Monday, June 30, 2008

6/30/08 Escapade, Day Two

Up early this morning as I had a line dancing class at 8:30 and Bob wanted to go over for breakfast before he attended his first seminar.

I met up with Nancy Reid and I think we were both very disappointed that we were doing this line dancing thing but not with the instructor we both have come to love, Sandy, from Quail Run. It just wasn't the same. In fact, halfway through the first class I knew I wouldn't be back. You know, when you've had the best.....

Well, I thought I had seen at all as far as motorhomes were concerned. Was I ever wrong! Here's the latest from Country Coach.

YES! That's a slide out patio. I've seen it all now! Take note of the flat screen TV on the back side of the patio. I know, its hard to see.


From the inside looking out.


Another flat screen TV over the cockpit inside the rig.


Pretty fancy, huh?


I would KILL for this fridge and I know many of you RV'ers would too!


A view of the bedroom.


The THIRD flat screen TV. This is in the bedroom.


The Master Bath...I specify Master Bath because this rig has a bath and A HALF!


The half bath just off the hallway from the kitchen. Of course there is sink across the small room, I just couldn't get it in.


Nice rig, eh? And just how much money do you think you would have to spend to get this 40' motor home with the slide out patio, with its 1.5 baths, 3 flat screen TV's and all he beautiful cabinetry? I should also mention that the leather chairs and sofas felt like melted butter as you ran your hand across them. Give up? How about seven hundred and eighty three thousand big ones! Its nice, but way too expensive for our wallet!

We spent the afternoon walking through the Market Place to see what is new the world of RV'ing. We saw lots of money being spent.

We stopped by the mailroom to pick up our wireless air card and router that arrived today by Fed-ex. We'll be back online! Actually, we have been on line for the last day or so thanks to neighbor's, Ray and Barb, who gave us the code to their system.

After dinner we went back to the main building for this evening's entertainment. Tonight we were thoroughly entertained by Jimmy Travis, a comedian and musician. The best part, he didn't tell any off-color jokes, use any cuss words and everything he said was G-rated. And funny! OMG, he had us rolling in the aisles.


After his show we had the drawing for the nights big door prize. Tonight's prize was a macerator. I think I spelled that right. Anyway, this product, how shall I put this.... pulverizes whatever is in your black tank. For you non-RV'ers, that's the tank your toilet empties into. Well, the fellow who was telling us what the prize was seemed to having a hard time getting the word macerator out and his wife who was also on the stage nudged him and said, "Poop blender"! Everyone in the audience got a big laugh out of that one. Until the prize was awarded, that is what is was known as for the rest of the time.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

6/29/08 Escapade Kicks Off!

First things first! Two birthday greetings go out today. One to our niece, Ryann, who turns 28 today. Gosh, it seems like yesterday she was born. Our second birthday wish goes out to our friend Joe in Delaware. He hits the big 5-0 today. We hope you both have wonderful days!

Today ESCAPADE 2008 begins! This is Escapee's 30th birthday so this Escapade should be extra special.


At eight this morning the rigs started coming in and the place filled up fast!

Bob and I didn't have any meetings scheduled until two when we'll attend the First- Timers Orientation. This is not our first rally but it is our first with Escapees.

Today the Exhibit Hall opened where you can shop for all those RV related products and some that aren't RV related like jewelry, clothing and a few other things.



In this huge building is where one would go to sign up to volunteer to help out where there is a need, to find out about BOF's (Birds of a Feather, a group of people who have a common interest such as the Elk's, Boomers, Quilter's etc.) to sign up for classes and seminars, to play bingo, to line dance, truly a multi-purpose room.

At two we attended the First-Timer's Orientation. It was here that we learned about how the Escapade runs, that seminars are available everyday, that entertainment is a big part of Escapade and that the main focus is to have fun!


This next picture is of Kay Peterson, if it wasn't for her and husband, Joe, there would be no Escapees. She told us how she and Joe met, started Escapees and how the whole family is now involved in the running of this organization.


That meeting out of the way it was time for the ESCAPADE KICKOFF!


The Colors were presented and we all raised our voices in singing the National Anthem and Oh Canada.


Then the banners were presented. Each Chapter and BOF (Birds of Feather) have a banner and it was now that they were marched across the floor in front of the stage. Some really stood out among the others, you'll see why.


