Saturday, October 20, 2007


Just to let everyone in cyberspace know we are long past the tornado that hit in Indiana and Minnisoda. We are in Pennsylvania enjoying the warmer weather and rain! and wind! and HILLS! Very tired in need of a day off!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

last day in Iowa Oct 5 Day 58 from home

DAY FIFTY-EIGHT KEOKUK IA 24.12km (to see the Iowa pictures go to the post below and the link to Iowa log]
Oct6 Saturday D24.12km M 35.4 A 9.6 REST DAY total 4576.9km

Well what a day we have had. Started out by going by 521 Morgan street which is the address the French’s lived at in 1901 It is not the house I have a picture of that was thought to be their house, but I think this is definitely where they lived. No answer so I took pictures and spoke to a fellow across the street who said their house was built in 1890 so I’m sure this house was here in 1901. It is a neat looking house and would have been fun to go inside but we returned later in the day and still no one home.

We also did a ride along Grand Avenue which has a lot of history of houses built when they would have lived here. One [4 Park Place] is the house of Thomas R Ayers a jewelry and music merchant who the city listing for 1901 states that Eunice [grandma’s mother] was the secretary for… it doesn’t say that Frank worked as a jeweler there or if he had his own shop. It is only a few blocks from the French home on a tree lined street with other large homes.

We went to the library for a map of the grave yard and the info on the internet says they are buried in section E Well we walked for almost 3 hours and we found the other 3 French’s which I don’t know if they are relations, in a section we are sure is R but in all the areas we think are E we found no French’s. It is a very hilly graveyard, very large and not well marked out. Also there are a lot of stones in disrepair so the stones may have been removed if damaged. We were exhausted by the time we walked and walked.

Picture of one part of E section of Oakwood Cemetary Keokuk Iowa

Church around the corner from Morgan St Court house that might have been the University in 1900

This was a very busy port town in 1901. Today the population is 11,427 I will have to research if it is more or less than 1901. It is full of brick buildings, homes and businesses. I did find out that Mom’s Aunt Ada graduated 1900 from the University of Iowa as a physician. Keokuk was the first site of this university, but it is now in Iowa City. There is a medical museum there but we are not able to go there at this time. I have emailed them to see if they have any information on her. I do know she was not able to work as a Dr when she was in Canada as she would have had to write her exams again

Chief Keokuk [town named after] View from Grand Ave houses of the Mississippi River

View from the Chief Keokuk statue site.

Friday, October 5, 2007


DAY FIFTY-SEVEN Snively Access CG to KEOKUK IA 118km
Oct5 Friday D126.81 km M 42 A 15.2 PT7 h45 RT 11h total 4544.1km

Wind Oh I think I will remove this comment as it is head wind day after day! A lady in the tourist info said canoeist going down the Mississippi River complain about the south winds too
Temp Oh I need a big Sun ikon! Not a cloud all day and 30C
Road Condition Well was great until we had to go on the divided hiway with very minimal shoulder [maybe12”] and parts with no paved shoulder at all. All had a drop down gravel piece.
Food: Breakfast Well we had to flee from the mosquitos at Snively before we could have breakfast
Lunch We pressed on and on today to make it to Keokuk so lunch was on the bench at Burlington tourist info
Supper We pigged out on baked potatoes with beans, spinach filled nuggest, CINAMON BUNS! All home cooked as we are in a hotel by choice so we can tour around the city tomorrow
Overall: Well to all those decendants of Florence French [Tomlinson] if your reading this you know we are in KEOKUK IOWA the birth place of that same Grandma! We were 180 km north of here 2 days ago and I talked Ken [well didn’t take too much persuasion] him into diverting to down here. He thought we could come back in our old age, but I don’t think I will be coming this way again for a long time…. It is a long long way from home! By any type of transportation. Anyways what is a trip without looking up some geniology. We went racing to the cemetery where Great Grandfather and grandmother French are buried to find 7000 gravestones! Where to start? Well we road around until dark and headed back to the hotel to regroup and eat supper after a very long day in the saddle.
We spent the evening on the internet and low and behold I found a sight with the listing of the people buried in Oakland Cemetary Keokuk Iowa and found 4 : Frank and his wife Eunice, their son Fred and daughter Helen [Ada and Lillian are buried in Pella, Iowa so that will be another trip maybe] I must ask Thalia if she knows why they are over there. I do know they returned from Canada to Pella Iowa and lived there for a time, but I think as Fred was here in Keokuk that is why the parents are also.

