Category Archives: Iowa

Good Guys in Des Moines

Donna went out for a bike ride again on Friday. ┬áBefore she went she prepared an excellent breakfast for me – an omelette made with leftover parmesan zucchini and asiago cheese with sides of tomato wedges and bacon strips. She treats me like a king.

Excellent breakfast

Excellent breakfast

This time, she had a better idea of what to expect on her ride and where she wanted to go. She went out on the Gay Lea Wilson Trail again and also rode the Vern Willey II Trail. When she returned, I rode the scooter over to a self-serve car wash and washed it. It was badly in need of a wash job.

Our neighbors, David and Karin, are here for the Good Guys car show. While we were talking, we discovered that they’re essentially carless and can’t leave the fairgrounds. Although they have a car hauler trailer behind their Tiffin Allegro Bus motor home, it hauls their 1966 Chevelle convertible show car. David has the car in the show all day and even if he didn’t, it’s doubtful if he would want to drive it and park it in a grocery store parking lot.

Dave's 1966 Chevelle

Dave’s 1966 Chevelle

Big block Chevy producing 650 horsepower

Big block Chevy producing 650 horsepower

It made me think of the times when I had Corvettes and would show them in car shows. I had a red 1965 Corvette big block (396 cu. in.) roadster and a yellow 1972 LT-1 T-top. I was amazed at how inexpensive agreed-value insurance on these cars was. The insurer knows there isn’t much risk, because the cars aren’t driven much and when they are, the owners are super careful about how they’re driven and where they’re parked.

I grew tired of the car show scene and eventually sold them. Once at a car show, at the Pavilions in Scottsdale, Arizona, a woman and her daughter were admiring my LT-1. The daughter was 16 years old or so. The woman said to me, “My daughter absolutely loves this car.” I said “Why doesn’t she get in and see what it’s like behind the wheel?” So the girl opened the door and sat behind the wheel with a big grin on her face. The mom said to me, “That’s so nice of you to let her do that.” I said, “What do I care, it’s not my car.” The woman had this horrified look on her face so I quickly smiled and said, “Just joking, no worries, it’s my car.” Maybe it wasn’t a good joke, but I was at a point where I was tired of the car shows and always answering the same questions.

So, back to David and Karin stuck here at the RV park. Donna told Karin that we were going to the grocery store and asked her if they needed anything. Karin lit up and said she would love to have a few items if we didn’t mind picking them up. We scootered over to the store in the afternoon and bought some things we wanted and also got the things on Karin’s list.

When we returned, I went out for a walk in the RV park and found a couple of interesting RVs. The first one is an old bus conversion that’s also a hot rod.

Hot rod bus

Hot rod bus

The next one is a real curiosity. It reminded me of the black coach guy in Mission Bay back in 2013. I don’t know what the deal is – the web site shown on the front of the coach doesn’t exist and the toll-free phone number is a car dealership in New York. This thing is totally bogus and I just don’t get it.

Specialized Intelligence and Security - huh?

Specialized Intelligence and Security – huh?

For dinner, I grilled boneless chicken breast and skewered strawberries. Donna makes a balsamic reduction that is almost chocolate-like and drizzles it over the grilled strawberries. She served it over baby kale. Yum!

Grilled chicken and strawberries

Grilled chicken and strawberries

After dinner, Donna devised a toy for Ozark. She rolled parchment paper and tied a string to it. We swing it back and forth by Ozark’s scratching post. Ozark pounces on the parchment paper which crackles and stimulates her to attack. Sometimes she leaves it and goes after the scratching post with great fury.

Ozark caught the parchment toy

Ozark caught the parchment toy

On Saturday morning, we rode the scooter downtown for the Des Moines farmers’ market. On the way, we passed the state capitol building and I had to pull in and take a photo. The morning sun on the dome was a sight to see – the picture doesn’t do it justice.

Iowa state capitol

Iowa state capitol

The farmers’ market covers four blocks of Court Avenue with additional vendors on both sides of three cross streets – this is a huge farmers’ market. There are approximately 300 vendors and they claim 20,000 shoppers visit every Saturday from May until October. The market started in 1976 with just 15 vendors. It was ranked as the number two “best farmers’ market in the country” by The Daily Meal in 2013 and 2014.

