2015 Travels travel blog

Carpe at Winnebago's Visitor's Center

Interstate 29 south of Fargo
The Canadian fire's smoke is still with us

We enter South Dakota on I 29

In Sioux City we pick up I 90 eastbound
The smoke is still...

Entering Minnesota on I 90

We stopped for lunch at the Minnesota Welcome Center

Entering Iowa on US 169

You know you're in corn country when you see grain elevators

Entering Forest City Iowa
Home of Winnebago Industries and Carpe's "home town"

Carpe Diem heads into a service bay at Harrison Truck

Carpe's new chassis batteries
The originals "only" lasted seven years

Prime Rib at the Branding Iron
This Thompson IA restaurant is a "must...

Your intrepid parkers with partners Bert & Judy Ruth

Parking crew relaxes with after hours treats

Hundreds of golf carts creates parking issues of their own

Aerial pix of rally
Carpe is in the center foreground

The "Honey Wagon" dumps Carpe's holding tanks

Sat, 04 July: Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

A long (417 mile) day covering four states. As a rule we don't drive long distances. Two hundred miles is a longish day's drive for us, with 125 to 150 preferred. Today we made an exception due to our desire to be somewhere where RV service is available and the almost total absence of traffic on this Independence Day.

We awoke early in the Fargo Wal*Mart's parking lot. It was nice and cool for the first time in a week so we both slept well. Plus, with another time zone change (we're now in the Central Time Zone) it got light very early.

We fed ourselves and got things ready for the road. The chassis batteries hadn't sagged that much overnite so the engine started right up (whew!). Once thru our checklist Sandi rolled wheels at 0715.

Back on I 29 south we pointed our nose toward Sioux City SD, some 230 miles away. We switched drivers half way and Bob pulled into the Sioux Falls Pilot/Flying J truck stop a few minutes after noon. Carpe took 86 gallons (100 gallon tank) of diesel at a delightfully low $2.629/gallon price. Sandi took the helm again and headed east on I 90. Some 30 miles later we crossed into Minnesota, state #3 for today.

We broke for lunch at the Minnesota Welcome Center. Continuing east on I 90 we encountered a very rough road with multiple construction projects. Thankfully, because the traffic was very light we didn't have any delays, but the rough road was very tiring. Another driver change just west of Blue Earth

Our primary plan was to overnite at the Worthington MN Wal*Mart. We reached Worthington around two and elected to press on. Plan "B" was to overnite at the Blue Earth MN Wally, but when we arrived there, with only forty miles to go, we again pressed on. Hence, a few minutes after five we pulled into the Winnebago Visitor's Center after logging 417 miles. Today's fuel economy was 7¾ mpg.

We found a space in the Visitor's Center lot with 50 amp power. We settled in, had a very welcome Happy Hour, then dinner, and then took a walk. Roaming the parking areas was a lot like going home. We met lotsa folks we knew and expect to meet many more.

Mon, 06 July: New batteries vanquish our electrical gremlins...

After two days without running the engine the chassis battery bank was again in the 11 volt category. We had looked at batteries at Fleet Farm and then called the Freightliner dealer in Clear Lake. They have the original equipment batteries in stock so we opted to drive Carpe to Clear Lake and have then install them. We could have done it ourselves, but those truck batteries are really big & heavy, and the job is really dirty. Plus, we'd rather them take the responsibility of doing it right rather than us messing someting up. Sometimes it is wiser to just write a check...

The folks at Harrison Truck Center in Clear Lake were very professional. They took Carpe in within a half hour of us arriving, and she was back out within the hour. We settled our bill and drove to Wal*Mart for some shopping and lunch. Then back to the Winnebago Visitor's Center where we'd left Carpe Dinkum in our vacated space.

We got parked and set up again. Dinner was at the Branding Iron in nearby Thompson Iowa. The Branding Iron is a local institution that serves some of the best beef dishes we've ever tasted. Folks drove down from the Twin Cities for their Prime Rib. Monday is Prime Rib special so we drove over with Judy & Luke Reinheimer for our "fix". It was, as expected, as great as usual.

