From the Land of Lincoln Back to the Hawkeye State

 

 

 

 

 

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A true Chicago-style pizza… it was amazing and one piece was a meal in itself.

After the last time I signed off, I decided to stay another night in the suburbs of Chicago in order to spend a bit more time with Jennilee and Matt.  It was worth it.  In the morning they headed off to run errands, giving me time to get the remainder of my travel plans for the way home completed and to finish up some homework.  For lunch, they ordered a Chicago-style pizza, which was to die for, if you were that intense about food.  The flaky, buttery crust is not something people make on the west coast, so it was new and delicious.  Before long, Matt had to go do some personal things so Jennilee and I decided we would walk the dogs while she introduced me to Geocacheing.  I already knew what the premise of the hobby was, but had never found a good enough app for my phone to get started.  She had some great insight and we attempted to find a cache that she had gone searching for a couple of times, without success.  Needless to say, the help of my beginner skills were of little assistance and we walked away empty-handed.  Attempting not to leave the venture unfruitful, we looked for another cache hidden by another user, but again failed at that.  Maybe we need to work on our scavenger hunting skills…  I’m thankful for the adventure, though because I have been checking in on the app regularly and notice that there are caches even in the most remote of places.

For dinner we had leftover pizza and prepared to tag along with Matt for his first indoor soccer game.

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The painted sunset in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Matt really did not want us to watch him play, but what else were we going to do?  Plus, we knew it would be good entertainment after watching him try to put his shin guards on the outside of his soccer socks; he hadn’t played soccer at all since 5th grade.

 

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Matt’s team, in black, vs. the red jerseys.

Despite his nerves, Matt actually did really well.  Jennilee and I were able to spectate up in the bar overlooking the field.

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My gracious hosts, Matt, Hex, Jennilee, and Cocoa.  Thanks for agreeing to the impromptu photo-op!

We had planned to stay out later, but exhaustion hit fast and we all went to bed fairly early.  The next morning, Jennilee was off to work and I left as soon as I could.  When Matt was seeing me off, he mentioned that one of my headlights was out, but I figured that was just because I didn’t have my high beams on.  Unless my high beams are on, only one bulb is lit.  Unfortunately, he was right.  One of my headlights had gone out.

I took highway 20 all the way from Schaumburg to the Iowa border, crossing the Mississippi at midday.  I was able to appreciate the mighty river much more in the rural setting than I had been when I crossed it heading east through Memphis on an interstate.

Saturday’s journey was shorter than most as I had under 300 miles to go.  I ended my ride with a stop at the Waukon, IA Powersports/Harley Davidson dealership to see if I could replace my burnt out light bulb.  I showed up at 4:40pm when they closed at 5pm, so I had all the help I could need there – literally four guys were attempting to simultaneously find a replacement bulb, or one that could at least be a temporary fix until I got back home to replace some parts.  It turns out my bulb wasn’t the problem; instead, the relay that the power to the bulb routes to was rusted, probably from the rainy day in Indiana.

Before I was finished at the shop, my host for the next two days, Chip had flagged me down.  I had forgotten that he worked there, so it was pretty decent timing after all.  Once the shop was closed, I followed him home to meet up with Roxanne and Jay for dinner and just winding down for the evening.  We spent a bit of time walking a large chunk of land Jay had just signed for the day before.  It was pretty cool to get to see the land undeveloped and imagine possibly coming back to visit one day to see what all he has been able to make of the property.  Right now he has plans for a house, a shop, and maybe something near a small pond.  This piece of property is a gem because it has a bit of open space and quite a bit more of forest land to do with what he wants.  If I had land like this, I think I would get enjoy the seclusion and would probably personalize every corner of it for me to enjoy the nature of it.

Sunday morning the four of us had planned a day ride, every destination within an hour of their home.  I had opted to ride on the back of a borrowed bike driven by Jay, so that I could take in the scenery more than if I were driving.  It was amazing, though the little passenger seat was rough.  I found myself telling Jay it made me very grateful for the comfort of my own seat, even if my butt gets numb occasionally. Throughout the day we ventured to heights overlooking the Mississippi, at one point we crossed the river via ferry just like people have done for the last couple hundred years, we rode through Wisconsin, briefly crossed into Minnesota, and back to Iowa.

While in Wisconsin, we took a break to go to Cabela’s, we stopped at an Army surplus store and purchased parachord rope so that I could make everyone bracelets, and we stopped in LaCrosse to run some errands and eat an early dinner.  Jay and Chip had to return some tools at Sears and Roxanne and I “had” to get our nails done.  If I have one aspect that is girly through and through, it’s my nails.  If I don’t keep up on the manicures, gel polish specifically, my nails get brittle and look like manhands.  I don’t want manhands.  It’ll be interesting trying to keep up with the manicures while in the Army… I guess I’ll have to opt for clear polish and hope it works the same, though it won’t compare to my typical neon colors.

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Our first view from Pike’s Peak, Iowa. Here, I was able to complete a geocache of taking a picture, even though the view was all fog in the morning.

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A sign in Guttenburg, Iowa listing several interesting city names and their distances, all over the country.

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A peek at the Mississippi from a viewpoint on the Iowa side.

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Here comes the Cassville Ferry!

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The Cassville Ferry preparing to release vehicles.

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The only vehicles onboard.

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Looking south down the Mississippi from the ferry.

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Crossing back to Iowa over the Mississippi via a blue bridge from Wisconsin.

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We revisited Pike’s Peak to get a fogless view. Well worth it. In the distance, the Wisconsin River is meeting the Mississippi River (bottom).

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OSU pride… right in the middle of Cabela’s 🙂

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The entry sign to LaCrosse, Wisconsin. True #laxonlaxonlax.

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Artistic shot of a train as we waited to proceed.

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Chip, Roxanne, and Jay. I love candid photos 🙂

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The view from Granddad’s Bluff in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. We estimated that at least 15 miles are visible here.

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Heading into Minnesota on another blue bridge.

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Farm barns and silos at sunset in Iowa.

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A beautiful church that is in Minnesota, but its parking lot is in Iowa.

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The first “welcome to” sign I have captured on this whole journey. Welcome to Iowa, at sunset.

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Another sunset picture. Burning sky over cornfields.

Sunday night was laid back.  I had went to bed before working on more homework but was able to take a nice, hot bath to relax.  Monday morning was a typical packing-up-and-leaving start with much mapping involved.  I ended up making it to Nebraska last night, but I’ll save that for another post.

Until then, thank you for reading!  I am learning more and more how many quiet readers are out there following my journey, mostly because I started to get texts last night asking if I was still alive and okay since I hadn’t posted in a couple days.  Sorry to keep you waiting – I’m doing my best to be prompt 🙂

Heather

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