The Rally – Our Last Hurrah This Summer!

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We made it across the border into Canada once again, this time just north of Grand Forks, North Dakota. This is our last entry into Canada this summer, and I have to say that that the Canadian customs officers have been courteous and professional on almost all of our border crossings. With only a short drive left through Manitoba to Winkler, we both started talking about and looking forward to the Leisure Travel Van (LTV) Rally. When we arrived in Winkler we immediately saw the LTV facility so we made a quick stop to get our paperwork in order for a maintenance visit we had scheduled for the following morning.

Anna at the LTV facility in Winker

Since we arrived a day early, we made reservations to spend the night in the Winkler City Park campground. What a surprise it was seeing other Leisure Travel Vans parked all around (See banner photo at top of blog). As I backed into our parking space, our new neighbors for the night (Don and Monique) came over to let Anna know they were also from South Carolina. What a nice couple. We enjoyed their company and also spoke to numerous other owners prior to driving to a new steakhouse in the area for dinner. We tried to get to sleep early since we were scheduled for a maintenance visit at the factory first thing the next morning.

Our service appointment was for 8:00am and the maintenance crew at LTV had the van moved and into the service bay promptly at 8:00am. We had a laundry list of about a dozen items to be repaired or replaced and expected a long wait. We met numerous owners in the waiting room and were invited by some of the Southwest LTV Roadrunners Club to join them for a 9:30am breakfast at a nearby restaurant. What a great group. They made us feel like part of the group. They enjoyed Anna’s southern accent and talking about the Clemson Tigers! We drove out to the Winker Bible Camp (site for the rally) to quickly register for the Rally and then returned to the maintenance facility. Our LTV was ready… unbelievable. Every item was repaired or replaced in under four hours. This was miraculous! What a great group of employees.

Fiberglass construction in Factory Tour

We drove straight to the Winkler Bible Camp and were greeted by Don Klassen, the US rep for LTV sales who Anna and I met in Raleigh, NC last year. We really like Don. Even though I researched the LTV brand well, and believed in the product prior to making the purchase, Don’s assurances and demeanor were instrumental in sealing the deal for us. He is a retired Winkler Police Officer who not only is a great representative for LTV, but a man who is immersed in helping youth and others in his community.

Sunrise at Winkler Bible Camp

A little over 80 owner vehicles were present at the Rally. We met so many nice people that including them all here would be impossible. We did meet David and Carol Lang from Easley, SC, and Mike and Julie Thomas from Texas, who were especially nice. The Winkler Bible Camp offered us a great facility for this event. Parking, dining, seminars, tours and other social activities were all well orchestrated. All of our meals were provided by LTV and the employees of the Bible camp. We enjoyed a meet and greet ice cream social, a My LTV presentation, a unique type of bingo game, a beach mingle at night on the lake with s’mores, a tour of the LTV assembly plant, tours of Winkler, and a great night at the Winkler Flyers hockey game. Anna attended a cooking seminar and I attended a tour to the Threshermen’s Museum. There were other activities including golf and an artisan tour that we just didn’t have time for. Many product demonstrations were provided by LTV vendors including Mercedes Benz, Dometic, and Truma. LTV also brought a good cross section of their 2018 product line to the rally for us to enjoy previewing without having to deal with the crowds at an RV show. This rally was special and had a much stronger element of family than other manufacturer and club rallies we’re attended over the years. There were so many dynamics and activities surrounding the rally that I feel I can’t express them fully with my words written here. Take a video trip with us to the Leisure Travel Van rally by clicking here!

Anna and Langston at lunch

Once again it was time to move on. We said our goodbyes and started our journey south to Clemson, our home and home of the Clemson University Tigers! Our immediate concern was getting safely (and quickly) to Watertown, South Dakota. You might ask yourself… what is in Watertown, South Dakota? Well… a Buffalo Wild Wings sports cafe where we could watch the Clemson Tigers beat the Auburn Tigers on NCAA Saturday night football. Clemson won 14-6. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it! We had to overnight in the Walmart parking area next to Buffalo Wild Wings because all of the area campgrounds were booked. Not my kind of night, but we’ll take it with the win. Our next overnight stops were in Nebraska City, NE and St. Charles, MO. We had to weigh our travel options at this point because we kept getting conflicting weather reports on the location and strength of the remnants of Hurricane Irma. We decided to head directly to Nashville so we could visit our daughter, Sarah, her husband, Justin, and two of our grandsons Langston and Griffin. We were thankful that this leg of the trip was made without incident. Anna surprised Langston the following day by meeting him at his new school for lunch.

Clemson University Campus

The journey home continued as we left Nashville and headed to Sevierville to take care of a couple of items before we returned home to Clemson. Our little LTV (Little Tiger Van) was well worn from the journey and needed a thorough clean up. The LTV made the trip without incident, but our little CRV took a couple of hits from passing vehicles throwing stones. We met Ray and Jackie from Simpsonville while in Sevierville. Their granddaughter, Macal, is a Clemson University cheerleader. Our trip came to a conclusion on Saturday as we drove into Patrick Square. We have never before looked forward to one of our long RV summer trips ending, but we really did miss all of our friend and activities in Clemson. We couldn’t have enjoyed our time on the road like we did without the help of  many of our neighbors and friends who insured that our home was secure, our mail was forwarded, and incidentals were handled. We appreciate each and everyone of you, even those who just happened to take a peek to insure that all was well as you walked or drove by our home. When we travel in our RV we feel like home is where we park it, but we know that our home is really in Clemson.

What a summer it has been. We traveled almost 9,200 miles, visited twelve states, four Canadian Provinces, six National Parks in the United States, six national parks in Canada, numerous national monuments and historic sites. We also visited numerous state parks. We made new friends, awoke early to see beautiful sunrises, stayed up late to see beautiful sunsets and the milky way galaxy. We experienced extreme winds – even required to exit the Interstate by the Wyoming Highway Patrol. We had severe thunderstorms and tornados dance around our locations, yet we were unharmed. Forest fires filled the air with smoke that made it difficult to see and breathe. We saw thousands of animals and I even had the opportunity to live several days with black bears in Minnesota. We witnessed grizzlies eating an elk, and observed a juvenile bald eagle fledge from it’s nest. We hiked, and hiked, and hiked. We hiked trails on dry days, in the rain, and through the snow. I had blisters on my feet, pain in my knees and my back. We both carried loads including extra clothing for the higher altitudes, camera gear and water… plenty of water. We even hiked through water. We started one of our days by walking out on the Athabasca glacier in the middle of the Columbia Ice Fields. Temperatures were sometimes in the thirties, even in the middle of June and July. Thank you Lord for the beautiful countries you have blessed us with. Thank you for the opportunity to witness your creation, for watching over us with your traveling mercies, and bringing us home safely. We seek your will in all we do.

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As always, we hope to see you down the road!