Saturday, August 08, 2009

Woodstock.....By Senior Citizens

We spent over a week in Forest City, Iowa, as we attended the Winnebago Industries Grand National Rally. Winnebago, the oldest motorhome manufacturer, celebrated it's 50th year this summer, and the rally is the 40th. Each year's rally has a theme, and this year's celebrated the (also) 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Since the rally is put on by the Winnebago/Itasca Travelers (WIT) club, it was called "WITStock". The organization of the rally has evolved into a well-oiled machine, with hundreds of volunteers scurrying around on golf carts, manning booths, and directing traffic. The rally grounds, next to the Winnebago factory, has electric hookups for 1600 motorhomes, an amphitheater, restaurant, and a large vendor's building and retail store. It was quite a sight to see so many motorhomes lined up on the green grass - old ones, new ones, small ones.......if Winnebago made it, at least one of the model was there. The rally kicked off with an opening ceremony in the amphitheater, where a parade of the various WIT clubs, with everyone dressed in their 60s garb, had people reliving their youth. Imagine over 3000 senior citizens grooving on loud music and trying to act like teens again....it was a real lovefest! Unfortunately, the smell of marijuana at Woodstock was replaced by the smell of Ben-Gay at WitStock, and we were all truly hurt when the Forest City mayor made an impassioned plea for us not to skinny dip in the river and for the women not to go braless. After all, there were children present in town. Nonetheless, we all had a great time during the week as I attended seminars of maintenance aspects of our humongous machine, and Brenda learned more about convection cooking. A real treat for Brenda was the woman's driving class, where she had the chance to drive a brand-new 40' top of the line diesel pusher. Her instructor, a lady trucker, had them practice backing and turning, then took them out on the open roads of Iowa. She had a great time and gained a lot of confidence - she's taking turns driving ours now, and doing great!
As you can imagine, the town of Forest City (population 4200) revolves around Winnebago and plans a number of activities to coincide with the rally. We had the chance to visit the downtown area during the "Puckerbrush Days" festival (don't know what that means, but I think it had something to do with outhouses and bushes), and enjoyed the small-town activities. We've driven through a number of small towns and cities in central Iowa, and you get the sense that Iowans can't be bothered with frills - there are no nicely restored storefronts or potted plants hanging from the lampposts. Even the residential areas reflect the no-nonsense philosophy; after all, Iowa didn't get to be the number one state in corn production, soybeans, and pigs by wasting time fixing up the house and planting flowers. But they're great folks, friendly and honest, and we enjoyed our visit here. We came away with a greater appreciation for the engineering and craftsmanship of our coach and look forward to attending again down the road. From here we head West to South Dakota, then North into the frozen wastes of Minot, North Dakota. C'mon back and see how we're doing!

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