Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota

We fell for the charms of northern Iowa (would you ever expect to say that!?).  The re-enactment was a large part of it – when you stumble on men wearing costumes and shooting cannons at each other, how could you not?!  But there’s way more to the place than you might think.  First of all… we camped about a half mile from a Frank Loyd Wright house.  Huh.  I always think of the house that EVERYONE always thinks of when his name comes up.  Falling Water is in PA – where I assumed {incorrectly} he did most of his work.  Yes… this is a big reveal… I should have paid better attention in my architecture class.  This was the Dr. George and Eleanor Stockman House.  Fun fact of the day:  FLW adapted a plan he had published in the Ladies’ Home Journal called “A Fireproof House for $5000”.  This house is a little smaller, a little more ‘affordable’ and in his Prairie Style.  Check this out, Conde Nast Traveler called Mason City one of the World’s 14 Best Cities for Architecture Lovers in June 2012.  Iowa might have been the very last place on earth I would have guessed would be on that list.

We brought the Chief to the mothership: the Winnebago factory.  He’s 31 years old which in car years means he’s like 75 or 80.  All class A Winnies are made in Forest City, IA (according to the tour guide – if you know differently for those from the ’80s, no need to tell me).  Evie got a real kick out of the fact that “he” was “born” there.  We had planned to have some work done, but we couldn’t make it work with the schedule (meaning we need to cross the Rockies before late Oct).

Unfortunately we were planning to join the regular tour but they said it was 2 hours and there was no way to get back to the visitors center in the middle of it (and no bathrooms along the route).  I knew the kids wouldn’t last.  We bowed out.  But then the helpful staff pulled us aside and asked if we’d like a private 20 minute tour by van.  Don’t mind if we do!  How perfect!  This is one of those rare times that having cranky little people was a huge bonus.  We got driven all around, we got a less detailed version of the tour and Scott got to go inside the assembly line while we waited in the van (no – I’m not at all broken up about not seeing it).




Just so you know… I want this one.  I much prefer the layout of the 50’s Winnies.  Don’t be surprised…



And this is the one Scott wants… a 2017 with 4 push outs and so many buttons Jack’s head almost exploded.

After the factory we headed north into Minnesota.  It was either that or due west into Nebraska.  I couldn’t really find anything extraordinary along either route… so it was a coin toss.  We have several apps we use when we know we want to boondock for a night.  While the signs said, “No Overnight Parking” in a random Walmart in Minnesota, I knew that if we asked it would be fine.  Oddly enough, I thought asking would be an easy task. I assigned it to Scott and went about getting ready for dinner.  He’s not one to openly mention when he doesn’t want to do something (which is often “challenging” for my directness), but the procrastinating made it perfectly clear he didn’t want to go inside.  When I asked him about it, “Oh… I don’t know… I hate asking.”  HA.  Finally!!  Something that rolls off my back like water that he can’t stand to do.  I grew up in department stores thanks to my dad.  I had no problem walking in, introducing myself and asking if it was alright.  “Of course, happy to have you,” the lady said.  I thought Scott was going to melt into the floor right there in Wally World.  Too funny.

Last night it got cold.  We went down to 43 deg F (about 7 deg C) and our solar is only giving us 3-4 hours of juice (or so I thought – that turns out to not be the case). That meant a lot of blankets, warm jammies and body heat.  The kids and I slept in the bed.  Scott was supposed to get Evie to sleep next to him when he was done working but mysteriously that never happened.  So I had 2 wiggley bodies next to me and he got a good night sleep.  We used the heat a little, but it really wasn’t that bad.

This morning we’re heading to SD.  That should be a lot of fun – we’re both looking forward to the Badlands, the dinosaur stuff, the bear USA car trek and boondocking in BLM lands for the first time.  We’re also going to have someone help us with the solar system and the generator while we’re playing in the national park.