Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Wonder Ride in Winter

The "spot light" on the trail through Gray's Station.  Photo shows my winter bike.

Christmas is next week.  2020 is coming to an end.  Not soon enough for most of us but I hate to say this but 2021 is not going to be an automatic improvement.  I'm still riding.  27*F and I have returned to riding the Single Speed after Saturday's snow put me on the Winter Bike for most of the week.

It was a simple short ride.  One and a half miles to Hy Vee for ice cream and booze.  I have no idea what to get my adult except stupid whiskey sets with glasses or Christmas ornaments.  Seems appropriate as the world could literally end tomorrow.  Chocolate ice cream for Mary and I and half and half for my coffee.  Simple pleasures.  Take the long way home via the wonderful trail system of Des Moines.  MLK sidepath to Gray's Lake Station and then around Gray's Lake itself.

Gray's Lake Station was wonderful tonight.  A light fog engulfed the new residential neighborhood and trail.  Really made me appreciate what a wonderful city I live in.  The closer I got to the lake itself I could hear the sound of air being sucked into jet engines, mixed with glorified kerosene, compressed and ignited and blown out the  rear of turbo engines.  Someone is going somewhere while I ride my bicycle on an asphalt ribbon between fields of snow.  Tonight all the lights are on.

I am a little disappointed that the lights on the Rainbow Bridge are covered by the snow the plow pushed to the side.  Tonight they are green but one needs to be on the bridge to see them.  Yeah, I need to bring a shovel....

Apparently this is the only decent photo I have of the Rainbow Bridge.  New phone and new computer and lost memories...

But from that bridge I saw something spectacular.  A pink glow from the tunnel connecting the lake park to Water Works Park.  The lights of the tunnel have been dark for about a week or so.  I thought it was from the original issue of the wrong solar charging system initially installed when the tunnel was completed.  Nope.  The same lights used on the bridge are now operating in the tunnel.  I stop for a few photos and then continue my journey home.  Although it is below freezing it is not cold enough for ice cream.  The bridge that crosses the lake is another beautiful sight at night.

The Winter Bike on the bridge crossing Gray's Lake.  These are the magic moments.

During warmer times if the sun and the clouds are in the right position one can experience this.

The people of Des Moines are very fortunate to live here.  Other cities may have better infrastructure for commuting but we have the ability to disappear for the ugliness of urban environments.  Even in winter.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Foggy Notion To Ride To Redfield

Between Waukee and Ortonville, the foggy white horizon.

Forecast was to be near 40*F sunny and dry.  It's my Monday off from work.  Time to add some miles to this last month of 2020, Covid be damned.  So I picked the section of the Raccoon River Valley Trail (RRVT) that I have not done this year due to construction.  Waukee to Redfield.  This year the caretakers of the RRVT have had this 17 mile section closed for construction on the many bridges between Adel and Redfield, 8.5 miles according to signage.  Work has been completed and I desired to ride somewhere I have not been a million times this year.  Load up the CR-V and roll!

Trailhead in Waukee.  My CR-V.  Fog.

Another photo of foggy Waukee.  I did not expect this on my return.  Photo taken at the start of ride.

It was 30*F when I pulled into the trailhead in Waukee.  I could have ridden from home but I did not want to make this a 70+ mile day plus risk my life on the sidepath along Hickman Rd in Waukee.  Junk miles.  It was also foggy.  When I left Des Moines the radio said it was foggy but I did not encounter the fog until I was near Waukee.  The weather people said that this fog would burn off and the sun would be out.  Good thing I brought lights.

After I rolled past Adel, 7.7 miles according to signage, I saw the fruits of the construction.  The wooden railings on the bridges were replaced with black metal railings from Des Moines Steel Fence Co.  These are the same as those along the High Trestle Trail.  Also, a lot of the that 8.5 miles had been resurfaced.  It needed it.  Now they can focus on repaving Yale to the bridge outside Jefferson.  Hint, hint!  This has always been my favorite trail and sooner or later the bumpy sections are resurfaced.  Thus pay for your permit as the money is needed and used appropriately.

The sun also came out as I left Adel for Redfield.  And it was getting warmer by the time that town was reached.  Took a photo and left.  There had been a few other trail users between these two towns.  Walkers no cyclists.  The pedestrian in Redfield was walking two dogs.  After turning around and encountering her a second time I had to shout at the top of my lungs to get her attention as she and her dogs took up the entire width of the trail and she was talking to someone on the phone about a person with a drinking problem.  My previous attempts to get her attention fell on deaf ears, literally!

