Day 3
October 16th, 2002
Pershing State Park
Near Chillicothe, Missouri

It was another cold morning, and I employed the same strategy as the day before.  Stay in bed and let the sun do its work.

I take stock of the situation.  I will slip further behind.  Fall tours have a different flavor then summer.  The daylight hours are significantly shorter, and the weather more  unpredictable.  My pre ride goal was to reach Wisconsin by the end of the day, but I am too far away, with too late a start for that to happen.  I guess I could scrap my planned routes, forget meandering, and just go tires to the wall on the slab and get to Wisconsin.

Thanks, but no thanks.  What fun would that be?  The sun is out, and the lonely back roads of Iowa beckon me.  Who knows what I might miss if jump on the slab?  Too many guys fall victim to "have to get there" syndrome and miss out on so much of what motorcycle touring is about.

I'm loaded and easing out of the campground at 8:20am.  I saw an RV going out AHEAD of ME.  That's NEVER happened before.  The cold has really belted me out of my normal routine.

The temp fell to 28 last night.  I changed the STs oil with 20w 50 last week.  I debated going to 10w 40, but decided it was too early to go with thin oil.  I run 10-40 during the short, mild winters of Alabama.  But, now, shackled in an early mid west winter, the ST turns slow when the starter button is pressed.  The thick oil, resembling molasses in the cold air.  If my electrical system had been the least bit weakened, it would have never turned the V-4 over.

No need to fool myself today.  I'm decked out in full winter gear.  Two sweatshirts and insulate vest over my torso.  Shorts, sweatpants, long wool socks on my legs, all covered by the Roadcrafter.  I zipped and velcroed down every spec of the Roadcrafter to make sure no wind could get in.  I finish it off with heavy duty winter gloves.  I can not express fully, the need for a Long Rider to have good equipment on a day like today.

I started the day in the low 30s, and it would not get much warmer the rest of the day.

I got back on SR 5 north and set a course on Iowa.  A frost dusted the leaves and grass in many places.

In Linneus, I took a short detour into town and saw the boyhood home of General Pershing.  A statue of the general stands out front, with several other markers.  No more then a couple of hundred people live in Linneus.  The general had humble beginnings.

I was cool but not cold in the brisk air.  The sun was out bright, and I hoped it be the difference.

SR 5 is a lonely road into Iowa.  The cornfields, and small trees surround me, and only the occasional town breaks my rhythm.  Purring along this isolated road in the glowing sunlight of a cool fall morning is why I came here.  I think about all kinds of things.  Work, home, old girlfriends and what they must be doing presently.  I wonder how high the snow gets here in winter, and where do kids out here trick or treat.

The road was especially peaceful from Milan to Unionville.  I got in a alot of good thinking on this morning.
​On the road to Iowa.
Before I know it, I spot the modest welcome to Iowa sign, and cross into the state.

The first town in Iowa is a place called Cincinnati.  A forgotten outpost, lost in the waves of corn.  A coffee shop in the center of town looked to be the hot spot.  I thought about stopping in to warm up, but kept going, thinking busy farmers had little time for chit chat with some Long Rider from Alabama.

I continued north, and by so doing, left behind any chance of getting warmer, but the last time I checked, Wisconsin was north of Iowa.

John Deere tractors were everywhere.  All along 5 they rambled their way in, and to the fields.  The corn stalks were brown, and I had no idea what they were doing.  I could see them in the fields churning over stalks and spitting grain into trailers.  I later learned the corn harvested this time of year went to grain and feed.  Large combines would pick the ears, strip the cobs of kernels, and spit out the hulks.

As far as I could see the corn grew.  How will they ever gather so much corn?  Combines lined up 5-6 abreast and rolled across the land cutting huge gaps.  It was a awesome display of American farmer efficiency.  I beeped my horn and waved at them, they were making me proud.

South of Lovilla, 3 John Deeres and 4 or 5 trucks with trailers were crossing the road.  I stopped to let them by.  I'm a long rider with time to kill, but these guys were busy making a living, and had a field to get to.  That is the attitude of all who drive and ride in these parts.  Tractors and farm equipment have the right of way.

I was doing ok in the cold air, except for my feet.  They were down right cold.

I took my first break of the day in a McDonalds at Knoxville.  I was chilled and took a seat in a booth with lots of sunshine.  I ordered fries and a coke.  I got out my atlas and looked over routes to Wisconsin.

It felt good to be warm again.

I noticed I wasn't far from Madison County.  "Hey ain't that where they have the bridges?"  I saw the movie but didn't read the book.  I saw Winterset on the map.  "There really is a place called Winterset with covered bridges?" 

I found a mother with 2 young kids in a nearby booth-

"hey is that Winterset west of here, the same in the book and movie?'

