Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Arkansas--The Natural State--Day 9

A Corvette rally and some antique cars. Don had some surprises scheduled for us during our visit. Yesterday he mentioned that "some of his neighbors" wanted to come down and look at the coaches. This was hard to understand since most of the houses in this addition by the lake are vacation and weekend homes and he has very few full time neighbors. Well, about 4:00pm all these folks in Chevrolet Corvette's start showing up with food. Don is the owner of a Corvette Z06 and is a member of the local Corvette club. Approximately 20 to 30 people arrived and we had a big cookout. The car owners were very interested in looking over the big coaches as us coach owners were interested in admiring their Corvette's.

This morning Don had another surprise for the guys in our little group. He did not tell us where we were going but to be ready to roll at 7:45. He took us over to the house of one of the Corvette owners who was here last night to see his collection of antique cars. He has several cars, including one of only three Maxwell's from the early 1900's. We spent a couple of hours inspecting his collection and listening to him tell us the story behind each and every one. One of the cars was especially fascinating. His parents had purchased it new and drove it for many years. Later his older brother got it and kept it for about 20 years but then he sold it without telling his little brother. Some 19 years later, while searching for parts for another vehicle, he came upon the same car at the place where he was buying the parts. Turns out this new "owner" had never licensed it in his name during all that time. With a little talking the guy was able to buy it back and now has it in his collection. Although technically he is the fourth owner of the car he is actually only the third registered owner and the car has never been titled outside the family. The picture to the right is of an early Ford. The one to the left is a Willy's Knight, a very rare car. He also had an antique John Deere tractor that he has fully restored. He related that over the years he had restored and sold several cars but the ones he has now are for his personal pleasure.
This will be the last night out on this adventure. One of the couples here left this morning and the other two plan to leave tomorrow morning. We had originally had planned to stay until Thursday but have decided to head home in the morning. This will give Don & Vicki a much needed rest. After serving as Rally Masters at last weeks Monaco rally in North Little Rock and then hosting all of us here this week they deserve a time to relax. Tomorrow then it is homeward bound and an end to our latest adventure.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Arkansas--The Natural State--Day 8

Rally's over and it is off to new adventures. Starting yesterday morning the rally attendees started packing up and heading out to different parts of the country. We were no different. Around 9:30 a group of five coaches headed out of the RV Park enroute to Greers Ferry, Arkansas. Our friends, Don & Vicki Leith, have a home on Greers Ferry Lake. When they built the house they made sure they put in accommodations for their RVing friends.

As we left the park and headed north to Interstate 30 Don was in the lead with us directly behind. Don made the red lights and immediately got on the interstate. The other four coaches got caught at the lights. By the time we got up on the interstate Don was long gone and no where to be found. The plan was for him to lead us up using the back roads. By the time the rest of us reached Interstate 40 we were not sure if we should go east or west. Two of us pealed off going east and the other two went west. I immediately decided the best bet was to turn around and go west to Conway and up Highway 65, the way we normally get to their house. We were told this would take about 45 minutes longer to get there. Rod & Jean Bahnson, the only couple in the group who had never been here decided to follow me. We made our way up Highway 65 to the turn off at Bee Branch and then traveled the last 18 miles on narrow, two lane roads in the Arkansas hills. When we arrived at the house it turned out we were still the first ones here. It appeared their "short cut" through the back roads did not really take any less time. As we were unhooking our towed cars the other three coaches pulled into the neighborhood.

Don & Vicki have a beautiful home on the lake. They also own the vacant lot next door so there is plenty of room for the RV crowd. With us this time, in addition to the Bahnson's, are Bill & Kathi Corrum and Lloyd & Jerry Wood. The house has a RV pad, complete with full hookups, on each side of the house plus full hookups in the large RV garage. To accommodate all of us Don parked their rig out on the grass and ran a long extension cord out so he could keep the refrigerator operating. The Bahnson's and the Wood's are on the two RV pads. We are backed all the way into the RV garage and the Corrum's are parked directly in front of us. (Several of the neighbors have driven by very slowly checking out all this activity.) If you look very closely at the picture to the left you can see the front of our coach in the garage. Last evening we cooked steaks out on the Leith's deck and had a wonderful dinner together. Today has been a time to relax. There has been some talk about getting their Seadoo's out for some fun on the lake but that has not happened as yet.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Arkansas--The Natural State--Day 6

A ride on a trolley, a stroll through old Little Rock, a visit to an old mill and being entertained by a good band. The final day of the rally was a busy one. After breakfast we caught the electric trolley car that travels through both North Little Rock and Little Rock. After a trip across the bridge we got off in the historic part of downtown Little Rock. A huge farmer's market is held each Saturday so we checked it out and then walked along the river walk. Another ride on the trolley took us through the main downtown area. We stopped at the Old Statehouse where a celebration of Arkansas statehood was taking place. On the grounds were many re-enactors, in period costume, living as they did in 1836. The old Statehouse has not been used as the capitol building in many years and is now a museum. It is located near the historic Capitol Hotel and also the Little Rock Peabody Hotel. (The Peabody, like the original one in Memphis, has a group of ducks who live on the roof. Each day they are brought down by elevator and escorted across a red carpet to a pond built for them in the hotel lobby. At the end of the day they are escorted back across the red carpet and up the elevator to their home on the roof.) This is all located on a street that has been renamed President Clinton Avenue.

