Saturday, May 31, 2008

Some more pictures from the mini-reunion

As was mentioned in my previous post the mini-reunion was held in the American Farmers & Ranchers building. This building was originally the first high school built in Oklahoma City and was called Oklahoma High School. The name was later changed to Central High School. It is a four story building but when it was redesigned for offices the center was opened up for an large atrium going all the way up with a huge skylight in the middle. The above picture is in the atrium area and was the original school auditorium. In the background, behind where the tables are set up you can see what is left of the original stage. This picture was taken from what was the balcony level of the old auditorium.

George and Max Stone. One of the main reasons for this mini-reunion was to help celebrate our folks 71st wedding anniversary which occurred on May 15, 2008. Dad is the Patriarch of this Stone clan since is is the oldest surviving member.

We were some of the first to arrive. Here we are seated with my folks waiting for the others to arrive. In the picture, l to r, are my oldest grand daughter Aurora, my wife Joanne, my mother-in-law Mardell, my folks, and me.

Our family, from r to l, George, Max, George Jr (Bill), Chester, David and Richard (Rick). We are lined up in order of age.

And here is my family posing with the folks. R to l, George, Max, Cadence (youngest grand daughter), Rick, Joanne, Alex, Aurora (middle grand daughter) and Alan.

This is the whole group of family members who showed up to honor my parents. These include many of their extened family, including the some of the children of Dad's siblings and also his surviving brother and sister.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A mini Stone family reunion

Today we had a family get together. We normally have a family reunion every other year in June. The one today was an impromptu gathering put together by my father to get the family together for some pictures and visiting. This also was to help celebrate my parents 71 wedding anniversary, which was this past Thursday, May 15. We had the gathering at the American Farmers Ranchers building in downtown Oklahoma City. This historic building was the first high school in Oklahoma City, built in 1907, and was originally called Oklahoma High School. As other high schools were built in the city the name was changed to Central High School. The school closed some years ago due to the low number of school aged residents in the downtown area. Southwestern Bell Telephone (now AT&T) bought the building after the school closed and completely remodeled the interior. When they moved out a couple of years ago Oklahoma Farmers Union bought the building. My father had served as President of OFU from 1956 to 1980. He still sits on the Board of Directors of this organization which has now changed it's name to American Farmers & Ranchers. In the picture to the left my father welcomes everyone as my mother looks on.

We had around 40 people show up today. In addition to us four sons and our families, several cousins were there along with Dad's younger brother and sister. My folks are both 89 years old. Dad is the sixth of eight children in his family. Only the youngest three are still living. Mom is the middle of three children. Both her younger brother and older sister have passed on. In the picture to the right is my brother, David, with his family plus Ray Wulf, current President of American Farmers & Ranchers, and my oldest son, Alex.

As to my family, all were there except for my oldest grand daughter. Emma was sick and her mother decided to keep her home. Both of my sons, Alex and Alan, were there along with Alan's two youngest daughters, Aurora and Cadence. Aurora is two years old and Cadence is one. The picture to the left is Alex, holding Aurora, and Alan, holding Cadence. Although all three of my grand daughters have different mothers they all have a major resemblance to Alan, their daddy.

Here is a picture of the proud grandpa with his girls. The families don't see as much of each other as we did when I was growing up. With every ones busy lives today it just does not seem to work out. It is a real shame. I was fortunate to be able to grow up knowing and socializing with my many cousins. Most of our kids today hardly know each other. Bill, the oldest of my brothers has a daughter and grand daughter that both live in Florida. His son passed away several years ago. Chester, the next oldest, has three sons and a daughter plus four grand kids. David has a son and a daughter plus a daughter-in-law who live in Tulsa. As mentioned I, the youngest, have two sons and three grand daughters. None of our kids have grown up around each other. Again, that is unfortunate and I think they really missed out.

