Family & Friends
By Bruce and Jane Battey, F284722
The 2003 Rocky Mountain Ramble, dubbed the “Cactus Caper,” was held February 18 through 21 at the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson, Arizona. Although the area has hosted an annual rally for 20 years, this is only the second Ramble hosted by the recently formed Rocky Mountain Motor Coach Association (RMMA) and was, by all accounts, a huge success.
The Cactus Caper was not only fun for all who attended, but it was executed without a hitch thanks to the efforts of the 19 captains and 425 volunteers from RMMA’s 30 chapters. The volunteers worked diligently in a variety of jobs to make sure that everyone attending the rally could enjoy several days of fun, fellowship, and food “” and they all seemed to have a good time doing it.
The volunteers’ behind-the-scenes efforts began last fall with initial planning, organizing, and coordinating. During the Ramble, volunteers assisted in every possible way “” serving as greeters; working on the parking crew; manning the registration office; handling setup and take-down; soliciting and awarding door prizes; coordinating vendors; transporting attendees; arranging food service; organizing seminars and golf tournaments; working the information booth; and much more. Volunteers also had a good time meeting new people, making new friends, and renewing old ties. The volunteers were recognized and honored during evening entertainment on Thursday. We cannot say thank-you enough to those who volunteered “” you made the Ramble happen.
Special recognition and thanks go to Duane Pindell, F105443, RMMA senior vice president, who was the rally master for the Cactus Caper Ramble, and his wife, Rosalie, who was the captain of the volunteers. Their untiring efforts to plan and coordinate this mammoth get-together resulted in an outstanding event.
This was an especially memorable Ramble for Len Pigg, F133119, FMCA national vice president, Rocky Mountain Area, and president of RMMA, since it was his last year in these positions. He has done a wonderful job of leading the Rocky Mountain Area to form the RMMA. We wish Len the very best and thank him for his dedication to RMMA and FMCA.
During the opening ceremonies on Tuesday, February 17, more than 1,200 FMCA members were spellbound by a stirring rendition of the national anthem played by renowned trumpeter Jesse McGuire. Bob Walkup, mayor of Tucson, and Kathrine Blomquist, from the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, provided words of welcome and best wishes for a successful Ramble. Several representatives from FMCA’s leadership and their spouses in attendance were introduced. They included senior vice president R.G. Wilson, F21025, and his wife, Jeri; national secretary June Davis, F158928, and her husband, Leonard; national treasurer Connie Pool, F140306, and her husband, Corbett; five area vice presidents and their spouses; and executive director Don Eversmann, F240000, and his wife, Sharon. FMCA national president, Jeff Jefcoat, F118344, could not attend and his presence was sorely missed. Len Pigg offered the opening remarks, and so began an exciting Ramble. The duo Diamond Lil and Bill, who regularly perform at Old Tucson Studios, capped off the opening ceremonies with entertainment for the evening.
The southern Arizona weather was perfect for the event “” sunny and warm for all but one day, when a few rain showers helped to settle the dust and feed the plants. The sunshine brought warmth to an already friendly welcome offered by the city of Tucson and the state of Arizona. Family members were out and about in shirtsleeves, and some were even in shorts, enjoying all the events offered.
The 600 family motorhomes in attendance were augmented by approximately 120 show coaches from dealers throughout the states of Arizona and California. One hundred vendors (indoor and outdoor) participated in the Ramble, offering all those important items needed to fully enjoy the RV lifestyle. The vendors played a major part in this amazing event, and their continued support of RMMA and its rallies is sincerely appreciated. To help continue the growth and education of the association’s family members, 50 seminars were presented covering a wide array of topics. Nearly all of the seminars were well attended, and for many it was standing room only.
A pancake breakfast was served each day; some folks caught their breakfast, as the pancakes were flipped in the air right onto their plates. Thanks to Beaudry RV for sponsoring two days of breakfast. The Frustrated Maestros Rocky Mountain Rockers helped get each day started on the right note as they serenaded and entertained us each morning during breakfast. Another food highlight was the ice cream social sponsored by RV Alliance America, C95, and hosted by Joan Pigg, wife of Len Pigg. Each ice cream choice was delicious, and the sun and warm temperature encouraged almost everyone to attend.
Highlights of the Cactus Caper ramble included a fashion show that presented garments from two local shops and was sponsored in part by Jacks RV Service, C8934, in Tucson. The models were RMMA family members “” men and women “” and they did a wonderful job. Another event enjoyed by all was the Pet Parade, during which 65 of our beloved friends competed for fame and fortune “” well, at least fame. Pets crossed the stage and demonstrated their talents and good looks. Each evening featured great entertainment, too, including saloon and cowboy songs; swing, Latin, and brass music; and a comedy routine.
Three chapters were honored at the RMMA annual membership meeting. Two chapters, the High Plains Drifters and the Weekenders, celebrated their 10-year anniversaries, and the Pace Arrow Roadrunners celebrated 20 years as a chapter. Congratulations to them all.
Many thanks to the committee of captains and volunteers who were instrumental in making the Cactus Caper a success.
Thousand Trails Of Texas Celebrates 15th Anniversary
By June Cook, F147020
FMCA’s Thousand Trails of Texas chapter celebrated its 15th anniversary at the Medina Lake Thousand Trails Preserve in Medina Lake, Texas, November 8 through 10, 2002.
