Chattanooga Rally, TN. April 25 – May 2, 2012
We arrived in Chattanooga, TN at the Best Holiday Trav-L-Park where we would be camping for 8 days on an actual Civil War battleground. In the southwest corner of the park stands a fitting monument to the 84th Indiana Volunteer Regiment who fought on this very spot. Chattanooga has a great military history. Its name comes from a Creek Indian word meaning rock coming to a point. Founded in the early 1800’s, Chattanooga is the home of several Civil War battle sites and several Spanish-American War training grounds. We began our rally with a good old home cooked meal of roast, green beans, salad, rice and gravy, finished off with peach cobbler, provided by the hosts, Marie and Burnel Moreau and Ida and Les Cook. We have 12 member rigs here: James H. and Gail Smith, Polk and Linda Brian, Chuck and Judy Lunt, Mary and Bernard Lang, Fletcher and Karen Christian, Ken and Ann Marie Wellock, Judy and Irby Gamble, Rosalyn and Bud Odom, Lou and Carol Butaud, Buddy and Maria Rickles, Ida and Les Cook and Marie and Burnel Moreau. In addition, we had 2 guest couples, friends of the Cooks, Dick and Nancy Aker and John and Beth Sebastian.
Our first adventure was to travel to the Chickamauga-Chattanooga Military Park, the nation’s oldest and largest military park, where we learned a lot about the Civil War importance of this area. When the North defeated the South in this area, it opened the gateway to the South and the demise of the CSA began. The town of Fort Oglethorpe, GA was a large parade ground with officer’s homes around the giant square. The nearby town of Chickamauga was also very interesting, and we had a picnic under a beautiful tree by the river before returning to camp. Some of the group took the Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain (America’s Most Amazing Mile which travels up the mountain at a 72% incline) and enjoyed a thorough walk around Rock City and its gardens. You can see 7 states from here!
On Thursday morning, we ate a great breakfast served by our hosts and left for the day’s activities on the Chattanooga Riverfront, along the beautiful Tennessee River. While some toured the Tennessee Aquarium or the Imax, others toured the Pier, walked across the nation’s longest pedestrian-only bridge–the Walnut Street Bridge, saw all the beautiful sculpture in the Bluff View Art District (especially the glass bridge) and Hunter Art Museum. Some of us learned to ride the Electric Shuttle and rode it uptown to the Chattanooga Choo Choo (old Union Station which is now a hotel). We all met up again at the Riverfront and boarded the Southern Belle Riverboat, for our dinner cruise. We enjoyed prime rib, chicken and cheesecake and all the trimmings. The entertainment was great, especially Polk’s rendition of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain and Maria’s Pole Dance! A good time!
On Friday, after a light breakfast, since we were still stuffed from last evening’s cruise, some of us relaxed and visited in the park, while others took in additional sights. Happy hour at the campground ended the day, and everyone sat around and discussed what their day’s activities were. Some went to the Georgia Winery, Ruby Falls, out to eat barbecue, and to view the tornado damage from the terrible tornadoes that swept through the south last year. In nearby Ringgold, GA, they were busy rebuilding, but took time out to thank others for their help by giving out free hot dogs and T-shirts. We all particularly enjoyed the Raptor Show at Rock City, where Irby Gamble had a close encounter with another old buzzard!
Pot-luck breakfast on Saturday! The 75-83 degree temps are perfect and the mountain laurel smells so sweet! We reunited for happy hour once again and discussed our adventures. Some of us went to the local flea markets or visited with friends and relatives in the area. Mass on Saturday night, church on Sunday morning and then we had a fantastic lunner (half lunch/half dinner) back at camp. We rested, played games and socialized this afternoon. Dick Aker introduced us Southerners to Rhubarb Sauce and Whiskey Slushies (the new official club drink–we voted!) Several couples heard a church music program complete with a man who played the spoons!
Monday was our big day at Buttonwillow Church in Whitwell, TN. We carpooled over early, in time to stop by the Paperclip Museum nearby. This is a train car like the ones used in the Holocaust to transfer the Jews to camps. Local schoolchildren have placed a paper clip in the train car for each person killed in this awful war, about 11,000,000 of them! At the church, we saw a pre-show with dinner and then the play. It was so well done. We learned history and laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe. The dinner itself was completely southern cuisine home-cooked by the owner’s wife. We had a wonderful day and a beautiful drive home through the Tennessee River Valley.
Some of our members left on Tuesday, and those who remained finished up doing things they had not had time to do earlier. Some of the group went back to Chattanooga Choo Choo to have dinner in the big hotel, complete with singing waiters! A nice way to conclude a busy week. After Bill’s Mcmuffins, we all left early on Wednesday heading to different parts of the world, but anxious to reunite again next month in Johnson City, Texas. Hope to see you all there!