Entrance to the farmers' market

Entrance to the farmers’ market

Once again, we asked our neighbor, Karin, if she needed anything. We were able to find most everything on her list as well as some good stuff for ourselves – fresh produce, fresh-ground peanut butter, local grass fed beef, Nuremberg sausages and local honey. They had street musicians on every block of Court Avenue.

These guys were good

These guys were good

After we came home and had lunch, I went down to the Good Guys car show. Our neighbor, David, had given me a free ticket, saving me the $20 entrance fee. I walked for more than two hours and saw an unbelievable number of fantastic cars. I decided not to take photos because I would end up with hundreds of them once I started. I doubt if I saw more than half of the cars spread out on the hundreds of acres of park-like grounds. The fairgrounds occupy 450 acres – 160 of which are the campground.

I also watched cars compete on the autocross course. Autocross is a tight, twisty course laid out with cones. One car at a time runs the course with timers recording the elapsed time to complete the course. Penalties are applied if you hit any of the cones. It was entertaining and there were some very good drivers.

After dark, Donna and I walked up to the top of the hill west of our site. This high point gave us a great view of fairgrounds fireworks and also turned out to be a great vantage point for fireworks displays in various communities around us. There were fireworks in every direction!

Over the past few days, we left the cat crate on the floor in front of the passenger seat with the top and door open. Ozark sniffed around it and eventually went inside. She didn’t stay there, just looked inside then crawled out the top opening. Later, Donna put one of my t-shirts folded up inside the cat crate. I added a little catnip. Ozark followed the catnip aroma and soon made herself comfortable inside. Yesterday, Ozark entered her crate with the top closed and napped inside it most of the day. She apparently finds it to be a safe and secure place. Today we’ll try driving up to Minneapolis with Ozark in her crate.

Hot Rods and RVs

There’s a nice rails-to-trails bike path here in Des Moines called the Gay Lea Trail. After I posted yesterday, I got Donna’s bike out of the trailer and pumped up the tires. She headed out, rode out of the campground and about a mile down Dean Avenue where it became Fairview Drive and intersected the trail.

While she was out, I set up my extension ladder, wash bucket, hose and brush and got up on the roof. When I swept the debris from the mimosa tree in Turkey Creek RV Village from the roof, a lot of dirt and dark stains were left behind. The stains extended over the roof coves and were driving me crazy. After I started cleaning, I snapped a photo of a two-foot section of the roof I was brushing to show how dirty the roof was.

Getting started on the roof cleaning

Getting started on the roof cleaning

Of course, as I cleaned the roof, dirty water was running down the sides of the coach. So I had no choice but to wash the entire rig. The trailer was just as dirty and needed to be washed as well. While I was on the roof, RVs pulling car trailers were streaming into the park. The Good Guys Fourth of July car show here at the Iowa State Fairgrounds is a big show.

View in front of our coach from the roof

View in front of our coach from the roof

RVs starting to fill the hillside

RVs starting to fill the hillside

Our row is packed now

Our row is packed now

While I was washing the coach, there was a group of people camped behind our site that piled into a van. Then an argument broke out with a lot of shouting. I thought a fist fight was about to happen. They all got out of the van except the driver who sat there with the engine running for about 15 minutes. One of the guys from the group came over and made small talk with me. It turns out they are workers at a carnival near here and their trailer is a bunkhouse with 10 compartments. It must be difficult to work together, then share tight quarters and be around each other 24/7.

Bunkhouse trailer with five rooms per side

Bunkhouse trailer with five rooms per side

Just as I was finishing up the wash job, Donna came back from her 24-mile bike ride. I put everything away before realizing that I didn’t wash the scooter. It’s badly in need of a wash job. I might find a self-serve car wash for that chore today.

As I was packing things up, I met our neighbor, Dave. We chatted for a bit. He’s from Flagstaff, Arizona and is following a car show circuit with his 1967 Chevelle convertible. He is selling the car to someone who will come to get it at either the Indianapolis show or the big show in Columbus, Ohio. It’s going for $66,000. He told me he has nine classic cars in his collection.

While I was washing the coach, I stopped and came inside to get a bottle of water. Ozark, our cat, must not have like the sound of me walking on the roof. She was hiding under the couch and wouldn’t come out. We’ve only been feeding her for a week, but she’s filling out nicely and is no longer the scrawny cat that found us. After Donna came inside, Ozark came out from her hiding place.

