Winnebago Grand National Rally (GNR)

IMG_0865 We just finished 10 days at the Winnebago GNR. We got here early, the actual rally started on the 16th and lasted only 5 days, but they had something scheduled everyday from the 7th of July on. The theme of the Rally was Out Of This World. It was the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. It also coincided with the annual Puckerbrush Festival. Puckerbrush was the name of the city before it was changed to Forest City. Our house is the first one on the left. 100_2607   The blue on the corners of the bedroom slide out is cut from a swimming noodle. It’s there to protect me from bumping my head…again! We’re also happy we had our bikes this time, we rode them everywhere.   100_2609   Approximately 1100 motor homes were here. 100_2610   This is an aerial photo of the Winnebago grounds before the Rally started. The buildings at the top are the Winnebago factory. WIT GNR     We took a two hour tour (not a three hour tour) of the factory. It was great. We learned so much about the Winnebago manufacturing process. One process that stands out for me was The Water Jet Cutter, using water to cut many kinds of materials. It uses only three gallons of water a day. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were filled with seminars. There was something scheduled from 6:15 AM  until 6 PM. Starting with exercising at dawn! (needless to say I didn’t make the 6:15 class…E) They also had team and individual competitions. This competition is who can back up through a course-blind folded the fastest.  The driver is blind folded and their wife gives them instructions on how to back up through the course. No knocking down cones or people. IMG_0889   The husband and wife team that won took only 39 seconds.  (needless to say we’re not quite there yet either…E) IMG_0890 Saturday was the Puckerbrush Parade. 100_2620 They served a bar-b-que chicken dinner after the parade. It was strange that I could walk down the streets of Forest City, IA and wave to people that I knew. 100_2621   The paraders would throw candy for the kids. Later there was a 3M float that was throwing 3M sponges. The adults were scrambling for those.   100_2622   No parade would be complete without the Shriners. 100_2640

 

There were three girls the two on the right and one more. They were grabbing as much candy as they could and passing it back to a fourth girl who was bagging it for everybody!

 

100_2638   In keeping with the Out Of This World theme. 100_2636   Breast Cancer travel trailer. 100_2634 Motor homes were parked many different ways. We were parked in the 50 amp area. Cost a little more, but we had 50 amps and could run anything in the motor home without blowing a circuit breaker. Others were parked in state rows. Containing rigs from just their state. One afternoon was dedicated to row parties. Each state was giving out food and drink (spirits)! A lot of drinks.  Who knew, these old-timers know how to party! IMG_0877 IMG_0876 IMG_0875 IMG_0873 IMG_0878     IMG_0879 IMG_0880 IMG_0881 That was supposed to be lemonade and turned out to be almost straight  Jack Daniels.  Oh well, I finished it anyway.   IMG_0874 IMG_0882   IMG_0884   We also had entertainment every day and night.  These are two school teachers comedy act from Minnasooota!   100_2618 The last night was Jefferson Starship, minus Grace Slick.  She thought she was too old to tour anymore!  She might be right, but it was a fun night. 100_2644 100_2645 We also made some new friends. IMG_0887-1 Now we’re on the road for the second day heading east to Eileen’s brother and family in NY. After that we’ll be on our way to the Federico Family Picnic!

We’ve been busy!

Thursday July 3rd We said our good byes to Mark and headed south on I-25 to Camping world for some work on our house. We took the FIT and drove back out to Estes Park to Snowy Peaks Winery . Spent a couple of hours enjoying Estes Park again while our house was being fixed. When we returned to Camping World it was too late to start our trip to Forest City, IA, so Camping World let us spend the night at their facility. They had water and electric, but only 30 amps. We prefer 50 amps because it allows us to run everything at one time. With 30 amps we have to watch what we run. Like we can only run one A/C instead of running both. We’ve gone with 30 amps enough times that it’s not a problem. Actually we have a Power Control System (PCS) that monitors our ampere usage and will shut down appliances before tripping circuit breakers. When on 30 amps or less it will show us how many amps we’re using so we can decide what to run or not run.

