Thursday, January 13, 2011 (Florida RV Super Show, Tampa, FL)

I was up before the alarm this morning...I prefer to start the day off with a cup of coffee before having to jump into the shower. Unfortunately, we won’t be using our shower since we have no sewer to the bathhouse, it is. And it’s 30F out there this morning...that’s -1C...brrrr! Of course the bathhouse is not heated either...and to top it all off, you have no control over the water temperature. It is at a preset temperature which is warm...but not as hot as I like it. Oh well...

It was now about 8:30 on this bright, sunny but a little breezy...and cold...morning.  Steve fired up the truck and immediately there was a funny sound and a vibration coming through the dash and steering wheel. Now what*#%?!!! When he turned the wheel the noise got worse. We decided to proceed to the gate house as we still had to register. While I did that Steve was checking around the underside of the truck and found nothing visibly wrong. We now had to try and locate a GM dealer, but when we left the gate house the noise was gone and the steering was normal, so we decided to head to the show.

It was an easy route to the Florida State Fairgrounds taking about 25 minutes. The truck seemed fine so far. We paid the $10 to park and were directed to park in the RV section. Being early, we had no trouble getting parked and were fairly close to the entrance. After buying our admission tickets ($9 each and good for 2 days), we stood in line until the gates opened. It was pretty darn chilly standing there...the wind was brutal.

The first thing we wanted to do was find the Hensley booth so we could talk to the rep about the defective brake module that had been sent. We were hoping that he would have some stock with him and be able to replace it.

Well, this is a huge RV show—“The Florida RV Super Show” is held at the Florida State Fairgrounds is billed as the largest consumer RV show in the country covering more than 18 acres. It is expected that the 5 day show will see an excess of 45,000 people attending. It was really hard to orient ourselves to the map. As it turned out, there are 2 big indoor complexes that house the vendor booths and the Hensley booth was at the other one...way over on the other side of the fairgrounds. There was row upon row of RV companies with their motorhomes, 5th wheels, and trailers on display. Holy cats...the dollar value of all the units sitting here must be incredible...not to mention all the RV’ers attending in their rigs that are parked outside on the surrounding grounds.  I wish I had taken more pictures.

We finally found the Hensley booth and had a chat with him. He was very surprised that the module was defective because he tests each one before shipping. He had no stock with a matter of fact he really didn’t have much of a display at his booth at all. We left the defective module with him and agreed to call him Tuesday when he is back at his office. We will have to work out some way of getting a new one shipped to us...somewhere yet to be determined.

One of the main reasons for attending the RV show is the opportunity to meet Howard and Linda Payne. They are the authors of the website RV-Dreams They made the decision to become full-timers back in 2005 and their website was instrumental in helping me accept the “full-time RV lifestyle”. They have over 2500 registered members on their Forum...not to mention those that just read their journal. We have lived vicariously through them and their adventures for about four years while we were still working before actually joining the Forum and becoming an “RV Dreamer”. Howard does a lot of research before he does anything so that makes some decisions for the rest of us much easier. We highly recommend their website for any RVer.

Those “RV Dreamers” that were attending the RV show had arranged to meet at the floating restaurant on the lake at 11:30 a.m. We were there early...hoping we were at the right place. Gradually people began to congregate at the entrance to restaurant...”are you an RV Dreamer?...they asked”. Then started the introductions...too many people and names to remember all! But what a great group of people. Nancy and Bill introduced themselves to us...they are also camped at Hillsborough River State Park. Then there was Donna and Bill...and Linda and Bill (gee, there are a lot of “Bill’s”) and “Herman, the German”, as he introduced himself...but I can’t remember his wife’s name. Finally the couple that we had all been waiting for arrived. I felt like I was meeting celebrities...too funny! Linda is vibrant, outgoing and very social while Howard is more reserved...both are very personable, lovely people.

We all stood outside chatting...until Linda asked if anyone wanted to go inside for lunch. There must have been about 20 of us that went inside. We sat at a table with 2 other couples (Donna and Bill and Herman and his wife)...some new found friends. Very interesting people...but then, we all have something in common.

Like most “event” food, the prices here were insane...$3 for a cup of coffee—in a Styrofoam cup with no refills! $9 for a clubhouse sandwich with chips (not fries). Steve and I opted to share the sandwich...mainly because our cash was low and they did not take Visa as payment.

During lunch, Linda came around to all the tables letting everyone know that they had planned dinner at a Tampa restaurant—Crazy’s Buffet—for those who wanted to join them. Sounds good to us...we’ll be there!

We got our picture taken with Howard and Linda...

After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around all the vendor booths...and also took in the occasional RV...some 5th wheels and of course we had to take a look into some of the opulent Class A! Shoes off before entering though.

There were a number of booths from Canada...Alberta, Manitoba...and BC, who had the largest. We had a great chat with the 3 people manning the booth and also picked up pamphlets from the Kootenays and the North...areas we plan on heading to this summer. We also had a good laugh about the weather as one of them was wearing a toque.

We sat down for a cold drink at one of the many food kiosks and a 'parade' went by...

At 3:00 we decided to go to a seminar...mainly because we were tired and wanted to sit down. The seminar was on Full-time RV’ing. We managed to pick up a couple of ideas.

By this time it was almost 4:30, so we decided to head out and see if we could find Crazy’s Buffet. Everyone was meeting there at 5:30. As we headed towards downtown Tampa, we were getting a little worried about having to park the truck down there but Serena’s directions soon had us turning away from the downtown area. As it turned out, the restaurant had a big parking lot and we had no trouble.

We were a little early so we waited in our truck for Howard and Linda to arrive. Just before 5:30, they pulled up beside us....and others began arriving. There were 4 couples as we headed into the restaurant but soon another 4 arrived. All very interesting people...Bill and Linda; Jackie and Tony (originally from South Africa); Dwayne and Debbie...those are the only names I remember....

We managed to get ourselves seated beside Howard and Linda which was great because we really wanted to chat with them. We did manage to talk to Howard about a couple of things but ultimately, we would love to find ourselves in the same campground with them and be able to have some one-on-one time with them. Perhaps another time....

That's one of the 'Bills' sitting in between Steve and my chair...

It was a great evening and the buffet was incredible! So many choices...from sushi to Chinese food to fresh seafood, steaks...and the desserts...yum! We ate lots and had great conversations with the fellow Montana owners seated at our table.

It was about 8:00 by the time we decided to head home. Dwayne and Debbie came running out after us to see the truck. He is quite the character! As usual, our truck was very popular.

We arrived the dark...we are looking forward to seeing the park in the daylight!

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