Anyway, this was a great day for all the family and a great show of respect to my parents.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Getting on the road again soon

I've been finishing up our schedule for this summer, getting reservations completed, etc. We're getting anxious to get on the road and back into the RV lifestyle. Included in our next travels will be time in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. We'll go completely across Missouri on our way up. When we start home we will most likely head over to North Dakota, since we've never been there, and then work our way back south through South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
Here is our schedule for June and July:

06/02 Gaston Melon RV, Claremore, OK (Windshield repair)
06/03 Enroute
06/04-06/07 Amana, IA, Amana Colonies RV Park
06/08-06/11 Amana, IA, Monaco America Spring Rally
06/12-06/15 Amana, IA, Amana Colonies RV Park
06/16-06/21 Eastman, WI, Frenchmans Landing Campground
06/22-06/25 Baraboo, WI, Fox Hill RV Park
06/26-06/30 Fairchild, WI, Briarwood RV Park
07/01-07/06 Prior Lake, MN, Dakotah Meadows RV Park
07/07-07/11 Willmar, MN, Monaco International Pre-Rally
07/12- 07/25 Duluth, MN, Lakehead Boat Basin
We'll have to make a stop off in Claremore, at the Monaco RV Dealer, on the way out. They replaced our windshield this past October. Since we had not used the coach much we did not realize it did not seal well. After a major storm last week we discovered a major leak around the top windshield gasket.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another short adventure in the RV

We were able to take a few days and get out in the RV. Last Thursday we loaded up and headed east of Oklahoma City to Wes Watkins Lake to join our local RV club the Birds of a Feather. After getting parked and set up we joined the other couples to visit and catch up to date on each other since last month. A major part of our monthly outings consist of circling the lawn chairs and kicking back and visiting. Up until recently Joanne and I were the youngest folks in the club but a new couple has joined that are a year or so younger than me.

We had ten coaches come together for this outing. On Thursday evening several of us went up to the Firelake Grand Casino for dinner to enjoy their buffet. This was an outstanding meal but, as with most buffet meals, most of us ate way too much in an attempt to get our monies worth. After dinner it was back to our lawn chair circle to visit. Later that evening a storm front moved though the area producing tornadoes a few miles directly north of us but left us alone. Later, in the wee hours of the morning, we did get some rain, small hail and much wind. Or at least I was told that is what happened. I slept through the whole thing.

Friday morning we got up to no hot water in our coach. I learned this after getting in the shower and turning on the tap. At first I figured we had popped a 12v fuse since heater would not work on either propane or electric. With the help of some of the other guys it was discovered a thermo cut-off had gone bad. Fortunately one of the other men had an extra one and got us back up. Later I drove into town to an RV dealer and purchased a couple, one to return to my friend and the other to have as a spare. Friday evening all 20 of us went to a small cafe just down the road for a great meal. This was a small, family owned restaurant and the food was delicious.

During the weekend several folks entertained themselves with playing games. A game of RV Scavenger Hunt was played Friday evening. Each couple was given a list of things that had to find in their coach. One of the guys set up a television on a picnic table and hooked up his Wii gameset. A fun time was had with the folks trying to bowl without actually holding a bowling ball. Also, a rousing game of Mexican Train domino's was played. There is never a loss of things to do when this group gets together.

A major hit of the weekend was our little dog, Buddy Joe. As it turned out he was the only dog in attendance this month. Wherever we go the RV park rules always require dogs to be kept on a leash when outside the coach. Since this is early in the season there were very few other campers in the park and they were a ways from us. Due to this Buddy was able to pretty much roam free while we were with the group. Everyone adopted him and he was more spoiled than ever by the time the weekend was over. The biggest problem was to keep everyone from sharing their food with him.

