High Trestle Bike Trail Journey (Finally)

UPDATE 6-2012 : For more information on this trail, I found this great article here!

The High Trestle paved bike trail was a huge hit with hubby and I when we finally managed to make it there over Labor Day weekend.  This is a new trail as of Spring 2011, and I think it will fast become one of the places to see when visiting Iowa!  One end of it is in Ankeny, Iowa, and the other end is Woodward, Iowa, which makes for around a 22-mile ride one way.  However, there are many towns along it that you can join in the fun if you don’t want so many miles.

Since the famous bridge that everyone wants to see is between Woodward and Madrid, we decided to start at Madrid.  If you want to be like us and start at Madrid, you follow the Highway 210 signs and the bike path and parking is right off that.  It is about 2.8 miles to the bridge from there, or for a shorter walk, you could look for the gravel road west of Madrid called QN or QM that has parking and porta-pots and is only a mile to the bridge.

As you can see in the above picture, there is a lounge and outside grill (to the left of the lounge) at the trailhead in Madrid. The trail runs right in front of it.  You can see how popular it is by the number of bikes parked outside here and in the below picture. Make sure you go inside the Flat Tire Lounge and see the decor.  I found the cement bar that has a bit of mosaic in it very unique. Parking is all along the trail here.

Next time we go on it, though, we are going to start at Slater so it will make for more of a ride. Slater, by the way, is where the Iowa Heart trail ends so you can connect up to it and go to Collins, Iowa, if you don’t mind limestone and want a long trip.  I figure for me 7 additional miles will be plenty (14 miles round trip), and by starting in Slater I will have two chances to stop at the Flat Tire if I need a break from riding, once on the way out and once on the way back!

Once again I am rambling (you can see food is important to me) so on to the main attraction!  We headed off on the trail towards Woodward enjoying the prairie feel although the trail itself was pretty crowded.  As we approached the bridge, we could see two pillars jutting into the air on each side of the trail so I quickly snapped a shot of it.  Unfortunately we were a bit too far away from them for you to really appreciate their beauty as they had blue mosaic stone wrapping around the pillars in a spiral.

The High Trestle Bridge is a 1/2 mile bridge, 13 stories high, perching you on top of the Des Moines River Valley.  It was very windy the day we went, so just a word of warning if you go when it’s cool, that you might want to bring a wind breaker along.  The bridge was an old trestle train bridge, and I love how an artist designed the bridge with the trestles wrapped around it to form an open-air tunnel!!

There are placards explaining what you are looking at and places to actually sit on the bridge without stopping the flow of human traffic.

Since it was Labor Day weekend it was very busy and lots of families out enjoying the most beautiful day!   Here are some pictures of the view from the bridge.

You can see that the water is really down right now.  I bet this whole valley fills up in the springtime.   As you can see, the views were just gorgeous with everything so green since the water was down and not covering it up.  I just felt like how a hawk must feel only I wasn’t getting to glide around on the air currents per se, just buffeted by them.

At the Woodward side of the bridge there is an observation platform on the old 1912 bridge abutment that also has some signs on it explaining how it used to look.

After stopping a lot and exploring the bridge, we went on to Woodward, Iowa, which has a nice park area with toilets, picnic benches, and parking area.

We turned around and rode back to our vehicle.  Then we grabbed a drink and yummy meal at the aforementioned outside grill when we were all finished.  Hubby had the grilled sirloin sandwich, and I had an Italian Sausage sandwich hot off the grill!  Definitely a good ending for this adventure!

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Next Stop – San Juan (my favorite stop)

I really enjoyed this next stop on our Eastern Caribbean cruise because we went to San Juan and hiked the rain forest.  As you can see from the above picture, this port was a very big city.  If you want to read more about the ship itself, click here, and if you want to read about our prior stop in Grand Turk, click here.  I was excited to see another capitol that I never thought I would see, but I did not have time to tour it.  In the below picture it is the small white dome with the small white pillars connecting it to the main white dome.

