Finding our Independence – July 3 & 4

We ate an amazing breakfast with (almost) perfectly cooked eggs and donuts and then got a ride with Brock and Kim into downtown Omaha where we’d start our day crossing the pedestrian bridge that would lead us into our 6th state! Brock and Kim walked us across the bridge even though it meant crossing into Iowa (which apparently people in Omaha really don’t like Iowa) and having to walk back to their car afterward. It was the first time anyone has crossed a state border with us, so it was exciting to have someone there for the historic moment.


We made it!


Not the easiest picture to pose for

So we headed into Iowa with a quick stop at Family Dollar to buy a new memory card for the camera (we’re on the third one now, you guys aren’t seeing all of our pictures!). Tim walked down the main street through town where there were lots of traffic lights and loud cars.


Council Bluffs had a pretty cool bridge

As he headed over the elevated bridge there was a nice bike path that forced him to cross the street, but at least avoided the most traffic, Tim was able to take in the whole city, but he kept walking knowing there was a bed ahead for him! Stopping in Weston for his first break, Tim checked his phone and began coordinating with his mom for a possible visit on the road from his parents and nephews.


People here make pretty awesome mailboxes

As he walked, Tim realized everyone was already ready for the 4th of July, there were flags and patriotic colors everywhere.


Happy 4th! This is only kinda creepy...

The hills continued as he walked through towns that are not really towns. A lot of the towns have maybe a gas station, and a park, and a few houses grouped together. But they all have corn. A cyclist passed him at about 5pm and he texted Rebecca to see if she could run out and talk to him, but she got his text too late and missed the cyclist.


Obviously on a long trip

The hills were wearing Tim out, but he made it to meet Rebecca for dinner. By the time he got into Minden we ate dinner and watched bad tv for the rest of the evening.

Rebecca had to take a road slightly off of the main road to avoid angry honks from people, but once the side road ended, she hopped right back onto the main road to climb the biggest hill of the trip since she started biking! By the time she got to the top she was actually visibly sweating. Luckily, a giant hill up means a giant hill back down as well. One thing that will never get old is coasting back down the side of a hill that was so hard to get up. The hills since right outside of Omaha haven’t been a total surprise, but they are always a bit of a challenge. Luckily, most of the rest of the trip into Minden followed along a river and stayed fairly flat. Still, Rebecca checked in Underwood for parks and stores for Tim to stop in and took a break to eat an early afternoon snack before heading into town. We had made a reservation at the motel in town to avoid fireworks and late-night activity in town do she checked in, attempted to blog a bit, and went to the grocery store for a dinner and snack supply run. While waiting for Tim to arrive she wandered around town a bit. There wasn’t much in the town, just a small park (with electricity and water!) and the grocery store, cafe, pharmacy, and motel. But some city workers were planting new flowers at the center of town and American flags fluttered in the wind. The hills were going to make Rebecca sore the next day, but the work was paying off in terms of feeling like she is traveling across the country.

When Tim arrived we ate the few things Rebecca picked up at the grocery store and both showered before heading to bed. Tomorrow will be a long 31 mile day where we have a warm showers host arranged so we won’t be in town in the middle of the fireworks.

Waking up in a motel is still such a weird thing. But we woke up and Tim headed out right at 8am. The grocery store opened then, so he stopped in to get some bananas and an orange and chatted with the owner. She gave him a puzzle book and a pen with “Minden Grocery” on it as souvenirs and wished him luck on the trip. Knowing it was going to be a long hot day, he put on sunscreen early and ate a banana as he walked. Seeing towns with actual grocery stores (and Minden isn’t the largest grocery store, but it does have fresh fruit) it’s still a novelty for us. We have memories of Nevada with no actual food for miles, but stopping for a banana in the morning is great.


The hills ahead

Rebecca packed up and headed out, starting to realize that Iowa might be her absolute favorite state. The rolling hills allow for great views of corn and expansive land. She hopped on her bike, paused in Avoca to see everyone preparing for a parade and made it to Walnut for a break. She stopped at the visitor’s center, which had bathrooms and a gift shop with wifi and ate some snacks while she marveled at the town. Walnut is branded as Iowa’s antique city, and every shop on the main strip in town sells antiques. The best part was that they were all open even though it was 4th of July and a few people wandered around in town shopping. She got back on her bike, rode a few blocks on brick pavement (it’s terrible!) and aimed her wheel for Atlantic. Once there, she walked through downtown, but everything was closed. The town is the Coca Cola capital of Iowa because they have a bottling plant in town, but the first thing she spotted was a Pepsi vending machine! She made her way to the house we’d be staying at this evening and set up in the yard relaxing and befriending the outdoor cats while she waited for everyone to get home.

Tim made it to Avoca too early for the parade, he got in at about 11, but the parade didn’t start til 2, so he kept walking through. On the way out of town he met a man and his adult son waiting for the parade to start drinking beers on the front porch. After discussing our trip (and the pronunciation of Avoca) they gave him all the money in their wallets ($11) and wished him luck on the day. He climbed the monster hill out of town and allowed their good wishes to push him on to Walnut. By the time he arrived the visitor’s center was closed, but the wifi still worked, so he ate lunch connected to the world.


So much space

After Walnut Tim took a different route than Rebecca, it saved a few miles, and walked a gravel road with basically no cars for the rest of the day. His shoes were bothering him again and he decided he should probably get new ones again in Des Moines.


Passing farms on the way

When Tim got to our place for the night at about 745 dinner was ready, pizza and salad before the fireworks. Steve (the man we were staying with) and his son Avery asked questions about the trip and warned us that it was tradition to get movie theater popcorn to watch the fireworks. We excitedly got into the truck to drive to the airport and see the local fireworks in town.


Happy 4th of July

We met Steve’s boss and friends and enjoyed the night discussing RAGBRAI and other adventures that could be open to us in the future. Aaron, Steve’s friend, offered to buy us breakfast in the morning on our way out and we readily agreed to stop by the grocery store for that!


New friends


Us in the light of fireworks

We headed back, Tim showered quickly, and we crawled into bed, exhausted but happy from the long day.

Today we walked through:
Council Bluffs
Avoca (uh-voe-cuh)

Tim: 60,782 and 70,021 steps
Rebecca: 27 and 34 miles biked

1892 miles finished

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