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Friday July 4th

 

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We drove to Fort Laramie, WY and spent the night at a tiny mom & pop campground. After setting up we drove over to Ft. Laramie National Historic site. Didn’t realize they had an all day celebration of which we missed most of. Ft. Laramie is part of The National Parks system.

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This building is called “Old Bedlam.” It was built in 1849 and is the oldest standing building in Wyoming. It was nicknamed “Old Bedlam” because of the boisterous sounds heard while occupied by bachelor officers.

 

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This is an inside view of one of the rooms.

 

 

 

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The is the General Store. It was the most popular place on the post. Up to 1,000 people would pass through on a daily basis. Not just soldiers, but trappers, frontiersmen, Native Americans and travelers. soldier’s bar-room.

 

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Soldier’s Bar-room

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A trader camped at the post.

 

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Enlisted men’s barracks.

 

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Church.

 

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New recruits.

The town of Ft. Laramie has a population of 200 something, but they put on one of the best fireworks display we’ve ever seen. It seemed to go on forever. Three times we thought it was the finale, but they just kept shooting up more fireworks. Saturday July 5th Today was a travel day. We drove to Heartland RV Park in Hermosa, South Dakota. This was the view out our front window. There were about six horses that would greet you in the morning or anytime of the day if they were out. Unfortunately I missed getting a picture of them playing.

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Sunday July 6th We went to the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials. This is the view as you walk into the Mount Rushmore Memorial.

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Everybody taking pictures.

 

 

 

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This is the view from the top of the amphitheater.

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Amphitheater.

 

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There is a trail that will get you to the base of Mt. Rushmore.

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We took this side trail to the base.

 

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Views from the base.

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The Father of our country.

 

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Next was the Crazy Horse Memorial. In 1939 Korczak Ziolkowski was working on the Mount Rushmore project. He also won first prize for a sculpture at the 1939 World’s Fair. Due to his notoriety Chief Standing Bear asked him to create a similar monument for the North American Indians. Korczak worked on the project until his death in 1972 at age 74. He and his wife had 10 children. Six of whom still work on the project. It is funded entirely by private funds. Several times they have turned down offers of government funding. View from the parking lot.

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You can see the horses head outlined.

 

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I didn’t take this picture. Got it from another Full Timer that work-kamps at Crazy Horse.
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This is the mountain with an outline of the finished product.

There was lots to see and do at the memorial.

 

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This shows the scale sculpture in the foreground and the project in the background.

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Monday July 7th. In the morning we went to Sturgis South Dakota. If you’re a biker you’ve probably heard about Sturgis. There is a rally there every year in August and the town is over flowing with motorcycles of every kind. We were there a month ahead of time so very few bikes.

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We had lunch here.

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Downtown Sturgis now.

 

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This is what it will look like in August.

The famous Buffalo Chip.

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In the afternoon we went to Deadwood South Dakota. Deadwood is famous for gold being discovered in 1874 by General George Custer, and Wild Bill Hickok was killed by Jack McCall. Hickok never liked to sit with his back to the door, but this day the only seat available was with it’s back facing the door. He sat to play and Jack McCall walked in and shot him in the back of the head. He was holding “Aces and Eights” now known in poker as a “Dead Man’s Hand.” The town was also made into an HBO series Deadwood.

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Staged gunfight.

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Cemetery where Wild Bill Hickok and Calimity Jane are buried.

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People have left coins and mementos at the foot of his grave..

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Calamity Jane’s grave.

Thursday July 10th We finally made it to the 2014 Winnebago Grand National Rally in Forest City, Iowa. We will be camped here for 11 days and then start the trip east to the Family Picnic.

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Winnebago is expecting 1400 rigs to attend this years rally.

