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Parrottrek Journal 2005

September 12th -
The girls spent the day in Intercourse!! Intercourse, Pennsylvania that is! Where is this you ask?? It is the heart of Amish Country. Frank, Bob and Doug are setting up the tent today so Martha, Suzy and Shirl are going to go shopping!! It used to be called Cross Keys, which is a much less embarrassing name, but apparently since they used to have some sort of horse race course there they changed the name, or so the story goes. The town next door to it is called Blue Balls, and there is another town a little up the road that is called Virginville. These people have quite a sense of humor when it comes to naming their towns. We had a great time seeing all of the homemade quilts, and eating Amish food. It was fun to see the little horse and buggies going down the road right along with the cars. State Law here says that if you kill a horse pulling a buggy you will get the same prison term that you would get if you killed a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Not a good idea to run over a horse here!!! The people here in Amish Country are very nice, and very wholesome. None of the children are allowed to speak unless they are respectful, and they all follow behind mom and dad just like little ducks in a row. The grocery store was very quiet, you didn't hear any of them screaming for a toy or cookies like you do in 'secular' grocery stores. Maybe all children should spend their first few years in an Amish household. Monday is laundry day here in Intercourse, so every house that you drive by has huge clotheslines full of clothes from little tiny sizes up to great big dad and mom size clothes. The fields are enormous, and quite smelly this time of year. We had to turn the air off when we would pass by a large field or we would nearly pass out.

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A "two horse power" vehicle

Shirl gives Martha and I a milking lesson

An Amish church and cemetery

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A one room schoolhouse

Commuter traffic

Hold your breath, here comes another farm

September 14th -
The race is starting tomorrow, so tonight was our last night of freedom. A big group of us drove back into Amish Country and went to Shady Maples. It is a huge Amish restaurant that has a buffet style dinner. They had everything imaginable on the menu. All of it is homemade right there by a bunch of Amish ladies. Everyone loved it, and we all ate way too much. The food was excellent however, and well worth it. It poured pretty much all day today. The tent was beginning to flood out, and all of our computer outlets were under water. Lets hope those dry out before we have to use them, or we may loose a few employees to electrocution. It continued to rain pretty much all night. As we drove into town you could barely see the front of the car. This race usually rains out, so lets hope that tonight was the last of it.

September 20th -
Our weekend turned out to have wonderful weather. Not a single drop of rain during the races. It did however rain pretty much all night each night, but once the sun came out in the morning the rain clouds went away. All of the fans were amazed. Sundays races were sold out and everyone who came in the store was in awe that it wasn't raining. The joke of the Reading race is that it has only rained out 13 of the last 12 years. This weekend was busier than the race in Indianapolis. The days flew by, and we are once again on the road. We are now headed to Ennis, Texas which is about 1400 miles from Reading, Pa, so we have had a couple long days of driving. The driving is actually part of the fun. It's nice to relax while you watch the scenery go by, and Frank loves to drive the bus. I actually did drive it for a few hours each day on the drive to Indiana, but Frank can't sit still very long, so driving keeps him entertained. I on the other hand love to curl up on the couch with a good book, or just stare out the window as the country goes by us. In fact right now the sun is setting here in Arkansas, and it sure is a beautiful sight to see. It's amazing to think how many different states we have watched the sunset in in the last few months. Something we couldn't do back home very often. I tried to take a picture for you, but it's too dark now. Sorry! Frank's cousin Kellie and her family live about 10 miles from the race track in Ennis, so we will be meeting up with them tomorrow night for dinner.  It really is a small world when you think about it. It turns out we have had quite a few friends and family at various locations that we have worked. Last weekend in Pennsylvania we met up with Chris Millar who used to be an employee of ours at Antonio's for about 4 years. He and his dad came out to the races and we had a little time to catch up. We also just found out that other friends or ours recently moved to Indianapolis, Indiana and live only a little ways from the track there. Too bad we didn't know that this year, but it will give us someone else to visit along our journey for next year.