That is a blue sky my friends!  Redfield, Iowa.

Back in Adel I stopped at the Morning  Grind coffee shop.  Although it opened in May of this year we, Mary and I, only recently discovered it.  We planned to ride there on Sunday but those plans fell through.  My usual was ordered, 3 shots of espresso over ice and fill the rest with half and half.  The barista understood my weird request and made it perfectly,  $2 tip.  I drank it outside in the Sun's warmth.  Then back on the saddle for the last 7+ miles.

Viaticum, food for the journey.  7 something miles left in the ride and I had not touched my water bottle nor eaten anything after the ride began.  Three shots of espresso should do me good on a empty stomach!

After crossing the bridge over the Raccoon River, recently adorned with lights but not on during daylight, there is a 3 mile climb out of the Raccoon River valley.  I needed to climb to warmup again.  Funny thing is that when I reached the summit at Ortonville it was foggy again!  And colder!  My phone said it was 37*F in Adel but when I got back to the Honda it was 34*F and in Des Moines it was misty.  Finally reached for the water bottle to take a drink of water.  Icy spout!  At least I had some sunlight earlier in the ride.

Other cyclists?  Just on heading west on a fatbike just before I got to Ortonville.  Usually I see more bikers on this trail unless it is a late night ride.

Take advantage of these days in the 30's.  Soon it will be real, real cold.  

Peace out!  Ride on!!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Omaha: Trails, Bridges, Beers and Nukes


Our original intent was to see the comedian Tom Papa at The Waiting Room in Omaha, Nebraska, but 4 days before showtime he cancelled.  A decision had to be made: keep our room and go anyway or find something else to do?  This late in the year every trail near home had been ridden to death and with a warm weekend, 70s and dry, our trails would be crowded.  Omaha has a large network or trails and bike lanes that are begging to be explored.  We were planning to take our bicycles anyway so we elected to keep the room and add extra miles now that we were free of obligations. So we loaded up the Honda and headed to NE.  Our bicycles were Mary's Bianchi Volpe and my Verenti Substance, both with bags for carrying locks and purchases. Mary queried whether or not we needed lights.  Yes, by all means, there may be a slight chance that they would be required.

I picked the Hampton Inn Omaha Midtown Aksarben because it is located next to the Keystone Trail.  This trail is 15 miles in length.  It starts at Democracy Park and heads south following the Little Papillion Creek then Big Papillion Creek to Offutt Airforce Base. Guaranteed 30 miles if we stuck to this.

The Keystone trail is paved.  It follows the creek as mentioned above.  Scenery varies from urban industrial, residential and prairie.  Highlights include a huge rail trestle that we rode underneath and the Airforce base.  The trail leaves Omaha and rolls into Bellevue, NE. 

Rail bridge with "debris shelter."  Apparently things fall off this bridge.  This was not the only bridge in the area that offered protection from falling objects.  Could use benches and tables here.

Because of a sustained 18 mph south wind we chose not to head north to Democracy Park and thus spared us a few miserable miles of headwind. There was plenty of headwind anyway. Several cyclists were spotted.  The ones heading north were smiling.

Keystone Trail.  When not in urban or industrial areas this is the scenery.

Our first trail closure on the Keystone Trail.

Blow this photo up and you can see where the construction ends.

The trail is flat with the exception of going underneath overpasses and then only a short charge up the other side.  The trail is also exposed on all sides.  Nearing Bellevue the trail is closed.  Not sure what was going on but large ROAD CLOSED signs blocked the way with orange snow fencing blocking the flanks all the way to the creek and water ditch.  The end of the construction or what we thought was the end of the construction was visible but we did not want to get our feet feet.  Another pedestrian/bike trail bridge could also be seen from here. So we consulted the Google and reversed course and took the road and the first left to head into Bellevue proper to get back on the trail.  One mistaken turn down a gravel road that looked like it lead to a place that crossed the creek and then a short hike to the trail was regrettably taken but I got scared that when it looked a little more private property with gun rights than I felt comfortable with.  So we did a mile of gravel, hip.

