Upon my grand morning entrance to the bathroom, I was greeted by Mr. Toad.
A few miles into my ride, a thick fog settled in, and soon my eyelashes, arms, eyebrows, helmet - everything - was covered in little droplets of water. It scared me to come up on a stand of trees, because I didn't know what that big dome of darkness was. It could have eaten me!
I stopped in a small town to get some food and wait out some of the fog. I ate about a quarter of a huge box of cereal, some yogurt, and some sad strawberries that were on sale.
A lot of middle-aged farmer and rancher dudes talk to me in this part of the country. Not in a creepy way. It's just the majority population, I guess. And they're friendlier than the farmers and ranchers out west. I think Western "country boys" have a complex and think that anyone not like them is a liberal or something.
The fog had cleared up a bit, and I was on my way, having cleared up my route with the help of a guy in a pickup at the gas station.
Just outside of town, a young man in an ATV pulled up and asked me about my trip. His name was Gabe, and he's done the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, and now enjoys doing triathlons. It was neat to see a young local involved in farm work and also enjoying the outdoors in ways perhaps thought to be "hoity-toity" by other kids. A mile later, he flagged me down on the side of the road and showed me how he could turn his irrigation sprinklers of with his phone!
Stopped in Laurel for a protein bar, cereal, and a cheese stick to fuel the next stretch - 30 miles with nothing in between! It was HILLY. And hot. And long. It never ended. I wrote an awesome rap song. And then I was in Jackson, where the gas station advertised as "tourist info center" had neither a map of Iowa nor a Nebraska sticker.
And so I made my way into South Sioux City, and stopped at the Hy-Vee, where I found my Nebraska sticker and a $5.99 all-you-can-eat salad bar. I think we know who got the better end of that deal.
My crossing of the Missouri was epic only in my brain- there are no pictures to document it, nor was there a "Welcome to Iowa" board- just a sorry postage stamp of a sign that said "state line". Nonetheless, it happened, and I am in Iowa. Wanting to get out of the city, I booked it into Hinton and arrived at the Hillview Rec Area in the dark. I was quite a sight to see, pushing my bike up a ridiculously steep gravel hill in the dark. my feet threatening to slide out from under me (that's how steep it was, and how heavy my bike is).
It was $15 to camp, and there weren't even flush toilets, not to mention showers. BUT the park ranger was nice (okay, and handsome), and LIGHTNING BUGS YAY. It was a happy time. I almost-ashamedly-but-not-quite set my tent up directly next to the electric hookup so I could charge my phone and Facebook from bed. Muahaha.
^my oops picture
$4 Nebraska sticker