“Uncle Steve just why are you doing this?”

Well…our little niece Hannah (almost 6) asked that question in the middle of supper last night. Yes, curious minds want to know!! Hannah, along with my brother Chuck, and sister-in-law Annette where among the welcoming committee on the edge of Belle Plaine yesterday as Steve received a Belle Plaine Hometown Welcome from them. Cousins Russell, Louis, Lillian, and Irene were there and our friends Florence, Irene, Kayla, Judy, and John as well. Steve received great encouragement from that wonderful welcome and thanks you all so much. Following hugs and photos, he rode onto the Belle Plaine Union office where he was interviewed for a feature in the paper. As I listened to Steve visit with the reporter, I learned some things about the trip which were fun to hear for the first time. I’m hoping that he’ll have some time to share some more thoughts with you once we get to Batavia and he has two days off.

Yesterday Steve left Ames at 8:15 and rolled into Belle Plaine just about 4 P.M. He rode 88 miles across county roads which I noticed were part of Iowa’s Healthy Heartland Highways and Scenic By-ways. As I drove along I stopped to photograph barns and old buildings. (I can’t tell you how many barns, windmills, and other farm scenes I have captured on my digital camera!) It was one of the most picturesque routes that I’ve been on during this trip. His route went near Rector Cemetery in Tama County, where my parents gravesites are located so my brother Chuck and I met out there for a few minutes.

Also, yesterday I was in Ames to witness the implosion of Knapp and Storm….two dorms of the Towers Complex that were torn down. There were probably 5,000 people there and I could hear reminiscing from couples and groups of people as they stood respectfully watching their two old “friends”. I called our friend Joy in Derby, Kansas to tell her that I was there to watch it. She lived on the second floor of Knapp when we first met her through her future husband, Steve. We had some wonderful memories from dorm-life back in the early 1970’s. It was so odd to one minute see two very stoic buildings jammed full of memories of the past yet also loaded with explosives! At 10:00 several loud alarms signalled, then first a battery of explosions went off in Storm…then the same in Knapp…there was a brief pause in the action and a hush across the crowd. Finally I could see some dust at the bottom of Knapp begin to roll out from beneath. Within seconds they gracefully gave way and just seemed to sink to the ground leaving a 40 foot pile of rubble and sending off a billowing cloud of dust into the surrounding neighborhood. Tears flowed, cheers sounded, and another chapter had closed for many Iowa Staters.

Last night we had another scrumptious meal at Chuck, Annette, and Hannah’s! Our families have been incredibly generous hosts and hostesses as we’ve stopped along the way. My sister Char, brother-in-law Dale, nephew Drew, and his girlfriend Tiffany came from Marengo so we could spend the evening together. Dale will be riding in RAGBRAI for the first time next week so we wish him well!

At 8:20 this morning Steve drove away from Chuck and Annette’s, trying to beat a storm front that is threatening rain. He’s headed to Lone Tree via Iowa City. Stay tuned for more updates along Iowa…..Love, Diane

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