Planning an RV rally can be tough, especially if you’re still working full-time, and have lots of hobbies that you like to fill your nights and weekends with. It’s not easy to find a location that suits the preferences of most club members or to book a campground with all types of physical and non-physical activities nearby that don’t require carpooling and rig unhooking. But the toughest part of organizing an RV rally is simply the stress that hosts place on themselves, doing everything they can to ensure every attending member has a memorable experience.
Lucky for us, we have gracious members in the Rocky Mountain LTVers who pitch in on-the-spot, and even offer to help lead group activities. And to improve our luck even further, Kurt and I chose to host our 2019 Spring Rally in our little hometown of Lyons, Colorado. When we tell others around Denver that we live in Lyons, the reply is always ‘I LOVE Lyons!’ And since this is such a common theme for anyone who lives in Lyons, our town launched a CVB campaign last year entitled ‘Love, Lyons.’
Nestled just inside the mountains between Boulder and Estes Park, Lyons is known as ‘The Double Gateway to the Rockies.’ This vibrant town of less than 2,000 residents boasts huge music festivals such as the infamous RockyGrass Bluegrass Festival and Lyons Folks Festival, is the original home of Oskar Blues Brewery, and has reeled in a famous bamboo fishing rod maker, a recognized author on fly fishing , and various artists and musicians.
After the devastating 1,000-year rain and 100-year flood of 2013, Lyons was built anew with amazing St. Vrain River walkways, new parks built to suit the needs of locals and tourists, and a small full-hookup RV area inside one of the town parks. Situated one block from downtown, LaVern M. Johnson Park is nestled between two cliffs in the riverbend and feels like you are hidden away in the mountains.
Day 1: Thursday
Only our fourth RV rally, I’ll have to say that this was the most social ‘check-in and get your rig ready’ afternoon yet. Typically, we are all wanting to get our LTVs in place, leveled, and slides out, and our things taken out of their safe-driving cubbies and chairs set outside before we are ready to mentally relax and chit chat with our neighbors. This was not the case with our little Lyons rally. Folks were arriving, one person would step out and chat while their spouse was setting up their coach. Folks arrived over a several-hour period with new faces ready to meet you immediately coming out to give handshakes and hugs before getting settled. Quite frankly, I loved this. It was a refreshing alternative to the ‘get there and grind’ mindset we usually fall into when arriving at a campground.
We hosted a quick meet-and-greet happy hour with light veggie and cheese snacks, where attendees collected their nametags (and we all really attempted to remember names and helped each other with names throughout the rally). Kurt had the honor of handing everyone some LTV-branded Contigo water bottles that came in handy throughout the days ahead. A large number of members reside in the Denver metro area, but we also had attendees from New Mexico and southwest Colorado. We also had a few couples that had attended our previous rallies in Angel Fire and Glenwood Springs.
The highlight of the night was a group dinner at the local’s hangout, Pizza Bar 66. We took over a back room and filled up on salad and pizzas, sharing our preferences of microbrews and simply getting to know one another better. We had so many compliments from the group on how much they enjoyed the dinner and the gathering. Personally, I was happy to not have to cook the first night!
Day 2: Friday
Lyons is also home to a Golden Eagle nesting area located just a few hundred feet from our RVs. About a week before the rally, locals confirmed that an eaglet had in fact hatched this season, although no photos had been seen yet. LTVers who came with binoculars, high-quality cameras, and tripods started the day with an eagle watch. We saw a ton of activity – eagles soaring, landing on cliffs and in the nest, and looking out for prey. This was quite a treat.
We pre-planned a hike up Picture Rock Trail for those who enjoy spending a lot of time on their feet. A group of us walked through town and picturesque parks for about a mile before we reached the trailhead. One couple and their two doggos parted ways and walked down to the large dog park nearby, while the rest of us continued two more miles until we reached a shaded stone table and benches where we rested, hydrated, and enjoyed a snack. The views were enjoyed by all on the way up, and during the faster trek down. We even spotted mountain lion tracks and a few deer!
