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Parrottrek Journal 2005

June 30th -
Our current home is in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. It is a much nicer area than Saint Louis. We were going to head down to Branson, but decided against it once we arrived here. We meet some very nice people here, and have made quick friends. There are two couples. One of the couples works at a local boat dealer here in Lake Ozark. Tom and his wife Coni invited us out last night for a boat ride down the lake, and to dinner with Rick and LaVerne. The weather was great. We left around 6:30 and the boat ride to the restaurant was about 30-45 minutes. We had our own private tour of all of the homes on the lake. There are some amazing homes here with their own private docks. The lake is enormous. We went to a fun restaurant called Dock Knockers that you can only get to from the water. It had great food, and half price drinks for ladies, what more could you ask for?? We watched the sunset during dinner, and headed home. We stopped down one of the many coves, and put our feet in the water. It was as warm as bath water. The weather last night was great, so it was nice to sit out and talk for awhile without being cold. We arrived back at the docks around 10:30. It was a wonderful experience. The boat was a 32 foot power boat with duel engines, and so smooth on the water. They invited us to go out with them again and watch the fireworks over the weekend. Apparently they have a fireworks show each night of the weekend for the Fourth of July.  We will meet at 4:30 at Tom and Coni's campsite for a bar-b-que, and then hit the water again around 8:00. We are looking forward to it!! Today we are going to a local Water Park since the weather calls for warmer temperatures. They have a long lazy river, a wave pool, and a bunch of water slides. We drove by it yesterday, and it looks like a lot of fun.  

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Dock Knockers in the background

Frank relaxing on the water

Our faithful captain Tom and Rick

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!!!

We had so much fun on the 4th of July weekend. We did go out again on the fun boat to watch the fireworks. There were about 12 of us along for the ride, and WOW was it amazing. There were at least another 200 boats on the water around us, and many many more as far as the eye could see. We arrived at our water location about 8:00 to get a good spot, and waited until the sun went down and the festivities began. What an experience that was returning after dark. The speed limit on the lake is 30-mph after sunset. We are used to our lake where it is mph. It was quite an adventure going that fast with so many other boats around us going at that rate of speed if not faster. The rangers had their work cut out for them that night. We have swapped information with everyone there in Lake Ozark, and have made tentative plans to meet up again next year for the 4th of July. It's so much fun meeting new people, and having new friends to visit around the country. It was such an answer to prayer to find such fun people for the holiday. The week prior we had no idea what we would be doing, but thought it would be nice if we could somehow spend it with friends, and we did!! New friends none the less that we will hopefully visit again this year.

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Another fun evening out with friends

The fireworks show was amazing

July 6th-
We spent the night last night here at the Newell Factory in Miami, Oklahoma. They have free full hook-ups, however our little Trek felt very out of place. All of the motorhomes around us were million dollar Newells. The lot was closed when we arrived, but we walked around last night and looked at the outside of all of the new and used ones that they had on the lot. As we walked around them we noticed that they all had a doorbell. Not realizing what it really was I pushed one of them, and the door swung open. My jaw almost hit the floor thinking that someone was answering the bell, but we then realized that it was the button to activate the pocket door, and that one had apparently not been locked for the evening. Figuring that there were probably cameras around we decided against taking our own tour. Almost all of them were 45 feet long, which is longer than we want, but they sure are nice. This afternoon we actually had a tour of the facility, and watched them being built literally from the ground up. It was quite impressive. We found a used one there on the lot that was very nice, but a little out of our price range. It did have one slide in the living room, but we really would like to find one with the perfect floor plan without any slides. As we walked into another we meet a very nice woman who was looking to upgrade her Newell. At first we thought she was one of the sales people because she told us all about them. She and her husband own a 1995 without any slides. They want to get one with two slides, and are looking for the perfect one to trade their current one in for. When we told her that their Newell was almost exactly what we were looking for she invited us to come and look at it. It was beautiful, and oh so perfect. It had a five foot walk-in closet in the back that would be perfect for all of our clothes, and the birdcage. We exchanged phone numbers and told her to call us if she ever wanted to sell. Below is a picture. The paint job is nice and simple, and the interior is all beige with subtle black accents. This afternoon we are planning on driving down to a Featherlite dealership that has a couple buses that we want to look at. The Newell's are nice, but they are still technically a "motorhome" and we really want a bus. Maybe we will find something worthy down there.

