Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rally Retreat, Birds and Boondocking

The 2015 Rally Recovery Retreat began for us on Tuesday, October 20.  We had planned to make our first stop post-Rally at one of our favorite campgrounds, Coon Creek Cove COE Park just east of Ponca City, Oklahoma.  Several other couples were also heading south, and we invited them to join us.  By Wednesday, we were delighted to be joined by Steve and Gail as well as Sherri and Rocky.   Here is what our own mini-rally at Coon Creek Cove looked like.

We have had a great time visiting and in general taking it easy.  Steve and Gail are responsible for running the HDT National Rally, and Sherri did a great job organizing the volunteers who set up and cleaned up after all the Rally events.  They were all too ready to take a break from organizing! 

Coon Creek Cove Park is located on beautiful Kaw Lake in North Central Oklahoma.  There are several Corps of Engineers Parks on the lake, but this is one of the nicest.  Sites are large and well-spaced, with good shade and large grassy areas.  There is a boat dock, too, and lots of people from the area fish on Kaw Lake, which is noted for being a great “catfish” lake.

It’s a great birding center, too.  Our RV sites back up to a protected finger of the main lake where lots of birds hang out.  When we arrived on Tuesday, there were several American white pelicans and small flock of seagulls.  

On Wednesday morning, they were joined by a large contingent of pelicans which almost filled the cove beside our campsite. 

And just when we thought there was no more room for birds on the water, the cormorants arrived…and just kept coming! 

They streaked in like brown bullets and landed with a splash among the pelicans. 

For a while, all was quiet and the combined flocks paddled happily together.

Then, almost as one the cormorants took to the air, whirling overhead, then disappearing.

Many of the pelicans remained, and in a while were doing their feeding ballet, submerging their heads almost as one and gulping down their dinners as they came up.

But bird watching wasn’t our only adventure.  Early Friday morning my UPS started chirping to let me know that there was no electricity coming into the coach.  John and I got up to investigate, and it was a fact.  There were no 120v lights anywhere in the campground.  When we talked to park personnel on Friday, they confirmed our worst fears.  There was an underground break in the main power line, probably caused by flooding earlier in the year.  So, for the remainder of our stay, we relied on our solar power and generators to provide electricity.  It was an unexpected “boondocking” experience for all of us, but an enjoyable one.  All six of us were glad to know we could operate “off the grid” in an emergency.

We have especially enjoyed spending time with our HDT friends apart from the hubbub of the Rally.  But we have made other friends as well.  Jimbo Graves and his wife, Cheryl, invited all of us to join their bluegrass, fried catfish and nuts party on Saturday night.  It was a great occasion.  The food was tasty and plentiful. 

The music had us all keeping time and humming along.

And God provided one of the most spectacular sunsets any of us have ever seen.

It was a trip none of us will ever forget.  We wish you could have been there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


The last two weeks have been busy ones for us.  We had an uneventful trip from Manhattan to Hutchinson, Kansas, the site of our Heavy Duty Truck National Rally.  This year, we had over 70 registrations, an all-time high. 

Believe it or not, women share the driving duties for many of these rigs.  I think many of the RDBE (which stands for "Rigs Driven By Estrogen") Gals started driving as a matter of safety.  But then, we found out how much fun it can be to handle our own heavy haulers.  Now, many of the women say they drive at least half of the time out of preference.  Here we are assembled for our annual group portrait.  Drive on, Ladies!

To keep track of the number of HDT's, there were a couple of drones that flew from time to time.

They attracted almost as much attention as the trucks.  When one flew over our coach, I was puzzled at the soft, whirring sound, but didn't know where it came from.  At least, I didn't know until Rue spotted it hovering above and began barking frantically and dancing on her hind legs!  Fortunately it stayed well beyond her reach.

During the Rally, we stay at the RV park on the Kansas State Fairgrounds.  It’s a great venue, with plenty of room for our RV’s and trucks, a building with good meeting facilities, and plenty of open space.

In addition to time spent in seminars and discussions, we had pot-luck dinners, BBQ dinners, pizza parties, ice cream socials and happy hours. 

Everyone learned a lot about our trucks and fifth wheels, exchanged good ideas, and probably gained 2-3 pounds apiece!  Since there were over 100 people present, we probably took away a combined total of 200 to 300 pounds.  Unfortunately, it will take more than a week to shed those pounds!

There were even table dances when Mom wasn’t looking,

tours of new RV’s, 

line dancing lessons,

evening concerts, complete with bubble machine,

and magic lantern launches.

The Bagley Pack had plenty of attention.  Throwing balls was a favorite pastime,

and getting petted, walked and brushed was a close second.

In addition to human friends, there were plenty of dog friends in attendance as well.  Some of them posed for photos.

Handsome Milo

The neighbor boys, Rooty and Rico


Jack and Pete...or is it Pete and Jack?

Viper, who loves to run and play with the Bagley dogs

Sweet Ellie

Beautiful Poppy

and our senior citizen, Marty.

We enjoyed catching up with long-time (notice I did not say OLD) friends, and making new ones.  We especially enjoyed getting acquainted with new "neighbors" Jimmy and Norma and Bill and Judy, who camped next to us.  We also had good visits with Trina and Damien while our dogs ran madly around the large, fenced area adjacent to the RV park.  There were many others we spent time with as well, including Ellie's "mom and dad," Tim and Cozette, brand-new full-timers who were camped in the other section of the RV park.  It was a delightful time, as the Rally always is, and we look forward to getting back together with all our RV friends down the road.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tuttle Creek Cove

From Pender, Nebraska, we made the 200-mile trip to Tuttle Creek Cove COE Park just north of Manhattan, Kansas.  We had planned to go south to Rock Creek COE Park on Perry Lake outside Topeka, but got a late start and opted to try out a new park.  We were not disappointed!  Tuttle Creek Cove Park is beautiful, with wide-open views of Tuttle Creek Lake from our RV site.

Sunrises and sunsets were beautiful.

The primitive campgrounds farther up the lake were closed for the season, so there was lots of open space for the dogs to run.

There were plenty of birds; flocks of cormorants like this one...

... and thousands of seagulls kept us busy with the binoculars.  (Unfortunately they mostly kept to the middle of the lake and out of range of my camera. 

One bird that was in camera range, was the campground’s resident little red hen.  She had adopted the campers on the row between us and the lake.  She spent part of her time under the campers and also busied herself catching grasshoppers and scratching for worms in the grass.

She particularly liked one of the women, and followed her around like a dog.  The real dogs didn’t seem to bother her, and I wish I could have taken her back to Texas with us.  An egg a day sounds pretty good, especially if it came with built-in insect control.