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Found 5 results

  1. With fond memories of our last convention in Gillette, WY we have jumped at the chance to register for 2018. The facilities were excellent, we enjoyed the various trips offered and had a lovely time. I used the link on the e-mail announcement to get to registration. I looked for a way to access registration here on the website but couldn't find it. I guess it will surface sooner or later. Louise and I are going to try working the welcome committee this time. We're looking forward to welcoming you to Gillette in July!
  2. We took the Bison Ranch Tour at the FMCA Family Reunion, 50th Anniversary Rally, in Gillette, Wyoming. It turned into a real adventure, much more than expected. Our tour was Friday evening and was to include a meal before our return to the rally site in Gillette. We met the bus at the assigned location and boarded without incident. This was a nice commercial bus with comfortable seats and air conditioning. After the last passengers were on board we were on our way south on Wyoming Highway 59 toward the little town of Wright. The trip was uneventful, the bus moved along at a good clip and we arrived at the Bison Ranch in about 45 minutes. We were met by the manager, a member of the family that owns the ranch, he lives on and operates the ranch. This ranch has 100 square miles of land, a bison herd of over 2000 and ships bison meat to a number of national markets. We learned all this as we were traveling gravel roads across the grassy plains out into the ranch. About 20 minutes into the trip across the ranch to the location of the bison herd the bus stopped. Those of us in the rear of the bus could smell the hot antifreeze, this was not a good smell. After several attempts to restart the bus we all got off and began milling about. The mechanics in the group immediately began opening up the engine compartments to see what the problem could be. It wasn't much of a mystery, there were wet hoses and the strong smell of hot antifreeze. So now we watched as our guide called his wife on the cell phone. He gave our location in order for her to guide the replacement bus to our location. From where we were we could see the town of Wright on the horizon and a few other houses way off in the distance. Over to the southwest we could see the bison herd. With a pair of binoculars you could actually tell that they were indeed bison. So our guide spends some time telling us more about the ranch and bison. He explains the difference between buffalo and bison very clearly. True buffalo are found in Asia (water buffalo) and Africa (Cape buffalo). Our North American bison are only distantly related to the true buffalo. They are more closely related to cattle and yaks. He relates a story about an Australian speaker at a meeting who explained the difference between a buffalo and a bison. You can't wash your face in a buffalo! Think about it. OK, say it with an Australian accent. Eventually, we all got it. His talk gives out and everyone starts to explore. After about 20 minutes of exploring, our guide decides we need some entertainment so he gathers up a pile of chips, bison chips! We are going to have a chip throwing contest. Now this is a group of FMCA members, serious RV'ers, who have never turned down a camp game of any kind. I don't think that everyone tossed a chip but starting with the women, one after another, they picked out their special chip from the pile and stepped up to the line to give it a toss. It didn't matter too much which direction you threw your chip, it varied some, none of the spectators were hurt except perhaps from laughing too hard. Being generous our host counted the tiniest chip that came off the chip when it exploded as it hit the ground. The piece that traveled the greatest distance was where you stood until someone threw further. They tossed chips 30 feet, 40 feet, 50 feet, this was serious business. Finally with no more takers, the winner was announced. Then it was time for the men to show their form. We stepped up to pick a chip. The process went quickly, I believe more women stepped forward than men. Cameras clicked, people laughed and a good time was had by all. Shortly after the last chip crashed to the ground the replacement bus could be seen winding its way over hill and dale to our location. Relief was in sight. We loaded onto the replacement bus, our bus driver joined us and we were off. As we started out we passed the stinky old bus, out across the field we went to get around it and then back onto the road and on toward the bison herd. Arriving at the herd, we got off the bus and while enjoying the herd our bus was turned around and ready to take us back for our dinner. We spent a good 40 minutes watching the herd. There they were, huge bulls, abundant cows and those light brown calves. Hundreds of them grazing on the range. We stood less than 50 feet from the closest. Once in a while a dispute would break out, a quick charge, butt or bump your way to where you wanted to be and then things settled down. Occasionally a cow or bull would lay down and roll in the dirt raising a cloud of dust. Calves trotted around from place to place, taking life entirely too lightly as the young are prone to do. Now it was time to go so we load onto the replacement bus ready for a trip back to dinner. Guess what, the replacement bus won't go into gear. It turns out that it would not build the air pressure to a sufficient level for the coach to be put in gear. The bus engine was run at a high idle for what seemed like 15 or 20 minutes before we finally achieved suitable air pressure. At last we're headed for dinner. We pass the stinky old bus on the way out, a mechanic is deep into the engine compartment. It doesn't look like a real pleasant job. On our way back to the dinner we enjoy watching storm clouds off to our east. At sunset the clouds are spectacular. We arrive back at the ranch headquarters. By the time we've eaten it is almost dark. A short wait while we build air pressure again and we're on our way back to Gillette. Everyone is pleased to see that the volunteers are still running the shuttle as we arrive at 10:30 p.m. It all makes for a very memorable FMCA Convention!
