Thursday, September 16, 2010

50th Escapade in Goshen

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.

Traveling Again and Escapade

After finishing up with Don’s doctor visit and getting the motorhome serviced (oil leak turned out to be just a leaky cap) in Rapid City, SD, we hit the road.

Don’s walking better each day, now that the leg cast is off.


During our brief stay at beautiful Hart Ranch, our home base in Rapid City, we were lucky to link up with several friends and make some new ones as well. We gathered for lunch at the Alpine Inn in Hill City, SD. Below are L-R clockwise: Willie and Doug, Lynette and Steve, me and Don, Dave and Diane, with Fran and Bill in the lower center. I failed to get a picture of Betty and Duane, whom we saw a few times at Hart Ranch.


Don loves to sing his own version of Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” whenever we take off. This time it sounded even sweeter because we had most of our accident-related business behind us. Our first stop was in Pender, NE at the Blue Ox headquarters. They offer free RV parking in a beautiful setting while customers are getting service.


We bought a TruCenter steering device last summer and have had problems with it ever since. We even had it serviced here at Blue Ox in May, making a large detour in our travels to come to the headquarters. Now, on our second visit, the techs and manager decided to replace the device with a new one. In examining the old one, they discovered the inner cylinder leaking and creating erosion. They didn’t go so far as to say it was defective, but we believe it was. In any case, they took care of the problem. The manager also gave us a new electrical cable for the tow bar (ours was damaged) and inspected the base plate on the car (aka “towed” or “toad”). (Note: A fellow blogger reported their similar Blue Ox tow system failed when the welds on the base plate came apart and their toad broke away from the motorhome, suffering extensive damage. We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to us.) We departed feeling safer and gratified to finally have the TruCenter working correctly.

The next stop was in Davenport, IA. Friends Jerry and Sue Little live in nearby Blue Grass, and they made time in their busy schedule to treat us to tacos at one of their favorite restaurants. As you can see, Jerry is quite a character, and he kept us all entertained as we enjoyed our dinner.


Don and I have both driven through the Chicago area many times. Now that most of the major highway construction projects are finished, traffic flows smoother. However, there are still occasional delays and backups. Initially, we were happy to be heading east when the westbound lanes became clogged.


But we got our turn further down the road where 5 lanes narrowed to 3.


We still made it through the area faster than during previous trips, and arrived in Goshen, Indiana around 2 pm. After encountering a road closure 1 mile from our destination at the Moose Lodge. We had to follow a detour that took us an extra 10 miles around the closure to finally get here. We got the motorhome parked on a grassy, although unlevel, site with 30 amp electricity and water, then drove the car to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds, where the Escapees RV Club is holding its 50th Escapade rally. We found lots of friends, most of whom were surprised that we made it here since we had told them we probably wouldn’t. I’ll write again about the Escapade visit in a later blog. We’re thrilled to be here, even though the rally is almost over, and hope to spend more time with friends and visiting the exhibits today.