Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in this country.  This is the day we are to decorate the graves of our loved ones.  It all started as "Decoration Day" and was a day to decorate the graves and honor of the people who had died as a result of serving in our armed forces.  Later the name was changed to Memorial Day and has, over the years, come to be a day to decorate all graves, not just those of Veterans.

I did my decorating duties this past Saturday at the family plots in the cemetery in Byars, Oklahoma.  (See previous blog entry.)  Due to some medical issues that I'm having taken care of later this week I have been limited in what I can do.  Actually I overdid things last Saturday and paid for it yesterday.  Today I was feeling a bit better so I drove out to Chapel Hill Cemetery here in Oklahoma City to take some more grave pictures for the website  This is a large cemetery that I've been visiting for some time in an attempt to get all the graves documented in Find A Grave.  Today the place was full of people seeking out their loved ones graves.  Wound up spending about two hours there taking pictures of headstones and visiting with some of the people there.  Most people find it interesting as to why I'm there with a camera taking headstone pictures.  In most cases people are very appreciative of what we are trying to accomplish.

I was inspired by the number of people out today and it really lifted my spirits.  After returning home I decided to look up on the Internet some of the tunes posted by my good friends, Ron & Kay Rivoli.  One of my favorites is the one they made specifically for Memorial Day.  It is called "Freedom Is Not Free".  They have recorded several video's of this number on You Tube over the years.  Please go to You Tube to hear what these folks have to say about this special day by clicking on the name of the song above.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Getting ready for Memorial Day

A trip to the cemetery.

With Memorial Day coming up this next Monday it was time to go to the family plots in the Byars, Oklahoma, cemetery to spruce up the graves of our loved ones.  I met up with my Dad and his youngest sister, Laveta, today and went down with a car load of artificial flowers.  I had picked up things for my Mom and Joanne's graves.  Aunt Laveta, who normally takes responsibility of taking care of this each year, had arrangements for all the rest.

First stop was at Joanne.  Prior to leaving for the RV rally earlier this month I had put some nice flowers on her grave.  They still looked pretty go but I replaced them today with some new spring flowers.

Next was my Mom, who is one plot over from Joanne.  The pink flowers were the ones I brought today.  Earlier in the week, on May 22, my brother Chester had taken Dad down and placed the wreath there.  The 22nd marked the one year anniversary since Mom passed away.  We also put flowers on Aunt Esther (another of Dad's sisters) and uncle Joe's grave.  They are on the opposite side of Joanne.  Actually there are four family markers in a row here, along the main road coming into the cemetery.  The fourth one (the red on in the picture below) is a pre-need marker for my oldest brother and his wife, who are still very much alive.  We joke that since Bill is the oldest and I am the youngest of our parents four sons it is appropriate that we be on each side of the folks.  That makes us the bookends.

After finishing up in this section (which is referred to as the new section of the cemetery) we moved farther south where many of the other Stone's are buried.  The center of that plot are where my paternal grandparents are located.  On each side of their headstone are flower pots that were originally on the front porch of their house in Byars.  The pots need to be painted but it was just too windy to accomplish that today.  I'll go down on a day when the wind is a bit calmer and take care of it.

We wound up spending about three hours at the cemetery taking care of the graves while also visiting with some of my cousins that came by to take care of their parents graves.  With Dad and Aunt Laveta getting up in years it was a bit tiring for them.  Additionally, I've got some medical things going on right now too so we were all ready to head back to town.

After dropping them off at the assisted living center where Dad lives in Purcell I headed back home.  On the way I stopped by the cemetery in Oklahoma City where Joanne's Dad, Ted Priolo, is buried.  One of my granddaughters and I had put flowers on his grave some time back and they need to be replaced.  Also, since he is a World War II veteran I try to keep an American flag on his grave year round.  I had picked up some red, white and blue flowers for him.

Hopefully during this holiday weekend, while people are enjoying themselves at the lake or cooking out in the yard we can all stop long enough to remember what the day is for.  Though originally a day set aside to honor our war dead it is now more a day to remember all of our loved ones who have left this life and have gone on ahead of us to prepare us a place.  So, have a blessed Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dinner with some cousins

Fine dinner and a good visit.

Met up with some cousins tonight for dinner.  Actually these are first cousins, once removed.  These are the children of my first cousin, Jerry Stone.  Jerry's youngest daughter, Sue, now lives in South Dakota where she works as psychologist for the Indian Health Service.  She has been visiting friends and family here in Oklahoma this week.  We met up at the Charleston Restaurant down on the south side of the city for dinner.  We were joined by two of her brothers, Bob and Rick.  This was a great visit with some relatives I have not seen in awhile.

Dr. Sue Stone

Bob & Debbie Stone

Sue with Juquetta & Rick Stone and their daughter Holly

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 16

Working the rally, a little Pacific Island music and then it was over.

