Sunday, April 23, 2006

Good Sam State “Samboree”


After the pistachio farm tour and a stop to get groceries, I located the Elks Club where the Samboree was to be held. A parking volunteer directed me to my space. After trying unsuccessfully to level Jeremiah, a man from a neighboring space came over to help. We tried several things, and then finally resorted to digging out holes for my front wheels and putting the back wheels up on blocks. Rather than “dig” he actually chipped away at the impacted gravel/dirt. I checked in at registration.

There are about 145 RVs registered – motorhomes, van conversions, trailers, and 5th wheels. Some are here at the Elks and some are at regular RV parks around town. Mostly older folks and about 98% couples.

Wednesday’s schedule started with doughnuts and horrible tasting coffee. I don’t do doughnuts and I don’t drink bad coffee. I had anticipated this – had already enjoyed my own delicious coffee and breakfast.

Three tournament games were on the schedule – bridge, Sequence and dominoes. I wandered around, introducing myself to others and looking for interesting people to get acquainted with. Everybody has been nice and polite; but the majority are members of “local chapters” where they live and weren’t inclined to mingle. The game players are super serious.

You can tell the long-time members by looking at their chapter vests. Check out the photos of one lady’s vest!

The best part of today was the evening entertainment – a steel drum band. They were very talented – 8 to 10 girls, ages between 11 and 16 and about 5 adults. The sounds they made were amazing. They played non-stop for about an hour.

There was nothing of interest on Thursday’s schedule, so I decided to ride my bike into town – first to a café for breakfast (more about that to come) and then to the library. I had a lot of email to answer. I was hoping to have an email from the Raikins with Jackie’s phone number, but no luck.

The old downtown is all of two blocks long – mostly empty buildings. I made a stop at Walmart and then a second-hand bookstore. (Rick: I got a Clive Cussler book – “The Sea Hunters.” Thanks for the suggestion.) (Maria – I got “Bubbles” – Beverly Sills’ autobiography.)

It was a very nice bike ride – 12 miles total. Back at the Elks Club, I walked around looking for people to meet before going to the evening’s entertainment. It turned out to be a “fashion show” of fancy ballroom dance dresses from the olden days.

Now, why did I have breakfast at the café? Well, it is tough to produce good food for a crowd, and the “hot breakfast” offered by the Good Sam folks was pitiful. They served: biscuits (OK), fairly tasteless gravy (ugh!) half-cooked bacon (stomach ache waiting to happen; one camper commented that every time he poked his bacon with a fork, it went “oink, oink!), and scrambled eggs (passable at best). Oh, yes – more of the ghastly coffee. I pushed things around my plate and then found the nearest garbage can.

I again gambled with the “hot breakfast” that was offered. This one – pancakes and sausage – was OK. I had the pancakes, skipped the sausage. After breakfast, I again visited with some people, and then went back to Jeremiah to have lunch and read.

Cat and I had settled down with Clive Cussler’s book – right before there was a knock on my door. My friends Jackie and Ben were there! Turns out that when Irene received my email, she called Ben’s sister Beverly, who in turn called Jackie. What a pleasant surprise. Since they are members of the Elks, they took me into to lodge and we enjoyed a cold beer, popcorn and some good visiting time. We made plans to spend Saturday morning together.

Jackie picked me up at 7 a.m. and took me to breakfast and then to their home. Their neighborhood was having yard sales, so Jackie and I shopped. I bought a dehydrator for $5 (hope it works!), a basket and some books. Then Jackie and Ben took me out to Holloman Air Force Base (he is retired Air Force) and then gave me a tour of Alamogordo. The last stop was “Mom’s Cafe” for delicious hamburgers. We ended our visit with another cold beer at the Elks – I had a really nice morning.

In the afternoon I did some preliminary chores to get ready to leave here in the morning. One chore was to get my blog writing done so I can post it tomorrow.

Sunday morning reflections
In all, I had a good time. I was parked next to nice folks.

Hanging out with older people who are still enjoying RVs reminds me that, Lord willing, I have a lot of traveling to look forward to. (The couple next to me has a huge 5th wheel: she’s in her late 80s and drives; her husband is in his early 80s and does all the maintenance, etc. I met a 90+ man who had brought his “girlfriend” along.)

I got some good information about the state parks I’ll be going to soon: “see if you can get space 39 at Brantley Lake” was one piece of advice.

I found out that if you don’t belong to a local chapter and don’t play a lot of games – and play them seriously – there isn’t much to do at a Samboree.

“Boondocking” – a.k.a. “dry camping” is not difficult. However – not something I want to do on really hot or really cold days. Unlike the bigger rolling castles, Jeremiah does not require a lot of electricity, and I found that I only needed to run the generator an hour each morning and another hour in the late afternoon.