Anyways we are also going to the address of the family home which I got off a postcard to Grandma when she lived here. Also I was able to get off the internet a city listing of names and addresses [they had no phones] for 1901 and it lists: Frank [father] Eunice[mother] Ada[Physician-dtr] Florence[dtr] Helen [dtr] as living at 521 Morgan Street so we will go and see what is on that sight today! Well tomorrow! I didn’t realize they had listings other than cencus so it’s kind of neat they did. Well off to bed.

day56 Snively Access

DAY FIFTY-SIX Bennet IA to Snively Access CG on lake
Oct 4 Thursday D 77km M 44.5 A 15.4 PT 5h RT9h total 4425.9km

Wind from the south again! Although the road didn’t go straight all the time
Temp Really warm 30C in afternoon Went Swimming Oct 4 and the water wasn’t cold
Road Condition No shoulder other than gravel all day on cement roads
Food: Breakfast usual
Lunch in Muscatine at 1430 at Taco Bell and we actually liked it! Seven layer veggie burrittos
Supper Tomato/Avocado/cheese salad and bread with a lot of mosquitos!
Overall: One of the most fun days. We waited for the tent to dry which took until 0930, then road back into Bennett and phoned Aunt Thalia for an address in Keokuk off one of Grandma’s postcards The address is 521 Morgan St. We checked it out on the map and it is right down town so the house may be gone now but we plan to go check it out tomorrow if and when we ever get there. We will be looking for a graveyard also as Grandma’s brother Fredrich died in Keokuk as did her sister Helen. Both of here parents are buried in Keokuk too so we hope to find that info. Should be an interesting day as we think we are at least 117km away… might try for a hotel downtown.
One of the things that made today so interesting was
a. the terrain is so much like southern central Alberta it is amazing and if they were harvesting wheat you couldn’t tell it apart
b. I stopped to take a picture of a person harvesting corn and she offered to take me on a round of the field so I went…. She thought one circuit would be 30minutes, but closer to an hour later Ken was still standing at the side of the road. … interesting things I learned
· Karen The combine Queen, who is about my age with 4 children and 5 grandchildren, related that this corn is for domestic use for things like corn syrup, etc.
· 1sq mile of field which is 640 acres Right now $3.25 a bushel for corn or ~$1000 for one bin as pictured
· cost of farming is getting very high…. Combine ~$100thousand and the head for corn ~$60thousand and same for a head for soya beans
· she updated my thinking about the wood burners or corn burners… they burn the kernels not the plant and you cann’t burn either or so when corn is too costly you cann’t burn wood
· they alternate beans and corn each year in different fields
· land is ~$6000/acre here which is very good land
· it was really neat sitting in air conditioned comfort watching the corn be mutilated and see it go up into the back of the combine and then she dumped it into a wagon pulled by a tractor. A lot to watch that the tractor isn’t going too fast or slow so the kernels are onto the ground! Their dog who is 11 years old runs along side and makes sure she is in the right rows…. The corn is planted in rows specifically the right width for the combine to fit down… maybe the pictures show it as it is really hard to explain
· Anyways she said it would take weeks to finish this one field and they have 5 just as big! They are hopping the weather will remain warm now for the rest of October as so are we!
We are sitting in the tent hiding from the mosquitos… and trying to kill the ones that are in the tent! The fish are jumping and making such big splashes Ken went to check they weren’t something else ie alligators or something!
This is truly a lovely spot with no other campers on a Thursday night. We are right at the shore of this lake which isn’t often any longer in Canada. Most campsites are away from the water and the picnic sites are on the shore. Well Mom often said be careful what you wish for and we were really wishing the warm weather would return and with it came mossies!
I must mention what a neat city Muscatine is. The down town is very old buildings and seems to have lots of businesses going. The grocery store had duel language signs everywhere…. Spanish and English! Lots of Mexican type foods in the grocery also… Ken spoke to a fellow outside the grocery that said he isn’t taking his 3 weeks holidays as they will pay him out instead and it’s $1000. in his pocket…. Wages cann’t be much making plastic buckets. He agreed that there are a lot of Mexicans here.
Ken is finding the daylight hours way to short for his liking. We got into camp about 6:30pm and the sun is down by 7pm with about ½ hour of twilight. Diner in the dark once again. The new addition of a night light in the tent is marvelous! I am very excited to go to Keokuk tomorrow!