Report by Gail Smith, Picture credit: Linda Brian
Johnson City Rally, May 31 – June 6, 2012
Hosts: Teri and Gary Bogle, Dave and Deanne Phillips
Those of you who wait until the Rally officially begins to arrive at a rally site are missing the boat! Because our hosts, Gary and Teri Bogle and David and Terry and Gary Bogle getting things ready for a mealDeanne Phillips, had arranged so many activities for us during the rally, 10 rigs of us arrived several days before the official start of the rally in order to take advantage of the many things to do in the Texas Hill Country. We were able to visit at least 5 lavender farms (the lavender was not in full bloom, and we were told it came in early), take a tour of the Garrison Brothers Bourbon Distillery in Hye (complete with a hay-less hayride), eat a breakfast or burger at the Chrome Cactus biker grill, walk along Miller Creek and visit the Blanco River, shop for antiques and lavender products, go to the Kirchman and other art galleries and wineries in the nearby towns, eat lasagna provided by our park owners on Wednesday (with fabulous dessert), enjoy kicking back with our TS friends at The Watering Hole, see Johnson City’s quirky art deco, take trucks in for service (ugh!), check out the world’s largest cowboy shower and all kinds of additional fun stuff. Rainstorms (Skinners), mud problems (Jerry Smiths), engine lights coming on (Brians and James H. Smiths) and hurt backs (Moores) did not stop us from getting together and enjoying every moment! Marie Moreau, Carol Butaud, Linda Bruce
On Thursday, we began the rally with a complete dinner served by our hosts of fried fish (several varieties), hush puppies, fries, cole slaw and the best baked beans we ever had the opportunity to wrap our gums around. The decorations were professional, commemorating our political elections, Memorial Day, just past, and July 4, just around the corner.
Friday was LBJ Day, as we took off right after breakfast to tour all the local Johnson attractions along the Pedernales (Purr-de-nal-is) River. We started our tour at LBJ’s boyhood home and visitor center in the heart of Johnson City. After lunch, we gathered at the LBJ Ranch visitor center. After picking up CD’s to tell us about the tour as we drove along, we left to visit the schoolhouse where Lyndon attended, the home he was born in, his grandparents’ home, and the Johnson family cemetery, where both Lady Bird and Lyndon and his parents and brother and sisters are all interned. Then we drove over the ranch, including the air strip, horse barns and airplane hanger. We toured the actual Texas White House, where President Johnson entertained many world leaders during his presidency, 1963-1968, and until his death by heart attack in 1973. Some of us discovered the Willow City Loop, between Hye and Johnson City, a scenic drive which was covered in wildflowers as far as the eye could see. It was beyond beautiful! We returned to camp for a smoked turkey dinner (prepared by Dave Phillips) with incredible cream cheese and caramel pie, (prepared by Deanne). We played a memory game, where each person described where he or she was at the time Kennedy was assassinated and LBJ took office. It was interesting to hear about everyone’s experiences (even Mike Bruce, who was 2 months old!).
Another day, another great breakfast. Some of us went to Blanco to the Buggy Museum and to buy bakery cookies and then took a back road to the Pedernales Cellars winery, next to the Rose Manor Mansion, both sitting on a beautiful hill with breathtaking views. Around noon we arrived at the Becker Vineyards for a tour and tasting. What a gorgeous setting! They had a garden growing out back with beautiful purple blooming artichokes, lavender and salvia. There was country music on the porch and great Hill Country views in all directions. Quite a treat. Several of our members took falls, but weren’t hurt, and this was before drinking any wine! After a short drive through the countryside, a chicken fried steak at the Country Cupboard (over 3 dozen sold!) and some peach ice cream, we returned to camp to prepare our food for tonight’s pot luck and entertainment. Our first entertainer that the hosts hired. Cowboy Doug Davis, died last Friday! So the campground owner hired another band for us, WST Bluegrass Band. We ate and danced and sang and laughed until bedtime.
Sunday was moving day. Several couples went home (Brians, Bogles, Mike and Olivia, Moores) and the Skinners went to Austin to pick up a grandchild. The rest of us (James H. Smiths, Cooks, Moreaus, Phillips, Jerry Smiths, Kerchers, Jack Bruces) went on to Fredericksburg RV Park for an extended gathering. Remember Cowboy Doug Davis that was supposed to perform for us in Johnson City on Saturday night, but he died? We found out that there was to be a memorial for him at Luckenbach tonight, so we went there. At one time we counted 45 musicians sitting in a circle under the spreading live oak trees paying tribute to him. It was really special. We didn’t see anyone we recognized, though. We gathered under a beautiful full moon for a gab session back at camp and enjoyed the nice weather and breeze.
