Friday, July 11, 2008

Escapade 2006 in Chico

Hello friends and relatives.
We are on the way to the Escapee Escapade in Chico California.
Since Chico is located in Northern California, we also will be visiting Claudia and family. We have to go to Eureka first to unload the car and some items from the motorhome. The Saturn thinks it is a trailer.
There are two end tables and lamps on the back seat. The trunk is full with dishes and other stuff. The coffee table is in the motorhome, during the day on my bed, and at night on the couch. We
We also plan on visiting friends near Grants Pass, Oregon and Doreen's sister in law and brother in law in Walnut Creek. This depends on the weather.
Please do send us only personal E mail.

We have been watching the weather channel and there are mud slides along the coast. Therefore we decided to leave today instead of tomorrow morning.
Doreen had a busy day today. She walked in the morning, volunteered in the afternoon at the Hospice Shop and played Bunko in the evening.
She came home at 9:30 PM and at about 10:00 PM we were on the road.
The idea was to get through Los Angeles without traffic hassle. The traffic was light at this time of the day and by 1:30 AM we arrived at the Tejon Rest Area on the Grapevine. There was only one parking space available, and it was beside a refrigerated truck.
We thought we could not fall asleep with that noise. But both of us were so tired that the noise bothered us only for a short time. I woke up at 4:00 AM and went back to sleep for another two hours.

After filling up the motorhome at the Flying J truck stop we started the very boring drive. Normally we take I-5 to I-405 to highway 101, and stay on 101 to Eureka. With possible mud slides near the ocean we felt better by staying on I-5.
Our goal was to stay at the Elks near Sacramento. When we arrived in Stockton we had lunch at the parking lot of the Spanos Business Park, the Spanos of the Chargers.
From near Sacramento I called the California Highway Patrol and asked about the condition of highway 20 from Williams to Ukiah and about highway 101 from Ukiah to Eureka. Both highways had areas where removal of slides was in progress.
So we decided to take highway 20. When we arrived at the area where only one lane was open, we lost only ten minutes.
The beautiful flowers and blooming trees along the highway were so much in contrast to the boring fields along I-5.
The small towns along Clear Lake and Upper Lake are tourist towns and ideal spots for boating and fishing. Since we made good time we kept on going. The thought of driving in the rain helped. At 8:00 PM daylight disappeared. I followed a big truck. The driver knew the road. At 9:00 PM we arrived at the Eureka Elks Lodge. We unhooked the car, parked the motorhome and 15 minutes later I was in bed.
This was the longest distance we drove the motorhome in one day.

After breakfast we drove to Claudia's house and unloaded the car. Later Claudia came with her van and picked up the coffee table. Doreen and Claudia then went shopping while I went for a walk with Jacob. Nicolette was in pre school.
In the evening we took Claudia and Scott to the Elks Lodge for" Fry Your Own Steak" dinner and dancing. Frying the steaks is a social event. You talk to your neighbors. Some people leave the steaks only a few minutes on the grill. We like them well done. It started to rain at 6:00 PM.

This was a raining day; the rain did not stop all day. In the morning we went to Claudia's house and in the afternoon Doreen went with Claudia, Scott and the kids to see the movie Ice Age II.
I stayed at the motorhome to fix some leaks. It is always the bed room windows.

Today it rained for a while, and then the sky brightened up for a short time, then it got wet again. This rotation went on all day.
We had a wonderful Easter meal at Claudia's and Scott's house. The ham was good and everybody loved Doreen's trifle.

At lunch time Scott came home with a dump truck, filled with gravel and sand. He put Jacob in the cab and let him pull the lever to unload the truck. Jacob was in heaven.
After Scott came home from work, he and Jacob filled pot holes in their private road, with the gravel and sand. Jacob had a little shovel and was working hard. On the way back to the pile of gravel he was sitting in the empty, dirty wheel barrow. He was smiling all over and very dirty.
He will be three years old in November and does not mind the dirt.

We left Eureka at 6:15 AM and headed east on highway 299. The drive through the mountains was scenic, especially along the Trinity River. We encountered three mud slides, but were lucky and always arrived at the right time, when they opened up the one lane for eastbound traffic.
We arrived in Redding at about 10:00 AM, had lunch and a short rest and then went by car to Wilderville, near Grants Pass, Oregon.
We arrived there about 3:00 PM. Our friend Bert greeted us and Emmi came
home at 4:15 PM.

