After we left Illinois, we headed for the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa. On the way, though, we made a stop to see Rocky’s first owners and their sweet family.
Couldn’t have had a better experience buying Rocky from these two! They took such good care of it, that even though it was three years old when we got it, it seemed like new inside and out. We had a lovely visit, meeting them and some of their family at Pizza Ranch—yum! Afterward, they graciously invited us to their house and then came out to Rocky to tell it hi. We were parked at Backbone State Park nearby.
We met this sweet family when we drove out to Iowa in March to buy Rocky—Sue was helping her parents with the sale while they were away. It was so great to see them again—come out to visit us, friends, when we land again in Colorado!
Typical Iowa scenery in this area. I found the farms surrounded by fields of corn peaceful and inviting. (Sorry about the messy picture—I think Rocky’s windows were needing a wash…)
The captain of our ship….heading north to Forest City, home of Winnebago.
Winnebago is kind of a big deal in Forest City. The factory, visitors center, and repair shop are all right here. We needed a few repairs done on Rocky and didn’t know until a couple weeks before that you usually have to book a service appointment two months in advance. So we showed up and got on the waitlist. We arrived on a Wednesday and completed our form requesting our service items. Once submitted, no additional items can be requested (and there is a limit of 7 service items). After our requests were reviewed, we were told to come back first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, we explored the museum and learned about the history of Winnebago. Local businessmen started the company, manufacturing travel trailers, back in the 1950s as a way to revitalize ailing Forest City. In 1966 the first motorhome rolled off the assembly line and the 1970s were a boom for the company. How many of you had one or more of these lovely colors in your home in the 70s?
Here’s one of their first motorhomes:
Not really. But this is:
We also took a tour of the factory. This is the bus we rode to get on the factory grounds and to get between buildings on the factory grounds. I include it because it is really the only picture of the tour I was allowed to take!
We had some good discussions later about the differences between what we saw here at Winnebago and at the Tiffin factory in Alabama. Both excellent RV manufacturers, but different feel and style. Back at the service center, when we checked in the next morning, we were told to check back at 1pm, when the center opens after lunch break. We did, and were told to check in again at 5 pm. We did, and were told to check in at 7:30 Friday morning. WITH the RV—gotta be a good sign, right? So Chad took the RV over, the kids and I went out for breakfast, then took all of our school books and supplies to the tiny little library, where we tried to do school. I think we threw the librarian completely off—I’m guessing not many people homeschool in Forest City. We picked Chad up for lunch at Subway (Rocky HAD gotten in—thankful!!), then “explored” the town. This meant walking around the courthouse and driving around the town. Not a whole lot else to see!
We made it back to the service center in time to wait until right before close of business to hear that Rocky was finished. By that time, and since it was Labor Day weekend and there were NO campgrounds anywhere with openings, we decided to take advantage of the fine visitors center parking lot we’d been docked in while we waited for service. It’s free for customers, and includes electricity! (It was SO hot—probably the hottest we’ve been on the trip—so we were thankful for the electricity and A/C!) For water, we just had to drive across the street to the rally grounds to fill up. We had plenty of company in the “campground”:
We were happy to find a lovely bike trail at a park nearby, including a suspension bridge we rode over the river on. The bike path went past the rally grounds, which had a small stage area and bleachers. When our kids see a stage, what do they do? A play, of course!! So we got in on several spontaneous productions (Three Little Pigs variation and then Anne of Green Gables). Love their creativity.
We had a bit of a “run-in” with the bikes involving a car wash, bikes on the top of the car and a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right before entering the car wash, so Chad spent much of Sunday straightening some bike rack rails and duct-taping a bike seat that got shredded.
Monday, Labor Day, we headed for Des Moines, where there were finally campsites available!