Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sighting the next water tower.

Through Nebraska and most of Iowa most towns have had tall water towers, some visible from miles away, allowing me to get my bearings and guess-timate distances. In the last few days the towers have looked shorter, the hills have closed in a bit and there has been more vegetation; I have noticed that, without a steady point of reference, I sometimes lose the sense that I am moving at all, despite all of this incessant stepping!

In fact, recent heat, humidity and seriously rolling hills have reduced this walk to a virtual crawl.  The westward walker I mentioned last post talked about 'zero' days and ´nero´ days (from his experience on the Pacific Crest Trail).  Zero days were, of course, the rest days, but ´nero´days were the ones when people would walk short distances, just to move, without being concerned about distances. Nowadays, some of my walk days are feeling decidedly like ´nero´days. Yesterday I arrived in Iowa City, at another comfortable and hospitable ´Couchsurfing´ destination. The main goals here are to have a chiropractic adjustment and to investigate what has happened to the high-dose electrolyte powder I tried to have shipped here, General Delivery...

 The other day I met history teach Barry, his wife Jen, and Barry´s sister Melissa (the support vehicle driver) who are walking in my same direction, with a Chicago destination (and making better time, I must say!)  They are walking a Civil War era Underground Railroad route from Nebraska, to raise awareness of contemporary human trafficking. Their Facebook page is called ´Walk Forever Free´. Barry gives presentations along the way and they marched in the Iowa City Pride parade yesterday.  On the day we shared Rt. 6 I was able to take advantage of their support vehicle for some water, electrolyte mix and tailgate shade, and learn about their mission.

Recent offers of shelter have come from the Iowa Rt. 6 Tourism Association director (who also provided a tour of a few significant spots), a passerby in Colfax, and farmers in Grinnell.  Road Angels, all!  Interesting landmarks:  The Ladora Bank Bistro, converted from an historic bank building (hence the name, of course!), not open when I walked through, although I got to see inside; a vintage motel where I stayed in Marengo; historic registry ´jewelbox bank´in Grinnell, one of a series of small banks designed by architect Louis Sullivan early last century.  Oh, and I got some background on another of Rt. 6´s early appellations -- Grand Army of the Republic Highway -- a reference to the Union army in the Civil War.

With Barry from the Walk Forever Free march

Inside the Bank Bistro

Ladora Bank Bistro

Merchant´s National Bank, Grinnell

GAR Post meeting hall, Redfield

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