I really want to come back and just vacation here for a few days because while there were all the things a big city can offer such as restaurants and nightlife, you can escape and get out into the rain forest and hike.  (I’m sure the beaches are great also)  Our focus was on the El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S.  We took the excursion to hike the  .7 mile trail Big Tree in the rain forest.  It was a simple out-and-back trail so no getting lost!  If you click on the picture, you can read the sign better.

In contrast to the Grand Turk excursion, there really was very little education on this tour so I was disappointed.  I told you I was hard to please!  The bus driver seemed to know a  lot, but he never got out of the bus so he would say “See that plant on the left side, well, that is a [insert name]” and tell a little bit about it.  However, we never knew which of the thousands of plants on the left side of the bus he was talking about!  He picked up a younger man once inside the park, and this young man was the one that walked us down and then back up the trail without saying more than a few words about how much time we had once at the bottom of the waterfall.

The trail itself is incredible with a narrow, rough-paved surface where you could only walk in single file so we all took off single file, and these people really marched down the path.  Now, I know I go slow, but it was so sad that you couldn’t stop and take pictures without stopping the whole line of us.  On our way down it began to rain which being the rain forest wasn’t too surprising.  However, at one point it began to rain like what I imagine a monsoon is like, with the wind blowing and the rain coming down in sheets. There was actually one point at which I could barely see with the rain blowing into my face and rivulets of water flowing down the bill of my hat.  I did become a bit worried wondering if they had tornadoes or lightening that I should worry about.  My camera got wetter than it would have kayaking that is for sure!  I’m still glad I brought it though. At the storm’s worst, we eventually ran into our group all standing under a tin roof reststop although some people could not really fit and it was crowded.  I couldn’t get my camera out to take a picture because of all the water.  However, the rain soon stopped and we continued on.  Now I know why the trail was paved because the water running down the mountain would quickly wear away any dirt trail.

The trail itself was a mix of uphill and downhill which was nice for variety, and when you got to the end, there was a waterfall there that you could swim in.  As you can see below, people were wading around, but I really had no desire to get in because although the rain had pretty much stopped, we were already soaked, and the water was so brown with runoff it didn’t look very inviting.  We were to spend a while there, but after grabbing a few pictures, the guide let us start back up on our own.

The return trip was my favorite part because we stopped all along the way and took pictures and just enjoyed the scenery which was just beautiful and we could enjoy the bird calls.  I read another blog from someone from our ship who rented their own car and drove up there.  That is what I want to do if we go there again because the ship did not pull out until 11 pm so there was plenty of time to get back.

It was a warm rain and we were fine temperature-wise with all the heat and humidity, but when we got back on the bus, we about froze due to the air conditioning.  I really wasn’t ready to leave, but it was dark by the time we got back to the ship, and I have to admit it did feel good to get dry!  As we boarded the bus, I took one last look at the view and vowed to return some day!

Biking the Katy Trail

I should have had Hubby take his bike with him for this shot, but yes, I finally got to bike a small portion of the Katy Trail in Missouri.  This trail is one of the longest Rails to Trails bike paths (240 miles) and has been around for a long time. The entire trail is a Missouri State Park which was very cool.  We only had one evening and the next morning to bike it but managed to squeeze in a lot of fun!!

First of all, I would like to say how fun this was to plan because the information is so organized and easy to get to online!  I would hope others would take a look at this trail to see how to plan/promote for all the expanded trails being done.  I believe the majority, if not all, of the trail is limestone so that kept the road bikes off for the most part.  There were all kinds of bikes, though, and at least on the portion of the trail we went on, the limestone was very packed and not very bumpy at all!

