Saturday, July 5, 2014

An Iowa Exploration


 I grew up around many people that used to pronounce it ....I oh Way .  I've always used .....I oh wah .....which I have to believe is the more preferred pronunciation.  Those memories were on my mind today as I rode past miles and miles of corn, soybeans and confinement-kept hogs.  I had to wonder that since these people I knew were from the Depression era, possibly they saw those perfect vowels and by golly didn't want to waste them.

Unlike most of my "Morning's Of Departure" I was in no hurry this morning to get going.  We were up late last night after another (no rain) fireworks show in Lake City.  We have enough experience after all of these years to get just the right location for our blanket for the perfect window of viewing.  Lake Pepin beyond the sailboats, our adjacent Wisconsin bluffs across the river/lake.

I planned an easy, low mileage day so there was really no need to make my destination by 10AM which I easily could have done, by noon certainly.  I'm in Marshalltown, Iowa this evening, my goal for the first half of the week will be to explore Iowa's Byways, at least those on the eastern side of the state.  By Wednesday evening I'll be in Elkader, Iowa for the National Moto Guzzi Rally.  There are 6 Byways in the eastern part of the state, the 2 in the northeastern corner have been explored, at least in part, by me in the past so I may only visit the sections I've not seen before while the Rally is in session.  That will depend on time, weather, which of my friends show up, the schedule, etc.

Just outside of Fountain, MN this morning.  I have almost no basis from which to argue with this sentiment......

Along Iowa #9 today, I met many (for rural Iowa) vehicles with bicycle racks on their backs and all that I could think of was RAGBRAI.   Those of you that bicycle in groups may know all about this.  I've got friends that have participated and I have seen the race referenced in film.  For the record, I saw no bicycles being ridden, only pedal bikes doing the riding.

South of Chester......rows of these units stretch for miles.

I didn't ride this one today....but I sure could have!

Besides all of the info I learn from various maps (the Big G, Mapquest, state paper maps), online searches from various sources, suggestions from friends, trip reports, etc. this week I stumbled upon something new to me .....Roadtrippers.Com.  I input a rough idea of my planned Route, then looked for items of interest within an adjustable width from my path.  I'll be visiting some of the discoveries later on this week but today's adventure involved hunting down the easily accessible Barn Quilts of Butler County.

"Memories Never Fade"

I used roads like these........I'm a huge fan of riding these back roads.  If there's even a trace of doubt, Iowa raises a LOT of corn and soybeans!  Here you can see trees......and buildings.  There were many panoramic views today that included neither, only oceans of soybeans and corn.

"Carpenters Wheel"

"Martha Washington Star"

"Flying Squares"

A tractor collection on display; this was the third I'd seen but only the first I'd stopped for.  The first example was incredible, all Internationals, from old to new, large to small.  Way more, I mean waaaayyy more tractors than I have motorcycles.  It seemed they went on for almost a 1/4 section (1/2 mile).

This much smaller collection one of mixed brands......

Tomorrow my first Byway, not so many Miles, lotsa Smiles!


  1. Coop, most of the barns are photogenic by themselves but with those barn quilts they look even prettier.

    Little did I know about Iowa but your blog entry had piqued my curiosity, so I went on Wikipedia and I have a clearer picture now. Thanks for that.

    1. Being the state directly to the north, we Minnesotan's often (in a friendly way) kid about Iowa and I know that they do the same to us. I have nothing against beans, corn and hogs, wanting to see for myself some of the other treasures down here.

      A few years ago I planned a scooter ride on the Helix, the plan being to visit all of Iowa's existing covered bridges but it never happened. The trip is an outgrowth of that I suppose.

      I'm sure that we'll all appreciate your new found interest in the state! :)

  2. A fun day out. Those barn quilts are really neat. I'll be looking forward to more pictures from your trip.

    I actually know what the RAGBRAI is, but only because one of our friends is heading back home to Iowa to participate. She has been training for a while now. I admit I had to google it the first time she mentioned it on facebook though.

    1. I can never remember the acronym, only that it's The Ride. Lots of quiet roads down here, so if there's a good state for relatively open, level riding the entire width, Iowa might be the first choice.

  3. Coop-
    You live in my kind of world-open primitive back roads and Lake Pepin! Boy would I love to ride in this area!

    We also have a "Quilt Barn Trail" out in the county in which I so blissfully dwelt in times past. Small world. I just love them!

    Did you see "Pepie"? :=)

    1. Lots of quiet backroads in this part of the country, there were lots of farms though as they consolidated, there are fewer families. So they moved away but the roads haven't, at least not to the same degree.

      I think Pepie is back in hiding. Maybe the flooding has her staying deep.