Northern Tier 2010

August 13, 2010

Taking the Night Off

Filed under: Iowa, Section 07 — Henry Scott @ 10:29 am

I awoke at 4:30 this morning to the sound of thunder. I stayed in bed for about fifteen minutes trying to decide what to do. I could stay put, and sleep in enjoying the sound of the surely soon to arrive rain, but that would mean dealing with wet gear later in the morning. Alternatively, I could quickly pack up and make a break for Lowden: a town four miles away with a population of almost 800 — potentially big enough to support a good breakfast spot.

I made the right call, and I’m currently dry, with my bike safely under a large overhang, and enjoying breakfast at Lowden’s Corner Cafe while watching it pour outside. I’ve been remarkably fortunate with storms on this trip. I’ve only been caught in a downpour once, ridden in light rain twice, and I have yet to make or break camp in the rain.

But, there have been many storms during the 35 days I’ve been out; they just come at night, when I’m safely tucked away in my tent. Further, the evening storms have just about all come during nights for which I was able to pitch my tent under a pavilion. Certainly this luck can’t last forever, but my fingers are crossed.

It is now late afternoon and, for the first time, I’ve checked into a hotel. I’m writing this portion of today’s post from an Applebee’s and enjoying my meal more than I expected. The 37 mile ride from Lowden to Muscatine, the last town in Section 7, was very hard for me due to a strong southeast wind. I noticed numerous blackbirds, but instead of giving chase today, they just chirped from the telephone wires. I think they were laughing at me.

I felt mentally and physically exhausted upon entering Muscatine and hit a low point for the trip. From there I proceeded to make some sloppy mistakes, the most notable of which was dropping the map for Section 8 on the outskirts of town. I didn’t realize the map was missing until I was all the way downtown, five miles later.

Initially I decided to just leave it, thinking I could create my own route across Illinois and up to South Bend, but in hindsight, I just couldn’t bear the thought of backtracking on not-very-pleasant roads. After eating lunch I reconsidered, and made the return trip.

As expected, the ride back was miserable due to the humidity and very busy roads, but I found the map not too far from where I figured I must’ve dropped it. I honestly didn’t expect to find it; it was like I was making myself go back as punishment.

The victory of finding the map rejuvenated me until I realized the next camping opportunity I would have was not for another 50 miles, straight into the wind. Plus, everywhere I went I heard reports of impending severe weather.

So, I punted for the day and checked into a Super 8. I agonized about the decision because I take pride in saying that I’ve camped every night, but the sting wore off immediately. The employees were wonderful to me, going so far as to open doors for me and the bike, instead of casting disapproving expressions as I feared. I have never appreciated air conditioning so much, and the mere sight of the bed made me feel more well-rested.

After dinner I look forward to a bit of T.V. (I already watched the last two sets of the 1982 U.S. Open final between Connors and Lendl thanks to Classic ESPN), and then I plan to get lost in slumber in the hotel’s ridiculously big bed… at least compared to the my tent.

As an afterward, I’m back in the room from dinner. After the steak dinner plus sundae at Applebee’s, I walked straight across the street to Taco Bell to top up. Now, I’m ready for bed.



  1. Good call on the hotel, Henry! — one motel stay in 5+ weeks is not exactly a life of luxury, in my book.

    I hope the timing works for me to be around if you pass through S.B. — I’ll be at MSU Wed. until Thursday, and then leave again on Saturday for the MoNA mtg. on Beaver Island.

    I’m still addicted to my daily dose of Northern Tier news, so keep the posts coming!


    Comment by Jerry — August 14, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  2. Hey Henry! What a great trip you are having! Wonderful pics!! You are truly an inspiration to me as I continue to plot, plan and work at my trip down the Mighty Mississippi with my husband. Altho, I do feel a tad guilty since we stay in B & B’s (my husband’s idea!) But after reading your blogs, I feel the need to start in with the tent!! I have to agree with Bruce….Iowa really is a great, friendly place…too bad we can’t do away with the 3 H’s. Have a safe journey, look forward to more of your posts.

    Comment by Carla — August 15, 2010 @ 2:37 am

  3. I am glad you went back and picked up the map. You may have landed up in Osceola instead of South Bend! 🙂

    Comment by Lauren — August 15, 2010 @ 2:54 am

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