Making Meaningful Connections at the Tucson EKKO Rally
Making Meaningful Connections at the Tucson EKKO Rally
Recap of this community focused Winnebago owner meetup.
By: Noel Fleming & Chris Miller
With a Catalina State Park map in hand and a wave to the ranger, we drove away from the registration booth and headed toward the group sites. Aptly named with playful geographically appropriate monikers, the Ringtail and Gila Monster group sites sat mostly empty. Neon colored cones, highlighting the desert dust, dotted the periphery, awaiting the arrival of rally participants. Like name cards for a family meal, these placeholders stood as a testament of the prep required for this gathering and the excitement for what was to come.
And come they did. Over the next 48 hours, our EKKO family trickled in—82 EKKOS claimed their parking space and their place in our community. From 28 states (Alaska to New England), 150 travelers came to the 2nd Annual Tucson EKKO Rally. Some arrived as old friends, having shared previous experiences together. Others pulled in as newcomers.
One couple who picked up their RV in Florida only two weeks earlier used their shakedown trip to hightail it to Tucson. Upon arrival, the travelers received their welcome packet complete with event schedules, and name tags—a much needed tool as introductions were made, people mingled between groups, and strangers became known.
The heart of every rally is connections. Thanks to the amazing team of organizers and the eclectic group of participants, this rally was full of opportunities to strengthen our connections to the outdoors, to the RV life, and to our community.
Connection to the Outdoors
Java Jumpstart at the pavilion and a stretch class were offered each morning—a perfect combo to start any day. Who wouldn’t benefit from caffeinated, limber muscles when hitting the trails? The state park, and the surrounding areas that connect into the Coronado National Forest, include hiking trails and biking for all level of enthusiasts.
There was plenty of free time each day to join a group and explore the canyons, foothills, and riverbeds. In addition to the impromptu hiking/biking groups, planned mountain biking excursions led by a host guide were open to anyone interested.
Each day, morning talks covered a variety of topics. The topic that ruffled the most feathers and kept our rapt attention was led by a park ranger who shared his knowledge and skills as a falconer. Assisted by his highflying Harris Hawk, he stunned us all with the beauty of falconry; his passion and delivery reminded us of the interconnectedness of all living things and our human impact.
Connection to RV Life
An RV rally wouldn’t be complete without some earnest focus on the RV lifestyle that we all have chosen. Mod tours, always a fan favorite, enable us to see our rig through new eyes and can significantly alter the everyday quality of RV travel. Seeing revisions firsthand inspires. Talking projects through step by step with a fellow RVer increases our confidence.
These interactions are especially significant for new RVers. Many EKKO owners have chosen this RV as their first rig, and many have owned their RV for less than six months. Fair warning: that which might fill your vision could also drain your wallet. After noticing the amount of items being added to people’s shopping carts during the mod tours, we wondered if Amazon may want to consider being a sponsor of future rallies.
In addition to tours, many of our daily talks centered on RV life. We covered serious topics regarding security for yourself and your rig while traveling. Session leaders modeled tools and techniques useful for vehicle recovery as well as how to access and change a tire. On the lighter side of RV life, we discussed travel logistics to consider when planning a caravan to Alaska, and also had time to share comical blunders and lessons from the road.
Winnebago, long-time supporters of building community through rallies, joined in the fun by sending a product manager and her family to camp with us. It always adds an extra layer of connection between owners and product planners when we are able to spend time together.
As an added bonus, they traveled in the prototype of the newest EKKO built on a Mercedes chassis. She showcased the design and entertained questions and feedback. The product is expected to be on display at the 2024 Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa.
Connection to the Community
Nothing builds connections between people more than doing life together, even if for only a short time in a campground. Those kindhearted, hardworking planners who thoughtfully create itineraries and manage the logistics, know that when we gather together, something important — something almost magical — happens and connections are made.
We learn about each other while sharing morning coffee and evening meals. Personalities shine with Halloween costume shenanigans (picture glow-in-the-dark inflatable aliens, bloody faced zombies, and a larger-than-life unicorn). Bocce, Cornhole, and card games bring out individual’s playful and competitive nature. We become familiar with each other’s stories while traversing trails and visiting together at campsites. That’s the reality of life together.
The lighthearted topics of movies and music commingle side by side with deeper topics of life transitions, ailing parents, and growing kids. The joy of weddings and new business ventures share a seat with news of sadness and loss.
One evening while everyone was milling around finding a seat at picnic tables for dinner, an alert came across on someone’s phone—a text from their daughter and an accompanying picture from a hospital room. There on the screen of that handheld device glowed an image of their daughter and her newborn. Right there. The announcement of their first grandchild. Shared and celebrated by people who were strangers days ago, and cheerleaders today.
During the days together, the hum of conversation lingered into the evening long after the moon’s orb rose behind the cragged silhouette of mountains and saguaro. Eventually, the lights strung under the pavilion were turned off, the campfire embers died, and the hum of humans was replaced with the howls of coyotes.
What a gift to have a community where stories are shared, common ground is found, and everyone has a place at the table. It is these connections, the relationships in community that tether us together long after the dust has settled and the rally grounds are empty once again.
If you’re interested in joining a group of fellow Winnebago owners or would like to attend some owner-organized meetups, visit the GoLife Community page on the Winnebago website to find a list of GoLife Community Groups and the 2024 calendar of owner-organized meetups.
Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .