Cyclones are tornadoes, but I’m talking Iowa State Cyclones! Yes…we’re in Ames, Iowa tonight. Home of Iowa State University! This is where Steve and I met on November 10, 1973 at a dorm floor party. Going past the dorm was fun, but it was sad to realize that tomorrow two of the dorms out of the four in the Towers Complex will be demolished….Knapp and Storm. There is heavy security right now as the buildings are already loaded with dynamite ready for the 10 A.M. demolition tomorrow morning.
Anyway, since I last wrote, Steve has made great progress despite the over 90 degree temps, high humidty, and too many hills to count. And for any one who dares say that Nebraska or Iowa are flat, you’ve never been off of I-80 or I-29, ’cause there are plenty of hills. On Saturday, July 16, Steve rode 54.7 miles from Wakefield, Nebraska to Onawa, Iowa. While driving we used to enjoy the hills along that route saying they reminded us of roller-coaster hills. Well, I don’t think Steve was viewing them in the same light this time around!
Yesterday, July 17, he rode through the Loess Hills area of western Iowa from Onawa to Coon Rapids, Iowa and logged 86.4 miles. It was a brutally hot, humid, and hilly day again. The wind pounded him from the south so it really wiped him out. I took a detour through the Loess Hills area to appreciate the geographical significance of the area. Loess is a type of hill formation derived from silt blown across the plains during the glacial period, which eventually “piled up” in the form of hills. The resulting hills provide wonderful farming soil, winding roads, grasses and wildflowers only known to grow in that area, and beautiful views from the top of the landscape.
After my Scenic By-way through the Loess Hills, I drove through most of the little towns along 141 where Steve was busy pedaling and eventually secured a great place for the night at Garst Farm Resorts on the outskirts of Coon Rapids. It was a lovely, renovated, and air-conditioned farmhouse B&B. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer night, except of course when we’re with family or friends. The Garst Farm was originally home to Roswell and Elizabeth Garst of Garst Seed Company. On September 23, 1959 they were hosts to Krushchev and his wife, Adlai Stevenson, and many other dignitaries. Roswell & Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Liz, now owns and operates Garst Farm Resorts, a 4,500 resort complex which includes two farmhouse B&B’s, a campground, hiking trails, banquets facility, trail rides, agricultural tours, etc. Needless to say, we were pretty impressed and very comfortable. There were no other guests, so we had the original Garst farmhouse to ourselves. We even had a picnic in the backyard overlooking the vegetable gardens, barnyard, and lovely flower beds.
Today Steve rode across more county roads and said that this was a day full of blessings. We had a magnificent thunderstorm last night with a very welcomed 1 and 3/4 inches of rain. So, one could tell that the corn and soybean crops were just soaking it in. The blessings came in the form of an 82 degree day, flat stretches of road with very few hills, a much lower humidity, and a great set of roads with very little traffic (until highway 30 in Ames!!). It was a great reprieve for Steve as the temps haven’t been below 90 since he left Denver two weeks ago. Oh, yes, did I mention that he had a delightful tail wind today!! He managed to ride 79.8 miles today.
About 2 this afternoon, Steve and I met in front of the former location of the Cave Inn, one of Iowa State’s many drinking establishments back in our college days. I changed into my bike clothes and off we rode for a bike tour of campus. We saw many changes that have taken place since we last visited campus back in 1996 on one of Jeremy’s college visits. And, we saw quite a few spots that were still as they were way back in 1973. One in particular is the Campanile in the center of campus. However, the biggest change was getting to Pammel Court, where we lived in married housing, and finding that our building had been razed and replaced with a new administration building. It did help though to see that the Pammel Grocery was still there and we even stopped to visit with a curious shop owner there. Probably the highlight though was riding our bicycles through the pedestrian tunnel that goes from campus to the former Pammel Court area. We used to commute to work and classes through this tunnel, sometimes on foot, most times by bike, and a couple of times we even squeezed our little Toyota Corona through it, unscathed!!
This evening we drove to Johnston, just north of Des Moines, where we had a scrumptious dinner with Steve’s Aunt Phyllis, Uncle Jack, Tim, Denise, and Emily. It was great to catch up with them and their other family members for it has been quite a few years since we were last together.
Tomorrow morning Steve will bike from Ames to my hometown of Belle Plaine. We should be in around 3 PM. It’ll be great to see everyone there!
Wednesday he go to Lone Tree for an overnight there…..and…..he’ll be back in Batavia sometime Saturday afternoon. He will be looking forward to a little R&R back at our house for two days before he and Jeremy head out on Tuesday to finish Illinois and into Indiana. — Gotta run….stay tuned! Diane