Once in town we got on a paved trail and saw two adolescent boys on MTBs.  I asked one, "is this the way to the Keystone Trail?"  "I ain't never been on that trail," he replied.  Never ask a local...  Another dumb move found us on a side path instead of the trail we wanted.  The two boys were on the right track but stopped to climb a steep hill on foot that lead to an abandoned bridge abutment.  They were so close to the Keystone Trail, closer than we were.  What separated us from the proper trail was a medical plaza, empty field and a anti-tank/bicycle ditch but we found a way.  Sure enough the Keystone Trail was here.  The path north was blocked with TRAIL CLOSED signs on the bridge we spied from the original closure so it was best that we found the detour in the first place.

Back on the path we headed into the wind again.  A few hard earned miles later we came to a trailhead.  A man rode up and asked if we had or were planning to ride the trail east of here.  Damn, I thought we were at the end.  Please note that kiosks lack useful maps.  "It's dirt," he said, "I got to the second bridge and turned around."  Just as well because if we did ride to the end it would put us further east than we really needed to be.  The only bad thing is that we'd would not be able to look at the Offutt from that side.  I wanted to see some aeroplanes.  Consult Google again and find a new route.  From here to Homer's Music, one of the best record stores in the Midwest and located near food and beer.  10 miles, one hour was the estimated distance and time according to Maps.  Damn, that's a long time.  Food was now becoming a critical factor.  We stopped at McDonalds on the way out of Des Moines, drove 150 miles or so, checked into our room and then left on bicycles.  Now we were 15 miles into a ride and 10 miles from a destination that offered quarter.  BUT we would now have a tailwind!

Ground Zero and The Deer

The Gate Guardian.  The oldest B-52G in the USAF inventory.  Offutt AFB

This place is targeted with nuclear weapons.  This place controlled the nuclear missile silos southeast of Missouri Valley, Iowa, from 1960 to 1964.

Google picked the Fort Crook Rd.  It had a wide marked bike lane.  But first we had to negotiate another ROAD CLOSED almost from the beginning.  A overpass over railroad tracks was closed for some reason.  Simple lift bikes over two sets of concrete barricades and then a left onto the bike lane.  Once on the lane our jets kicked in as the wind became our friend.  After a bit Offutt appeared to our right.  One can tell because of fencing and US Government license plates on vehicles and the use of razor wire around the grates of storm sewers.  Then we spotted the Gate Guardian!  A B-52 G, the oldest of the USAF inventory and flown to Offutt on July 10, 1989, is a static display or Gate Guard at the entrance of the AFB.  I told Mary that we are now at Ground Zero since the Soviets and now the Russians have targeted this place with nuclear weapons.  Really, the place to be as Churchill once famously said, "the living will envy the dead."

After photos we continued to let the wind push us north.  There were hills to our left and right but our route was relatively flat and we had no issues with speed.  Suddenly a two point buck ran across the street in front of me from the left.  He's gone so without further though I kept my pace up.  A minute or two later Mary starts yelling "DEER!"  Damn, she just now noticed?  When she caught up with me, one of the rare times that I was faster than her, my amazing endurance, she said that she thought the deer was going to tackle me.  How could that be, I saw him cross in front of me and he was not close?  "He came came back.  His path was blocked by a wall and he turned around and ran straight at you!  He got within 15 feet before he turned away from you!"  Of all the ways to get killed in an urban and metropolitan area, trampled by a deer.  One does not keep an eye out on right side of the curb unless there is an intersection.  I thought my furry friend knew where he was going.  Mary was more scared than I was.  Where's that damn brewery??!!??

So Google Maps gave us the direct route.  This was fine at first but the closer we got to the Old Market the more traffic picked up and the less bicycle friendly it was.  Sure, there were still "bicycle" symbols on the pavement and signs about "3 feet passing distance" in bright safety yellow and nobody honked but perhaps we should have stopped and made a new route.  Part of me just wanted to get there.  Part of me wanted to avoid the hills that were both to our left and right.  Part of me knew that in two miles we'd be in a brewpub.  Routing us by the zoo entrance not the best idea or by the entrance/exit of I-80 but alternatives would have added miles.  I failed to rate the route that Maps gave us.  I started noticing that after destinations Google Maps asks for reviews.  But we got there alive without anyone hitting, yelling or honking at us.

A juicy IPA and a whiskey at Brickway Brewery & Distillery, Omaha.

