I had the pleasure of hosting my good buddy Tom who came up to Hershey and spent the past several days with me. He and I have been coming to this RV show for at least the past 20 plus years, and always look forward to it. We spend several days at the show, then cap off each night with a trip to one of several of our favorite area restaurants. However, we had a few disappointments this year including Tom being a bit under the weather, and the discovery that one of our favorite restaurants had closed – one that served great steaks and a terrific lobster mac side dish. I’ve since learned the owner decided to retire and sold the restaurant – now it’s a new place, new name, and serving pub food (yuk). But alas we pulled our strength together and had a terrific time never the less. And so goes another year at the Hershey RV Show.
America’s Largest RV Show
There are hundreds of RV shows all across the country at various times throughout the year. I’ve been to many of them – particularly those in the mid-atlantic area. But, the Hershey RV Show is proclaimed to be the largest of them all – a fact that is difficult to dispute once you’ve attended and experienced it. With over 1,400 shiny new RV’s from every conceivable RV manufacturer on display, consuming some 1 Million square feet of outdoor space, and hundreds of vendors – both outside and inside the Giant Arena, this show has to be seen to believe. For the consumer, the show runs for five consecutive days – Wed thru Sunday. Tom and I spend a full three days there – Wed thru Fri, and stay the hell away on the weekend. That is because we are well seasoned attendees and know that the weekends are absolutely nuts. Last year, the show generated over 64,000 attendees – with two thirds of that number showing up just on Sat and Sun. For us retirees, going earlier in the week while the normal folk are working, means less crowds and more time to spend with the vendor reps and sales folks to check out all the new looks and features of these newest makes and models. Makes for a much more enjoyable time here, and allows us to pace ourselves through the three-day visit. The weather was good this year – cool with overcast and no rain. So, all in all, it was a terrific event for Tom and I.
Lots of Nice RVs – Keep the Checkbook Home
Neither Tom or I were necessarily here to buy a new RV, though I’m careful not to say never as I was an unintentional victim of all the bling and bought a brand new RV here at the Hershey show many years ago. Instead, we enjoyed looking at all the new cool units, and the latest trends in design and features. The show did not let us down in that department. There were plenty of really nice RVs to look at.
From the totally decked-out, incredibly luxurious, most expensive motorhome at the show – the Newmar London Aire (pictured top left) coming in at a mere $546,716, to one of the most basic and inexpensive “coffin-like” towable units (lower left) at a reasonable $8,999, there was something for everyone to see and possibly purchase at the show. There was also many off-road and off-grid type RVs for those who truly enjoy in the woods adventures. These included a custom Jeep vehicle – complete with a rooftop tent and other camping gear, as well as a small robust towable with minimal sleeping accommodations on the inside, and full kitchen amenities on the outside in the rear.
Now don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my current Grand Design Solitude 5th wheel. It has everything that I could possibly want, and at a level of fit & finish and luxury that leaves me extremely comfortable to call this place HOME. But, if money were no object (and it often is an object), then there would be a few other RVs that could take my full-time lifestyle to the next level. Two in particular that we saw at the show are pictured here – at left the New Horizons Majestic offers the absolute in luxury at a cool $244k, while at right, the Vanleigh Beacon offers similar beauty and craftsmanship at a show special price of $114k. Both 5th wheels are absolutely georgous, but that beauty comes at a prices – both in length and weight. Both units are well over 40 feet long, and while my current truck could pull the Beacon, the weight of the Majesty would require that I obtain a significant truck upgrade. So, I think I’ll just keep the one I’ve got!
Didn’t Leave Empty-Handed
While I did not purchase a brand spanking new RV (good thing), I did have a few items on my must buy list in the way of accessories for my current home. This included a replacement clear elbow for my sewer drain, an extra 50-amp power cord extension, and most notably a flag pole to add to the back of the RV so that I can fly the American flag. I got everything on the list and particularly scored a really great deal on a 16′ collapsible fiberglass flag pole, a custom ladder-mount kit, a solar top light so I can keep the flag up at night, hardware to fly two 3×5 flags, and a US flag. I was quick to get it installed on the RV when I returned from the show, and am very pleased with how it looks and performs. The solar powered night light is awesome and does a great job keeping the flag well illuminated for nighttime viewing. Now, I just need to get an Air Force flag to fly below the US flag, and I’ll be all set! Amazon – here I come!
I also left the show with nice memories of some special people I had the pleasure of meeting – who were also attending the show. Liz Wilcox (right – top) is an internet celebrity, a prolific writer, blogger, and entrepreneur. She is the proprietor of the website The Virtual Campground which she describes as “… not just a website. It’s a community. It’s about empowering nomads and keeping full-timers like you happy and humored on the road”. It’s a great site with lots of stories, tips/tricks, etc. She is also the author of the book “Tales From the Black Tank” – which is 40 pages of humorous if not somewhat tragic RV stories representing the not so pretty side of full-time RV living. It’s a great read, and available from her site. I also met her husband who not long ago separated from the Army (Thank You for your service) , and has recently graduated from specialized training and is now a certified RV Service Technician. Really great meeting you both, and I wish you continue success in your endeavors!
I also had the pleasure of meeting Emily Stahley – who is the Director of Social Media with Grand Design. She is the Facebook voice and customer advocate for all Grand Design owners (like me). She is a regular on the various Grand Design Facebook groups sharing news related to the company, or helping a customer who is having problems with their RV. She has a wonderful reputation for being very supportive, and owners like me certainly appreciate her support and dedication. Was wonderful meeting you Emily!
Next Stop – Old Home
In a few days, I’ll leave Hershey, PA and head down to Maryland – the area where I lived and raised a family for 20+ years. This will give me a chance to catch up with the daughters and my grandson who I’ve not seen in several months, as well as catching up with other friends and family. It’s a short two week stay, so I’ll have to keep busy socializing while I’m there. I’m also particularly anxious to eat some really good sushi! Till later, safe travels!