June Rally 2014 — Carol D

17 RV’s gathered south of Stettler on June 16th 2014 for the Annual June Rally of Alberta Roamers. Our Hosts – Bryant and Marian McFarlane and Stan and Beth Weiss — did a great job of creating a fun week for everyone. The area was dry on our arrival and we succeeded in bringing them rain for three days of the week.   

Monday was of course a time to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones since we had the pleasure of welcoming three new (to us) couples to our midst.

Frank and Stella are SKPs who spend their winters at Benson, AZ. Glen and Joanne and Gary and Beth are newcomers to the Escapee Family. All were adopted and welcomed to our group. We were also pleased to welcome VCRs Steve and Lila who just happened to be passing through on their way to Alaska.

We enjoyed a lovely roast beef host dinner with homemade Rhubarb Crisp on Monday evening.

Tuesday morning saw sunshine and a number took in the Stettler Farmers Market before our afternoon field trip to the Stettler Museum — very impressive. We feasted again on roast beef leftovers for dinner.

Our sewing ladies created a bunch of new dresses for little girls in Africa. Wednesday the rains started so it was a great time for a virtual travel trip to Madagascar with Curtis and Verle.  

Potluck dinner as per usual was a feast of much variety. Mel led us through Card Bingo to pass the evening.  

Thursday morning the rain was still pouring down and I think many of us wondered about our planned trip to the Kempf Greenhouse south of Botha but off we went. What an amazing place and a wonderful welcoming couple who run this impressive operation which grows many kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peppers and even watermelon. She even fed us at the end of our tour and the rains stopped and sun came out. We stopped in Botha to view the replica of the Underwood Flying Machine which predates the Wright Brothers!

Hearty Hors D’oeuvres provided dinner. The Great Baseball Game took on an evening flair this rally but alas it did not help the women much. Cards rounded out the day for many.

Friday morning dawned bright and sunny and the guys cooked a great breakfast for the gals who appeared wearing headwear fashioned from the little girls dresses!!

Goodbyes were said and another great Rally ended with everyone heading out.

Escapade 2014

The 54th annual Escapade in Goshen, Indiana just wrapped up. It was 5 days of fun May 12 to 17. And Chapter 44 was there!

Chapter 44 Ontario members Harv & Louise were our representatives on The Row, sharing information about Alberta Roamers with the hundreds of people at this event. Harv is also now the new president of the Big Sky chapter — congratulations!

Louise & Harv on The Row

 

Louise and Harv were also at the Mesa Rally and Quartzsite this winter and sent this pic from Q.
George & Jeanette (centre) and Liz (R)

 

P.S. In looking over all the great seminars featured at Escapade, I noticed the name of one of our American members, Vera, show up several times offering craft classes and one on cooking. John & Vera are often regulars at the Mesa rally where many of us have enjoyed her craft sessions.

May Lunch 2014

Whoo-eee! More than 35 members from around the province arrived in High River last Wednesday for the first Chapter lunch of the year.

Alta Vita Ristorante, one of many businesses that were flooded out last June in the huge flood, is back in business in their old digs. It came as quite a shock when one of the staff said that where we were sitting had been under 4 feet of water.

The May lunch is always a noisy get-together as we all try to catch up on who’s been doing what and going where and what their plans are for the summer. We began our visiting out on the street, moved into the restaurant for lunch and then kept on chatting — and still we didn’t get to visit with everyone we’d hoped to.

We were delighted to welcome Nancy and Steve O’Bosky, two of our American members from California. They’re on their way to Alaska for the summer.

Click on any photo for a larger view or to see a slide show.

What’s up next? Why it’s the June rally, of course! Be sure to sign up for a spot. :-)

Mesa Rally 2014 — Carol

Wasn’t that a rally!

It’s all over except for the memories but we had a great time at the 16th annual Mesa Rally. Many thanks to our hosts Larry and Sheila and Brian and Wendy for a job well done. As usual many other volunteers pitched in and helped with small jobs and thank you to them as well.

The week started on Sunday for some – Tuesday officially. We registered 39 people in 19 rigs — a few attendees came for day visits from town. Usery Park was truly lovely – very green and blooming.

