We experienced a great introduction to RV life last week. We drove out to Kansas – 1,000 miles each way – to attend a Heavy Duty Truck Rally with a hundred new friends. The drive out and back was pretty uneventful, which is what we were hoping for!
No Few mechanical issues with the truck, no major traffic problems or marital strife, and only 1 injury. (More on that later.)
HDT refers to semi tractors, those big trucks you usually see pulling 18-wheel semi-trailers loaded down with 80,000 pounds of furniture, produce, or engine parts down the highway. HDTs are also excellent for towing heavy RVs. They not only have greater towing capacity than medium-duty trucks (F450+ and so on), but they have greater stopping capabilities as well. We talk about some other benefits in this earlier post.
The HDT community is still pretty small, but growing. This was the 13th year for the national rally. Rallies are a combination of educational seminars, activities, food and socializing. Every day was full of terrific presentations taught by volunteers on such topics as:
- RV Weight & Tire Safety
- RV Solar & Electric
- Truck Airbrake Systems
- Communications for Travelers
- Fire Safety
- Traveling with Pets
and much more. In between seminars and daily happy hours, folks showed off their rigs or talked about the RV life.
“All Rally’s are open to everyone. You do not need to be a member of Escapees to attend. You do not need an HDT. You do not even need an RV. We encourage you to attend a Rally and find out if an HDT meets your needs! An HDT is not for everyone – but before you dismiss them from consideration get the facts.” — Jack Mayer
Meeting 150 new people all at once was a bit overwhelming to me. As an introvert I have only so much energy for being outgoing and social every day. That’s one of the best parts of attending an event like this where your home is literally 100 yards away: at any time, I could retreat to the trailer to read or take the dog for a walk. Elvis got a lot of walks and ball time last week.
This trip was time well spent. We learned that the HDT/RV community is welcoming and helpful. Shawn was already well prepared with technical knowledge from his extensive online research, but now we have actual persons we can reach out to for input and advice. I’ve made several new friends on Facebook and an online forum. And we’ve already made plans to attends the “East Coast” rally in Tennessee in April 2017.
Local news article with a lot of great photos and stories: http://www.hutchnews.com/eedition/page-a/page_5947f685-7ea3-5103-bbae-e630dd2a741e.html
Local news coverage video: http://www.kake.com/story/33395917/full-timer-big-rig-campers-rally-in-hutchinson
Oh – and that injury? Wasn’t actually suffered at the Rally. We stopped briefly in Kansas City to have lunch with relatives and show them our truck & trailer. As my aunt Judy was climbing down out of the truck cab, she missed a step and crashed to the ground, hitting her head pretty hard. Luckily Shawn has some EMT training, and we were able to get the bleeding under control before the EMTs arrived. Judy got a couple of staples and scans but went home the next day with just a headache and a new story to tell. Whew; let’s not do that again!