When I was at Petco on Wednesday, I bought some catnip. I put that on her scratching post and it got her attention. She’s using the post now, but we still have to keep her from scratching the furniture. Donna puts covers over the furniture if we leave Ozark alone in the coach and at night before going to bed. She also covered some of the more vulnerable valances with clear packing tape to deter the cat from scratching them.

Like many cats, Ozark is crepuscular – she is most active in the evening and at sun-up. She spends the day napping and getting up to eat or play for a short time. Her early morning antics have us getting up earlier. I’m hoping that she acclimates to our schedule and becomes more active in the afternoon and sleeps more at night. Last night was the best yet. She slept on our bed most of the night, but still rose early.

Last evening, I took a walk through the park and took photos of some of the cars here. There are so many nice cars, I was tempted to shoot dozens of photos.

Cars a couple of sites away from us

Cars a couple of sites away from us

Our neighbor Brad brought this car

Our neighbor Brad brought this car

Chevelle convertible

Chevelle convertible – RVs and hot rods, how cool is that?

Another red chevy

Another red Chevy

Smooth looking Impala

Smooth looking Impala

I'm not sure what this is - it looks like a handfull to drive

I’m not sure what this is – it looks like a handful to drive.

Big bore stroker twin turbo VW - crazy

Big bore stroker twin-turbo VW – crazy

This is cool

This is cool

When I was a kid, this was my idea of a hot rod

When I was a kid, this was my idea of a hot rod

This morning, the hot rods started firing up early. The guys all want to be first in line to claim a good spot in the show. They’re required to pull out of the show area at the end of the day and the process will start over again tomorrow morning and again on Sunday. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to buy a ticket and see the show.

 

 

 

Who Said Iowa is Flat?

When we left Kansas City Tuesday morning and made our way to Iowa, I expected the terrain to flatten. To my surprise, we drove through rolling hills all the way to Des Moines, which is in central Iowa. I’ve been to Iowa a couple of times before but I never drove across the state.

Our cat Ozark started out fine but quickly wore down on the drive. I think there’s too much visual stimulation as we cruise along the highway. She gets unsettled and seems anxious. I stopped about 40 miles short of our destination at a Pilot/Flying J travel center for fuel. I topped up the tank with 62 gallons of diesel fuel. I use the Pilot/Flying J RV Plus card when I fuel up there.

I like fueling at the travel center because I never have to worry about tight quarters. I usually go through the truck lane. I’ve read that most RV collision insurance claims happen in fuel stations where RVs hit pumps, posts or other vehicles. Some people complain the Pilot/Flying J fuel is too expensive. With the RV Plus card, you get a discount off the cash price even though you’re buying on credit. We paid $2.62/gallon which is fair for this area. Even if I had to pay the regular price, it’s worth the peace of mind knowing I can easily maneuver in and out of the station.

During the fuel stop, Ozark calmed down. She was good for about 20 minutes before her anxiety level rose again. She started climbing the screen door which is inside our regular door. Donna had to get up and take her off the screen. She would sit in Donna’s lap for a few minutes then go back to the door and climb it again. It was tiresome. I hope she acclimates to road travel soon.

We found the Des Moines State Fairgrounds where we planned to stay at the RV campground there. The campground doesn’t take reservations but we were assured over the phone that a pull-through site would be available. When we arrived, the main entrance to the fairgrounds was closed. We continued past it and found another entrance off a side street. I drove in and went through a midway area where workers were assembling food vendor trailers.

I had no idea where to find the campground or if I was heading for a dead end, which would be trouble. Donna flagged down a worker going by on a golf cart and asked him where the campground was. He told us to follow him. We drove up a big hill and found the campground entrance at the top.

I stopped at the office to register. I asked for a pull-through site for five nights. I was astounded when I was told it would cost $210. The web site showed 734 full hook-up sites at a cost of $28/night. They also showed about 1,500 sites with water and electricity (no sewer) for $26/night. I asked why I was being charged $42/night. The lady told me that the pull-through sites for big rigs with trailers are essentially two sites. You pay $28/night for the main site and half price – $14/night for the secondary site. If I wanted a $28/night site I would have to drop my trailer in a different lot, well away from our campsite. To make matters worse, she added that our site would be 30-amp service! Out of approximately 2,300 sites, they only have four with 50-amp service and they were all taken. I paid the $210.

