We set up our motorhome yesterday afternoon at the Moose Lodge 3.5 miles from the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, Indiana, where the 50th Escapade is going on. We were assigned a grassy site away from trees so we’d have no trouble getting the satellite dishes tuned in. The site isn’t very level, so we had to use several blocks under the jacks, and the 30-amp electricity is weak (breaker tripped with one a/c and a few lights), but the setting is pretty, and Shadow loves the grass to roll in!
There’s a small lake on the grounds, with a gaggle of geese. I just love that word ‘gaggle.’ According to Wikipedia, a gaggle is a flock of geese that isn’t in flight, and there are at least five. I think this one qualifies.
The one guy standing up in the middle of the gaggle and on the alert is the ‘looker,’ watching for danger to protect the flock.
When we first arrived at the fairgrounds, we went to see our friends Ken and Maryanne Watson, who are vendors for Magne Shades. We own a set of these shades, which we love. They attach to the motorhome with magnets and don’t require climbing on a ladder to put them up. (No More Ladders!) The inside of the motorhome is much more comfortable when the sun doesn’t hit the windshield, preventing a greenhouse effect. We also have them for the driver and passenger windows, and the door window.
We always have fun times with these folks, and are delighted whenever we can get together with them in various parts of the country, including their beautiful home in Cave Creek, AZ. We spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas there last year, parked in their side yard with full hookups. (Click on the word “Thanksgiving” to link to my blog post about that event.) We plan to have dinner with them tonight to catch up on our various travels. It will be the RVers’ version of “How We Spent Our Summer.”
While chatting at their outdoor display yesterday, several friends came by and we collected many hugs and lots of surprised comments like “I didn’t think you were coming!” We didn’t think we were coming, either, but are very glad to be here.
Some of our SOLO RVing friends came by: Shari Haywood, whom we’ve known for several years and visited at her home base in Hondo, TX (near San Antonio) last year. Shari’s a wonderful volunteer, helping out wherever there’s a need, and has served as an officer in the SOLOs group.
Shari’s been an RVer for many years and sometimes travels with her Mom on board, as she is at this gathering.
Patsy Cook and Michael Vogel clowned for the camera, below. We sponsored Patsy into Hart Ranch for a few days early in the summer. We just missed seeing Mike when he was in the area. He came looking for us at Hart Ranch a day or two after we had departed. They both participated in the annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch in June, which is the only time each year when people are allowed to walk out on the arm of the Crazy Horse Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mike challenged Don (and me) to go on this walk next year (or the year after, if we go to Alaska next summer). I hope we’ll be up to it, Mikey! Glad to share hugs with you both! (And, by the way, they’re not a couple. Just crazy about life.)
Dennis and Carol Hill, owners of RV Driving School (I’m a graduate), who stood up for us when we were married, are also fun people to be around.
Dennis is quite a character, and we have lots of laughs whenever he’s there. Marilyn Anderson was just as happy to be there, too! Carol and Marilyn are both line dancers. Maybe I need to take up that hobby…could I ever be as skinny as them?
It was time for Happy Hour and Dog Walking, which were effectively combined by Pat Dunkel who seemed to be coaching Patches to be a good dog.
Patches wanted to be friends with Odie, a Poodle who’s a little bit taller than Shadow.
Odie was there with his ‘parents’ Chris and Jim Guld, the Geeks on Tour. Chris was also ready for Happy Hour – check out the wine bottle tucked in her jeans’ pocket.
Chris and Jim are full-time RVers who teach seminars and help people learn about blogging and using Picasa, as well as lots more about computers. The Geeks on Tour call themselves “Odie’s Roadies.” You can read about their travels on their blog. And check out their web site for a wealth of information, and learn more than you ever thought you could about using your computer. They’re also kayakers, and we hope to catch them when they’re not working so hard and put our boats in the water together.
Later that evening we had dinner with Carol & Dennis Hill, and Susie & Denny Orr, directors of Escapees Chapters and Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) groups in the Escapees RV Club. Susie and Denny have been friends and mentors to me for several years, especially helpful while I was president of the SOLOs BOF before Don and I got together. This was a fun group, with lots of Mexican food (Indiana style) and Margaritas.
Dennis really likes orange, could you tell? These are the shoes he wore to his daughter’s recent wedding.
We were at least partially responsible for getting Dennis and Carol into kayaking. Their car is as easily recognizable as ours, just a different color. Are you surprised it’s orange?
Today we again visited the fairgrounds and explored several vendor booths, looking for something we couldn’t live without. After so many years of RVing, that’s hard to do. I bought a red Escapees shirt, and Don bought lunch. Total spent: $30. Whoopee!
We sorta ‘crashed the gate’ to get in today. Yesterday was the one ‘open day’ of the rally to allow visitors to walk in at no charge. We heard they were charging $25 per person to enter the fairgrounds any other days during the Escapade, if you weren’t already registered as an on-site RVer attending and paying the full rally fee. We had actually paid for the rally months ago, but canceled due to Don’s accident. When we realized that we could make it here in time to catch the last few days, we learned that the rally was full and no more registrations were being allowed. Although Escapees, Inc. took well over a month to refund our money after we canceled, they refused to let us re-register. We also learned that there were several full hookup sites that had never been occupied during the rally, but we couldn’t get into any of those either. Who’s running this show? What happened to the Escapees’ motto of ‘caring and sharing.’ Oh, well! The organization seems to have lost some of its original spirit and is now supporting three families, so I guess they’re just looking at the bottom line. We went to the office to see if we could walk in just to visit with some of the vendors, not to attend any seminars, but all the staff were in a meeting. An associate said she didn’t see us, and let us walk past her into the grounds. Thanks, you-who-are-nameless. We had a good day.
Later…tonight we had a delightful dinner with Gary & Linda Baecker, G & L RV Specialties, closest to the camera, Ken & Maryanne Watson, Magne Shades, and Don Neville & Jan Pyle, on the other side of Don and me. (You can just barely see Don N. between my Don and Ken, and Jan to my right. It’s hard to get a good photo of 8 people.) Jan and Don are long-time friends that I met through the SOLOs group and have connected with in various places all over the lower 48. Linda and Gary are friends of Maryanne and Ken and new friends for us as of tonight. What a fun group!
The past day and a half have been a very happy time for us, collecting hugs from our many friends, most of whom I didn’t get pics but they know we love them. We look forward to more fun times and being back in the swing of this RV lifestyle that we love. Missing out on some of the fun because of Don’s accident is made up for by all the support we’re now getting. It’s great to be back!
Note: In case you didn’t notice, there are several links embedded in this blog. Wherever you see blue text, click on the word(s) and you’ll be linked to the related web site. I’m not intending to advertise for my friends, just making it easy for you to learn more if you’re interested.