Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day it is hoped that everyone will take some time out from their cookouts, laying by the pool, skiing at the lake, etc., to remember the real reason for this holiday. Joanne just asked why our flag, that flies in our front yard was at half staff. It is because on Memorial it is traditional to lower it to half staff until noon, to honor our heroes, and then raise it to the top.
A day that started out as Decoration Day over the years became Memorial Day, a day to remember those in our military who gave their all to ensure that the rest of us could spend this day doing what we please. So please stop, at least for a moment, and thank those Veterans that gave their lives for this great country, the land of the free. One of my favorite phrases is: "Freedom is not free."

By the way, if you are able to read this then you should thank your teachers. If you are reading it in English, then you should thank the Veterans.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kansas Bound--Day 11--Home

Another great Monaco America rally is now history. Yesterday was a day to just relax, do a little exploring and another fine meal. We started off in the morning with Judy and Forrest Wagner for the Amish community of Yoder. (We had gone to Yoder the Saturday before but got there after 3:00pm and almost everything was closed.) We explored the old hardware store and some of the other shops. We also checked out Yoder Meats and Gift Shop. This was stocked with many different meats that had been raised on the local farms and many gift items from the local Amish folks.

After a couple of hours of exploring Yoder we headed back to the Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. By the time we returned most of the coaches had loaded up and left. At this point we had seven left in the camp ground. We spent the afternoon resting in the coach with both air conditioners running. In the late afternoon we again joined Judy and Forrest and drove back to Yoder for a great dinner at the Carriage Crossing restaurant. Joanne and I had eaten there the Saturday before and knew how good the food was. We returned to the Fairgrounds in the evening to join to the other "holdover" campers for some ice cream that we had left over from an ice cream social we had earlier in the week as part of the rally.

Finally, this morning around 9:00 we packed up and headed south. After an uneventful drive we arrived back at the house around 1:30. We got the car unloaded and started on the coach but it was just too hot. The thermometer on the back of the house was showing 100 degrees. We got out what was absolutely necessary and then locked it up for the night. Tomorrow is another day and the rest of the stuff can wait. We don't have to completely unload it since we'll be heading out on a new adventure a week from tomorrow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kansas Bound--Day 9

The rally wrapped up this evening. Most of the coaches will be pulling out first thing tomorrow morning. It has been a busy three days, especially for the club officers keeping everything running smoothly. I was responsible for collecting the receipts from those that had spent money connected to the operation of the rally. Also had to get the invoices from our supplies, such as the caterer, the golf cart supplier, etc. Barring any surprises all the checks are written and distributed. We did sell some of our Monaco America merchandise so there was additional income in addition to the fees charged each coach that attended the rally. Also, we had 22 applications, accompanied with their rally fee, for the Fall 2010 Rally that will be in October in Tucson, Arizona.

Yesterday afternoon was the Monaco America County Fair. This gave folks, many of whom come from large cities around the country, to dress up in their version of what they think the typical county fair attendee looks like. The picture to the left is our Wagon Master (the person who does all the planning and work to put on these rallies twice a year) Gary Granat. Gary is joined by Judy Wagner in their "country finest". During the afternoon the folks entertained themselves with washer toss games and bean bag baseball. Prizes were awarded for the winning teams and individuals in these games. The picture to the right is Gary trying his hand at the washer toss game. The day ended, after dinner served by our outstanding caterer, with everyone moving indoors for bingo.

Also yesterday, in our semi-annual business meeting the election of officer's was held for the next year. Tonight before dinner our new officer's were recognized. Our Wagon Master (1st Vice President) was elected to move up to the office of President. My brother, Bill, was elected to take the Wagon Master position. I was reelected for another year as Treasurer. The two busiest jobs in the club, on a year round basis, are the Wagon Master and the Treasurer. With both of those jobs now in the Stone's hands it will be a busy year in Oklahoma. The after dinner entertainment tonight was the showing of the movie Roxanne with Steve Martin. Since I had previously seen this movie I elected to go back to the coach and get a jump on cleaning up all the paperwork and financial records for the rally. That is now pretty much under control and will be less I have to deal with once we return home. Our plan is to stay around this area tomorrow and do a little sight seeing before packing up on Sunday and heading home.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kansas Bound--Day 7

Another day of the rally has come and gone. Actually, this was officially the first full day. Started off with a great breakfast served by our caterer and then a welcome meeting of everyone. Spent most of the day working on club business. As the club treasurer it is my responsible to get all the bills paid. Today this included paying the fairgrounds for the RV parking for 48 coaches for the four actual nights of the rally. (Extra days that people come in early or stay after are between those individuals and the fairgrounds office.) Did get a chance to get some small rock chips repaired on both the coach and car windshields.