Brick roads of Old Market.  They suck for bicycles but Brickway Brewery & Distillery was easily spotted just around the corner from Homer's.  Colin and I stopped here last year during our visit to the SAC Museum.  Locked the bikes up on the railing of the patio with the new heavy duty Kryptonite locks we purchased from Fred's Bicycle Shop during my lunch breaks, just across the river from my work, this week.  Emphasis on heavy but it was time to step up my locking game.  We went inside since the patio was almost full and populated with smokers.  Got a table inside with more than adequate social distancing from the others.  The staff was friendly and fast.  I thought I read that food had to be ordered with alcohol purchase but after two rounds, one with their whiskey, I had to flag someone down for food.  Two giant soft pretzels and two slices of pepperoni pizza.  For me, a Hefeweizen, a juicy IPA, whiskey, and a hard cherry seltzer.  Mary had two rounds of the seltzer.  All very good.  Before leaving we purchased a Moscow Mule set for a Christmas present for one of our sons and a bottle of bourbon for me.  We then walked down the hill to Upstream Brewing Co but only order one round.

Seems Like I've Been Here Before

Omaha and Des Moines have a lot in common.  Along the same block as Upstream Brewing Co is the original Spaghetti Works.  I thought Des Moines had the only one.  Between the two brewpubs is Vinyl Cup Records.  I thought this was another uniquely DSM business.  To make it more interesting the same man working in this Vinyl Cup was the same person that worked at Ernie's Boondocks when VC was there on the night of my birthday and he remembered me!  Small world indeed!  Later we ate at Legend's, another Des Moines place that I did not expect to see in Omaha.  In the meantime when I was looking at vinyl Mary went to bookstore and another shop.  After a few purchases we stopped at Homer's and I spent more money on records.  Of note, Elvis On Stage, February 1970, live covers lp, Flame Job by The Cramps.

Once again I fired up Google Maps to direct us back to the hotel.  To my credit, I did study the map before we left Des Moines.  Lots of bike routes.  Now we needed a 6 mile route.  Traffic was light, the sky was dark.  Remember those lights Mary asked about?  They came in handy.

Farnam House not Farmhouse.

We seemed to be on Farnam Street for quite a bit.  Rolling up to some intersection Mary spotted a brewpub and asked if I wanted to stop.  HELL YEAH!  Farnam House Brewing Co was the third and final brewpub we visited on this adventure.  I knew that this was the place to be when a familiar drumbeat and bass riff began, Everything's Gone Green by New Order!.  That would be an obscure track for those not in the know.  Later a synth track by Ministry played.  Yes, I was impressed by the music.  The beer was great, too.  We both had their Cranberry Berliner Weisse, a sour.  Unfortunately just one, as we still had a few miles left to ride on unfamiliar streets at night after have several earlier.  I almost purchased a jersey but they lacked one in my size BUT I was able to get a Christmas theme sweatshirt for the price of a t-shirt.  As I am writing this I am contemplating wearing now as it is a cold evening.

The Elmwood Connector Triangle

Back on bikes we rolled through the drinking district of the University of Nebraska Omaha but we abstained.  There was even a brewpub although we did not see it at the time.  Then the Elmwood/Pink Panther Incident.  It started with a roundabout.  No issue, we successfully negotiated it without getting hit.  We were no longer in Party Town but in a nice residential neighborhood with a park on a beautiful autumn evening.  Two parks to be exact, Memorial and Elmwood.  Google told us to turn on the "Elmwood Connector" but we never recognized it.  My dense brain failed to understand that said connector was a pedestrian path not a street.  We circled a few times and listened to the "wrong direction" tone that Maps makes when one does not follow directions.  Finally I forced the point and took a trail that seemed to head in the proper direction and Google readjusted.  We were seriously close to our destination.  But every time I think of a roundabout I think of a time when a rock & roll band was lost in Paris and kept encountering the same roundabout so often that the manager threw his map out the window of the car only later to stop and pick it up after encountering the same roundabout for the umpteenth time.  Also this scene which seems fitting comes to my mind.


A few minutes later our hotel was located and we decided to have dinner at Legends (are there still any left in Des Moines?) and watch the ISU game.  35 miles.

Destination Bridge Crossed

Omelet, toast and salad at First Watch located near our hotel. Asked for coffee and they brought out a carafe!  Also had a kale and fruit tonic juice since I abused my system the previous day. I wish they had a Des Moines location.