We have learned that Little Rock was named by the Indians that were indigenous to the area. An outcropping into what is now the Arkansas River was used as a landmark and it was referred to as "Little Rock". This spot is marked on the River Walk with a real "little rock" today. The plaque attached to the rock tells the story of how the city was named.

During are touring of Little Rock we wound up doing a lot of walking in addition to riding on the trolley. Afterward we returned to the coach for some rest and then headed out in the car to The Old Mill. The mill really is not that old and is not really a mill. It was built in 1933 to appear as an abandoned mill that would have been used in the 1800's by the local people. It is all done in concrete including the bridges that appear to be made out of native stone and wood timbers. It is a very nice setting and there were several people there taking pictures. Apparently it is used for many activities including weddings.

The evening was the wrap up of the rally. After a good dinner, again served by the caterer, we were entertained by Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers. This is a group of older gentlemen that do a tremendous job performing their music. Apparently they have been together for many years and have had some success with Sun Records. They play throughout the region and perform a variety of music. They were very enjoyable and many of our people stayed around to dance to their very fine music. We even caught our Rally Masters, Don & Vicki, out on the dance floor. It was after 9:00pm when they wrapped up the show. We had signed up as volunteers for cleanup duty for tonight so we had to stay afterward to help clean up the hall and get all the trash out of the building. We made it back to the coach around 10:00pm after a very long, tiring but very enjoyable day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Arkansas--The Natural State--Day 5

A presidential library, good eats and some gospel music made for a good day. Our day started off like all rally days, with a good breakfast served by the caterer. Afterward we drove over the bridge to Little Rock to tour the Bill Clinton Presidential Library. We can actually see the building from our parking space here in the campground but had to go to Interstate 30 to get across the river. This is the third presidential library we have toured, the others being Harry Truman Library in Jefferson City, MO, and the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, MA. This one was the least impressive of the three with far fewer displays. Apparently each presidential library has a mock up of the Oval Office as it was when that individual was president. (It amazes that every time we change presidents the Oval Office has to be completely redecorated. All new paint, rugs and furnishings. I mean Clinton's predecessor was only there for four years. Could the rugs and furniture have been that worn?) Anyway, the Oval Office mock up is always interesting to see since it is doubtful we'll ever get the chance to see the real one. (We have toured the White House but the tours never take people to the West Wing.)

After our visit to the library and a stop off at Wal-Mart Pharmacy, to pick up a prescription, we came back to the coach and relaxed awhile. Jo did take in a craft class in the afternoon and we attended the clubs formal business meeting. This was followed by dinner, again served by Golden Corral, our caterer. In the evening we came back to the RV park and gathered in the open air pavilion to hear a duo of gospel singers. This was Allan Broussard & Jerry Wright, who played the guitar and string bass as they entertained us with several of their original gospel numbers. These guys were very good and had offered their services free of charge. A couple of cans were set up for donations and they did collect a little money for their efforts. While we were listening to the music we had a grand view of the Arkansas River. During this time the Arkansas Queen Riverboat came by on it's evening dinner cruise down river. All in all, an enjoyable day here on the Arkansas River.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Arkansas--The Natural State--Day 4

A trip to see a submarine and dinner at the ballpark. We started the day off with breakfast, again served by the caterer, Golden Corral Restaurant. At noon the ladies had scheduled a luncheon at a local restaurant. While they were doing that several of us guys took the time to go explore the USS Razorback. This is a submarine that was commissioned during World War II and served up through the Vietnam War. After the United States took her out of commission she was sold to the Turkish Navy where she served for many years. When the Turks were through with her she was sold to the city of North Little Rock to become a part of the Maritime Museum on the Arkansas River, which separates North Little Rock with the state capitol city of Little Rock. Although the cost of the tour for us retired military is only $4.00 the folks at the museum elected to not charge us. Former submarine sailors are admitted free. In our group was another Navy retiree who did serve in subs. As a courtesy to him all five of us were admitted free.

