Sunday, October 11, 2015

High Trestling It in Iowa

Week One of "RVentures" found us heading down I-35 in central Iowa in search of the High Trestle Trail Bridge, one of Iowa's newest rails to trails transformation. Hoping to spend a few days exploring the area, we checked into the Jester County Park Campgrounds. Once we got settled into our quiet, lake-view site, I knew that this was going to be the perfect place to "de-compress" for a week. Between finishing up work in Rochester, final preps for traveling and saying "good-byes" to precious family and friends, we felt like we were constantly on the run the last few weeks. Jester Park proved to be the perfect place to relax, experience our first week of retirement, and plan our next move.

One of our first moves after settling in was to drive the 15 miles north to the town of Madrid, Iowa. Their trail-head is 2.5 miles east of the High Trestle bridge. After quickly unfolding our bikes, we sprinted on the pristine 10 foot wide newly paved trail to catch sunset over the bridge. My first impression was that this could not possibly be Iowa! The Iowa I imagined was flat with lots of corn...totally wrong! The Des Moines river valley is a haven for water fowl and spectacular views. Doug did a great job of trying to capture the beauty at sunset and after dark, but it is really something that needs to be enjoyed in person!

We enjoyed it so much that we returned a few more times just to take in a "picnic dinner with a view" and experience biking across the beautifully lit bridge at night!

Back at the campground, the Wildebeest proved a comfy place to settle into a quiet night's sleep!

The next few days, we started to figure out what a typical "retirement day" would look like for us. Getting Doug to permanently turn off the 7 am wake-up alarm on his phone was a very easy adjustment to make! Morning "coffee walks" along Saylorville Lake were a great way to take in the nature and beauty of the park. Lots of blue herons and pelicans to watch through our binoculars. Hopping on our bikes and doing a little "trail riding" brought us face to face with bison and elk...good thing there was a fence between us as "Mr. 'Tough-guy' Elk" was a bit aggressive.

After the caffeine kicked in, it was "project time". Doug fixed the RV step (no more "high jumps" to get in or out of the RV). I cleaned the RV windows. And we both tackled cleaning the car...so nice to now have a car that doesn't look like there is a picnic or beach party going on inside.

Mid afternoon we would take the car and bikes out for a ride to explore the area. Visited Big Creek State Park and the Iowa Arboretum. Found the Firetruckers Brewery at the end of the High Trestle Trail in Ankeny...Happy dance, Doug! And, just to be fair, we found Snus Hill Winery the next day. Had to bike a mile on gravel, but well worth the effort! Free samples of up to four wines helped us decide on "The Kitten", a semi-sweet blush that we could enjoy together.

Friday was laundry and errand day. Since I knew that I would have to ease Doug into the idea that laundry and grocery shopping can be fun, I decided to "reward" him by taking him to see "The Martian" in 3D at the local theater. Great movie, and it is considered SciFi, so that was our dash of "nerdliness" for the week!

Remember in grade school when you had to memorize all the state capitals? Well, one of my goals is to get a picture of me in front of all the state capital buildings...guess that qualifies as more "nerdliness". Saturday was the perfect day to cross Des Moines, Iowa off the list. Of course, Doug did his research, loaded the map in his bike GPS, and lead me on the Des Moines brewery bike tour. We parked in one of the campgrounds across the lake and biked 20 miles along the Neil Smith Trail to the "big city". What a spectacular trail and beautiful bike-friendly city!

A memorable quote from Doug as we biked past the local high school stadium labeled "Home of the Polar Bears"...."I don't want to live anywhere near a place that has to have a polar bear as it's mascot!" Always a little humor...

The return trip seemed a little more difficult than it should be...until Doug figured out that my front brake was rubbing on my wheel. So grateful that I take my own personal bike mechanic with me wherever I go!

We aren't going to be Iowa long enough to catch "Hawkeye Fever", but it was fun to cheer on the favorite local team to a win while enjoying the home brews at Madhouse, Confluence and Exile Breweries and enjoying delicious Midwest beef on Mullet's outdoor deck overlooking downtown and the river.

Sunday mornings are going to be the days when I most miss "home", specifically our home church family. But, as we seek out the local faith communities and join in worship with them, I am reminded that we are a part of a community faith family wherever that community may be. And I do love having my own personal choir member next to me! Today we celebrated with St Malachy in Madrid, Iowa. 

...and stopped to admire the only Hindu Temple in Iowa...a beautiful place of worship built on the banks of the Des Moines river.

Back at the campground, we worked on projects as we prepare for our next move. My quick dinner plan received rave reviews from the hungry handyman, so I thought that I would share it with all my busy friends with hungry families. It went well with bread and jam.

Autumn Spinach Salad a la Chris

Bagged spinach or other fresh greens
Toasted pecans
Dried cranberries
Sliced apple
Feta or Blue Cheese
Cooked Chicken (optional)
Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing

The High Trestle Trail bridge, parks and campgrounds, bike paths, places of worship, colorful sunsets...yes, as the saying goes: "If God creates it or they build it, we will come!" We had a wonderful time "high trestling it in Iowa"!

Tomorrow we continue RVenture south to Missouri in search of the Katy Trail

Until next time...enjoy the daily adventures in your life!

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