|The first subject to cover is another confession...no fireworks pictures as hoped. Out of consideration for our little Winston, we couldn't see the Mt Rushmore display. We were rightfully advised to be parked as close as possible by 8 AM and that we wouldn't get out of the mountains until 1 AM the next morning, all due to the incredible crowds that show up every year to see the fireworks. Leaving Winston that long by himself in the coach would be impossible, so with that in mind we had hoped to see some local fireworks. However, I ended up not feeling well the whole day and therefore didn't get out for the evening. Oh well, maybe next year.
As I mentioned before, we planned a two-night stop in Mitchell, SD, just so that we wouldn't feel rushed getting to the Winnebago Grand National Rally (the GNR). While in Mitchell, we had heard about a "Corn Palace" so we decided to check it out. We figured it to be a local tourist "trap" for children but it turned out to be quite an historical structure that had a lot to do with the development of agriculture in the area.
As far back as 1892, the farmers settling in the Southern SD area were aware of the importance of the rich farming possible and decided to build a structure that would promote this concept. This structure became known as the "Palace", and was sort of the town's civic center that housed a stadium and a theater for community gatherings. The third and final version that was built in the '20's included a basketball court between the seats and the stage. The most striking feature though that continues to this day is the use of different colored corn cobs and cornhusks to create giant murals on the outside of the building as well as the inside. As one can imagine, as good as corn is in our diet, corn cobs do not make for a good building material, and therefore, the murals, especially the outdoor ones are changed annually. What's interesting is that the pictures are consequently changed every year too. Fortunately they have kept a photographic record of every year since 1892 so the visitor can see the evolution of the artwork from the beginning.
While in Mitchell, we met another couple, Sonny and Carole, who were also on their way to GNR. Sonny and Carole have been going to GNR for many years so they were very helpful with advice about the rally. Sonny is a retired California Motorcycle CHP and president of the Law Enforcement chapter within the Winnebago club as well as a very interesting storyteller so we have enjoyed their company for many hours.
We arrived in Forest City, IA (the home of Winnebago) a week early to take advantage of getting some service work done on the coach. As I have mentioned before, no matter how much one pays for these units, there are always problems that the factory never clears up before delivery as well as operational problems along the way. We are no different. For example, the windows are all double-glazed and we noticed that one of the "living-room" windows had mold between the panes, then a small round hole had appeared in the shower stall from a defect in the fiberglass molding, and finally the cording in one of the rear window shades had broken. More important though was tracking down a rumbling sound in the front wheel assembly whenever we were driving at slow speeds through a town. That turned out to be four loose shock absorbers and a broken heat shield around the muffler.
The most frustrating item though happened while we were in the service area. A mysterious sewer odor suddenly appeared whenever the air conditioning was turned on. Yesterday, after 5 days in the service area, it was finally discovered to be coming from the washer/dryer "P" trap that the dealer had installed improperly. Florence has been using the washer almost every day on this trip until we got to the GNR. The facilities here only allow for dry camping so we hadn't used the washer for several days and the improperly installed "P" trap was allowed to dry up and let the gray water tank gases escape. We would probably never have noticed the problem except that the washer/dryer sits directly over the A/C and therefore the odor was picked up and distributed everywhere.
While in the service area, Winston met a new friend, Charlie, a Yorkie/Shiatsu mix. She and Winston became instant good buddies and we had an opportunity to let them play one afternoon. Winston's very glad to be here for another reason too. The rally is on an old golf course and so it is grass everywhere. He runs and plays like we haven't seen him do for the last 8 months so he is really enjoying this GNR experience.
With the service items completed, we finally returned to our parking spot in the GNR yesterday and we are now ready to party!
A final note: The sunsets here have been so beautiful that I was compelled to show more than one in this series of pictures.
And the adventure continues...