On Monday, we all went our separate ways shopping, touring the museums, visiting friends. We later had a happy hour outside Jack and Linda’s trailer and discussed our day’s adventures. Jack had been awarded a Pepper Windsock by an anonymous donor, and a chocolate-covered jalapeno, with sprinkles, from Susan and Ted Kercher. We ate snacks together and then drove out to Old Tunnel State Park to watch the bats fly out at sundown. There were a few, but not many. We had been told there were 3 million! The scenery was beautiful and the breeze and full moon were nice. Carol Butaud and Jack Bruce
The next day, after breakfast prepared by new members, Jerry and Hessie Smith, we traveled to Sisterdale to see the winery and dance hall. After that, we were invited to Lou and Carol Butaud’s home in Boerne for a real Texas barbecue. Their beautiful home and scenic land were a great location for a really nice dinner. They are still waiting for their new rig to arrive. Some members followed this up with a return visit to Luckenbach.
Wednesday was travel day and we all went our own way, promising to meet again soon in either Michigan or Chama, NM.
Chama, NM Gathering, August 15 – 22, 2011
Hosts: Gail and James Smith
James and I left Texas and its heat in late July, in order to arrive in Chama early enough to prepare for the gathering. In Amarillo, we hooked up with Jack and Linda Bruce for dinner, and with Ida and Les Cook for travel to Santa Fe. There we were able to enjoy a Flamenco Dance Show at The Lodge at Santa Fe, as well as zydeco music on the Plaza (isn’t that Louisiana Bayou music?)
Nature and ancient people have left their mark on this area of Northern New Mexico, which is a color-streaked landscape where desert can quickly change to forest, and beautiful mountains surround it all. Upon arrival at Sky Mountain RV, we were pleased to see that Gene and Chris Fisher had arrived before us. Shortly, David and Deanne Phillips arrived from their Michigan Rolling Gathering, and on Monday, August 13, 5 more rigs arrived, the Moreaus, Roger Odoms, Denmons, Bobos, and Kerchers (also from the Michigan Rolling Gathering). After everyone got set up, we had Green Chile Stew and Cornbread and began to catch up on news since we were last together. I made river rocks with Dr. Seuss sayings on them, like “I will eat my peppers Hatch, I will eat them by the Batch!” and “We Love Chama, it’s so cool, if you’re not here, then you’re a fool!” There were many more, but I’ll spare you.
Tuesday morning we had our traditional McMuffins, kindly prepared for us by Gene and Chris (assisted by Les and Ida). We then went into Downtown Chama to the Foster Hotel, built in 1881, and apparently filled with ghosts of bygone eras. Karen, an employee at the Hotel, took us on a ghost tour. She is the only one who could do it, because everyone else is scared to go upstairs! So we went to see if we could spot the 6 ghosts she claims to have seen or heard! We were not totally convinced…..We did get to see the brothel rooms, their balcony where they waved in the customers, and their birthing room. Then we drove up to the Chama Cemetery to complete our ghostly adventure. It was historical and interesting, with even some civil war graves, but the 360 degree view of the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains was amazing from there! After a New Mexico Pot Luck supper, we all carpooled out to one of our favorite haunts (did you get that?) on the BLM Road west of town to view wildlife. Last week there was a large black bear on the property right here next to our camp, and we were able to get a good view of him lumbering across the land towards the river. He helped himself to a peanut can on a neighbor’s picnic table. He is apparently fishing for the freshly stocked river trout in the area. However, we saw only deer tonight.
Wednesday was day-trip day and we carpooled to Los Alamos, with David Phillips narrating our tour, since he and Deanne lived in the area for about 15 years. We first went to the Bradbury Museum to learn about the Los Alamos National Laboratory and we saw replicas of Fat Man and Little Boy, the atomic bombs that ended World War II. We also saw a replica of the Mars rover that is currently gathering information on Mars, which was developed at the LANL. We also learned about the Pleides Meteor Shower, which actually happened right in our camp last weekend, with amazingly bright shooting stars visible in the clear sky. Great strides were made at LANL in many other fields and it was a very quaint and interesting town, still unusual today. After getting burritos at Chile Works, we headed for the Valle Caldera. The Bandelier National Monument and its forested mountains were beautiful as we approached the 9,000 foot mark, and then the forest fell away suddenly and we were looking down on a vast meadowland. This great valley was once a massive volcanic peak that collapsed into itself, forming a caldera that covers about 175 square miles. With Dave’s narration, we got to go onto the caldera ranch itself, into the Kiva Lodge, past the elk skinning barn, and several log cabins, ending up on the northern edge of the caldera at Cowboy Cabin. Prairie dogs and chipmunks galore, but no other animals, until we exited the ranch and there we found 141 (I counted) elk, all cows except 3 bulls! It was the icing on the cake! Then we returned back to camp at sunset through the multicolored hills and cliffs decorated with a kaleidoscope of maroon, orange and gold, with bands of white and blue.