September 24th -
Dallas, Texas ended up being a very short stop. Hurricane Rita changed our plans for the weekend. NHRA called off the race since Thursdays reports showed that Dallas would be getting 70 mile an hour winds, and quite a bit if rain starting 2am Saturday and probably not slowing down until late Sunday. We had just put up the entire store with stock and all just to take it down the next day. We didn't mind the extra work, since we would rather not experience 70 mile an hour winds first hand.Since we already had a vacation planned with some friends from back home for the two weeks after the Dallas race, the cancellation actually worked out to our advantage. This way we have a few extra days to reach our destination of the Grand Canyon, and can make a few extra tourist stops on the way. We stopped in Tombstone, Arizona today to check out the O.K. Corral and the infamous gunfight between the Earp brothers with Doc Holliday and the wanted McLaurys and Clantons. It was fun to see a bit of history up close. We hope to make it to the Phoenix area tonight. We will be staying at Lake Pleasant until Tuesday, and then make our way up to the Grand Canyon's North Rim from there.

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Suzy poses with one of the gunfighters

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The campsites were lacking a bit in greenery

So we spent most of our time in the huge pool

Lake Pleasant is a very fun area. We found a great RV Park for 15 dollars a night right on the outside road of the lake. Frank's aunt and uncle and cousins live in Phoenix which is about 30 minutes from the lake so we were able to spend a good amount of our time with them. It was fun to see them since we usually only get to see them once every three years or so. It's also been great to relax by the pool for a few days, and boy is the pool huge here.

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September 28th -
Early this morning as Frank was washing the motorhome, he heard a noise that sounded like kittens crying. After investigating, he found a box full of teeny tiny kittens with their eyes barely opened, left in an abandoned campsite with only an open can of dried out tuna to eat, and a bowl of dirty water that had been spilled since they were all stumbling around.

They tried with all their might to escape the box

But finally gave up and fell asleep

He brought them home and we took turns giving them water with the bird's syringe and began calling around to find someone to take them in since six kittens and three parrots would not make a happy home. Two hours and 80 miles later, we found a home for the sweet abandoned kittens. After leaving a 40 dollar donation to purchase some extra food for the six little fluff-balls we headed back to the RV Park feeling much better knowing the kittens were in good hands. Whomever left them should consider themselves lucky that I didn't find out who they were. These little guys were so skinny you could feel their ribs.

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On the rim of the Grand Canyon with Joe and Brandie

Cody and Abbey look out over Lake Mead

King Ty sits on his throne

October 1st -
The Grand Canyon is beautiful, and this is a perfect time of year to visit. There are no crowds, and the weather is a bit cool. We actually had to use our furnace for the first time. P.S. We discovered that the bus has heated tiles - very nice for early morning trips to the potty or to the kitchen for a midnight snack. No more shock of ice cold tiles on your feet to help in the wake-up process. We will be heading out of here in the morning and making our way to Lake Mead. We will have some other friends of ours meet us there, and will hopefully be able to hit the water for a day or two. Our whole group is now here and we are at Lake Mead. The birds are loving being outside, and our friends dogs Malibu, Ty and Tanner are intrigued by the birds. The guys went on for a Jeep ride while the girls went shopping at a local craft and art show. The guys came back with only one flat tire which was quite amazing considering the rocky area that went 4-wheeling. We will be here at Lake Mead for another day and then our next stop will be Vegas for almost a week.

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Relaxing on Lake Mead with good friends

The bus' first drive over Hoover Dam

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An amazing concert with Elton John

Camping in Vegas at the Outdoor Resort

The guys attempt some synchronized swimming

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Joe and Brandie plan their next tennis attack

Even though John and Frank lost, they all had fun

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We spent a full day 4-wheelin' with the Jeeps through the waters and hillsides of Lake Mead. The weather was perfect and we only flattened one tire. Oops!

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Suzy's brief lead on the group

Andrea gains speed on the last lap

Rams would visit the nearby park each afternoon

October 10th -
Viva Las Vegas!!!!! We are staying at a gorgeous RV Park called Outdoor Resorts. There are five pools and five Jacuzzis. The sites are enormous and each one is different from the next because each site is individually owned. It's very similar to the resort in Florida where we own our site, except that the Florida RV Park is about 10 times bigger. We all played tennis everyday followed by laying out at one of the pools. We went into town a couple nights and had a great afternoon at the indoor go-kart track where we all raced against each other. John finished first, Frank was second, and Suzy finished third. It was so much fun. Joe and Brandie ended up leaving early Saturday morning and John and Andrea stayed an extra night. The four of us went to lunch at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and noticed that Elton John was in concert at Caesar's Palace. We spontaneously decided that if they did have tickets we would go that night, but considering that Elton John is only there for a month the chances of getting in on a Saturday night was super slim to none. We called anyways and surprisingly lucked out. The concert was unbelievable. All of his songs are so familiar and it felt as though we were sitting there alone listening to him play and sing the way that the Colosseum is designed. We will drive to Pomona in a day or so for he race there, the last race of the year. I can't believe how fast this year has gone. We have had so much fun and it honestly doesn't even feel like we have worked much. We are definitely signing on to do this another year and can't wait to see what we will get the opportunity to see next year with the whole year at our feet to plan different vacations and sight seeing trips. We hope you'll join us here on Parrottrek!