I don't know this lady's name but if any Escapee can provide it I sure would appreciate it. I'd bet you dollars to donuts that no one could tell you afterwards what banner she was carrying. She was having a great time in this costume of hers and I heard more than one whistle so I think many of the men in the audience were enjoying it too.


There was a packed house for this! The keynote speaker was Craig Zablocki and he kept us in stitches as he got his message of not taking ourselves so seriously all the time and to live in the moment out to us.


I think we all laughed especially hard during this routine. Craig was asked questions from the audience and the answers always involved using "his" hands.



After the Kickoff I quickly went outside to see if I could catch the couple who owned the car with Delaware tags that was parked right outside the door.

I met Judy and her husband, I think his name is Frank and they were surprised to meet someone from Delaware too.


We went back to the house to relax for awhile and to get dinner before the entertainment for tonight starts.

We had to be back at seven for the Blast-off door prizes to be awarded and an ice cream social before the main entertainment started.

Over $15,000 worth of door prizes will be given away this week. Prizes will range from gift certificates from local companies to RV related products from the vendors in the Market Place to two large prizes, one a 7 day trip to Albuquerque Balloon Festival and a 7 day trip to the Rose Parade in California.

This fella, sorry, I don't know his name, tells jokes every night right before the prize giveaway. He tells them pretty well and I could tell which ones he got in email recently because I got the same ones!


These two pick and call out the winner's names. Every attendee has a ticket with their name on it in the drawing. Now, one MUST be present to win and when they call out a name of person not there the entire audience gives a loud Awwwwwwwww and its on to the next name. (Each name is called out three times to give the person a chance to respond.)


After the drawing for door prizes it was time for the evening's entertainment. Tonight we sat back and enjoyed the playing and singing of the Chugwater Band. They are a country band that also plays a little classic rock n roll. They were quite good and I think everyone enjoyed the evening.

So there is Day One!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

6/27/08 Not Much Going On...

....since the Escapade doesn't officially start until tomorrow. We hung around our site, meeting new neighbors, catching up with old friends and pretty much passing the time until the big kickoff.

Since there really isn't anything to report I thought I'd take this time to share an amazing story my forever friend, Dianne, shared with me.

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from
Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young
bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant to be
seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully. He got down on one
knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply
embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood
out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his
teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures
turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son, Cameron, were standing.
The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground,
then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly,
all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter
couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his
courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He
walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant
trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed his
stupid ass against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Did you ever meet someone with the same name you have? Ever wonder how many people in the U.S. have the same name as you? Click on this link and you'll be able to find out. How Many of Me

That's it for today!

Friday, June 27, 2008

6/27/08 Chores Done Before the Fun Begins

We wanted to get our weekly chores like laundry and grocery shopping out of the way before the fun starts this week.

We took a short ride to downtown Gillette, its just a couple of miles away from the CamPlex, to learn the lay of the land, find out where things were and to make that beer and Pepsi run.

It seems like every road in Gillette is under construction.


One curious thing we saw was this ostrich. We looked around but couldn't figure out why anyone would want this here. There were no other bird statues or even any animals. It was just all by itself.


Bob dropped me off at the laundromat and went in search of a barber. He still doesn't have a haircut and let me tell you, he is getting pretty shaggy!

About an hour and half later Bob returned to get me just as I was finishing up and filling the laundry bags with clean clothes. I took notice right away that Bob's hair was still way too long in the back (there was almost enough to put it in a rubber band!) and he said that he found three barbershops and NONE of them were open. This is at one o'clock in the afternoon!

We headed back to the CamPlex to finish up some more chores and get dinner out of the way.

This evening I joined George and Nancy Reid, our Quail Run friends, at the Energy Building here on the CamPlex for a play put on by PAW. PAW stands for Performing Arts Workshop. We watched kids from age 7 through 17 put on Cole Porter's Anything Goes. Bob isn't really into musicals so he opted to stay home on this one.


This is a picture of some of the kids who performed for us. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of these kids aren't household names in a few years.


This was our Friday. Let's see what Saturday brings.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

6/26/08 Presidents and Indians

Today we went on our first Escapee's HOP. We met everyone else at a little after eight in the Grandstand Building. Breakfast was available if we wanted it.

By 8:20 or so we loaded onto the bus to start our adventure. Destination? First stop - Mount Rushmore.

We pulled into a rest stop where I got this first picture taken.


