|Wed, 10 Jul: Another day on the road, but this one was quite short and very pleasant.
We awoke when we wanted to and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast. We went through our checklist and got Carpe ready for the road. Since we had boondocked overnite we didn't "undo" too much that needed to be "redone".
We rolled wheels out of the Worthington, MN Wally about 0845 and continued east on I 90 for some seventy miles to Blue Earth, MN. At Blue Earth we transitioned to US 169 for the twenty mile run south to Iowa Route 9. Once on IA 9 it was a relatively short thirty miles to Forest City.
We pulled into the city dump site about 1130 and disconnected the car. While Bob dumped our holding tanks Sandi took the car to the Winnebago Factory Service parking area to scout for a space. The Service Center was busy, and all spots were taken. Off to the Visitor's Center where she found a nice long spot very close to the building.
She advised Bob via our VHF/FM HAM rigs and directed him to our home for the next few days. We go in for service tomorrow (Thu) and will then hang around until Monday when we'll enter the Rally Grounds for the Winnebago/Itasca Grand National Rally (GNR).
Thu, 11 Jul: We're homeless today!!! This was not our ideal day for getting up. Not only did we have to set our alarm clock—but we set it for the ungodly hour of 0530... Not something retirees care to do very often.
We had to have Carpe Diem ready to go into the Winnebago Factory Service shop at 0700 sharp. So, we crawled out of bed, prepared breakfast, got Carpe ready to roll, packed our "bug-out bags", and loaded dirty laundry in the car.
Bob drove to the service staging area and our technician came out to go through our work order with us and do a walk around to ensure there were no dings or boo-boos. We are having our slideout toppers replaced, a drip rail installed over the driver's side window, and having them inspect and reseal the roof and sidewall.
Once Carpe was driven away we drove to the Lost Sock Bubble Mat (we just love that name) to deal with two weeks worth of laundry. We opened the place and commandeered five washers and, later, three commercial size dryers. Everything was finished by ten and we returned to the Visitor's Center where we worked on the computers via the complimentary wireless.
We dined at the local Chinese restaurant and are now back in the Visitor's Center awaiting "the call" letting us know Carpe is ready. We'll post this now and will most probably amend it when our house is returned to us.
Evening update!!! Carpe came rolling out of her service bay about 1530 and we met with the tech to inspect the work. The new slide toppers look spiffy and clean. Most important, they aren't frayed and thin from UV damage. Hope we're good for another five years.
The drip rail over the driver's side window matches its counterpart over the entry door. We'll have to await the next rainstorm to test its effectiveness, but if it works as well as its starboard-side twin we'll be satisfied.
The final work item was to inspect and recaulk all exterior seams. We've had this done every time we've been here and it has (mostly) kept us leak free. This time, however, it was time to completely remove five years worth of accumulated caulk and start anew. That they did, but it the cost of more than ten hours worth of labor. Given their hourly labor rate (not as bad as some RV service facilities), it really upped the final tab.
After Ka-Chinging the ole plastic Bob drove to Pammell Park where we topped off our fresh water tank. We pulled back into our spot (which had been reserved using cones) at the Visitor Center. We'll remain here thru Monday when we'll get parked at the rally grounds.
Sat, 13 Jul: And the rains came...
We awoke late because it was so overcast that we thought it was still dark. The rumble of occasional thunder and the intermittent spatter of rain on the roof indicated this was not going to be a bright and sunny day.
But first, yesterday... We got a call from sis-in-law Carolyn who was planning to drive up from Des Moines. Would we like to meet her for lunch in Mason City? You betcha we would, so we set up a time to meet at Buffalo Wild Wings in Mason City.
Our rendezvous worked well and we were seated at our favorite server's station. We'd had Stacy serve us in May and she was really super. We asked for her this time and she was really flattered. Heck, we're the fortunate ones as she is still one of those rare people who knows what it takes to please the customers.
We sat and chatted with Carolyn for a few hours until our "tushes" rebelled at the hard seats and we headed our separate ways. For Carolyn it was Lake Mills and for us a Wal*Mart stop while we're in the "big city".
Back to Forest City and an afternoon of R&Ring. It was a gorgeous day, albeit a tad too windy for our tastes. We took a walk after dinner and met several of our "neighbors". All in all, a quiet day.
Which brings us to our rainy Saturday morning. We have no plans for today and will probably use the opportunity to attack a pile of paperwork.
Wed, 17 Jul: A fairly busy few days, but to be honest we don't have a clue as to what we've accomplished. But, that's about what Retirement (yes, Retirement should always be capitalized) is all about.
Sunday was a quiet day and we stuck close to the coach. About the only "excitement" was a little geocaching exercise where we searched for, and found, a micro cache within walking distance of the Visitor's Center. The walk did us good and we really should try to do more of it.
Monday, 15 Jul, was parking day. We took our time getting ready to move the coach, but there was no real rush as they didn't start parking until 1300. We left the car at the Visitor's Center and drove the coach to Pammel Park where we dumped the holding tanks and topped off our fresh water.
Then we drove to the parking staging area and queued up. We arrived there a bit after ten and were about the fifteenth coach in line. This year they did not allow folks to run their generators while in queue, and that is a big improvement over prior years where the wait was a pretty intoxicating (asphyxiating?) experience.
Well, what do RVers do when faced with a several hour wait? Break out the lawn chairs and gather around for an informal get-together. This was no exception, and the shadow of a nearby barn quickly became "the place" to meet and greet (see pix).
