Family & Friends
By CHRISTY POWERS, F366813
Several thousand RVers began the New Year by “Getting Their Kicks On Route 66″ in Indio, California, during FMCA’s Western Area Rally January 10 through 14. After a long day of driving, it was great to have people waving and welcoming you. Richard Tuckfield was the rally master for the mini Roadtrek International rally we held within the bigger event. The 11 little Roadtreks in our group stood proudly along the fence right on the shuttle line. They were among approximately 1,800 motorhomes that filled the fairgrounds.
After the first day the weather turned chilly; well, actually, it was freezing. We all were very grateful for our furnaces, though a few of us had to make propane runs. Gloves, scarves, jackets, and blankets were dug from storage areas and new items were added to the list of on-board essentials.
Few RVers missed the morning ritual of coffee and doughnuts and the opportunity to meet and greet. The “Route 66” rally parade was great fun, with lots of reminders of those Burma Shave signs that we used to see along the highways, back when traffic moved slowly enough so you could read them.
The rally schedule kept us busy with a variety of seminars on topics that included safe driving, RVing on a budget, and tire and battery monitoring. Seminars covering GPS systems and computer gadgets also were popular, and there were craft classes to attend. It is always fun to walk through the vendor areas and be tempted by all the “must haves.” A couple of the Roadtrekking females dressed to the hilt to attend the Red Hat Tea. You would have thought you were in New York City rather than at a fairgrounds. They had a great time.
The Campfire In A Can was a hit at our chilly evening gatherings while we munched and sipped. During a “show-and-tell session,” where we displayed our impulse-buying skills, Joyce Gibbs’s dog, Jack, and Charlotte McGuire’s dog, Sassy, modeled their new designer doggie outfits. Joyce even had a purse to match. They will be strutting in style.
One new chapter member, Pat Konold, not only attended her first rally, but she had taken possession of her Roadtrek just the day before. She got lots of help in figuring how everything works. Roadtrekkers are not shy about giving advice based on personal opinions and experiences, and there are limitless opinions. Pat listened to us politely and took intricate notes. Now she will work her way through the advice and come to her own conclusions. She attended all of the how-to workshops and the safe driving course, and had her Roadtrek weighed at each axle. She is off to a good start.
Sunday morning, we gathered for the final coffee and doughnuts of the rally. The Frustrated Maestros played and sang their hearts out as usual. Besides wonderful renditions of gospel music, there was a special presentation of the flags and playing of the themes for each branch of the military. It ended with “God Bless America.” We all stood up, honored our flag, and felt a big lump in our throats.
After the Indio rally, four Roadtreks with single females at the helm traveled caravan-style and spent a night parked at the Spotlight 29 casino in Coachella, California. The group then traveled on to Quartzsite, Arizona, for a few days of boondocking and meandering through miles of tents featuring everything one would ever need, want, or just think would be fun for an RV at the annual RV extravaganza in Quartzsite.
These rallies are fun and a great opportunity to meet other like-minded folks and share a laugh, a story, or get help with a problem. FMC
SENAT’S RV Club Celebrates Birthday
By ANN HOFFMAN, F251805
The SENAT’S RV Club met at the Wild Frontier RV Park in Ocala, Florida, from February 11 to February 15, 2007, to celebrate our 12th birthday as a motorhome group and 10th year as an FMCA chapter. Fourteen coaches and 26 individual chapter members attended, along with one guest couple.
The SENAT’S RV Club is for owners of National RV motorhomes and was formed as a National RV club in February 1995. It then became the 63rd chapter of FMCA’s Southeast Area in February 1998.
Our rally hosts were Pat Cacciatore and Jeanne Ensminger. Their cohosts were Denny and Linda Johnson, who Pat met on a trip she made to Alaska last year.
We had a great rally. Of course, we had wonderful food, along with a “Root Beer Float” get-together and happy hour every afternoon.
