By Bill Parks, F71403
Last year a group of FMCA members met to discuss the establishment of a new chapter for northern California. The majority of those attending were from the San Francisco Bay area “” Silicon Valley and the Central Valley. It was unanimously decided that a new chapter was needed. So, FMCA’s Western Area vice president, Tony Vincent, F161584, was contacted and briefed. He agreed to assist in the formation of a new chapter and contacted Ocie Norton, F225809, for assistance. Along with local members, Ocie made plans to initiate the new FMCA chapter.
FMCA’s Chapter Services Department mailed a notice to advise all area FMCA members that a new chapter was in the planning stages. In October 2003, folks in 16 family coaches made history by attending an organizational meeting in Lodi, California, and the northern California chapter Gold Dust Travelers was born. One couple reported that they knew none of the others when they arrived for this meeting, but soon discovered so many fine and friendly folks that they quickly decided they wanted to be part of the group. They now are charter members!
Upon the establishment of the chapter, officers were elected: Don Borba, F271260, president; Robert Banks, F297991, vice president; Shirley Pelletaire, F328501, recording secretary; Fran McCaskey, F127617, treasurer; Ocie Norton, national director; and Dennis Jeffries, F313904, alternate national director. After the untimely death of Robert Banks, Bob Pelletaire, F328501, became chapter vice president. In addition, Dennis Jeffries replaced Ocie Norton as national director after Ocie was elected president of FMCA’s Golden Gate chapter.
Following the election of officers, many informative discussions occurred. For one, all agreed that the chapter’s geographical scope should include northern California FMCA members living near the Pacific Ocean, Silicon Valley, and across the Central Valley to the Sierra Foothills.
A second letter from FMCA headquarters to area members announced the formation of the chapter and invited those interested to join. The response was good, as 37 quickly contacted the chapter and expressed their interest in becoming charter members. The chapter continues to grow and now has 61 members.
In its short life, the Gold Dust Travelers chapter has been most active. We’ve held four rallies thus far. The first one took place at the Casa de Fruta RV Orchard Resort in Hollister in November 2003, where a total of 32 coaches were present. We held our second rally in April 2004 at the Maple Leaf RV Park in Morgan Hill, with 27 motorhomes and 59 people attending. A July rally at French Camp RV Park in Manteca brought 19 coaches and 45 people. The latest rally, in September, took place at the Sugar Barge RV Park and Marina at Bethel Island, where a total of 28 coaches and 54 people were present. The Bethel Island location was heaven for members who love to fish, and French Camp was perfect for golfers.
In November the group plans to meet in Paso Robles, and tentative plans have been made for four 2005 outings.
Our rallies have been a lot of fun, usually lasting up to three days. Daytime activities have included sight-seeing, playing bingo or other games, and just plain relaxing. But the top activity for many is socializing under the awnings. Late afternoons usually bring delicious and abundant potluck meals, where we can once again confirm that RV cooks are the best!
For more information about the Gold Dust Travelers, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622.