After dinner we watched some television and then hit the sack. We were exhausted.

Today was Emmi's day off and the four of us went into town shopping. They live on 14 acres in the country, with two big dogs and two cats.
My allergies had kicked in already at Claudia's house, she has one cat. Sleeping in a house with two cats made it worse. Taking Claritin did not help, it made me tired. Doreen came up with a teary, red left eye. We are a pair.
We enjoyed Bert's and Emmi's hospitality and Emmi's delicious meals very much. I know them for about 36 years, first in Chicago and then in San Diego. In San Diego we moved three houses from their house.

We left Wilderville at about 7:00 AM and were back at the motorhome at 10:30 AM. The drive was very pleasant. Mt. Shasta was visible most of the way. The snow capped, majestic mountain is very impressive.

After lunch we went to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. We went to the Sundial Bridge and walked across the Sacramento River and then walked on the Redding River Walk. Doreen tried to walk on the steel beams which are located between the glass panels. She did not feel safe walking on glass.
The Sundial Bridge has one high column, when the sun shines, its shadow hits hour numbers on the ground. It is a pedestrian bridge with a glass floor. From the column cables are attached to the floor at different places. Other bridges have two towers, this bridge is designed with only one.
It was a beautiful, sunny day with a temperature of 75 degrees F.

This was a sick day. I think we caught Jacob's cold.
The Redding Elks Lodge is located next to the Sacramento River. We walked this part of the River Walk. The rest of the day we took it easy. The next time we come to Redding we have to complete viewing the Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

Today we went to Urgent Care to have Doreen's eyes checked. She has pink eye, probably from the cold she has. Our next stop was the pharmacy. The rest of the day we listened to Jazz music. Today and tomorrow there is a Jazz and Dixieland Festival at the Redding Elks Lodge.
There are 10 bands playing at two venues.
We could hear the bands,which played outside, from the motorhome.

We left Redding at 7:30 AM and arrived at the Fairground in Chico at 9:00 AM. The pecan trees and other fruit trees are in bloom and the orchards along highway 99 are a beautiful sight.
When we exited highway 99 in Chico, we knew we were at the right place.
One lane of the four lane street was filled with motorhomes on their way to the Fair Ground. It took us a while to get in. Everything is well organized. A lot of orange clad parking attendants sped up the process.
We chose a spot without hookups. There is also an area where campers can run their generator and an area with electricity.
At 2:00 PM we went to orientation and at 3:00 PM to the Escapade Opening Ceremony. At 4:00 PM we had an ice cream social.
900 motorhomes and trailers were signed up for the rally. I think there are 700 so far.
At 8:00 PM we went for the evening entertainment. The Starlite Express, students from the high school in Grass Lake put on a wonderful show.
During the day we had met two WINs. One volunteers as a security guard and a lady came to the motorhome, she had seen the WIN decal on our vehicles. She told us that a group of WIN had come to the rally today.
They would be at the evening show, in the bleachers, under a big smiley banner.
Most full timers belong to the Escapee Camping Club. They have their mail sent to the Escapee head quarters in Livingston, Texas. The club forwards the mail. They also get their Texas licence plates for their motorhome and the vehicle they tow.
The WINs, Loners on Wheels and Singles International have their own Escapee chapter, it is the Escapee Solos.
The WINs are on their way to Canada. We changed our mind and will not go with them to British Columbia and Alberta this year.

We are feeling better. Our coughing has improved. We will survive.
At 8:30 AM I attended the Basic RV Systems 1 seminar. It was very interesting and I learned a couple of things.
After lunch we drove to the Bidwell Mansion and Park. Unfortunately they are not open on Monday and Tuesday. Bidwell Park is one of the largest city parks in the US.
At 2:45 PM I went to the Solar Seminar. I have the latest in battery technology. All four house batteries in the motorhome are AGM type.
I have to install a circuit breaker though, between the batteries and the inverter, when we get home.
We have a choice of 50 seminars, from making quilts to money management. Most of them are related to RVing. After the seminar I visited the inside vendor booths.
At 7:00 PM we went to the evening entertainment hall. The first hour consisted of the daily raffle. We have not won anything yet. Some of the prizes are very good.
The show started at 8:00 PM. It was a lady ventriloquist with Willie, her Dummy. It was very funny.