The rally just keeps rolling along.  Most of my time has been spent taking care of the financial matters but otherwise I've pretty well hung out at the coach with my dogs.  It has been really hard doing all this without Joanne.  Outside of our families the people in this club were the ones that Joanne was closest too.  I did spend some time out on the golf cart taking a few pictures of this beautiful park.  Directly in the middle of all of this is a great little lake.  It is situated between the RV Park and the rest of the facility.

CERAland Lake

Thursday and Friday were pretty routine with the necessary seminars.  Some of the members took tours of the Cummins Engine Plant to see how the big diesel engines that push these beast along are made.  Thursday evening after dinner, in lieu of paid entertainment, was a rousing evening of Bingo with some pretty good prizes.  Friday evening we were entertained by the Jerry Clark Group.  This basically consist of three brothers who sing music from the Pacific Islands while their wives perform as hula dancers.  The theme for the evening was Hawaiian including the meal. 
Jerry Clark Group

Many of our members dressed in their best Hawaiian attire.  Here is Carol Lenoir and Ernie (Ernestine?) Robertson.

During this rally we had an election of officers for the next two years.  Most of the current officers were reelected.  After four years as the Treasurer I chose to step aside and let someone new take over.  This decision was made during the past year, before we knew of Joanne's illness.  I have enjoyed keeping the accounts for the club but in this past year my interest has waned.  On Friday night I was recognized by the club President, Gary Granat, for the job I had done.  Was given a very nice Discover account gift card.  I took a few minutes to address the rally to express all the support that I had been given and especially there cards, letters, e-mails and phone calls that came in over the past few months.  There are no better people on earth than RV people and the Monaco America club are the best of the bunch.

Gary Granat recognizing my work as club Treasurer

Today was spent mostly with closing out the financial records for this rally, making sure all the bills were paid and transferring all the files and records over to the new Treasurer, Bob Allen.  This included a trip to the next town, about 20 miles away, to the nearest branch of Chase Bank to have me taken off the accounts and Bob put on.  We also spent a couple of hours going over the accounts so he felt a little more comfortable with our accounting spreadsheets.  Around 7:00 this evening we transferred all the boxes of material from the back of my car into his motor home.  This included all the financial historical records of the club and the rallies, all the club logo merchandise that we sell at the rallies and the large plastic tub that holds the working supplies.  Can't say that I'm sorry to get rid of all that stuff I've had to haul around for the past four years.  So, the rally is over and most of the coaches pulled out today.  There are probably a dozen or so left here.  Most of us will be on the road tomorrow morning.  The dogs and I will head out in the morning.  If all goes well we should be back home sometime Monday evening.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 13

A visit with the Army and a POW camp.

Today was a visit to the local Army base, Camp Atterbury.  This is a training and staging base for troops heading off to Afghanistan.  The first part of the tour was was to an area of a World War II prisoner of war camp.  Many Italian and German prisoners were held here during and immediately after the war.  (Many people do not know there were many of these camps scattered all over the country during the war.  The purpose of to remove the prisoners from the European Theater of War so they could not escape and rejoin the fighting.)  About all that is left of this POW camp is a rock inscribed with the camp unit number and a small chapel that was built by the Italian prisoners.

The base tour was done using two school type buses.  We had a young Army Captain conducting our tour and she was very knowledgeable about the base and it's mission.  After the tour was complete our last stop was at the base Dining Facility, what in times past would have been called the Mess Hall.  We had a good lunch there and an opportunity to visit with the soldiers who would be deploying soon.  This was a pretty good tour and a chance to say thank you to our nations defenders.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 12

And the beat goes on.

A bit of a different day here at the rally.  Breakfast served by the caterer and then pretty much on our own.  I had scheduled for the local Cummins people to do service on my coach and that took most of the afternoon.  Oil and filter change on the diesel engine, lube job and then oil and filter change on the Onan generator.  Also had a new air filter installed.  Took them about two hours to do all the work but the charges were very reasonable.

The evening consisted of dinner by the caterer but no entertainment was scheduled.  The park here, CERAland, works with the Make A Wish Foundation so the club volunteered to help.  Tickets were sold for $1.00 each all during the dinner hour.  After dinner a drawing was held with two winners.  Half the proceeds went to Make A Wish with the other half split between the two winners.  One of the winners then donated his winnings also.  We wound up raising $319.00  for Make A Wish.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 11

Busy day and Rock & Roll.

The rally officially started today.  This morning was a "flea market".  Each coach owner was encouraged to set up anything they didn't need anymore for sale.  There were several folks who put out tables with their wares.  Some had RV related stuff, some had antiques and several had craft items they had made.  Everyone seemed to have a good time browsing through each others "junk".

