Wednesday, September 23, 2009: We've arrived a day early for the annual Montague, California, Escapees, Chapter 37 Balloon Rally. Chapter 37 always has an RV rally during the same weekend as the Montague Hot Air Balloon Rally. This week promised to be very hot, 90's+ but cool nights. That makes for great hot air ballooning. This is one of our favorite rally's. Our hosts, Dick and Doris own a large ranch in Montague where we all easily fit in the field next to their house. Mount Shasta is the mountain backdrop. It is 14,179 feet above sea level and has permanent glaciers which you can see in this photo. Click the photo to enlarge. We are not the only members to arrive early. There are six rigs here already, probably for the same reason we are here, because we enjoy the time so much. We are expecting a total of 26 rigs. I spent the cool morning mowing the weeds in the field so folks don't have to walk through the dry, sticky weeds to participate.
This is the satellite view of our camping location only three miles from Montague. The view shows Dick and Doris' ranch house and barn. We are camped in the field next to the house. Click the photo for a wider view of the area showing the location in relation to Montague and the Hot Air Balloon Rally. We can only hope the wind blows one of the balloons over our location and maybe even lands near us. Click here to see the aerial photo from last years rally.
Thursday, September 24, 2009: The rally began today at 2 pm with registration, parking solutions, visiting and bragging. At 4 pm we gathered for our usual welcome rally potluck. This year it was Chapter 47 who provided the snacks while Chapter 37 brought pies. At first it seemed like we had many more pies than snacks but by a few minutes after start time, we had lots of snacks. You can click the photo to see the variety of pies and snacks, at least what's left of them. You might also recognize many of the Chapter 37 and 47 members attending. Gwen is waving with her fork in the air.
Something special: for the last two days we have been able to see the International Space Station as it coasted over the ranch. Last night at 7:34 for 5 minutes and tonight at 8:00 for 3 minutes. Link to times you can view the station.
It was a surprise to us to receive an award for the job we did in organizing and scouting for the rolling rally in August. It was the clubs first rolling rally and a huge success. We received two RV pillows with RV covered pillow cases. Gwen and I did most but not all of the organizing, hence the reward. Pass your pointer through the photo at left to see the RV pillow. Doris is capturing a photo for the history book.
You can just catch a corner of the Sheriff's badge on my left shoulder. I was appointed to be the sheriff for this rally. More about that below.
Friday, September 25, 2009: Today was everyone's favorite rally game, the Cow Pie Toss! As the Sheriff, I created a fine for any sissy who had to use rubber gloves (provided by the host) to toss the cow pies. Most everyone wasn't a sissy this time, unlike the previous years. These cow pies were specially picked and prepared (dried) by our host Dick. Click the photo at the right to enlarge.
Gwen was a past champion at tossing the cow pie for accuracy and does her best to get her pie as close to the stack as she can. Diane takes her time to pick the very best pie for tossing from the large selection provided by Dick. Slide your pointer through Diane's photo on the right to see her toss.
Below, I chose my special pie for the perfect shape and balance. I have been the toss winner for the last two years but this year the judges made special rules just for me. I had to be in a chair for my toss AND they made all the men toss for accuracy rather than distance. I fooled them for my toss anyway, I tossed for DISTANCE right over the top of the accuracy pole.
If you are interested
in seeing the two time champion, Dale's toss in 2009, Gwen took the video at the left. Or you can click here if that's not working.
You must understand that Chapter 37 did their best to ruin my pie toss day. They forced
me to "be in a chair" during
the toss and they changed the rules of
the toss from distance winner to accuracy winner.
I fooled everyone by still tossing for distance but doing the toss directly over the accuracy pole. So no, I didn't win for a third year except I still had the best toss for distance. So I guess I'm still the best at BS for distance.
Tom and Mary Ellen are the happy winners of the Cow Pie Toss coveted trophies, the "golden cow chip award". Along with the trophy each won a one week supply of "Meadow Muffin" mix.
We were all winners of Doris' cookie sampler which she called her "cow pie cookie". It is 10" in diameter with six different cookie flavors.
Saturday, September 26, 2009: Today is the traditional day for visiting downtown Montague, see the parade, visit the shops and museum, then return for an afternoon nap. Gwen and I just stayed around camp to visit. If you would like to see photos of Montague and the happenings there, jump to the top of this page and click one of the previous years of the rally.
Another tradition for this day is the tritip dinner fixed by the hosts. Ed is carving the tritip just before serving. It's always something special. There is always some large pieces of tritip left over so those are auctioned to the members. The auction amount is donated to the CARE organization. Below, Doris and Dick, our rally hosts are preparing the members for the rally raffle prizes and for the tritip auction. Patty volunteered to be the auctioneer. Swing your mouse pointer over to Patty's photo to see her in action.
Once a tritip has been auctioned, the auction winner picks their piece from the pot. Doris then wraps the tritip for delivery to the winner.
I mentioned earlier that I had been appointed Sheriff. The sheriff gets to set the "rules" which when broken, triggers a fine. All fines are contributed to CARE. Since the days were very hot, anyone with a generator was running it so they could have air conditioning. So I started with generator fines of $1 per day. Last year we got fined for wearing hats at meals so this year I fined for NOT wearing a hat (I'm a hat person). However, on the second day I discovered that a hat thief had taken all my hats. The only one left was the one in the photo. All members except me thought it was funny. Fortunately, several members had pity on my and loaned me a hat. Finally, the club President admitted his involvement and donated to the fine bucket. He had returned my hats to my trailer in a garbage bag but, thinking it was garbage, I took them to the garbage trailer. Learning of this, the club President rescued them. Now I have a year to come up with some sort of retaliation.
Sunday, September 27, 2009: After "Hitch-up" breakfast and much farewell visiting the Escapee members began leaving our rally campground for further traveling. Tom and Diane are one of the most popular Escapee couples so everyone had to wave "so-long and safe travels". Since the rally began, the Montague valley has been filled with smoke from forest fires in central Oregon. As folks left, the valley began to clear and by evening, there were only five rigs left in the rally campground. It's only those five rigs which really got a beautiful view of Mt. Shasta. Everyone will have to come back next year for the "full" experience.