Family & Friends
By Suzan Rash, F219015
As the staff of the Six-State Rally Association began arriving at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, Louisiana, on September 13 and 14, 2004, to start setting up for the South Central Area’s 31st Six-State Rally, it looked as though an unwanted visitor might be making an appearance in the area. Ivan, a strong category 3 hurricane, appeared to be headed right toward Gonzales by way of New Orleans. Luckily for us, the hurricane changed course and found another place for its landfall, leaving the Gonzales area with spectacular weather. Those already at the Lamar-Dixon Expo did not see a drop of rain and winds reached only 30 mph, calm enough that no one lost any sleep.
The “Party On The Bayou” rally could proceed as planned for September 21 through 24. The weather was great throughout the event, except for one brief shower that threatened the Mardi Gras parade on Thursday. But the rain caused little trouble, and the parade started right on time.
The Lamar-Dixon Expo Center is an excellent, privately owned facility with plenty of paved and gravel parking areas, so we did not have to worry about where to park the 600 family member and vendor live-in coaches or the 91 display coaches in attendance. There were 181 first-timers at this year’s Six-State Rally, and we are always glad to see the newcomers, along with those who attend every year.
FMCA South Central Area national vice president Tony Innocenti, F56315; Six-State Rally Association senior vice president and rally master Ben Loganbill, F164247; Northern Region vice president Dale Johnson, F157253; Southern Region vice president Dave Davies, F230525; secretary Irene Renfro, F138913; treasurer Tom Drennon, F18175; and immediate past president Jim Ammenheuser, F157201, along with a large contingent of volunteers from the host chapters, kept the annual meeting running smoothly. The host chapters for the rally included the Cruisin’ Cajuns, the Roughnecks, the South Texas Renegades, the Stars of Texas, and the Texas Outlaws.
The many volunteer parkers, under the direction of George Hebert, F93234, did a fantastic job getting the coaches parked in the correct areas. Before attendees were parked, they paid a visit to the volunteers in the registration area, under the direction of George’s wife, Thelma. While family registration took place in one area, Larry and Lea Schwart, F144451, and Pat Landes, F184821, handled the commercial registration in another.
Before any of the coaches had arrived at the grounds, sign maker Shelby Rash, F219015, with help from Steve Pickens, F263187, and Roy Collins, F208969, from the Stars of Texas chapter, had placed directional signs on the roads leading to the complex. Additional signs were placed to advise attendees what lot they were in, where the seminar rooms were located, and other information.
Shep Howson, F62627, did a great job organizing the seminar program and making sure there was something of interest for everyone. As always, the RV Safe Driving Course, Fire & Life Safety, and Coach Weight & Tire Safety seminars were well-attended. Other seminars dealt with RV electrical circuits, controlling holding tank odors, caring for the RV inside and out, and being prepared for a medical emergency on the road. The women enjoyed learning about maximizing their wardrobes and how to apply makeup that is age-appropriate. The Alaska and Mexico seminars presented by the caravan companies were entertaining and educational. One interesting seminar provided attendees with beginning tips on how to find out about their ancestors through genealogy. This year Dale and Millie Johnson, F157253, assembled more crafts classes for the people who enjoy working with their hands.
The golf cart and radio captains, Fred and Lou Kennedy, F44281, kept busy and did a fine job during the rally as well.
In a nice, air-conditioned facility called the Trademart, family members perused and purchased wares from 70 indoor vendors. Several more vendors were set up outside the building. The captains for the indoor/outdoor vendors were Larry and Mary Claunch, F203139. Myriad products, from jewelry to smart-glow fuses, were on display, and representatives from several RV parks and RV caravan companies disseminated information. A popular booth was Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods, which sold products and provided tasty samples. One vendor even offered a mobile dog-grooming service, and with as many dogs as we had at the rally, they probably stayed busy.
Larry Landes, F184821, and Harold McDonald, F244677, handled the display coaches and services. Word is that by the end of the rally, 14 display coaches were sold and 10 others were under consideration. The dealer block party on Tuesday afternoon gave attendees an early opportunity to tour the display coaches. Those who came to the event enjoyed tasty treats, ranging from cheese and crackers to jambalaya.
The information area was always busy and managed well by Sunny Bonaventure, F87229, and her volunteers. Safety officer John Mitchell, F179420, made sure that the event was a secure one for all. His wife, Danean, was able to procure 165 door prizes that were given away during the rally.
Tram captain John Wilkerson, F239195, and security captain Larry Bovee, F244645, did a great job moving attendees around the complex on four-, six-, and eight-passenger golf carts. While their husbands were supervising the golf cart service, Shara Wilkerson and Paula Bovee took care of the rally office. Rally photographer Suzan Rash tried to capture all the activities, snapping more than 500 pictures.
Tuesday began with the annual golf tournament, which was organized by Louis LaBro, F252134. The winning team was Bud Richards, F251865; Bill Blansfield, F194787; and Earl Johnson, F76403. Second-place honors were claimed by Irvin Miller, F221649; Ed Ryan, F191103; and Peaches Davis, F41438.
