Family & Friends
By Jack Conrad, F72092
The Converted Coaches of the Eastern Area (CCEA) chapter of FMCA once again kicked off the New Year with its annual bus conversion rally. “Bussin’ 2006” was hosted by Jack and Paula Conrad, F72092, at Horizon Coach in Arcadia, Florida, which donated the use of its entire facility for the event.
Although the rally did not officially begin until Thursday, December 29, coaches began arriving on Monday, December 26. By Thursday evening, 160 member and guest coaches were parked. The occupants of each coach received a nice goody bag donated by Alcoa Wheel Products, C9081.
Each morning attendees were treated to fresh-baked doughnuts, coffee, orange juice, tea, and hot chocolate. On Thursday, a seminar about alarm systems was presented by Jim Shepherd, F246286, while separate sessions on full-timing and how to tow safely were given by Herb Sones, F297678. Pat Shepherd taught a class on rubber stamping for the ladies. Thursday’s featured coach was the Eagle bus owned by Bill and Roberta Glenn, and dubbed the “Space Shuttle.” Everyone enjoyed root beer floats at the ice cream social/get-acquainted party sponsored in part by Aon Recreation Insurance, C95. This was followed by a musical comedy show featuring Travis Golden. A bluegrass jam session followed the entertainment, and featured several FMCA folk.
Friday’s seminars included fire safety by Jim Shepherd; rust repair by Gary LaBombard, F185090; a Detroit Diesel roundtable discussion led by Jim Shepherd; and a bus conversion roundtable discussion led by Howard Best, F61859. Glen and Madeleine McLean, F356768, taught a class on making wooden stools.
Friday’s featured coach was the Prevost conversion owned by Gilles Cote, F246058, containing a 30-foot slideout.
On Friday evening, everyone enjoyed a pork barbecue supper, sponsored in part by Prevost Car Inc., C632, followed by the comedy of Crazy Carol. A bluegrass jam session once again took place after the entertainment.
Saturday began with the standard Bussin’ 2006 breakfast, followed by a GPS navigation workshop led by Jack Conrad. Next were a DD3 brake system seminar by Ewen “BusWarrior” Steele, F336032, and a session on engine swaps by Jim Shepherd and Sonnie “Catskinner” Gray, F215907. Seminar attendees also toured several buses that had engine swaps.
Roberta Glenn taught a class about making decorative garnishes using fruits and vegetables. Due to the popularity of this class, Roberta had several others assisting her.
Saturday’s featured coach was the beautiful GM 3751 Silversides driven by Dave and Jan Seigel, F177464.
Since Saturday was also New Year’s Eve, dinner consisted of a pizza party sponsored by Prevost. Before the entertainment began, a presentation was made to the City of Arcadia Police Department and the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department. The chapter’s half of Saturday’s 50-50 drawing and the money left over from the rally fees was divided between the two departments, with each receiving a donation of $342.50. Officer Angie Allred, head of Arcadia’s Police Explorer Program, was on hand to receive the donation, which she said would benefit the program. Sheriff Vernon Keene accepted the donation for the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department, which he said will go to the Victim Advocate fund, to be used for temporary housing, transportation, meals, clothing, and other necessities for victims of crime.
Everyone was then entertained by the BusStop bluegrass band. During their show, a couple of those attending the rally performed on stage. Ray Stiltner, F147081, sang a song with the band and Susan Coker Rossi, F341156, did a fiddle number. Another bluegrass jam session was held after the scheduled performance, with band members joining in.
After the Sunday breakfast, coaches began leaving, although several folks decided that they hadn’t had enough fun yet and stayed until Monday.
Throughout much of the rally, many of us were fascinated as artist Jessa Huebing-Reitinger painted a larger-than-life white tiger face on the back of “The Cat’s Meow,” an Eagle bus conversion owned by Ray and Sally Nukala, F240153. You can see more of this artist’s work at www.projectinsect.com.
Bussin’ 2007 is already in the planning stages and once again will be held at Horizon Coach in Arcadia, Florida, from Friday, December 29, through Monday, January 1, 2007. Early arrival can begin on Tuesday, December 26.
A special thanks goes out to all of the sponsors, including Prevost; Alcoa; Bus Nut Online, C7719; Aon Recreation Insurance; and Horizon Coach. Also, a big thank-you to all of our volunteers. Without them the Bussin’ rallies would not happen.
A Surprise Gathering Of Chapter Presidents
By Del Record, F337738
The Arizona chapter of FMCA held its monthly rally February 8 through 12, 2006, at the Pinal County Fairgrounds in Casa Grande, Arizona. Just before our chapter business meeting began on Saturday, February 11, members were elated to see two past chapter presidents and their wives walk through the door unannounced “” Dan Smith, L71987, who was president of the chapter in 1986 and 1987, and his wife, Virginia; and Jay Baldock, F55319, chapter president in 1988, and his wife, Golden.
