A DAD'S JOURNAL
Week 2- September 5 Week: Adjustments
Sunday was the true goodbye day. Before, we could anticipate seeing some friends or family at our destination, this was it now. We drove to Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan, a family favorite. We like to hike to the top of the main dune and run down before our dip in the cool waters. This time we could incorporate a science lesson. Our first dune was positioned so the sun was at a ninety degree angle to its surface. The sand was so hot it even burned through beach shoes, so I had them check out a different dune where the sun angle was much more obtuse. They were amazed that we could run up barefoot!
On the way out we stopped at our favorite farm market for REAL peaches in season. You never again want a supermarket peach after one of these.
The second leg of the journey was to make it into Iowa. Our eventual destination was Forest City Iowa for a tour of the Winnebago factory where Harvey was built and to have some final work done on Harvey at the factory service center. There was no way to make it that far in the day so we decided to try a Wal-Mart Night. We had learned that Wal-Mart allows RV’s to dry-dock in their parking lots overnight.
We stopped in Cedar Rapids, near one of the cereal plants to where I travel for work It was quite a night, torrential ran at midnight and then kids doing donuts with their cars by putting the back wheels on old hubcaps to spin around. Needless to say, further Wal-mart nights will be a last resort.
Monday, We made it to an RV park outside of Forest City in Clear Lake, Iowa. It was important to get settled after the night before. The kids were ecstatic when they saw a couple of kids. I’m afraid we won’t be seeing many during our travels as we are usually the spring chickens of the RV park.
I had to get up early on Tuesday to get us into the queue for work. It’s kind of like waiting out for concert tickets, except with folks with an average age of 70… Our time was the next day so it gave us Tuesday as our official first day of school settled in the RV park. Also, since Forest City is near the northern border of Iowa, Brenda did a quick run back to Minnetonka to take some unneeded items back and collect others.
It was an adjustment for all to start school in such different circumstances, and as our first day home-schooling. I’m sure we will get into a groove, but it will take some time. (one more part of the stepping out in faith this year) For those thinking this is a long vacation for Brenda and me, think again. With all of the prep put into the trip and now the travel, schooling, and surviving, we’ve probably never worked harder.
On Wednesday we brought Harvey into Forest City. It worked out well to be in town taking the tour the same time our home was being serviced. We also met Brenda’s cousin Mark (a Winnebago employee) and his wife Twyla for lunch. Twyla specializes in RV insurance for her work and helped us get our policy on Harvey.
The tour was interesting, especially to Dad and Nate though everyone enjoyed it. (Leah’s highlight was when a little boy had his batman doll unexpectedly returned by an employee after it fell from the tour platform above the production line…) It was fitting that our first of many planned tours on this trip would be of an industry that is fast becoming very near and dear to our hearts.
We had one short thing to be completed on Harvey on Thursday, so we stayed in the huge RV rally campground across the street from the factory the night before. The next morning while we waited for the final work to be done, we observed a Winnebago employee named Brian as he tested carnival equipment on the grounds for the upcoming Winnebago company picnic. He invited the kids to ride as he tested several of them. The kids were thrilled with this personal tour!
We got going in the morning and made it to a small campground in Henderson, Nebraska. The sound of locusts in the trees calls out Fall.
We have found that it is very important for the personal sanity of all that we don’t get into a campground late so the kids can have some recreation time before dinner. That night, I also initiated the “Dad Walk”. Two kids clean up dishes while I take the other for a walk alone. Besides being great for me, I think it will be quite important for each to have a time away from the others with a parent.
Friday, we stopped at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer an hour or so after leaving our campsite. The outdoor museum was outstanding. The favorite area was a mid-1800’s railroad town where folks in costume manned different buildings and interacted with us. The blacksmith was a favorite. Simple games like stilts and a ring game drew in the kids. It was nice to see them enjoying the pastimes of a whole different generation, in comparison to today’s that is so into rapid fire images and electronic games.
We unpacked our bikes for the museum because it was quite spread out. Halfway through the day, Brenda first noticed a flat tire. One by one we all had trouble. It turns out that Nebraska has something called a sand burr. It not only sticks to your clothing, it has razor sharp long points that went clear through the rubber tires… a new learning experience.
We started experiencing the Oregon Trail on Saturday. We took the van out toward Scott’s Bluff. Several places along the drive we could see evidence of the original trail. The more we read about the pioneers, the more we admire them. They set out knowing there would be peril, but still pushed on with their dream. One site had a narrative explaining the expression that was used for those who turned back as “seeing the elephant.” Brenda and I were observing that our trip parallels the pioneers in many ways, physically and mentally. With the ups and downs of adjustments, we don’t want to focus on any elephants.
Chimney Rock is one of the great landmarks that the pioneers reached before hitting the Rockies. There was an excellent interpretive center near the site. For art, we all sat and sketched the formation!
The next day would be a new week, and travel to the Colorado Springs area. I think everyone is excited to see the mountains!