June 9: Dyersville to Marquette, Iowa - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

June 9: Dyersville to Marquette, Iowa

WE AND THE WIND fell out big time today. It took us an hour to disagree and then it stormed off the way we had just come and left us to go on alone.

Today - visually if not physically - was our most uplifting, our most beautiful since the Adrirondacks so long ago. We started on the rolling, climbing crop-and-cows country - Ayrshires for variety as well as the ubiquitous black-and-white Friesians - with a farm every 500 metres. Each farm had its white house and, beside each house, a stainless steel silo. On an immediate scale, the crops dominated. From space it must have looked as though Iowa was growing cigar tubes.

We climbed gradually, losing some, gaining more, as the wind began bickering. Where yesterday the road was cracked and uneven, today it made friends and the wind felt aggrieved instead. It finally took exception as we reached a vague plateau. The crops ended and the world turned a green seen only in Aer Lingus adverts. The fields were probably growing things. Sometimes it was clear they did: there were irregular areas of very regular, parallel lines of seedlings. But as a whole it was a vision of gentle valleys and well-mannered hills blowing long-stemmed grasses, with lone and sociable conifers and deciduous trees, and brown ponds wondering why there were no ducks,

It looked perfect pasture country but here as earlier in the day the cattle were in sheds or crowded into enclosures.

All day we were sung to by blackbirds - with red necks and flashes here, unlike the uniform coal-toned European blackbird - and fussed over by small brown birds with white or cream bellies and a light edge to the bottom of their wings. In the air they have surprising wingspan; on the ground they hop on spindly legs and run in front, volunteer prey to distract from their young raised on the ground.

But paradise is never perfect. The sky can be just the wrong shade of blue, the scent too sweet and fresh. Today it was the wind. It rose and rose, full in the face or pushing from the side with dangerous force. Our speed fell on every climb and it became hard to keep balance in crosswinds. A gust blew me off the road and on to a rough stone edging and I walked to the top.

A busy road, a shoulder taken up by a rumble strip and a strong cross-wind. Sometimes the only safe thing to do is walk
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The road at the junction was busy. The shoulder was largely a rumble strip, leaving less than a handlebar's width in which to balance a loaded bike in a gale. We walked the mile to the turn-off to quieter traffic and sanity.

At that point the wind asked to be friends. Or, more precisely, the road turned east for the last 20km and dropped to the Mississippi. Now the gale was an well-intentioned but irritable parent, the sort that takes an infant by the hand and makes it walk faster than it can manage. We whooshed to the river to camp in a state park. Hardly anyone is here. All is peace. So the man in the single caravan has decided to start a generator so he can go inside to watch television and leave us to endure the noise.


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