We woke up at Tim’s college friend Eric’s place, though the bed was so comfy we never wanted to leave. Since we had already walked through most of Des Moines the previous day, we would have Eric drop us off just east of the city. We loaded Rebecca’s bike into the back of the car and took off. Today we’d planned to stay with surprise visitors on The Walk.
Eric dropped us off in Altoona, and after a heartfelt goodbye, and some gas station donuts, Rebecca and Tim parted ways (Thanks for everything Eric & Megan!). Since Rebecca is on a bike, she can manage to go the long way, whatever route is the most comfortable for biking, while Tim, on two feet, prefers the most direct route available, sometimes including dirt roads.
Rebecca came across a mural of a bicycle on a farm on the side of a barn. After stopping to appreciate the painting, she realized she really enjoyed this state. She texted Tim to take a photo of this mural, as she doesn’t have the camera while she’s biking. While passing through Newton, Rebecca decided to stop at a coffee shop in the town square, where a lot of groups were meeting. It was a happening place. She really enjoyed their downtown.
The surprise visitors booked a two-night stay in Grinnell instead of Newport, as the reviews and prices were more favorable in the former. Unfortunately Grinnell was over 40 miles from Altoona, so they agreed to pick Tim up after a 25 mile day in Newport, and drive to Grinnell.
Right at the welcome sign, and just off Interstate 80, Tim’s parents and two of his nephews met him. Grinnell is only a 400 mile drive from Tim’s hometown of Griffith, Indiana, which which would take about 3 weeks to walk! Tim hadn’t seen his mom and dad or nephews Maddox and Aidan since they dropped him off at the airport in Chicago over three months prior. Rebecca hadn’t seen them since our going-away dinner at the end of March.
After the brief reunion, Tim and his parents were off to the hotel, where Rebecca had already checked in after biking over 43 miles!! We were ready for another rest day.
Thursday, our first night in the hotel, was filled with relaxing in the hot tub, then quickly running into the pool, and back and forth. Many hotel hijinx ensued. Afterward, Tim’s parents treated us to a nice steak dinner in downtown Grinnell. Friday afternoon we had a picnic at a lakeside park, and Rebecca and Tim showed Maddox and Aidan their tent aka their home for the last three (and next two!) months. Afterward we all enjoyed the playground (especially Rebecca).
When Tim’s mom suggested meeting us in Iowa less than a week before, she wanted to experience something she couldn’t do in Northwest Indiana. After some internet research, she found an Extreme Bull Riding event happening in town Friday night, which would be fun for all ages!
With our cowboy hats and gear, we were entertained for hours by the slapstick comedy of the rodeo clowns, the bravery of the bull riders, the fierceness of the bulls, and the silliness of the mutton riders (3-4 year olds riding sheep). We witnessed an extraordinary sunset as we left the rodeo, and reflected on a great two days with Tim’s family.
The next morning it was back to The Walk for us. The forecast had called for rain, so while we waited for the clouds to clear we planned the route for our next few days. The rain held on longer than expected, so Tim’s parents insisted on driving him to the next town. Tim was very excited to see the name of the town:
BROOKLYN! The name of the little town in Iowa where Tim’s folks were dropping him off is the same name of the borough where we’re finishing The Walk in New York City! This coincidence was a great way to end a weekend (or was it a sign!?).
We planned on ending in a campground in Marengo on Saturday, but we had a few more towns after Brooklyn. After passing through Victor a car pulled over next to Tim. The driver pulled out a bucket of sliced watermelon and chatted with Tim about the journey. He said Tim could take the whole bucket, but that would’ve been too heavy! Anyway, three or four slices of watermelon is amazing when it is that hot and humid outside (Thanks again, Steve!).
Rebecca ran out of water on this humid day, so she stopped at the Ladora Stora. She also bought donuts. After arriving at the campground, she befriended a cyclist heading toward the Missouri River to the starting point of RAGBRAI. He warned her about the red wing blackbirds that will “dive bomb” as you bike near their nest. After Tim arrived with dinner (a first?) we met a retired couple who travel across the country in an RV. We traded stories of the road, and business cards, and they even have a son who lives in Chicago! We told them we were only two weeks away…
Today(s) we walked through:
Tim: 55,637; n/a; and 46,470 steps
Rebecca: 43, n/a, and 37 miles
2020 miles finished (over 2,000!)