We pulled into the Forest City, IA lot of Winnebago Industries on Tuesday, September 15. Having only decided a week before that we might want to "have the RV looked at since we're so near to where it was built" we did not have an appointment. We drove into the Visitor's Center parking lot at 3:50pm and saw that they would close at 4pm. I asked what we could do since we'd only been told to come and register as a "non-appointment." (Is that like a non-person?) We were told to find a spot to park in the lot, hook up to 50 amp power (that's the kind you pay premium dollar for in campgrounds) and free WiFi and, oh yeah, water and a dump station across the street. Then, just go down tomorrow morning to the Service Center and sign up. We'd have to get a new "permission" sign each day but other than that we were free to park as long as needed. Say what? Free camping for as long as we need it?
The following morning at 7am I dutifully crossed the lot and went in and made a list of the things we wanted looked at. Rebecca the receptionist was both courteous and knowledgeable answering my many questions and assuring me that they would let us know when we'd be seen but I needed to check back each day. So one of us did. Each morning between 7 and 7:30am we'd walk down and find out that our "check back time" was at least one day hence. The rest of the time we spent socializing with the other couples- mostly also "non-appointments" - Don riding his bike and I got to the many projects and chores I have been meaning to get to.
One night we had a delicious Mexican meal at a restaurant in town run by Mexican brothers who moved here from Orlando FL. "Family" had moved here first, they followed, saw a need for a restaurant and opened one with good, authentic Mexican food...and reasonable to boot! There's a small theater in town that has a schedule much like the one on STX when I was growing up- $2 a person and the shows run 4 days a week for a week. We haven't gone yet but we probably will.
That night it rained-not pouring rain like we'd had several times in the past week but a good steady rain. Later the next day I saw water on the counter by the sink which puzzled me because Don had not done the dishes. I'd told him I would. But then after I had I saw the water again and thought I'd just been really sloppy. But then, a few hours later when no-one had been near the sink I saw another puddle and looked up to find a teeny tiny leak. UGH. You do not ant a leak in an RV. I climbed up on the roof and sure enough what is called the roof cover-where the roof meets the gutter there was cracking sealant running most of the length of the RV on both sides. Only one place had a bit of wetness and it was above where I'd seen the leak so I got out the Gorilla tape and spent the next hour + taping the entire area to block the rain that was projected for later and the next 2 days. I am the one who has to do this because Don has acrophobia and would have just become a medical casualty. Of course, because I did this we have not had more than a drizzle in 5 days but we're prepared!
On Saturday I headed 12 miles south to a laundromat that had been recommended by Rebecca in reception. My GPS stopped working about 3 miles outside of town (it was kind of a Twilight Zone/Deliverance moment as I drove through corn and soybean fields spread over small rolling hills and saw not one other car) so I was left trying to remember what the map had said. I went to the end of town and turned around in the Ace Hardware lot unable to find 3rd St on the left anywhere. As I started to leave I allowed a young man to pull around me (I was on the left so it was less gracious than legal) and he shook his head as he drove by. Hmmph! I figured he thought I was some addle brained old fart -he saw grey hair and a confused looking woman- but hey! I FEEL 20 inside, buster! I drove around a bit more-still griping about rude young male drivers and then circled back once again into Ace where I saw another young man. I stopped and asked where 3rd St was and he started to tell me and I then asked That's where Lucky's Laundromat is, right? "Oh yes, but for Lucky's you need to go several more blocks down. You'll pass some stores then a warehouse then an auto parts store then 2 houses and then you'll see it. If you go around the corner you've gone too far." Well, so much for the rudeness of young men. I drove off confidently and apologizing to the male of our species for having insulted all of them and thankful for this guys helpfulness. As directed, I got to Lucky's with no problem. I found a nice shady place to park-Phoenix was with me so Don could go bike riding-and dragged my 4 bags in. I also had my laptop-since laundromats tend to have WiFi. The place was deserted but there were 2 machines running so I figured someone would be coming back. I then looked for the change machine, found it...it was broken. As I turned around ready to get the bags back in the car and go in search of change I saw a young man sitting at the table. Do you know where I can get change? Oh yeah, just go 3 blocks down to the bank and they'll give you a roll of quarters for $10. May I leave my stuff here? Sure. So I drove away, not at all worried, got my quarters and came back to find my stuff sitting right where it had been. Of course.
I loaded up the machines and started conversing with the guy who'd thanked me for using Lucky's. I thought maybe he was the owner but it turned out he was a service technician at Winnebago. We talked for awhile and then he gathered some of his laundry and said he'd be back to get the rest. When he came back it was with an old Rand McNally Atlas-hard cover, in German and printed in 1890. As I read it I realized it must have been from an American high school from the days they taught in the predominant language of the immigrant community. German was especially popular as I remembered there were 4 public schools in Baltimore that were still doing so in the early 20th century. I asked if I could take some pictures and he said Oh take it for the weekend. I can catch up with you at Customer Service. Say what? So, yup I got to keep it for the weekend and Don and I both enjoyed looking at the old maps of the 47 then states (Hawaii and Alaska would not become states until I was in grade school and Oklahoma was not yet a state. Although the Organic Act of 1890 (the year of publication) actually "reduced" the area called Indian territories to half the original size with the western half called the Oklahoma Territory and the eastern half for the "5 'Civilized' tribes (sorry having a REALLY hard time with the terminology of this!) and the Tribes of the Quapaw Indian Agency, OK would not become a state-incorporating both areas until 1907. This is a fascinating part of our history because I was an avid history student from grade school and I don't ever remember learning that. If you're interested you can see more here here and here. In order to get your head around the "5 'Civilized' Tribes" concept see this. But, I digress....
So, yesterday I went over to do our 2:30pm check back and Rebecca told me they had put us down for Tues at 11:40am. She said there was a chance they would call to tell us to bring the rig with us so I was pretty happy. Then I remembered the atlas and went back to return it, at which point Rebecca had just received an email to tell us a spot opened and to return at 7am WITH the rig. WhooHoo!
Bright and early...actually DARK and early (we are on the eastern edge of the central time zone so sunrise isn't until 6:30 and it was 5:45) we got up, had breakfast and then drove down the hill to the service center. Our technician went over all the things we need and by mid morning they'd fixed all the small things. Then the head guy came and asked that we come out to the rig. The electrician was there (we'd told them that we though some of our circuits were mixed up when they installed the solar and we wanted to ID them as well as fix the fact that most of our power seems to be focused on the Receptacles 1 breaker. Not good...turns out the great solar installation was missing a very important component-fuses. Thankfully we have not shorted out or gone up in flames while overloading the circuits because there were no fuses to blow. I think it was only the fact that we did not have enough power coming in (we are planning to get 2 more panels) and so really limited our use that we have not had a serious problem. But the poor electrician. He said I really didn't know how you would handle this. I didn't know how to tell you that once we'd seen this we couldn't let you leave with it like this. Yeah, we really don't want to either and thank YOU for finding it. Our installer will NOT be hearing thanks. We also need 2 new tires but really, the ones we have have driven 20K and for 5 years sat most of the time in storage and probably outside. So, we are feeling kind of lucky. We will probably be out of here in 2 days and the only difference will be "having" to spend all day unable to access the rig, being forced to eat at delis or restaurants and keeping the animals with us. Personally I cannot say I love the 2 TVs set to Fox News but I just ignore them. At least I got to see Pope Francis arriving in the US today.
So, stay tuned. This may not be a "destination" but it's pretty, we are meeting people from all over and working with courteous, skilled and incredibly nice people. I haven't had a chance to really get some pics but will before we leave. Stay tuned.