Saturday, April 28, 2012

Good Sam Rally

The Northern California Good Sam Club holds its Samboree at the Lodi Grape Festival each year. This is the second year that Don and I have attended it. Some of the same buildings are used for group gatherings that we used for the WARE. This is the Chardonnay room, set up with round tables as we had it.


Registration is held in that room, in the back corner, whereas we set it up in the same room as the marketplace to encourage attendees to visit the vendors.


Several of the vendors stayed over from the WARE for the Good Sam rally. Here are Vicki and Bob Close of Adventure Caravans.


The RV Driving School booth was back-to-back with the Embroidery-on-the-Go people.


Some vendors are here who weren’t at the WARE, such as this Kitchen Craft vendor who isn’t getting a lot of attention from attendees.


And this flag vendor, set up outside.


There are a lot of information tables.


Card games and message board.


Memorial book for members who passed during the year.


A book exchange, including games, videotapes, puzzles, etc.



One of the chapters has a fun way to raise money for charity. Spin the wheel for $1 and you get the number of tickets shown on the number on which you land. Don got 19 tickets in 2 spins for $1. We’ll find out if he won tonight.


Attendees could sign up for parades (one for people, one for pets) and games,



A First Aid station is set up outside, also offering bottled water for a donation and blood pressure checks.


Tri-tip sandwiches are sold daily at lunchtime by one chapter, and breakfast burritos by another (no pic).


George Mayleben drew a pretty good-sized crowd for his seminar RV Driving for Women Only, in spite of the fact that it wasn’t on the printed schedule (about 25 total, some came later). Notice how many men also attended!


I led the second session on Driving Your RV Safely, but the crowd was a bit smaller. It was a good chance for me to practice!


The craft room had some interesting projects made by members.






We met the King.


And the Queen spoke at the Ladies’ Luncheon.


We enjoyed BBQ ribs with Valerie and George at this little café nearby.


And we dined at Pietro’s Trattoria last night, where we celebrated George’s birthday.

Prieto's restaurant

It’s been fun to be in Lodi, but we’re looking forward to moving on, going to Modesto tomorrow for a few days, then Santa Rosa and northward up the beautiful California coast.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oh Lord, Stuck in Lodi Again!

I just couldn’t resist using that phrase (from the song written in 1969 by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival) as we remain parked in the same place where we landed on April 9. The first week here at the Lodi Grape Festival grounds was for the advance staff to prepare for the Western Area Rally for Escapees (WARE) April 9-14, followed by the rally itself April 15-19. Our ‘neighborhood’ was full.


The day after the rally ended, almost everyone had left except us.



We’ve moved a few times, mainly to go visit the dump when other RVs weren’t moving around the grounds. And today the rain is back, feeding the grass which is growing high around us. But the grounds crew isn’t concerned over not being able to mow our site. They said they’ll catch it when we leave.


We stayed on for two days after the WARE for me to get my RV Driving School instructor training. After that we decided to rest up for a couple of days, with the permission of the Lodi Grape Festival staff.

Then the Good Sam crew started to arrive. This is the same area as in the pic two frames above.


The vendor coordinator, Earl, knocked on our door to ask if we were vendors arriving early for the NorCal Samboree. No, we’re not, but Earl said we could stay in the same spot because the people who parked here last year wouldn’t be here this year. (The man passed away and the woman doesn’t RV alone – how sad.)

George and Valerie weren't so lucky, however. They were asked to move because the rally staff would be parked in their area. George asked if he could do a seminar or two for the Good Sam rally. Yes, he could even do three or four and he could be a vendor in the marketplace, too!

When George asked if I would be interested in helping him with the seminars, I didn’t hesitate to say Yes. I used to give seminars in my previous life, along with teaching, training and mentoring, and it was a very satisfying endeavor. So Don and I decided to stay. It might also be possible to observe or give a lesson or two after the rally ends. I’d really like to observe a lesson with a 5th wheel, since it’s been 5 years since I owned one and I want to reinforce my knowledge.

So, here we are, Stuck in Lodi Again! It’s good that it’s not because of a problem, especially a mechanical one. Or a financial one like the down-and-out musician about whom Fogerty wrote. And it’s rather nice to be able to return to some of our favorite restaurants and make new friends with RVers moving into ‘our neighborhood.’


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.


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!


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.


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.



Anchorage-Keni-Fairbanks Alaska 2011 803

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.


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




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!