There was a large cement teepee of sorts as a monument to the Indians of the area.


We had a local third grade school teacher, Kathy, on the bus with us and she pointed out things and told us the history of the area as we rode along.

Several hours later we finally arrived at....


First stop for us was the cafe to get some lunch since we didn't partake of the breakfast that was offered.

After filling our tummies we walked through the state flags to get to the viewing area. Each pillar that held the flags had the state name engraved and the date it was admitted to the Union. Needless to say, Delaware held the place of honor as being the first, first state and first pillar.


Then it was before us.


You can see in the picture above that there are workers standing on Roosevelt's head, they are doing repairs to cracks.

Words taken from plaque:

The four American presidents carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore were chosen by the sculptor to commemorate the founding, growth, preservation and development of the United States. They symbolize the principles of liberty and freedom on which this nation was founded. George Washington signifies the struggle for independence and birth of the Republic; Thomas Jefferson the territorial expansion of the country; Abraham Lincoln the permanent union of the states and equality for all citizens and Theodore Roosevelt, the 20th century role of the United States in world affairs and the rights of the common man.

The men who carved Mount Rushmore were residents of the local area, many were ranchers, miners or lumbermen. It took fourteen years of carving for the 400 men and women who labored on the Memorial. The work was hard, the hours long, the pay low and employment not always guaranteed. Work started at 7:30 in the morning and to get to their work areas they had to first climb 700 steep steps to the top of the mountain. The men were strapped into swing seats and then lowered over the face of the mountain with the tools of their trade, heavy drilling tools and blasting equipment. For some it was just work, for others it was a special calling.


Some facts about Mount Rushmore:

  • Borglum, the sculptor, was 60 years old when he began working on the monument.
  • Rushmore's granite faces tower over 5,500 feet above sea level.
  • The carvings are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall.
  • Each President's head is as tall as a six-story building.
  • Over 800 million pounds of stone was removed from Mount Rushmore during the construction.
  • Imagine climbing 506 steps to reach the top of Mount Rushmore-this was how many steps the workers had to climb each day!
  • The president's noses are 20 feet long, their mouths 18 feet wide, and their eyes are 11 feet across!
  • Gutzon Borglum was a student of renowned French artist Auguste Rodin, and was one of America's most successful artists before even considering Mount Rushmore? His Mares of Diomedes was the first American work purchased by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also has 5 statues on display at the U.S. Capitol Building.
  • Here is an astonishing fact: no deaths occurred during the whole period of carving, just a few minor injuries. (Can you imagine that with all the dynamite used?)

Since there is no President Rushmore had did the name come about?

Well, it seems that in 1885, a New York lawyer was surveying and researching mining claims for area mining companies when he asked his guide the name of the particular mountain. Charles E. Rushmore reportedly got the answer that was to immortalize his name forever on the landscape. “Never had one. But, hereafter we call ‘er Rushmore, by jingo!” The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made it official on July 4, 1930. Now you know.

All too soon we had to leave to get on with our tour of another attraction.

Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is a work in progress and when it is done it will be largest mountain carving in the world.

This carving has NO state or federal funding. It is done strictly with the funds from John Q. Public and area businesses, some of which will donate an item for raffle, the proceeds going to the Memorial.

Below is a sculpture of what it will look like when completed.


The first blast, which took place on June 3, 1948, yes you read that right, 1948 removed just 10 tons of dirt and rock. Millions of tons have been removed since. At the present time workers are blocking out the 22 story high horse's head. You can see the painted outline of the horse on the side of the mountain.

Fifty years to the day, after the first blast, the nine story high face of Crazy Horse was unveiled at the dedication.


The head of Crazy Horse on this monument is 87.5 feet high and the arm is 263 feet long. Looking at the picture above you can see a hole under the arm. That "hole" is three stories high! Just above the hole you can see something white. That is a huge sign that could be read even though we were one mile away from the monument. The sign read, "Happy Birthday Ruth". Ruth is the wife of the man who was commissioned to "build" this monument. She and seven of their ten children are carrying on the plans of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. They all work on some aspect of the monument.

There is quite a complex here at the monument that contains a museum, a conference center, restaurants, gift shops, showroom, the Native American Cultural Center and twin theaters to name a few.

This is called the Black Hill Nature Gates....


A close up of some of the panels.