Thursday after breakfast under the canopy, courtesy of the Odoms, Bobos and Denmons, a few
of us went out to watch the train come up the Cumbres Pass and take photos. The Brians and Gambles arrived today. Then we shopped downtown or visited until dinner time, when we drove out to Cliffview Restaurant (WOW!) for a nice dinner in the shadow of the Brazos Cliffs, where a waterfall, created by melting snow in spring and thunderstorms in summer, spills down the face of the cliffs, except in periods of prolonged drought, like now! We saw several large mule-eared deer outside the restaurant and the Odoms’ truck got to see a small bear. Love this place! Ida and Les and Burnel and Marie made bags of deer food for each of us, so, of course, we didn’t get any to come and eat from our hands. Any other time—-
Today some of us rode the train to Osier, some drove to Santa Fe for sightseeing, and others drove out toward Abiquiu. We had a picnic lunch at the Echo Amphitheater and then went down the 13 mile dirt and gravel road to the Benedictine Chapel of Christ in the Desert Monastery, where silence is golden. We also visited the Ghost Ranch Visitor Center and museums and the Abiquiu Inn before returning to camp. Music tonight at the High Country Restaurant.
On Saturday, the Brians cooked their famous freedom toast to get the day started. An Executive Board meeting was held at 4 pm with President Linda Brian, lst Veep James H. Smith, 2nd Veep, Les Cook, Secretary Gail Smith, and past presidents Polk Brian, Ida Cook and Jack Bruce in attendance. Then we adjourned for Steak Night. Fabulous meal, followed by music provided by a local musician, Irene Adams, who played music we all enjoyed out by our campfire. Magical!
On Sunday, after church and a breakfast buffet that can’t be beat at the High Country Restaurant, we all took it easy and visited and played cards and dominoes until our evening get-together of homemade ice cream and all the trimmings.
Monday’s send-off for anyone departing was a breakfast of burritos provided by James and myself, and we officially ended the gathering. However, many of us are staying for a week or 2 or 3 more, as we love it here in the cool weather so much! If you didn’t make it this year, watch for this gathering in the future and sign up! You won’t regret it!
By Gail Smith
Sponsor’s Rally, October 25 – 28, 2012
Ghosts and Goblins Descend On Rayne, Louisiana
Once again we converged on Rayne, Louisiana for our Sponsor’s Rally with Lou and Carole as our hosts. Some of us arrived on Monday and we kept filling up the spots until Thursday when the rally actually began. Those who attended were: Lou and Carol Butaud, Linda and Polk Brian, James and Gail Smith, James and Barbara Smith, Chuck and Bobbie Bayles, Bill and Martha Bobo, Jack and Linda Bruce, Les and Ida Cook, Irvy and Judy Gamble, Bernard and Mary Lang, Don and Kathy Mann, Burnel and Marie Moreau, Chuck and Judy Lunt, David and Deanne Phillips, David Reed, Bill and Geneva Waters, Buddy and Maria Rickles, Ken and AnnMarie Wellock, and Bob and Mary White.
We all gathered around 4:00 PM on Thursday afternoon for a social hour where Lou went over the agenda for the rally. Afterwards we all scattered in groups to different restaurants for dinner.
Friday, Linda and Polk put out a great French toast and sausage breakfast. Linda got right on her job as theScavenger Hunt Winners editor of the newsletter taking small group pictures of all of us attending the rally. Later in the afternoon we divided into 6 or 7 groups of three or four people (nobody was allowed to be related to anyone in their group) and each group headed out to the city of Rayne on a photo scavenger hunt that Lou created. The list included clues for each picture we had to snap. As usual, it was a fun time for all trying to find frogs, crypts, locations, pictures, street names and signs. Five of the seven teams found all the ten items, but only one actually won on a drawing. The winning team included Chuck Bayles, Mary Lang, and Marie Rickles, Bill Bobo. They each won a Halloween canvas bag filled with candy!
