It’s funny, I hadn’t really planned on writing about the Oliver rally. I like to keep my posts general enough that a variety of readers can find value. I worried a report on the recent Oliver Travel Trailer Rally I attended would be focused too narrowly for this blog. And since it was my first rally, I didn’t feel like I could write about the general rally experience. I’ll need to attend a few more before I’m ready to do that. But then a few things happened that I just had to share. So here it is: the best 5 things I heard at the 2018 Oliver Rally.
It Looks Like the Aliens Have Landed
When I arrived at the Lake Gundersville State Park in Gundersville, Alabama, I parked and went inside the country store (as they call it) to check in. A woman came in behind me and asked what kind of trailer I had. I told her. She said she’d never seen one before and now there were several in the campground. I explained we were all here for the Oliver Rally. Then she added, “It looks like the aliens have landed.”
Molded fiberglass trailers are called “eggs” for a reason. They aren’t shoe boxes on wheels the way other trailers and motorhomes are. So, she wasn’t far off in her assessment that our egg-ish shape made us look like alien craft.
Additionally, consider that in more than six months I’ve been on the road, I haven’t ever been in a campground with another Oliver Trailer. Then consider that only about 350 Oliver Trailers have been built and 80 of them were at the rally. 80! That means nearly one-quarter of all owners made the effort and took the time to participate in the four-day event. Several drove in excess of 1,000 miles.
With that in mind, is it any wonder it looked as if aliens had landed?
You’re Supersize LIFE!
After I got Quill set up in our assigned camping spot, Solstice and I went for a walk. Taking a walk calms that tiny bit of unease I feel in a new location. It takes away the unsettled feeling I get from unknown surrounds. It helps me get my bearings. I always feel better once I know where the dumpsters are, whether or not the bathrooms are clean, how many quarters I’ll need for a load of laundry, etc.
Along one path, we met another person coming toward us. “You’re Supersize Life!” the person exclaimed. I am, I exclaimed back. I have to say, my heart smiled. You might think that it wasn’t my heart that smiled, but my ego. And maybe it was. Okay, probably it was.
But, in my defense, let me say that writing is a solidarity endeavor. It is hours upon hours alone in front of a computer screen, wandering the depths of my mind hoping to find the elusive muse and the exact right words.
And even if you write something brilliant, you aren’t always sure if others will read your words. And if they do, you cannot control how—or even if—they will respond.
So, being recognized is validation. It makes the weeks where the words don’t come easily worth it. I’m filled with deep gratitude and humility every time a reader reaches out to say I somehow spoke to them. Maybe that is ego but it sure feels like all heart from here.
You’re Supersize Life. I heard it several times during the rally. Suffice it to say: me, my ego and my heart were high from the experience for days after.
You’re a Strong Confident Woman
“You are a strong confident woman.” In most contexts, this would be a fantastic thing to have someone say to you. But I heard it as I stood with my tippy-toes hanging over the edge of a small platform, high in a tree. It was said to help lessen my reluctance to jump. My mind told me to jump but the rest of my body revolted, screaming, “No. No. No.”
I did finally jump. I lived. And, still, at the next platform or the next suspension bridge, I had to go through the whole process again. Every time.
Even now, more than a week later, I return to the zip lining and suspension bridge experience, trying to analyze what happened. Watch this video to get an idea of what it was like.
Looking onto the forest floor, it was a long way down, but I wasn’t afraid of the height. I wasn’t afraid of falling. Interesting, I wasn’t even afraid of zip lining. So why the adrenaline rush? Why did I have to self-talk (“Come on! You are better than this!”) my way through every jump? Why did my fellow zip liners need to cheer me on with words of encouragement and assurance?
I do not know. A week later, I still don’t know.
Someone said, your mind cannot always control your body’s response. Maybe it’s that simple.
I trembled for 90 minutes after we returned from the adventure. And in case you are wondering, shaking your hands really hard to try to make the adrenaline get out of them doesn’t work.
It’s a Good Thing You Didn’t Do Level 2
The zip line adventure consisted of Level 1 and Level 2. A dozen of my fellow Oliver Rally attendees and I decided we were all in for both. Go big or go home.
As we approached our last couple zip lines of Level 1 (and, yes, my constant hesitation probably slowed the group down), deep rumbling started in the sky. Then the rain started. The zip line company cancelled the rest of the adventure. due to rain, thunder and, most serious, lightening. We did the last line of Level 1 in blinding torrential rain.
We were soaked to the skin by the time we got back to the gear shed. Once back to my trailer, when I took off my shirt, I actually rang water from it. My pants were so wet that my underwear was wet. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that kind of fast and furious downpour. And an unfortunate side note, it was also accompanied by wind and four Oliver owners had awnings rip from their trailers.
The zip lining company calling off the adventure meant we got a refund for Level 2. Or we could go back anytime in the next 6 months to do Level 2. We each made our own call. Three opted for the refund and the rest scheduled Level 2 for the next day.
So, what was it that I heard at the Oliver Rally? The next night at the big cookout, several people from zip lining group sought me out to say, “It’s a good thing you didn’t do Level 2.”
Apparently, it was even more of an adrenaline rush than Level 1. Two of the zip lines were a half mile long, taking a full minute to complete. And the suspension bridges were harder, scarier, taller. Watch here for the Level 2 thrill ride, at 0:29 you’ll see one of the crazy-high platforms they climbed.
You Are Exactly Like Your Writing Voice
During one of the socializing portions of the event, I was chatting with someone who mentioned he was a reader of the blog. After a few minutes, he said the single best thing I heard at the Oliver Rally. He said, “You are exactly like your writing voice.”
What can I say to that? I was touched and thrilled. It is something I work at. On the blog, I have to fight the urge to present myself as braver, easier-going, smarter, funnier and more secure than I am. I have to remind myself to tell the whole RV life story, not just the happy easy parts. Not just the fun adventures.
What I strive to do with the blog is inspire and encourage others to lead a Supersize LIFE. But Supersize doesn’t mean perfect. Or easy. Or pain-free. I don’t mean for others to follow in my footsteps by buying an RV and traveling the country. It merely means making life everything you want it to be for you. It means filling it with love and light, seeking out joy, taking risks and living big.
I cannot end this post without sharing one more thing. At the farewell dinner, it was announced that, for the 2019 Oliver Rally, we’d be returning to Lake Gundersville State Park. My first thought? Zip lining? Sign me up! Level 1 and Level 2. Next time, I’m going to conquer that beast. Or at least I’ll try. Even if it means shaking from the adrenaline surge for days after.