Family & Friends
The 16th Great Eastern Area Rally (GEAR) took place May 3 through 6, 2007, at Agricenter International in Memphis, Tennessee, with approximately 550 member and commercial coaches filling the grounds for the extended weekend. The “Chasin’ The Blues” rally was co-hosted by Eastern Area vice president Judy Czarsty and her husband, Steve, and Eddie and Elizabeth Baker.
Activities began on Wednesday night when members of the Frustrated Maestros Eastern Sharps and Flats performed a few songs, followed by an informal welcome by Judy Czarsty. Since we were in Memphis, it was only fitting that Travis LeDoyt, touted as “the world’s best young Elvis,” helped set the stage for a terrific rally with his renditions of hits by the “King” from 1954 to 1960.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, attendees could choose from a wide variety of educational seminars, tour the new motorhomes in the coach display area, and examine products in the indoor exhibit area.
Attendees also had an opportunity to purchase numerals, which when attached near the roof of the motorhome allow police to identify the vehicle should it be stolen. The numerals were donated by Paul and Peggy Ashton, while Horton and Dolly Lain were responsible for selling the numbers at $3 a set. The $162 raised through this effort was divided among FMCA’s official charities.
The rally also included special daytime fun and entertainment: a “meet and greet” with animals brought in from the Memphis Zoo; the vocal talents of Stephanie Reid; an ice cream social; a golf scramble; line dancing with Jack and Doreen Ingle; Gonzo Golf; and the Rolling Red Hatters chapter tea. On Saturday, the day of the Kentucky Derby, myriad activities revolved around the famous horse race. First was the gumbo/chili/barbecue cook-off, followed by GEAR horse races (it was a hoot watching the “jockeys” move their horses up and down the course), and a Kentucky Derby party and hat competition.
The evening entertainment lineup included some terrific acts that had us all wanting more. Thursday featured the U.S. Navy Band Mid-South out of Millington, Tennessee. The “Moods & Sounds of Memphis” from the University of Memphis School of Music performed a selection of blues and jazz on Friday. And an older Elvis was in the building on Saturday night as impersonator Michael Hoover performed his “Memories of Elvis” show. On Sunday morning, Dust and Ashes brought us all a little closer with their gospel music.
Plans are being made for GEAR 2008, which will take place June 5 through 8, 2008, at the Richmond Raceway Complex in Richmond, Virginia. We hope to see you there.
GEAR 2007 Leaves Footprints In Memphis
By Sue Haught, F82522
As FMCA members, we are very fortunate to be able to enjoy the lifestyle of traveling in our motorhomes. We have the opportunity to visit new locations when we attend chapter rallies, area rallies, and conventions, and we are rewarded with friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
My husband, Bob, and I thought GEAR 2007 would be a perfect opportunity for FMCA members attending the rally to donate items and to leave something in the community. We volunteered to chair a committee for donations, and the rally hosts accepted the idea. Through correspondence, Judy Czarsty made reference to a “footprint we can leave in the community,” and we decided to use that phrase as the theme for our efforts.
We queried several charitable organizations asking if they had a specific need that we could consider supporting with donations. When we discovered the Memphis Police Department had lost their funding to purchase stuffed animals for children involved in traffic accidents or serious family situations, we decided to donate to their cause. A flyer was included in the confirmation packets asking rally attendees to bring a soft, cuddly, stuffed animal or doll for the children of Memphis.
The response from our members was overwhelming. Volunteers from the Blue Ridge Pioneers chapter accepted more than 675 stuffed animals and dolls. One anonymous member donated his private collection of collectible stuffed animals. The collection had been carefully packed in 36 boxes, which had to be unloaded from the donator’s coach so he and his wife could have room to go to bed the evening they arrived in Memphis.
