Monday, June 11, 2018

58th Escapade

For the second year in a row we were the co-coordinators of the Escapade along with John and Lora Newby. It was a very busy, but fun filled two weeks with all the preparation in the week before and then the actual event.  The Escapees are an all welcoming group for anyone who has an interest in the RVing lifestyle. It does not matter what kind of rig you have or even if you don't own one. Parked near us was a young lady who had flown in from Alaska and rented an RV for the rally. Across the road from her was a motorhome that cost well over a million dollars. There were even two people who were staying in tents. All are welcome to join the Escapees RV Club.
This was the first time we have attended an Escapade in Sedalia, Missouri. The Missouri State Fairgrounds was a good facility with all the RV sites being full hook ups..
The staff of 130 began arriving several weeks prior to the rally with all of them in place at least three days before the Sunday opening of the event. On Wednesday we had an after work happy hour to get together with the staff.
On Thursday at the end of the day the big job is filling nearly 700 welcome bags with fliers, coupons and ads from over 30 different supporters for each registered rig. It is an assembly line operation that the team completes in less than an hour. All are rewarded with a pizza party after the job was done.
Friday was the staff appreciation dinner. It was a time to socialize and have a great meal catered by a local company.
Mark, Cole and Jean yukking it up as Shawn, with Nanc's help, makes sure not one little drop of this very fine Card Bordeaux wine does not go to waste.
The coffee and donut booth is one of the most important, as they keep everyone fueled up. Gary and Mary along with Chick and Debby did this job. They served 1680 donuts and made 150 gallons of coffee. They raised $4063 for CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees) selling donuts.We know it is a hard job that requires getting up real early to have the coffee ready by 7:30 because we helped with this job several years ago. 
Pictured here are Escapade Directors Jean and Duane,  Director Assistants Robert and Jo, and the Co-coordinators Nanc, Jim, John and Lora. It was a great team to work with in putting on the whole event for nearly 1300 SKPs.
There are 27 different staff positions that are filled by volunteers to put on the event. Here are Volunteer and Info booth chairs Bill and Jan (Top left). They recruit attendees to help out with various jobs during the Escapade. Lanny and Lois (top middle) and Jack and Pat (lower right) are Market Hosts. They work with the 55 vendors who sell their wares at the rally. Sky with his grandson Gage (top right). Sky is the Property Chair and is responsible for ALL the equipment, as well as, setting up the seminar rooms, stage and generally anything else that needs done. Bottom left are Entertainment Hosts Brenda and Dave who have been fulltimers for 27 years and have attended almost half of the 58 Escapades. There used to be two a year. One very important team I did not get a picture of  is the Parking Team. They come in early and have the job of getting the 657 RVs parked safely, rain or shine.
By Sunday everything must be ready for the 3:00 opening ceremony. Here, Duane and Jean introduce Escapee's CEO Shawn Loring. President Travis Carr and Vice President Melanie Carr.
At each assembly there are announcements and door prizes. I had fun doing the announcements again this year and raised over $70 for CARE by asking for a donation for returning found items. The door prize give-away is always fun and the last couple of years kids from the Kidscapade group were the prize runners. There were 40 kids at this years event.  
There is always great entertainment and this year was no exception. Sunday evening was Bill Lepp, a teller of tall tales and humorous stories. Bill is a five time winner of the West Virginia Liars Contest and his stories included many locations we have visited. If you every get a chance to hear Bill be ready for a evening of fun and laughter.
This was the 40th anniversary of Escapees and sadly the first without one of the two founders, Joe and Kay Peterson. We are so glad that we had a chance to talk to Kay in Tucson during last year's Escapade. This really marks a change for the club.
The golf cart parade. No, this was not on the schedule of  events. We had to take the carts down a public street to a nearby gas station to fuel up several times while we were there. 
When you have an event at a fairgrounds there are often other things going on. This year it was a 4-H goat show. While they are cute, they left a bit of country air smell around there pavilion.
One of the most popular happenings is vendor Paul Evert's RV Country daily 4:30 happy hour. Every day is a different theme from Margarita Monday to Two Shot Thursday. It is always a good time to relax a bit and get caught up with friends. 
Monday evening's entertainment was illusionist Reza. It was a fantastic show of "Shock and Awe" as he made things disappear only to pop up somewhere else on stage. Reza performs over 200 shows a year and travels in an RV, a huge Prevost,, so he really related to the RV crowd.  