  3. Our oldest grandchild turned 13 today. Ryan was born almost exactly a year after my retirement and almost exactly one year before we went full time in our motor home. I mention this because his age so nearly parallels significant changes in our lives. From the day we purchased our first motor home in 2001, we were FMCA members. In our 12 years of FMCA membership we have attended five rallies, Hutchinson, KS in 2002; Redmond, OR in 2004, St. Paul, MN in 2008, Bowling Green, OH in 2009 and now the 50th anniversary celebration in Gillette, WY. We have been planning on this FMCA Rally celebrating 50 years since FMAC became an organization promoting motor home ownership and enjoyment. We were enticed to attend by the fact that Monaco International planned to have a pre-rally on the same site where FMCA would hold their rally one week later. The opportunity to stay at the rally site for two weeks with full hookups while attending two rallies was too good to pass up. You may notice a certain erratic nature to our rally attendance. We attend when our planned travels make it convenient to get to the location of the rally. Sometimes we build our travels around a rally site. In this case, our plans changed several times before the rally but everything has worked out. The rally for Monaco International began on Wednesday, June 12 but we arrived on the early arrival date, June 10, driving in from a 11 day stay in Denver. We soon found out that the predominant weather pattern in Gillette was strong afternoon winds with storms. The first few days of the rally there was a water truck soaking down the grounds to reduce dust. After several storms the water truck never reappeared. We learned to keep our awnings in when we left the coach. After a night listening to the pennants for a soda pop company flapping in the wind, we dropped the tape separating one row of campsites from the next to the ground. That made for much quieter nights. There were sessions on a variety of topics, one popular session dealt with the latest changes in ownership of the Monaco family of companies which had occurred only a few days before the rally. Mike Snell, CEO of Monaco, took us through a brief history of Monaco from its bankruptcy and subsequent purchase by Navistar in 2009 to its recent purchase by Associated Specialty Vehicles (ASV). Change continues as Monaco moves manufacturing facilities to new locations and closes other facilities. Future directions for Monaco were discussed and many questions answered. It was too soon after the recent purchase to answer all questions. Sunday and Monday were designated gap days, days between the two rallies. A picnic Sunday afternoon and walking tours of downtown Gillette on Monday gave rally attendees ways to stay busy and learn more about the community. Monday afternoon we noticed the parking and meeting signs changed with FMCA's signs now in place. Motor homes were rolling in at a steady rate and the excitement of FMCA was building as the Dealer exhibits began to fill with new coaches. When I attend a FMCA Convention I try to take care of many of my needed purchases with the vendors. I also plan to have some repairs done by the suppliers who provide some of the accessories in our motor home. I was frustrated on several of these quests as some vendors were not represented at the rally. Likewise, several key suppliers, a common awning company, the manufacturer for our inverter, and a satellite dish manufacturing company were either not present at all or not offering any service on site. I guess it is a sign of the times, still it is disappointing. We did find out what a Cam-Plex is. The facility is a multi-use complex built by Cameron County. The facilities for large gatherings of RV's are quite nice. There are some sites with full hook-ups, others with water and electric and many sites with only electric which is much better than many facilities where we have been for rallies in the past. I would give the Gillette community a big A+ for the facilities and the community support for the rally. We enjoyed the coal mine tour, the bison ranch tour and a couple of rounds of golf on very nice golf courses.