Our contact with the Memphis Police Department, Lieutenant Mary Newsom, made arrangements to have Major Johnny Currin accept the donations Saturday evening prior to the scheduled entertainment program, and for Officer Barry Shultz to pick up the donations on Sunday. Both officers were surprised by the number of donations and expressed appreciation for the generosity of our members. The stuffed toys will be distributed to children by the Special Traffic Enforcement Squad, Special Traffic Investigation Squad, Domestic Violence Bureau, and the Sex Crimes-Juvenile Squad.
We were thrilled with the generosity shown by our Eastern Area members, and we definitely left a footprint in the Memphis community! Special thanks to everyone for their participation.
We’re already starting to consider what we can do to leave a “footprint” in the Richmond, Virginia, community during GEAR 2008.
Golden Spike Goes “Rollin’ On The Desert”
By Anita Price, F203773
Barstow, California, is in the center of the great Mojave Desert, where it is very hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter. But in the springtime, the desert flowers bloom and the temperatures are pleasant. FMCA’s Golden Spike chapter chose April 19 through 22, 2007, as the perfect time for a rally in the desert. Gathering at the Barstow/Calico KOA campground on Thursday, we had a finger-food potluck and get-acquainted party, as the first item on our agenda was to get to know several new members and involve our regular attendees. Following the introduction of new friends, members participated in a relay race where straws were used to propel items across a racetrack. Teams pushed rubber ducks, peanuts, candy eggs, and marshmallows across the finish line while onlookers tried to control their laughter.
Friday began early, as we needed to drive 31 miles north for a guided tour of the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, where our docent showed us the 14 huge antennas (24 to 27 stories high) that track what’s happening in space. We visited Mission Control, the museum, and other research facilities, which are jointly operated by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We were overwhelmed by what we saw.
That afternoon another docent from the Western America Railroad Museum took us on a tour of the huge rail yards of the BNSF (Burlington Northern and Santa Fe) Railway in Barstow, where we watched freight cars being connected and readied for travel. Since Golden Spike was founded to unite RVers who enjoy rail activity, witnessing the yard at work was a special activity for us, which few are privileged to see. Friday ended with one of our famous and delicious potluck dinners and socializing.
Saturday morning, after a fruit and muffin repast and our business meeting, we headed for Casa Del Desierto (Desert House), which once housed the Santa Fe Railways offices and a famous Harvey House dining room-boarding house. A docent gave us the history of this restored landmark during our tour. The city’s mayor came to welcome the group and presented us the key to the city.
That afternoon we were free to shop, swim, rest, or play games before we headed to Peggy Sue’s Nifty Fifties Diner for dinner. The restaurant attracts tourists from all over to see movie and TV memorabilia from the 1950s era. A museum store, park, and soda fountain reminded us of our own “happy days.” Good food and great shakes.
Sunday morning we awoke to a breakfast of sourdough pancakes, which are a specialty of member Bill Strong. Bill is the great-grandson of William Barstow, the city founder, and he and his wife, Jo, were co-hosts of this event, along with Ed and Anita Price, who also have ties to the area.
Following breakfast, most of the group headed for the hills to visit the 1880s Calico Ghost Town. With buildings restored and shops and cafes open, we enjoyed our trip back in time. A lasagna dinner and game night at the clubhouse, and a farewell breakfast on Monday, brought our outing to a close.
The Golden Spike chapter was founded in 1998 to unite FMCA members who enjoy trains, planes, and automobiles. Actually, we’re interested in anything that “goes.” Rallies are held throughout the western United States. Our August adventure will be in Oregon, following FMCA’s 78th International Convention in Redmond. Later this year we will ride the Sierra Nevada Skunk Train in northern California and the Niles Canyon Railway in the San Francisco Bay area. In May 2008 we will host the Promontory Point, Utah, re-enactment of the Golden Spike ceremony, and celebrate our 10th anniversary.
FMCA members can learn more about the Golden Spike chapter by contacting Web master Bob Poole at (562) 986-5624 or Tom Harrison at (559) 299-7334, or by visiting the chapter’s Web site, www.fhmed.com/goldenspike.htm.
With this group, every outing includes an adventure, and the fellowship and common interests we share are part of what has brought us together.