We reached Adel, Iowa in the late afternoon after about 260 miles from Missouri. That’s a long day for us, these days especially. We reprovisioned and repositioned to be set on the Raccoon River Valley Trail for the holiday weekend. Adel has a wonderful grocery store, Fareway Grocery, where everybody was helpful, good meat department, liquor and they come out to the parking lot with you to take back the cart. My helper was Gwendolyn, wish I’d gotten a pic. Thanks, Gwen!
When we got to Island Park City Park, the fields were teeming with hundreds of kids playing soccer, adult spectators, kids playing on the playground and generally running amok. There were not a lot of sites left that we could fit into so we picked one by the soccer fields. A car was parked across it but magically that guy came and moved it for us. We squeezed in after moving the picnic table into the site next door which was so close that when we put our awning out, it extended into that site. Hmmm. Maybe nobody would pick that one.
See where my bike and picnic tables are? That is actually another site.
The first day we rode from Adel to Redfield. While we were there, we met up with a Dallas County Conservation officer and told him what a great trail it was. He gave us a map of all the Iowa bike trails and camping and amenities at each one. In the depot at Redfield they had lots of information about other county and city parks along the trail and we took some. We decided maybe we would have to stick around longer; there was no way we could do the whole 89 mile trail from Adel. He said he had been at Island Park the evening before looking for a friend but hadn’t seen the bus.
When I was looking over the map and brochures that evening the very same guy approached the bus and introduced himself as Dennis. What a nice surprise! He brought his wife, Elaine and we chatted for a few minutes. She seems to be enamored of the vagabond lifestyle and we told her what people told us, “Do it while you can!”
We had a nice conversation and told him we were thinking about moving down the road to Sportsman’s Park in Dawson. 50 AMP Electric site, $12 a night. And more Raccoon River Trail. Lots more.
There was a big tent encampment of motorcycles in the park; they were raising money for the disabled. A band played Saturday night and we had front row seats from our site. Some of the bikers came over and said hello. They are serious about their ink.
Adel is a nice quiet town with a beautiful courthouse and brick streets all around the square. When you ride out on the trail a little ways, there are big brickyards. I guess that’s how Redfield got its name.
We knew our friends from Texas, Sue and Randy were in the Des Moines area somewhere so we emailed them and they were able to come have breakfast with us one morning. They are workcamping at the nearby amusement park and have to work nights, so we told them we would have happy hour next time. It was great to spend the morning with them. We caught up on all the news.
They are both natives of Iowa and Randy is a veteran of RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. I had always wanted to do RAGBRAI but never got the chance. Not sure I am up for several consecutive days of a hundred miles. On the road. He used to train on the Raccoon River Trail and gave us lots of good tips about which ways to go. That afternoon we headed for Waukee, the beginning of the trail. Where I turned over 3500 miles on my bike. My sorta goal is 4000 miles this season, maybe if we keep up this pace I can make it.
Trailhead at Waukee.
See the grain elevator?
We made our Holiday burgers for Labor Day only this time I used grated onion along with a little chopped onion, jalapeno and Show Me barbecue sauce. We are going to try adding some egg whites for more cohesion next time. That will be next Memorial Day probably. With Marni’s onions, tomatoes and sweet corn, they were perfectly satisfying. How can you be in Iowa and not eat corn?
This nice 1964 Impala cruised through the park. Carmella was watching.
On most bike trails we know when we are coming to a town when we see the water tower. In Iowa, it’s the grain elevator. This is a superhighway of a trail, paved concrete in great condition and you can easily ride along at 15 or 16 MPH. There is a $2 a day trail permit fee, well worth it!
My favorite pic from Island Park. With my phone…
The Island Park cleared out mid-weekend and we went the 26 miles to Sportsman’s Park on Tuesday. This is a great 10 campsite shaded, quiet spot where the cats have free run of the place, even Astrid! Under our close supervision, of course. We have been the only ones here all week.
We rode to Perry and Minburn our first day here. Both towns are really on the bicycle bandwagon with restored depots, parks, bike racks in town and thriving shops and a farmer’s market in Perry. We ate at a very good Mexican restaurant in Perry, Casa de Oro. Highly recommend. No dinner that night.
The next day we headed west toward Herndon. As we went through Dawson, about a mile from the park, we didn’t see any place to buy ice. Jamaica was five miles further away and we thought if we bought ice there we would end up with a bag of water when we got back. I pulled out my trusty iPhone in Herndon and called The Coal Mine Cafe in Dawson to see if maybe they would sell us some. A man named Andrew answered and I figured I must have the wrong number. So I asked him if there was any place to buy ice in Dawson and he said No, there were no stores. OK…
Then he said he was headed to the local convenience store and would be happy to pick up a bag for us. What a guy! We agreed to meet at the trailhead and about 20 minutes later he was there waiting for us! He didn’t even want to take any money but we insisted on a tip for the driver. Here he is holding our card and with Jim and the ice. Note the grain elevator.
Thanks to Dennis for the maps and to Andrew for the ice! As always, the best thing about traveling and bike riding? The people, hands down.