I'm not sure what I was thinking when I left the wonderful weather in Pennsylvania...high 70's to low 80's with minimum humidity and headed west towards Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa..land of mugginess in the summer. The trip to the small Midwest town of Humboldt, Iowa was uneventful although bumpy. I'm a little disappointed in the turnpikes from Ohio to Illinois that charge mega bucks and offer a bumper car ride. I thought I-80 between Truckee, California and Sacramento was bad..well I've learned different and dropped nearly $40 for the experience. The turnpikes get ya coming and going.
So you're wondering why on earth would anyone go to Humboldt, Iowa. Well, if you are a Born Free Motor Coach owner such as myself, it is the place to go in June to celebrate the owner's birthday, John Dodgen. Every year John Dodgen invites any owner of a Born Free to join him and celebrate his birthday. This year it was his 83rd. His staff provided heavy oeuvres on Sunday evening after our arrival, and breakfast, lunch, and a great birthday bar-b-que on Monday and a send off breakfast on Tuesday. In addition, factory tours are provided along with a running commentary from John Dodgen trying to sell you a new Born Free. I'd love to buy one of the new better insulated, wide body, redisigned ones, but I need to win the lottery first.
Mr. John Dodgen himself.
There were over 200 people attending the festivities. In addition to the tours and meals, the staff offers courtesy adjustments such as adjusting doors, hinges, etc. Fortunately I didn't have anything minor I need to have done, but will need to return the factory some day to have a part on my couch replaced due to some mysterious water damage. However, you can believe that I will not go there during the summer. Did I mention that the temperature was 95 with a humidity of 87%? This translates to a heat index of about 110. Steamy!!!
This was the inside temperature.
After going through the factory, I believe that my coach is probably one of the safest ones on the market. After all its got four roll bars in it and Dodgen claims that in all the years that he has been building Born Free Motor Coaches there has never been a single serious injury or fatality due to an accident in one.
Note the roll bars. All the fiberglass and cabinetry is made on site and everything is installed on site.
Machinery for making the cabinets.
Spraying fiber glass on the mold (below)
Finished fiberglass panel
There is also a commercial division that manufactures mobile clinics for veterinarians and other businesses
Nice little camping space in the shade for dry camping across from the factory.
I did discover that there are several wonderful bicycle/walking/snowmobile paths, the three rivers trail, that were very close to the factory. Thank goodness they were in the shade. The appeared to be abandonded rail road beds, but were not labled so. If I ever go back, I will surely explore then a little more.
I meant up with my hiking friend Nancy (she introduced me to the Born Free) and she had fortunately saved me a place to park in the shade for the gathering. I must mention that due to the heat I kept forgetting may camera. Most of the pictures above were taken by Nancy, so thanks are in order. Nancy and I left Tuesday morning after breakfast and caravanned heading west. The trip across Iowa and Nebraska was miserable. Hot. Hot. Hot. It was 102 degrees in Omaha with a heat index of probably 120.
We stop just east of North Platte, Nebraska at a rest stop for the evening and were getting settled in when one of the truckers informed us there was a tornado about 25 miles away. We spent the next two hours listening to the CB weather channel and on the Internet trying to figure out if we should move or stay put. We checked out the bathrooms at the rest stop as the only safe structure in case a tornado did come our way. I was sure that if we were in peril the state troopers would come and warn the folks at the rest stop. Nancy wasn't so sure. Apparently the tornado was north east of us and was to continue on an easterly path and pass east of us. We hoped it didn't change course. Also we were very concerned about hail and wind that generally is generated by the tornadoes. In the end, we didn't get any rain or hail and woke up to sunny skies the next morning with little humidity. That is twice I have dodge the tornadoes so I don't think I will return to the mid-west for a while.
Nancy is heading to Colorado Springs, Colorado and I am heading to Verdi, Nevada. Hope to be there by Friday 6/26. We will be meeting again in Lone Pine, California on July 4th to begin our next adventure of climbing Mt. Whitney. I hope to camp out in Truckee, California for a few days at 6200 ft on order to somewhat acclimate myself to the higher altitude since I have been at the lower altitudes for the past two months. This ought to be interesting. I have less than a week to acclimate and prepare for hiking and back packing. Mt Whitney is 14,000. I must be crazy.