Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Saturday in Iowa

Today was a beautiful day to be on the road. Max packed up his camera gear, I packed up the dog and off we went!

First stop today was Freedom Rock, a wonderful thing that is just one mile south of the Interstate at mile marker 85 on Highway 25. You can't miss it, it's immense! When we pulled in, we were alone, but within minutes another car had pulled over and then the Wind Riders, a motorcycle club out of Omaha pulled in. They encircled the rock with their bikes and I got really choked up. The imagery was glorious. As they dismounted and began walking around, Max was trying to get set up with his camera gear. They weren't in his way, he was planning to do some closeup work. But, they worried about it, so he offered to shoot a picture with all of them around the rock and send them the link to his shots. That worked out fine for all of us! Well, except for me. I got so freakin' emotional, I had to go back to the Jeep. Old age? Hormones? Or just the fact that there was a group of people including veterans coming to see a beautiful homage to our armed forces. Pretty cool.

We drove on in to the Des Moines area and I was stunned by the difference in weekend traffic vs. weekday traffic. I make this trip every week and today was pretty wild. Obviously it was the start of a week of touring. I've never seen so many immense tour buses heading west. You might say they were doing RAGBRAI, but I doubt it. However, I did see bus after bus loaded with people and bicycles heading for Council Bluffs. When we got back this evening and drove past the park filled with tents, buses and people, it was an awesome image (and one we didn't take time to shoot since we were flying by on the interstate).

But, weekend drivers are not weekday drivers. They are rude, impatient and don't know how to courteously drive the interstate. I spent more time hitting the brakes today than I ever have. There is a common courtesy to driving the interstate and it generally includes moving to the right as soon as possible. That didn't happen.

Going east - knowing I didn't have to deal with RAGBRAI traffic yet, all of a sudden at a normal construction area, I was slamming on the brakes. Slamming them! Traffic went from about 65 mph to a full stop! Much cursing and swearing came flying out of my mouth. I did have to explain to Max that in the past weeks as I have been driving back and forth across Iowa, I spend a lot of time talking to the traffic around me. There was no good reason to be at a full stop, just idiots who don't know how to maneuver on the interstate, that's all I could come up with.

We turned north on Highway 141 and I had to introduce Max to Maid-Rite. I love loose meat sandwiches. It was a good time to stop and the food was terrific. When I worked at the Tastee Freez in Sigourney in the late 70s, we had a fabulous Maidrite sandwich. Mmmmm ... good! And carb-free Max even got a Maid-Rite salad today!

The next stop was a trip to Hwy 210 between Woodward and Madrid. I had made this one day as I totally missed the Hwy 17 exit and had to do a quick jig-jog to pick it up and head on to Bell's Dell. There was an absolutely gorgeous sight on this highway. As I passed over the Des Moines River, there were open pylons, obviously from an old bridge, sitting in the river. It was very 'Lord of the Rings' looking and I knew that Max had to shoot it for me.

Before we got there, though, we stopped in Woodward to see if there was something interesting to shoot. Max found some cool old buildings, but I had heard music while waiting for him and upon investigating saw a man in his 40s playing the guitar in front of a bar. Max walked over to talk to him and found out that he is a one man band that plays in a lot of the small bars in small town Iowa. What an interesting character! And he's good! He played for us for awhile and Max shot a bunch of pictures of him. I took some video on my Blackberry, we'll see what happens with that. He was glad to talk to us about what he did and glad to pull out his instruments to give us a bit of a show. He was playing at that bar (Mr. C's in Woodward) later in the evening, so was just warming up his chops when I heard him. You can find him on MySpace - Mojo Johnson.

We finally pulled ourselves away from him and headed on down the highway to shoot the old bridge. I'm hoping Max got some great stuff there, I love the place!

Then on to Madrid, and south on 17. There's a new Hindu Temple and Cultural Center being built just off of Hwy 17. When it's a little further along, we'll go back and shoot some pictures. As we pulled into the parking lot, there was a lot of construction happening, so shots wouldn't have been great. But, I think that in the morning with the sun streaming on its eastern face, it is going to simply gleam!

We started home and managed to get caught in hideous (I'm not kidding here) traffic on the interstate around the construction sites. Completely unexpected. Again, we were at least 8 miles from the construction slowdown when all of a sudden I was screaming my brakes because all traffic was coming down from 75 mph to a full stop again. I ended up on the shoulder, not because I was going to hit someone, but the poor woman behind me had very little control of her brakes and needed a few extra feet to stop. I knew that with my Jeep I could crawl out of the median and she would never be able to do that. Fortunately, there were no crazy crashes with that insanity, but there were a bunch of people riding the shoulders to get their rigs stopped.

After stop and go traffic, we pulled off at Adair for gas and a break and then I headed north to Highway 44 to go across the state. I doubt that I went any faster than the people on the interstate, but my patience wasn't boiling out of the car at the insanity of the travel and we saw more of the beauty of the day.

So ... we're home and Max is processing his photos. I will post a link here later for them and maybe even just post a picture blog with a few of my favorites.


Bad Monkey said...

There also used to be a Maid-Rite next to the Phillips 66 in Sigourney waaay back when Galen worked there as the service manager.

Diane Muir said...

Oh yah ... I remember that. I think one of the old ones is still in Ogden, too.