Many thanks to our American members Liz & Roger who were our reps at this year’s Escapade.
We arrived at the CAM-PLEX in Gillette, Wyoming on Saturday, June 29th for the 53rd Escapade and Escapees 35th Birthday.
It had been an easy drive down from Billings, Montana, but upon arriving things became a little hectic as we were diverted from the Row Parking area to General Parking. Heavy rains during a previous rally that was held two weeks before had left many of the camping areas destroyed (shades of the Sedalia, Missouri Escapades of 2009). Nine wreckers had served as the un-parking crew and the heavy rigs had left water lines and sewer lines in a state of disarray. But, as usual, we Escapees made the best of what we had.
Once parked, we spent the rest of the afternoon setting up the Chapter Row in the Energy Building, greeting old friends, practicing for the Opening Ceremonies Parade of Chapters and getting ready for the traditional Row Dinner. This year The Row consisted of 21 Chapters, 5 SKP CO-OPS and 6 CBOFS.
Something unusual about this Escapade was that there were an extremely large number of Escapees attending the Escapade for the first time and that during the drawing, many of the winners had a 100,000 or higher SKP number. There were 586 rigs and 1,198 attendees.
The Row opened at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday and we were immediately inundated by visitors. Many people came to give their best wishes to the victims of the “Calgary” flood and many asked, “Will the Stampede be held this year?” Some wanted to say hello to members of Chapter 44 and how much they had enjoyed Alberta Roamer rallies.
Opening Ceremonies started at 3:00 p.m. in the Wyoming Center. Kay Peterson, at age 86, was in great form and held her audience spellbound at every event that she attended. Scott and Karen Bonis did door prizes for their 43rd time.
Classes started on Monday and were held all day on Monday and Tuesday and mornings on Wednesday and Thursday. The Row was open three hours a day during the Escapade, usually from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., but on Wednesday from noon to 3:00 p.m. for the Row Party and Open House.
For entertainment on Monday, Patty Davidson, a very funny and entertaining ventriloquist, kept us all laughing with her “Who’s on First” routine.
After closing ceremonies on Thursday we were presented with a fireworks extravaganza. A thunderstorm had been brewing all afternoon and ten minutes before the fireworks were to begin, it started to rain and the wind picked up.
Liz and I had originally set out chairs for the show on a little knoll overlooking the stadium, but soon swapped our chairs for the car so were high and dry when the first rocket burst into a shower of colors. It was 30 minutes of a “Grand Finale” with Mother Nature adding her flashes and booms to the display. The wind would carry the colorful, bursting rockets from left to right across our rain-specked windshield. It was a sight to behold and to remember!
Escapades 2014 will be held in Goshen, Indiana May 12-17, 2014. Goshen is rich in heritage, history and hospitality.