Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rally #1

We are now in Rally mode.  We have three rallies in about a month’s time followed by the Albuquerque Balloon Festival in October.  Our first rally this summer was the Golden Spike Rally in Lewistown Montana.  The FMCA Golden Spike Chapter holds most of their 4 rallies a year somewhere in the western US.  Last year we scheduled the Charlie Russell Chew Choo Dinner Train but it was rescheduled a for this year because of the flooding had devastated the rail road trestle.   We were really looking forward to seeing our Golden Spikers as our spring rally also had to be canceled and we hadn’t seen our friends since January in Indio.
We drove from Miles City, Montana, up state Hwy 22 to to SR 200 across some serine grassy fields with cows and horses dotting the horizon.  Again, Tom definitely signed up for this kind of driving.
We pulled into the very nice Mountain Acres RV park and parked next to rally masters, Betty and Jim Steindorf.  We had stayed at the Steindorf’s farm in Charma, MT, 2 years ago, and always look forward to spending time with this fun couple. Jim is like a Montana historian and generously shares his love and historical stories of Montana.  It wasn’t long before our group started arriving from Long Beach, Washington state, and Nevada City.  We had 6 rigs.  Our first night was spend eating and catching up on 6 months’ travels.  Our rally masters had made arrangements to have Lawrence Hess, a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Montana RR, speak to us on the history of the railroad in Montana.
The next day began a non-stop 3 days of activities.  We carpooled to the Central Montana historical Museum.
Next on our itinerary was a tour of the County Courthouse.  Our guide took us to all 4 floors ending with the jury room of the Superior Court.  Dotty Poole showed us how seriously she would take the duty of a juror.

Next was lunch followed by a presentation on the Yogo sapphires at Don's Western Store. We had the opportunity to buy some of these beautiful cornflower blue gems.  At hundreds of dollars for some small stones set in lovely rings and earrings I just had to resist in favor of buying diesel.
After all that activity we couldn’t rest on our laurels, we carpooled to the Hutterite community for a delicious (I’m saying REALLY delicious) dinner.  Everything was grown, prepared and cooked by the Hutterite ladies.  This is a religious community much like the Amish or Mennonite, but they are a commune.  They share all the work, property and profits.  We had seen a couple of NatGeo programs on the Hutterites and after talking with these ladies we found that program was an exploitation of the Hutterites.  They are an interesting and caring community.  We had beets that were picked that morning, mashed potatoes with a mushroom based chicken gravy, fried chicken, biscuits with butter and homemade jam (this could have been served as desert it was so good), and rhubarb-cream cheese pie with homemade ice cream, also delicious and I don’t even like rhubarb.  We then went for a tour of the farm.
We ended our very busy day #1 racing the approaching storm back to the RV park. It was nice that we had great weather all day and the rain held off until night time. 
Day #2
We started our day with Betty Steindorf fixing us home made Huckleberry pancakes. Betty collected the Huckleberries for last year’s rally and since it was canceled, she froze them and we had them this year.  She also served her delicious frozen strawberry jam made from her enormous garden.
We found that the Hutterite ladies would be selling some of their home made goods at the local Farmer’s Market on Saturday, so we scheduled a stop.
This is Kathy, one of the Hutterite ladies. She had her daughter design her labels for her jellies.  She pulled out her cell phone to give us her daughters Facebook.  We were amazed at the technology they use.  We sure enjoyed their friendly warm spirit.
That afternoon we went to the Lewistown Airport, on the National Historic Registry.  This was a was constructed during 1942 as one of four training facilities for the B-17 Flying Fortress crew members and included a storage site for the top secret Norden Bombsight.  Our tour guide explained how the Bombsight was under lock and key in a little building near the terminal.  When it was to be used, it was ‘checked out’ and secured in the plane and then returned to the secure building at the end of the mission.
The airfield was in operation during a 12-month period between 1942 and 1943 and thereafter deactivated. Another small world encounter… one of our Golden Spike members had worked on the Minutemen Missile silos a few miles north at Malmstrom AFB.  We toured the many buildings.
At 4:15 we carpooled the 45 minutes to the place where we boarded the Chew Choo dinner train.  This stop is in the middle of nowhere because of the damage done to the previous boarding area.  Yup, that’s the previous boarding area below.
Part of the drive was on a dirt road. We were excited when we saw the train and then the many cars and people waiting to board.
We gathered together for a club picture.
The Whole Group
This was a 3 1/2 hour train ride, beautiful scenery that Charles Russell painted many times, dinner that was delicious, entertainment on board, and a train robbery.
On our last day of the rally we visited the Kendall ghost town  
The Steindorf’s are members of the Montana Ghost Town Preservation Association, so after visiting the various building sites we went to the amphitheater for lunch and a ‘lecture’ by Pastor Jim Steindorf. 
What an amazing talk – funny, informative, and even a little political.Winking smile
CIMG0732That night we had one last meal a bar-b-q and birthday celebration for Gary Schneider and a surprise 50th Wedding Anniversary cake for Tom and I.
The next morning we gathered for leftover breakfast items, fruit, pancakes, muffins and coffee.
This was a well organized, informative, fun and delicious rally.  What more could we ask for?  Nothing!
And we are on to North Dakota.

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