​​​BamaRider

Day 3
June 7th, 2004
Wapsipinicon State Park
Near Anamosa, Iowa

I finally had a good nights sleep, and as a result I was peeking out of my tent a little after 6am.  I took a walk to the rest room and washed my face, and stuck my phone on charge.  My phone was the last item I squared away, because I needed to bring it up to full bars.

I was on the road at 7am, and working my way to the "Field of Dreams."  The map said I could find it near the small town of Dyersville, about 50 miles north of my present location.  I was looking forward to seeing it, because I loved the movie.

The morning was unusually warm, and I wondered what was going on, because I was sure I had passed the jet stream.  (I later found out this was incorrect, the stream had shot far north)

An Iowa state trooper was cruising the south bound lane, but made no move to intercept me.

U.S. 151 took me north to SR 136, the route needed for the "Field of Dreams."  Sports and baseball were always big in my house.  My son played both baseball and football for many years, and I coached both sports.  Baseball earned my son a good education, and references from his coaches went a long way to landing him a good job right out of college.  His coach at Auburn Montgomery has been there a long time, and ex players from the program are every where in the local business world.

A south bound BMW LT gives me a wave as I near the city Dyersville.

I followed SR 136 past the corn and other crops till I arrived in the city, a typical Iowa town of hardware stores, seed lots, and tractor supply houses.  A few fast food joints were strung together on the south side of town, bearing witness time never stands still, even in places like Dyersville.
The farm toy museum stands near US 20 in Dyersville, but I have no idea what that is about.

On the north side of town I spotted the sign directing folks like me to the site.  I turned off the highway and soon I was on a chalky dirt road heading to the scene of one of the greatest sport movies of all time.  Has it really been 15 years since that movie came out?

Normally, I want nothing to do with dirt roads.  Like the 1100, the 1300 HATES them.  But the road is packed down well and the going not bad.  Soon, I was peeling off the county road onto the driveway I remembered from the movie, and setting the stand down in the empty parking lot.
I was mesmerized.  The field in the corn is just like the movie.  It is early, the small shops on the premise don't open till 9, and I'm the only the guy in sight.  I have the place to myself.

After removing my helmet and earplugs, I walked over the baseball field.  The prettiest  I've ever seen.  The grass was lush, green, and thick in the rich Iowa dirt.  The baselines were perfect.  The corn in the outfield had just been planted, so the stalks were short.  In the movie the corn was near harvesting.  I've been to many major league parks, but none had anything on the "Field of Dreams."

Yes, I am a hopeless romantic, so I was genuinely moved by the field.  I sat in the bleachers and looked out.  The field and home are privately owned, and lived in.  The owners do not charge anything for the privilege of visiting, but a donation box is nearby.

Looking over the field I pictured my son as a young boy shagging ground balls, and pitching from the mound.  How thrilled he would have been to play on the "Field of Dreams."  I wished more than anything he could have been here so we could have a catch.  I did the next best thing, I called him, but all I could get was his voice mail, I'm sure he was having a busy day at Wells Fargo.  I left him a message about where I was, and moved on to read the story about how the field came to be. 

More than 50,000 people a year visit the field, from as far away as Japan and Australia.  Everyone has dreams, and for whatever reason they come here.  I saw pictures left by a few fathers and sons having a catch on the field.  What a neat place this is, and if it draws families together, so much the better.

By the time I was ready to leave, 2 clerks showed up and opened the small shop.  I stopped in to say hello, but didn't buy anything.  I had all I needed in my camera.  I think the following pretty much sums things up.

























             
"People will come Ray...For reasons that can't even fathom.  They'll walk out to the bleachers and sit in their shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon.  They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines. It will be just like when they were children and cheered their heroes, and they''ll watch the game. And it will be as if they were dipped in magic waters.  The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces.  This field, this game, is part of our past.  It reminds us of all that was once good, and it could be again.  Oh, people will come.  People will most definitely come."
    
                                                    -W.P. Kinsella, Field of Dreams


I left the "Field of Dreams," with a good feeling, and took SR 136 north to SR 3. I would follow SR 3 west much of the day across the Iowa farmland.
The sun was full out, and the temp rising, by the time I arrived in Strawberry Point.  I spotted a semi busy gas mart with a Kawasaki Nomad out front.  I pulled in next to it and met a couple out for a weekend tour.  They were on their way back to Des Moines.  They looked longingly at the 1300.  The rider asked lots of questions about my bike.  He said the Nomad was a good bike, but touring is not its element.  The mpg is not good, and the gas tank small, he has a range of about 100 miles.  I couldn't imagine trying to cross Nevada on US 50 with such limited range.


























