Sunday, April 22, 2012

RV Driving School

It’s now official – I have joined the RV Driving School as the first woman instructor in the 21-year history of the company!

On Friday and Saturday, George Mayleben, owner of the school, conducted a lesson for Becky Hazen.

Instructor George

Becky’s partner Lonnie Hodge was the observer. We’ve been friends with Becky and Lonnie since meeting them at a rally in Montana a few years ago, and our paths have crossed several times.

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I rode along as trainee in preparation for becoming an instructor.

Sharon, Becky & George

At the end of the 2-day lesson, Valerie came out to congratulate Becky for successfully finishing as the student and me for completing my training and joining the company. She kindly made herself closer to my limited height!

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It’s really exciting to be joining this venerable company, as I have a little history with the school. First, I’ve known Dick Reed for many years. Below, Dick and Don enjoyed the shaded patio on Dick’s lot in Yuma, AZ a couple of months ago.

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Dick was founder of the school in 1991 and owner for the first 15 years. I met him at the Escapade in Lancaster, CA in April 2004.

Dennis and Carol Hill, close personal friends of mine, later acquired the company and served as owners for the past 5 years. Dennis and Carol were our attendants when Don and I got married, and we’ve shared many good times together over the years, including a 3-month trip to Alaska last summer.

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Going back to my RV history, I became a Solo RVer in 2003 with a truck and 5th wheel.

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I didn’t know about the RV Driving School at the time, or I would have been a student then. However, when I switched from a 5th wheel to a motorhome in early 2007, I wanted some professional instruction, both to fill in the holes in my seat-of-the pants knowledge, and to give me confidence in handling a different type of RV. Dennis, who was by then the owner, offered me a discount to serve as the student while Dick trained a new instructor, Denny Orr, whom I’ve also known for several years. Such a deal! The 2-day session seemed more like a fun excursion rather than a studious endeavor, but I was amazed at how much I learned!

In January 2012 George and his wife Valerie acquired the school. Don and I met them the previous November while visiting Dennis and Carol in Livingston, TX.

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We got to know them better at the RV Driving School gathering in January in Quartzsite where the baton of ownership was passed.

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It was during the Gypsy Journal Rally in Yuma in early March that I talked with George and Valerie about joining the company. We agreed to proceed through the steps to check my qualifications. The Western Area Rally for Escapees (WARE) in Lodi, CA, which just ended, was an excellent time for George to provide training to me while he conducted Becky’s driver training. Now I’ve come full circle from student to instructor!

George and Valerie are in the process of expanding the school to provide safety and confidence training to RV drivers throughout the U.S. They are delightful, interesting people and I look forward to working with them.

Uh Oh, did I really use that w**k word? No, it can’t be – this is so much fun!

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17 comments:

  1. Congratulations! I am so proud of you, Sharon.

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  2. Congratulations Sharon! How exciting! Maybe if Larry ever talks me into buying another fifth wheel, you could train me, smile! (He is trying and I am resisting.) I know I could learn how to back up and park a fifthie with your patient instruction! Happy training!
    Hugs,

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  3. Welcome to the Team!!! You'll be a fantastic instructor!!!
    Hugs
    Dan & Jenny

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  4. Oh how proud we are of you Sharon..What a gigantic step for women RV'ers...As you know it is important for all RV'ers to learn how to drive. I have taken the classes at the Montana Owners Rally but only did so in ideal circumstances. I would love to take lessons from you in case I ever get in the mess I got into last summer...Congratulations...

    Helen and Bill

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  5. Yay...can't think of a possible better choice!! :) and huge congrats on a wonderful job at WARE! Hugs to both of you!

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  6. Whoooeeee. You go, girl! IF you can also teach Luke to navigate, I would be happy to take a third training from you!

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  7. Whoooeeee. You go, girl! IF you can also teach Luke to navigate, I would be happy to take a third training from you!

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  8. Congratulations Sharon! Somehow having a woman instructor seems so very important for getting married gals to overcome their fear and learn to drive. I know you'll be an outstanding instructor!

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  9. Congratulations to you. I don't know why being a woman should make it any bigger deal than a man, but somehow it does! Good for you!

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  10. Congrats on becoming an RV driving instructor. Great job!

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  11. Congrats Sharon...you'll do a fantastic!

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  12. Wow, Congratulations Sharon! What an accomplishment! Where is the school located at? Might just look into it. Sounds like fun training.
    Joy Thompson (MOC)

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  13. Good for you, kid! We just read about this in Nick Russell's blog and were planning to email you, but this makes it public. Having a woman instructor who has really done it all will make a lot of other women more comfortable even thinking about driving the big rigs, much less learning about and actually doing it. As you know, Suzy has been the primary, nearly only, driver of our 36' motorhome for several years, loves it, and has been very comfortable and successful. You will make a tremendous difference in the lives of other female RVers! Congratulations. What's Don gonna do while you are spending time teaching?

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  14. To be honest when i was in driving lesson my instructor is also a girl and i really did good on my lesson and i don't know why,congratulation you made it to be a first girl driving instructor good luck.

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  16. Hey, that’s a great record, Sharon! At last, some tough woman took a step forward, in your company’s history, at the very least. RV’s are big and can even be intimidating to drive. It doesn’t fit everywhere and is limited to big parking spaces. So, you certainly proved your skills by earning the ‘Instructor’ title. Congratulations!

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