powered by nightshades (srl) wrote in trans_usa_biker,
powered by nightshades

elkader, iowa, june 19, just before sundown

the big hill down into elkader tonight was about 3/4 mile on a state highway that had been laid in 20-foot segments with seams. the noise of me going down it was ka-thump ka-thump ka-thump, standing on my pedals and trying to time jumping to give the bike a little suspension. my computer says i was doing 38.4mph down that hill, a busy 2-lane state highway. fortunately the cars behind me were polite about my taking up the whole lane.

i had a hot dinner tonight on the stove for the first time in a while. mac and cheese with chipotle, onions, parmesan, and diced-up bits of beef jerky. i also made the first cup of the red lavender tea i bought, sweetened with the sorghum. it's great--- even mellower than most of the rooibos i've had in the past--- and the lavender isn't too overpowering. i built a fire in the fire ring, and it's crackling as i write this. the sun isn't yet down.

i rode just over 60 miles today, averaging over 11 mph, and because almost everything was closed i didn't really have a reason to slow down except at the soda machines in front of these small-town stores. the clerk at the service station in elkport told me that his doctor had given him at most 2 years to live; a fibrosis of some kind was slowly disabling his lungs. he said that he played golf whenever he could, that walking around in the fresh air helped him a lot.

more daylilies today. lupine, which is a small purple wildflower, and lavender thistle flowers sticking up in cow pastures, the only thing the cows won't eat. lots of dairy cows, all in herds of similar breed, but many different breeds. i like the swiss ones best; they're a light brownish-grey with pale edges around their ears. cows tend to track me with their heads as i roll by; guess bikes are an unusual sight. the shape of the hills has changed since yesterday. there are more of them, and they're taller, with more woods. my map informs me that this section of iowa wasn't scraped flat by the glaciers like the other parts.

in petersburg, a little hill town where everything was closed but the soda machine, there's a huge tan stone church with double spires. apparently the building it replaced in 1905 was the first consecrated (christian) ground in iowa. it was huge. a faded, hand-lettered sign in the window of the flaking-painted storefront across the street declared that "ALL ABORTION IS MURDER."

as i ride, i keep thinking about just how much of this land there is, wondering about how it was sacred to the native americans who were here before, trying to imagine this land without the white people who stole it. sometimes i'm acutely conscious that, were i not white, traveling like this would expose me to much more suspicion, much less treatment as if i'm supposed to be here. i can't quite figure out what to do with that.
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