We've just returned from attending a rally with some members of our Tiffin Bluebonnet Allegro owners' club in Port Aransas, Texas. We enjoyed being in the company of our friends in this club, all of whom share the common interest of our Tiffin motorhomes, the ownership of which is a requirement for membership. Since this is a relatively small chapter of the nationwide Tiffin Allegro Club, we have gotten to know each other quite well, and it's a pleasure to count them as our friends. Our meeting agendas are quite open and flexible, with plenty of time for our individual interests, usually coming together for an event or two each day. But most often, we find ourselves dining together. Yes, food is usually the common denominator; isn't it always?
|Dinner at Fin's in Port A|
|Some of our group at a Mother's Day fete the next day|
|Chip takes a big bite of Blue Bell (and who can blame him?).|
Finally, this brings me--somewhat belatedly--to the theme of today's post: Fulltiming and Friendships. When people we meet find out about our house-free lifestyle, they generally ask some fairly predictable questions after the first one (which is usually a slight variation of, "You did WHAT?") One of those questions that follow is likely this one: "So what about the friends you've left behind?" We tell them that friends don't suddenly dematerialize when you go fulltime; you merely see them less often as you travel around the country. We do, however, make an effort to visit them whenever we are in their area; we think that's important.
What the questioners also don't realize is that the fulltiming lifestyle becomes a facility for developing new friendships as we interface with others we meet along the way. If you've followed this blog for a while, you are probably aware of a number of friendships we have made--often by pure chance--merely by being "out there," my term for making ourselves available to interact with others.
How to be "Out There"
Clubs. I've already talked about the friends we've made through our club, but these are but a few of them.
Blogging. Our blog has facilitated quite a few new relationships--often with other fellow bloggers whose posts we read and who read ours. If you are just beginning RVing, I hope you will seriously consider blogging as a means of keeping a journal of your adventures. I can't imagine the loss to Sandy and me if we hadn't had the good sense to start writing of our adventures from the very beginning eleven years ago. It's another way of keeping ourselves "out there."
Engaging others by being winsome. 'Winsome' is one of my favorite words. It is defined as being winning and engaging--making others want to know you. Strike up a conversation with people about their RV, their house, their car, their kids or their pets--anything, really. This is a guaranteed effective way to get people talking about their favorite subjects: themselves. This doesn't work every time, of course, but the sourpusses who wave off your friendly greeting are doing you a favor by culling themselves out for you. Let them enjoy sucking their lemons; you'll probably find they are alone, and that may be their thing. Thankfully, such characters are rare in the RV world.
Social Media. With the advent of FaceBook, we find that we keep up with a number of our friends, including new ones, surprisingly well through that venue. In fact, we've reconnected with more friends via social media than we would ever have thought possible.
Here's an object lesson that involves three of the above means of putting yourself "out there." It is the story of a couple of likely new friendships formed while we were at this very rally in Port Aransas; in fact, it was meeting these folks that gave me the idea to write this post about friendships among RVers, including those who may not be fulltimers.
A couple of mornings back during the rally, I had stepped outside Phannie to give her windshield a good cleaning. I was removing the remains of several dozen lovebugs that had given their lives, unceremoniously splattered as they were on the vast expanse of Phannie's windshield. I'm guessing this was possibly because of the little critters' being distracted by their lovebug tryst that was going on at the time Phannie happened along. Yes, it's sad, but it was undoubtedly an exciting way to pass into lovebug heaven. The aftermath on the windshield was not pretty, however.
As I was finishing my project, I noticed a black SUV driving slowly by in front of the coach. The driver, a smiling and pleasant-looking woman, rolled down the window and called out to me. I walked over and spoke to her, at which point she asked how I liked Phannie. (She was a smart lady; she already knew the tip above about engaging others.)
In response to her question, I duly bragged on Phannie, and she said that she and her husband also have a Phaeton and that they, too, really like it. We talked a while longer, and she said she was interested to learn more about the Bluebonnet club when she learned I was a member. I invited her and her husband to attend all of our functions as a guest and assured her that she would find a friendly reception. Later, I sent her an email with a schedule of events, in which I reiterated our hope they would pay us a visit. The next morning, I called her on the phone to follow up on the invitation and, as we finished our conversation, she excitedly said that she just realized that I was the author of Phannie and Mae (which she learned from clicking on the blog link that appears at the end of all my emails) and gave me some entirely undeserved compliments, for which I was pleased, and I expressed my gratitude for her longtime readership. I couldn't help but smile; this was probably my fifteen minutes of fame, I thought.
The rest of the story is that Marcie and Ken showed up as we had hoped, and we found them to be very warm and friendly. Marcie is a retired schoolteacher, and Ken is an entrepreneur who make their home in Port Aransas:
|Marcie and Ken|
They must have taken a liking to our club members, as they have expressed a desire to join. High fives for us!
Normally, I would not blather on about a couple of nice folks who join our club, but my interaction with them is a perfect example of how a number of our treasured friendships got started for Sandy and me. In this case, the connection came for Marcie and Ken due to more than one means of being proactive: 1) exploring a club, 2) reading or writing a blog and 3) engaging others. One could say that making friends in the RV world is pretty much like everywhere else: Be friendly, engage positively with others and put yourself "out there"--as we have done in our club activities and our blog.
It's kinda funny: We'll have to do a good bit of catch-up as we get to know Marcie and Ken better. The truth is, that through reading this blog, they know far more about us than we do about them. It'll be fun, though; they're folks who are easy to know and like.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.