Monday, August 25, 2014


We spent three nights at Saylorville Lake, just north of Des Moines in some muggy mid-west weather. No rain, but hot and humid. From camp one can ride their bike into the city, which I did on one foggy morning. The city is so bike friendly that there are bike paths galore. The next morning I convinced Cathie to take a ride around the city, so we drove into town and rode many of the trails. Des Moines is a really beautiful and clean city, with parks and a great riverfront trail on both sides of the two rivers, the Des Moines and the Raccoon, that join in the downtown. Not much open for breakfast, but we managed to find the Ritual Cafe a vegetarian cafe run by a bunch of tattooed ladies that was pretty good.


Continuing on the Lincoln Highway theme, we reconnected with Hwy 30 and continued east. We crossed the Mississippi River at Clinton, Iowa and settled at Thomson Causeway, another great COE campground in the small town of Thomson. With a riverfront campsite, we opted to spend 4 nights instead of the planned 2. Also, once again, as with most of the trip so far, there is a great bike trail here that follows the river for 62 miles.


The Great River Trail is just part of the Grand Illinois Trail that covers more than 500 miles. Yes, I would like to, but it will have to wait. I rode most of the River Trail, but just like everywhere else, the weatherman doesn't always get it right. Supposed to have had clear skies in the morning, so I left around 6 am. After 35 miles or so, the skies opened up. First strong winds, then lightning and thunder and before I could find shelter, rain. Not the little might get you damp kind of rain, but soak you through in 1 minute rain. I managed to make it to a convenience store and for the price of a cup of coffee, they let me hang out until the rain stopped. Back on the bike to try and finish the trail but within two miles the skies became unfriendly once more. This time I found a restaurant and called Cathie for a rescue.

The next day, with the weatherman once again promising clear skies in the morning, I convinced Cathie to ride with me to Fulton, the next town downriver for a cup of coffee. It was a 15 mile round trip ride and we intended for it to be a leisurely one. We arrived in Fulton unscathed and found a nice little neighborhood cafe. While enjoying the coffee, Cathie observed that the sky to the west was looking mighty dark. "Not to worry", I said, "it's a long way off". We left the cafe and rode up on the river levee for some photos and then started back to camp.

Things went just fine till we reached about the halfway point. The wind started blowing pretty hard and then the rain started, sideways rain. Real heavy sideways rain. This was accompanied with lightning and thunder all around us. You know the system for telling how close the lightning is? After you see the lightning you count, one thousand one, one thousand two and so on until you hear the thunder, each one thousand representing a mile. So after the next flash of lightning I counted, "one thou" BOOM! With no place to take cover and riding on our lightning attracting metal bikes, we just rode faster, like we could outrun it. I've have never seen Cathie ride that fast. By the time we got back to camp we couldn't be any wetter, but we made it. Don't know if Cathie will be going on anymore rides with me though.


This is the first attempt at a selfee on the river levee in town. Windmill Head didn't like it, so we took another.

There are yellow painted marks on the path to direct you on which way to go. For instance this means, turn right.

Whereas this means to go straight.

Similar to yellow arrows one follows on the Camino de Santiago in Spain

Of course any visit to the Mississippi, one must go see the barges traversing the locks. Tugs, push up to 12 barges up and down the river. When going through a lock, some locks will not accommodate 12 barges, so they must be separated and half are pushed through at a time, which takes over an hour. When loaded the barges draw 9 feet, so the COE keeps the river dredged just deep enough to accommodate them.

Notice this tug with it's bridge that can be raised and lowered on a hydraulic lift.

We saw some beautiful sunsets on the Mississippi before continuing east and stopping near Chicago for a few days.

We leave the Mississippi drive on our last segment of the Lincoln Highway as it passes through Chicago where we will park for a couple of days.


Delta Mike said...

Some interesting sculptures in Des Moines. Next time, ride naked and take some soap with you. Multi-task. The COE CG sure beat private ones, large sites water nearby.

Julie Camacho said...

Great story! Sorry, made me laugh. I can picture mom riding...