Due to the boats double service the museum has elected to fly both the U.S. and the Turkish flags from the ship. Also, the original nomenclature plaques and the dials and gauges throughout the ship are in English but have had the info in Turkish added to them. The Submariner in our group, Jim Gee, was a fountain of knowledge and led the tour instead of one of the museum people conducting it. We spent about two hours roaming through the different spaces in the boat. (Although this was considered to be a ship of the line it is customary to refer to submarines as boats rather than ships.) What is always amazing to me when I get a chance to tour one of the older diesel boats is how small they were. A large amount of equipment, machinery and weapon systems are crammed into a very small amount of space. In addition to this was space to house and feed the crew. In these old boats there were usually not enough bunks for each person to be assigned his own. Also due to the small crew they usually stood what is called "port and starboard" watches. That meant they would work 12 hour shifts. They would then have to "hot rack". This means two people were assigned to each bunk, or rack, and one guy would use it while the other was standing his watch. The picture to the right is the "after torpedo room". This space had four torpedo tubes and carried several torpedo's. In addition there were numerous crews "racks" intermingled between the torpedo's. It was noted that most submariners were less than six feet tall. This made for easier movement through the boat. As with all ships it is divided into several compartments. Each compartment is separated from the next with "watertight doors". These doors are much smaller than the ones on a larger surface ship. The picture to the left is our group during the tour.

After the tour we all returned to the RV park for some relaxation prior to the evening activities. Tonight, instead of the normal dinner with entertainment, we were scheduled to go to the local ball park to watch the North Little Rock Travelers play baseball. This is a professional team that plays in the AA leagues. Our dinner was to be served at the ballpark with normal ballpark fare of hamburgers and hot dogs. About an hour before we were to go to the park it started pouring down rain. By the time we got there the game had been called. Of course as soon as the stands emptied the rain cleared and it turned nice. The ballpark folks had already set up our area for dinner so we had our "ballpark evening" anyway, just did not see a game. This is a relative new park and is very nice. Only about half our group elected to make the trek to the park after it started raining but those that did had a good time and had plenty to eat.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Arkansas--The Natural State--Day 3

Another beautiful day here on the Arkansas River. It has been overcast all morning and that has kept the temperature down a little. Still a bit muggy. Yesterday afternoon the North Little Rock Fire Department returned to do some more training off the old bridge. This time they were practicing rappelling off the bridge.
After they were finished with their training one of the guys came over to visit. He was interested in all the "big" coaches here in the RV park. I was more interested in the leveler mechanism they had on that ladder truck. I bet I could really level this coach easily if I had those things to do it with.

Last night was the official opening of the rally. We all went down to the Chamber of Commerce building, where all our activities will be held, for a meet 'n greet get together. Since this is our first time at a rally with this club we are dubbed "first timers". We were assigned a sponsor to introduce us to everyone and "show us the ropes". This is actually about our 15th Monaco related rally and they all operate pretty much the same. It is still nice to have someone from the club to help newcomers ease into things and meet all the other members. Our friends, Don & Vicki Leith, are the Co-Rally Masters and were responsible for putting this all together. (If you have followed this blog for very long you know who Don & Vicki are.) They took on the duty last night of manning the wine serving table. Actually I think Vicki did the wine serving while Don "supervised". This rally is a bit different than the other Monaco Coach rallies we've attended in that there are no seminars or other planned activities planned during the day. Everyone is pretty much on their own to sight see and explore the area. We do have an ice cream social this afternoon and the ladies have a luncheon tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Arkansas--The Natural State--Day 2

After being home only a week we are off on another adventure. To keep these beast running smoothly we need to keep the wheels turning. Left the house yesterday morning right at 8:00am and headed for North Little Rock, Arkansas. Arrived around 3:00pm at the Downtown Riverside RV Park. We'll be here all week attending a Monaco Wan-na-goes Rally. (We are members of three Monaco coach owners clubs. The other two are international clubs and have members throughout the U.S. and Canada. This club covers a seven state region including Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and New Mexico.) The rally officially kicks off this evening with a Happy Hour meet and greet party.

This RV park is operated by the City of North Little Rock and is right on the banks of the Arkansas River. One line of coaches is lined up with their front directly facing the river. We are on the second row back but are on the very end of the row so we have a good view. Directly beside us is the old traffice bridge connecting North Little Rock to Little Rock. This was a lift bridge but has now been closed to traffic with the approach ramps removed. (Yesterday afternoon the local fire department was here practicing removing injured persons from the bridge using block & tackle and a litter basket.) This old bridge has now been replaced by a moden, concrete bridge which is a part of Interstate 30. The buildings in the background behind the new bridge are in downtown Little Rock. So far we have seen a couple of tugs pushing barges up the river and in the evening there is a paddle wheel boat that takes people out on dinner cruises.

Our parking location gives me a new place to put out my newest addition to our RVing "stuff". At the last rally, up in Kansas, I purchased a solar power light/sign post. As soon as we got back to Oklahoma I did change out the flag that came with it for one of my own choosing. Now will need to figure out how to keep Buddy Joe from using it as his personal toilet when he has to go out in the middle of the night.