Iowa Trip ’09

I’m in the middle of working up a new and original post but, in the meantime, since I am jonesin’ for a road trip, I’ll share the ride report from last summer’s quick trip into Iowa. I apologize for much of the in-talk and off-hand language as this was originally posted to (my most frequent on-line haunt). Future travel postings will, I hope, exhibit somewhat better prose.

Ok, finally sorted through the 500 or so shots I took and selected a few to edit and size for teh interwebz!

Lemme start at the beginning. I left out last Wednesday to cruise up to see Stimpy in Cedar Rapids. Most of you know how much I hate freakin’ 4-lane highway, not because I’m chicken, but because I was a truck driver. There isn’t much else in this life as dull, boring, and downright soporific as the big roads. Blech.

So I decided to back road it up to Hannibal and stop in to visit Mr. Twain at the Mark Twain Museum. You know, check out the old boy’s boyhood home and such. Needless to say it was gorgeous most of the way to Hannibal. I zigged and zagged quite a bit as I needed to say hello to Old Man River (the Mississippi for you non-literary types).

If you’ll look carefully at the sky you might detect an ominous warning of what was to come. I knew I was going to run into rain, but from my careful examination of I determined that I’d make it to Hannibal right before the rain hit. What I didn’t factor in was such a scenic little road with a handful of scenic overlooks. Of course I had to stop and snap a few (dozen) shots o’ #5…so this activity cost me very precious minutes. Several miles south of Hannibal proper, the bottom fell out.

The last 8 miles were ridden at 35-40 mph. It was an absolute deluge. I couldn’t see anything, but #5 just kept merrily rolling along as if, in a previous life, he had been a tugboat or some other marine apparatus.

Upon arriving in Hannibal I headed straight for a Laundromat. I was soaked and, stupidly, I’d worn cotton underwear. NOT comfy when soaking wet. Drying out took most of an hour, during which the sunshine poured from behind dark clouds hurrying on eastward. By the time I made it over to the Museum it was once again a spectacular day.

The sculpture was, imo, the best part of the Museum complex. It was really cool, though, to be able to look left from Mr. Twain’s front door and see the River. Pretty compelling stuff for an old bookworm, lemme tell ya.

But onward and northward called and #5 was itching for me let the reins out and let him have his head. The dry-off delay had cost dearly, I wasn’t going to be able to zig and zag back roads up to Cedar Rapids. Nope, I had to get out on the dreaded 4-lane and roll.

So I did.

And I sang, a LOT, in order to stay awake.

About 30 miles south of Cedar Rapids I again ran into rain. Really, really COLD rain. A front was pushing east and dropping temps by 20* degrees. Thank God for heated grips. I kicked those bad boys on and kept on rolling. Once #5 and I finally got through the last bit of downpour we got a present.

Yup, that sucker is a double rainbow. Now, some of you may recall from last year, when Julian and I arrived in College Station, we were greeted with a similar spectacle. Makes ya wonder, doesn’t it? Mebbe it’s just the good Lord (or your chosen deity or Mother Nature or what have you) giving ya a wink and a smile and urging you onward. Nice thought any way ya look at it.

Before too long #5 and I arrived at Chad’s (Stimpy433).

The man has a NICE shop, and #5 was grateful to rest his weary variator with some pleasant Japanese company.

George showed up after a bit and we all went out to dinner at the Irish Democrat. We promptly forgot all about taking a funny pic of HT [i]in[/i] a “Democrat” and grubbed down. We headed back to Chadly’s to do what Rucksters do best: drink BEER!

[b]HEY, MYMISTERB[/b]…..

[b]It’s those damned [color=#FF40BF]PINK[/color] Camels![/b]

After a raucous night of imbibing copious amounts of tasty adult beverage, we crashed out about 4 am. Helloooo, Rucksters can party, folks!

You TR peeps have already all been treated to most of the fun we had on Thursday thanks to Chad’s Ninja cell phone, so I won’t bore any of you with that. Fast forward to dinnertime.

Sign about town.

The restaurant, think Hooters with plaid…LOL

Of course places that are all about T&A, well, you don’t really expect much, food wise…but lemme tell ya, the grub at this joint was great! AND they had Shiner Bock on TAP. Ahhhh, heaven!

Chad’s chiliburger.

Nom, nom, nom!

My “Fat Bastard”. Yes, that is EXACTLY what it’s called on the menu.

Nom, nom…..I ate it alllllllllllll…
Chadly doing what he does best…before, during, and after dinner  😆

Cedar Rapids is known as The City of Five Season’s for some strange reason I never quite caught. But the locals prefer to call it The City of Five[i] Smells [/i]because of places like the following.

Quaker Oats on the Cedar River.

Hometown boy.

I had intended to head out on Thursday, but hanging out with Chad was really a lot of fun…but Friday morning rolled around and it was onward and westward for #5 and me. I decided since I was already in Iowa I’d cruise on over to Ames and check out Iowa State. They have a graduate program in my field and I wanted to lay eyes on the town; mebbe get a feel for the campus.

