Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rallying in Albuquerque

Each year, thousands of RVers come together for what is billed as the "World's Largest" gathering, known as "The Rally". Sponsored by the Affinity Group, which includes Camping World, Motorhome and Trailer Life Magazines, and the Good Sam Club, this year's rally was held in Albuquerque. It was too big for one location, so this year the RV parking area and entertainment tent were located at the Balloon Festival grounds, and the exhibits and seminars were across town at the Expo New Mexico grounds. Coming over the hill into the Balloon Fest grounds, the view was a sea of RV rooftops - the final count was over 3100! Because of the lack of hookups and what we thought would be excessive crowding, we chose to stay at one of our favorite parks on the West side of town, American RV Park. We're glad we did; the chore of grabbing a shuttle bus between the two rally sites turned into a nightmare when rain and highway construction increased the shuttle times to as much as three hours, and in any case, we always enjoy our stay at American. The first day of the rally was greeted by unusual weather, rain and even a few snow flurries. It was cool and damp, but was worth it when the next day the sky cleared and we were greeted by a view of the snow-touched Sandia Mountains. The next three days were perfect; 70s and sunshine, and we spent most of the day at the rally attending various seminars, such as Driving the Alaska Highway and Exploring the Pacific Northwest, and browsing the hundreds of exhibitors, both inside and outdoors. On the first night, we attended a concert by Neil Sedaka - what a great show! It's hard to believe he's 70; he danced around the stage and sang like the teenager we all remembered. Looking around the audience, it looked like a AARP convention - there weren't many people in attendance who didn't qualify for Social Security, but hey, at least we were there. Overall, we enjoyed the rally, and accumulated enough brightly colored trinkets from the vendors to last for quite a while. We agreed that it's not something we want to attend for a few more years. You can view videos of the rally here.
On the way to the rally, we spent two nights at Isleta Pueblo Casino Campground, a very nice park with the exception of a trains running 24 hours a day right at the entrance area. We visited the pueblo, an area of mostly moderized adobe homes crammed together, and came across this beautiful church. The Church of Saint Augustine, estabished in 1613 and rebuilt using the original walls in 1716, is one of the oldest mission churches in the United States and is still in use today. Unfortunately, visiting the church didn't help our success when visiting the Indian casino later that day - but the buffet was good.
We're in our traveling mode now; we'll be heading east and northeast through New Mexico, the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, into Kansas, through Missouri, and on to a visit to the Saint Louis area, where we spent time at Scott AFB back in the early 80s. We'll try and get some pictures of our travels on the way - stay tuned!

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