Sunday, July 20, 2008

Medford, St. Paul and now Forest City, Iowa

Friday, July 18, 2008

While the NOAA weather guy reports on Severe Storm Warning #703 on its way to northern Iowa, I’ll start this blog with a quote by Benjamin Franklin (Walter Isaacson’s book, Benjamin Franklin, An American Life). In the late 1780s, Franklin was telling about his various ailments (gout and kidney stones):

“People who live long, who will drink the cup of life to the very bottom,
expect to meet with some of the usual dregs.”

I last wrote when I was on my way to Medford, Minnesota, to visit some of my mother’s cousins. I spent super four days on the corn, bean and hog farm; parked beneath huge trees on Cousin Gloria’s driveway. Besides Gloria, her daughter and husband, and her grandson and his family have homes there. For the first few days, the weather was relatively cool.

Gloria’s son-in-law took me for a cart ride out to see the fields – this photo shows their ‘bean’ (soybeans) field.

The evening before I was to leave, we watched the weather news as a storm moved across the state – and the severe thunderstorms, hail, winds and tornado threat moved closer. We decided it would be prudent to move Jeremiah II from under the large trees.

Saturday, July 12, I left for the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) International Rally in St. Paul, Minnesota. The day had turned quite hot, I encountered two stretches of backed-up vehicles on Interstate 35-E, and I was eager to get parked so I could cool the motorhome down using my generator. Fanciful thinking! First I had to get to the “holding area” where groups of 10 motorhomes were escorted to the fairgrounds. Then it was a time of waiting to be escorted to a parking area. I no sooner got to the front of the line to be parked when someone said I had been sent to the wrong area, “back up, and park along that street and someone will come and get you.” More waiting but at least I was under some large shade trees.

Eventually I was taken down another street where I would be parking. A quick look at where I was told to stop – right in front of a sloping street drain – and I knew it would be nearly impossible to get level and I told the parking guy this. “Oh, well, see what I can do,” I told myself as I got out my leveling boards. Just as I got the board out, the parking guy came back and said he had a better place for me. So, load boards, make a U-turn and follow. The new spot was still on the road – and under large shade trees! Leveling was fairly easy and soon I could get the generator and air conditioner on. Whew!

As the day cooled off, and folks were sitting outside, I started meeting people. One reason I was there was to distribute surveys for Winnebago. I had 100 surveys and four days to get them done. I also attended a couple seminars, and finished writing and editing the next issue of Personal Chef Magazine.

The FMCA rally is huge – about 2,500 motorhomes (in past years the rally has had up to 7,000 motorhomes) spread throughout the fairgrounds and adjacent properties. I got a lot of walking done during my days there – usually ended the day with at least 4 miles total. The trees gave lots of shade and the weather was relatively cool for summer.

The couple parked ahead of me “adopted” me for a couple of days. They invited me to join them for an outing at Como Park and the huge Mall of the Americas. Both were enjoyable – and both places I would not have been able to visit. The park has rides for children, a Japanese garden and a most interesting butterfly garden. As you can see from the photo, these three butterflies are large!

By Tuesday evening all surveys had been distributed – good thing because I was leaving in the morning.

Wednesday, July 16

It was only a 100-plus drive to Forest City, Iowa, for the Winnebago Grand National Rally. And it was a hot, muggy day. Again I was impatient to get air conditioning on – and at this rally I’d have electricity. But not a level place. This former bean and/or corn field is not flat. It took a couple of tries to get level, and when I was, I discovered that my electric cord would not reach the utility box! Bummer! And it’s hot both inside and outside of the motorhome.

I tried again to no avail. Then I realized I was parked near the Winnebago “rally parts store” and simply bought a 30-amp extension cord. (I used to have one, but somewhere along the way it ‘disappeared’.)

Whew! Cat and I cooled off, and as the afternoon passed, it cooled off outside. Perfect timing for a walk around the rally grounds. I have taken many walks these past few days before the rally starts on Sunday afternoon. I’ve walked in to the town twice; once for Forest City’s annual Puckerbrush Days Celebration. Puckerbrush? Yep. That was the original name for this town.

Yesterday’s town parade was as much fun as ever. It was 1 ½ hours long. It seems like every fire truck from miles around were there to lead off the parade. Then there were queens, princes, and other dignitaries – including everyone running for a political office – in various vehicles. The only band was the Forest City high school marching band. The parade included two Shriner’s groups, numerous floats, and plenty of tractors.

This is my third year to attend the Grand National Rally. The main activities are the same each year and I’ve done practically at least once. This year I’ve been spending time organizing and reorganizing Jeremiah II.

It is Sunday afternoon as I finish this, and it will soon be time to head to the amphitheater for the parade of states and opening session. More thunderstorms are due this evening; we just hope the storm holds off until the end.

Tomorrow the seminars and vendor display area will be open. It will be a busy three days for me. I’ll leave here Thursday morning to head back to New Mexico. This will probably be my last post for awhile. As soon as I return home, I’ll have a day-and-a-half to unpack the motorhome and pack a suitcase for a flight to Tucson.