Monday, September 7, 2009
The mighty plains
Driving westward from Shorewood, IL there is not a lot going on. Sure, I-80 is packed with trucks and it is generally no fun to drive as a result. But the scenery leaves much to be desired. We crossed the Mississippi again and then cut north to Winnebago county, the home of Winnebago Industries. The makers of our fair Landshark.
Winnebago Industries was started 50+ years ago in an otherwise unremarkable town in Iowa. Seemingly the goal of the company was to employ people from Winnebago. Well, they have done so. And in the process made the RV industry. The factory tour started out very slow with a bus tour of the factory buildings outside. Imagine driving in a bus around a truck stop with identical trucks and with a few warehouse exteriors thrown in. After 10 minutes the kids were out of their minds and Martha was giving me a look to say "we drove 300 miles out of our way for THIS!?!" Fortunately, the bus stopped, we put on safety glasses and we went in to watch a chassis being welded together. It was loud. There were copious amounts of sparks flying around. And it smelled like ozone. Whew. Dodged that bullet. There were three more trips off of the bus to watch the rest of the RV building process. And in the end we got to go into a couple of models whose MSRP was 15x what we paid for Landshark.
Continuing onwards, we headed north to Minnesota for about 10 miles before heading west in a long cut across South Dakota. I didn't expect much out of South Dakota and that was probably a good thing. As the day got later and later (though we did have an hour time change working for us) we watched approaching thunderstorms. Being originally from "tornado alley" in Illinois, we stopped on the edge of what we thought was safe. We filled gas (10+ minutes) and picked up some milk. In that time, the wind shifted 180 degrees and kicked up over 40 knots and dust was flying everywhere including my eyes. We were parked 10 minutes later and the wind had completely died. The sun was out way to the west of us and we could pick up a double rainbow in the now passed storm. Amazing.