The chapter held its first rally at the same location on October 11, 1987. At the suggestion of then-preserve manager Ben Carr, a few couples decided to form an FMCA chapter for Thousand Trails members. They drew up bylaws and submitted them to the FMCA national office. On December 5, 1987, the chapter charter was granted. To date, the chapter has held 75 rallies, with 62 of those being at Thousand Trails preserves and 13 others at various locations. Chapter membership has ranged from a low of 24 in 1987 to a high of 79 in 1993. Currently the chapter has 44 family members.
On hand to join in the celebration was Tony Innocenti, F56315, a Thousand Trails of Texas chapter member and senior vice president of the South Central Area Six State Rally Association, and his wife, Geri. Ben Loganbill, F164247, southern region senior vice president of the Six State Rally Association, and his wife, Sue, also participated in the presentation of certificates to chapter president Floyd Pilgrim, F113252. Four charter member families of the chapter were in attendance: Shep and Donna Howson, F62627; Reno and Dorothy Schubert, F91416; Fred and Luella Kennedy, F44281; and Archie and Sylvia Henley, F86304.
Highlights of the rally included games, homemade ice cream, and a review of the chapter’s first 15 years, presented by Shep Howson. We also tipped our hats to those who served in the U.S. armed forces with an early Veterans Day celebration.
The Thousand Trails of Texas chapter offers fellowship and fun times to anyone who is a member in good standing of FMCA and Thousand Trails.
By Marlene Curtis, F151002
Sunday, November 19, 2000, was a beautiful, sunny day as my husband, Howard, and I traveled in our motorhome from San Antonio, Texas, to Corpus Christi to spend several days with our dear friends Jim and Anna Pieratt, F222682. They were staying at Malaquite Beach on Padre Island National Seashore.
We talked to our sons and daughter on the cell phone on the way down, and everyone was doing fine. In fact, Gabe, our daughter’s 16-year-old son, could be heard in the background happily preparing for a ride in the ultralight airplane that belonged to his dad, Keith. They were going to fly over Gabe’s church in Wenatchee, Washington, and take pictures.
We arrived at Malaquite Beach late Sunday afternoon and had a joyful reunion with our friends. We walked the beach, talked about our upcoming month on South Padre Island, and discussed the Pieratts’ plans to spend Christmas with their son in San Antonio. We spent the day catching up after not seeing one another for several months. Our cell phone didn’t have a signal there, but since we’d just touched base with everyone, that wasn’t a real concern.
On Monday morning, Howard decided to drive up to the visitors center and see if the signal there was strong enough to check our voice mail. He returned with several messages urging us to call family members. We went to a pay phone and called our son Jeff.
He told us that the ultralight had crashed Sunday afternoon. Keith was killed on impact, and Gabe was being kept alive on life support so that his organs could be donated. Words cannot express what happened next, even if I could remember.
All I know is that Jim and Anna told us that they would take care of everything, and not to worry. We threw a mishmash of clothing into bags and within an hour Jim was driving us to the airport in Corpus Christi. We flew out at 3:00 p.m. and arrived in Wenatchee at midnight after four different flights. Friends met us at the airport and immediately took us to the hospital. We were the last ones to arrive and that’s when the incredible sadness and disbelief overtook us.
We sat with our daughter, Marci, and her other son, Nathan, in Gabe’s room. He was alive in appearance only. We knew that intellectually, I guess, but emotionally we felt he was still breathing on his own. Our sons, their families, and other relatives and friends were all just waiting as they had been for the last 24 hours.
We remained there until about 8:30 the next morning. At that time we were all sent home, while the Northwest Organ Donor Association took over.
I cannot talk much about the next three weeks, other than to say it was a nightmare that I hope no one reading this story will ever have to endure. Church members came with meals; friends lent their support; and through it all we watched our daughter go through the motions of living and trying to get through a huge memorial service.
It was terribly hard to leave her, but after three weeks we knew we had to return to our home on wheels. We flew back to Corpus Christi on December 13, arriving at the airport at about 9:30 p.m., where we were met by Jim and Anna. After we had left on November 20, they drove our motorhome and towed car to Western Horizon’s Rockport RV Resort in Rockport, Texas. Since they were Western Horizon members, they decided that was the best plan.
When they arrived at the resort, they explained the situation to park manager Jackie McCarty. She allowed them to store our motorhome in the park and charged nothing for three weeks of storage with electric. When we arrived from the airport at about 10:00 p.m., our coach was not only safe and warm, but also had a table set and a pot of homemade soup on the stove. Our friends had helped us through a horrible tragedy by keeping our motorhome safe and being there for us when we returned. The next morning we met with Jackie who, of course, didn’t know us at all. She had gone above and beyond her job description and showed us what good people there are in the RV world.
Jackie told us to stay as long as we needed at no cost, to give us time to pull ourselves together. Jim and Anna stayed with us for another two weeks until we were able to move on.
It has taken me several years to be able to write these words, because we are still kind of on the ragged edge. However, it is important for us to publicly thank our wonderful friends, as well as a total stranger, for helping us during a time of need.
Many people believe that living full-time in an RV is a disconnected lifestyle. They couldn’t be more wrong. RVers stick together, and dear friends are with you through the tough times as well as the happy times. We are so thankful for the Jackie McCartys of the world who open their arms to strangers.
We found out that six people from throughout the United States received Gabe’s organs. We hope their lives have been extended because of our beloved grandson.