I was worried when Nanc got this close that he would make her disappear. This is another act that you should not miss if you get a chance to see him perform.  
One of Nanc's jobs was to pass out kisses to the vendors. I was not sure what that meant, so I followed along one day and was happy to see it was Hershey Kisses she was passing out. 
Tuesday evening is a day for socials and we always get together with our Class of 07 mates. Wow, this year there were only six members and two adoptees. This was by far the smallest group we have ever had. Last year there were nearly 50 of us. Here I am with Terry (Rick was working), Lora, Nanc, John and adoptees Dave and Brenda. Hope next year's Escapade out West will bring more 07 mates.
Wednesday's entertainment was Escapade's Got Talent. There were fifteen great acts, from story and joke telling to some great music. It is wonderful seeing all these SKPs showing off their talent. As you can tell by the orange suit, emcee Jim Koca added to the fun of the evening with his outfit and corny jokes.
Thursday brings the Escapade Hair-Raising Chili Cook-Off. There were eleven chili cookers and, as you can see, it was a very well attended event. There is a People's Choice award for the chili that raises the most money for CARE.
The best chili is selected by a group of experts who must be sequestered away to prevent bias. I delivered samples to the the judges while the Hottest Pepper of them all, Shawn Loring, did his best encouraging people to donate money to CARE. He did a good job as the cook-off raised $1956 for this great Escapees program.
These are all people who were at the rally whom we have met at Betty's RV Park. Top are Bill Jan, Jim and Justine. Bottom are Judy, Danny, Dan, Sue, Richard, Loretta and Ray. I'm sure there were others that I did not see because Betty is very popular with Escapees. 
Thursday afternoon is the closing ceremony. It is always well attended as the grand prizes are given away. This year's prizes were for two people to attend the Rose Parade (a $1990 value) presented by the Escapees RV Club and from Adventure Caravan for two people to attend an eight day Chicago rally (a $4595 value). It is great that the sponsors and vendors offer such support and prizes for the rally. Pictured here (left to right) are a few of  the national staff; Teresa, Shawn, J.P., Travis, Melanie and Cathy.
In the past the closing ceremony was, as you would expect, the last event of the week. This year they added an evening street festival with a great local band, food vendors, craft beer and local wines. 
Most of us where pretty worn out at this point so it was a great time to just kick back and relax. National staff members Georgianne, Teresa, Melanie, JP and Shawn enjoying the festival. 
If you forgot your chairs, you could gather on the steps to have a cold one, enjoy the food, and share experiences with friends.
Jim, Travis and Mark showing how worn out we are at this point with Dead Guy Ales. 
After the sun set we went to the grandstands for the fireworks. The street festival was a great way to relax and visit with friends one last time before we all headed out in different directions to explore the country and was also a great ending to a great Escapade.
Friday morning dawned hot and sunny.  Not a great day to have to tear down and load everything that the Escapees brought to Sedalia from headquarters in Livingston. The trailer holds 26 of the carriers that must be brought from the buildings where they were used. Then they are loaded and secured in place for shipping.
Jim, John and Duane had it all done by 3:30 that afternoon. By the time we were done we were toast. The temperature when I got in the car read 105 and, while it was not that hot outside, it was that hot inside the trailer where we were working.
One last dinner Saturday evening before we hit the road on Sunday. While it is not an easy job, we had a great time being on staff and contributing to make the Escapade a great experience for all those who attend. Next year's event does not fit into our travel schedule so we will not be in Tucson in March. 
Our plan was to go quickly from Sedalia to Michigan where we had a service appointment scheduled. We had planned to spend one night in Springfield, IL but when we got there we realized how tired we were so we decided to stay for three days. Look who showed up! Escapade parking crew members, Jan and Skip and Escapade Directors, Jean and Duane. We had a nice evening just relaxing after a very busy time. 
On a sad note, while we were in Springfield we learned that our dear friend, Tom Ridge, passed away while he and Georgie were vacationing in North Carolina. We were able to leave Opus at Spartan Chassis in Michigan, where the service was being done, and drive the CRV to WashPA for Tom's memorial service. We are going to spend a week here to support Georgie before we head back to Michigan to pick up the RV. This is a picture of us with Tom and Georgie on Hatteras Island last fall.  