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Len, Ellie, Martha and Doug

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The sailor that made my hat

Kurt and Philly

Suzy, LaVerne and Rick

October 19th -
Happy Birthday to Suzy! On one of the evenings after stocking the store a group of us went out for a very fun evening at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, including the friend we met from Lake of the Ozarks who are working these last few MainGate events with us. The restaurant was great. They had a mock concert with Jimmy Buffet performing on a big screen while the waitresses would dance. They even had a balloon man dressed as a sailor walking around on stilts who made Suzy a great birthday hat and he made a sword for Frank.

October 22nd -
The Vegas race is well underway and very busy. We are working in a "Super" this weekend which is a gigantic semi trailer that opens up on one side and is full of merchandise. It's great to work in the Super because it gives us an idea of what next year will be like when we have our own trailer to tow. Our trailer will be a bit smaller but at least we now know we will enjoy it. The best part of our trailer this weekend is the location. We are about 50 feet from the racetrack staging area so when the trailer isn't busy we can take turns watching the races. Frank watches most of them but I make him switch with me as soon as the motorcycles start. Watching someone go over 250 hundred miles an hour on a motorcycle is quite exciting.

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A full shot of the Super with truck and trailer

Our merchandise selection behind us

The motorcycles getting ready to race

November 6th -
Our NHRA season is coming to an end as the Pomona event closes today. Neither of us can believe that the season is over, and 6 months have passed since we embarked on our adventure. After this event we will be heading to the Santa Ynez Valley for a few weeks to visit with our family and friends. When we originally signed on we were told we would have 3 months off between the end of this season, and the start of the next. We weren't quite sure what we would do in the mean time since neither of us want to sit in one place too long. Our prayers have been answered and we now have three other venues to work at through our same company. We will be working the National Finals Rodeo from the 28th of November until the 12th or so of December, and then we will be back in Las Vegas after Christmas to work a new Year's Eve party that will on Las Vegas Blvd. Apparently they close of the entire street to cars, so the entire "Strip" will be crowded with people. We will be selling merchandise celebrating "America's Party". Our souvenir trailer will be parked right out in the middle of the festivities. We have also been asked to work at The Barrett Jackson Car Auction which takes place in January in Scottsdale, Arizona. This event is supposed to be great, so we are looking forward to it. They auction off cars from $5,000.00 to somewhere in the millions. We will be off for two weeks at Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas. What better of a schedule could anyone ask for?  Below are a few more pictures of our co-workers in the Nitro Mall. Rick and LaVerne and Tom and Connie are the friends that we met in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. They decided to do a few events with us during the Drag Race season and they will also join us for the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas.  It's fun to think of all of the friends that we have met around the country and stayed in contact with.

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Ellie and Vicki

Laverne, Suzy, Vicki and Coni

Tom. Frank and Tom button hats

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This is the trailer we will pull next year

A fun picnic on the back lawn

Bradley and Abbey loved hanging in the tree

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The bus 5 feet in the air... ... with me inside