On Tuesday afternoon everyone enjoyed the annual pet parade, which was held in the main arena. There were 47 entries in this year’s parade “” all dogs “” and master of ceremonies Dave Renfro, F138913, had something to say about each one. Participants included dogs of all shapes and sizes, including an invisible pooch named Spooky. Everyone was a winner.
Entertainment captain Charlie Bonaventure, F87229, kicked off Tuesday night’s entertainment with the “Cajun Follies,” which included a Mardi Gras parade, complete with the throwing of beads, as the group made its way around the arena.
Wednesday evening’s entertainment was provided by Na Na Sha, one of the biggest show and dance bands in the South. An interesting fact about Na Na Sha is that most members of the band are related and all of them live in the Gonzales area. The evening entertainment was sponsored by RV Alliance America, C95.
Thursday was a busy day that included the Mardi Gras parade around the grounds, which was organized by Darrell Gilliland, F153488. Danean Mitchell was recognized as the best-dressed, while Miss Mardi Gras, better known as Ben Loganbill, with driver Dave Davies, won first-place honors. Every parade must have a king and queen, and Dickey and Sis Segura, F200122, handled their royal duties ably. The parade included both motorized and walking entries, with participants throwing beads to the spectators along the street. Following the parade, everyone was treated to an ice cream social and entertainment, organized by Irene and Dave Renfro, and sponsored by RV Alliance America. The Frustrated Maestros – South Central chapter provided musical entertainment during the ice cream social, as well as during breakfast each day.
The evening entertainment, sponsored by Dixie RV Super Stores, C7106, featured Joe Douglas, who played southern Louisiana music, including Cajun, zydeco, blues, and “swamp pop.” Preceding the musical entertainment was Murray Conque, a nationally recognized comedian and storyteller.
On Friday, the final day of the rally, attendees had a chance to take one final look at the coaches, pick up that last-minute item from the vendors, and participate in the seminars. The entertainment on this night was Sonny Bourg & The Bayou Blues Band, sponsored by The Six-State Rally Association. The band played a variety of music from the 1940s to the 1970s. There was plenty of room for dancing on both Thursday and Friday evenings.
Prior to Friday night’s entertainment, a presentation was made to David Cresson, acting on behalf of the Children’s Miracle Network. Earlier in the year, Ann Bailey, F298361, from the Red River Rovers chapter, had issued a challenge to the other South Central Area chapters to see how many blankets/quilts could be made for the network prior to the area’s annual meeting in Gonzales. That evening, 233 blankets and quilts were presented. Chapters donating to the quilt challenge included Lone Star, Red River Rovers, Happy (OK) Wanderers, Cruisin’ Cajuns, and Ozark Prairie Sooners. In addition, Becky Ginger, F243320, from the Ozark Ridge Runners chapter, had read an article Ann had written that appeared in the July issue of FMC magazine (“Red River Rovers Pose A Quilt Challenge,” page 36) and brought two covers she had made. All those who made and donated quilts to this worthy cause were thanked for their contributions. The Gateway Getaways, which won second place in the Mardi Gras parade, donated their prize to the Children’s Miracle Network. A new challenge was issued, requesting 400 quilts and blankets to be brought to next year’s rally.
Rally services chairman Irene Renfro and rally services captain George Hebert did an excellent job making sure each attendee’s day started off great. On Wednesday and Friday mornings breakfast was served, and on Thursday doughnuts and coffee were available. The concession stands opened for lunch and dinner, and each attendee received $5 in tickets that could be used for food purchases. If the choices at the concession stands didn’t suit one’s tastes, plenty of good eating establishments were located not very far away in town.
Putting on a rally requires the efforts of many volunteers, and we are most grateful to all the host chapters for the many volunteer hours their members spent planning and preparing for this event.
On Saturday, as the exhibit coaches moved out and the vendors closed down their displays, members said their good-byes and headed back home or on to new adventures. Following the rally, association officers began forming plans for the next Six-State Rally, to be held in Hutchinson, Kansas, September 27 through 30, 2005. We hope to see each and every one of you there. Here’s a challenge for all the first-timers in Gonzales: try to bring another first-timer with you next time and show them how much fun can be had at a Six-State Rally.
Swinging Golfers Caravan Across America
By Phyllis McGhee, F11595
As members of the Swinging Golfers International chapter headed to St. Louis, Missouri, for the start of our “Caravan Across America” RV golf adventure, we were filled with both anticipation and apprehension for the trip ahead.
During the 2,700-mile journey, 19 coaches participated, although not all at the same time. Typically we had an average of 16 coaches at a given location, and when we first met on June 14, 2004, at Pin Oak Creek RV Park, the count was 14. Here, caravan masters Fred and Ernie Gharis, F104281, passed out shirts, visors, and hats, and then laid out their plans. They began by asking everyone to volunteer for one or more of the many tasks that needed to be handled, and it was amazing how everyone chipped in to make this trip a success.
No one could have imagined the magnitude of the 10-plus-week trip as we began. The planning, done last summer by the Gharises, made it possible for us all to enjoy a caravan that was fun, filled with activity, yet had very few problems or disagreements.
