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Silver City, Iowa to Coon Rapids, Iowa

This chapter was written and sent on the internet from the Garst Farm Resort in Coon Rapids, Iowa.

May 6, Wednesday
After breakfast at Maudie's Cafe, we stopped at the Post Office and shipped home some cold weather clothing we don't think we'll need any more. So, if we get a blizzard in May, you can blame us.

We continued riding on the Wabash Trace to Malvern. This trail is a refreshing change as all the trees seem to have grown over the trail making for a green tunnel effect. We stopped at the drug store and introduced ourselves to Don Reed, a member of the Wabash Trace board of directors. He arranged for us to get into the high school where we worked on our journal for almost two hours.

After leaving the rail trail, we headed east into an east head wind (of course). After stops in Hastings and Emerson, we rode into Red Oak with a light rain falling on us for the last three miles. This is the first rain we've had to ride in so far on this trip. We checked into a motel, showered, and immediately fell asleep.

32.1 miles, 10.2 mph average, 3 hours 8 minutes, 838 miles total

May 7, Thursday
You are probably becoming tired of reading about our problems with headwinds, but believe me, you are not as tired of it as we are. Today was our slowest average yet, less than 10 mph, as we battled a north wind on a relatively short day to Atlantic, Iowa. On 9 days out of 18 so far on this trip, our average has been less than 11 mph. It has been above 14 mph only twice. On a calm day without wind, we can do between 12 to 13 mph. We figure we have had more demoralizing, progress impeding windy days in the past two weeks and 600 miles than in 6 months and 4,400 miles all last year. So — it's gotta get better!

The landscape in western Iowa is of gently rolling hills through beautiful fertile farmland which has all been tilled and planted as far as you can see. We see numerous stream valleys full of mature cottonwood and hardwood trees. The towns are more numerous and appear to be more prosperous. We are passing through a small town about every eight to ten miles. We stopped in Elliott, Emerson, and Lewis for various snacks and breaks. We ate our lunch in beautiful Cold Springs State Park.

We ended the day at Dick & Carol Hensley's house in Atlantic. Dick is a member of Nishna Valley Trails, Inc., who are the proponents of the T-Bone Trail, which will be a 21 mile rail trail when completed. The ADT will be moved onto this trail when it is completed. Of course, completion is dependent upon government funding, which can get rather political with many competing projects in the state. The name T-Bone comes from the fact the railroad used to ship loads of cattle to market over this route.

Dick had arranged an interview for us with the local newspaper and then with radio station KJAN. Thanks to Tom Neenan, Iowa's ADT Coordinator, we and the ADT will be getting plenty of publicity (and our share of hospitality as well) in this state.

36.3 miles, 9.2 mph average, 3 hours 54 minutes, 874 miles total

May 8, Friday
If one gets 15 minutes of fame, it seems like we are getting ours in Iowa. After leaving Atlantic, we traveled north into more north winds, of course, stopping at Plow in the Oak Roadside Park. In the park, imbedded into an old oak tree is a steel plow so completely encased by the tree that only the point and the handle protrude. It is said that a local farmer leaned a plow against the tree and then went off to fight in the Civil War. He never returned and in 1880 the plow was discovered attached to the tree by the crew building the nearby railroad.

We then rode into Audubon, named for the ornithologist, although he never visited here. We had been advised that the Chamber of Commerce wanted to take us out to lunch. After another newspaper interview we received a brief tour of the town, including the statue of Albert the Bull, a 42 ton concrete bull in tribute to the beef industry. The northern end of the T-Bone Rail Trail will be here and many citizens are working toward its completion.

As we pedal across Iowa, we notice how BIG this country is. We passed huge fields that are contour plowed. We also began climbing some hills today and we crossed several stream valleys on our way north. Tonight we have been invited to stay at the Garst Farm Resort. The Garst family are trail supporters and have helped get several trail projects underway in this area. The family farms are international distributors of seed and fertilizer and their innovative techniques were models for the USSR in the 1950's. Nikita Krushchev stayed at this farm during his visit to the US in 1959. Stephen Garst and his father, Roswell, made several trips to Russia in the 1950's promoting American farm methods. Steve and Mary Garst invited us to dinner in their home and their daughter, Liz, took us on a tour of the homestead where we are spending the night. This place would make an excellent weekend retreat or even be suitable for a week long vacation. They offer hiking, horse rides, canoeing, mountain biking, plus workshops and tours.

We notice that today we passed the 900 mile mark which means we have completed half the mileage on this journey.

53 miles, 10.4 mph average, 5 hours 3 minutes, 927 miles total

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1998, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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