Family & Friends
By Phyllis Gordon, F193604
We came from as far away as Titusville, Florida, and as near as Prineville, Oregon, to the high desert town of Redmond, Oregon, to build a house. Following FMCA’s 38th annual summer international convention in Redmond, Oregon, this past August, volunteers from the Safari International chapter stayed a few more weeks to work with the Redmond affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International to help with what is known as a “Blitz Build.”
Safari International was the first motorhome chapter to participate in a Habitat Blitz Build in 1998 in Junction City, Oregon.
As usually happens with a Habitat build, the house was created only through the caring generosity of a large number of people, companies, and church organizations. Many of the building supplies were donated, including the land, windows, siding, cement, insulation, and sod. Local churches, youth groups, and businesses supplied snacks and lunches for the volunteer workers on site. Guaranty RV of Junction City, F4161, subsidized a much-needed dinner out.
Judy Churchill, executive director of the Redmond Habitat for Humanity affiliate, coordinated this Blitz Build, her second in Redmond. Ms. Churchill is intensely involved in most facets of the Habitat administration, having served as the affiliate’s president for more than two years before accepting her current position. She raises funds; seeks donations from local businesses; and is deeply involved with the homeowner applicants, helping them prepare for this big step in their lives.
Larry and Pat Roshak, in their first Habitat for Humanity build, oversaw the on-site construction. The two have spent nearly 25 years building and remodeling homes in Washington County, Oregon. This time, though, their task was to create a three-bedroom home in short time with squads of volunteers, many of whom had no construction background. To them, it probably resembled a three-ring circus.
A total of 47 volunteers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s from the Safari International chapter worked each day alongside five local Habitat workers, including Jim Erickson, current president of the Redmond affiliate. Besides providing the workforce, the chapter also donated $15,000 toward this project. The volunteers made camp on the grounds of the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center and were provided electricity for the duration of the build by a generator donated by Onan Corporation, C87. Scott Eavis, owner of International Caterers of Bradenton, Florida, supplied the power cords. The cost of fuel was covered by Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111, the new owner of Safari Motor Coach.
Each evening we gathered for a “social hour” to recap the day’s accomplishments and to find out what was expected of us the next day. There also was time for fun. Each night we enjoyed entertainment of some kind, such as a brown bag auction to benefit the new home owner.
It’s hard to believe that a house could be completed in 13 days, but that’s exactly what happened. Construction began on Monday, August 20, with the foundation, the subfloor, and the rough installation of the electrical and plumbing in place.
On the first day, the outside walls were erected, and by Tuesday the interior walls were framed and the house was under roof. On Wednesday the house was sheathed and wrapped, and the electrician began wiring. On Thursday, the roof sheathing was completed and the laying of shingles began. That same day, the windows and exterior doors were installed, the rough plumbing and wiring were completed, and cement was poured for the front and back porch supports. On Friday, the roof was completed and the electrical and plumbing passed inspection. By the end of Saturday, the front porch was completed; the insulation was virtually finished, including the interior sound-deadening insulation; and shutters were crafted and carved with “country girl” cutouts. A team worked on Sunday to complete the ceiling insulation, and a house painter sprayed the exterior of the house a muted moss green.
The second week of the build began on August 27 with the garage door being installed, some sod laid, shutters hung, and most of the siding installed. Hanging of drywall also began on Tuesday, the siding was finally completed, and the yard was sculpted with bark dust and various plantings. By Thursday, the four days of drywalling, with the necessary mudding and sanding, was completed. The sod was down, the back deck was constructed, and the walls and ceilings were textured. On the second Friday of the build, the cabinets were assembled and the interior was painted. On our final day, Saturday, September 1, the interior doors were hung and trimmed, and the linoleum was installed. That night, the house became a home when it was dedicated and presented to new homeowner Donna Sutherland and her two children, Brandon and Alexandra.
During the entire build, our key word was flexibility. Assignments changed on a moment’s notice depending on deliveries, priorities, inspections, and outside contractors. Chapter members pitched in to do whatever was needed. We measured, cut, hammered, stapled, painted, moved mountains of materials, planted, installed, cleaned, and did anything else necessary to complete the project.
