Keep Your Plans Flexible!

Electrical hookups were provided for RVs at the Flex Steel facilities.

Electrical hookups were provided for RVs at the Flex Steel facilities.

One thing I keep learning while RVing is that you need to keep your plans flexible. After the technician told me that they would probably finish the next day, I got out a map and started planning where to travel next. Since I am so close to Minnesota, I thought I would head north and check out the state. Since it is October and the weather is still nice, this seemed like a nice time to go. However, things changed quickly at 10:30 am. The Winnebago service advisor asked to see me and said that they coach was almost finished. I had asked to have a powerful internal surge protector added that morning after hearing stories of people damaging their electronics while staying in parks with poor electricity. He said they would be done within a couple of hours and that our recliner chair could be worked on at the Flex Steel factory in Dubuque. I said “where is Dubuque” and he said it was 4 hours away on the eastern side of Iowa. I had planned to spend the night again at Winnebago and enjoy another happy hour with the RV group and then head to Minnesota tomorrow. However, I was a good RVer and pivoted quickly.

Suddenly, I was looking at Google maps on my phone and planned a route east to Dubuque. This could be nice as Dubuque is right on the eastern edge of Iowa and borders both Illinois and Wisconsin. It might give me the opportunity to check out a couple of additional states.

While driving across Iowa, it was nice to enjoy all their rolling hills. Rather than a flat plane, the landscape was always shifting at different angles. One common theme was corn. There were fields and fields of corn. And more corn after that. And even more corn after that. I also passed a sign for the “Little Brown Church.” This is a famous church building in Iowa where many people are married. I have a friend in Tucson who was married in the Little Brown Church.

When I got to Flex Steel, I met the woman contacted by Winnebago. She confirmed that her company had made the chair and that it had started to wear out a bit too quickly. She said workers would come to the coach at 8:30 tomorrow morning to pick it up and they would start working on it to add more padding. Cool. She also told me that there was an area where they had electrical hookups for RVs. I joined another couple who had also just driven over from Winnebago. We laughed, because we had met each other at the barbeque restaurant the night before. It is quite fun to expand the network of RVers.

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Enjoy the RV Family

I would expect to see a sign like this in Texas, but I was surprised to find it in a barbecue restaurant in Iowa.

I would expect to see a sign like this in Texas, but I was surprised to find it in a barbecue restaurant in Iowa.

Our mini-city of RV folks has been quite fun. Last night we had a happy hour after getting our coaches back and someone told us about an all-you-can-eat barbeque restaurant in a nearby town. So, spontaneously, about 20 of us jumped into several cars and we drove to the restaurant. It was a wonderful time. We shared stories about how we got into RVing and where we planned to go. One couple is headed to Mesa, Arizona. It was fun listening to them describe it from the previous winter and why they could not wait to get back. They rent a place in a park with all kinds of activities and club groups. We will have to check out the place sometime in the future.

Warren and his books of RV trips. He has superb stories and excellent suggestions for where to go.

Warren and his books of RV trips. He has superb stories and excellent suggestions for where to go while we were in the Winnebago lobby.

I met a guy named Warren who told me about many of the RV parks he has visited across the country. He prints out something from their websites and they keeps them in a notebook. We went through his trips through the south of the US as well as his trips through the western states. I have visited some of the same towns, but it is really nice to have names of parks that handle large motorhomes with easy access to main roads.

This is my first time to Winnebago factory, so I went on the tour of their facilities. I went in the two huge buildings where our motorhome was made. They make about 35 to 40 motorhomes every day. Some class C, some gas motorhomes, and some diesel pushers like ours. I was quite impressed with how it is set up. I had heard that this facility was the largest RV manufacturing facility in the US. On the tour, they told us it was the largest RV manufacturing facility in the world. They also said they are looking for about 200 more workers because the demand for RVs is large. Their production is currently limited by their number of workers.

Each day, we meet with our technician working on our coach in the morning and end of the work shift. I have been very impressed with what they have done and how they have traced down the recurrent problem with our matrix system. They thought everything might be finished tomorrow.

I made it to my appointment!

While are all lined up in our RVs in a nice community!

While are all lined up in our RVs in a nice community!

Well, I make it to the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa. I discovered a small, friendly city of people bringing their RVs for repairs and upgrades. There are back-in sites available with 50 amp service. Nearby, there is the Winnebago Rally Grounds that has water and multiple dump stations.

The Visitor Center also has RV parking and electrical power.

The Visitor Center also has RV parking and electrical power.

Forest City is quite isolated. Minneapolis is two hours north and Des Moines is two hours south. The big thing for visitors to do here is a tour of the Winnebago factory. I am going to try and go on the tour sometime this week. Supposedly, this is the largest RV factory in the U.S. It is sort of funny that this small town in rural Iowa has had such a large impact on the RV industry.

The Winnebago grounds are enormous with enough electrical connections for hundreds of RVs.

The Winnebago grounds are enormous with enough electrical connections for hundreds of RVs.

As soon as I pulled in and unhooked the Jeep, I was greeted by several people already parked. One gentleman from Seattle got out and helped guide me into my site as I backed up the motorhome. Along with several other people, this is my first trip to Winnebago. Others bring their rigs here yearly for various items rather than work with local dealers.

We meet our service technicians every morning at 7:00 am with our rig’s ready to be driven and we get them back at 3:00 pm and the technicians is supposed to tell us what they accomplished that day. The low was 37 degrees this morning, so it was nippy and dark waiting outside for the Customer Service doors to open at 7:00 am.

At 3:30 pm, all the RVers gather around and have a happy hour to talk about the latest information about their coach repairs, where they are going next, and where they have been. Forest City is a very small town and sometimes groups of RVers go to various restaurants together.

One couple has a motorhome that was struck by lightning and they keep discovering different things that were damaged. They have been here several weeks having work done. One guy loves coming to Forest City yearly. He thinks Winnebago does great work. He was telling me some of his favorite RV locations and Vernal, Utah (where I was born) is one of his favorite places. He was surprised when I told him I was born there. He gave me names of a number of places he really likes to take his RV in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. He thought California and Colorado were not very RV friendly. It was fun comparing notes on places we have visited.

Winnebago has an area with WIFI and coffee where we wait while our coaches are being worked on. Groups of people are discussing where they like to take their RVs for winter. One group likes to go to Florida and another group likes to go to Arizona. It is fun to listen to their perspectives.