A big part of my day was spent working in the coach on club's financial records.  We are receiving applications, along with checks, for the next rally that will be this October in Iowa.  Also, there are a couple of tours set up for later in the week.  The club, meaning me, collects the individual fees for the tours and then I'll write one check when we arrive at the location.  I did take a little time to go over to the shooting range here at CERAland.  They have a nice range set up for those of us who have an enthusiasm for guns.  I took one hand gun and one of my AR15 rifles over and punched about 300 hundred holes in some targets.  (The only problem with the shooting range is it is located directly next to the area set aside for walking the dogs.  Buddy Joe does not like being that close to the sound of gunfire and jumps each time someone shoots a round off.)

Tonight was the first night of entertainment at the rally.  After a great dinner, that was provided by our caterer, we were entertained by Blair Carman and his band.  This is a group from Cincinnati, Ohio, that does a great 1950's show.  The theme for the night was the 50's so we did have several of our folks show up dressed in their best 1950's attire.  (This is Judy Wagner and Carol Lenoir all decked out in their poodle skirts.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 10

Activities starting for real and some really down time.

Most of our rally attendees have arrived and have set up their coaches, even though the rally does not actually begin until tomorrow evening.  This has been a bit of a down day for me.  This being Mother's Day everyone is in a mood of celebrating their wives and mothers.  This just brought back the thought of losing both my mother and my wife this past year.  At dinner tonight roses were handed out to the ladies and I was given a white one in honor of Joanne.  It was all I could do not to burst into tears.  Everyone here means well but most don't really know how to react or know what I'm going through.

A big help has been my friend Judy Wagner and her husband Forrest.  Judy lost both of her parents this past year and is also trying to cope. with this.  Tonight we had a pot luck dinner for all the folks who have come in early and I made sure to sit with the Wagner's.  Judy and Joanne had become good friends during the last few rallies and she is very understanding of my situation.

Our club President and his wife, Gary and Caroll Granat, have also been a great help also this week.  He has encouraged me to stay involved and busy with the club business and that has helped.  I've got the club treasury records to maintain and will be giving my Treasurer's report to the membership during our business meeting later in the week.  At that same meeting we'll have officer elections and a new Treasurer will be elected since I have decided to give up this position.  I'll then spend some time transferring the records to the new Treasurer and helping that person to get up to speed with the accounts.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 9

Gearing up for the rally and meeting up with old friends.

Been a busy few days as the club member's continue to arrive to get ready for the rally.  As of today most of the coaches have come in.  Many of our long time friends are here and it is good to see them again, although it is a bit hard to deal with all the condolences about the loss of Joanne.  Most of these same people were with us at the Fall Rally last October and were as shocked as I was with her sudden death.

I've been helping with the parking the last couple of days so due to that I've been furnished my own golf cart for use during the rally.  The RV campground is a good distance from where the rally activities will be held so this will help in carrying all my stuff, as club treasurer, back and forth.  This afternoon we had several coaches arriving at once so it took all three of us with carts to escort them to their sites.

We've been eating well here in Columbus.  Went to dinner on Friday evening with Forrest and July Wagner, friends from Missouri.  We went back over to Seymore to The Pine's Restaurant for their buffet.  Tonight I joined up with Bob & Sally Allen and Bert & Kathy Garcia to go to a Chinese food buffet.  One thing this club does well is eat.  In addition each night we had a fire circle for everyone to visit and catch up on what has been happening since last October.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 6

Arrived at rally site and ready to party.

We arrived at CERAland in Columbus, Indiana, yesterday afternoon.  We had an uneventful, although rough, trip up through Nashville to Interstate 65 and then north.  The roads in the Nashville area could really use some work and we bounced around a bunch.  The worse roads on the trip so far were in Louisville, Kentucky.  I thought the coach was going to shake to pieces while coming through there.  (I was hoping to get a chance to stop to see my friends, Ron & Kay Rivoli, in Louisville on my way through.  Unfortunately, they had not returned home from their latest tour with the Tea Party Express so I missed them this time out.)  This picture is where we are parked in the CERAland RV Park.

Arrived at CERAland around 3:00, local time, to be greeted by some of our other club members.  Four other coaches were already here when we pulled in.  We are here for the Monaco America RV club's Spring Rally which is scheduled to start next Monday.  This is our second rally here at CERAland, the last being in 2004.  CERAland is a large recreational area, including a large RV park that is owned by the employees of the Cummins Diesel Engine Plant here in Columbus.  (C=Cummins, E=Employees, R=Recreation, A=Association)
It is a beautiful facility with baseball ball diamonds, walking trails, rifle and skeet ranges, fitness center, soccer fields, a golf driving range and other amenities too numerous to mention.  We'll be here through all of next week.