None of this could have been accomplished without the coordination of this eager volunteer force by our leaders, Jim and Carol Avallone, F143904, who spent the past year making sure this event would come to fruition. They worked tirelessly, planning the teams and schedules, overseeing the volunteer force, and arriving before and leaving after the rest of us.
At the end of day 13, we were tired and sore, but we had made many new friends, and had built not a house, but a home. On Sunday, day 14, we rested!
Apollo Amigos Caravan Through The Northwest
By Mary Ann Stephens, F247027, and Fredaline Gibson
On June 1, 2001, 13 motor coaches from FMCA’s Apollo Amigos chapter departed Manteca, California, for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit some of the great lodges of the Western United States and Canada. We planned to have lunch at all 11 lodges or hotels as we visited, during a caravan that lasted seven weeks. Our chapter’s national director, Bob Newby, F108350, and his wife, Carol, organized and led the trip.
Our first stop was in Redding, California, where we stayed the night before moving on to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. At Crater Lake we had rain, snow, and very windy conditions, but it was a beautiful site for enjoying lunch at Crater Lake Lodge.
From there we headed for Maryhill, Washington, just across the Oregon border. Along the way we visited Redmond, Oregon, site of FMCA’s 2001 summer convention. After a night in Maryhill, we left for Mt. Rainier National Park, where we had lunch at the Paradise Inn. From there we traveled to La Conner, Washington, where we stayed at the Thousand Trails Preserve.
The next morning we were off to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, via the BC Ferry from Tsawwassen, Washington. During our first day on the island, we enjoyed visiting Butchart Gardens and the beautiful city of Victoria, with its many shopping opportunities. We had lunch at the Empress Hotel, and some of the group enjoyed the sights on a city tour.
The caravan then traveled north to Port Alberni, where we took a trip to Bamfield aboard the Lady Rose, a Scottish ship built in 1937. In this port city we visited lumber mills and had our fill of fresh fish, clams, and oysters. The area is very primitive, but so beautiful to see. Then it was on to Campbell River, which is touted as the salmon capital of the world. A highlight of this stop was a 150-foot waterfall that flowed into a canyon.
Day 18 found us on the road to Port Hardy, a sparsely populated area of Vancouver Island and our departure point to Bella Coola via ferry. With our 13 large coaches, some with towed cars, as well as the other cars and trucks that were boarding, it took nearly three hours before we left the dock. During the 22-hour journey through the fjords and inland passages, we saw whales, birds, and cruise ships. When we returned, tides were down and the crew had to improvise their normal disembarking procedure to get the coaches off the ferry. Happily, all made it off safe and sound.
After leaving the ferry we went to Hagars Haven RV Park. That night a local fisherman came to the park and barbecued fresh salmon for our group.
When we awoke the next morning, it was time to face “the hill,” a gravel road with an 18-degree grade. The 6 miles of road, with no guardrails, were hardly wide enough for one vehicle to travel on. With very little room for downhill traffic to pass, and switchbacks scattered throughout, we chose to send the towed cars ahead of the motorhomes. The women, directed by Marceil Scott, F199313, stationed themselves at the switchbacks and at the top of the hill to stop oncoming downhill traffic so that the coaches could climb the hill safely.
Our next stop, Anahim Lake, was the highlight of the trip for the fishermen among us. We got an early start on the lake and caught our limit in a short period of time. The rainbow trout were about 12 to 18 inches long. That afternoon the men pulled out the grills, and we had fresh-cooked trout for supper. If you are ever in the area, this place is a must-see.
The next stop on our adventure was Puntzi Lake. We soon found that our previous fishing experience had spoiled us. Having little luck fishing, we settled in to enjoy the wonderful scenery. This primitive area has many beautiful trees, mountains, and clear lakes.
Our next destination was the beautiful city of Prince George, the northernmost point of our trip into Canada. For most of the group this was the first chance to do a little shopping.
The following day we were off to our next destination, Jasper National Park, in Alberta. The animals in the park roam at will, and some of our group sighted deer, elk, and bear. On our way to Jasper Park Lodge, several in the group took the tram to the top of the mountain, enjoying an incredible 360 degrees of visibility. The ice fields at the top of this peak are a sight few people see.
