My first non-dairy item at a DQ: Humeston to Lamoni
Thursday April 25, 2013, 36 miles (57 km) – Total so far: 445 miles (716 km)
Chugga-chugga. Chugga-chugga. No “choo-choo”.
I’m just chugging along today, trying to keep my mind occupied with inane thoughts, instead of how cold I am and why I keep finding headwinds. The weather radio indicates there were record lows again last night in the mid-20s. It is slow to warm again today.
I’ve given up trying to contain my snot. I blow and fling it from my nose; inevitably some ends up on my cycling tights, or the wind blows it backward onto my rain jacket.
But I’m not unhappy. I still would not rather be anywhere else, or be doing anything else, right now. I love being on the bike each day. I enjoy indulging in American junk foods I can’t get back in Oz. I like listening to my music on the iPod at night, etching these songs into these ride memories, so that whenever I hear the song in the future, it will take me back to 2013. I love the change of being in the US for a bit instead of in Oz – a change in culture is refreshing on occasion. I love the challenge. I love the simplicity of cycle touring. I love that I have at least 3 months of riding ahead of me.
I just wish the weather would moderate a little – just because I’ve either been freezing cold, or wet, or wet and cold just about every day so far. I can be a tough chick when required, but maybe not super tough. Oz has turned me into a cold wimp, I think.
I climb and descend, climb and descend, all morning. Southern Iowa is almost continuous rollers across the whole state. It gives this part of the state a slightly rugged beauty, untouched by the glaciers which sculpted the northern part of the state. At the same time, the hills impede progress. My plans to stick to county roads, which are considerably hillier than the hills of graded Hwy 2, have been thrown to the side. I just want to get west, so I’m just going to stick to my 2010 route, instead of blazing a new route north of Hwy 2 on county roads.
Lunch/dinner is at DQ in Leon. I don’t really know if there are any other options in this little town. Leon didn’t impress me in 2010 and doesn’t impress me now, either. DQ has a “$5 lunch”. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything at a DQ besides ice cream before. But I figure the chicken fingers can’t be too bad. It’s hard to mess up fried foods if the oil isn’t old.
The lady who takes my order is not friendly at all, but I don’t mind. I probably wouldn’t be friendly either if I had a job that didn’t give me a living wage and I couldn’t afford to have healthcare.
However, the lady who is cooking and eventually brings me my food, is incredibly friendly. She even sits down opposite me to have a chat. She thinks my ride is inspiring. She wishes more people would follow their dreams. Her dream: she’s always wanted to go on a cruise. And guess what – she’s making the dream come true. She saves 20% of her salary each week, and has a special bank account for the savings. She says she should have the money saved within the next 9-12 months.
I love meeting people like this. It is humbling and inspiring. It makes all those pretentious people I met in academia look even more like spoiled, rich pricks. What an awesome lady! As she walks away, she tells me, with a wink, “I gave you the biggest chicken fingers I could find. Stay safe. God be with you.”
There are tears in the corner of my eyes when I take the food outside. I sit in the sun, on the concrete, out of the wind. Indeed, the woman has given me big pieces of chicken and a huge serving of fries. With the drink and a hot fudge sundae included, it is a caloric feast for $5.
I get to Lamoni by 2.30 pm. I stop at the independent motel, but no one comes down to answer the call button, so I head over to the Super 8. I get a room and spend 20 minutes hanging all my gear everywhere. Pretty much everything seems wet or damp, so every surface and every possible place to hang something is taken.
I turn up the heat, turn on the TV, and start the process of getting my core body temp back to normal.