road, before doing the FMCA earlier this year we had previously only attended a few smaller rally-like gatherings. Until recently the Escapade wasn’t really even on our radar.
But several things converged to tempt us this time. In particular, it was a combination of lots of friends heading that way, including RVillage‘s founder & CEO, Curtis Coleman. In fact, the Escapade organizers had even invited RVillage to host an official social gathering!
We caravanned up with our dear friends Forrest & Mary, and even before the end of our first day onsite at the Escapade – we knew this was a different event, and much more our style. There’s a very warm and welcoming vibe all around, and a more relaxed atmosphere.
One of the things that attracted us to the Escapade was the impressive line up of seminars that were more focused on the lifestyle of RVing, rather than just the logistics of RVing. We actually attended a few, including a great presentation by attorney Shawn Loring on selecting a domicile state, a session on RVing to Alaska, and the Frugal RVer presentation by our friend Nick Russell.
And since we’re gearing up to re-write ‘The Mobile Internet Handbook‘, we did some investigative research by attending two mobile connectivity presentations – one presented by Kelly Hogan of WiFiRanger, and another by a representative from Verizon.
Our friends Chris & Jim Guld of The Geeks on Tour invited us to again assist them with their 3-hour iPhone & iPad class, which was a blast.
We toured the vendor floor, and arranged for Blue Ox to inspect and service our tow bar for just $30, and to have RV Glass Solutions come out and repair a chip in our windshield for just $20. Visiting a big rally is definitely a convenient way to handle these maintenance chores!
We spent most of our time meeting and catching up with friends. Daily happy hours happened all over the Escapade grounds, and there were frequent dinner & lunch outings we were invited along for. In fact, the Mexican restaurant around the corner go to know us by sight we were back so often!
And we also finally got to meet up with John & Kathy Huggins of the Living the RV Dream podcast. They came and spent some time with us in the bus, and interviewed us.
We actually had not one, but TWO, podcast interviews with us go live last Friday:
Our interview with John & Kathy – about our life on the road, and a bit about our business endeavors – the apps, books, and consulting to projects like RVillage. Our interview starts about halfway through the podcast.
- My Appventure Interview – Scotty Ruth recently interviewed us for his podcast for iOS app developers. This one is a bit more focused on our app development experience, and also about combining work & career on the road.
We were definitely some of the younger folks in attendance at Escapade, but overall we felt much more “amongst our people” than we did at the FMCA rally. We liked that there was such a diversity of rigs – ranging from tiny fiberglass eggs on up to monster 45′ motorhomes and slide-encrusted 5th wheels.
One of the coolest things was getting in touch with the story behind the Escapees organization – which was started by a full time RVing family working on the road in the 1970s. We were also delighted to get some time with Travis and Melanie Carr, part of the 3rd generation of that family who are now actively involved with running the organization. We loved hearing their vision for the future, and helping them brainstorm ways to help the Escapees appeal to a broader (and younger!) audience.
It was also a bit… odd? inspiring? humbling?… to walk around the fairgrounds and be constantly recognized by blog and YouTube followers! This being recognized thing takes some getting used to, and when we attend events like this we get a chance to see how many of y’all are following along!
It also seemed to take a moment for folks to realize we were just attendees too, and not presenters or vendors. It was especially fun to see folk’s reactions when they saw our ‘1st Timer’ sticker on our badges, and then the look on their face when they learn how long we’ve been on the road.
The RVillage meet up was on Thursday afternoon – and it had nearly 90 people in attendance. This was one of the larger official socials, according to the Escapade organizers. A very impressive crowd, and there was definitely a lot of excitement over this social network we helped bring to life! Curtis’ infectious enthusiasm for the project definitely won a lot of hearts too!
The other major new thing for us was joining the DOVES (Disaster Operation Volunteers Escapees) – which is a certified Bird of a Feather (BoF) group of the Escapees. This group has coordinated with the American Red Cross to allow us RVers to be deployed to help with disasters in our homes on wheels.
Joining the DOVES so that we can volunteer with the Red Cross has been something on our wish list for a while, and had previously been our #1 reason for someday joining Escapees. It’ll take a bit of juggling to get all the requirements and training checked off to be fully deployable as disaster volunteers, but we’re now in progress by joining DOVES and the Elkhart American Red Cross chapter.
All and all, despite lots of rain and chilly weather much of the week – heading to the Escapade was definitely where we were meant to be. We definitely feel a difference. While we’re “members” of FMCA, Good Sam, and other RVing clubs – we feel like we “are” SKPs (sound it out.. S.K.P. – Escapees!).
Who knows, maybe you’ll see us at the next Escapade in Tucson next March?
What’s Next? We’ve decided to join up with what seems to be the unofficial post-rally of the Escapade happening in Elkhart, IN. Several of our friends are here, it’s actually sort of a who’s-who’s of RVing in the campground. Nick is hosting a Self-Publishing workshop today (Monday) that we’ll attend, and the DOVES are offering several Red Cross training classes that we’ll also attend to get some of them checked off our list.
And maybe we’ll also line up some bus improvements while we’re in town. But mostly, we’re looking forward to perhaps a bit of down time, managing our Indiegogo Campaign for the book, and connecting with friends.
Join our Next Live Video Chat
It’s time for our next live video chat – and hope you’ll be able to join us!
When : May 21, Wednesday @ 9pm EST / 6:00pm PST
Topic: Mobile Internet Options for RVers
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In 2012 we did a version of this video chat, which inspired the first edition of our book – The Mobile Internet Handbook. We will be updating our past video chat on this topic, with an overview of the current offerings in cellular, WiFi, boosting, antennas, and satellite. We’ll explain the pros & cons of them all, and how to decide which pieces are important in YOUR unique mobile internet arsenal.
And of course, this is a lead in to our upcoming update, re-write, and expansion of our book, which we’re running a crowdfunding campaign for.
As always, a general Q&A to follow.