Monday, June 4, 2018

Jefferson City - Missouri Capitol

We left Little Rock and took two days to travel the 350 miles to our next destination of Jefferson City, Missouri to tour the capitol. This fit well into our preferred plan of trying to leave by 10:00, travel no more than 200 miles and be done by 2:00. It does not always work out that way, but it sure is easier going at this kind of slower pace. Our plan for our stay here was to tour the capitol and also get caught up with the blog. We did the first part but, because of a terrible Internet connection, I did not get the blog updated so now we are behind with our posts.   
The first day we traveled through the Ozark mountains of Northern Arkansas. While it was a beautiful drive, it was not easy traveling miles of two lane road with many hills and turns, especially after spending the last few months in flat land where the highest points were the highway overpasses.
This building is the third capitol for the state of Missouri. It sits on a high bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The building, in the Classical Revival style, is 437 feet long and 300 feet wide. The top of the dome is 262 feet above the basement. It covers three acres and has a half million square feet of floor space. There is a statue of Thomas Jefferson at the west front of the building but  unfortunately, it is hard to see because much of the exterior was covered with scaffolding for major repairs.  
This 9,000 pound chandelier hangs in the rotunda. Once a year it is lowered for cleaning and changing the bulbs. A few years ago when it was lowered to the floor the chain broke and did major damage to the light. It cost $500,000 to repair the chandelier that had cost $5,000 in 1918.
Arkansas, the last capitol we toured, had only four major works of art in the entire building. The Missouri capitol is the exact opposite with many paintings throughout the building. When they did a bond issue to build the capitol they raised $1,000,000 more than needed for construction. It was ruled that the money could only be spent on the building. So artists, Frank Brangwyn, N. C. Wyeth, James Earle Fraser and Alexander Stirling Calder were hired. They created beautiful stained glass windows, murals and statuary to honor Missouri's history and culture.    
These beautiful paintings in the rotunda are based on nature and Missouri's resources such as earth, wind, fire, and water, as well as, the state's agriculture and industry.
There is hardly a space of plaster wall that has not been painted by these famous artists. There is so much that it is impossible to capture in a photograph.
The Hall of Famous Missourians has busts of many prominent people who were born in Missouri or became famous while living there. Top are Dred Scott, Edwin Hubble, Betty Grable, Emmett Kelly and Charlie "Bird" Parker. Bottom are Mark Twain, Harry S. Truman, Stan "The Man" Musial, Scott Joplin, Ginger Rogers and Sacajawea. 
The Missouri House of Representatives has 163 members who are only allowed to serve four two year terms. They were in session while we were there so no pictures were allowed in the chamber. We found this ironic, as the House voted to begin impeachment proceedings against the governor for taking unwanted photos of a woman. He has since resigned. 
The House Lounge has this beautiful mural, "A Social History of the State of Missouri by Thomas Hart Benton. The painting is a reflection of the artist's beliefs in the concept of Manifest Destiny. The picture over the door is of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. 
The focus of the mural is on the people of Missouri with 235 individual portraits. It highlights the economic, political and cultural aspects of the state from rural scenes to the cities.
Over this door is a painting depicting the song Frankie and Johnny by Hughie Cannon. In the bottom corner is Tom Pendergast, the infamous political boss who controlled Kansas City in the 1900's. The mural is an interesting look at the history of Missouri.
The Missouri Senate has 34 members who are allowed to serve only two four year terms. They were also in session so no pictures were allowed.
There are 40 lunettes, little half moon paintings, throughout the building showing scenes of Missouri history. This is a lead mine and smelter.  
This one is a Pony Express rider leaving St. Joseph where this first "high speed" cross country mail service to California began.  
This one is the Eads Bridge, a combined road and railway bridge that was completed in 1874. It was the first all steel bridge and was high enough for steamboats to pass under on the Mississippi River. 
There are several works of art on the capitol grounds. This sculpture shows the signing of the treaty with France for the Louisiana Purchase. It was originally done for the 1904 St. Louis World'd Fair.  
This monument portrays Lewis and Clark, standing; York, Clark's slave; George Drouillard, their French-Canadian-Shawnee guide and translator; and Seaman, Lewis' Newfoundland dog. The monument pays tribute to the Corps of Discovery that camped in the area on June 4, 1804 on their way to the Pacific Ocean.
The Missouri capitol has some of the most interesting works of art we have seen in any of the capitols we have visited. It is not to be missed if you are in the area.
The Missouri Governor's Mansion was built in 1871 and is one of the oldest governor's mansions in the country. The mansion, built in the Brick Renaissance Revival style, has 13 bedrooms to accommodate guests. It is open for tours, but we did not take one.

After we left Jefferson City we only had to travel 55 miles to Sedalia for the Escapade. There we had a fun, but very busy time seeing friends and working on staff. We are now in Springfield, Illinois on our way to Charlotte, Michigan for a service appointment at Spartan Chassis.