The week’s events included a Boules game, several card games, several campfires, lunch at Organ Stop Pizza, crafts, walks, Ranger talk, visiting and catching up with old and new friends, and of course FOOD. Great food.

Rally 2015  is already in the works – March 16 to 20th – the week following the Tucson Escapade.  Hosts will be Carol, Dottie, Don and Ed and Julie.  Put us in your calendar.

Thanks to picture-takers Larry, Don, Becky and Carol. Click on any photo to see a slide show. :-)

Madagascar Part 4 — Curtis & Verle

There are many unique memories but I will briefly describe some of them.

First and foremost are the lemurs which are indigenous only to Madagascar. We saw them in the wild in the ecological area and also in captivity.

A visit to a very large palm plantation included a walking tour of the palm oil production from the forest to the production line and finally to the many products derived from the palm nuts. A very large number of these nuts grow in clusters on the palm trees. The plantation also included many other plants grown without pesticides etc.

The evening of Valentine’s Day we enjoyed a dinner with family and friends at Ocean 501. This is an open air restaurant on the shore of the Indian Ocean. The light from the ice moon that evening shimmered on the waves of the ocean. A breathtaking sight.

One weekend was spent at Foule Point, a resort located behind a large coral reef two kilometers out in the ocean. On the coast the only place reasonably safe to swim is behind a reef. Otherwise the undertow takes over and your next stop is a long way across the ocean to India, that is if the sharks do not get you first. Even behind the reef there was a significant pull. We only stayed in the water to say we had been there.

We spent the weekend at our beach house and on the beach enjoying the many vendors and the company of our group. Everything from live turtles to massages were available from the vendors. Curtis and I had a massage and another had her hair French-braided. A delicious lobster lunch which consisted of one large lobster per person plus shrimp and potatoes was served on the beach.

On the final weekend we enjoyed a boat tour on the canal. The boat was powered but we had to pay first so the operator could go to buy fuel. We witnessed rocks being pulverized by hand for road construction, diving for sand to make cement, perogues which are the boats the Malagasy makes by hollowing out logs, loads of charcoal being transported to the city and many locales bathing and swimming in the canal. The charcoal is produced in the rural areas and is the main cooking fuel for their small hibachi-like stoves.

On our flight home we were able to see the lava flow of Mt. Etna on the island of Sicily from about 7 miles up. The picture is not good so not included but the sight was awesome.

Our holiday ended in London where we spent for two days. We stayed at the Rose Park Hotel near Paddington Station. The express train to Heathrow stops at this station.

While in London we toured a very small portion of the Albert and Victoria Museum. The building is large and six stories so it would take a week to see it all.

This is the last written information. The final post will be a colorful, pictorial finale.

Curtis and I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into our amazing travel experience.

See also Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Madagascar Part 3 — Curtis & Verle

Ambatovy is the name of the nickel refinery complex about 10 km from the city of Tamatave. The site includes the plant site where the nickel is chemically refined, the operational camp where the rotational workers live and the management village where the families reside. The actual mine site 200 km in the mountains. The ore is slurried and comes from the mine by gravity via a braked, very large pipeline.

Clinton and Joan live in the management village. The village includes identical homes, an international school, a clinic, a gymnasium and a large saltwater swimming pool. Early swims were wonderful. Most homes are two bedrooms but there are some with four for larger families.

Clinton’s area of expertise is the power production and the acid production. He is the manager of a group of five superintendents and about 400 employees. For those interested in the details of the nickel mine and refinery, a discussion with Curtis will be enlightening. Suffice to say that five of the Fort Saskatchewan sites would easily fit in Ambatovy. A tour by car took one and one half hours.

The pictures include before and after of Clinton and Joan’s home.  With the expert assistance of a local gardener she has created this oasis of growth in four years — also with the help of downpour rain (equals humidity) and temperatures from 24 to 40C year-round. The resident pet is Francene, a box turtle. He or she consumes one head of lettuce a day.

The plant pictures include the plant, the operational camp, the management village and finally the city of Tamatave on the shore of the Indian Ocean.

See also Madagascar Part 2.