Sunday we packed up and drove to the Missouri River.  But breakfast first at First Watch which was within walking distance of our hotel.  We highly recommend this place.  

Our destination was the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge which spans the river and connects the States of Nebraska and Iowa.  Something about bicycling and bridges.  This would be among the 3 greatest pedestrian/bicycling bridges we have ever crossed.  The High Trestle between Woodward and Madrid, Iowa, is one.  The Meridian Bridge in Yankton, South Dakota, is a double decker bridge that spans the Missouri River connecting South Dakota and Nebraska is the third.

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge over the Missouri River linking Omaha to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

My Verenti Substance in two States.  2020 saw this bicycle visit Minnesota and Wisconsin, too.  Had the rain not been so bad in July it would have crossed into Missouri as well.

Mary's Bianchi in two States.  It two was ridden in Minnesota and Wisconsin back in June.

The Might Mo, the Missouri River.  we were supposed to have followed it from Pollock, South Dakota to Vermillion, SD, in June but eh Covid-19 pandemic postponed that adventure until June 2021.  I'm looking forward to this!

Omar the Troll.  My QCR reader did not work for this.  We saw this sign before we saw Omar underneath the bridge.

Bob Hope.  Product placement 101.  Reminded me of the depressing anti-suicide loud speaker broadcast at the Irvine Station Amtrak station in California.

Omar & Me.

The wind was stronger than the previous day and the sound of it blasting through the cables of the bridge was strange.  At first I thought something was wrong with my bicycle.  Oddly, no movement of the bridge unlike some other bridges we have been on.  After crossing and returning to our native State we explored the trails and found a spectacular derelict rail bridge that some billionaire needs to finance the rehabilitation and conversion into a pedestrian/bicycling bridge.  The Turnstile Bridge is a must visit!

In Council Bluffs after crossing the bridge.

In Council Bluffs.  The top rotates.

I recall spotting this in the distance and thinking "I gotta go there!"  Still owned by the Illinois Central railroad.

Just cut the trees down and rotate it.  Add a bicycle surface and connect it to the Omaha Trail System...

We returned to Omaha and loaded our bikes back into the Honda and drove back to Iowa.

One Last Ride

The Rock Island Stone Arch Nature Trail is located in Shelby, Iowa, just off I-80.  A mere 4 miles, it offers a a scene of farm fields and small town life as well as the stone arch bridge namesake and another bridge to visit.  I spotted this on the map months ago and thought why not?  Glad we did.  So if you find yourself with a bicycle in your vehicle as you traverse that freeway please take the time to get a quick 8 miles in.  Despite the now 26 mph wind from the south we enjoyed this paved trail.  Park at the gas station/cafĂ© at the exit and unload your bike.  Do not take the gravel path heading into Shelby.  That is not the trail.  We discovered this accidentally but if you like a fast gravel path with lots of bumps and a few quickly climbs, by all means take it.  PRO TIP:  look at the satellite feature of Google Maps when in doubt.

The Stone Arch.

The top of the Stone Arch.

The view north of the Stone Arch.

The final bridge and the end of the trail.

It takes people to do nice things.

At the park along the trail, Shelby, IA.

At the trailhead of the Rock Island Stone Arch Trail, this sculpture pays homage to Iowa's agricultural economy/heritage.  Notice the cow and pig in the cornstalk? Also notice how still the flags are?  26 mph south winds will do that!

It was a quick warm weekend, perhaps the last time we'll experience a weekend in the 70s until May 2021.  We left a lot of exploration of Omaha's trails for future expeditions and we would like to return some day soon.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Last Warm Ride

 9 days into October and we did something we had not done this year.  We camped and slept in tents.  2020 killed our camping bicycling adventures.  Early on parks were closed and when they reopened only those with RVs (self propelled toilets) were allowed in because restrooms and showers were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We opted to stay in motels for our adventures in June and July.  August and September we based our rides from home or drove to the trailheads.  But the weather forecast for the weekend of October 9-11 looked great and offered the last chance to enjoy the 80s.  Make a plan.

