As we planned to go fulltiming many years ago the Escapees RV Club was our go to place for information. We attended RV Boot Camp and the Escapade in Goshen, Indiana in 2007 and have been to five more rallies since that first one. At first we would volunteer for jobs when we arrived and then in 2011 in Gillette, Wyoming we served on staff. We have taken on different duties since then and this year we were co-coordinators with John and Lora Newby. This job was a big step up in responsibility requiring long days of setting up and helping to do whatever needed done to see that things ran smoothly. It was a lot of work and long hours, but also a fun time getting to meet new people and helping others enjoy their Escapade experience.
What is Escapade? A gathering of like minded people with the common interest in the RVing lifestyle that stared 39 years ago with 29 rigs. This year there were over 900 rigs and 2300 attendees who took part in 80 educational seminars, numerous socials, dancing, games and entertainment. All this while getting caught up with old friends and making new ones.
When we arrived at the Pima County Fairgrounds five days before the start of the Escapade the two huge buildings where just about everything happened were empty shells. Part of my job was to help Bob and John put up the sponsor's banners.
There were 14 banners and a four part stage back drop that we had to install wire for before we could hang them. A lot of climbing up and down the ladder.
Lora and Nanc worked in the office, did most of the needed signage throughout the grounds and were responsible for much of the decor along with anything else that popped up.
Another job all the staff helped with was stuffing over 900+ welcome bags with rally information and flyers.
The market, which started as an empty hall, was soon buzzing as nearly 75 vendors set up their booths. When the doors opened hundreds of shoppers moved in to look and buy just about anything any RVer could possibly need, including a new rig.
Duane and Jean Mathes, Escapade Directors, who spent most of their time since the last rally in Vermont preparing for this one, opened the Escapade on Sunday afternoon.
Escapees have a long history of fun and tomfoolery going back to the founders, Joe and Kay Peterson, SKPs # 1. As you can see that tradition is being carried on by their grandson, club president Travis Carr and his wife Melanie (right), vice president. Nice panties Travis.
The Escapades always have wonderful entertainment and this year was no exception. Native Spirit performed dances that are part of the culture of Native Americans.
The group includes dancers who have won championships and performed in Europe, Central America, North America and for Fortune 500 companies.
Native Spirit leader Brian Hammill and his son Nedallas are World Champion Hoop Dancers. The dance under black light was fantastic. If you ever get a chance this group is not to be missed.
We always say making and meeting friends is the best part of what we do. We met Gary and Anita several years ago at Betty's and have seen them on the road including in Winnipeg, their home base. They called and said they were passing through Tucson and wanted to get together. Wow, we are so busy how do we do it? Problem solved, adopt them into the Class of '07 and invite them to the social. They got to check out the market and we had a couple hours to catch up with their travels.
Class of '07 mates Jim, Bobbie and Sal (front) Jim, Norah, Molly, Lora and Bob (center) Angela, Bobbie, Mike and Heinz (back). We met most of these people at Boot Camp in 2007 and know they are always a fun crew.
This group of Class of '07 mates are the ones who went to Quartzsite the first winter on the road. Mike who is waving donated and cooked a turducken for the social. We took up a collection and raised over $300 for CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees).
Bob and Molly have been Escapade Directors since 2011 and have now passed the job on to Duane and Jean. Brenda had a quilt made out of the shirts for each of the events they managed. A big THANKS to them for all their work in making the Escapades a fun experience for all.
We have not crossed paths with Susan and John since we were in California in 2009 but have been following their travels on Facebook. It was great seeing them again and getting caught up with all that has been going on in our lives.
Sandy, Steve, Lora and John at the social. Lora and John were so busy as co-coordinators all week this is the only picture I got of them together. They were great work partners.
SPK friends who we met at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville: Jan and Bill; Loretta, Don, Sharon and Rey. We have seen them all on the road since meeting there, always the best part of RVing.
On another evening the entertainment was provided by Woodie and the Longboards. They did one set of Beach Boys songs that had them dancing in the aisles and the other set was Eagles songs. The crowd knew the words and sang along to all the tunes. Great show!!!
One of my duties was to read the announcements at the beginning of each assembly. While this was a fun job as you can see below..............
...........not all my jobs were glamorous. I had to lead the truck around to all the rigs that needed their sewer tanks emptied. You can believe I heard many, many crap jokes about this job.
Jim Koca was the MC for the Escapees Got Talent show. As you can see, Jim is very shy and did not want to stand out. More of that Escapee fun and tomfoolery.
Just a few of the many talented people who performed. There was singing, skits, cowboy poetry and many instrumentals. The kids are part of the Kidscapade program that is geared to families and kids going back to the way Escapees RV Club was when it started, working on the road and traveling with family. There were 65 kids in attendance this year. They also took part during the assemblies by handing out door prizes.
Another fundraiser for CARE was the Hair-Raising Chili Cook-Off. Brenda was the winner of both the best chili and raising the most money prizes.
While we were so busy we did not get to attend any of the great seminars we were part of the full-time panel discussion; FAQs and chat. Brenda, the moderator, full timed for 16 years. Kim and Chris (left) have been on the road for seven years traveling with their four young children. Dave and Brenda (middle) had planned to be on the road for eight years and that has turned into 26. Nanc and I (right) are in our tenth year. It was fun sharing the lifestyle with follow SPKs.
Escapees is all about community service where ever they are and that includes the blood drive for the local Tucson community.
We did squeeze in a couple happy hours given by Paul Evert, the dealer selling rigs at the rally. Nanc and Bobbie look like they are having a fun time.
Part of the farewell party was a 90th birthday bash for Escapees founder, Kay Peterson. Even at 90 this woman is a dynamo who loves being with her many SKP friends.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAY!!!!!!!!!
As the more than 900 rigs began to depart, those of us on staff did in reverse what we had done last week. All the banners came down, the office was torn down and everything was packed in 26 carriers and loaded on to the big truck to be sent back to headquarters in Livingston, Texas.
A beautiful sunset over Tucson to end the day and another Escapade. Next year the 40th anniversary of the club and the 58th Escapade will be at the end of May in Sedalia, Mo. Since that fits our travel plans we have agreed to do the same job next year. We are already looking forward to seeing our many SKP friends there. Thanks again to John and Lora who were great partners to work with and to Duane and Jean for a job well done. Also, good luck to Bob and Molly on their new adventures and hope to see ya'll down the road.