Sunday, August 21, 2016


Personally I think there's a strong argument for officially including braces around Iowa like I did in the title of this post.

After all, in reality that's exactly what nature has done.

Unlike the arbitrary, and completely man-made, splitting of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona by the convergence of a dead straight north/south line with an equally straight east/west line, despite the fact that the natural, and very real, east to west boundary of the San Juan river passes only 3500 feet away from the imaginary Four Corners.

Unlike Four Corners, which can only be found with the help of markers placed by others, when you come to Iowa, whether from east or west, you know without a doubt that you've crossed from one territory to another. There's a clear demarcation between one place and another. Here no one came along, scratched a line on an undistinguished piece of  ground and declared this side is one thing, and this side is something else.

The Mississippi looking from Iowa across into Illinois

Here you know were you stand becasue nature defines and contains Iowa's longitudinal borders with the Mississippi on one side and the Missouri on the other. Very neat, tidy, and logical. And somehow comforting.

On the Lincoln Highway leaving Iowa for Nebraska

I hear Iowa getting a bad rap on occasion. Things like; Iowa, it's not as depressing as Idaho, Come for the corn, leave because of the corn; Iowa, gateway to Illinois, or, one I hear a lot, Iowa stands for Idiots Out Wandering Around  (Though that last one inevitably comes from Missourians, the only state where I've ever seen billboards encouraging people to turn in their neighbor's meth labs. . .)

I, myself found Iowa to be a pleasant place. Easy on the eye, easy to drive, and plenty of interesting places if you know where to look for them. On a slight detour from my Lincoln Highway route, which is mostly small towns, I even managed to drive through the heart of Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, and was impressed with how clean and neat this place was, despite my aversion to cities.

And there has to be a reason that RAGBRAI is in Iowa and nowhere else.

Don't know what that is?? I didn't either until I was there. Without going into what all the letters stand for, RAGBRAI is the largest bike touring event in the world and is held entirely within the borders of Iowa. Since 1973 this tour has crossed the state from one side to the other, with the route changing every year to make sure the entire state is included.

More than 13,000 riders participate in the week-long event, including the 30 member Team Gourmet which travels with three chefs and, as you can imagine, eats well for the 7 day ride. (There's a waiting list to join the team and you have to be recommended by one of the senior members, so don't go grabbing up your finest silverware and bike shorts expecting to snag a week's worth of 5 course dinners!)

Oh dude!! No helmet and a bald head to boot!  Not a choice I would make. . .

So anyway, go ahead and throw all the derogatory one-liners you can come up with at me, Iowa is still definitely a place I'll go back to.

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