Frank and Louie check out the undercarriage

The bus gets a clean bill of health

November 23 -  
Mira Loma, Ca is our current home. We are here getting our tow hitch upgraded in order to be able to tow a 12,000 pound trailer for next season. We will be towing the Kenny Bernstein Top Fuel Dragster merchandise trailer. Since the trailer is driver specific (driven by Brandon Bernstein) we will be attending all of the 23 events for next years NHRA Powered Series. We have had quite a good time since we arrived here in Mira Loma. We are at the Prevost bus facility and have seen all sorts of celebrity buses. We met the drivers for Oprah Winfred and saw her bus. Parked near us are the buses for the band Nine Inch Nails and the Eagles. Yesterday when the bus was getting worked on we were parked next to Clint Eastwood's bus inside one of the bays. Frank has met and talked to all the different drivers, including Lee Greenwood's driver. His bus is beautiful with all sorts of musical notes on the sides and back. We were also able to see the plans for Oprah's new bus which had everything imaginable including 24kt gold in the sinks and shower - To each their own I guess. We also met the driver for Henry Ford III's bus (the owner of the Ford company) We actually have seen that bus at a couple drag Races so now Frank has a bus friend to hang out with when the Ford coach is there. We have gone to two different swing dance clubs with Frank's cousin Sean. Frank and I haven't been swing dancing for about 5 years so we were a bit rusty. A few steps came back to us but we had more fun watching all of the other couples dance.  Sean is a great dancer and gave me a few quick lessons so he and I danced a couple songs, but again it was far more entertaining to watch the "regulars". Some of them were professionals. One day we took a nice long bike ride one day. It was supposed to be about 10 miles ending at The Air Museum in Chino but we apparently missed a street so it turned into a 21 mile bike ride. Needless to say we didn't make it to the Air Museum that day, so we decided to drive the Jeep there the next day. Our legs appreciated the day of rest. Another day we had a picnic out on the lawn of the RV Park. The birds loved the tree. It was the perfect size for Abbey and Bradley to sit in all day. Below are pictures of our trailer for next year, our picnic at the RV Park and the amazing feat of lifting the bus up in order to get an up close and personal view of the undercarriage of the bus.

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November 30th 2005 -
We are back in fun-filled Las Vegas for the Wrangler Nationals Finals Rodeo that will be held the first two weeks of December. Instead of working in the store this event we will share what is called a kiosk with one other couple. The kiosk that we have been assigned to is one of the busiest locations which is wonderful since we will be on commission for this event. According to the other couples that have worked this event in the past you are busy from the minute the doors open to the moment the lights go off. The hours for this event will be wonderful as well. We are only open from 10:00am until 5:00pm.

Compared to our regular days that range anywhere from 9 hours to 16 this will be piece of cake. We won't know what to do with evenings off, but I'm sure we will find something to fill the time, heck we are in Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps. Our kiosk is 40 feet long and about 8 feet or so deep. There are essentially two separate sides that have the same merchandise displayed. Frank and I will work one side and Dan and Patty, our co-workers, will work the other. Above you can see Frank and Patty checking in our first order. We will receive an order each morning replenishing what we sold the previous day. It is actually quite an efficient set-up that MainGate has. You can see behind Frank, on the right, how all of our merchandise is displayed. We spent most of yesterday and today setting up our kiosk and organizing it so we all can find the correct sizes and colors when the crowds hit.

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December 2nd - Christmas Comes Twice This Year -
We are all camped at Thousand Trails, which is a nice RV park about 5 miles from the convention center and 15 minutes from the Thomas and Mack. This is the only event that parking/lodging isn't provided for us due to the fact that the location of the event is rather small and they need all the room that they have to house the animals and all the vehicles there are at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Arena. Lucky for all of us, Larry and Jeanette are members here at Thousand Trails, which is a chain of RV parks all over the country. They invited all of us to stay at the Las Vegas location as their guests and got all of us a great prices for the two weeks we will be here. The RV park has a big party room that the guests can use, so we all took full advantage of it for our Christmas party with dinner, drinks and a fun gift exchange. To the right are a few pictures of that party.
Clockwise from upper left - 1)Frank, Kurt, Dave and Rick sample Len's famous margaritas.yum yum. 2)Philly, Shirl and Suzy. 3) Frank looking a little nervous to open his present after seeing what Kurt received below!Yikes. 4) Can you tell what is in Kurt's hand to make such a smile? 5) Tom and Rick take a self portrait on my camera. These two are always up to something! I didn't know they had done it until I loaded the photos on my computer. Haha, thanks guys for the laugh. 6) Verna and Patty catch up on the last year of each others adventures. Patty and her husband worked for MainGate for a few years but are now working in Alaska (Brrrrrrrrr!!)
The party was so much fun and the crazy gift exchange had everyone practically in tears from laughing. It was a great way to start out our week since half of us have the day shift and the other half have the evening shift we may not see much of each other during the rodeo.

