June 4:  Muscatine to Maquoketa, IA  62 miles

Once again the morning started with those threatening skies, but this time it added a bit of a chill to the air, so riding without any jacket or long sleeves was not going to happen.  Several donned rain gear as a precaution, while others just layered against the cool wind.  Did I say wind??  Mother Nature has a cold!  She coughed and blew all day at speeds from 10-30 mph.  Now if her gusts were from the south, that would have given all of us a nice ride to the next town, but not so lucky.  As we headed north up the Iowa side of the Mississippi, the wind was blowing continuously from the northwest.  Mother Nature would occasionally tease us with a small tail wind, but only after the route had twisted and turned in such a way that we were headed south for a mile or two.  To avoid the freeway systems, we roam through the countryside on back rural roads that probably were the main way from one farm to another when first constructed.  Now they link each county with a snake like pattern rising up one hill and down another.  Without the wind the ride would have been one long roller coaster ride with pedaling on the up and coasting on the down.

Today we knew we were in trouble when on a 6 degree downhill you had to pedal just as hard as on the 4 degree uphill!  Mother Nature wanted to assure all of us a total body workout!!  It was push, pull of the legs -- hang on for dear life during the cross winds -- and watch out for the back draft from the trucks!!!

Weather aside, the route today was beautiful.  Where yesterday's sojourn through Illinois was flat, today's was totally in Iowa and rolling hills in all directions.  Yesterday one could see as far as the horizon hundreds of miles away.  Today the view was as far as the top of the next hill.  

Iowa's farmland is divided into smaller patches of farms than Illinois.  The homes are well within view of each other, but yet still far enough apart to give one the feeling of solitude.  The Iowan farmer seems to be more prosperous, than his counterpart across the river.  The homes are relatively new or refurbished with flower gardens and lawns spreading out in all directions away from the house.  The outbuilding are also in better shape.  One sees more livestock also.  Illinois was corn and soy -- Iowa is corn but in much smaller fields interspersed with cattle, sheep and occasional goat.

Following Y14 for a great portion of the day put us through the town of Bennett and onto the Herbert Hoover Highway.  While farms were passed, towns were not.  Several have disappeared from the map over the years yet their names still remain.  Town of Lost Nation, which was not totally lost.  It did have a gas station.  Elmwood, the home of Miss Iowa, 1986 is just a sign now.  Apparently, Miss Iowa has skipped town!  Massillion had a gas station that served hamburgers if you were hungry.  And Maquoketa is where we are tonight -- a small barely surviving farm town off the Highway 61.

As windy as the day may have been, it was a beautiful ride over the rolling countryside.  The threatening clouds of this morning stayed always to the east of us as if watching over us.  Mother Nature can be tough at times, but she can also present a fabulous sight -- today's panoramas were just that.  And th map was wrong!!!  The route was 10 miles shorter than stated on the cue sheet!!!

Iowa Farmland

Over hill, Over Dale!

Car and Rider Sharing the Road!

More Iowa Farmland!

Sue and Kathy On The Road

Sue and Kathy A Little Farther Down the Road!

A Mississippi Feeder

Sue and Frankie On Break

Miss Iowa's Monument!