day 55 Bennet IA

DAY FIFTY-FIVE Dyersville IA to Bennet IA
Oct 3/07 Wednesday D110.58 km M 46.8 A 16.3 PT6h52 RT8.5h total 4348.9km

Wind minimal from the southwest in am…. More from the south in pm
Temp Beautiful sunny day with no clouds! Up to 25C in afternoon…. Tank top day!
Road Condition Well so far we cann’t say much nice about Iowa roads… cement hiways [blump, blump] rough and gravel drop down shoulders… not nice, but all drivers seem to wait or move over for us
Food: Breakfast Outside the grocery…. Apples and high fiber bars!
Lunch Well we didn’t have a sticky bun stop… Ken will be in withdrawal! We had a picnic in Onslow I had a tomato, avocado with cheese pieces and carrots salad… the salad spritzer is a great invention… doesn’t need refrigeration… although I have my freezer pack frozen today. Many “pop” stops as warmer day Ken is a peanut butter boy!
Supper We repeated lunch with English muffins… the selection of breads is pretty poor… no bakery’s in these small towns.
Accommodation: Well we got back on track and made it to Bennet Park CG Although it is 5km out of Bennet, it is a really nice grassy spot and very reasonable at $5 [$7.50 with electricity] We splurged and bought an extention cord and a night light which is really nice in the tent! Mossies are out at sunset….. gone by dark…. Millions of stars!
Overall: Really a nice day with the warm sun… lots of hills….Had to play catch up and do 24km to Cascade from yesterdays plan…after that the day was long, but nice riding. The farms seem larger, more prosperous from the look of the farm yards. They are very busy harvesting today as it is one of the first dry days in a while. Corn and more corn today. Some more mixed farms… heard roosters crowing, saw really big pigs. They have small little “dog-houses” one for each sow… they are loving the wet weather… just laying in the mud!

The small towns seem to be more viable than say in southern Saskatchewan… everyone seems busy and they seem to be keeping their post offices and gas stations. ++flies… I think this is usual for the fall, but you cann’t even go in a restaurant without there being lots.

Flags….. every home has one… are they more patriotic? Lots of Pumpkins and Halloween ghosts and decorations.

Lots of the wood heaters seen…. We also saw them advertised as “corn burners” too.

Ken commented that we are still seeing lots of dead raccoons on the road, but we have yet to see one in a campsite… or have it come visit our stuff in the night.

Looking at going to Keokuk 184km out of the way so will take up the 2 extra days we are ahead and 2 more days to get back on track…. Worth it or not?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Day 54 McGregor to Dyersville IA

DAY FIFTY-FOUR McGregor IA to Dyersville IA
Oct 2 Tuesday D 75.82km M 39.3 A 13.6 PT5h32 RT9h total 4238.4km