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December 10th -
What could be better than front row seats at a Neil McCoy concert? Free front row seats. Fremont Street has three free concerts throughout the week of the Rodeo and we attended this evenings free concert with legendary Neil McCoy. It was a blast. The view was great and he and his band put on a very fun show. He is quite a dancer and really gets into the music. We did a little gambling afterward. Shirl and I played what we thought were penny slots, but after we both won we realized that they were set to the 5 cent option. On my first bet I won the bonus spin and more bonus spins kept coming and coming. We were so excited. Apparently neither of us gamble enough to realize that the machines are so fancy now you can not only bet however much money you want, but you can change the denomination that you are gambling as well. Where else can you turn 5 cents into 88 dollars??? The people around us probably thought we had won the big jackpot listening to us scream so loud. It was a lot of fun. Bob and Frank went to the Craps table and Frank won a bit of money as well, but I think Shirl and I had the most fun.

We quickly took our winnings and headed home for the night. The next night we drove the Thomas and Mack Arena, visited with everyone working at that venue and watched the crazy festivities of the rodeo. What would posses a man climb on the back of a bull that first of all is quite wild and second of all is a bit upset because of the rope around his privates tied as tight as the guys can pull it is beyond me. 8 seconds doesn't seem too long to do anything, until you see just how quickly and how far a bull can throw it's rider. Watching the Bull Riding made the Bare Back Riding look easy. The rodeo was amazing to watch, since all of the participants make what they do seem so easy. I must admit however I did find myself cheering for the little calves when they got away from the cowboys trying to rope them. The man next to me gave me an odd look each time I clapped when the calk escaped but oh well. We had great seats right in the middle so we had a perfect view down the center of the arena.

Tomorrow is the last day of the rodeo which is sort of sad since we are having such a great time and with the hours being so great it doesn't feel like we have worked that much. Our volume of sales has been wonderful. We broke all of last years records and the goals for this year, so we are all very happy with ourselves. We will stay here in Las Vegas a couple extra days so we can visit some good friends that we haven't been able to spend much time with who live nearby. After that we will head back to California for the holidays and enjoy a few weeks off.

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Neil McCoy live in concert on Freemont Street

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Notice how quickly the cowboy goes from being on the bull to doing a header onto the dirt below! Ouch!!

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The guys face off in foot to combat. Right! Right! Right! Left! Left! Right!

December 20th - Home for the Holidays -
It has been so fun to see everyone and catch up with all our friends. We have been to a couple fun Christmas parties so far and Christmas is still a week away. The best one was with Frank's best friend Tony and his wife Allison along with a group of friends we have known since high school. We had dinner and played Karaoke. The guys put on a dance competition as we ladies watched. We laughed so hard, and I swear all we had to drink were a few egg nog lattes - promise. Next was the sing off competition. We were all in choir together at Trinity Baptist through most of high school and a bit of college so we can all carry a note or two. Tony sang a few songs and actually went platinum while poor Frank got booed off the stage. He was a little shy. I guess American Idol will not be one of the stops along our way next year! We girls did okay. We even received a couple Gold Albums, however we all sang together since no one was brave enough to go it alone. A few of our songs weren't album worthy, but we still had fun. Tony was by far the winner of the singing part of our competition while Mark was the dance champion of the night. Tony again did quite well in the dance category, but fell a bit short of our reigning champ. The girls didn't even attempt to compete with the the boys in the dancing segment, except for Kylie - Tony and Allison's two year old daughter. She gave Mark quite a run for his money. While the guys danced, the ladies built gingerbread houses! Well actually they were graham cracker houses with fudge as the glue. Mine appropriately looked a lot like a graham cracker bus! We also attended the Antonio's Pizza Christmas Party, our old restaurant. It was fun to see everyone and the new owner is doing a wonderful job, but it was nice to know that we were able to leave town again and not have to deal with the headaches of being self employed anymore. The best part of being back in the Valley was being able to eat the best pizza again. We both sure did miss Antonio's fabulous food!! Yum! We have yet to find a better pizza anywhere across the country.

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Game time with nieces Hayley and Torrie and family friends Beth and John

Grandma Whitmore with David and her newest great grand son

Frank with his sister Renee and Grandma and Grandpa Saulsbury

December 25th -  MERRY CHRISTMAS!
We spent Christmas Eve with both of our families. They all live within 30 minutes of each other so it makes for a fun holiday to have everyone at the same table for Christmas dinner. We all got together again today for Christmas morning to open presents and eat all of the leftovers. This afternoon we all went to see Cheaper by the Dozen 2. We are currently parked outside Frank's grandparents house so we are in close proximity of everyone. We aren't sure yet if we will stay here for New Year's or head out.

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