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Frank test drives a bus in Oklahoma

A Newell being built from the ground up

The 1995 Newell we looked at

July 12th-
Frank is helping set up the tent today in Denver, Colorado. This was originally going to be our first race, but boy are we glad we went to Saint Louis. We could have done without the heat, but the people we have meet along the way are well worth it. The two couples we met in The Ozarks are definitely going to do an event in November, and maybe even the Rodeo. We met another very nice couple at a rest stop that loved our motorhome. They are looking to downsize, so we exchanged numbers with them as well. How funny would that be to sell our current motor home to them, and buy Tom and Erika's Newell. We wouldn't even need to go through a dealership. That would be great. It is so much cooler here than Saint Louis, but much warmer than it was earlier this month in Colorado when we took our train ride. It should be a great weekend. Today while Frank and Bob (one of our bosses) put up the Nitro Mall tent Shirl (Bob's wife) and I went down to a local lake that had a wonderful beach. The day was perfect. We laid out all day and read and relaxed by the water, and when it would get too hot we would go for a swim. The guys finished about 3:00 and we went back and picked them up and all of us came back down to the lake. We swam for another couple hours, and then all went to dinner. Our little Trek's water tanks are so small and we are here for so many days that Frank and I have joked that we should come down each night to the lake and rinse off, that way we wouldn't have to use the shower. It might work for today, but any longer and we would start to smell funny.

 

July 13th - Mile High Nationals - Denver, Colorado -
We have finished stocking the tent, and are ready for another race. Suzy went down to a local casino with the girls to play penny slots. Neither of us had any cash on us so she only took five dollars, but came home with $35.00 maybe we should think of changing careers. All of the people we work with are great, we really are starting to feel like a family, and it's only been a short time. I guess when you spend that much time with anyone and actually get along you get attached quite quickly. These next few weeks will be very very busy. We have three back to back races. They call them the West Coast Swing. Next weekend we are off to Seattle, and then to Sonoma California where we will meet up with some family. It will be so odd to be back in California for awhile. We do not look forward to driving on those darn roads again. After Sonoma though we actually have a week off. We aren't sure yet what we might do, but something very relaxing sounds nice.

 

July 24th-
Two events down from the West Coast Swing, and one to go. We are leaving tonight to try and get to the Marathon dealership in Coburg, Oregon. Yes once again we have found a bus that is right in our price range, and not too scary. Most of the ones we have looked at have had either pink interior, or something weird. The one in Oklahoma was pink and floral, so we quickly marked that one off of our list. We are quite confident the perfect one is out there somewhere, it's just a matter of finding it. Seattle was so beautiful. WOW! Definitely a place we wouldn't mind spending more time. Unfortunately we had to leave town too early to do much exploring. We did get to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but Frank was quite disappointed by it. I knew he had his hopes up too high. Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory is one of his favorites, and usually the remakes aren't as good as the original. The place that we camped while at the track was completely surrounded by trees. We were right on the return road, and we were able to watch the races while on our lunch break. At one point we were sitting outside watching them in our lounge chairs and one of  the Safety Safari guys came by and said we had to move, he claimed that in case a piece of one of the cars broke off we would probably get hit by it. That would be just our luck - to get killed by a flying Funny Car engine.

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The body of a Funny Car

The chassis of a Funny Car

The Nitro Mall in the middle of 'Pit Row'

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Camping under the stars and trees in Seattle

Our view of the track from our campsite

Watching a beautiful sunset in Washington

August 8th - The Western Swing Comes to an End -
California - here we come, or should I say here we are and here we go!!! Sonoma was great. We again had a great view in our campsites, but the hills were a bit much. Luckily Frank's parents came up to visit us, and brought our scooter for the weekend. We coasted pretty much the whole way down the hill to work each morning, but the incline back was about a 90 degree angle (only a slight exaggeration :-)  It was fun to see family, and have a little time to spend with them. We did have a lot of long days, but at the end of the event we had a few days off. Frank's grandparents came up to visit as well. Our next trek will be a long one. It is 1900 miles from here to Brainerd, Minnesota. We have heard wild stories of this event, so we may be in for quite an adventure. The weather is supposed be a bit hot. We don't mind the heat as long is it doesn't get as hot as St. Louis. Hopefully we will have some fun pictures to post after Brainerd.

