Stef gets "Rally Brain"

A quick and fun recap of the 2017 Grand National Rally (FitRV style)

James & Stef Adinaro James & Stef Adinaro  |  08.03.2017

James and I just rolled out of the 2017 Grand National Rally, and as it always goes right as we leave, I’ve got “rally brain.” You’ve caught me still feeling a bit soft and mushy, missing my rally buddies.

It’s a strange feeling whenever we leave this annual rally, which always amuses me. Sort of like when a family reunion comes to an end.  Except maybe without the part where crazy Uncle Bob stands waaayyyyy too close when he talks…

If you’ve never attended the rally, think of it like summer camp for adults. A time where we otherwise very serious and mature grown-ups can cut loose, get silly, make new friends, and do things we don’t normally do…  Like enter parades dressed in costumes:

Photo Credit: Tom Calabrese

If you were at the rally and saw the bright yellow campervan in the middle of the van row, that was us. We camped with a group called the Winnie Bs… named that way since we’re a group of Class B campervans.

Winnebago’s Class B vans actually aren’t manufactured in Forest City, but rather down the road in a town called Lake Mills, so we van people have a warm spot for the Lake Mills factory.  They celebrated their 3000th campervan built in the facility while we were there!

Photo Credit: Tom Calabrese

Probably the most significant rally events for James and me were the fitness activities we led each day.

This year, I had the best turnouts EVER on my morning workout sessions. RVers are paying attention to their fitness, and I can’t tell you how proud I am to see this health-focused shift.

The rally grounds are adjacent to the beautiful Winnebago River.

We joined a group of rally friends and spent a morning canoeing and kayaking our way down it… a definite highlight of the week.

We did have one little hiccup during the rally… a damaging storm rolled through one evening. Straight-line winds going a bazillion miles an hour (they clocked the gusts at 66 MPH at the nearby airport) knocked down our Van Village tent area.

Luckily, the little beast of a storm (which I’ve since named “Hurricane Iowa 2017”) was there and gone in about 15 minutes.

And how fortuitous is this?! That very night another fellow van owner rolled in who happened to have her own 10×20’ tent in tow! One Van Village destroyed, another in its place 30 minutes later. Life has a weird way of working itself out.

Once Van Village was restored, Truma, a German manufacturer of high-tech heaters and water heaters, hosted a German-style customer appreciation party complete with grilled brats, pretzels, and of course… beer. It was just what we needed after the drama of the storm.

Photo Credit: Kate Mullen

And as the sun began to set on the eve of Hurricane Iowa 2017, Mother Nature wasn’t done with us yet. This time, she put on a different kind of show:

Just like that, all was forgiven.

So, there you go… a little taste of our rally experience. Though really, I just skimmed the surface of what it’s like there. Attending GNR completely revolves around the social experience, and all the activities packed into the rally schedule are a testament to that. You can paint with a group, compete in team trivia, attend a music concert, learn some things in an RV class, or even just hang out and have an impromptu social hour:

It’s hard to explain the draw of GNR to those who haven’t attended. Parking for a week in a giant field in Iowa sounds strange, I’m sure. But once you attend, something indescribable happens. You end up bonding with some of those around you, right there in an unremarkable field in Iowa…all because of your common love of the RV lifestyle.  I’d say it’s close to magical.

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  1. Ken Posted on 08.18.2017

    Thanks for the recap and photos. I agree it’s good to see RV’ers becoming more interested in fitness — and especially kayaking. However, I’m disappointed to see people not wearing lifejackets in your photo of the paddling event. As a kayak instructor, I know all too well the tragedies caused by people thinking “I know how to swim” or using other excuses when they go paddling, not realizing that more than 90% of drownings occur in inland water, most within a few feet of safety and involve boats under 20-feet long. I don’t mean to preach but I do want people to paddle safely.

  2. Terry Joyce Bruley– Thunder Bay Ont. Posted on 08.06.2017

    We had been to at least 7 of the rallies and enjoyed every year of them and the staff that put it on are the best —good music especilly friday night with the Duttons —any one with a winnabego should deffinley attent this great funtion——-Winnabego is # 1 but being at the rally makes it a # 1 plus

  3. Making Memories RV Posted on 08.06.2017

    @TheFitRV are an inspiration to the #RVLife . Especially the healthy life

  4. Kate Mullen Posted on 08.05.2017

    Great article Stef – you nailed it! This was my 2nd GNR and it is like a family reunion so much love in the Winnie Bs!

  5. Bonnie Barker Posted on 08.05.2017

    This was my first rally and as a part of the Winnie Bs with a Travato, I had a wonderful time. Thanks, Stef, for this great article recapping our fun times.

  6. Daniel Davis Posted on 08.05.2017

    Nice article we were right in the middle of the storm and the Truma party, the party was better of the two by far, met som new friends…

  7. Karen Mueller Posted on 08.05.2017

    David Moyle

    Trade your 2016 for a 2015. I have the 2015 and the ride is the BEST.

  8. David Moyle Posted on 08.05.2017

    I’m wondering if other 2016 Tour owners are suffering with a horrible ride in their couch. It seems to me that this coach should have a better ride!

  9. Karen Mueller Posted on 08.05.2017

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article.

  10. Vonda Klein Posted on 08.05.2017

    Sounds wonderful. I’ll watch for the dates in the future so that maybe we can attend!

  11. Nancy Posted on 08.05.2017

    Just bought my first RV/Van-Winnebago Paseo about 1 month ago. I’d like to hear more about this rally. When and where for next year? My first trip last week was through Iowa to Nebraska. Spent the first ever night at a KOA in W. Des Moines. Can’t wait for many more adventures!

  12. John Traenkenschuh Posted on 08.05.2017

    Yesterday I got up on the sturdy roof of our 25B. As a past metal roofed mobile home owner, I was impressed with Winnebago’s well built roof and wildly diligent waterproofing! There are structural strengths in a Minnie Winnie that you’ll never find in similarly priced units. Despite looking out for low-hanging branches… I’m so glad I have a puncture and scrape resistant fiberglass top over something cheaper–yet costing the same MSRP. Honestly, how good is a heavily discounted price IF MY ROOF WON’T LAST THE LIFE OF MY LOAN??? Sorry for the caps; I’m convinced that buying Winnebago gives you a superior product, something whose resell price justifies the initial investment.

  13. John Traenkenschuh Posted on 08.05.2017

    Sure wish we’d gone… We have a spacious yet tidy Compact C (25B). How you could call that much sleeping and entertaining space Compact, well, that confuses me. I suppose it’s considered compact because you can park and maneuver it so easily in town and park it–with room to spare–in a residential driveway. If the many positives earn the compact name, call us compact!

  14. Dennis Burkholder Posted on 08.04.2017

    Excellent article. Author did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of GNR. After many years of experiencing the rally for me it always comes down to people, friendships, and shared moments.