Escape from Winter - 2012 travel blog



A refrigerator freezer in an RV is not nearly as large as a residential model and ours was crammed full when we left home. The small size means that we need to go to the grocery store far more frequently than when we’re home to replenish fresh supplies like milk and produce. But we’ve been gone from home over a month and there are still plenty of dinner supplies in the freezer.

Why? Because we go out to lunch so often and the lunches are so bountiful that crackers, cheese and fruit are supper enough at the end of the day. All the organizations in our campground conduct fund raising lunches during the season. For example, the tennis group is hosting a baked potato lunch to raise funds for tennis balls. Because all the labor is free, these lunches are incredibly cheap even though money is being raised. In January we’ve been to hamburger lunch, clam chowder in a bread bowl lunch, ham & bean soup lunch, spaghetti & salad lunch, and pasta fagioli lunch. These meals cost $4-5 and we can walk to them. They always include drinks and dessert, and are for a worthy cause. Who could say no?

When we read the weekly Winter Texan, which lists events and activities at all the parks in the valley as well as in the community, there are many more lunches we could attend. Any group that has any sort of affiliation hosts a lunch. People lunch by work group - the Alcoa Retirees or retired law enforcement, for example. Or educational affiliation - the Iowa State University Alumni had lunch together this week. Or they meet by state - Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin had recent meals together. The New England States are small so they all joined together to eat. The Minnesota Masons shared a meal. You get the idea.

This week we traveled to Gatti’s Pizza to meet with other Winter Texans from northern Illinois. It was easy to tell we were in the right spot because the parking lot was full of cars with those familiar red, white and blue license plates. We signed in by county and were amazed that no one from Cook County - Chicago and the suburbs around it was there, even though about 150 folks were in attendance. Event organizers worked hard to insure that this encounter was about more than eating. We took two quizzes - one about television trivia and the one that humorously tested our knowledge of Chinese. Then the prize drawing began. Prizes ranged from camping chairs (the best prize) to 100 feet of rope. We won a child ‘s back pack full of school supplies. We have no idea what to do with it although we are sure that with all the poor kids living in the valley someone could make good use of it.

Today we went to a lunch hosted by the Newmar, the manufacturer of our motor home. It was fun comparing repair stories and hearing about updates and modifications folks had made to their rigs. Company representatives spoke after the meal and talked about their efforts to survive post 2008 when many RV manufacturers went belly up. We know lots of folks whose warranties were worthless once the companies that built their rigs want bankrupt. These days Newmar’s manufacturing decisions are largely influenced by the banks. Financial institutions are loathe to give loans for top end motor homes like ours that cost $250,000 new even if the buyers have solid credit ratings. It sounded like the tail was wagging the dog.

So once again our freezer remains full of frozen shrimp and chicken and we will enjoy yoghurt and fresh fruit for dinner.

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