At 8:30 AM I went to the second part of the RV Systems Seminar. After the seminar we went Down Town Chico for a short visit.
The International House of Pancakes had given the Escapade participants a two for one coupon. All we had to do was wear our ribbon. So we had lunch at the IHOP.
As first timers we are wearing a turquoise ribbon. This means we get a lot of hugs, which can be embarrassing.
At 1:00 PM I took my computer and went to attend a three hour Photo Shop seminar. When I got to the class room they had no room for me. The class
was full. It was one of the few seminars where pre-registration was required. I was disappointed, since we arrived early on Sunday and I could have signed up. Next time I will know the ropes.
While I was supposed to be in class Doreen went to the Chico Mall. Since I had no class I went to the outdoor market at the fair ground and checked out the motorhome mounted antennas for cell phones. They improve reception. Then I went to the solar booth and talked to the attendant about installing a fuse or circuit breaker.
I have all the information, now I only have to open my wallet. The fuse costs $ 40.00 and the antenna, with two adapters, one for my telephone and one for Doreen's, ( different makes)will cost $ 90.00.
We have a good motorhome parking location at the fair ground. We can walk to all the buildings and outdoor happenings. The people who are located at the far end of the fair ground take the shuttle. Besides they are parked on grass. It has rained before we arrived and the ground is wet
and soft. Some of the large motorhomes got stuck. The fair ground maintenance crew will have some work after we leave.
At 7:15 PM we went to the big hall for the daily raffle. I had told Doreen to hurry up, because it was her day to win. She did not believe me.
After getting seated they called her name. The Solos sit in a section of the bleachers. They have a big Smiley banner attached to the wall, and they all made themselves fans. They taped a piece of wood to paper plates and glued a smiley to the plate. When they heard Doreen's name they started hollering and waving their fans.
Married people do not behave like that, singles get away with it. And it is mostly women in the Solos.
Doreen won a beautiful large coffee table book. It is called Mobile Mansions, and has pictures of covered wagons to the latest Bus size motorhomes. She also won a six month free web page and a spray can of lubricant, similar to WD-40 and a large can of spray cleaner and some small Velcro devices to hold the awning in place. The web page prize she gave to a WIN friend. I did not like to play around with it.

At 8:30 AM I attended a Writing Workshop. I was one of the two males. We were outnumbered by 24 women. Some of them had already sold articles to magazines, and some of them were seriously thinking about writing a book.
I am writing for myself. Sometimes I sit on the computer and look at pictures from a past trip and read the trip report from that journey.
After every trip I move the report to Microsoft Word and clean it up and change it to Word format and print it on both side of the paper.
This way I end up with little booklets. The Alaska Trip and the trips to Maine and Florida, and Virginia turned out a bit larger.
One Friend remarked that he is surprised that I do not get into details when I go to the bathroom. Yes there is a lot of fluff in my trip reports, but they are for my own benefit. I do not mind sharing them with friends.
At 10:30 AM Doreen and I went to a seminar, called: " How to live in
Sardine Can". The speaker was Kay Petersen, the founder of the Escapee RV Club. She and her husband, and the children, started full timing when she was 45 years old. The whole family lived in a small Airstream trailer.
She is a very funny person and had some good advice. Humor helps when two person live in a small space.
After lunch we went to the Bidwell Mansion. General Bidwell was the founder of Chico. After he died his wife donated 3000 acres of land to the city. It is Bidwell Park, one of the largest city parks in the nation.
At 7:15 PM we went to the raffle; it was my turn to win something. I was not lucky, perhaps tomorrow.
At 8:00 PM the HAM-O-RAMA started. It is a follies or talent show. Fellow Escapees entertained us. In a large group, like this gathering, there is a lot of talent.
Today I counted the seats in the hall. It came to 1200 and there were at least 100 people in the bleachers. That means 1300 people came to see the evening shows. At the same time there are Jam Sessions in the fairground and card games. And some people watch television and stay in their motorhome at night.
Tomorrow, at the Closing Ceremony, they will announce how many rigs made it to the Escapade.
Summer came today. It is very warm.