Wind Oh I’m fed up with talking about the south winds Head winds all day once again!
Temp 18C with 100% humidity first thing this morning to 22C and a thunderstorm by 3:30pm
Road Condition great with some 8% grades up and down; Hwy 52 terrible with 2” drop to gravel shoulder/ traffic++
Food: Breakfast Boring as usual until we stopped for a coffee break and had cinnamon buns in Gutteberg
Lunch Luxenburg picnic
Supper Pizza out while the clothes washed themselves
Accommodation: No trouble at the campsite. Up and off by 0700 as foggy and a long day ahead.
Overall: Really strenuous day up up and down down into the wind. Neat views of large Mississippi River. Threat of rain all day finally hit at 1430 in New Vienna. We raced into a auto mechanics shop and stayed there for an hour until the lightening and thunder moved off. Really rained hard. We made a reservation with a hotel and set off in a drizzle to arrive a little wet. It poured on and off all evening. We did our laundry while we went out for pizza and it poured and blew a gail once more. There were tornado warnings for south of us, but I don’t think they hit Iowa. Very turbulent weather. We have headed away from the Mississippi River as we go straight south. Didn’t make it to Cascade today but hope to make up the lost time in the next few days. My grandmother [Florence French/Tomlinson] was from Keokuk Iowa in the extreme south. We are hoping to go there if the weather systems start to settle down in the next few days.

Day 53 Brownsville to McGregor IA

DAY FIFTY-Three Brownsville, MN to McGregor IA
Oct 1 Monday D93.51 km M 49.1A 16.7 PT 5h35 RT9h total 4162.5 km

Wind I love to say it….. NO WIND!!!
Temp warm…. We got up to 18C and muggy and it was overcast all day with threat of rain which never came
Road Condition great rolling ride along the rambling Mississippi River
Food: Breakfast fruit
Lunch Well we have to mention the CHOCOLATE PIE for coffee in New Albin MN It was scrumcious
Supper Had a late lunch of Pizza in Lansing and we pedaled on.
ACCOMODATION: Red Blood Municipal CG: Well we were headed to Sleepy Hollow CG which we went to but it had no showers so we came back down out of the hills to go to Spook Cave CG and came across the entrance for this one…. 1m off the road to find it was closed yesterday too…. Well we debated… I went to ask at 2 different houses… got cornered by 2 dogs… “nice dog… nice dog” as I backed away anyways I was exhausted so we put up tent to learn that there was open camping a little farther down the road… this spot apparently was closed due to flooding…. No signs so we are staying put… hopefully no one troubles us.
Overall: Hot and humid. Left once more at 8am! The days are shorter now with only 12 hours of sunlight… that is if it is sunny. It was a good ride. Lots of mobiles and float houses all along the river which seemed to be braided. Lots of sign of flooding into fields and areas you could see the trees were large and under water. Hard to know if the housing is summer homes or permanent houses. Incredible number of old old…[50’s] mobiles.

Winona to Brownsville MN Day 52

DAY FIFTY-TWO Winona MN to Brownsville, MN [should have made IOWA]
Sept 30 Sunday D76.93 km M 41.1 A 15.1 PT 5h RT h total km

Wind pedaled pedaled pedaled into the wind all day… very exhauting
Temp Got up after it rained and thundered all night. Hot overnight [south wind]and very HUMID! Everything feels sticky
Road Condition We went off Hwy 61 onto CR 7 which went over hill and dail up up to a bluff with apple orchards much like Kelowna. The roads were all good. Day just seemed to go on and on and threat of rain all day.
Accommodation We arrived at Wildcat landing CG to find it had closed that day. There were showers but closed. No one around to talk to so we set up in a shelter and stayed the night. The outhouses were open. We had another thunderstorm which started right after a great supper and went on and off all night. We were right on the Mississippi river and watched the barges go by all night. The train was across the river and the whistles sounded very musical across the water.
Food: Breakfast usual
Lunch I had a subway veggie sand and Ken ordered veggie omlet [took 45min to come as the cook had quit] Interesting Truck Stop…. They were so busy that people were ordering meals and leaving before they were delivered because it was so long with 1 cook. I felt sorry for the waitress, but it didn’t seem to bother her.
Supper beans on toast and burgers… were really good as I made the fire! In the raised barbeque Lots of drift wood on the beach to make fire with. We were entertained by the fishermen going by and the barges of maybe coal.
Overall: Up and off by 8am… not usual but tent is dry. Had to make up 21km from yesterday as we stopped earlier than we anticipated and had not realized it was still 20km to go to the expected campsite. Oh well. Lots of spots where we could see that they had had “land-slides” down hill sides… one spot where a house was taken out between 2 others… lots of huge trees down… just uprooted.