#5 saying bye to his new buddies and hello to a drizzle.

So packed my gear back on #5 and west we went.

Into more rain.

And a driving crosswind that made the 100 mile ride to Ames waaaaay more exciting than it should have been. Especially since about 25 miles of 2 lane was scraped bare and had yet to be repaved. That is NOT a cool feeling.

So Ames has a beautiful campus and a neat shopping area. Yay. Whatever. I needed coffee and WiFi…and I found both at some little Brazilian cafe/bar. They also had food and I realized I was hungry.

Even tastier than it looks, believe me.

So I ate a bauru sandwich while I pored over my trusty Delorme Iowa, and Missouri Gazetteers and Google maps. Hmmm….which way to go? Where do I want to camp? I plotted a general course and picked out 2 different state parks. I’d know whether or not I’d be able to make the second before dark by the time I arrived at the first.

But, as usual, I was distracted by photo ops for #5.

Needless to say I didn’t make the second camping option. It would be dark in a couple of hours and my cell phone was DEAD. With no charger, and none to be found for love or money, I had to opt for plan B. I headed into the nearest town after setting up camp for some beer, ice, milk, and WiFi at McD’s. I updated FB and Skyped the better half to let her know what was up and headed back to my sleeping place for the night.

On the way into town I had noticed a sign that read, “FIREWOOD: $4 bundle or 3 bundles for $10”.  Hmmm…I had noticed that Elk Rock State Park was about the best-mowed SP I’d ever seen. Awww, crap, no deadfall! I needed firewood. It was downright chilly, and would only get colder come sundown; so on my return I pulled in to the little farmhouse. There was a car in the drive, but no lights were on in the house. Hrrrmmm.  I walked up to the enormous oak sheltering generous bundles of firewood and noticed an old metal slot-type mailbox nailed to its trunk. Ahh, wow, Americana at its BEST! I pulled a fiver out of my wallet and slipped it into slot, grabbed a bundle of wood, strapped it to #5’s rear deck and off we went. Kinda nice to see some folks still believe in, and expect, honesty from others.

Back at camp I got the fire started and then pulled the travel kitchen from #5’s giant, black box and got to work.  Tonight’s menu consisted of Spam Fideo and cold Coors Light!

HiTech sleeping accommodations.

Makeshift beer cooler.

Makeshift camping lantern.

So I tucked #5 into his sleeping bag and got to work on my dinner.

HT’s homage to Master Wan. SPAM!

To keep from burning yourself, these little silicone potholders are the shizznet. Light and packable and clean up well.

Cube the Spam and drop into saucepan to brown.

Get a nice brown on the Spam, just like with sausage.

Set the Spam aside and melt some butter.

Hey! NO SPAM FOR YOU! Dang, granddaddy, go find a bug to eat, man!

Add your 1/2 cup of video (in this case fideo and rice) and stir around ’til it’s golden brown.

To speed things up I like to boil water and add it to the fideo, rather than bring water to a boil in the fideo. So, set the saucepan aside and boil a cup of water.

Once it’s boiling, pour into the saucepan and put the pan back on the heat. You can either put the lid or not, just depends if you think it’s too little or too much water for your fideo. When the fideo is soft, add the Spam and whatever else you think might be tasty. I picked a couple of small tomatoes from our garden the morning I left just for this meal  😉

Ok, is it done yet? I’m hungry.

Awwww yeaaaaahhh!

Dinner eaten, dishes cleaned, and kitchen packed back into its box (think raccoons, folks), it was time to kick back by the fire.

Who’s up for a swig of bourbon and a fine cigar?

I sat up until well after midnight talking to the stars and listening to the trees whisper.

Sleepy time.

HT’s homage to Survivorman  😆

Saturday morning dawned and I perused my maps while eating breakfast. I needed to get in a hurry. No more lallygagging. The Boss was expecting me home, had already been nice enough to tell me to take an extra day, but Monday classes would start and so would begin 3 months of weekends-only togetherness.

Fortunately, when you’re in the middle of the middle, there are not many 4-lane highways. That’s the biggest problem with so many of the old US highways these days. So many of them have been widened into multi-lane roads that you might as well be on the damned interstate.  But here, well, I could hit up a couple of the old US roads and most likely make it back to the HiTech Ranch before the cows came home (twilight, for you city boys and girls) and skip 4-laned misery.

But, to get to the nearest US route, I still had a couple-few miles of county roads to travel. Besides, that’s where the best photo op’s are anyway.  Well, there and where you camp for the night  😉

And with that….I was home.  Back to a world of hot showers, lotsa furry things showin’ me love, and a great big hug and smooch from the boss. And then Sunday night I left for the HiTechRanchAnnex. And so here I am.

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2 thoughts on “Iowa Trip ’09

  1. Man I love the makeshift camp lantern and all the fun times with the boys. There are too many awesome shots to mention all that I liked, but the cigars and booze shot is awesome as is the tent/bag shot. Man it makes me want to go camping. I’d camp with you anytime!

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