 

August 23rd - Brainerd Minnesota - The Zoo -
The weather in Brainerd was gorgeous. In was just like a nice spring day, only in the middle of summer. There was apparently a cold front that came in for the weekend, just in the nick of time. It had been 95 degrees all week before we arrived. I think the week of the races in Brainerd is the only vacation these people get all year long. There were at least 2000 people camping, and their parties and music went all night long. There were police everywhere. The camping area for the fans is nicknamed "The Zoo" and that is exactly what it is. There were a couple guys there that had a huge sheet of wood with three sets of holes across the top. They called it the "Boob-E-Meter" and each set of holes got larger as it went across the board. The first one had "Oh" printed underneath it, the second was "Oh My" and the third one said "Oh My God!" Apparently they had many woman asking if they could be measured.  There were so many people with crazy designed golf carts as well. Apparently that's the big rage there - to modify golf carts and have their own races in the grass. It was a very fun week. Just listening to the people talk was funny. They all have that crazy Minnesota, North Dakota accent it reminded us of the movie Fargo. Tennessee however was a different story. It was hotter than Hades there. With the heat index it got up to 125 degrees - no exaggeration at all!! We all thought we were either going to melt away, or die. I can't believe it can get that hot anywhere. We sell a product in the store called Neck Coolers. They are a silicon filled scarf that when put in ice gets nice and cold, and stays cool for hours. It goes around your neck, and is supposed to keep you about 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. We usually sell about 200- 300 at each event. This event we sold over 1600 of them. Why anyone would purposely come to the track and sit in the sun to watch the races in that kind of heat is beyond me. I now know what a turkey feels like on Thanksgiving as it bakes in the oven for 6 hours, except that our average day was 12 hours. We are soooo glad to be out of Memphis. I pray it isn't that hot in Indianapolis. The home office of our company is in Indianapolis, Indiana so that is our current home. We are actually camped out back of the MainGate facility for a few nights. It's great too have a few days off. The next couple days we are going to do absolutely nothing. This Sunday night one of our Event Managers is having a party at his home here in Indy for all of the employees. There are 16 or so couples that we work with at each event, and have gotten to know them fairly well, so we are looking forward to spending some time with them outside of work, and not at an event. We usually don't have a lot of socializing time while we are at an event, and everyone has a different travel schedule so we very rarely meet up with them on the road. Most of them work the various merchandise trailers, so we see them even less often. We toured the facility here a little, and were able to see how all of the shirts were printed. It sure is different from my old days of screen printing where you had to do it all yourself. However the place I worked was considerably slower paced (Thank God)

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The home offices of MainGate

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The 16 color presses all full of shirts

And a little closer of a shot of the presses

All the shirts done and ready to be sold

August 27th-
The last few days have been great! We have actually had a bit of time to ourselves, and have ventured out into "Indy" as all of the locals call it. On Friday we went to The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or otherwise known as the home of the Indianapolis 500. It was very educational to see how the Speedway has progressed after all these years. We took a tour of the track in a little bus, and walked around all of the cars that had won previous Indianapolis 500 races. The entire facility is funded by only one race a year! That's crazy. They now have a Nascar race once a year as well, so that income is apparently icing on the cake.