Sent a text out to some friends and suggested that we DRIVE to Swede Point Park near the High Trestle and set up camp.  We would be able to enjoy the High Trestle Trail from there.  Donnie took the bait.  Good thing he did as he was able to get to Swede Point and secure a campsite before we got there.  He was able to get the LAST spot, the youth area, which was perfect as it was secluded from the other campers.  We had two tables and a fire pit with 3 log benches around it.  The place was packed!  Lots of people having the same idea of escaping the city.  Saturday evening the clubhouse was the site of a wedding reception.  Despite the campground being at capacity we did not have to wait to take showers or use the restroom.  Nor was the place noisy.

I'd like to mention that many people brought their bicycles.  Among the campers were two that slept in a van but kept their Salsa and other nice adventure bike outside.  Donnie recognized one as a former boiler inspector.  Their plan was to ride to Cambridge and watch the ISU football game from the bar there.  True Iowa cyclists!

The fire pit and log benches.

Some shandy I bought weeks ago and decided to bring along to get it out of my fridge.  It did taste like cotton candy.

My new tent with "wing" on it.  Roomy. 

Italian sausage cooked with indirect heat on a Weber grill.  This was our Friday night meal sliced up and served on buns.

This adventure was the first opportunity to use our new MSR Hike-Thru tent.  It worked perfectly.  The first night I left the rain fly/wing off and slept with the stars in view as the tent's walls are all mesh. The weather was also great as there was no dew so our tents and bikes remained dry. No need to wipe bars and saddles off or set the tent up at home to dry after we returned.  And the stars.  Since it was autumn leaves were falling and at night it sounded like rain but when I opened my eyes I saw a clear sky and billions of stars.  Donnie brought a Weber grill and I brought sausage and buns for our first meal.  Baked potatoes as a side.


Almost a Senior picture!  My Verenti Substance adventure bike sans rear rack and panniers.  Been riding this all year with front rack only.  Photo taken at campsite.  Autumn in Iowa.

Mary brought her Bianchi Volpe.  I took my Verenti Substance.  Both there bicycles have panniers.  Donnie rode his Surly Straggler with rear panniers.  All three bikes could handle paved and crushed limestone trails and gravel roads.  Mine especially after I reinstalled its original WTB Riddler tires.  

Mary's Bianchi on it's first visit to the Trestle at night.  The bar wrap is Bianchi Celeste Green.

Donnie's Straggler in Bouton, Iowa.

Friday after setting up and eating dinner we rode to the High Trestle to enjoy it's blue lights at night.  This was one of the rare occasions that we had the bridge to ourselves!  There were other groups but for our intents and purposes it was empty of humans.  We we extremely social distant!!  It was perhaps 10 pm.

After we had our fill we ventured into Madrid and raided the VFW lounge.  The special was $1 draws so we drank a lot of Busch Light.  I also purchased two face masks to support veterans, one was a Army motif and the other the Navy which I sold to Donnie because it was the last one and he wanted a Navy one.  Needless to say we did not make it the Flat Tire.

Mary about to ride into the blue.  This is 13 stories above the Des Moines River.


The Tres Amigos!

On the building behind the back door of the VFW in Madrid, Iowa.

Saturday was to be the big day.  My original idea was to ride to Slater and hop on the Heart Of Iowa Trail and take that to Collins and visit my buddy's, Eric Crabb, grave.  It has been a year since his untimely demise.  Friday I buried another friend before leaving for this ride and I was in that emotional mood to pay respects.  BUT that trip was looking to be an 70 to 80 mile feat and I was a bit hung over and Donnie had not been on his bike much since nearly getting killed himself while commuting on a gravel road.  That incident pretty much stopped his riding.  He did say that I could ride that way but I felt the need to spend the day together.  We followed his suggestion.  We rode to Perry.

But first breakfast.  Driving up offered us luxuries that bagging out could not match. Not only a Weber grill and coolers but a gas skillet.  Left over potatoes and sausage mixed with eggs and sausage strips (like bacon) for breakfast.  We travel well.  Besides as our Covid bike rides this year have proven, finding food can be difficult.

I needed coffee. I need to obtain a coffee maker for bicycle camping.  So after breakfast we made the Casey's in Woodward our first stop.  Caffeine intake sated we continued to Bouton and then the gravel roads to Perry.  The worst gravel was the stretch from Bouton to Highway 141.  Not terrible but the worst section of the ride.  Short, fortunately.  After crossing the highway the gravel was fine except for the fact it was harvest season which increased traffic.  I found a great use for those damn masks that we are encouraged to wear for the Cobra pandemic.  They block the dust clouds that automobiles and farm implement make on these roads.  Since mine has a band that keeps it on my neck I can quickly pull it up and place it on correctly with one hand without getting off the bike on a gravel road.  I also slept with it on my neck that night!