The rally featured two parties. One was our birthday dinner, which included cake and ice cream for dessert. The second was a Valentine’s Day party, complete with our king and queen, Lloyd Walters and Peggy Frink, respectively. The royal couple was crowned and photographed. They had a great time.
We played many games, two of which were new to our chapter. The first was a dice game called Bunco, which was taught to us by Denny Johnson. Everyone loved it. Players anted up $5 each, and since we had 12 players, $60 in prize money was divided among the winners. Prizes were awarded to the person who had the most Buncos (Denny Johnson, $20), the most wins (Linda Johnson, $15), the most losses (Janice Walters, $10), and the last Bunco (John Hayes, $10). A random draw gave Lloyd Walters the remaining $5.
The second game was a scavenger hunt. Each participant was given a list of 11 articles to find and bring to the recreation hall. The person who collected all the items and made it back to the hall first was the winner. Shirley Nickerson finished as the champion scavenger and received a $20 gift certificate from Wal-Mart for her efforts.
We also had a split-the-pot raffle. Chapter president Ken Williams drew the lucky number and, wouldn’t you know it, he pulled his own number. Ken took a lot of kidding over that. He cried all the way to the bank with his $45.
During a craft class for the ladies, Carol Schiffhauer taught those in attendance how to make an Easter plate out of a clear plate, glue, and cloth. The ladies were proud of their artistry when they were finished.
All of us had a wonderful time, including Denny and Linda and our new members, John and Linda Hayes. John and Linda had such a good time that you’d have thought they’d been in the chapter for years.
Motorhomers Allen And Donna Hill
By PAMELA SELBERT
According to Allen Hill, F279136, he and Donna, his wife of 46 years, are “the luckiest people in the world.” Having a close-knit family, long and rewarding careers, and interesting, extended travels are among the reasons.
The Hills, who tried full-time motorhoming for a couple of years but now spend about nine months a year on the road, have two “successful, family-oriented” sons and four grandchildren whom they see often when they’re not far away on a lengthy trip.
Allen and Donna have pursued an almost bewildering array of careers during their 4 1/2 decades together. These include maintaining pari-mutuel wagering equipment at racetracks around the country; selling real estate; breeding race horses (even sometimes helping deliver the colts) on the farm they owned; running a restaurant and an antiques and gift shop; and owning and managing 56 apartment houses.
“When the time comes, I want my tombstone to read: “˜He lived,'” Allen said. The words are particularly meaningful to him now, he added, since he has fully recovered from kidney transplant surgery in 1999. That also happened to be the same year he and Donna began RVing and joined FMCA. They also are members of the Granite Staters chapter in New Hampshire, where their coach is housed when they’re not on the road.
The Hills’ 40-foot 1999 American Eagle, tastefully painted in several shades of butter and tan, is definitely eye-catching. Allen explained that they bought it in December 2004, giving up a newer coach after finding this one. With its many mirrors, cream-colored carpet, leather upholstery, and wood cabinetry, it was exactly what they’d been looking for.
The couple – he’s originally from Massachusetts, and she’s from Maine – had met while he was in the service. He had served in the National Guard for three years while still in high school, then joined the Navy in 1959. Following boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois, he was an aviation mechanic, working his way up to crew chief, at the Brunswick Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine. As a member of the crew, he put in 1,500 hours of flight time in a variety of helicopters, C-47s, and other aircraft.
“Donna and I met on the base in 1960 when she came with a girlfriend for the Armed Forces Day celebrations,” he said. “We hit it off right away and somehow I was lucky enough to win her heart.” The two were married the following year.
Allen joked that sometimes he feels like a jerk for leaving the Navy after just a few years, since at one time he believed it would be his career. But his path led elsewhere. His first stop was a two-month stint with Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut, testing jet engines.
“Then I got a call from my brother-in-law wondering if I’d like a job supplying maintenance for pari-mutuel wagering equipment at the Rockingham Park racetrack,” he said. “Forty-four years later I’m still at it, though, of course, just about everything now is computer work.”