Because of our very limited time there, I decided to just have one place to start, spend the night, and leave and to not try to bike somewhere, stop for the night, and then bike back.  We stayed at a bed and breakfast called, of all things, The Katy Trail Bed and Breakfast in Rocheport, MO.  Because it was October and a Sunday night probably, we lucked out and got the whole place to ourselves!!  We stayed in the yellow building which was the main house.  The other building is for a group of people to stay in.  This is a side view to show they had a patio and lounge chairs outside.  I loved the fact that at other bed and breakfasts I always feel a bit like I’m intruding, but here the owner does not stay there and everything is well-marked.  Also breakfast is already set up so you can just get up and grab what you want when you want.   (It is not a hot breakfast though.)  You can even use the kitchen if you want to prepare your own lunch or dinner.  There was a locked garage to park your bikes in too which was great!!  There were also some games in the living room if you are a games-minded person or books at the bedside to read if you forgot your own.  A huge thumbs up for me.

We got our bikes out and discovered that somehow we were missing the important piece that puts your front tire back on!  I was just sick.  I had read that there was a bike shop in Rocheport so I prayed they were not closed yet on a Sunday night, and we walked the two blocks over to the shop that also rents bikes.  Lo and behold after MUCH searching by both my husband and the rental shop guy, they found one to fit!  Please, if you want to rent bikes, make sure you do it here.  I can’t tell you how much that saved us, and we still had time to ride a ways.  It’s attached to a restaurant so we made sure to go there twice too.  It was great food, and I loved sitting out on the patio eating dinner and then lunch the next day here.  They even bring it out to you.  It is grill-type foods and even pizza!  It sits right beside the trail.

So there is only one tunnel on the whole trail and it just happened to be right by Rocheport and in the direction we happened to go to first.  We had the most beautiful weather both days, but during this early evening ride, the sun glowing on the fall leaves was just breathtaking.   The squirrels were a bit crazy though!  We thought they should have a “Beware the squirrels”  or a squirrel crossing sign.  We would just be going along enjoying the sights, and all the sudden from the side of the trail we would startle an unseen squirrel and out they would jump and we’d be swerving around trying to avoid it.  One squirrel decided to pace us and ran just ahead of me and next to hubby for quite a ways before disappearing back into the woods.  Then the next day one actually went up hubby’s leg and scratched him all up!  We had been joking about how horrible it would be to be bit by one, but we did avoid that.

The next morning it was more overcast so not quite as nice but still very comfortable riding temperature wise.  I loved how each town had a little covered area to read about the history of whatever town you were by and really gave the ride a cool flavor.

There is a connector trail that leads into Columbia’s district that looked cool from the signs.  I think a night there would be fun next time.

I also found out that Amtrak stops at many of the towns and will allow bikes on them if you arrange it beforehand so you can ride Amtrak to a town down the way and then ride all the back on your bikes.

As you can see, the trail follows the Missouri River.  I’ve had a lot of trouble picking out just a few photos for this blog!  I’m going to leave you with a couple more.

Final Camping trip for the season? Brushy Creek Rec., IA

Note:  To read another entry about Brushy Creek in 2012, click here

I have been wanting to explore Brushy Creek Recreation Area for some time now, but since hubby works full-time six days a week with only Sundays off, it just hasn’t happened.  So this past weekend since it was forecasted beautiful fall weather, we finally said “Screw it, let’s just go a night and see what we think!”  So when it was all said and done, of course, what we thought was we did not have enough time!

Sat. night we got there around 6:45 pm and by the time we got the tent set up, beds made, and a fire laid in the grate for when we got back, we had about a half hour to fish so we did not put the boat in and just went to the fishing pier area.  This is one of the few places in Iowa that allow campers to bring horses and camp with them.  However, since we don’t have any, we stayed at the non-equestrian campground.   As you can see, the campground itself is very nice, roomy and flat, but there are not a lot of trees.  Also, all sites have at least electricity whether you want it or not.

From that campground it is a short walk to the most incredible beach.  I did not get a chance to go swimming but managed to take a picture of it while out on the lake.  It really has a big area of sand.

