Kent and Carol - Mobile travel blog

Museum at Heritage Village, Forest City, Iowa

Steam Tractor at Heritage Village, Forest City, Iowa

Small Steam tractor powering Ice Cream Freezer

Elvira Dancing with a guy at Grand National Rally

Capitol Building at Matchstick Marvels, Galdbrook, Iowa

Cloaer view of Capitol Building made of matchsticks

Cathedral made of matchsticks

Close-up of Cathedral

American Picker Store, LeClaire, Iowa


Carol and I got back into Kansas City/Liberty on June 13th in time to get Carol’s Driver License renewed before her Birthday on June 16th. I had a visit to the dentist for a cleaning and our financial advisor to do some paperwork. I then had a visit with my doctor and he reminded me I was due for a colonoscopy, so I had that unpleasant procedure done. Results were fine. On Saturday, June 30th we loaded the daughters and grandkids into the RV and drove to Wichita for the Fees family reunion. We returned the next day so that Tracy could go back to work. I had two new tires installed on the front of the RV. These large tires are over $500 per tire including the mounting, balancing and the disposal fee. I will wait until later to have the back four tires replaced.

We celebrated July 4th with fireworks and a Bar-B-Que at Michelle’s. After a couple of weeks of some really hot weather, Carol and I were ready to head north.

On Wednesday, July 11th, we drove the RV to Forest City, Iowa for the annual Winnebago Grand National Rally (GNR). It was only a few degrees cooler there. The Rally opens on Sunday the 15th but we arrived early to get some service work done at the factory service center. The week before the rally and the week of the rally they claim that they usually service about 800 units with extra help brought in from other departments of the factory and some college students. We were able to get our RV in for service on Thursday, the only problem, they want the RV there by the early hour of 6:30 am so the tech can get started by 7:00 am. The techs work from 7-3:30pm. We got our home back by about 2:30 pm on Thursday but they wanted the RV again on Friday at the early 6:30 am. They finished by 10:00 am on Friday so we were able to get settled in for the official opening of the rally on Sunday evening. There are other activities going on during the pre-week. Right next door to the rally grounds, Forest City has a Heritage Village with many early day structures and museums. That weekend the Village was having a steam tractor show with all sizes of steam tractors in use or on display. One steam tractor was powering a large lumber saw via the long power belt and then another miniature steam tractor was powering an ice cream freezer. They were selling the homemade ice cream that Carol and I had to try.

The rally opened on Sunday evening with its usual seminars, meetings, factory tours, entertainment and vendors. I think probably the most fun is the State Row parties on Tuesday afternoon. Each state row provides some sort of food or snack that they serve at the head of the state row. Everybody goes around to each state and sample the food. This year Missouri provided Root Beer Floats, which I help serve part of the time. It was a very hot afternoon and we ran out of cups after serving 400 Root Beer Floats in about 90 minutes. During all this, a Dixie style band, on a trailer, travels around to each state row and plays their toe tapping music. Elvira (a man in a dress and work boots) travels around with the band and dances with all willing males. It is a hoot.

The Rally closed Friday morning but you are allowed to remain on the rally grounds at no charge through the weekend. Carol and I left Sunday morning and drove to the small town of Gladbrook, Iowa to visit the Matchstick Marvels. A man that lives in this town makes models of just about anything out of headless matchsticks. Probably the most impressing are the models of the Washington Capital Building and the cathedral. Monday morning we drove our RV to Lamont IA to spend a few hours with a couple that we know from our winter stay in Mission, TX. Tuesday, we made a quick stop into the small town of LeClaire, Iowa to visit the original store for the American Picker TV show that Carol likes to watch. We had to maneuver the RV and the attached Jeep around to find a place to park on the city streets because the parking lot was not big enough for us to park. We then continued on into Galesburg, IL. to visit another couple we know from our winter stay. That evening we took LouAnn to dinner and Wednesday we visited her husband, Charles, who is in a rehab unit to regain his strength after having a heart pacemaker installed. While there, a third couple from the winter “crew” came to visit Charles also. So, in a couple days we met with three couples from our winter group.

Friday, July 27, we drove to an RV park outside of Grand Rapids, MI. Monday morning was the first full day of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) Convention. During the convention, I went to many seminars, plus a hands-on seminar building a cattle ramp, a hands-on seminar on using the air brush, a bus tour of 5 different model train layouts in the area, a tour of Steelcase Furniture factory where they make their wood furniture and a tour of a furniture museum. Friday morning the National Train Show opened to the convention attendees before it opened to the public that afternoon. Saturday morning Carol and I both went to the National Train Show that is held in a huge convention hall filled with about every vendor that sells model train equipment and supplies. There were also about a dozen model train layouts on display in every scale size.

Sunday we drove the RV to an RV park outside of Detroit, MI. This RV park was part of the Wayne County Fairgrounds. This was the closest RV park to the Henry Ford Complex that we wanted to visit, but it was not the best situation because the county fair was to open on Tuesday. The place was very busy and there were many people there and the electricity was not sufficient to power everybody. I have an energy management system that monitors the supply voltage to the RV and it will shut off power if the 120 voltage drops below 105 volts or exceeds 138 volts. This is a protection system to protect the RV appliances and electronics from too low or too high a voltage that you may find in the various RV parks around North America. It has kicked into service only a few times in six years we have been in this RV but at this RV park the voltage was dropping below 105 almost all the time, so we were without the Air Conditioner. Sunday and Monday the high was only 85 degrees so it wasn’t too bad, but Tuesday it got up to 95 and it was pretty uncomfortable in the RV on Tuesday. That Monday mourning Carol and I took the Jeep and drove about 18 miles to the Henry Ford Complex. At this complex there is a museum, an I-Max theater and Greenfield Village. The Village is more than 90 acres that include seven historic districts with vintage buildings, transportation, skilled artisans and also includes Ford’s birthplace, the Wright Brother’s Cycle shop and other noteworthy buildings. We both thought the village would be too much walking for Carol so we just went to the Henry Ford Museum. It was a vast building that the ad claims was “12 acres under a single roof” and the first portion of the building built in 1928. It contained several venues such as Railroads, Driving America, Adventures in Early Flight, Made in America –Power, Made in America-Manufacturing and Agriculture. Special noted items were the chair Lincoln was sitting in when assassinated, the Kennedy Presidential Limousine, the Rosa Parks Bus and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. We spent all day there and about mid day I rented a wheelchair and I pushed Carol around the second half of the day. We had planned to go to the I-Max Theater afterward, but we were too tired so we skipped that. Tuesday morning I drove back to the Henry Ford Complex and caught the tram to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. The tram drops you off at the visitor center that has two short movies, a sky-high observation deck to overlook the Ford Plant, a self-guided tour of the F-150 truck assembly area, followed by a display area of the F-150 trucks. The tour of the truck assembly area was via an elevated walkway above the assembly floor and every so often a TV monitor was describing the procedure going on below you. I liked that you could go at your own pace and I stopped often to watch the procedures below. There was also a live person at some of the monitor stops to answer questions. That whole trip to and from the plant took me about half a day.

Wednesday, August 8th, we were ready to leave the fairground RV park with their lack of sufficient electricity. We are heading to Frankenmuth, MI.



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