Friday, January 7, 2011

My version of the 'bucket list'

While I’ve never had an actual/physical/hard copy ‘bucket list’, I do have a sort of ‘faux’ bucket list tucked away in the recesses of my mind!!  I think of it as my ‘opportunity knocking’ list.  If I had created such a list, full time rving would definitely have been on it. Before starting my life as a full timer two and a half years ago, I had set that as a goal for post retirement and gradually worked toward reaching that goal. There was a certain amount of planning toward the end result but it was more of a ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ pattern/scenario than a step-by-step process.   I’d say that I still function in pretty much that same pattern.  I have a kinda’/ sorta’ general idea of what I want to see, where I want to go and what I want to do but don’t often have a set schedule, itinerary, agenda or list.  This, from a gal who has typically been a very organized and on top of things person most of her life (including childhood).   I still have that easy going and ‘laid back’ approach to life but, there is a measure of structure and organization to the easy going-ness)!!   I know. . . .??huh??!!

Anyway, I mention this because recently, while in that kinda/sorta know where I'm going and what I'll probably be doing next mode, opportunity actually knocked at my 'door'.   I’m so-o-o-o very happy to say that I opened the door and embraced the events to follow!!

As I mentioned in another recent post, my daughter, Dianne, and I had talked about my heading over to southern CA in mid-January as she was going to be out in the Glendale area for a lengthy work assignment.   She had mentioned that she might be starting the Monday after New Year’s Day and it might be fun to see the Tournament of Roses Parade in person – I agreed!  Becase she was unsure about her start date, she coudn't make any commitment to be out there by the date of the parade.  A few days later, I read something online about the upcoming parade and this time a light bulb went on over my head.   What I remembered was. . . as much as I would love to see the parade in person, even moreso, I have always wanted to be a volunteer worker on one of the floats!!   At first I thought it was too late to be considered for working as a volunteer this year but I decided to look into the possibility and was delighted to find that there were several floats listed on the Tournament of Roses website ‘volunteer opportunities’ section.
I emailed a few of them and
started to make arrangements
to head over to the greater LA area.  I arrived at the rv park in San Dimas on Dec. 17 and went up to the Sierra Madre Rose Float Barn for a 'Decorating-prep blitz' scheduled for Sat. and Sun.  Their website said something like 'come one and all - we welcome your help'!!

For the next thirteen days, the work was non-stop for the crew of
regular members and any volunteers that were available to help
And, there was a steady stream of volunteers – some brand new to the whole experience (like me!), others who were locals and would come each year and still others who had volunteered in the past and loved the experience and people so much that they take a week of ‘volunteer vacation’ and come back each year         

It was almost 'magical’ watching the ‘naked’ base that I first saw when I arrived at the Float Barn that first Saturday, turn into this  gorgeous float at the dress rehearsal the day before the Rose Parade!  The 2011 Float theme was ‘Building Dreams, Frienship and Memories’.  The Sierra Madre float entry was title ‘Suenos de’ California’ – Dreams of California’.  It won the Govenor’s Trophy for best depiction of life in California. The design highlighted
California’s Latino heritage depicting the pioneers who were instrumental in building the Golden State and what life was like 'back in the day'! 
A wonderful ensemble of Mexican Folk Dancers accompanied the float - dancing to music streaming from speakers on the float.  I enjoyed their performance very much and I'd like to look into where I could see them perform again while I'm in the area!

It was such fun working on this float but, of course, there were times that it was really quite tedious and, at times, very tiring work. On a few nights I arrived back at my rig with an aching back on several occasions.   My little microwaveable heat pad proved to be much comfort on those evenings!!  The Sierra Madre Association members were extremely appreciative of each and every one of the volunteers and expressed those sentiments to us frequently.  And, they were nice folks to work with. 

People of all ages came to volunteer–-many families were there,
from Grandmas to Grandpas
down to around first graders.
I was delighted to work along side of several high schoolers and girl scout troop members who took time out of their busy holiday events to lend a helping hand.  It was chilly and damp, even raining and we were outside for some of the work but I heard no grumbling at all! Matter of fact, they were all excited and very helpful. Of course, there was non-stop chatter and it was difficult to follow the conversation at times, but we had many good laughs.   

The only ‘flaw’ in the whole process was on the day of the parade.   The float started out along the route doing fine but before even turning the first corner, it broke down!!!   The Tournament of Roses organization rules gives floats entered into the parade less than a minute to get the engine going and if that doesn’t happen, the float is fined and the tow truck is attached.   There were a ton of tow vehicles lined up at the ready for such an event and Suenos de California finished the parade behind the AAA tow truck! 

The Sierra Madre Rose Float is a self-made, self-funded float.   They do fund raisers year round to pay all their own expenses, etc. so they don’t have any extra monies to provide for the volunteers – though as the final week approaches, lunch and dinner is provided.

I’m sure there are folks out there in ‘blogger land’ that would not have the slightest desire to volunteer on a Rose Float or even attend the parade in person.  But. . . . for those who have any inclination to do this I would heartily recommend it.  Unfortunately, there are no rv sites or other type of lodging supplied for volunteers.   It’s all on your own ‘dime’ and, of course, it’s CA and not cheap!!

My only regret now is that I didn't take my camera along to the parade.  My thinking at the time was that I just wanted to sit, relax and chat with the gal I had worked with on the floral 'recipes' and enjoy seeing the Tournament of Roses Parade in person for my first time ever!!  Now, I find, that it would have been the perfect location to get a good overview shot of the float - darn!!

I was finally able to get a link established to my Picasa web album of additional rose float in development photos.  I'm hoping that others will be able to actually link to it.   I have a major concern about this link and am waiting on my daughter or sister to get back to me about access at the web album site.   Once I hear from them, I'll know whether I can leave this link in place or not.   Here's the link:  Sierra Madre Rose Float 2011