"yes it is.  Six bridges all well marked and easy to find.  They filmed the movie right there"

That will need checking out.  I liked the movie, and thought it was beautifully photographed, so decided to ride over and take a short tour.

I finished my break, got on the bike, and went west on SR 92. 

Going to Winterset was going to guarantee I wasn't going to make Wisconsin today, but hey, I never knew when I might be this way again.

As I neared Winterset, traffic picked up.  Signs announced you were in THE Madison County. 

As I entered the town, I saw a sign pointing to Cutler Bridge.  I turned off and followed the street to a small park.  There I found a stone bridge where several scenes of the movie were filmed.  Nearby, was the covered Cutler Bridge.  It was very scenic.  I saw several tourists walking the park, and taking pictures.

A young family was having a picnic on a table under the fall canopy of trees.

The quiet residential streets of Winterset were picturetesque.  Maybe because of the movie, and the book, but I found the town to be one of the most romantic places I've ever been.  Both old and young couples could be seen everywhere.
​Fall in Winterset, Iowa
On the way to the business district, I saw a sign pointing to the birthplace of John Wayne.  I followed it and found a small, white, wood frame house on a corner.  How fitting he was born in such a All American city as Winterset.

The great John Wayne was born in this house.
The business district of Winterset is centered around the courthouse.  The town was busy.  A steady stream of tourist come here to see the bridges and the town. 

I stopped in the Northside Diner for lunch.   To my surprise I learned the diner also served as a location shot in the movie.  No Hollywood studio can replace the real thing.

I saw autographed pictures of Clint Eastwood on the wall, together with letters of thanks from the production company.

I had a hamburger and fries and chatted with the waitress about Madison County.  She said the book and movie changed the town forever.

She said if I only had time for 1 bridge, it should be the Roseman bridge located off SR 92 west.  I took her advice and rode over to it.

The sun was gone when I emerged out of the diner.  It was also windy and cool.

I left 92 a few miles later, for a 4 mile dirt road ride to the bridge.  Dirt roads in Iowa are not like the red clay mud of back home.  Here, they are chalky with fine granules. 

STs do NOT like dirt roads.  Their tall narrow tires are a prescription for disaster in even the slightest dirt. 
I easily found the red bridge.  It was just like the movie.

I obliged a young couple from Tennessee with a picture.  I took it with their camera, while they stood arm in arm leaning on the railing.

I called my wife and told her where I was, and she didn't believe me-

"there really is a place called Winterset?"

"yes, and I'm standing on the very bridge used in the movie"

"you didn't tell ME you were going there"

"I didn't know I was"

She loves that movie.
​Roseman Covered Bridge
I left the bridge and went back to SR 92.  The ST was covered in a white chalky dust.  I managed to cover the 8 round trip miles without dropping the bike.

I was behind now, and plotted a course to get me as far east and north as I could.

As I turned on P57 it began to turn really dark, and cloudy.  A cold, light rain began to fall.  Great.  I followed P57, a straight shot through the fields to I-80 east.

I took the interstate into Des Moines, and pulled into a Motel 6 parking lot.  I was cold and wet, and was more then tempted to call it a day at 3pm.  If I did spend the night here, noway I can make Wisconsin, and then Ohio by Thursday, to be in NC by Friday. 

I got out my map, and Motel 6 directory.  I'm not sleeping in a tent tonight.  I've been chilled all day, and I want some warmth.  The chain has a motel in Cedar Rapids. YEAH.

I make a plan to ride to Cedar Rapids, get up early on Thur, touch Wisconsin, then haul ass to Ohio.

I tried to call ahead to secure a room in CR but my phone is dead.  Always the resourceful one, I ride over to the nearby Motel 6, and ask the girls to book a room for me in Cedar Rapids.

With a warm room, and shower awaiting me, I quickly take care off the last 125 cold miles into CR.  There is not much to see across Iowa on I-80, and I rode non stop to the motel.

It drizzled rain off and on the entire ride.

I arrived in Cedar Rapids at 5:30pm, having put down 385 miles.

I checked into a clean, 29.95 room and turned the heat on wide open.  I twisted the knob all the way in the red zone, and the fan on high.

I put my gloves on the heater to dry them out.

I placed my phone on charge.

I jumped in the shower then filled the tub with the hottest water I could stand.  It was the only way I could knock the chill off.

I jogged over to a nearby Perkins for supper, trying to limit my exposure to the cold as much as possible.
I called my brother and touched base with him, afterwards I called home.

I layed in bed with the heat still wide open.  It felt GOOD to be warm again.

The weather guessers were predicting more of the same tomorrow.

I fell more behind today, and tomorrow I will have to pay off.  I WILL start early in the morning, touch Wisconsin, and get to Ohio, even if I have to ride in the dark.  I don't mind the dark per say, it just gets so cold when the sun goes down.

I fell asleep watching Fox News latest report on the sniper.