The scenery along Provincial Route 93 on the way to Banff National Park was wonderful, full of ice fields and glaciers. We started out early that day, knowing the Canadian residents would be taking off (and likely heading toward the park) to celebrate Canada Day, July 1, a national holiday. We camped in a wonderful park just a few minutes from town called Tunnel Mountain Campground, which had more than 300 campsites. The following day, we lunched at the Banff Springs Hotel and did some shopping in the Banff area.
The next day we traveled the short distance to beautiful Lake Louise Lodge, and again enjoyed lunch and more shopping. Our official photographer, Russ Tinsley, F42870, took a group picture with the snow and emerald green lake in the background. Some of the group rode the gondola to the top and enjoyed the magnificent vistas. On July 4, to celebrate Independence Day, the ladies put together a feast of hot dogs and hamburgers with all of the trimmings.
Before leaving Banff, several of the group took a hike in Johnston Canyon, which was one of the highlights of the trip. The cantilevered walk across parts of the canyon was for the strong of heart.
We left Banff in three groups to travel to Calgary. When we arrived, we checked into a KOA campground. Our stay there included watching the Calgary Stampede Parade. This procession included many beautiful horses, bands from various places, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and floats. After the parade, we took the train to the Stampede and had box seats for the rodeo. The next night we returned to the Stampede for the chuckwagon races, a show by the Young Canadians, and fireworks. We returned to camp at 1:30 a.m., plumb tuckered out.
The next stop was Waterton Lakes National Park, near the United States border. On our way, we made a side trip to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, near Fort Macleod. For more than 5,000 years American Indians ran buffalo over the sandstone cliffs and harvested the animals’ meat and hides. As one story goes, the name comes from a tale about a young brave who was eager to see the buffalo fall over the cliff. He stood in a cave on the side of the cliff watching the buffalo fall. There were so many buffalo they covered the cave. When the Indians found him he was dead and his head was smashed in, hence the name.
After arriving at Waterton Lakes National Park, we traveled to the Prince of Wales Hotel for lunch. The hotel is perched on top of a hill overlooking a valley. When viewed from below, the ornate building looked like a gingerbread house. Nearby Cameron Lake provides a scenic setting, reflecting the mountains in the early morning. Deer come and go and don’t seem afraid. That evening we took a beautiful drive to Red Rock Canyon, and on our way back we saw a black bear cub so close that we could have reached out the window of the car and touched it. On July 11 we took a boat trip on Upper Waterton Lake, crossing from Canada to the United States and back. The tour guide was very informative and made the trip eventful.
On July 12 we arrived at Glacier National Park in Montana. We had lunch at Lake McDonald Lodge, stopping on the way to see the magnificent view at Logan Pass, high in the mountains. That evening many of us traveled to Browning, Montana, to see the Blackfeet Nation’s North American Indian Days celebration. The dancers were attired in beautiful native dress — even the 3- and 4-year-olds. Tribes from throughout North America attended. A highlight of the day was seeing black bears and grizzlies at Bear Park. The next day we traveled to Glacier Park Lodge for lunch, then back to the Indian powwow.
On our last day at Glacier National Park, we had lunch at Many Glacier Hotel. An interesting fact about this lodge is that during a big snow, a mountain goat (ram) climbed the snow up on the roof and fell through the skylight. The unfortunate creature’s body was preserved by taxidermy and now stands in the lobby.
The next day we left for Helena, Montana, where we stayed for the night before continuing our trip to Yellowstone National Park, our final destination. We saw the Old Faithful geyser and had lunch at The Old Faithful Inn.
During our journey we saw many wonders of this earth — gigantic mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, and wonderful wild animals. Our two ferry trips, as well as the boat rides on Waterton Lake and at Port Alberni were awesome. The ride up “the hill” will never be forgotten. What made the experience more than just a sight-seeing trip were the numerous friends we made along the way. Thanks to Bob and Carol Newby for undertaking this project. Also, thanks to the leaders of each group. We appreciate all you did.
