Big rolling hills of Iowa! Up and down and up and down…
Week 4 wrapped up with a painful but triumphant sort of day. I slept sooooooo well in Muscatine, I really didn’t want to mobilize this morning. After my complimentary bowl of cheerios (they said, “Flavia, my your helmet looks nice with all those stickers on it!”) I took off around 7:30. The late start really threw me off. I didn’t get to watch the sun rise.
The sun was already hot by 8, and I had to stop more often today than in any previous day. Every 10 miles, it seemed, I was boiling. I’d pull over whenever I got to a little town, and I’d buy something to drink or fill up my water bottles, talk with the people running the convenience stores/gas stations, and finally muster the strength to mosey on.
I did resolve one big mystery at one of these stops. I’ve been seeing these massive farm machines that remind me of spiders. Their wheels are probably six feet in diameter and I always think I could ride upright under them as they pass. I’ve wanted to take a good picture since I first saw them, but they are always zooming, resulting in blurry pictures. Finally today I was stopped in Lowden or Massilon and up pulls one of these machines. I asked the man driving it what they do, and it turns out they are for spraying crops. They have tall, narrow wheels so they can drive through the crops without damaging them, and they have arms that extend with numerous little spritzers on the ends. Mystery solved!
In retrospect, I should’ve stood next to the wheel for perspective… But trust me, they are crazy tall!
My day lugged on. I stopped in Oxford Junction for lunch and felt bleh afterward. I think it was just too hot to be eating. Copious amounts of liquid later, I made it to Onslow, 18 miles outside of Cascade. I was about ready to call it quits. I went into a gas station to cool off and ended up having a really meaningful conversation with the clerk there. She was a self-proclaimed talker, but I could tell that she just needed to talk. She asked about my trip, and when I told her how much fun I was having making new friends, she dove into a long (40 minutes?!) story about her two newest friends, men who work for the power company that is in town putting up new lines. She found their friendship to be meaningful because they encouraged her to take care of herself, something she didn’t feel she was encouraged to do by her husband or her children. It was a little sad to hear her talk, but we agreed that the moral or the story was the importance of communication. She felt so happy when her two new friends asked her how she was doing. It was that simple!
I can’t say the ride to Cascade was easy, but it was triumphant in the sense that I made it. The terrain was comprised of biiiig rolling hills. Still corn and soybeans, but some other plants mixed in as well. The hills were a welcome change from all the flats, but I’m still trying to take it easy on my leg, so a lot of slow snail climbing followed by speedy descents. Small victories. Another successful day!
I’ve received a few suggestions about my route encouraging me to stay near the Mississippi rather than winding in and out along the ACA route. I need to look more closely at the maps this evening to see exactly where I’m heading tomorrow.