Right on time the gates opened and within the hour we were parked in a reasonably level ("level" is a relative term) site. We got settled in and were quickly "at home". We got together with Bert and Judy Ruth, folks we met thru the Davilas, and we headed to the Prime Rib for dinner. The Prime Rib, in nearby Thompson, IA, is a well known and respected local restaurant. Monday's special is Prime Rib, and it was as fantastic as always.
Tuesday morning we got together with the other members of the Winnebago 365 Club (the 365 Club consists of folks living full time in their coach) to erect the two tents. Talk about an ethnic fire drill... The tents get erected every year, but nobody ever remembers how it is done. The pix tell the story.
Later in the day we registered for the 365 pre-rally and then our first Happy Hour under the tents. There was a nice group for day one and it was really nice to say hello to so many folks.
Today, Wednesday, is a scorcher. As this is being written the outside temps are nudging ninety and we're "hibernating" in our air conditioned coach. Since we're on 30 amp power we're closely watching our draw so we don't stress our circuit. Other than the heat, the weather is just gorgeous.
Our mail arrived at the local post office this morning so we've spent some time sorting thru our mail and seeing if there is anything of importance. Other than the usual multiple communiques from Medicare it was pretty much a zero mail day.
Tonite, if all goes well, we're off to Mitchell's Bar and Restaurant in Leland, IA. This local eatery is known for its specials, and Wednesdays are Wings. Sandi is a big fan of wings so we're looking forward to checking it out.
Sat, 20 Jul: And they keep coming... Rally parking is from 1-5 each afternoon and the rally grounds continue to fill. It is still not full, nor will it be if the projected 900 coaches arrive. That's several hundred fewer than our first rally and far fewer than the 1,500+ experienced in days gone bye.
Nevertheless, we're enjoying ourselves and have been busy catching up with friends new and old. We spent time with folks from the HAM radio club, as well as the computer club. We've attended every Happy Hour and got to meet many folks from former states of residence such as Michigan and Minnesota.
Yesterday we made a Lost Sock Bubble Mat trip to catch up on laundry. We weren't even close to full, but we figure the Lost Sock will be bursting at the seams next week, so get in while getting in was viable.
In the evening we drove downtown to drop off a retired U.S. Flag at the American Legion for proper disposal. Then dinner at a Mexican restaurant we'd not tried before. It was OK but wouldn't make it in San Antonio...
Today Forest City celebrates its annual Puckerbrush Days celebration. This is Small Town America at its best with parades, food tents, bouncy castles, fire engine rides, etc., etc.
We drove in for the parade. It was fantastic and we enjoyed it as much as we did the Rose Parade. Different styles and different values. Despite all of the beautiful floats in Pasadena, we never once saw a cement truck—and Puckerbrush had two of them!!! Nobody had to urge the folks to stand and remove their headgear when the honor guard marched by.
All of the usual organizations were represented: fire, police, EMS, VFW, churches, car dealerships, politicos, etc., etc. And, given that Forest City is home of Winnebago Industries, there were RVs of every size and type. Every parade entrant distributed some sort of "goodies"—from candy for the kiddies to sponges for the adults (not to eat, to clean). It was great and we really enjoyed it.
We're now back in the coach enjoying the cool air. It has been in the nineties the past few days and today's high of "only" high eighties is a welcome relief. Other than the heat the weather has been gorgeous, but we're forecast to have a few rainy days ahead. But it should cool down and that'll be a welcome change.
The official rally opening ceremonies are tomorrow and then a busy week of seminars, vendors, tours, etc. Stay tuned...
Fri, 26 Jul: And a "busy week of seminars, vendors, tours, etc." it was indeed! It was so busy, in fact, that this Journal has been woefully neglected. Mea Culpa!
Opening ceremonies took place Sunday evening, and they were very moving. The flag raising by an Honor Guard of retired military vets was especially meaningful. Following the flag raising they play a melody of service anthems and ask vets from each branch to stand as their anthem is played. Sandi is always honored to stand as the Army Anthem is played.
Monday started the the 365 Club hosting morning coffee and "goodies" (danish, donuts, muffins, bagels, etc.) We volunteered to assist during the 0700-0800 shift, which meant setting the alarm but we had so much fun talking with the folks that getting up early was no big deal. Then seminars and vendors exhibits. We kept busy juggling a schedule that often had us wanting to be in three places at once. Choices, choices, choices.
Monday evening 25 of the 365 Club's members trekked to nearby Thompson for a dose of their awesome prime rib. As is the norm, we brought home enough for two more meals.
Tuesday was donut duty again, then more seminars and vendor visits. The evening was the Row Party, where each chapter gives out some food goodies. We gave out dogs & chili, and they went like, well, free hot dogs...
Then the 365 Club hosted BINGO. We handled the money, which is one of our favorite things to do. We never play BINGO, and are always amazed at the zeal some folks bring to the game. We took in and distributed more than $300.
Wednesday was a repeat with early morning donut duty and then seminars. Thursday we were scheduled to take two Winnebago factory tours. Our first was of the chassis preparation and welding shop and the second the final assembly line. We've taken both of these tours before, yet we're still in awe of the level of mechanization. This is really state of the art.
Thursday evening was the closing show, a country singer. Just as he got going a major thunderstorm roared thru sending everyone scurrying from the open theater. We'd opted to stay in the coach, which turned out to be a good decision.
Which brings us to today. After Donut Duty we attended the closing ceremonies and folks started heading out. There are still a large number of coaches on the rally grounds. We can stay free until Monday, so a lot of folks are just hanging around. We're planning to head out Sunday. Meanwhile, we're planning to kick back, relax, and not set the alarm clock!!!