Another guy on a golf cart led us to our site. Actually he led us to our site area and told me I should go with him and look things over before deciding which sites I would take. I mentioned how we drove along rolling hills. Well, the fairgrounds are in the midst of hills. There isn’t a level site to be found. I picked a site that was as close to level as I could find. I put down jack pads and had to raise the front and right side of the coach considerably to get it level.

Our site at the fairgrounds

Our site at the fairgrounds

Our coach is set up for 50-amp electrical service. I had to use an adapter also known as a dog bone to plug into the 30-amp pedestal. I know, going down from 50 to 30 amps doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but it is. Here’s why – a 30-amp service has three contacts. One prong is the hot lead, one prong is the neutral and then there’s a safety ground contact. It provides 3,600 watts of power (120 volts X 30 amps). A 50-amp service has four contacts. Two are hot leads (L1 and L2), one prong is the neutral and there’s a safety ground. The coach is wired so the loads are split between L1 and L2. Each of these contacts provides 120 volts at 50 amps – 6,000 watts. You have total of 12,000 watts available. So a 50-amp service provides more than three times the power of a 30 amp service.

Dog bone adapter between 30 amp pedestal and electrical management/surge protector

Dog bone adapter between 30-amp pedestal and electrical management/surge protector

In simple terms, the 30-amp adapter connects both legs (L1 and L2) of our 50-amp system in series. The cumulative loads demanded by our 120-volt electrical system cannot exceed 3,600 watts or the breaker will trip.

Donna found this out right away. We haven’t been on a 30-amp circuit for a while and she wasn’t thinking about it when she turned on the air conditioners, put something in the microwave oven and then turned on the Keurig coffeemaker which we shut off for travel. Pop! Circuit breaker shut down at the pedestal. Our inverter was charging the house batteries plus two A/C units and the microwave and coffeemaker on top of that was too much load. On 30 amps, we should only run one A/C unit and take care not to operate too many appliances at the same time.

Once we were set up, I took a ride around the fairgrounds on the scooter. I found out what all the workers were doing. There’s a big Good Guys car show here this weekend and they’re preparing for it. One guy told me they expect 500 RVs to arrive by Thursday afternoon and more than 3,000 cars in the show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A large crowd of spectators is expected. That should be fun.

When I returned, Donna wanted to stretch her legs and get some steps in, so she took a walk. Here are a few photos from her walk.

Play ground area

At the playground area

Sheep barn

Sheep barn

Tram to the main midway

Glider transportation to the main midway

First church in Iowa

First church in Iowa

One of the things I did before hooking up our water supply was change out the cartridges in our filter system. I’ve written about our two-stage system before. The first filter – a spun polypropylene sediment filter wasn’t too bad. The center 1/8″ was still clean meaning it had a little life left. I also changed out the second filter – a carbon block element.

Old filter cartridges

Old filter cartridges

Donna prepared a mango salsa while I grilled blackened chicken. She usually serves the mango salsa over Jamaican jerk chicken. The mango salsa was every bit as good over the blackened chicken.

Mango salsa over blackened chicken with brown rice and green beans

Mango salsa over blackened chicken with brown rice and green beans

Yesterday I scootered Donna downtown to Meredith Publishing. She spent the day taping videos on cleaning and organizing for Better Homes and Gardens. After I dropped her off, I rode to the west side of town to Petco where I bought a small cat crate and other cat supplies. We’re thinking Ozark may travel better in a crate. I need to have one anyway so we can take her to a vet.

I had the scooter stacked with the crate and supplies. Rain was threatening. I made a quick stop at the beer store on the way home. I unloaded the scooter and put the cover on it. Just as I stepped inside, rain began to fall. I spent the rest of the day reading. It stopped raining before I rode back downtown to pick up Donna at 4:30pm.

Last night, we slept with the windows open and it got down to 64 degrees in the coach. We’ve been running the air conditioning constantly since we left San Diego. Being able to open windows was a welcome relief.

It may rain again, but I think I’ll get on the roof and start cleaning the coach. It’s so dirty from our stay at Turkey Creek, I can’t stand it any longer.