Now, the first time you see Brushy Creek Lake you realize how it got its name because there are just the top stumps of many many trees sticking out of the lake everywhere you look.  You will see what I mean in many of the photos.  At the fishing pier there are signs explaining how this used to be a valley and it was flooded to create this watershed lake.  Also, this is a fishing lake so it is a no-wake lake keeping away the skiers and jet skis.  However, someone needs to explain to all those fancy fishing boats what no wake means because basically they think if they go slower than full out that their wakes don’t matter.

The temperatures Sat. were very hot when we got there, in the 80s.  However, when the sun set, it got cold fast.  I was very glad I had the fire all waiting for us when we got back and took one match to get it going.  Rock caught all small fish fishing on the rocks so there were no fish to clean, but we were looking forward to the next day out on the boat.  The mosquitos were horrible on the fishing pier so bring bug spray if you plan to be around the lake at night.  What gorgeous views, though, as we fished!

When we left the lake and came up onto the prairie portion, I had to make hubby stop so I could snap this shot.

We had a nice time around the fire keeping warm and having a hot dog cooked over the fire along with a s’more.  However, it was COLD in the tent.  I have a mummy sleeping bag made for a woman but not a woman with big hips, so in the past I had never been able to zip it up over them and it never mattered since it wasn’t really cold out.  I’m proud to say that it finally zipped around me!  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that hubby has to do it, and it’s quite hilarious because I lay on my side and hubby has to keep the two ends together and shake me silly and basically shoves me in.   Then, of course, I had to go to the bathroom in the night, and we had to do the whole routine again.  I was giggling the whole time.  A mummy sack is not for anyone with claustrophobic tendencies.  However, it is super warm.  The full moon was so bright that inside the tent I would swear that we had a yard light right outside our tent.  Hubby spent the night sleeping away like a baby while I woke up from strange noises or my one arm was cold after I pulled it out of my sleeping bag to hold my pillow etc.

We woke up a bit later than we would have liked and decided to go to the local convenience store that was about 5 to 10 miles away to get some minnows and I could get coffee.  What a cute little store.  They even had ice fishing tackle for sale which hubby was very happy about.  They gave us an awsome scoop of minnows at a good price, I got two cups of coffee to go and we were off to fishing.  Very disappointing to us, however, was that the fish were not biting.  We caught small stuff, except for one crappie and one bluegill that were barely keepers. We ended up throwing them back in when at 1:00 pm we gave up trying because they weren’t worth cleaning.

This lake is deep and there really aren’t many places that are shallow.  It drops off quickly from the bank, and the fish are just everywhere on the graph.  We overheard two others talking about how they weren’t biting and how they had fished yesterday without a bite, so we are hopeful that it was just a bad day, and when we go again, it will be a different story.  It was, again, a very hot day so around 1 we packed up and headed home.

Overall, I was disappointed I didn’t get to try the beach out, and, from what I hear, there are really nice trails to hike on around the lake that I want to try next time.  It was too hot at 1 pm for me to get too excited about checking them out.  Many of the trails are horse trails since they allow horse camping so I’m thinking they may allow mountain biking also.  I saw a lot of bikes at the campgrounds so those are all things to check out on a next visit.  There is a lot of prairie terrain so not a lot of trees until you get down by the lake.  We definitely left wishing this lake was much closer to us!

Maine’s Capitol – Simple Yet Elegant

Seal.jpg

When I arrived at Maine’s State Capitol building which is in Augusta, Maine, I immediately felt like I was in Maine with this seal to greet me.  The capitol building itself was very simple and yet elegant.  As I was exploring the inside, I managed to capture the view looking out one of the beautiful windows.

window from inside maine capitol.jpg

As you can see, the capitol sits on a hill so there is quite a view out the window.

The dome from the inside is not decorated like many, but you can see below just how simple, yet elegant, it looks.inside dome

I love the windows in The House of Representatives which is pictured below.

house of reps.jpg

Likewise, the senate had the same shape of windows and was also in keeping with the entire theme of simple yet elegant.

