We left the Minneapolis/St Paul area and headed south towards the Minnesota/Iowa border. Once again we began to see more dairy farms and silos. Our last stop in Minnesota was in the small town of Albert Lea where we stayed at the Myre Big Island Lake State Park. This park was conveniently located near Albert Lea which was nice because we had lots of chores to do to get ready for our next stop in Iowa. We did laundry, bought groceries and Bill got a haircut. Even though the park was close to town it was still isolated enough for us to see a doe and her babies two mornings as well as wild turkeys.
After three nights in Albert Lea we said farewell to Minnesota, which we had been visiting since early June, and headed to Forest City, Iowa. Along the way we saw dairy farms, fields of corn, silos and wind turbines. It is easy to see why this area is part of America’s breadbasket. More than 50% of the corn in the United States comes from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa. More than 50% of all grain comes from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa.
We arrived in Forest City to attend the Winnebago Grand National Rally. Forest City is the location of the main Winnebago plant. We pulled in line to wait for the gates to open. Bill noticed the RV in front of us had the tag of the president of the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Amateur Radio Club. We are members of this club but have never had the chance to meet Rick and his wife Karen. While we waited, Bill got out to talk with them and made new friends before we even got in the gate. We enjoyed spending time with them, including dinner at the local Mexican restaurant our last evening there.
It was a great rally with fellowship, entertainment and informational seminars. On Monday we took a special all day tour by chartered bus to the nearby cities of Waverly and Charles City where we saw Winnebago parts being made. In Waverly we toured the factory where they were making wire harnesses for all of their motorized RVs. In Charles City we toured two area where they made Corian countertops and Winnebago doors and cabinets made of wood.
Mid week a powerful storm blew through the rally grounds. Our weather system clocked winds at 40 mph with heavy rain. At one point I saw a large flag flying through the air. It was scary and we listened for the tornado siren which fortunately never sounded. After the storm passed we walked around the grounds to check out the damage. All the large tents where daily seminars were held now had yellow caution tape blocking them off. Inside the tents we could see huge poles bent and chairs overturned and scattered. We heard reports of a tent landing on the roof of an RV. The next day the morning seminars were canceled while they waited for the tent owners to come from Waterloo to repair the tents before they would be safe for further seminars.
One evening they had a Row Party. Each state had a tent with free food or drinks that represented their state. Texas had chili, Wisconsin had cheese, California had wine etc. For some strange reason Virginia had lime margaritas. They sure were good!
The week passed quickly and too soon it was time to pack up and say goodbye.
Next stop: Des Moines, Iowa