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Corner one of the Indianapolis 500 track

The Winner's Circle

The first winner of the Indy 500

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The start/finish line of the 'Brickyard 500'

We both had a chance to sit in one of the very itty bitty low to the ground Indy cars

On Saturday we drove out to Mount Comfort Airport and watched the Indianapolis Air Show. They had all sorts of Military planes and helicopters. We were able to tour the inside of a Black Hawk helicopter, and quite a few others. They had a great air show with all sorts of acrobatic planes, and the finale was a very impressive show by the Blue Angels. The different maneuvers they did were remarkable. We weren't able to get too many pictures of them, because of their speed, and neither of us wanted to miss any of the show by trying to focus through the camera. The had their huge air traffic control headquarters out there which is called "Fat Albert" I'm not quite sure what sort of plane he is but we was enormous. The Blue Angels did have of their maneuvers inverted which was fun to watch. They must have to spend so many hours practicing to get each maneuver so perfect. At times it appeared that they were only mere feet away from each other. If you ever get a chance to see them, it is more than worthwhile.

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Pilot Frank sits in an Apache helicopter

The back of a Black Hawk helicopter

WWII Bomber drop mock bombs

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"Fat Albert " of the Blue Angels

They flew so close together at times

And were close to the ground at other times

August 29th-
Nationals have arrived!! We began setting up the two tents today for "The Big Go". This race is supposed to be the biggest of the season. Last year was the 50th Anniversary so it was really big. They hope to do almost as well s last year, but they know they won't quite reach it since it was such a big celebration. We had a fun party last night at Rob Bissonette's house. He is the Event Manager for this race, so that means that he has to deal with all of the logistics of where our trailers will be placed and who will work where. We had a great time with all of our co-workers. We had a huge bar-b-que, and Suzy played-bartender for the evening. That was a lot of fun. Hopefully everyone will be able to work tomorrow. :-)The next few days will be very long so it was nice to have one last night of relaxation before the races begin. The gates open at 7:00 every morning, and the races don't end until 10:00 each evening. We are usually open for about an hour after the last race, so that will be a long six days, but we are up for it.

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Here are a few pictures of our fellow MainGate employees. All of them do the entire circuit with us, some pull the trailers of merchandise, some work in the store with us, and a few of them work at the home office. Upper Left: Kurt and Phyllis Hanson Above Center: Shirl Kase, Vicki Smith and Martha Upper Right: Lavina, Rob, Doug and Verna Left: Jim Maxey, Steve Cermac and Bruce  Right: Sue, Danny and Lavina (with Toby in her arms) Candy and Rick, and Martha

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September 10 - Frank's Birthday!!!
Happy Birthday to Frank! We have found a little piece of heaven right here on earth. It is in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Good friends of ours and co-workers Bob and Shirl Kase live here, and have opened their home to Frank and I and Doug and Martha for the week off that we have until the Reading, Pa event. We have created our own little RV Park in their driveway. It is so quiet up here at night all we here are the crickets, and the deer walking by our motorhome. The leaves are beginning to turn colors since fall is beginning, so the trees are all different colors. Frank has had a wonderful birthday it started out this morning when we drove up to an Elk Farm where for a price people can come in and hunt. We just went to see all of the beautiful Elk. It's so sad to think that people shoot them, but then again they do use the meat, and Elk jerky isn't too bad. Most of the Elk were sleeping in the woods so we didn't get to see many of them, but there were a couple herds eating on the outskirts of the wooded area. After the Elk Farm we went to downtown Williamsport where Little League Baseball was started. The six of us toured the ball field where they hold the Little League World Series every year. It's funny to see a baseball field so small but with so many seats for the fans. To celebrate Frank's birthday we went to a carnival in town, had dinner and played a few of the games. We then went back to Bob and Shirl's house for cake and ice cream. It was a wonderful day all around. It was so nice to spend a few days in the country. We had a campfire last night out in the backyard, and watched a bunch of deer walk down to their property from the hills across the street. They have quite a few Amish neighbors, who light their homes up at night with candles. We took a long bike ride early one morning and explored the neighborhood and surrounding farms. It was sad to have to leave and return to work, but it was a perfect place to recharge ourselves.

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Our country getaway

Frank and Cody check out 5 acre backyard

The curious cows watch us as we ride by

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Bob and Shirl outside the Little League Park

The World Series of Little League Ball Park

Shirl and I at the Casey at the Bat Statue

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Frank fell asleep in the grass

We stopped off at a Pub on the way home

Happy Birthday to Frank!

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