If you are an RVer and you have never participated in a rally, I’d highly recommend you find one and GO! We were lucky enough to snag a spot at the Fulltime Families Up & Away rally at the 2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It’s an experience we will never forget!
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In part 1 of our series, I talked a bit about the time leading up to the balloon fiesta, our check-in day, and our mornings watching balloons fly overhead. In this post, I want to share a bit about the Fulltime Families rally itself and introduce you to some of our new friends.
I have to say this rally was very overwhelming for us. It was our first Fulltime Families rally, and we were boondocking for an entire week with 50 other families. Plus, the balloon fiesta was going on at the same time.
Prior to getting to the Albuquerque area, we had spent a month and a half adventuring on our own. We had begun to figure out our daily routine, we visited interesting places alone as a family, and we camped in places where there were no kids.
Every day of the rally there were activities on the schedule. Participation wasn’t required, but we wanted to make sure we got out of our comfort zone and participated in as much as we could. We wanted our kids to see that the RV lifestyle isn’t all about being alone and not having any friends or fun.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! The kids loved it and continue to ask if we can do it again next year.
Here’s an idea of what our schedule looked like at the rally:
- Monday – first timer’s orientation, balloon crew orientation (for those that were volunteering to help crew a balloon for the week), rally registration, opening ceremonies, etc.
- Tuesday – coffee talk, Parade of Homes (where we got to view the inside of other families’ RVs), field trip to the New Mexico Natural Science and History Museum, Mexican potluck, and glow dance party
- Wednesday – coffee talk, kids marketplace, mom’s night out, etc.
- Thursday – kids day at the balloon field, meet-ups with interest groups, kids activities, and dad’s night out
- Friday – build hot air balloons, hangouts, and evening at the balloon field for the balloon glow
- Saturday – closing ceremonies and door prizes
- All week – balloon fiesta events in the mornings and evenings at the balloon field
Whew! That makes me tired just looking at it again. Not to mention, our kids were outside playing in between all of those activities. And Brent and I? We were making the rounds all week getting to know people. Oh! And of course, I had to sneak out to go get a chiropractic adjustment.
One of the best parts of the rally was getting to know other people. While kids always seem to make friends really quickly, adults seem to keep to themselves a bit. It takes a little longer than one conversation to become friends.
One night was cold and rainy and no one was really hanging outside. We all live in small spaces, so it’s hard to “have people over”. What a bummer when you are trying to be social. Well, that didn’t stop me.
That’s right. I invited two families over for game night at our house. It was a blast! The three of us ladies sat at the table and played cards while the guys sat in the living room and talked. The kids had a great time just playing on the floor. =)
Meet the Copeland Family (Copeland Chronicles)
We are a family of three. Hollie works as a traveling sonographer, Steven homeschools and takes care of our maintenance and mechanical needs, and Brea is a 6-year-old who is a true hippy at heart. We started full-timing in August of 2017, so we have been living the RV life for almost a year and a half.
The Up & Away rally was our first rally and definitely an RVer’s ultimate dream destination. This was also our first balloon fiesta and we did not know what to expect. It was a little overwhelming but worth the experience.
Meeting like-minded families was our favorite part of the rally. We were in close quarters but free to mingle with families and when you find those who you click with, it is great. Knowing that you’ve made lasting friendships in which you can catch up through social media, blogs, vlogs, and road meetups, gives you a small sense of security and family on that big open road.
Being on the field early in the morning was our favorite part of the balloon fiesta. Ok, maybe not the early part! It was something about those chilly mornings right before the sun came out; when you could stand in the middle of these towering balloons as they all rise up at the same time and find their way into the open air. You feel so small. Your senses are overstimulated as you smell propane and hear the roaring burners air up balloons. People flood the field like ants. At some points the blue sky is nowhere to be seen as the balloons encircle the area around you, waiting for their glory moment: lift off!
Our rally and balloon fiesta tips:
- It is overwhelming. Hang in there and get outside! If you do not know anyone just invite them over for games (as I invited myself to Brent and Kristi’s lol), or gather your chairs in a circle outside.
- Take naps! You will be getting up very early so just be good to yourself.
- I also suggest pre-cooking meals and storing them in Ziploc gallon bags so you can scoop food out and heat it up in the microwave to dirty fewer dishes (hence saving water and tank space since you are boondocking). We did this with spaghetti, lettuce, and taco meat to make tacos and taco salads. We also made frozen pizza in our gas stove for an easy/electric free and mess-free meal.
- Take cash because you do not know when you will need it!
Meet the Schroeder Family (Blessed Without Boundaries)
We are the Schroeder family; Dustin, Nicole, Zack, Lexi, and Logan. Two parents, two teens, and a 10 year old. We are traveling the country in our 5th wheel. This lifestyle started out as a trip to see the remaining states we haven’t visited and turned into more than we could have imagined. We have now visited 49 states and plan on traveling to Alaska in summer 2019 but our priorities have shifted from checking boxes to experiencing all that we can and making meaningful friendships.
We are in our second year of full-time RVing. Our original thought was that we would take 8 months to make a giant loop around the country, but we loved it so much that we decided to continue this lifestyle.
The Up & Away Rally was our second rally. Our first rally was the Robotics Rally in Michigan this past August. We enjoyed them both but they were very different from each other.
This was our first balloon fiesta. It quickly made our list of must-dos after launching the previous September and seeing all of the amazing photos on Instagram.
Our favorite part of the rally was meeting so many new families. We had really been searching for our tribe as a confirmation that this lifestyle was sustainable four our family. Since the rally, we have met up with many families again, many even multiple times, and we’ve been able to deepen those friendships even more.
Choosing a favorite part of the balloon fiesta is much too hard! Being on the field as the balloons are inflating and taking off is an incredible experience. You seem so small among the giants and the photo opportunities are endless! Volunteering as balloon crew was also a favorite. Our family volunteered for the same pilot for a majority of the fiesta, and we even got to go up in a balloon. Being hands on for the event is so easy (besides the early mornings), and the experience compares to nothing we have ever done.
We strongly recommend spending as much time as you can at the fiesta. There are different launches, different balloons, different activities, and you don’t want to miss any of them. Also, weather plays a huge factor in this event, so if you only plan on a day or two you might not actually get to experience any of it.
As you can see, we had a wonderful and busy time at the rally. I think it’s safe to say that both of these families share the same feelings as we do in regards to getting to a rally to make connections.