Heading for Home

Part 1

South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan

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We made the turn and are now slowly heading East - heading home!
Mom is not a happy camper! She wanted to head south to Florida.

Leaving the Badlands and heading east through South Dakota and Minnesota, it was hard to get use to the rolling hills of ranches and farms instead of the snow capped mountains in the rockies.

Minnesota and Illinois need a lot of work on the Interstates. They probably have more potholes and misaligned pavement per mile than any other state. And in Illinois, you have to pay a toll to ride in the potholes!

Some of the interesting sights which we saw were not captured with the camera, so we will just write about them.

In Mitchell, SD we stopped at the Corn Palace. It was interesting, also because they were having a Polka Festival which lasted all weekend. We arrived as it was just about to breakup on Sunday.
They had five bands set up on the stage. When one band finished their hour of playing, the next band was ready to start. The dancers never had to wait for a band break.

The Corn Palace
Every year the outside of the building is redone using corncobs of various colors.

Corn Palace Polka Festival
These are the diehards. Most of the dancers already left for home.
You can see the corncob designs around the stage.

Our next stop of interest was Janesville, Wisconsin
We had the opportunity to tour the General Motors Large SUV Assembly Plant. It was one of the best and most detailed tours we had. They assemble Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, and Denali's. They take you around the plant on a tram stopping and explain at all parts of the operation as it is happening. We watched every part of the operation except for the painting.
They use over 700 robots to assemble the body. There is over 32 miles of conveyers which carry parts, frames, and assemblies throughout the plant. They produce 62 SUV's every hour. It takes 24 hours to assemble one SUV from start to finish. There are more robots in the paint shop and the chassis assembly area.

Amish Acres, Nappanee, Indiana
This part of Indiana has a large population of Amish.
The Amish not only work their farms, but many also work in the local RV factories and Custom Van factories.
We had an outstanding dinner at the Amish Acres Farm and Restaurant.

Newmar RV, Nappanee, Indiana
This plant makes Dutch Star, Kountry Star, Mountain Aire, Kountry Air, and London Aire class A motorhomes. They also run some fifthwheels on the same line as the motorhomes.

Monaco, Beaver, and Holiday Rambler RV, Nappanee, Indiana
If you remember, we toured Monaco in Oregon, but wanted to see Monaco again just after seeing the Newmar plant. We wanted to see the differences.
Monaco does not mix their production. They only make class A motorhomes at these plants. Holiday Rambler trailers and fifthwheels are made at other plants. The plant in Oregon also assembled the Roadmaster chassis. This plant receives the Roadmaster chassis from another Monaco plant about 20 miles away.

Comparing Newmar with Monaco building techniques was interesting. They each have some very good points. Monaco may have a slight edge. Monaco seemed to have a cleaner and more organized factory.
Walking through the final inspection area of each plant was also interesting. We were allowed to look at the inspection reports hanging on the side of each motorhome. On the average, Monaco seemed to have more discrepancies per coach. I'm not sure if their inspection is better or if their assembly is not as careful. Most problems were small scratches which had to be fixed.

Henry Ford Museum, Detroit, MI
Greenfield Village is closed for upgrades until next May. So we only were able to visit the Museum.
Touring the museum is an all day effort, so we would not have been able to see the village without staying an extra day anyway.

Frankenmuth, MI -- "Michigan's Little Bavaria"
Besides all of the Bavarian shops, Frankenmuth has the largest Christmas Store (Bronners Christmas Store) in the world. It is five football fields long and packed with items from all over the world. We spent about 3 hours roaming around and also watching a movie about how they got started in business.
Even I was interested in looking around!

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