Despite the gravel dust clouds and harvest machinery we made it to Perry.  First stop was at the Perry Perk for, you guessed it, more coffee!  This place is a mandatory stop for me IF they are open.  Their 1 pm closing time grinds my gears.  Espresso this time.  3 shots over ice and half and half, my usual.  Donnie had a caramel macchiato (Star Bucks style, not a true macchiato) which was a big step in our corruption of him.  He liked it.  During our June adventure we got him to like hard seltzers.  Mary had her usual, iced vanilla latte.  The next stop was Casa De Oro for lunch.  We eat well when presented with opportunities.

Des Moines IPA from Confluence Brewing Co.  Fancy pint pots at The Proletariat.

After filling our bellies for a second time why not relax and enjoy a beer at the bar next door, The Proletariat.  This was our second visit here, the first time was during BRR.  We sat out on the front "patio" and listened to the ISU game.  However, when we were listening the 'Clones were messing up.  I was inside when the touch down was called back only to be replayed as a pick 6 for Texas Tech.  We left about half time.

The Rusty Sprocket in Bouton was our next destination.  Sadly, this place was empty.  Placing all his hopes in a bicycle crowd that did not turn up that day.  Maybe they did at night.  Oh well, it's Covid Time, practice social distancing!  Here the Cyclones were playing better and beat the tar out of Texas Tech.  We inquired about the trail connection from Perry to Woodward, the missing link from the High Trestle trail to the Raccoon River Valley Nature Trail.  He said that to take the second road out of Bouton and do 100 yards of gravel that we would find the trail.  Sure enough we found it but that second road seemed miles away from the bar and the 100 yards seemed like 3/4 of a mile.  

Grain Belt Light at The Rusted Sprocket.

The trail was nice.  Paved and secluded from traffic as it is between two farm fields.  Places for benches cleared out.  And as we reached Woodward it stopped.  Options to take a gravel road north or south to get into town proper.  OR  ride down a steep embankment and across a soccer field and disappear into brush to emerge in a choice of two peoples' yards before emerging on a paved street in Woodward.  Donnie chose the third option not knowing about riding through someone's lawn.  We followed.  Apologies.  

The desire for a post ride cocktail had me searching for a bag of ice.  Since Casey's was now out of the way thanks to the new trail I stopped at A J's Grocery since it was close and a Messerschmitt ice box was out front.  But the owner said that a wedding party bought him out of all his ice.  But I bought tonic instead, 2 Cokes and 2 ginger ales and some Gatorade before heading south to Casey's for ice.  They were not sold out.  Donnie and Mary head to camp while I made the ice run.  Donnie needed to get the grill going.

It was not dark yet and the bridge was getting crowded.  I turned on my lights anyway and recited "On Your Left" many times until the turn off to Swede Point.  Pulling into the campground I saw many many cars and the tables set up for the ice thieves  err wedding party.  Later that night I was almost disappointed that they were not a loud rowdy group.

I've been collecting airplane bottles of booze to see which ones fit best inside my Domane.  FireBall does not nor does the Hennessy.  The vodka, Southern Comfort and Jack do.

The Weber grill was in action and we enjoyed BBQ chicken and potatoes for dinner.  A shower first.  One of those push button water operations.  No one else in the shower house.  Warm water!  Pro-tip: always take a light with you when venturing away from the campsite.  I failed to do this and the trip back was very very dark.  Somehow I did not get lost or walk into anything like other campers' bicycles parked 20 feet away from their camper ect.  I made only one drink, Jack & Coke, before reverting back to beer.  No return trip to the Trestle or bar.  No hangover in the morning.

Sunday morning we packed up and said good bye.  No dew so the tents were packed dry and not needed to be set up at how although we probably should have to clear the dust out.  We decided to have breakfast at the downtown Hy Vee to say hello to our daughter who managed to get to work by 530 am without one of us as chauffer.  

Not a high mileage weekend but a relaxing and fun weekend.  Great to get away from the city and work and the news and that damn election.  Hopefully next time we can ride our bikes there and do this self contained.