After a long 6-mile hike, we settled back into the park in which we were staying. Several of our club members are anglers, and we staked claims along the river in the park. I was the only lucky one that day, catching a small trout with my Tenkara rod (which, by the way, is an easy and inexpensive way to get into fly fishing.)
We rented one of the pavilions in the park to hold a group potluck dinner, which is always a fan favorite at the rallies we’ve attended. With a ‘Rocky Mountain Fare’ theme, we saw dishes such as pork green chili and bison meatballs. The food was amazing, and we had a great balance of meat, carb, vegetarian, salad, soupy, and dessert dishes without even coordinating. Nancy Van Emmerik was celebrating a birthday, so we all joined in to sing and wish her well.
After a satisfying dinner and active day, many were ready to head in and get an early night’s rest. Karim Malek, Kurt and I headed to the Lyons Classic Pinball arcade to try our hand at rare vintage and more modern games. Karim was a master and won so many free games he was abandoning machines just to get a variety of play.
Day 3: Saturday
The third day was left largely unplanned, so folks could self-group and enjoy longer activities without a schedule in place. Tom and Carrie Bray chose to venture up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. The Maleks and Kirk and Sandy Sticken mounted their bikes and rode around town, exploring riverside streets and downtown neighborhoods. Others went into town to grab a bite and coffee at local cafes, check out artisan crafts and jewelry in local shops, and even do a ‘butter tasting’ at Bella La Crema butter bar. Kurt and I decided to stay put for once and enjoy our local park. While Kurt fished some more, I simply sat in the grass and enjoyed great conversation for hours with new and old LTV friends.
Late afternoon we gathered for another well-loved activity: an LTV tour and open house. We all got our rigs picked up and laid out our favorite gadgets for show-and-tell, and then gathered at Pedro (our Unity CB). One at a time we walked from RV to RV, with each owner pointing out organizational secrets, sharing favorite gadgets, and showcasing their decorating skills. I always end up taking lots of pictures and adding to my ‘RV Modifications’ Pinterest board – this time, including a new handle and unlocking mechanism for the screen door that allows easier access for those of us who keep our main doors open often. We even had two couples from the LTV Enthusiasts Facebook group show up. They are trying to narrow down which LTV floorplan to purchase and wanted to see some LTV units in person. We invited them to join our tour so they could get a deep look into layouts and color choices.
A last-minute decision, we unanimously agreed to pull together a scrap-together and leftovers potluck dinner. Since the Van Emmerik’s had a cozy fire pit, we chose their rig for our basecamp. Those who had leftovers from the night before reheated them, and the rest of us pulled together spaghetti, red sauce, and pesto from our cabinets to add more food. Unfortunately, I experienced my first spaghetti sauce explosion, forgetting how quickly our little burners can bring a pot to boiling. We capped off dinner by enjoying one another’s company around the campfire, swapping stories and sharing laughs. Michelle Malek pulled out her ukulele, playing and singing to the group’s delight. It was a perfect last night to the rally.
Day 4: Sunday
Taking advantage of one last opportunity to gather, we woke a little early and got our RVs largely prepped to take off. Around 9:00 we walked to The Stone Cup, a local coffee shop with a large patio and sweeping views of the mountains nearby and pulled a few tables together. Enjoying biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, and other dishes, we soaked in the acoustic bluegrass music played by local musicians. A hearty and heart-filled meal ended our four days in the small town of Lyons, Colorado.
‘I Love Lyons!’ was a statement made by our entire group as many looked at their calendars, making plans to book a solo trip back. Some even mentioned that we should host an annual rally in Lyons. We were just thankful that all enjoyed their trip, made new memories and friends, and explored a mighty little town that most simply pass through on their way to Estes Park. Come back and visit. Love, Lyons.