2017 Travels travel blog

Carpe Diem at Winnebago's Visitor Center

Carpe at the Sioux Falls Costco

We enter Iowa east of Sioux Falls

Iowa 9 is a wonderful drive

Carpe alone @ top of hill.
This didn't last long as parking began...

"Our" golf car for the rally
Parkers "perk" is use of golf cart.

"Ted" acted as parking complaint department
This is parking section "B" HQ

Big Ted tried to use the golf cart

Branding Iron Prime Rib is the Best
Located in Thompson IA it is...

Mitchell's Bar in Leland Pork Sandwich

Mitchell's Bar in Leland Fried Chicken

Our 365 Club served morning coffee
The 365 Club is made up of...

365 Club Happy Hour

Sat, 01 July: Driving day two of two...

We slept well at the Mitchell SD Cabella's. We awoke at daybreak, which is around 0600 at this location and on Central time. We got ourselves and "things" ready for the road and Bob pulled out a minute or two after eight.

We hopped back on I 90 and continued east seventy-some miles to Sioux Falls where we picked up I 29 south a few miles to a local arterial that took us to the Sioux Falls Costco. Yes, Costco! We had not visited since Denver and we needed our Costco "FIX", so a stop was in order. We pulled into their lot at 0935 and took a dozen spaces for the two Carpes

We didn't have many items on our list, but there are a few things that only Costco seems to stock. Their rotisserie chicken, aged gouda cheese, pre-cooked bacon are three that come to mind and found their way into our basket and (now) our fridge. On the way out Bob picked up two slices of their pizza to go. And "go" we did as we pulled out of the lot some 55 minutes later.

We picked up I 229 for a few exits and then SD 42 east toward Iowa. At the state line SD 42 becomes Iowa 9, which took us east. IA 9 is a nice state route that parallels I 90 a dozen or so miles to the north in Minnesota. The last time we took I 90 thru Minnesota it was so rough it shook things loose all over the coach. The state route is lovely most of the way and far, far less hectic.

We stopped for lunch (warmed up Costco pizza) at a turnout and Sandi took the wheel. We continued east until IA 9 merges with US 69 and runs south to Forest City. We arrived at the Winnebago Visitor's Center at 1440 and found many available sites, each with 50 amps of power and courtesy of Winnebago. We chose the one closest to the Visitor's Center where we can hitch hike on their free wireless. Yes, we're cheep...

We're here for the annual Grand National Rally, which starts in a few weeks. We're going to help out on the parking crew again this year so we're here early to help set things up. We hope to update this entry during the rally so please keep tuned.

Today's drive was 253 (just eleven miles fewer than yesterday's. How's that for splitting the trip?) with a respectable fuel economy of 8¾ mpg.

Mon, 16 Jul: Parking duty for six days...

We got ourselves parked in "our spot" atop the hill in the 365 Club parking area. One of the first things we did was contact the folks at Winegard who kindly came out and looked at our satellite dish. Thankfully it was an easy fix, just relocate the feed coaxial cable from one port to another port. No charge... Wow!

We are now "officially" finished parking for this year. It has been a busy, busy couple of weeks since our arrival two plus weeks ago. We'll try for the "Cliff's Notes" breakdown.

We stayed at the Visitor's Center till Friday, 07 July, when we relocated to the rally grounds with the rest of the advance crew. Our duties included marking the rally grounds for parking, stuffing "goodie bags", and generally getting things ready. It wasn't all work as we went to dinner several nites with Bert & Judy Ruth and Bob & Barb Hall, the other members of our parking crew. Dining venues included the Branding Iron in Thompson and Mitchell's Bar in Leland.

The Branding Iron is known for the quality of their Prime Rib, which even Sandi enjoys. Mitchell's has specials, and their all-you-can-eat fried chicken & ribs and ten wings for $5 Wing Nite are some of our favorites. Whoever works their fryer is a master.

Parking began Tuesday, 18 July. During the seven days of parking more than 1,000 rigs got parked and nobody got hurt and nothing was damaged. We two (Swansons) parked just shy of 100 coaches ourselves.

After parking, our duties change from parking to serving. We're members of the 365 Club, which is the fulltimer's club. Traditionally we serve morning coffee, and this year was no exception. That means getting up early starting tomorrow morning. Oy!

Thu, 27 Jul: Finished up and ready to roll...

The rally officially ended this past Saturday (22 Jul). After closing ceremonies we enjoyed a "thanks volunteers brunch" after which lotsa folks started heading out. We didn't have to be anywhere special so, on Sunday, we relocated our coach to an area where the power would stay on. We've pretty much been "vegging" ever since, especially enjoying NOT having to get up early to serve coffee.

We were selected to "Voice" our opinion to Winnebago's marketing folks. We spent 1½ hours talking with two women about what we liked (and didn't) about our coach. They probably heard more than they wanted to hear. As advance crew we were invited to a reception hosted by Winnebago's senior managers. Again, the one-on-one with these executives gave us an opportunity to share our experiences with people who, if they are so inclined, can make some changes. We'll see about that, but a reception with a hosted bar is always welcome.

There were a number of good seminars we attended, and we had our tires inspected by the experts from Michelin. We didn't go out to dinner during rally week as the restaurants are mobbed with rally attendees. But post rally we revisited the Branding Iron and Mitchell's Bar for our last hurrah. A trip to Clear Lake to tackle two weeks worth of laundry was also on the calendar.

We're planning to head out tomorrow (Fri, 28 Jul). Not too sure when we'll leave and where we'll end up, but it is time to get going. We've been here a month and enjoyed it. We really enjoy our visits to Forest City which is why we return year after year.

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