Most anyone strolling the grounds of Hearthside Grove knows to leave a little extra time if they’re passing the corner of Bluestem and Ciderpress drives. This isn’t a typical Hearthside intersection; it’s affectionately dubbed “Howdy Corner.” Charlie Adcock, in lot 238, he’s got a ready smile and you if you’re passing by, you have an open invitation to join him around his fire pit.
Adcock is the current president of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), the world’s largest motorhome owner’s group. Many owners at Hearthside Grove are among the organization’s 75,000+ active members. Those who aren’t yet members won’t stay away long, once they hear a pitch from the man known as the “Spark Plug” of FMCA.
But the recruiting of new members is not why you’ll find Adcock visiting Hearthside Grove. He simply visits every chance that he gets. When he visited back in 2012, just before announcing a run for his first of two terms in office, he left owning a Lot—much to his personal surprise.
“Our convention was going to be in Indianapolis, Indiana, in mid-July or early August, so we reserved a site. It just happened to be the site we are on now. We rented for a few weeks. I said, I’m not going to buy anything because I’m going to run for president and if I were elected, I wouldn’t have any time to come.
The last day of our reservation, we were leaving at 6 o’clock the next morning, my wife said: ‘This is the lot in the resort I would want if we were going to buy one.’ It’s wide open, it’s on a four-way corner, and I affectionately call it Howdy Corner. Being from the south, we like to say howdy to everybody as they go by. Plus I can see everybody who comes through that four-way stop sign. When she said that, it wasn’t two seconds before Kirk Rose (Proprietor) came riding up on his Segway. I said, ‘Kirk, you’re just in time…’ We shook hands on a deal that evening.”
Most Hearthside owners have similar stores, Adcock acknowledges, of the way they intended to come for a quick visit, left owning a lot, a bungalow and more. But his decision was a particular surprise since he wasn’t able to visit even for a night again until June 2014, when he slipped in a 10-day trip. This year, he returned for a full 20 days in June, about the same number of days in August.
Some of the trip was his respite time, he said. Hearthside has become the place he goes to catch his breath after the excitement and exhaustion of a major rally or national convention. But this friendly RV’er isn’t down, resting for long. Outings like this year’s ziplining trip with his granddaughter to nearby Boyne will be the centrepiece of an upcoming column for “Family Motorcoaching Magazine.” And he has nothing but good to say about both the resort and the region.
“Of all of our travels and all the places we’ve been, this is at the top of the heap of RV resorts in our opinion because of the amenities, the beauty, and the weather,” he said. “What bad can you say about Petoskey, Michigan in the summer? It’s beautiful up here.”
Charlie and his wife Gloria keep a home on 50 Arkansas acres that have long been in Gloria’s family. This past year, though, they spent less time at home than they did at Hearthside, the rest of their time was spent on the road to various events and rallies. It’s a lifestyle many motorhome owners share—and love—and in his case, one prompted by a love of NASCAR and RV trips to races with a large group of friends. He travels to 10 or so races a year with a large group of friends. One invitation to a Family Motorcoach Association rally, though, and he simply fell in love with the lifestyle and friendship opportunities those events afforded. After a life in the service that took him around the world, he’s now criss-crossed the United States multiple times, always seeing something new—and making new friends.
“There’s a saying that there’s a 5 o’clock happy hour wherever there are two motorhomes or more,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you’re drinking alcohol, but you socialize. Everybody becomes one huge family.”
As his term winds down and he’s able to spend full summers at Hearthside, he suspects his Howdy Corner rituals will grow. For now, he loves the friendships with a half a dozen couples he’s bonded with over a short time and the over-the-top helpfulness of the staff.
“Here, you just think it, and it’s going to happen,” he notes. “I had a gathering at my place after we got back from a Madison rally. I had a big cookout and needed a table to put the food on. Magically, an eight foot table shows up. Everyone at Hearthside is always ready to help.”
So is Adcock, whose southern-style hospitality has quickly become legendary.
“I sit under the awning of my motorhome and watch everybody that goes by; everybody says “Hi” and waves. If someone comes by walking their dog or something, they’ll stop. Being from Arkansas in the south, we like to visit a lot. We’re friendly sort of people. The Hearthside community is so wonderful and we always feel at home here.”
Writer: Kim Schneider
Editor: Sarah Beewell