Allen’s first job training was at Lincoln Park in Rhode Island. While working for the firm that would become Amtote International, which is headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, he traveled the country maintaining equipment at “every racetrack from Presque Isle, Maine, to the old Hialeah track in south Florida.” While Donna raised their two sons, the family moved from track to track. She later sold real estate, managed the antiques and gift shop, helped run the restaurant, and somehow still found time to manage all the apartment houses.
Using each finger nearly twice, Allen counted off the 19 places where they have lived in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut.
The couple bought a 45-acre horse farm near New Gloucester, Maine, and for 10 years bred horses for harness racing. They owned 73 equines, Allen said. Donna, who had had no previous experience, remembered helping to deliver the first colt born on the farm. He would become “quite a horse, racing at Saratoga,” she recalled. During that time, in addition to his primary job of maintaining racetrack equipment, Allen trained and drove harness horses, winning his first 10 races. After his initial winning streak, it was a full year before he won again, he added wryly.
For the past five years the Hills have spent the winter months in Florida where Allen has helped keep a number of racetracks operational. While there he has worked at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, at Derby Lane (a greyhound racing track) in St. Petersburg, and, when I met them, at West Palm Beach Kennel Club. While in Florida, Donna finds work of her own. At the time we met she was employed as an associate at a retail store in the local mall. It’s a nice arrangement, they agreed, trading the ice and snow back home in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, for the warm, sunny climate.
The Hills purchased their first motorhome in Tampa six years ago, a 1997 38-foot Mountain Aire, and loved it. But wanting a diesel coach, they traded it in for a Holiday Rambler two years later. They then found the coach of their dreams in the American Eagle.
“We had never RVed before, although we had always gone to [motorhome] shows,” Donna said. “We never missed the big one in Boston.”
Before Allen’s kidney transplant, the couple had spent every available free minute sailing off the Maine coast in a 32-foot boat that could sleep four. But not knowing how things would work out, they sold the sailboat.
“However, everything went well, I’m happy to say,” Allen said. “That’s when we decided to full-time in the motorhome.”
“We sold our Portland house, got the RV, and pulled it up alongside the house,” Donna said. “Then we loaded it up with what we thought we’d need and sold everything else in a yard sale.” In their newly purchased coach the couple moved into Silver Springs RV Park in Saco, Maine. More recently they bought the Old Orchard Beach “summer house.”
Donna said that the first four years their travels also included another passenger: their black Labrador retriever, Buddy. But the couple didn’t think it was fair to keep him so confined, and he was “getting quite out of shape,” Donna said.
“One of our son’s neighbors in New Hampshire had had an old dog, deaf and blind, that had died,” she said. “To help them get through it we let them take Buddy for a few days.” That was in November 2003.
The arrangement has worked out well. The father, a contractor, takes the dog to work every day and Buddy gets all the exercise he needs. Slimmed down since the move, he is a very happy pooch. “We still see him whenever we’re home,” Donna said. “The family has suggested that we can be his “˜grandparents.'”
One thing they won’t give up, even on the road, is their addiction to Boston Red Sox baseball and New England Patriots football. Donna said that throughout baseball season, she plans her days around the games.
She added that she’s just as fond of traveling, and looks forward to living in the coach. Allen recently retired from Amtote, and the couple has decided to try full-timing again. “RVing is a fun lifestyle,” Donna said. “I love traveling around.” Allen said that for him “the best thing about traveling is meeting so many new people.” Both agreed that they look forward to attending motorhome conventions and chapter rallies.
When asked why they joined FMCA, Allen said with a smile, “Because I thought when you bought an RV, that’s what you had to do.”
Editor’s note: Allen invites readers who are awaiting dialysis or transplant surgery and would like to talk with someone who has experienced these procedures to contact him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.