Senate.jpg

Last, but certainly not least, is the view from outside, and the dome is a brown shade!

Maine Capitol from distance.jpg

 

And in what city is the Capitol Building of Pennsylvania?!

Approaching the Capitol I was a bit embarrassed when I had trouble recalling the capital city of Pennsylvania until my college-age son had trouble with it too.  I found out I was going to be close by on a job so decided to fly into Harrisburg so i could visit the Capitol building there.  Yes, Harrisburg and not Philadelphia is the capital city of Pennsylvania.

capitol grounds

I visited in early May and missed most of the spring flowers, and the landscaping for summer had either not been done yet or hadn’t had time to grow.  The fountain on the other side was also not operating.  I did manage to get in the above shot the colors of Spring.

outside capitol

The green glass tile dome was just beautiful and unique.  I am partial to my Iowa Capitol gold dome, but this was very easily the next best dome I have seen so far.  Each side of the entrance is flanked with a white sculpture of men appearing to hold up the wall.  I’m not sure I like the white against the grey stone, but it does make it stand out.

Once inside I was blown away by the opulent interior.

Staircase

The following photos were just looking straight up into the dome.

Inside the dome

I eventually made my way up the stairs and had my breath taken away not only from the hike up the stairs, but from the breath-taking view as well, when I walked into the House Gallery.

house gallery1

It was hard for me to imagine arguing or heated conversations in such beauty.  On each side of the room, there was a row of stained glass portals up in the rafters.  I tried to capture their beauty in the picture below.

portals house gallery

I also got a shot of the stained glass dome in the center of the supreme court, although not well centered because I wasn’t sure if pictures were allowed and didn’t want to ask permission since someone might say no!

supreme court dome

As I came back out into the main hallway above the staircase to the second floor, I captured a picture of the beautiful white staircase.

stairs from top

Once back down on the first floor, I noticed that even the underside of the staircase was carefully decorated.

underside of stairway

I shall leave you with a few more of my favorite shots:

Beautiful Skylights at Kentucky’s State Capitol

Kentucky State Capitol buildingSo much time has passed since my last blog! I have a new job now where I am traveling around the country conducting various trainings.  Until I learn all the components of my job, I have to spend a lot more time preparing for the actual engagement so now I know what a first-year teacher must feel like.

But enough about me and on to my visit to Frankfort, Kentucky.  I was so excited to get this assignment since I doubt I would ever get another chance to check out the Kentucky State Capitol building.  Frankfort is  halfway between Lexington and Louisville, and it is a small town compared to other capital cities.  Although the outside building was nondescript as capitol buildings go, the inside was very beautiful.  The skylights set this capitol building apart from others I have seen. Statue and skylights inside Kentucky State Capitol Marble and granite were everywhere, and the different skylights were just beautiful.  The below picture was a stunning stained glass skylight that was inside one of the end rooms.  (I think the House of Representatives?) state representatives skylight Kentucky State Capitol I arrived after class, so the building was just closing.  This was the only room I got into because they were vacuuming and closing up.  As it was, another couple and I undid the barricade and walked into this room so I had to hurry and take a quick shot.  Of course, we put the barricade back, but all the other rooms were actually locked so I was unable to view them. inside view kentucky State CapitolIn the above photo, there are kids on the balcony  which gives some perspective on the grandness of the pillars.  Below you can see what the inside of the dome looked like.  20140429_160828

Did you notice that the color of the inside of the dome changes?  I’m not sure even I would have noticed had I not been told by the desk lady as she was leaving.  The dome color changes very subtly, but it does get very pink at times so I might have noticed by then.

Below the dome, there was a display of porcelain dolls representing all the governor wives in their inauguration gowns.  The only gown I could guess what era it was designed in was the Roaring 20’s, but then again, I’m not a fashionista!  I enjoyed seeing how the fashion styles came and went and then came back again.

governor wives porcelain dolls

It had rained off and on the whole time I was in Frankfort but cleared off just in time for my trip to the capitol, so I wasn’t too surprised when as I left the capitol building and got into my rental car, the rain drops started in again.

