Sunday, July 6, 2014

Iowa Byway - Iowa River Valley

Before we get into today's ride, last night I was sitting out front and curious enough about this truck and its load to go take a better look which in turn got the young guy connected concerned enough to come over and check me out to make sure that I was not up to no good.

From PA, this small crew covers the nation putting rumble strips in; methods used are dependent on various DOT's and municipalities.  They make the machines, service, repair and operate them.  The Carolina's, New England and even Minnesota.

The Byway taken today started just outside of Marshalltown and ended up looping through the Amana Colonies, following along the Iowa River valley.  It just so happens to follow a portion of the old Lincoln Highway, US#30 as well.

The very best time to tour a river valley is when the river is flowing merrily along within its banks.  The very worst time is when it's not.

My timing was off today.

At a gas stop I asked one of the locals about recent rainfall amounts while at Marengo (midway along today's Byway).

"We had 4-5" around here, they had 7-8" near Marshalltown and of course that's upriver from's a slow running river,"  the implication was that conditions won't improve quickly.

When I started the ride today, the flooding was fascinating but after repeated road closures (for me) and seeing the vast amount of damage (for others) I soon tired of seeing the damage and being anywhere near it.  My route finally left that immediate area but the heavy rainfall was widespread; the acres of crops underwater and ruined property has had a huge impact.  Every bridge that I crossed for miles had water racing through beneath it.

So, the first half of today's ride was along the Byway, an area if above water then just barely.  The latter half of the ride was up on top, away from the valley and tonight I'm almost in Missouri which is only just a few miles away.

US #30, east of Marshalltown a ways where the Iowa Valley Byway begins.  Under all of that distant water are struggling soybean plants.  The road ahead is down to single lane where water was recently over the top.

A real sign of things to come.......

And just around the corner on T47.....Parts of the road had pavement that must have been placed when Mr. Lincoln was in office.

Water didn't take the pavement out but it was sure trying.....

A floating refrigerator.....

One of my planned stops was to see this last remaining Lincoln Highway Bridge.  Here in Tama, the monument confirms that the bridge is on the Historic Registry.

Even this little creek ran high, doing some damage to the underside of the bridge.

This road a tweak to the official Byway, I thought I'd be crafty (at home while Route planning) not only taking a shortcut but staying closer to the river.

It was beautiful this morning until......

 Using some rough gravel roads (the only prudent way) to get further south and away from the river, I stopped at an interesting intersection....

To my left.....

To my right....

Luckily there was still a 3rd choice.

So I backtracked but that was only the beginning.  Getting back to pavement seemed like it would suffice.  I'm on the south side of the river and trying to cross and get back on the north side.  The road into Chelsea seemed like it would be an easy crossing.

You can hear the Guzzi pipes clicking after I'd turned it off.  I easily could have tipped over here, the green moss on the road VERY slippery as I was making my U-turn.

All the way back down to US#6 and east to Marengo where the bridge and approaches were high enough, though  j u s t  barely.

I circled clockwise around all of the Amana Colonies (they are both north and south of the river), went by the huge appliance factory complex, museums, gift shops, hotels, shopping, etc. and never stopped.....or took any photographs. You'll have to explore them on your own.

South to Eldon for a stop at the very famous American Gothic House, the home painted in Grant Wood's famous painting.

I didn't don any of the duds....or...grab a pitchfork but this group of young women were having a grand time getting dressed up and hamming for various photos, all looking quite fetching in their bib overalls.  There's a big circle to stand in the center of and they'd found it.

A "cool:" modern version.....

The available "wearables"......

Pitchforks too.......

I was able to put lots of miles on today running between 50-55 since Sunday Iowa traffic on these roads was almost nonexistent.  Of course I didn't run much over 45 on the gravel.


  1. I heard that there was a lot of flooding in Iowa. I was wondering how much of it your were going to run into.

    Nice assortment of photos...

    1. Thanks Richard, I only saw a minor amount of property damage though I'm sure that it isn't minor when it's yours. Huge, huge acres of damaged cropland.

  2. may have to put the Grant house on my bucket list... it's not a fancy bucket... :)

    1. I absolutely need to be there when you and Mrs. A don your outfits. I promise to push the shutter button.

  3. I didn't realize the flooding was so bad. We hear so much about droughts but not the flooding. Maybe I should turn on the tv and watch the news once in a while.

    Thanks for sharing the pics. Everything is so green.

    1. In your defense, much of this flooding was so recent that it didn't have much time to even get in the news. Of course when it's in an area so rural, it naturally is a quieter story than if it impacts mostly urban areas.

      Things are very green but around the flooded areas, much of it going brown from being waterlogged.

  4. Certainly no shortage of water. And there I thought the area was part of the dust bowl.

    1. Actually Iowa's lush and heavy soil is likely part of this problem. Many many areas of Iowa have topsoil 2 feet deep. It holds and maintains water; lighter soils would allow more penetration.

  5. Have been hearing about the flooding, didn't know there was so much! Beautiful bike!

    1. The Miss. River flooding has been easy for me to find info on, the inland Iowa river waters have been tougher.

      Thanks B.R., I'm getting very fond of this one. My choice to bring this one wasn't only to stay brand-loyal at the rally. We needed some bonding time and it's really working. I've told others and will make it public here.....this is the most motorcycly thing I have. By that I mean it's a very balanced machine for what I do and why I ride.

  6. Grant Wood's iconic painting was of a father and daughter, not husband and wife. I'm surprised the information board didnt mention that.

    1. That info was mentioned in various places. Maybe they didn't want to burst that bubble here?