Friday, July 5, 2013


Those of you who have been following this blog for the last couple of months might recall a discussion of an RV club known as "Escapees" that we joined when we first decided to go down this path last year. In brief, it is a nationwide club primarily for full-time RVers. They offer a number of services including mail forwarding (which we do not use), discount campgrounds, training classes and other services aimed at the RV community. They have a big annual rally called "Escapade" which this year is taking place in Gillette, Wyoming and is where we have been for the past five days.

We drove here from the Black Hills after getting our rental house in Lead squared away last Saturday. The rally is taking place on the grounds of an RV convention center in Gillette called "the Cam-Plex". There are several large buildings and appears to be a rodeo venue. Some place on the grounds there must be some kind of race track, judging by the noise Saturday night, but we haven't seen it. On the east end of the campus is the RV Park which consists of a bunch of grass strips where they can pack RVs in like sardines. We got lucky and were put in a slot on the end of a row which gave us a little more space, but the folks to our left cannot put the awning out because it would go through our slide out. Some of the people in smaller units that usually use campground shower facilities were complaining that the water was ice cold, but we had nice steamy showers here in our rig.

My understanding was that this was supposed to be primarily a training exercise, similar to the RV boot camp we went to last February. Each day there were four sets of six classes offered. For each session, you had to pick which of the six you would go to. There were also craft teaching sessions in
Seminar or Sales Pitch?
a separate building. What we didn't learn until after we got here is that the lecturers were by and large also the vendors in the RV swap meet they had set up in the center meeting hall. What were supposed to be the "educational" sessions tended to be one-hour infomercials for whatever the vendor of the day was hawking. I found that quite annoying (Vicki thinks I'm being too harsh). Only in the last couple of days have they finally had a handful of long-term full-time RVers give some potentially useful advice on the lifestyle and maintenance. Some of these were quite similar to talks we heard at bootcamp in February but a couple were new. At the opening ceremony they ask for a show of hands as to how many people were at the rally for the first time. It looked like about 70%. Now I understand why. I'm not in a big hurry to come back.

There was also some evening entertainment which was okay. They had a couple from Branson Missouri that did a music and comedy act that was entertaining enough until it got a little overly Stars and Stripesy at the end, presumably because it is the Fourth of July week (or maybe that's just the way RVers are supposed to be). On a less professional level, there was a talent show which I failed to participate in but enjoyed. Most fun were the music jam sessions they had. It inspired me to drag out my guitar and strum along even though I had not picked up the instrument in a couple of years. Most of the participants were a few years older than I am so the music tended to run towards old timey, folky stuff, but that was fine with me. Even if you don't know them, songs with only three chords are pretty easy to follow along on. When it came my turn to pick a song, I tried to choose things everyone would know… Peter Paul and Mary, James Taylor, but I found I was singing by myself. 50-year-old music was too "new" for some of these folks. Still, I had a lot of fun, even though I now have blisters on my fingers. Hopefully I will keep playing and toughen them up some.

Farewell dinner
Tonight was the farewell dinner. Escapees is celebrating their 35th year, so they had a lot of 1978 nostalgia. That's the year Vicki and I graduated from medical school, but I still find it hard to get very nostalgic about 1978. I mean, Charly's Angels and the BeeGees?  Still, the dinner was catered by one of the better restaurants in town so the food was good and they had free champagne at the end so it's hard to complain about that. The Cam-Plex is having a Fourth of July fireworks display a little later this evening and at the moment it looks like a thunderstorm is brewing in the background (please Lord, no baseball size hail) so it could get pretty dramatic.

Tomorrow, most of these people will pull out of here, but we are staying an extra day. We are going to drive back about 35 miles toward South Dakota and see Devils Tower. Then on Saturday we will head west to meet Paul and Ruth in Cody Wyoming. Ruth is my cousin. Well actually my second cousin… uh, once removed. Yeah, they're essentially unrelated, but we are meeting them in Cody Wyoming and we will let you know how it goes.


After dinner we came back to the motorhome and I prepared the bulk of this post. Then as 9:30 neared I started fiddling with my camera and we went outside to watch the fireworks display. As I got the tripod set up, this kind of stuff started happening…

About 9:28 the rain started coming down. Vicki climbed in the car and drove off to the other end of the campground for an unobstructed view while I stayed behind to try to get some pictures of fireworks as a backdrop to the motorhome. As the fireworks and the thunderstorm crescendoed together, it was hard to decide which was more impressive. For a time, the lightning was almost continuous as were the pyrotechnic explosions. Unfortunately, the rain increased right along with everything else and it was impossible to keep the water off of my lens. It was probably the most dramatic Fourth of July display anyone could imagine. We will remember this one for a long time.

1 comment:

  1. Okay...I'm making another comment (Am I the only one who does?). The fireworks/lightning photos are great! Glad there wasn't accompanying hail -- L