     
           This giant strawberry sits atop city hall in Strawberry Point, Iowa

With a snug attitude, I gave a full demonstration of the 1300s gadgets and do dads.  He was astonished when I told him the bike delivers mpg in the 40s and has a 7.6 gallon tank, and a top speed of 150 mph.

After they left I went inside and gulped down a Mountain Dew while looking over pics from the "Field of Dreams."

The weather was growing hotter by the mile, and a fierce south wind began to blow.  I looked down at the air temp gauge and it was reading in the low 80s.  This time of day and already in the 80s?  I had to check and make sure I wasn't back in South Alabama.

Because I was riding westward the south wind was like a bucking bronco.  It was knocking me all over the place and pushing the 13 to the north side of the road.  Gusts were the scariest, so I shaded the 13 near the yellow line on the long straights, that way when they hit me, I had room to counter lean before hitting the shoulder.

SR 3 links the small farming towns of Iowa like a hoop chain.  Places like Hampton, Allison and Shell Rock, towns where the biggest crime is not attending the Friday night football game.  I found each place interesting as I geared down and idled through.  The men I saw wore seed hats, and drove old pick ups.  These were good people, and those that mock them should be ashamed.
























                    Many churches dotted the landscape along SR 3


I did notice one thing in 9000 miles of back road riding on this tour.  The proliferation of the Chinese restaurant into every nook and cranny town in America.  If a town had more than 50 folks, a good chance they had a Chinese place for indulging.  How folks from Mongolia found their way to some small dot on an American map is beyond me.
  
The 13 was showing 2 bars on the gas gauge so I gassed up in Waverly.  

Battling the strong crosswinds was wearing me down, so I was glad when I saw the Honk and Holler Diner in Clarion.  I pulled in for something to eat and some rest.  The interior was decorated in a car tag, 50s rock and roll motif, reminding me of the Route 66 in Bar Harbor, Maine.  I had a burger and fries, and put some notes in the Axim.

Lunch was over, and it was time to get back on the road and face more wind.  I was looking forward to reaching Pocahontas, where I would go north on SR 4, turning the tsunami like wind into a friendly tailwind.  I later learned I spent much of the day right in the middle of the jet stream, the reason the wind was so hot and powerful.   Strong southerly winds had pushed it far north, unleashing the hot wind that blows across my homeland much of the time on these unsuspecting folks.

By now the temp gauge on the 1300 was showing 90+ degrees, and SR 3 seemed like it would never reach Pocahontas.  The wind was unrelenting, it even topped the wind ChrisK and I battled last fall coming out of New Hampshire.  The strangest thing about this particular wind it was HOT.  When it hit me it was like a blast furnace as it blew heat from the roadway into me.

I topped off the tank in Waverly because I feared the empty stretches of road ahead.

At last I came to the crossroads town of Pocahontas, and turned north on SR 4.  I was still a long way from central Minnesota, and it was 95 degrees.  It was a good thing I come from Central Alabama or this would have been a really hot day.  The humidity was not as bad as Alabama's, but it was still bad enough to be uncomfortable.























         
This tepee and squaw greets Long Riders as they enter Pocahontas, Iowa


I was cruising SR 4 at 85 mph.  The road was straight and flat, the speed seemed reasonable.  I was forced to keep the screen all the way down to increase wind flow around me for cooling.  I paid for it by more wind noise.

By the time I reached Emmetsburg I was dying of thirst so came off the highway for a fancy water at a busy gas mart.  The patrons coming and going looked really fried.  Many of the cars pulling in had windows down, meaning it is still possible to live in places where AC is not a necessity.  Today, many of them were second guessing the wisdom of saving the money non AC brought them.

I called ChrisK and asked him to check in the ST bbs for me.  I wanted him to let ReggieS know I was on schedule, and should be in Winnipeg tomorrow afternoon as planned.

Like I predicted, the direction change north blessed me with an awesome tailwind. I could feel it pushing me over and over.  Heck, I bet if I went full off throttle I could still cruise at 60mph.