Benson Sculpture Garden

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Benson Sculpture Park has been described as “one of the most unique sculpture gardens in the nation”, and that’s an understatement.  This is one attraction you won’t want to miss.  It’s located just outside of Ft. Collins, CO. in the town of Loveland (great name).  With over 130 pieces of sculpture in the park (and more added each year), and the same breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains, this is a great place to go whether it’s with  your family, a romantic stroll with your partner, or just a place of solitude.  We had a picnic lunch with Mark in a shaded area and walked around the surrounding two ponds.

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Mark

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You might think you recognize somebody, but I can assure you these are all sculptures.

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This is a little boy trying to get his fishing line untangled from the tree.

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They are comprised of both traditional and modern sculptures as well as both small and large.  As you can see, some were interactive.  Thank’s Mark, for a beautiful day!

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Hey! What’s going on here?

 

 

Rocky Mountain National Park

We are behind in our posts, so we will be playing catch up for the next few days.

While we were still in Colorado we took a drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.

It was beautiful. At one point I think we got close to 10,000 feet high.

As usual you can left click any image to enlarge it.

 

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Estes Park, Colorado

We drove to Estes Park , CO A beautiful town about an hour southwest of Ft. Collins and a stones throw from Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).   As you can see every turn was a postcard picture of the still snowy mtns.  The temps were in the 60s, low humidity with a very cold wind. I should have been dressed more like Eileen. I needed long pants and a sweatshirt. You can always left click to enlarge photo.

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They were having a Scandinavian Festival and the place was packed with tourists (including the three of us). DSCN8841 DSCN8828

We took the River Walk into town from the Visitor’s Center.

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As you can see from the above picture Max took time out of his day to count the sandbags lining one of the businesses along the River Walk. Due to the river over flowing at times many establishments have sandbags in reserve for emergency use. The river was moving very fast, so we were surprised to see a man throwing a stick in the river for his Lab to retrieve. He did this countless times and the Lab never got tired. He would jump in retrieve the stick, then swim down stream maybe 25 yards before being able to reach the shore and climb out.

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We saw the The Stanley Hotel where the movie The Shining with Jack Nicholson was filmed.

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Spent the rest of the afternoon going in and out of the tourist shops that lined main street. DSCN8826

Max kept staring at this sign. I wonder why? Max was a hit with everybody we met. If we have time we would like to go back to Estes Park during the week when it’s less crowded.

Sunday June 15th Father’s Day to Saturday June 21 .

Went to brunch with Eileen and Mark at the Cafe Vino I had a great meal of Huevos Rancheros, Mark had Eggs Benedict and Eileen had the best meal Stuffed French Toast.

Cafe Vino   Spent the rest of the afternoon wishing I hadn’t eaten sooo much. Took a bike ride with Mark on the Cashe La Poudre bike trail (pronounced pooder)  bike path towards downtown Ft. Collins. It’s only 2.5 miles each way. Or at least it should have been. Eileen gave me her wallet and iPhone to carry for her and I dropped them in the RV Park. So we had to go back and look for them which probably added another 10 miles to our ride (OK maybe 2), but all’swell that ends well I found the wallet and phone. (Eileen asked “does this bike seat make my ass look fat?”)  Mark came back and had dinner with us, then we took him and his bike back to his place. It’s against the law in Ft. Collins to ride at night without a light on your bike.

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We’re having trouble with our HWH Levelers. The levelers or jack stands automatically level and stabilize the house. I searched around for the problem and found that I had a weak chassis battery. It wasn’t dead, but on it’s way out. So picked up a new battery from Mr Mechanic compliments of Mark. Installed the new battery and that didn’t fix the problem! I next checked the voltages at the two solenoids and pump motor. All had 12 volts but the motor wasn’t running. A mechanic is coming out Friday to look at it.

