Celebrating the Small RV Lifestyle at Winnebago's Compact Coach Rally
When we meet people for the first time, and they discover that our family of three has been living in a Winnebago for the past five years, the next question almost always goes something like this: "One of those big bus-like RVs, right?!?" When we tell them that, in fact, it is a Winnebago View, only 25' long, and built on a Mercedes sprinter van chassis, with roughly 178 square feet of living space, I usually have to help them pick their jaw up off the ground.
People simply can't fathom a family of three (with a teenager no less!) living in such close quarters for an extended period of time. But unless you have actually spent some time in a comparably sized RV, there is just no way to understand the incredible freedom that this compact coach offers in its ability to take us just about anywhere. We don't have to worry about tight turns, narrow roads, or crowded city streets. The View just goes where we want it to go without stress, frustration or fear.
The Word is Out: Smaller Can Be Better
But all of the amazingness of the smaller Class C RVs isn't actually just our little secret. Winnebago is the top-selling sprinter manufacturer in North America, and smaller coaches like the View, Navion and Fuse are topping sales charts industry wide. In September, Winnebago held an event in Forest City, IA, to celebrate the compact coach lifestyle -- to bring owners together to connect with each other and learn more about their van-based RVs.
When we first heard about the Compact Coach Rally, we were anticipating a small, intimate affair, 30ish coaches, and a few days spent with people who love the View/Navion as much as we do. But once word got out, View, Navion, and Fuse owners started showing up in droves -- 132 coaches, in fact! As we pulled through the gate at the rally grounds, I could almost hear the angels singing as we drove by row, after row, after row of people who appreciate the elegant simplicity of exploring the world in a sleek, compact, van-based RV.
The rally kicked off with a catered dinner, giving us the opportunity to get together and meet other owners. I swear, it was just like coming home. We met so many people that first evening and loved learning about all their favorite destinations and swapping tales of adventures from the road. Even though the room was filled with a whopping 250 people, it somehow still had the charm of a small, intimate event.
The next morning, we discovered we were in for a particularly special treat. The entire plant was shut down for routine maintenance which allowed us the opportunity to venture out onto the production floor to see up close and personal the products that we own in various stages of construction. While I knew all along that Winnebago was focused on quality, safety and craftsmanship, the level of detail that is hidden beneath the surface of every single coach is really very impressive. From the aluminum frame construction to the insulation and structural design, we were impressed at every stop in our tour by a thousand little details that make our beloved Winnebago the precision machine that it is.
The afternoon was spent in seminars lead by Mercedes, Ford, Zamp Solar, and the team from Winnebago, giving us the opportunity to ask each manufacturer specific questions about our specific RV. Each session was full of information and plenty of time for questions, so that we walked out with a much deeper understanding of the workings of our coaches. The night was topped off with a multimedia presentation, by yours truly, about our extreme adventures whitewater kayaking, climbing, biking and more, all based out of our beloved View.
The last day was a blur of activity starting with a presentation from the executive team at Winnebago, followed by a competition for attendees who had made the best modifications to their personal RV - such as a cutting board that fit across an open lower cabinet door that made for another table-top work space. There were some really innovative designs, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a few of the top ideas integrated into future Winnebago products.
The evening rounded out with a wonderful presentation about the history of compact coaches followed by a spunky bingo championship. As with all great events, it came to a close far too soon. Hopefully, we'll see YOU at an RV event soon. Onward...
For now, we are headed west, so if you see us out on the road, give us a honk or a wave and say hello!