This evening we had a great dinner of lasagna, again prepared by the caterer, followed by some good desserts. Here are some of our members going through the serving line. At each rally the dining hall is decorated by the members of our Decorating Committee with a theme. This time the tables have small birdhouses on them and each bird house has a picture of a State Bird. So that everyone does not rush the serving line the names of these birds, or whatever is the theme for the rally, are randomly called out and those seated at that table then can proceed to the line. It works out well and a lot of fun is had at the expense of those who wind up being called last. The caterer did provide several different desserts as can be scene by the picture to the right.

After dinner we adjourned to the auditorium to be entertained by Ron & Kay Rivoli and their Rivoli RV Revue. In the past several years it has been our pleasure to have this fantastic couple preform at our rallies. They were at our last rally at Gulf Shores, Alabama, this past October. (Fortunately Joanne and I have got to hear them and visit with them since then as they are part of the entertainment group that make up the Tea Party Express tours during the past couple of years. They were in Oklahoma City on the steps of our State Capitol Building in November and we also attended their stop at the Arizona State Capitol Building in Phoenix in March of this year.) The Rivoli's were in great form tonight doing their RV related show of original music and comedy. After their show several of us hung around while they sold their CD's and greeted our members. This paid off by them going back on stage and preforming one of their new Tea Party Express songs lambasting the Obama Administration and it's out of control spending. We also had time to visit with them some more and get some more pictures. Unfortunately they will be packing up and leaving after breakfast in the morning and we will all be sad to see them go. They will be starting another Tea Party Express tour this fall and we will be checking their travel schedule to make sure we catch up to them anytime our pathways cross.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kansas Bound--Day 6

It has been pointed out to us that in our blogs we appear to spend a lot of time posting about the places we go to eat and the food we had. This is probably true. It appears that in this country when friends get together the tradition is to dine together. Actually this goes back to biblical days and there are many passages about people "breaking bread together". So a quick update: Thursday evening, after we arrived, a group of us went to a local restaurant here in Hutchinson, the name of which escapes me at the moment. It is owned and operated by the same people who have the Carriage Crossing Restaurant in Yoder. The food was "home cooked" and excellent. Friday evening this same group went to a place next door to the fairgrounds called Skeats. Again we had an excellent meal. As mentioned in the previous blog entry we ate at Carriage Crossing in Yoder. Sunday night it was to the Wild Hog Bar-B-Que across the street from Skeats. I have to admit this was some of the best Bar-B-Que we have ever tasted.

Sunday was the scheduled day for most of the coaches to arrive, or that would be the case with most RV clubs. With Monaco America that is not the norm. The majority of our members arrive early to get started having fun. Our crack parking staff usually starts working two to three days before the rally is scheduled to begin. This time by Sunday about two thirds of our attendees were already here. We have so many people coming in early it has become a tradition to have a pot-luck dinner the evening before the start of the rally. In the past our rallies would officially kick off with a Meet & Greet, with light food, on Monday evening with the pot-luck on Sunday. This rally is starting a day later than normal so the pot-luck was on Monday evening. As is normal in these affairs, the food was delicious and abundant. The women in the club out did themselves again. Here members Ann & Dale Lemons visit with Judy Wagner prior to the Monday evening pot-luck.

Monday was the time to really go to work. We got the dining hall set up for the dinners to be served by the caterers starting on Tuesday morning. We also got our information center up and running. This is the area I take my stuff to work during the rally. We have volunteers to man the information center during the run of the rally. Here Nancy, Jeanette and Joanne wait for the first arrivals to come in to pick up their rally packages and sign up for volunteers duties. In the back corner is where I have set up my computer and printer to take care of the financial records of the rally and the club.