With no cooling crosswind, the gauge on the 1300 jumped up to 99, but it still felt good to be heading into Minnesota.  My route today was surely not the quickest way to where I wanted to go, but it was the most fun.

By the time I crossed into Minnesota it was late afternoon.  The landscape transformed from farmland to more timber and lakes.  Water was everywhere and it looked inviting on such a hot day.

Dark clouds were in the distance, I almost wished they would find me and cool off things with a welcome rain.  But I did know one thing-this hot in Minnesota is NOT good, something bad was going to happen soon.

Four boys sitting on the back of a truck in Sleepy Eye waved at me as I came through town.  I waved back as best I could, but I was roasting in the Roadcrafter.

The ride was good the last 60 miles.  The rain stayed in the distance and the temp dipped as the afternoon wore on.  The forests of Minnesota were thick and green and provided a good backdrop for my ride to the state park at Sibley.

In Litchfield, I finally left SR 4 for U.S. 12 west, and went U.S. 71 north in Willmar.  Both cities were busy with late afternoon commuter traffic.  
A late afternoon sun was shining on the Sibley State Park sign when I turned left into the park.  I stopped at the Ranger's office and paid an astonishing 20 bucks for a campsite.  Expensive for a state park, but still much cheaper than most motels.  Camping is almost always cheaper than moteling, and significantly so.  Even if you have a partner to split motel costs, because when you share a campsite together the cost is going to be about 5 each.  I generally camp as much as possible the first half of a trip, and when I get way under budget, I can motel more on the way home.  But now, with a paid up mortgage, no son in college, and a big raise 2 years ago, I can motel every night if I desired, but I enjoy my tent and the solitude camping gives me.

After forking over a "Big Face" (a southern term for any greenback higher than a 10) I eased up the drive to the campground.  Minnesota has well run, nice parks.  The park was huge and stocked with well kept grassy sites.  My tent would only be the 3rd in this huge campground.  I rode till I found a nice spot with no one in sight, and when I found it, I sat back and enjoyed the view.  A great spot on a hillside under a small tree.  



























      
                Rides end-Sibley State Park, Minnesota


I set the stand after a 541 mile day.  

When I finished setting up camp I rode a few miles to a nearby truck stop called the Hillcrest, where I had a small steak with lots of water.  I'd been thirsty all day and I wanted to make sure I got my fill before heading back to the campground.

I use to cook my meals at the campgrounds but I changed my mind about that.  It is just as cheap if not cheaper for me to eat out, and whole lot less trouble.  Plus, I don't have to haul around any cookware.  The only time that is a problem when is when you find yourself at a isolated campground.  When that happens I'll just skip eating, its not like I can't afford not to.

The waitress had a hard time understanding me.  She said my accent was "cute", but hard to decipher.

After supper I finished my journaling and photo editing, and returned to the campground for an early bedtime.  As I've been doing every evening, I debugged the 13s windscreen and front fairing with Plexus.  When I finished that I went for a shower.

Before I left, I recorded several TV shows on my DVD recorder for later viewing on this trip.  I was going to watch one tonight but was too sleepy to even start it.  I set my clock for 6am and went to sleep.

Several hours later I was stirred out of deep slumber by a brutal thunderstorm.  Hundreds of flashes lit up the sky.  The wind blew hard and rattled my little tent, and then the rain came down in buckets. I even feared the wind was going to blow over the 13.  It was scary.  I was dry in my tent but afraid of the lightening.  In my 25 years of fire department service, I've been on calls where lightening has killed someone.  I have a healthy respect for it.  I knew my tent was under a small tree, and I didn't like that.

Thunder and flashes were everywhere and I remained in my tent mulling over options.  I could make a run for shelter at the shower room and get soaked, or I could lay here and hope I'm lucky.  When it comes to my life I don't want luck in the equation, so I took off with flip flops for the shower/restroom.  It was raining so hard a small creek had formed over the path to the shelter.  I made it ok, but I was soaked.

After 30 minutes the storm let up and I went back to my tent to try and get some sleep.  I put my radio adapter on my phone and locked in on a local station that said it was over.  My prediction earlier of something bad happening proved to be correct.

Comforted by that knowledge, I went back to sleep for a few hours.  It was a rough night.
Next: on to Canada
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 Day 4