Dinner that night was Marie’s world famous Crawfish Etouffe (recipe on our website!) prepared and served by Marie and Burnel. It was wonderful as usual and we had plenty of it! Announcements for upcoming rallies were announced and gone over by James after dinner. Card games and train then broke out.Bird Bird aka Linda Bruce
Saturday, Jack and Linda Bruce fed everyone biscuits and gravy for breakfast. We all met back at the clubhouse around 3:30 all dressed up in Halloween costumes. Everyone in a costume looked great, but we were all amazed and overwhelmed by one “Big Bird” created and worn by Linda Polk. It was an exact replica of “Big Bird” and of course, and most deserving, Linda won the prize for best costume.
After another social hour, we had dinner of barbeque chicken prepared by “Friends of the Jim GauthierTraveling Supremes”. It was a great dinner. After dinner Jim Gauthier talked about new trailers he had on his lot and explained the difference of their quality. He also gave out door prizes to around 15 lucky winners. Afterwards we had our yearly sponsors meeting. See Executive Meeting and the the official minutes below taken by Gail Smith.
Welcome to our new officers and a big thank you to Maria Rickles for her many years as treasurer.
Sunday, everyone either went on their way back home or other designated places while about 15 rigs went on to another Traveling Supreme Rally in Patterson, LA.
NEW YEAR’S RALLY, Bluff Trails Ranch RV Resort, Ingram, Texas
December 28, 2012 to January 2, 2013
What a great rally the Smith’s put on! James H. and Gail, Jerry and Hessie and James R. and Barbara put on an Academy Awards event that would make even Hollywood proud! You really should have been there!
On Friday they were there ready to meet and greet 18 rigs with a taco bar. After dinner several people went to the Mexican Train table and we had two ladies tables of “Screwy Lewie”! Of course Linda Brian came from behind to win at my table. I’m sure there were lots of cards and dominoes played over the rest of the weekend!
Saturday morning started with a delicious pancake breakfast, Hessie’s pancakes are the best! James H. and Gail Smith arranged for a tour and demonstration at the River’s Edge Gallery on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. They specialize in taking your photograph and making it more beautiful or taking that photograph and making it an oil painting. They showed us around the gallery and gave us an interesting demonstration. Several of us took the opportunity to also visit a few of the local antique shops while we were in downtown Kerrville.
Saturday night the group had dinner together at Mamacita’s in Kerrville. It is a large and busy place but we had two large tables for dinner and all had a good time.
Sunday morning started with the “real men each quiche” breakfast! Again everything was delicious! We were on our own for the afternoon but there was an art show and sale in Kerrville that several people attended. Sunday dinner was a pot luck dinner of heavy appetizers and finger foods. As always, we had way too much food and so many new things to try James R. Smith getting ready to boil omelets in a bag(some of them spicy)!
Monday morning was “Make your own Omelet in a bag”! It is always a surprise at how good they are! It was a good start to a very exciting day and you should have been there!
We arrived promptly at 6:30 p.m. and walked the “red carpet”. James H. Smith and Ardis Schenk hosted the red carpet and interviewed all of us “celebrities” coming in (which was hilarious)! The press corps; Linda Brian and Barbara Smith were there to take pictures. After we arrived and had a chance to mingle, we had a sit down dinner. Our three handsome waiters; the CooksSmiths: James H., Jerry and James R., did a fabulous job of serving Caesar salad, ham, potatoes, green beans, rolls and red hot pineapples. The coup de gras were Banana Fosters! It was fun watching the three men cooking their bananas and almost setting themselves on fire! They were fabulous! You really should have been there!
After dinner the show began! Our host and hostess; James H. Smith and Ardis Schenk introduced the various acts. The acts were snapshots from the various rally’s held in 2012. You all should have been there, they were great! There were so many funny moments…too many to mention! In between the acts, Gail Smith handed out ”special” awards. There were awards for “two left feet”, “golden axle award”, “best rally”, “best overall rally” and so many more. The awards themselves were so funny and Gail Two of the paparazzi Linda & and Nancy and her team did an outstanding job!
Barbara Smith hosted a “movie trivia” game. We had to answer questions, to the best of our abilities! Mike Bruce was the big winner but several of us won boxes of movie candy! It was fun.
Ardis Schenk opens a gift while Hessie Smith watches. Hessie was in charge of the exchangeFinally we got around to presents. This year Hessie had us draw numbers and we actually opened the gifts first or you could steal a gift from someone else. There was a lot of stealing of wine and flashlights! I guess after you drink the wine, you need a flashlight to see to get home! It was a lot of fun and brought us up to the midnight hour! We sang “Auld Lang Syne“, toasted and then headed home to bed to dream of the academy awards!
Tuesday afternoon we had our first pot luck of the New Year! Again, way too much wonderful food (not time to start the diet yet)!
It really was a fantastic rally and “you really should have been there”!