On a more serious note, we received a call on Friday from our dear friends, Don & Vicki Leith. These are one of the couples that we traveled to Florida with in 2007 and have become great friends. They have spent the better part of the past year building their dream home on a lake in central Arkansas after being full time RVer's the past three years. They originally lived in southern California. Anyway, it seems the storm that went past us Thursday night continued east and went directly through their community. That was the first night they had spent in their new home after taking possession this past week. The tornado's that came down hit their house, completely destroying it and their car. Fortunately they had a safe room built into the house and we able to seek cover there. Although they are devastated right now we are very glad that they did not suffer any personal injuries. The picture of their house is from the local Arkansas newspaper story on the storm.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A family gathering

We were able to have a good visit with Joanne's brother and his family, from Minnesota, last week. First, her nephew, Mark, along with his wife, Wendy, and his kids, Zack and Lexie, arrived on Wednesday, April 23. Jo's brother, Roger, arrived on Thursday, April 24, along with his wife, Marilyn, and daughter, Heather. During their time here we had several meals out together and they also made a trip down to Texas to take in a Texas Rangers/Minnesota Twins baseball game. We also had a cookout at our house on that Sunday evening, thanks to the large box of steaks that Mark brought with him. They all try to make it down to Oklahoma at least once per year to visit Jo's mom, who lives here in Oklahoma City. Additionally, Roger always has a list of things that need to be done around his mom's house waiting for him. The timing for this year's trip was so that Heather could compete in the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial Marathon Race. She ran the half-marathon this year.

During the several visits and dinners together we also got to visit with Joanne's niece, Carrie, and her family, who live here in the Oklahoma City area. If you've read my previous blogs along the way you will find that Carrie, John and little J.J. are very special to us and we throughly enjoying seeing them. In the picture here Joanne's mom, Mardell, is holding J.J. with Carrie and John looking on. Also in the picture are Zack and Lexie.

J.J., who turned one this past December, really took to Lexie, who is nearly four, and would jump at her, grab her around the neck and wrestle her to the ground. It has been decided that J.J. definitely prefers blonds.

Another good day as a volunteer

I've settled into a routine as a volunteer at the Military Welcome Center at Will Rogers World Airport here in Oklahoma City. I go in each Wednesday morning and open up and get things ready for the day. The center, operated by the YMCA, is located on the lowerl, baggage claim level, in a back corner. It is not the easiest place to find in the airport. Also, there is only one small sign, again on the lower level, directing people to the place. During each shift one of us volunteers will periodically make a trip around the terminal looking for military people that are arriving or are waiting between flights so we can direct them to the center. I refer to this as trolling for troops.

Originally the center only operated from 3:00 to 11:00pm, Monday through Friday, due to a lack of volunteers to staff it. Due to a front page story about the center in the local newspaper, a couple of months ago, the number of people who have showed up to volunteer we now enough people to have it open from 9:00am to 11:00pm. Also, if we know there is a need, like a particular unit coming in, the center can be opened on Saturday.

The majority of the guys coming through the center are new Army recruits on their way to Fort Sill, in southwest Oklahoma, for basic training. Tuesday and Wednesday are the major days of the week for the recruiting centers around the country to send people down. We have chartered buses to take them the 82 miles to Fort Sill. We have buses running each evening at 6:30, 8:30 and 10:30pm. Since people are coming in from the planes all day long they needed a place to relax until their bus left. This is where our center comes in. It is well equiped with comfortable furniture, a large screen TV, two computer terminals for their use, a fully stocked cold drink box, snacks, games, books and magazines, and fresh coffee.

Although the numbers of people coming through on Monday, Thursday and Friday are small, it is not unusual to have between 200 and 300 coming through on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today we had a projected number of 291 scheduled to use our services while waiting for the bus. We had one man waiting when I arrived at 8:30am. He had come in last night after the last bus had run. When this happens the recruits are put up in a local hotel for the night. This guy was originally from Russia and spoke very little English. Apparently he was recruited specifically because of his ability to speak Russian. By the time my shift was up at 3:00pm we had a dozen or so guys using the center. Around 4:30pm the volunteers would be ordering pizza from the local Domino's so the guys will have a good meal before heading down to basic training and Army food.

The Will Rogers World Airport has served Oklahoma City for many years. The current terminal was first opened in 1967. Over the years it has been enlarged and remodeled many times. It has just had a complete rebuild and is a really nice facility. Some art work has been added to dress it up. In the front drive is a great new statue of the namesake, Will Rogers.