9-5-06

From my road journal before I left for the day:

I took yesterday off after a late night on the In-laws pontoon. The town of Lake View normally has a parade of floats during their summer water carnival, but it didn't happen this year on time so they decided to do it last night. My father-in-law volunteered their pontoon to help pull one of the floats. It was my In-laws, me, the wife, and a few of their friends on board. I was given driving duties, which was cool as I had never driven the pontoon before. Anyway, back to the open road. I've got to gas up first before going too far.

My back is a little sore, but nothing major, I'll be fine to ride. I was thinking I'd head north to Pocahontas, West Bend, and then Crystal Lake and then head south on 69 to Waukee. I originally thought Crystal Lake might be too far, but it is only 20 or so miles north of West Bend . It would be silly not to hit it when I am going to be so close.

I again left at an incredibly early 9:30 AM. I thought I was on vacation? Screw it; I'm doing what I want to do, on my dime and on my time.

I left Wall Lake and Lake View behind me and headed north for a wee bit until I got to a paved road that went east. I don't know the exact name of this road but I have always called it the “Church Road.” I worked for a father/son farmer team when I was 16 that owned some land along this road and that is how they always referred to it. It stuck with me. As I came along the church that gave this road it's name, I decided I should get a picture for posterity's sake.

A few miles past I hit N28 and turned north. On through the town I did most of my growing up in, Lytton. My brother and his family still live there, bit I am not here to visit. I stay north and head up to Fonda. I decide to cruise through town rather than bypass it. I didn't stay long and didn't even stop to put my feet down, but it was cool to see the baseball fields I used to play on. We had a decent rivalry with these guys. I went east out of Fonda on state road 7. I spent five smelly, disgusting miles behind a semi with thick, black, diesel smoke chugging out of its pipes. Eventually I made my past and was able to breathe again. Not too long after I turned north on state road 4 and made my way to Pocahontas. There is a giant statue of the squaw herself somewhere in this town. I have been here before and lived not 40 minutes from here for over fifteen years and have never seen it. I did some cruising at first and didn't find it, but I did come across this purple cow, which is just as cool to me.

Eventually I gave up and asked some kid on a bike where the statue was. His directions were spot on and I was there in just two or three minutes. After all these years, I saw the famous statue.

It is one of the ugliest things I have ever seen. I mean, just look at this:

My bike beautifies the last picture.

At the bottom, it says Project of Albert and Frank Shaw. If the city council paid these guys to build this thing, I hope they got their asses voted right out of office. I mean, my god, this…thing…it's hideous. The purple cow kicks this thing's ass.

Shoving my disappointment aside, I headed north to the town of Mallard whose slogan is “We're friendly ducks.” The sign coming into town has a large Mallard duck sitting on top of it so I thought it would be a nice time to take a picture:

As I was putting my camera away on the bike I wondered how far West Bend was. As I looked up, I got my answer right across the road.

I headed east for a few minutes until I rolled into West Bend . There were signs for the Grotto of the Redemption everywhere so I had no troubles finding it.

The Grotto is a cool looking place, but I didn't feel like getting any closer. There were tours going on, and although I heard the tour is pretty cool, I wanted nothing to do with it. I got places to go and miles to ride.

Before I left town, around 12:40 PM, I stopped at a Casey's, got gas, and grabbed a Pepsi. I sat on the sidewalk with my road journal and a pen, updating the day's activities so far.

From the road journal:

I'm thinking the highlight of the day will be the bullhead at Crystal Lake . Earlier I thought about work for the first time in three days. I thought about the ton of email waiting for me. This lasted all of three seconds and I was back in the here and now. I thought if anyone asked me if I had fun I could honestly tell them I had a fucking blast. It's been awesome. And it isn't over.

North to highway 18, and then east through Algona, a town I have never been to before. I blew on through and then came to a town called Britt. God knows why, but according to the sign, Britt is the home to the National Hobo Convention. Need proof?

This seemed highly odd to me because I have no idea how you would organize a national convention for people, who by definition, have no homes, no phones, no mailing address, and definitely no email address. What do you do? Find the nearest train and tape up a flyer on the inside of all the box cars? That seems highly inefficient.

Still bewildered, I headed north. A few miles away from Crystal Lake an abandoned farm house caught my eye.

After I got back on the road, not 10 minutes later I got my first glimpse of the World's Largest Bullhead. However it was surrounded by people taking pictures so I drove on by a little bit and got some pictures of my motorcycle with the lake behind it. My favorite of the few I took I have in a frame on my desk at work. Eventually, the picture takers left and I was able to slide on over to the bullhead.

The bullhead rocks. It's just a silly, stupid, thing to put up for people to look at it. It is probably a decent way to bring in the tourism dollars, but bullhead or no, I left town without speding a single penny. Now if the bullhead had a quarter slot where you dropped in a coin and it told you it's name and a brief history, I might have gone for that. Maybe. But I doubt it.

I headed back to Britt the way I came and then tuned east once again until I hit 69. South I went, at one point I drove through a field of electric windmills. I have never seen so many of them at once before. It was fairly impressive. I stopped at Belmond for a gas and Pepsi break. I'm at 181 miles so far today with 80 or so yet to go to get home. I haven't mentioned it before, but I have been wearing my helmet all this time. However in the last 15 minutes or so it has started to slide up and dig into my neck. I believe that has to do with me cranking it up to 70mph, but I don't feel like going any slower so I made the command decision to stow the helmet in my bag and finish the ride without it.

I head out and the lack of pressure on my neck was a relief. From here there isn't much to tell. I kept going south until I got to Ankeny and then I made my way to Waukee. I was getting tired by this point and don't have much in the way of detail. I got home, took a shower and had a nice meal. The next day I planned another short jaunt on the bike, but that is a story for another day.