If you ever have the opportunity to make this trip, we heartily recommend it. Mother Nature has really done her work. The beautiful scenery is hard to describe. All of us found the trip exciting and eventful, one we will treasure in our memories.
Planning A Caravan
By Bob Newby, F108350
There seems to be considerable interest among FMCA members on the subject of caravanning. While I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject, during the past few years I have planned and participated in several successful cross-country caravans. From these experiences, here are some of my thoughts on the dos and don’ts of planning a caravan.
Caravan goals: Think through where you want to go, what you want to see, why you want to go in a group, and how long you want to be gone. This will provide you with the necessary direction for your overall planning.
Size of the caravan: I have found that a group of 10 to 14 motorhomes is a good size for a caravan. Groups of more than 14 are too large for many RV parks to accommodate. Personally, I like 12 motorhomes, for two reasons. First, you can travel in three groups of four motorhomes. Second, some parks will give you a 10 percent discount on the nightly fee if you have more than 10 coaches. This can add up to substantial savings.
Caravan coordinator: There is one person in charge, the caravan coordinator.
Compatibility: It is very important that all members of the caravan realize that there can only be ONE person in charge. The ability of all participants to get along and help each other will make for a good trip.
Caravan planning: This is a big job and should not be taken lightly. It should be up to the coordinator and no one else to make all of the plans, secure the park reservations, and send in the necessary payments for reservations and tickets for any activities the group will participate in during the caravan.
Compensation: I believe that when a party signs up to participate in a caravan, they should pay a nominal non-refundable deposit to help defray the cost of setting up the caravan. Then, as the specific costs become known, they should send in additional funds so the coordinator can secure the necessary reservations without using his or her personal funds. If a person has to back out of the caravan, the initial deposit is not refunded, as it was used to help set up the caravan. As far as refunding any of the other additional money, this would be up to the coordinator, because there are circumstances when refunds are not given for parking and other costs that have been paid in advance.
Caravan scheduling: Every participant in a caravan wants to see the schedule of events in writing. I like to make a detailed book for each coach in the caravan in which I set out the following information:
Introduction: This is a general statement introducing the coordinators of the trip, and giving a brief synopsis of the scope and nature of the planned caravan.
Caravan checklist: This is a list of recommended items pertaining to the motorhome that should be checked before leaving.
Caravan operations, rules, and regulations: This explains the number of groups that the caravan will be broken into; how and when each group will leave a campground in the morning; refueling; obeying traffic laws; towing insurance; and what costs are not covered in the funds that caravan participants have paid. I also like to include an item about nightly briefings to discuss the next day’s activities.
Caravan participants: This is where I list all of the participants with their addresses, phone numbers, and cell phone numbers.
Tour itinerary: This is a simple listing of the daily locations and destinations, as well as a summary of each leg of the trip.
RV park mailing addresses: It is helpful to provide this information so participants can have their mail forwarded if necessary.
Daily calendar: I like to include a calendar with the caravan locations for each day noted.
Travel day specifics: This section contains a separate page for each travel day, listing the departure point, route of travel, destination, and the number of nights at that location, whether one or all of the nightly parking fees have been paid, and any comments on the planned and/or suggested activities of that location.
You may want to address additional items not mentioned here.
Potential caravan themes
We recently completed a seven-week caravan through the northwestern United States and Canada in which we visited and had lunch at 11 great lodges or hotels that were built in the early 20th century. The theme was based on the book, Great Lodges Of The West by Christine Barnes, though we did not limit the caravan to only those lodges listed in the book. Caravans can be set up to tour areas before or after an FMCA national convention. Themed tours of state capitals, national parks, or museums are other interesting caravanning possibilities.
Planning a caravan is a challenging and rewarding experience, but if you don’t want to go through the work of organizing one yourself, several FMCA commercial member companies will set up special caravans for FMCA members in addition to their standard tours. To find a company that plans caravan outings, look for the “Caravans, Tours” heading in the Services section of FMCA’s Business Service Directory, located in the back section of this magazine.
I highly recommend broadening your motorhome experience by setting up or joining a caravan. It really is enjoyable to travel with a group of FMCA members — and maybe you’ll even meet some new lifelong friends.