Oh and we’re also on a eat healthier kick. Including Max. We shared a large fries with him. Max is addicted to french fries. IMG_0797-R

One of the problems in Ft Collins is the Cottonwood Tree. The seeds are on a cotton like structure and it blows all over Ft Collins. It looks like you’re in a snow storm.

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We drove to Horse Tooth Mountain and went on a hike with Max.

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This is the view looking down from the top of the previous image.  Do you believe people bicycle up and down these mountain! IMG_0822 IMG_0823 DSCN8721

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We would really like to camp on the Horsetooth River, but it’s very popular and booked most of the time.

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We drove to Boulder to see a festival on Pearl Street.

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Hmmm!

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After walking through most of the festival we were told “No Dogs Allowed”!, by a very friendly police officer.  Since we’d seen most of the festival we picked up Max and headed back to Ft. Collins. The 60’s are alive and well in Boulder!

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Sunday June 8th. Today started out great I-80 through Nebraska is a dream to drive on. Nice and smooth and straight and level. That’s me taken by Eileen in the Fit. IMG_0541-R

But not so much when the wind starts blowing. By mid afternoon we were in a full blown storm with rain, hail (or snow) and wind gusts of 40+ mph.  We stopped several times to wait out the winds, but to no avail. We decided to stop for dinner in Cheyenne WY and then spend the night at a rest area.  After dinner I missed the exit for the rest area and we continued on to Fort Collins CO. The trip from Cheyenne to Ft. Collins was uneventful-the storm had moved on.  We spent the night camped at a Walmart right off I-25. IMG_0748

The storm made a beautiful sunset. We were not alone. The lot was full of RVs and 18 wheelers. So full that one had to park across the street in a grass lot.  We’ve been doing a lot of shopping there that we could start a Wallmartian’s Club, but you can’t beat the overnight stay.  Just wish they all had a Starbucks!

Sunday June 9th

We made it to our campground Ft. Collins  KOA   http://koa.com/campgrounds/fort-collins-lakeside/  It’s a bit pricey for us, but there are a lot of amenities and they seem to have a good internet connection…and a lot of rules and regulations about visitors, even family!  We won’t stay here again but everything in the area is booked.  It’s such a beautiful area.  We finally had a bike rack and hitch put on the back of the Fit so we can take the bikes with us sightseeing.  We hope to travel the trails through Ft. Collins tomorrow. IMG_0779

Monday June 9th. On the weekend of October 19th Eileen is walking 40 miles for breast cancer.  We started preparing for that walk today.  We are walking 2 miles a day shooting for 5 miles a day while here.

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This is the view from one side (not wide angle) IMG_0762 IMG_0761 and this is the view from the other side.

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Tuesday June 11th. I found Mecca today! (if you know me, you know what this means)! IMG_0757

Thursday June 12th.

We met  friends for dinner that are from NJ, Kathy and Dave Staveley.  Eileen worked with Kathy years ago at the Pharmaceutical AD agency  which is now Ogilvy Worldwide/CommonHealth and they had moved out here a few years ago.  Great dinner at the Blind Pig.  It was really nice to catch up.  They love it here. IMG_0551

Friday June 13th.

Mark came over for dinner last night and we had a great time.  One of the KOA rules is visitors need to be escorted to your site, so it was pretty funny  when Mark arrived in his truck preceded by a elderly gentleman in a golf cart.  We had a great dinner and sat around the fire watching  the last game of the Stanley Cup. IMG_0772-R IMG_0773

Saturday June 14th.

We picked up a few things we needed to organize the food shelves and then visited Mark at work at Rocky Mountain Westy where he is the Product Manager.  The shop and work they do there is incredible to see. They take Vanagon’s and and replace the 90 hp engine with a Subaru 170 hp engine. They also completely refurbish the inside and outside. Most everything is done in house. They fabricate most of the parts they replace.   They also have a regular car service shop connected to it which is part of the same owners.  So if you see a VW van that looks like a camper, wave.  Most likely they’ve visited RMW at some point. IMG_0777 IMG_0778