OK, here's the plan... We'll be in Forest City till after the rally ends in late July. We'll relocate to the rally grounds Saturday to get ready for our parking crew duties. Then the pre-rally, and the rally itself.

Sun, 26 July: A very, very busy time...

My goodness, where has the time flown? Our last post was early in the week of 07 July, and we're finally catching up almost three weeks later. We had a great time, and we are sitting in our coach enjoying the first day in several weeks without any obligations. It feels wonderful!

We had a busy week at the Winnebago Visitor's Center meeting old friends and making new ones. The Visitor's Center is a busy place and during the weeks preceding the rally is pretty much the center of activities.

On Saturday, 11 July we relocated from the Visitor's Center to the rally grounds. We attended the parking crew meeting where we were assigned to a crew along with our friends Bert & Judy Ruth. We'll be working with head parker's David & Fran Surles. We also picked up the keys to our golf cart, which is provided by Winnebago for our use while parking, but we get to keep it till rally's end.

Monday, 13 July we relocated to our permanent rally parking spot. We helped train other new parkers as they parked us and we parked other coaches as part of our training. It was pretty easy as the grounds were empty.

Then, at noon on Tuesday 14 July, the rally grounds opened for pre-rally parking. There was quite a line of folks who, like us, enjoy coming early. We got the hang of parking fairly quick and had no problem pulling our share of the load. Pre-rally parking continued for a week thru Monday, 20 July, at which point our parking duties were over.

Meanwhile, members of our 365 (full-timers) group arrived for our group's pre-rally activities. We had daily happy hours and went out to eat a few nites. Of course, the Monday excursions to the Branding Iron in Thompson were anticipated.

The rally kicked off Tuesday, 21 July with coffee being served by our 365 Club group. We had to set the alarm in order to get to the hospitality tent and set up for the caffeine-deprived hordes. The coffee "gig" continued all week thru Saturday, so sleeping in without an alarm this morning was also a treat.

As for the rally itself, we feel that it was time and money well spent. We attended a few seminars, all of which were informative and we took some new info away at the end. Most important was the services provided by several of the vendors who were very generous about repairing many of our coach's components. FanTastic Fan rebuilt both of our ceiling fans and replaced our portable 12 volt box fan. Winegard replaced a corroded coaxial cable connector that was compromising our over-the-air television reception. MCD shades rebuilt several of our shades and adjusted the rest. And finally, Michelin tires inspected all of our tires and checked our tire pressure gauge against their master gauge.

Which brings us to the present. The rally closed yesterday morning with a volunteer appreciation brunch. Following the brunch we loaded two weeks worth of dirty duds into Dinkum and headed to the laundry in nearby Garner. We did six machines worth and still have a few loads to go. Then back to the coach for a relaxing afternoon and happy hour with the few 365 Clubbers remaining.

Today, Sunday, is a completely open day with nothing on the agenda. Obviously, we're catching up with our computer backlog and doing chores around the house. The rally grounds have pretty much cleared out with only a few die-hards such as ourselves remaining. We'll probably have one last Happy Hour and possibly go out to dinner, but that's unknown at this writing...

Tomorrow, Monday, we'll head south some 190 miles to Amana Iowa where we'll overnite at the Amana Colony Campground. Then Tuesday we'll continue another fifty or so miles to Moscow Iowa and HWH Corporation. HWH is the manufacturer of the hydraulic system the operates our room slides and leveling jacks. We're not having any problems, but we'll have them go thru the system to ensure that all is OK.

Then east along I 80 to Shipshewana Indiana where we have a Friday appointment with National RV Refrigeration, the folks who installed our Amish Cooling Unit. The fridge is working OK right now (and it has been pretty hot & muggy for the past few weeks), but we want Leon to go thru it with a fine tooth comb. He's the expert and the unit is manufactured right there so we feel it is worth the 300 mile "detour" to ensure that all is OK.

Beyond that our plans are, as yet, undetermined.

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