RV America Chat Rally

The first ever RV rally for RV America

Sevierville, TN.

June 12th to the 19th, 1999

Over the last year, we have traveled here and there and diligently reporting all that we have seen and learned. It was somewhat of a surprise when a totally new idea for an article began to emerge. Having broken my ankle during a poker game in Kentucky, our plan to dash off into the full-time lifestyle was momentarily delayed. Of course we owned a house and two cars in Cincinnati, which we needed to dispose of, as well as heal from this eight week injury. Boredom is a terrible thing. It often leads to mischief but I was too old for that. I was looking for something to keep me sane and moderately happy during the long evenings that were facing me. It was with this type of thinking that I turned to the Internet. Anything to pass the time away until I was able to get back on my feet and back on the road. It was during one of those long evenings that I ventured forth into the first of many chat rooms offered. Almost immediately I learned the existence of the "internet predator". I logged onto Yahoo's chat rooms and picked some non-descript room to lurk in for a while. Wow, there was nothing here that I could relate to, and what language. I'm by no means a prude but this was ridiculous. For the next few weeks I would peruse as many chat rooms as I could find. It soon became clear that finding quality conversation in chat rooms, was going to be a challenge. To add to this, I began getting spammed, receiving hundreds of e-mail messages advertising porno sites. On one day I receive 342 e-mails. I would later be told that the spam was the result of computer programs called spiders or robots that enter chat room and steal the e-mail address of the participants, then sell them to anybody willing to pay. In order to avoid this AOL suggests that you add a different screen name and block all incoming mail. As time passed, I began to get the feel for this form of conversation. The ability to type at a reasonable speed helped. Even with this, there are times when I found it difficult to keep up with the multitude of comments from the various participants. To assist those involved, an entire vocabulary of abbreviations has been created, and it helped to know what the more common ones were. Different chat rooms had different approaches and requirements. One even required a ten dollar initiation fee. Many had complicated and laborious forms to fill out that most probably built profiles on the participants. Some had lots of whistles and bells with font and color controls, and mute buttons just to mention a few. Others were pretty bleak without choice. In the course of my cyber travels, I came across "The RV America chat room". Gosh, there were actually people on this chat, talking about their trailers, and the last place they had traveled. I tried to lurk but as soon as my name appeared as having logged in, I got several "Hi Cinci". I returned a cautious "Hi" but tried to stay in the background. After a while I was asked about where I was from, and did I have a rig, and was I full-time. I found myself answering the questions and learning something about the people who were on. I would log back in several times over the next few days using my handle of "Cincinnati_M55" and would often find someone I had talked to earlier. The customary "Hi" was always extended by all who were there. On many of those occasions, the conversation would come around to an upcoming Chat Rally. A rally where all the people who chatted on this room, would get together and spend a week camping and meeting each other for the first time. The site chosen was the River Plantation RV Park in Sevierville. Having secured the friendship of several of the chatters, and with mounting curiosity, we committed ourselves to the trip and the adventure.
The trip down was uneventful, pulling into Sevierville in late afternoon. Boy, had this place ever built up. We had been here 5 years ago and the change was significant. We found the River Plantation without difficulty. It was a large park, lazily laid out on the bank of the Little Pigeon river. Jennifer Henry, the RV manager was of great help and took care of our every need. Under the pavilion across from our site were the beginning gatherers of the rally. A delightful lady from Texas, Terbie, met us as we pulled in, and presented us with buttons which she had made for each of the participants. There was a get together that night, with music and dancing and conversations running well past midnight. The next day we started building the photo gallery of all the ralliers. We also ran around the Gattlinburg-Pigeon Forge loop. Pigeon Forge has been converted into one gigantic boardwalk, vaguely reminiscent of Myrtle Beach SC. The following night, Four-Winds had a large camp fire and we all sat around enjoying harmonica music and gossip until well after Midnight. The next day the rally organizers were preparing for a group to go to the Dixie Stampede Show. We elected to have a dinner out with Bob and Anne Willis, dining in the famed Old Mill restaurant. Tuesday was spent wandering among RVs, getting pictures, and chatting. That night at around 6:00PM we gathered in the pavilion for a pot luck dinner. Laura made a scrumptious cheeseburger soup from a recipe she had picked up in the Montana. Having never attended a pot-luck dinner we had some reservations as to what foods would be brought. Figuring we could end up with 20 desserts. Well, the food was varied, scrumptious and plentiful. We ate until we were stuffed. After dinner, most gathered around in a big circle for the first ever RV America (in person) circle chat. This was not without its presentation as 4Winds presented Brenny with a special T-shirt to commemorate her initiation to the drinking world. There was some discussion about what to do next year and the general area of Branson, Missouri, seemed to be the favorite, though most agreed that a year was a long tome and there was plenty of time for planning. Since there was so much going on we enlisted the aid of Blondie, Kin and Xray as assistant photographers and they ended up working their digital cameras overtime creating a portfolio of snapshots for all to enjoy. Our last night there was taken up with a campfire and more music and conversation. We left Thursday morning but the rally went on with a gala fiesta that night. We got the pictures over the internet, courtesy of Blondie, along with the late arrivers. All in all a great time was had. We'll see you all at the next one.

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