2013 Travels travel blog

Carpe Diem at Gillette rally staging area

Carpe in Box Elder Campground

I 90 west to Gillette

Black Hills National Cemetery
This is often called the "Arlington of the West"

Black Hills National Cemetery

Welcome to Wyoming

I 90 in Wyoming

Davilas pass us on I 90 in Wyoming

What's a trip without "Orange"?

We just love these carved bears
Some RVers have way too much fun...

Carpe's identical twin at Box Elder CG

This is the tram Sandi drove as a volunteer

There were a number of classic coaches
This is a Flxible bus conversion...

Vendor's booths set up and ready for business

We met up with our friends Ron & Joan Scott

We handed out ice cream on Friday

The ice cream line stretches across the convention hall

Major storms left our campground a quagmire

Saturday's hail left "dings" in our radiator


Sun, 16 Jun: We awoke on our own and took our time getting ready for the road. We'd been sitting for almost a week so we followed our checklist to ensure that we didn't forget anything. We cleared our site, hooked up the car, and rolled wheels at half past nine. A nice easy departure without rushing or hurrying.

We got on I 90 and headed west through western South Dakota and crossed into Wyoming. It was a lovely day for driving with little wind and very light traffic. There were a couple of construction zones, but nothing that slowed us down.

We switched drivers at the half way point and pulled into the rally staging area at 1215. As stated, it was a very pleasant 142 mile drive, our favorite kind...

Once in the staging area we were told we'd be in the staging area until tomorrow (Monday) so we leveled the coach and extended our slides. Following lunch we got out our computers and downloaded pix from the cameras and generally did "our thing".

Around three the parking team came by and told us that they could park us now if we'd like. Getting settled into a spot for the week sounded good so we buttoned things up and drove the mile to our site for the rally. We again leveled the coach, extended the slides, and got settled in by 1600. We're in a full hookup 30 ampere site where we'll remain for the balance of the rally.

We hooked up with Carmen and Domingo who are parked a few rows down from us. We went to Las Margarita for dinner. We had a very enjoyable and tasty dinner. We'll most definitely revisit this place during our two rallies.

It is now 2015 and we're wrapping up our computer work and plan to curl up with our books and crosswords before hitting the sack. Tomorrow is a free day and we do know how to fill those with our busy retirement routines.

Tue, 18 Jun: And they keep coming... When we were parked late Sunday afternoon we were at the end of a row and had a clear view out of our windshield to the east. Not so any longer!

All of the remaining spots in our row have been filled, along with all the spots for two rows to the east. In short, the Gillette Cam-Plex is filling and, as this is being written mid morning, they continue to arrive. We've heard estimates of more than 2,200 coaches by the time everyone arrives. To that add somewhere around 100 coaches in the new model display area. While there are a number of older coaches here, there are also quite a few very expensive ($½ million or more) rigs. Wow, just do the math at the sheer capital investment here in Gillette...

Yesterday (Monday) we drove the car to the Cam-Plex center to pick up our rally credentials, schedule, etc. The bag was pretty full but about 80% of it is already in the dumpster. We expect we'll receive that same unwanted/unneeded 80% when we check in for the Escapees rally week after next.

Sandi has volunteered to drive a tram so she had to attend an orientation at noon. It was, in Sandi's words, "an 'ethnic fire drill' in which, when all was said and done, far more was said than done." She'll be driving from 0630 to 0930 tomorrow (Wednesday), so we'll report on that experience in a future update.

Once back home we had a late lunch and spent the afternoon plying our retirement activities. Retirement is a really arduous pursuit but we're getting better and better every day. Dinner was at home and then we took a long walk to see all the different RVs and chat with all the folks.

This morning we made a Wal*Mart run and then stopped at Office Max for a few items. We were back home well before ten and we're now busily engaged with our computers doing more "retirement business".

This evening we have been invited to attend a "Volunteer Appreciation Dinner". They expect to feed almost 900 volunteers so it should be a true feeding frenzy. Noting gets RVers frothing at the mouth more than the prospect of free food other than, possibly, free ice cream (which we'll be dispensing Friday afternoon).

Tomorrow starts the seminars, so we'll be "doing something". Thursday the vendor booths and displays open, and that should be quite quite the scrum.

Sat, 22 Jun: Welcome to summer! We "celebrated" with major thunderstorms that dumped much rain in a very short time. Winds in the 50 mph range and pea-size hail. Ugh! Fortunately, we sustained no damage but we'll have a challenge getting out tomorrow without getting mired in the mud.

We had a very, very busy week. We attended a number of seminars and visited multiple vendor's booths. There were quite a few new motorhomes on display (and for sale). We looked at many of them and didn't find any that could possibly replace Carpe. She's a "keeper".

We dined at the Prime Rib with the Davilas on Tuesday. This is a very good restaurant and we always visit whenever we're in Gillette.

Wednesday morning Sandi volunteered to drive one of the trams that provides transportation around the huge Cam Plex complex. Her shift ran from 0630 to 0930. It was fun to watch the rally grounds "wake up". At 0630 few were stirring but by 0930 it was bustling. A good volunteer gig.

On Thursday we returned to Las Margarita with the Davilas and Ron and Joan Scott. We haven't seen the Scotts since Yuma last spring so it was great catching up. Better yet, the Davilas and Scotts hit it off so we had a great time. The owner of the restaurant even treated us to a "comp" dessert because we were such fun customers.

On Friday we joined with other members of the Full Timers group to hand out free ice cream. We did this at the rally in Madison, WI two years ago, and the scrum didn't change. It is amazing to us how allegedly "mature" people will behave when free ice cream is available. One can only shake one's head...

Saturday marked the end of the rally and many folks rolled out. We stayed & will leave in the morning. Late in the afternoon a major thunderstorm blew thru dropping pea sized hail and sporting winds more than 50 mph. It blew right up Carpe's "tush" and left several pea sized dings in our radiator (see pix). Thankfully that was the worst of the damage we sustained. Do hope everyone else fared as well.

It is now Saturday evening and, as mentioned earlier, we are trying to dry out from this afternoon's deluge. We again joined Davilas and Scotts for dinner, this time at the Prime Rib. Excellent...

Must vacate the campground by noon tomorrow. Do hope it dries up some.



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