Range Roaming – Iowa 2013 – Day 10

Fingers so cold I can’t even shift gears: Honey Creek State Park to Humeston

Wednesday April 24, 2013, 41 miles (66 km) – Total so far: 409 miles (659 km)

Oh dear. I have frozen snot on the pannier I’m using as a pillow. The NWS was expecting record low temps last night of 25F (normal lows are about 46F, highs in the mid-60s). My little thermometer says 25F. My fingers say… well, their comments are all expletives.

I take all of my gear to the bathrooms. I get dressed and pack up all my gear in the warmth of the heated toilet block. Then I go out to pack up my frozen tent.

My poor fingers just don’t want to work. Today, and during the rest of my trip, my fingers remind me that I really should not put off these bike touring dreams until retirement, because my fingers may be curled up messes of arthritic lack of grip by then. It sucks that I can see and feel how much worse they are than just 3 years ago on the 2010 ride. They are so stiff and achy this morning, packing up the tent is a chore.

I get all bundled up and hit the road pretty early, since it is supposed to get windy this afternoon, and the high is only supposed to be 45F.

The wind is so cold, tears stream from my eyes and there is a constant drip of snot from my nose. I end up having to ride in a middle gear because my fingers hurt too much, and have too little strength, to shift today. I end up mashing up the hills and then having to coast down them. Uggh, it’s a struggle today, even though it’s sunny.

Everything is still barren-looking outside. The puddles are frozen. Nothing grows – a lone group of jonquils or a hyacinth bush in bloom is all there is to indicate that spring may someday arrive.

Up, down. Up, down. It feels like the 35 miles to Humeston (pronounced like chick pea dip: hummus-ton) will take me forever. The lady at Casey’s in town is very enthusiastic about my trip, though, and this elevates my spirits. The locals are all excited by today since it is sunny! Never mind that the temp only reaches 46F. They are all frustrated by the lingering winter-like weather, too.

I head down to the park and sit right behind the women’s toilets. It is in the sun and out of the frigid wind. Once the library opens, I head down there. They are incredibly friendly and enthusiastically tell me about their town, where I can camp, and all the improvements they’ve made (the library is new, the park has been re-done to include amazing play equipment, they’ve reopened the grocery as a co-op type business, they’ve re-done the main street, etc.). It’s impressive – I do get a good vibe in this town. These folks are taking control of their town and its future.

This is a bit like a caboose. Someday, kids won’t even know what this is since it is obsolete.

I head up to the park just north of town to check out camping possibilities. In summer, this would be a nice place. It is situated on a lake with views of the golf course. There are toilets, shelters and play equipment. But today, the wind is blowing hard and cold across the lake, there is nowhere to shelter the tent, the toilets and showers are still closed and the pit toilets are beyond gross. So I head back into town, hang out in the warmth of the library til it closes, then head over to the RV park in town.

All of the sites are taken by RVs occupied by a crew doing roadworks. So I make my own site. I just pitch the tent behind an army tank on display. This is excellent because it breaks the cold wind quite nicely, and the grass is nice and soft.

The best use of my tax dollars for army equipment ever. I set up the tent behind this army tank which blocks the cold, cold wind. It rains in the evening, then falls below freezing that night, so the tent is frozen the following morning.

The only problem is that there are no toilets here – just full hook-ups for the RVs. It’s several blocks away to the toilets at the city park. I ponder this problem for a while. It is solved when I realize: I have a tent door and vestibule on each side of the tent. I’ll just use one side for entry/exit, and use the other side to pee. Not ideal, but I can pee in a ziploc baggie when required. No worries.

Bladder issues solved, I settle down into my bag. Later in the evening, it rains, as predicted. Then, as the temperature falls below freezing, all the rain on the tent turns to ice. Oh what fun tent packing will be again tomorrow!

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