This is the last day of the rally, and it was a busy one.
At 8:30 PM I attended a Photo Management seminar. At 10:30 AM we attended the "Habitat for Humanity" seminar. The Escapees have a BOF (Birds Of a Feather) chapter, which gets involved in building houses for low income people. We are interested in that and will join this BOF.
At 1:00 PM we attended the "RV Travel in Mexico" seminar.
The Closing Ceremony was at 3:00 PM. 848 motorhomes and trailers are here. 1831 people are in those rigs and 800 people walked into the fairground to attend the Escapade.
Our neighbor in the back of our motorhome left in the evening. I brought the car around and attached it to the motorhome. We did everything for a fast get away tomorrow morning.

Doreen woke up at 5:30 AM, thirty minutes before the time we had set the alarm clock.
We had actually planned to have breakfast at the first Rest Area, but since we were early we changed our mind and ate before we left.
Another couple left the parking area before us. They were still standing at the exit of the fairground and hooking up their car, when we passed them.
We missed a free breakfast at the hospitality center, but also missed the hassle to get out the area with over 800 rigs.
The fairground is located in town and this must create some traffic jams.
Everybody had to be out by 11:00 AM, since there was a motorbike race scheduled for the afternoon.
It was very hot in the valley. We tried to stay at the Elks Lodge in Tracy, near San Francisco, and meet Doreen's Brother in Law and his wife and have lunch with them in Walnut Creek. We had called them a few days ago and they were not at home. When we arrived at the San Francisco area we tried again. They are probably in England.
Our biggest excitement of the trip happened in Lodi. I entered a gasoline station and could not get to the pump. I stopped near the concrete pump protector. My only chance was to turn left, away from the pumps and go around the building and come from the other side. A car was in my way though. I told the driver of the car that I was waiting for him. He told me that I can make it. I knew better, but I listened to him, and he was guiding me. I was in more trouble now. I had moved even closer to the concrete slab.
We jumped out of the motorhome and started unhooking the car. First I had to remove the BrakeBuddy and then the tow bars. The car was standing 90 degrees to the motorhome. A truck driver tried to help us; we told him that I made a stupid move, but we had it under control.
I had to use the special tool to release the tow bars. After I unhooked the car, Doreen moved it out of the area and I backed up the motorhome and straightened out, and finally was able to go to the pump. It was no fun in this hot weather to go through this maneuver.
While I was filling up the motorhome, Doreen was looking for a place to connect our two vehicles.
It finally cooled off after we came over the grapevine.
We went to the Elks Lodge in Simi Valley and set up the motorhome. Doreen called her niece and tried to get together tomorrow. They had a full day already. So we planned on going to the Reagan Library to see the new Air Force 1 exhibit. They have the Boeing 707 in a large building.
Diane told Doreen that tomorrow the building will be used for the High School Prom. Two years ago, when we were at the library, the airplane exhibit was not completed.
My next choice was to go tomorrow by car to Lancaster, to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, to see the California Poppies. Doreen did not feel like it and we decided to go home tomorrow.

So far all our plans failed. We felt like having breakfast at a restaurant in Los Alamos, our old neighborhood.
We left Simi Valley at 7:10 AM and arrived in Los Alamitos at 9:00 AM. The Parasol restaurant was closed for renovation. So we had breakfast at the parking lot, our own. Our favorite Chinese restaurant is next door, but it was too early for lunch.
Doreen's friend Bobby lives around the corner from the restaurant. I asked Doreen whether she would find the house. She said yes. She rode many time her bicycle from the apartment to Bobby's house. We drove around the neighborhood and could not find the house.
When we were on I-405, Doreen checked her address book one more time and
this time she found the address, too late.
Since today was a Saturday the traffic was fine.
The next few months we have time to go with the Convair Travelers on a few outings. I also would like to go to the Convair Alumni luncheons.
Unfortunately the luncheons are at the same time as the Convair Travelers camping trips. Choices, Choices.

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