If you take Minnesota Route 22 south from I-90 into Iowa, you get the fun of driving out of the state through its Kiester 😉
The summer of 2011 was not only a coast-to-coast trip, it was a journey that included stopping not once but twice through Iowa. Why? Well, to get some bugs worked out of the Winnie, of course. And for that we made our home in Forest City, Iowa.
The first time through, in July, the factory waiting area was packed every morning — we’d arrived just before the big Winnebago-Itasca owners club assembled for their annual get-together.
For that visit, we stayed out of town at the Three Fingers RV Park, so named for the little peninsulas that stick out into the small lakes that make up the park. The spot we got into was so tiny we had to push the neighbor’s golf cart further into that site so we could get our slide-out to extend. But the owners were friendly, the price reasonable, and the drive into town not too bad. This served us well while we were on the waiting list and didn’t know how long it might take for the Winnebago service office to call us in.
The fishing was fun…
…and the sunset over the lake was a pretty way to end the day!
Being in the area a little while meant we had some time to explore the town, including the city park, which raised money for a suspension bridge over the river by selling planks. With each step, you can read the names of those who made it possible for you to cross the water without getting your feet wet.
Fortunately for us, just up the road, Lake Mills was having a celebration, so we enjoyed an afternoon’s entertainment first watching area volunteer firemen (we didn’t see any firewomen) blast away at the red beer barrel with untold gallons of water. Three-men teams got in the ready position…
…then fire-hosed away at the competition…
…getting spectators happily doused in the process:
If you haven’t had the fun of witnessing a water ball fight between rival fire houses and you get the chance, take it. If it’s a hot day, get a front-row seat!
In our search for the crafts section, we stumbled instead upon the tractor pull competition — kiddie style! Boys and girls competed in the various age categories to the rousing cheers of families and friends:
Of course, the excitement was just too much for some of the parents:
You’d think this was about all of the excitement we could take in just a week or so, but you’d be wrong. It was just toooo tempting not to drive a bit farther down the road to get a gander at ….
…yes, Fertile, Iowa. Pretty little town…
…no doubt named for the soil, right?!? But how do you explain…Manly?!?
And yes, Fertile and Manly are down the road from each other. Just another reason why we love traveling the backroads!
In the other direction, we sought out Pilot Knob State Park, home of Iowa’s second highest point (1450 feet… see? Iowa’s not as flat and low-lying as you might think!). We followed a beautiful trail…
… to see the Pilot Knob Tower, constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps:
… and still sturdy enough for strangers like us to climb up inside…
…and out onto the roof…
…for views of the Iowa countryside:
Notice all the trees?!? And you thought Iowa consisted solely of corn!
On our return trip through Iowa, we boondocked (dry-camped) in the Winnebago factory lot where we were able to glimpse this overhead:
Looks like a dot, but what you can’t see in a still shot was how fast this dot was traveling through the sky. The International Space Station! Our second viewing of it — both of them possible because of our full-time RV lifestyle 🙂
Of course, we had to try a few of the local eateries. We’d heard about The Lodge, which is probably popular because it’s so close to the Winnebago factory, but we found the buffet lunch lukewarm and generally bland… and didn’t go back.
Our favorite combination was to eat at Sum Hing…
…then have ice cream at Scoopy Doos:
This is our second Scoopy Doos — the first was in DeWitt, Michigan. Maybe we could locate all of the Scoopy Doo ice cream parlors in the country and make that a trip in itself?!?
Nah…. too much fun finding them accidentally!