IMG_4295 IMG_4294


What the monument looks like today...and what it WILL look like...someday.


We both would have liked to spend a lot more time here as we didn't get to see even a quarter of the complex in the time we had here. This is a place we'll come back to again.

Our next stop was the Vore Buffalo Jump on the way home.

The first thing we noticed was the teepee.


The big draw was this hole in the ground.


Several of our group walked down to the white tent which is covering an archaeological dig.

Here's what took place here.

Between 1500 and 1800 A.D. the ancestors of at least five plains Indians tribes killed and butchered as many as 20,000 bison at what is now known as the Vore Buffalo Jump. Herds of bison were gathered from the surrounding valley and stampeded over the edge of the sinkhole. This provided tons of meat for winter storage. Thick layers of butchered bone extend almost 20 feet below the floor the the hole.

This has been a long day. Its a trip we're glad we took and a trip we were glad when it was over!

Note to self: Do NOT, ever, EVER, sit in the back of a bus. Motion sickness can creep up on you even on one of these things!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

6/25/08 Our First Escapade!

We were on the road by eight this morning even though we only have a few hours of travel in front of us. Entrance is only admitted between the hours of 8 and 2 so we didn't want to take chance of something happening and delaying us.

We took note of train after train after train, all carrying coal as we drove down the road. And they were long trains, well over a hundred cars in each. There were two locomotive engines on each end, two pulling and two pushing. We soon learned that we were in the Coal Capitol of the USA.


We thought this telephone pole was a little strange. Upon closer inspection we determined that it was half a tree, just cut down and split.


We finally arrived at Gillette and just had to follow the signs to the Cam-Plex where we'll be staying for the Escapade.

We got in line and waited for instructions on where to go.


The majority of the attendees won't arrive until Sunday but we came in early because we signed up for a sightseeing trip called a HOP. That's Escapee's lingo for Head Out Program. More about that tomorrow.

This is the street we live on now,,,at least for the next 10 days.


Just minutes after we pulled in this truck/rig pulled in. Bob would LOVE to have a truck like this.


I just had to watch them get this SmartCar off the truck.




It did drag a little bit but nothing was broken and it drove right off. What a great little car for sightseeing. I looked inside and was surprised at how much room there was in the driver/passenger area. Still....I don't know if I would want to be on the Interstate in this tiny little thing. Yet again...45 miles to the gallon sounds really really good! I was told there is a 7 - 9 month wait to get one of these!

We got started setting up and I'll tell you right now, Bob did NOT have a good day! When we arrived in our space we were told by our neighbors there was a water problem so not to expect water right away. OK, fine, we can deal with that. Everyone else had their hoses hooked up so Bob got ours hooked up too. Oooh, that was a mistake. When the water did come on it had 95% pressure which blew the ends of our hose off! Ok, we'll deal with that, we have another hose. By now the water is turned off again, Bob hooks up the next hose and darn if the same thing didn't happen again when the water was turned back on. You guessed it, a trip to Walmart.

We returned from Walmart and the water thing still wasn't going well for him. It was either too much pressure or not enough, we couldn't get that happy medium. It was early evening before Bob finished everything he had to do. To say he was exhausted is an understatement!

I had to go over to one of the buildings here in the Camplex to get the information for the HOP we'll take tomorrow. It looked like we were going to get rain and I saw neighbors getting in the their truck. I asked them if they were going to the place I needed to go and if so could I catch a ride with them. This is how I met Ray and Barb. They are still "newbies" to full timing since they have only been on the road since January. They are from California, I believe.

I had no sooner gotten back home and Delaware friends, Bobby and Shelly stopped by. It was so good to see them again!

When we were at Walmart, there had to be 20 or so rigs parked there waiting for their day to come into the Cam-plex. K-Mart's lot was full as was Home Depot with rigs just waiting for Sunday to get here.

This Cam-Plex we're in is some place! Built in 1985, it encompasses 1100 acres, has several large buildings that house a theatre, meeting rooms and and a conference center. In addition to that there is a stable/rodeo arena and a grandstand/field area. And let's not forget the campgrounds! Between the two full service areas there is a total of 1,761 campsites and 893 sites with water/electric or electric only. Granted you are parked in here side by side but if you are staying here it is because of an event so you aren't here to camp anyway. I'll get pictures as the days go by.

After a dinner of homemade steak sandwiches we settled in, we have to get up early tomorrow!