Rain, Rain Go Away! — Council Bluffs/Omaha

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Looking back at the months of May and June, it is hard to remember now, during a drought, how I yearned for a weekend without rain, but this trip to Council Bluffs/Omaha is a great reminder.  Originally I planned on celebrating our wedding anniversary (29 years) by camping at Lake Manawa State Park.  With sporadic rains in the forecast, I booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn which is attached to the Horseshoe Casino so we’d have something to do during the rains.

Hilton Garden Inn

We lucked out on our room because we got a free room upgrade to a suite with a whirlpool tub!  It does pay to be a Hilton Honors member!  Even thought I drove in rain to get to Council Bluffs, I totally expected it to clear off, especially since we had two days to pick from for our visit to the Omaha Zoo.  I planned on visiting the Omaha Old Market area one evening too, which I had yet to get to explore, but that did not happen due to constant rain.  We played some slots, checked out the poker room, and ate at the buffet in the casino that first night.  I will say I was very impressed with the casino buffet!  It definitely was one of the better ones!

Omaha ZooI just had to have hubby take this picture at the zoo of me standing in the rain because this totally sums up our entire zoo experience.  After staring at the rain coming down for an entire day and evening, I finally said, “Screw it, we are going to the zoo in the rain!” on our final day there, so off we went.  It really never stopped raining the entire day.  I do love this zoo and had not been there for 10 years so we managed to enjoy ourselves in spite of the rain.

Manawa Trail

Of course, on the day we checked out, the skies cleared.  So I told Hubby we were going to at least drive around Lake Manawa on our way home so we could see if we’d like to come back.  Once we got there, of course I decided I had to at least go a short distance on the bike trail to get the flavor of the trail while hubby stayed there at the lake to try his hand at fishing.  Yes, optimist that I am, I had packed fishing poles along with the bikes.

SAMSUNG

This train was fun to watch as they slowly were loading it with coal maybe or at least getting the cars linked together and getting it ready to leave, I assume.  There was a lot of clanging going on anyway!  The trail was very isolated and eventually would have linked up to the Wabash Trace bike trail that goes 60- some miles south towards Missouri.  However, I knew I needed to turn around before that!  Once out of the park itself, the trail had an industrial feel to it, but I will leave you with the picture below of a nice portion of nature.  On a side note, when I got back to the car, hubby was sound asleep in the car so unfortunately the fishing was not very good probably because of all the rain.

Manawa Trail ViewIf you would like to read about a Council Bluffs visit I had last year with no rain, click here.

It’s a party on the Great Western Trail!

Great Western trail signDuring one of my Tuesday overnights in Des Moines, I brought my bike along with me since rain was not in the forecast and went for a ride on the Great Western Trail after work.  (Des Moines is just filled with biking trails and really should be a city on any biker’s list to visit!)  My friend and I decided to meet at a trail head off Park Avenue.

trailhead Great Western TrailAs you can see in the picture, there is a gravel road that runs along side the trail, so once I waited for a lot of bikers crossing at the intersection (they were coming from Water Works Park), I turned left and started driving down this gravel road and began wondering if the road would run out before I could find a parking place!  I waited to take the picture above until after my ride was over so there are gaps where when I first got to the trail there were no gaps at all!

SAMSUNGSo imagine this picture, only with nonstop cars on both sides.  That is how it was when I got there.

We planned to ride 8 miles of the trail to Cummings, IA, but I think the entire trail goes some 33 miles.  Also, this trail is extremely busy — at least on the portion we were on — so the two pictures above are rare times when there were no bikers, joggers, or walkers around.  It was beautifully shaded most of the time too.  I do not ride fast at all, personally preferring to look around  and enjoy the scenery, so I was constantly having to concentrate on going straight as the speed demons zipped by me, although they did shout out warnings as they were passing.  Everyone is very friendly, and there is definitely a party feel all along the trail.