During the day today, Wednesday, was a maintenance day.  Was not able to get any over the air TV reception last night.  The front TV in the coach is an older, analog set that has to have a digital converter box.  I was afraid that the box had gone bad.  After checking the back TV, which is a new digital one, and finding it would not receive any channels either I knew the problem was elsewhere.  Today I checked the 12 volt fuse panels and sure enough there was a blown fuse.  Popped in a new fuse and all was well.  Got the bugs cleaned off the front of the coach and the windshield sun shade put up.  We had a couple more coaches arrive today.  There should be several more coming in tomorrow.  We now had six coaches here so we all got together and went to a The Pines Restaurant over in Seymore for dinner.  (The Pines will be the folks that will do the catering for the rally next week.)  I rode to dinner with the club President, Gary Granat, and his wife Carole.  On the way back it rained a bit and then we were blessed with a beautiful rainbow.  I snapped the picture while waiting for them at a quick stop at Wal-Mart. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 4

A little relaxing, a little grave walking and then back on the road.

Sunday was fairly uneventful.  Vicki fixed a great Sunday brunch that we enjoyed out on their patio/deck.  This gives a great view of the lake.  Later I sought out a couple of cemeteries in the area to photograph some headstones.  One cemetery, over by Shirley, Arkansas, had been documented on Find A Grave by someone else but there were very few pictures added.  I took about 100 pictures that I later uploaded to the individual memorial pages.  Another cemetery, that I had passed on my drive in, had photo request posted for eight of the graves so I drove over there and found the graves so I could fulfil the request for some folks.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and visiting with Don & Vicki.  They had taken the pontoon boat back to it's storage facility and were ready to kick back.  They have the big RV garage plus a four car garage attached to the other side of the house they don't have a space big enough to hold the pontoon boat.  The four car garage is filled with their two vehicles, a jet boat, Ski-Doos and a flat trailer. 

This morning, Monday, it was time to hook up and get back on the road.  We pulled out around 8:30 and started working our way back to Interstate 40 and further east.  We picked up I-40 just west of Memphis.  We stopped for the night at a small RV park about 40 miles west of Nashville.  That will give us less than 300 miles to travel tomorrow to our destination in Columbus, Indiana.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 2

Good breakfast and a day on the lake.

A beautiful day at Greers Ferry Lake. The view out my front windshield of the lake is great. When Don & Vicki built their house they not only built a garage to house their RV they made sure their RV friends had a place to stay. On each side of their house are large RV pads with full 50amp electric service, water and sewer hookups.

Started off today with a great breakfast fixed by Vicki and then it was time to take their pontoon boat out on the lake. We crossed the lake and met up with some friends of theirs. We anchored in a cove near a marina and tied the boats together for an afternoon of relaxing and visiting. Many times there will be several of their friends boats that link up like this for a day on the lake. The pontoon boat has a bar-b-que grill mounted on the front so we had lunch while out there. We had a good time with only one mishap.  As I was leaning over the side to untie the two boats my brand new "smart" phone fell out of my pocket and sank in about 35ft of water.  (My thought at the time was if this phone was so "smart" then why didn't it make some attempt to save itself.)  Although Don & I elected to stay on the dry boat Vicki and their friends did go swimming in the lake.

After returning to shore we got back to the house around 4:30.  Vicki and I left Don to take care of the boat while we jumped in my car for a 50 mile trip to Conway to find a Sprint Phone Store.  Found the Sprint Store but unfortunately they were out of stock for the phone I wanted.  Best Buy wanted way too much for a replacement phone so we wound up getting it at Radio Shack.  (The original "smart" phone I got last month was via an allowed upgrade with my Sprint service so I got the phone at a deep discount.  This time around I had to pay full price.  OUCH!)  We got back to Greers Ferry around 7:30 and Don had dinner ready for us, hot off the grill.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spring Rally 2012--Day 1

On the road one more time.

Pulled out from the house around 7:30 this morning, heading to Arkansas. The dogs seemed ready to get going and pretty much relaxed and watched the road go by. Bridgit Jeane is becoming a great little traveling dog and seems to have accepted the fact that we can’t stop every time she “feels the urge”. By stopping every couple of hours she has gotten into a routine and it makes life much easier for all of us.

We make pretty good time and, after a stop for fuel in Russellville, we pulled in to the drive way of Don & Vicki Leith around 3:30 in the afternoon. They live in Greers Ferry, Arkansas. Actually they live right on the edge of Greers Ferry Lake. Prior to building their new home on the lake they were full time RVer’s. They since have sold their motor home and Don has converted his attached RV garage into a shop. We got parked and set up next to the house and Don insisted I park the car in the shop.

The pups and I will be here for the weekend. It has been a couple of years since we’ve had a chance to visit with Don & Vicki so I’m looking forward to this time together.