Number Sixteen: Iowa

We were in Minnesota last year for the Freedom from Pants Ride, this year Washington for the Solstice Parade, Oregon for the World Naked Bike Ride, and Iowa for the Hot Air Balloon Festival. What next?

The pictures are all balloons. And people watching balloons. Before the rain.

After the rain, the people were all sitting in their cars in the parking lot, for a very long time.

The real reason for coming to Iowa [besides having lunch with siblings at the Checkerboard (4.4 stars on Google, although I’m not sure what genre we are talking about or the frame of reference for the reviewers) in downtown Pleasantville] was to ride the High Trestle Trail from Ankeny to Woodward. The reason to ride the High Trestle Trail is to ride the high trestle. The last time I saw it, it was still carrying trains.

The trail surface was mostly concrete and certainly the smoothest surface of any trail we have ridden anywhere. The trail is conveniently broken into two 12.5 mile segments. Ankeny to Slater is more or less north and south; Slater to Woodward is east and west. The Slater/Woodward leg has “The Bridge”, the river, the towns, and the scenery of Iowa. For the Slater/Ankeny leg, the scenery is in the eye of the beholder. Which, after crossing the Rockies and driving Coastal Highway (No. 1) in Washington, Oregon, and California, I find remarkably calming. The first photo, in particular, is iconic.

It is interesting that the square “arches” form triangles up close and circles at a distance.

Doré has a habit of counting bridges. On this trail, counting the High Trestle, there was one. (Actually, Doré has the habit of counting anything: teeth while flossing, ounces of water in a day, steps during physical therapy; her therapists quickly learned they didn’t need to count because when they disagreed, she was right. I understand this.)

Unlike other trails we have ridden recently, the inhabitants of towns along the way seem to be aware of and interested in the trail and the trail users. In areas to the west, people were friendly and wanted to help, but often weren’t sure where the trailheads were or why people would drive around the country looking for one.

I neglected to mention the town of Sheldahl, which geographically is on the north/south leg, between Slater and Ankeny, although there is only one section between Sheldahl and Slater. (A section is a square mile or mile square, for those who have led sheltered urban lives.) There aren’t a lot of places Slater would over-shadowed but Sheldahl is one. Even with little else to distract us, it’s easy to miss even by bicycle.

And we are people who go to Pleasantville, Iowa, for lunch.

(As I review the pictures of the trail, I realize I attributed to Kansas an incident that happened in Iowa. When I let all the air out of a tire I thought might be a little soft, the person who got out of his hammock to rescue us with a CO-2 cartridge was in Woodward, not somewhere in Kansas.)



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