Cummings Tap from trailThe shot above was taken from the trail looking at the Cummings Tap which was having an event for the bikers.  The party was just getting started so we got off our bikes and joined in.  There was even free water which I was excited about (although most people seemed interested in ice-cold beer)!  The white tent had all sorts of different meats and toppings for tacos.  I bought one and had chinese chicken as my meat, and then look below to see all the toppings I had on it.  It was delicious!  

 

After having a bite to eat and some ice water, my friend went on and I turned around and headed back to my car, enjoying the bird songs in between the radios and stereos of the passing bikers.  I even got to watch a deer for a while coming down to take a drink before it was scared away.  A beautiful ending to a pleasant evening in Des Moines.

Marshalltown to Grimes Farm in June

I am behind in my posts so while Iowa is now suffering from a drought, in June the rains would not stop and we experienced flooding which made it very hard to get out and camp or even get out to ride bikes!  On a rare dry June day — that actually happened on a weekend — my first bike ride of the season was on the Marshalltown bike trail.

June wildflowers

I like to start out by driving to the Y in Marshalltown and parking in their lot since it is so big and also a water source on return!  Taking the trail westward, it is more on the edge of the downtown area so I can get out of the city pretty quickly.  I like riding to the Grimes Farm which is a conservation area with a visitor’s center and some nice picnic areas to sit and eat a snack before heading back.

Continuing past Grimes Farm onto the new section which goes along Highway 30 and then up 330 to Melbourne, I wanted to be sure that I biked 5 miles out before I headed back.  As you can see in the picture below, there is absolutely no shade on this section and it is very hilly so I did not last long as the sun was unrelenting!

bike trail on the way to Melbourne

Once back at Grimes Farm, I stopped and ate my almonds and cheese stick while watching a cute little chipmunk sneaking up on me before skittering away and colorful birds flitting around.  This time I went into the Visitor Center and was very impressed with their displays!  It was nice being in some air conditioning because did I mention it was HOT out?!

The trail back to Marshalltown is very shady and woodsy, and I quickly became obsessed with how big the Queen Anne’s Lace was!  I don’t think I have ever seen it that tall.  So I am going to end this post with a very rare selfie, (since I hate pictures taken of myself, let alone me taking it) because I want to give a reference for how high the Queen Anne’s Lace was!  For more posts on the Marshalltown, Iowa, Trail, click here.

Selfie with Queen Anne Lace

Sneak preview: RAGBRAI XLI

I am reblogging Iowa Girl on the Go’s (click here to see her blog) blog about RAGBRAI XLI that takes place in Iowa next week. For bikers that do the whole week, they put their tires in the waters of the Missouri River, ride a week across Iowa, and end the event with putting their tires in the Mississippi! She gives a great feel for what is ahead when well over 10,000 people from all over the world descend into small town USA!  If you want to see more pictures of the pedestrian bridge in Council Bluffs, click here to check out a prior blog of mine!

Iowa Girl on the Go

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When 10,000 cyclists ride en masse through Iowa’s small towns and big cities next week, everything changes. Tiny towns with no more than a few businesses and a grain elevator will be pushed to the limit with an explosion of pork chop vendors, pie-peddling church ladies, port-a-potties, beer gardens, and bikes, bikes, bikes.

I wondered what it would be like to drive the RAGBRAI route – this year through Iowa’s midsection – BEFORE the bikes come. So yesterday I drove the Council-Bluffs-to-Harlan section (Day 1) and a bit of the Day 2 Harlan-to-Perry route. (The actual bike event begins on Sunday, July 22.)

Here is what I found:

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA

I started my exploration of Council Bluffs on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, a footbridge that connects Omaha, Neb., to Council Bluffs, Iowa. It’s a short walk across the modern, S-curved, cable-stayed bridge, the first to connect two…

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