Friday, August 27, 2010

Day Trippin' (revised)

There's something about Iowa's landscape that always keeps me in awe. Rich greens, silver silos, red barns, white fences, golden hay.............The rolling hills provide visual interest. A creek here, a glorious house there, frisky colts, content cows, and the architecture of small towns. Small, rural towns maintain (or try to) the original structures of their communities. So much brick detail, tall windows framed by intricately set stone. There's so much to say.......................

So why am I gettin' all drippy and nostalgic? My husband and I took an amazing motorcycle day trip today. The weather was perfect! 186 miles, 4 watering holes, interesting people, two states, and numerous small towns.

In order to get to our first stop, we had to drive through Salem, Bonaparte and Bentonsport. Our first stop was A.J.'s Bar and Grill in Mt. Sterling, Iowa. If I stood on their outdoor deck and threw a frisbee, it'd land in Missouri! Now this place has character! It's got that "hunter lodge" look. Sort of. If you don't mind dining under the watchful eye of a giant taxidermied turkey or deer head, then you should definitely check this place out. But don't ask for a margarita or any of them other fancy drinks! No sir! Beer, beer, or beer. I had a can of pop. I also had a tenderloin the size of a dinner plate. I'm not kidding. The Christmas garland is still hanging above the faux pine log bar and racing flags and beer ad posters cover the walls. "Does" and "Bucks" identify the restrooms, so you may want to brush up on your deer gender names. Yes, my friends, this is a date night destination. (The food was excellent!)

From there we headed to Missouri. We were so close - why not? Kahoka (home of the Clark County Mule Festival), Wayland and Alexandria gave us more interesting buildings and we shared stories of when we used to stop once in awhile, many years ago, just for something to do. On this trip, however, those stores were either closed or gone or no longer an interest. F.Y.I. Alexandria has a fireworks store that is still OPEN!!

Back in Iowa, we followed the Mighty Mississippi through Keokuk (the City of Stoplights) and into Montrose. We like to take this little two lane rode because there are grand homes (old "river money", I've been told) overlooking the river. There is also a section of road that is nearly dark, even when it's sunny! There's a canopy of green that's created by trees on either side. It's like driving through a tunnel. Crazy. Cool. This summer's onslaught of rain caused a couple of issues on this road, however. One of the great stone retaining walls gave way to trees and dirt and closed one lane. The water (I think) proved too much for another section, simply washing the road completely down a steep embankment. In Montrose, we stopped at Kinnick on the River. Interesting name. One would expect a serious football theme inside, right? (Kinnick Stadium is where the Univ. of Iowa Hawkeye football games are held.) Maybe painted all black and gold? Nope. Just a bar/restaurant. Ho hum. Montrose has, like, maybe 150 people, and they have a Casey's!! (Not fair! My town needs a Casey's!)

Montrose is known for their Watermelon Days and The No Wake Cafe. Unfortunately, the No Wake is No More. But that's another post...................

From Montrose we headed to West Point. There are some cool houses on the way to West Point! This lilttle community has 4 bars! Must be thirsty people there! Inside The 4th Street Bar and Grill we talked to 3 other bikers about their rides today. Everyone was just out to enjoy the view and the weather. West Point is known for their Sweet Corn Festival. (All the free sweetcorn you can eat! It's fabulous!!!) They were gearing up for a BBQ Cookoff or something the next day. It was part of their pre-rodeo countdown. (The rodeo is in Ft. Madison on Sept. 8!!)

People talk about going to the mountains and being captivated by the view. I've been to the mountains a couple times and to me, they all look the same. (Sorry, mountain lovers.) While we saw fields and fields of corn and soybeans and newly harvested round bales, they were all the same, yet different. The corn stalks were different heights and at different stages of development - you could tell that by the color. Some of the round bales were lined up in neat rows near the barns while others dotted the fields, not yet taken to their final resting place for the season.


  1. Great post - sounds like an awesome day!! I used to go to camp in Montrose! Camp Lookout! Nice memory lane to walk . . .
    Glad you had a good day!

  2. I miss those good old motorcycle rides... day trips like you guys took. They were so much fun!! Bet you had a GREAT DAY! It sure sounds like you did!!