  4. If you're in Gillette for the Rally and are interested in learning the latest in computers, smartphones etc. for RVers, we are teaching 7 free seminars and one $30 hands-on Smartphone class. If you can only attend one, we recommend the one on Wednesday at 11:45 in Seminar 7. It's titled simply Technology for Travelers Subtitled: How Geeks on Tour use Technology to Plan, Preserve and Share their Travels. It's an overview of all our topics - Staying Connected, Making a Blog, Using Picasa for managing pictures, and how the Smartphone is the best device ever invented for travelers! Here are all the seminars we'll be teaching this week. If you can't make it, you can download the seminar handouts here. Technology For Travelers Wednesday, June 19, 2013 11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Seminar 7, Energy Hall Movie Maker Wednesday, June 19, 2013 3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Seminar 6, Energy Hall Every RVer Needs A Blog Thursday, June 20, 2013 9:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Seminar 6, Energy Hall Smartphone Overview Thursday, June 20, 2013 1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Seminar 8, Wyoming Center Smartphone Photography Workshop, hands-on, bring your smartphone or tablet, limit 20 attendees (pre-registration and $30 required - go to Info Center at Wyoming Center Wednesday 7am to register) Thursday, June 20, 2013 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Seminar 8, Wyoming Center Picasa & Picasa Web Albums, all need to manage your digital photos - all Free Friday, June 21, 2013 9:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Seminar 1, Central Pavilion Google Maps Friday, June 21, 2013 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Seminar 1, Central Pavilion RV Destinations And Idea Exchange Friday, June 21, 2013 1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Seminar 2, Central Pavilion
  5. An RV boom town in a Western Boom Town

    Gillette, Wyoming, is a certified American boom town. It’s 30,000 residents have grown by a whopping 48% in the past decade as this western city has become the nation’s self-declared “energy capital of America,” thanks to its vast quantities of coal, oil and coal bed methane gas. But today, it just grew by thousands more as 2,500 motorhomes of all shapes and sizes rolled into the sprawling CAM-PLEX exhibition center just east of town. Add another 5,000-plus people to Gillette. Most of those here are in luxury Class A motorhomes, and many of their price tags are in the mid-six figures. My Roadtrek Class B eTrek is wedged between a couple of Class Cs in what is a vast sea of motorhomes parked 6 feet apart and 6 feet front to back in long lines that have instantly transferred the mostly crushed gravel parking lots and fields of the CAM-PLEX into an RV urban center. This is the 88th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase of the Family Motor Coach Association and it officially starts Wednesday and runs through the weekend. But with so many coming here from across the country, to simply park them all means people had to arrive early. The event features seminars and entertainment and vendor exhibits. I’m teaching two seminars, on Wednesday and Friday. I’ll use the time to meet folks, and to check out the latest in motorhome offerings and industry products. Events like this aren’t for everyone. They are very crowded. There is no scenery, just the back of your neighbor’s unit and the slideouts of your side neighbors. There are also elements of a political campaign here. The FMCA has lots of officers. I mean lots of them. Signs affixed to some of the coaches urged passersby to vote for their favorite candidate.There are candidates running for national president, treasurer, vice president and even something like first national senior vice president. At least that’s what I think one campaign sign read. We started the day in the Black Hills around the Custer State Park, driving a wildlife loop and marveling at the scenery in the morning. We saw deer, antelope and several of the 1,000 or so bison that roam the park. Gillette was an easy 125-mile ride to the west along a two-lane that paralleled I-90 and cut through wide open grassland. We arrived at the CAM-PLEX about 4 p.m. and soon met several other Roadtrek owners attending the event. Two were parked in dirt with no hookups over by what appeared to be a horse corral. Several others were scattered through the complex. Jennifer and I checked out Gillette, doing laundry and then eating out at a great little Mexican restaurant. But the big find today was the Campbell County Recreation Center, the most deluxe and full-featured health and fitness facility we have ever seen. It is a massive, 190,000-square-foot facility with two water slides, a lazy river, three basketball courts, four racquetball courts, an elevated walking track, a kids zone used for baby-sitting, concessions, a weight room, a cardio area, three exercise rooms, two birthday party rooms, two tanning beds, training and locker rooms. In a partnership with the Campbell County School District, there is also an 81,000-square-foot field house with a six-lane, 200-meter track and five indoor tennis courts. I guess being the energy capital of America has its perks. Jennifer is ecstatic. We’ll spend early morning hours there before things get busy at the FMCA event.