In all, the trip took chapter members to Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.
Golfing and motorhome travel are a fun combo, but it takes much stamina to keep up a steady pace. In all, we golfed at 16 different courses located in eight states. Our schedule dictated that we travel every four or five days, keeping up with the laundry, cooking, and housekeeping, and then golf two or three times a week at different courses with each move. Once we were finished golfing at a certain location, we’d move on. Of course, many meals were eaten out, where the fellowship was always good.
The highlights of our travels included golf shootouts, putting contests, Sunday morning devotionals, pancake breakfasts, potluck dinners, a pizza party, ice cream socials, a steak roast, and the informative newsletters that Fred put together for us at each stop. Mulligans (extra shots that could be used in place of bad shots) were sold and used in all the individual competitions under the auspices of Melinda Bygate, F289884, and Don Vincent, F263601.
The Awards and Prize Committee included Melinda and her husband, Arnie; Jim Adams, F113071; and Buck Barger, F323003. Arnie spent many hours prior to the caravan soliciting prize donations that were awarded throughout the caravan. Among them were golf balls, $25 Flying J gift certificates, and a one-month stay at Encore RV Resorts, to name a few.
Ron and Pat Currie, F265989, along with Gloria and Bob Higgins, F201414, volunteered on the first day to handle the social functions, and they did a great job. In addition to the fun get-togethers and almost daily “happy hours,” they organized a Yankee Swap and several side trips. These included an evening in Branson, Missouri, where we saw Kirby VanBurch, an incredible magician, at the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre; a train ride through Colorado from Durango to Silverton; and an evening at the Opera House Theatre in Philipsburg, Montana, where we saw the comedy “How Things Panned Out For Tillie.”
Joan Adams, F113071, who would have looked out of place without her camera, made sure we would remember all of the good times by taking plenty of photos during the caravan. Also capturing some of the scenes was Ruth Shutter, F330840.
At most of our special functions music was provided by Edwinna Cox, F65130, on the marimba. It was especially beautiful with the songs at devotionals. Bob Ingram, F282880, can attest to the weight of this instrument as he helped Edwinna’s husband, Ells, set it up. Those attending Sunday service appreciated the program, ably handled by Bob and his wife, Opal.
Many of us adopted habits during our time together, such as visiting ice cream parlors, sometimes nightly, and seeking out Mexican restaurants to test out their fried ice cream.
Of course, the premise for this trip was golf, and we were able to play plenty of it at some of the most beautiful courses in America. During our outings we were treated to some awesome scenery, such as the views at the Golf Club at Redlands Mesa, nestled in the mountains of Grand Junction, Colorado; and at Old Works, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Anaconda, Montana. The vistas from the two courses at Wasatch Mountain State Park in Utah were spectacular. It’s hard to settle on one favorite area, as there were so many with so much to offer.
Many volunteers helped with the golf events, and the Gharises set the format so everyone had a chance to win. With such a wide variation of player abilities and handicaps, it was not easy to keep an even playing field for everyone. Making the golf run smoothly were Ron and Karen Lair, F64912, who scheduled tee times for each team, changed the pairings (many times), and updated the handicaps for each player. Yours truly assisted by making up the next day’s golf cards. Ells Cox, Tom Lashbrook, F94858, and Bill Likert, F162545, also helped to make the golf outings run smoothly.
Handling the fun-filled putting contests in which non-golfers could participate was another time-consuming task that the Ingrams took care of with ease. Sharon Lashbrook, F94858, created the artwork for the contests, which set the scene. Don Vincent and Verona McCutcheon, F233150, were crowned putting champs in the major contest.
New to me was the golf “shootout.” In this contest, half of the participants drew for a partner and the pair then decided who would tee off on the first hole. After the designated players for each team teed off, the pair rotated turns, hitting shots until the ball was in the hole. Eliminations took place on each green; helping Fred with this huge job was Tom Lashbrook. These events provided great fun for all. After each hole, those who got knocked out of the competition either went ahead and golfed through the course or stayed behind and followed the golfers to see the winning pair finish. Bob Ingram won two shootouts, paired with Ernie Gharis one time and Verona McCutcheon the other.
Pat Currie had the shot of the trip with her very first hole-in-one. Needless to say, she was thrilled, as were those golfing with her that day. During the caravan Tom Lashbrook, Paul McGhee, and Don Wolf, F84694, all made eagles, a feat that doesn’t happen very often, either. Congratulations to you all.
A major highlight for several in the group was the opportunity to play the Coeur d’Alene Resort five-star golf course in northern Idaho. The famous floating green was a challenge to all. Having a forecaddy (one caddy for the entire foursome) was great fun and made the day much more enjoyable. Ask anyone who golfed the course and they will tell you that it is money well spent.
Although the trip was set up as a caravan, the most coaches traveling together at any one time totaled six. Needless to say, Fred and Ernie stuck with the caravanning idea and the few who stayed with them had great travels. The “Caravan Across America” was a wonderful trip that we all hated to see come to an end.