First Quarter Moon
What a confusing day. The morning was sunny and clear. I stopped and ate breakfast #2 for lunch. Then it got cloudier and cooler and rained. In between I met more amazing citizen angels.
After an early and vigorous sampling of the Radisson breakfast buffet, I tore myself off of the lap o’ luxury and got back to business. Time to walk. I envisioned getting about 20 miles in today and camping at Wildcat Den State Park. I knew it would probably rain in the late afternoon so I tried to hustle so at least I’d be in my tent when it started.
The walk along the river in Davenport was great. Parks and Rec at its best.
I saw lots of bicyclists on the trail to Credit Island. Two guys actually had seen my picture in the QC Times and they stopped to chat. Both repeat offender veterans of RAGBRAI, they were fun to meet.
The route followed the river on Concord Road which obviously gets flooded regularly. Sometimes I was just a foot away from being able to step in the muddy water.
Shortly before Concord ended, I met a trucker parked on the side of the road. He climbed down and asked me about my trip for a few minutes. Then he gave me a five dollar bill and a Memorial Day poppy. I attached the poppy to Bobalooie and thanked him with a handshake. Yet another act of kindness by a complete stranger.
Ten minutes later I had made a turn onto IA Hwy 22 when I saw a red SUV pull into a driveway and stop a short distance ahead of me. A young woman got out of the vehicle and stood waiting for me to approach.
Her name was Erin from Buffalo IA. She had looked up this web site and wanted to chip in a twenty dollar bill to keep me going. We talked for a minute. She expressed her good wishes about the trip and admitted, “I don’t even know what to say about it.” This is such a long walk that it sometimes just freaks people out.
Another lady pulled up and told me she had seen the TV interview from yesterday. I forgot about that. I have not seen it. I said that I sure hope I didn’t make a fool of myself. She said no, I was fine. That was pretty nice of her! Sheesh. What a weird life.
Just after noon I pulled into Buffalo, a cool little place right next to the Mississippi.
They have a convenience store and a drive-through (Bobalooie-through) ATM, a Post Office, and most importantly, they have the Clark’s Landing Cafe. I had a delicious western omelet, plus I got to meet Margo and Louise. Ain’t they cute?
HOWEVER, while I was inside doing my cafe thing, all kinds of meteorological mischief was going on outside. I exited
Clark’s Landing to find a brooding gray sky had snuffed out all the sunshine. Rain was imminent.
I passed a perfectly nice campground and pushed on toward Montpelier, hoping the rain would hold off for at least another five miles.
The sky darkened to charcoal gray. The little shoulder narrowed and disappeared. I started to notice approaching cars had their wipers on.
And then there was rain. Not that hard. Just steady and wet. I kept moving and I remembered I had seen “BB” (for Bed and Breakfast) in the description of Montpelier.
I started to hope it might actually be true as I got wetter and chillier. And when I reached the outskirts of town I saw “Varner’s Depot” ahead on the right. A gentleman sitting in a chair on his porch waved at me and I wondered if this was the “BB.” So I crossed the road and asked if he had a room I could rent.
Bob and Nancy Varner are a retired couple who bought the old train depot and turned it into a beautiful home with sixty acres of farmland next to the highway a block from the Mississippi River.
Bob worked for the old electrical power plant for 36 years. Nancy is a retired music teacher/professor. Bob collects antique cars. Nancy collects antique organs. They used to run a bed and breakfast out of an antique railroad caboose they refurbished into a tiny house. But it became a bit of an energy drain so they quit doing that.
I had a problem. The rain was picking up its pace and I was a little short of my goal for the day. I also wanted no part of either camping in a maelstrom or falling a day behind.
Bob and Nancy had a solution. After some hot coffee and a tour of the garage to see the cars and another tour of the basement to see the organs and another tour of the tiny house caboose, they would make my problem go away.
They piled me and Bobalooie into their trusty Chevy Silverado and we drove down the road to Fairport for an amazing catfish dinner at The Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is right down on the river on a marina. It has a corrugated tin roof and the pounding rain drummed during dinner like John Bonham playing Moby Dick. We talked over the tin din and had great fun.
To top it off, Bob and Nancy delivered me to the Super 8 in Muscatine where I can dry out and re-organize for another no doubt fascinating day tomorrow.
Bob and Nancy were almost too good to be true. Am I dreaming all of this? Am I going to wake up in San Juan Bautista to find out that none of these past two and a half months really happened ?
Peace, Love, and Trail Magic,