Today, the first official day of the rally has arrived. The coaches are all parked and everyone is ready for the first get together in the evening. At 3:00 pm our rally entertainers, Ron & Kay Rivoli, regaled us with a gospel music show in the auditorium of the building we are using. We always enjoy the music of Ron & Kay. (This couple will be our main entertainment tomorrow night with their Rivoli RV Revue.) Over the years this couple have become very special to our club as we have to them. At 5:00 the bar opened for happy hour and then at 6:00 we opened up the food line. Tonight was a baked potato bar. Baked potatoes for everyone with plenty of toppings. This went over very well with our members and everyone had plenty to eat.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kansas Bound--Day 3

Yesterday, Friday, was a day to greet old friends and get some errands done which included our usual trip to Walmart to pick up anything we forgot to bring. It was a beautiful day with great weather. Late in the evening the wind started to blow and continued all night. By this morning the wind had really picked up and blew all day. Could not afford to put our our big awning for shade, especially since we had just had it replaced after the wind tore it off the coach in West Texas two months ago.

This afternoon a bunch of us decided to go to the Kansas Salt Mine Museum. The actual museum is in an older part of a working salt mine, 650 feet below ground. Entrance to the museum is via a double decker elevator that drops very rapidly in total darkness. (The guide did say that if anyone had a problem with the dark that she could turn on the lights.) Once down to the museum (in the actual mine) there was a walking tour with several different tour guides telling us about the operations over the years. An interesting fact that all the equipment, regardless of size, had to be disassembled "top side" and brought down piece by piece and then reassembled. This included vehicles, machinery, loaders and salt moving equipment. A very monumental job.

After the walking tour, which ended with a visit to their gift shop, the group boarded a tram for the "dark tour". Although the lead car of the tram had head lights the other lights throughout this portion of the mine were turned off. As we came up on different places of interest the driver would trigger lights to come on for us. The current mine, including the museum part and the current mining area, was over 68 miles of tunnels all at the 650 below ground level. One stop on this part of the tour was at a salt pile where we were allowed off the cars to take a small sample of the salt. Small cloth bags were provided in which to carry our salt crystals. The salt that is currently being mined here is used for commercial purposes, mainly on the roads around the country during winter storms.

After our mine tour some of us drove over to the community of Yoder to shop in the Amish stores and then eat dinner. Unfortunately we arrived after 3:00 pm and, with it being Saturday, most of the shops were then closed. We did find one small bulk food store open so we were able to assist their economy by spending a few dollars on stuff we probably did not need. We really wanted to see the Yoder Hardware Store, which is semi famous in this area, but it closed at 3:00. We had dinner at the Carriage Crossing Restaurant in Yoder. This is a great Amish style eatery and had excellent food.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kansas Bound--Day 1

We are back on the road after a respite at the house in Oklahoma. We started our around noon for Hutchinson, Kansas, and the Monaco America RV Club Spring Rally. After a stop in Guthrie for lunch we sailed right along. We did hit come construction areas in northern Oklahoma and then again on the Kansas Turnpike south of Wichita. We arrived at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson about 4:30. It appears they had received some rain last night but the sky is clear now so maybe it will stay this way.

When we arrived there were already a half dozen coaches already here. A couple had come in yesterday and the rest arrived earlier today. We have 50 coaches scheduled for this rally but have already had a couple of cancellations (due to illnesses) and possibly have another cancellation due to mechanical problems with their coach. Always hate when we have folks who have to cancel at this late date because we miss seeing our friends and it is too late to give them a refund of their rally fee since those monies have already been obligated in the expenses of the rally. Here is our coach at the head of a row of the coaches already here. Once the rows fill up we'll be in about the middle of this row.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

George & Maskell Stone--73rd Wedding Anniversary

Today our family gathered to celebrate the folks 73rd Wedding Anniversary. They got married on May 15, 1937 in Byars, Oklahoma. From that marriage they produced four sons: George W. , Jr. (Bill), Chester, David, and Richard (Rick). We met at the Assisted Living Center in Purcell, Oklahoma, where they now live, for this monumental occasion. A cake was served to all the residents at the center.

Here are a few pictures of my parents over the years.

Pictures: 1942 in California, 1952 at Niagra Falls, 1966 in Colorado, 1972 in Colorado, 1984 in Hawaii and 2008 in Oklahoma City.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Was on TV today

Oklahoma Legislature pass a bill and sent to the Governor to allow Oklahomans to "open carry". This would allow people to carry their firearms out in the open. Currently people with a concealed carry permit are allowed to carry a firearm but it must be kept concealed. While at the gun range today a local news station was doing a story on this issue and asked me to interview. Above is a copy of the news report.