As you might imagine, hugs and greetings were exchanged by all and plenty of conversation centered around the old times. Many of the members present had served under these friends, as our chapter is approaching its 40th anniversary in 2008.
As current chapter president, I was at a loss for words and my heart was pounding as our meeting got started. Not only were Dan Smith and Jay Baldock in attendance, but two other past presidents were at the rally as well: Lillian Hoover, F107253, and Len Pigg, F133119. During the assembly Dan presented the chapter with an American flag that he had received from FMCA’s national office many years ago. All of the past presidents in attendance gathered together for a group photo after the meeting.
It was a great honor to have them there and to share many memories. Both Dan Smith and Len Pigg went on to serve FMCA as Rocky Mountain Area national vice presidents.
Roving Wolverines Caravan West
By Mary Yoder, F259933
The Roving Wolverines is a fairly small chapter, with 69 member families, primarily from the Michigan area. For the past four years a number of us have gone on an annual caravan together. We try to limit the group to 15 motorhomes so we don’t have as much trouble finding campgrounds that we can get into and park together. We also try to travel in groups of three or four coaches so as not to tie up the highway traffic. Our main objective is to have a good time and to see some of the country while doing it. In 2005, because of the high price of fuel, only 10 motorhomes went on the trip.
Our 2005 caravan wagon masters, Karleen Flickenger, F225241, and Judy Truxal, F249144, did a great job making reservations for all of the campgrounds we stayed at and the shows we saw in Branson, Missouri.
We started our journey in Nashville, Indiana, at the Westward Ho! Campground. On Sunday evening Judy and Karleen had our evening meal all planned for us; everything was taken care of. Most of our evenings were spent sitting around a campfire “” when they were allowed “” talking about what we had done that day and discussing the route for the next day. Monday was a free day, so most of us went into town to check out the stores and to shop.
Tuesday morning we left for St. Louis, Missouri, where we stayed at the Casino Queen Campground in East St. Louis, Illinois. This was a very nice campground. Most of us got lost trying to find it, but I guess that is part of the fun. Tuesday evening we went to the casino for dinner. We received coupons from the campground for complimentary buffet breakfasts at the casino restaurant on Wednesday and Thursday. These were really great all-you-can-eat breakfasts.
On Wednesday morning most of us took the MetroLink train into town to see the Gateway Arch. It had been quite foggy in the morning, but the fog lifted when we were there, and the view from the arch was just great. You could see for miles. Six couples decided to go on to the Missouri Botanical Garden, where we saw pretty flowers, plants, and lots of butterflies. That evening we enjoyed a potluck supper. We always seem to have a lot of very good food.
Thursday morning, after we finished breakfast at the casino, we hit the road for Branson. We spent Thursday through Monday there, during which time we saw three shows and went on a dinner cruise aboard the Showboat Branson Belle. The food aboard the paddleboat was very good and the show was excellent, making for a very relaxing outing. All of the shows in Branson were very good. Tuesday morning we said good-bye to two of the couples, who headed back to Michigan, while the rest of us moved on to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The campground there had a very nice meal planned for us on Tuesday evening to show its appreciation. Wednesday was a free day, and some of us went to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The memorial, which was created to honor the victims, survivors, and rescuers who were affected by the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, is a very moving tribute. Others went to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum or the Bass Pro Shop. Nearly everyone went to the area Camping World store. Wednesday evening we decided to go to a restaurant that is known for its pies.
Thursday morning we headed for Amarillo, Texas. In the evening we decided to go to the Big Texan Steak Ranch for supper. The campground called the restaurant, and limousines arrived to pick us up and take us to dinner. No one was brave enough to order the free 72-ounce steak dinner “” free only if you finish it, that is.
Friday morning we were off again, this time to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It’s hard to imagine all the different colors and shapes of balloons “” 700 in all “” that participated in this incredible event. Some of them landed in the field close to where we were camped. It was interesting to see how fast the balloonists and their crew could get the balloons folded up and back into their storage bags. It was so nice to go to the field and watch the balloons being inflated and lifting off. We did a lot of walking, but it was well worth it. To be able to look up into the sky and see all the colors and shapes was so much fun.
On Sunday evening we had a potluck-farewell dinner. Tom Spedding, F292951, had purchased a turkey and we enjoyed dinner with all the trimmings. What a terrific meal, just like Thanksgiving. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, Mother Nature had other plans for us. It started to rain just as we were filling our plates, so we headed for our motorhomes to eat. Later it cleared up and we gathered outside for dessert and to talk about all the experiences of the past two weeks.
Monday morning we said our good-byes and everyone headed their own way.
We owe Karleen and Judy a big thank-you for all the work and planning they put into making our caravan a huge success. Everyone had a great time and is looking forward to the next caravan.