A Heart Of Gold

Hank – All good things must come to an end so we finally had to say goodbye to Deb and Dan and everyone. We left late in the day because we were only going 25 miles to Volin, SD. It was hot and humid so it wasn’t a very comfortable ride. There was only one hill and we had some headwind, which helped cool us a little.

We rolled into Volin around 6:30 pm and went into Kavern’s for a cold drink and dinner. I asked Maria, who took our order, if there was a city park we could tent in. She said there was one just around the corner and we should be able to camp there. She offered to text the mayor and make sure it was okay but we told her not to bother since that’s been our experience in so many other small towns.

Next thing you know a couple walk in and the woman asks, “Are you Hank and Kathy from Washington state riding those bikes out there?”

We’ll, of course she knew that since we were the only strangers in the place and our license plates had our names. And that’s how we met Pam and Dave Simmons. Pam has a sunny disposition and a heart of gold. Dave is easy going and laid back. When Pam heard we were going to camp at the city park she was having none of that. She said they gave a spare bedroom and bathroom at their place and that we are more than welcome to spend the night there instead of in a tent. Again, this adventure is all about meeting people like Pam and Dave.

We also became friends with Maria and Dan Kavanaugh, the owners of Kavern’s, and Pat and Kathy, and Bruce and Sandy who were also customers in the place. Bruce was hilarious and a lot of fun. He also has an interesting history. He joined the Navy back in the 60s. While at boot camp the Navy learned he was a certified lifeguard so they pulled him from his boot camp duties and tasked him with teaching new recruits how to swim. When it came time to graduate from boot camp he sat in the grandstand while his classmates marched by because he never learned how to march. He’s also a retired FAA pilot inspector and both he and Sandy are former pilots. We got to talking so much with everyone we didn’t leave for Pam and Dave’s house until almost 9:00. We stored our bikes in the garage and brought in what we needed. First up was showers followed by laundry. We talked until almost 11:00.

Kathy – Yes, it was hard to leave Deb and Dan after a great 4th of July break with them.  We took five days off from riding and it was just what we needed.  We both were excited to continue our trip, but also had mixed feelings because we were not ready to leave our friends.  So off we went and the excitement of riding again quickly diminished with the heat, 100% humidity and headwind the entire way.  Our average speed was only 8 miles and hour.  The 25-mile ride ended up 27 miles because we hit a gravel road that went on for many miles.  We decided to back track and found an alternate route around some of the flooded roads and the gravel road to get to Violin, South Dakota – population 161.

If you ever get a chance to stop by Violin, South Dakota – do it!  You will meet some of the kindest and welcoming people ever.  Pam and Dave did not hesitate to offer strangers a bed, shower, laundry, and any food or drinks in their house.  Their hospitality was fantastic.   We had great conversations with them and are thankful for our time with them.  Pam gave me an angel pin for safety during our travels.  I added this beautiful pin to my saddle bag.  It is next to the St. Christopher’s medallion that Paul & Shelia gave to us before we left Spokane.  Hopefully these will keep us safe during our travels.  Thank you Pam, and Paul & Shelia!!  Everyone in Violin was beyond nice.  We literally could have stayed awake most of the night talking to these people.  We truly enjoyed our time with everyone.

Hey, Warden

Hank – After getting the latest on which roads are closed due to flooding and with Dave’s help getting our route straightened out, we bid Pam and Dave adieu and set course for Hawarden, IA. (For pronunciation assistance, see the blog post title.) But first, after eight miles, we stopped in Wakonda to have breakfast. Arthur owns and runs the Eagles Nest/Wakonda Cafe. He’s also the chef. And his oldest son, now a Command Master Chief, has been a chef in the Navy for many years now. I recommend the Texas Taters with your eggs. After breakfast we got back on the 302 Road, which would take us all the way to Hawarden. During the ride we saw a number of flooded corn fields. Some of them were draining through culverts into adjacent corn fields. It was a mess. And this was only the residual from the flooding that happened almost two weeks ago.

The road gradually developed more rollers and we went up and down a lot during the second half of our 40-mile trip. During one rest stop I called the Hawarden City Hall and asked about camping in the city park. I was informed they have a number of camp sites with power and water, bathrooms and showers, and all for $10 a day. Sold!

When we cross the Sioux River there was no Welcome to Iowa sign so we used the city’s sign to reflect we’ve reached our ninth state. Once in town we had a late lunch or an early dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Then we went to the park and picked out a camp site. We washed our clothes when we showered–they have hot water!–and laid them out to dry. The park is not in the best location for camping. We have a main road with truck traffic and train traffic a block away. Hopefully, removing our hearing aids will dampen the sound enough.

Kathy – Ok, just to clarify (since I tend to focus on the details) – there were rolling hills the entire 47-mile trip today.  Google Maps for bikes said we would have a five mile downhill at the end of our day today.  It didn’t happen. I wrote Google about a month ago about the inaccuracies in their bike map elevations and have yet to hear back from them.  It’s not like they are THAT busy, I need to write them a follow-up note reminding them to fix that biking elevation issue.  🙂  Another hot day with the high humidity, too. The constant hills and heat wore into us both today.  We were happy to be done.  Headed to a Mexican restaurant upon arrival to Hawarden, Iowa hoping to get a nice cold margarita with dinner.  Well this is the second Mexican restaurant since we started our trip that does not sell any alcoholic beverages.  I must say, regardless, the lemonade hit the spot.

We were happy to arrive today at state number nine…Iowa!!  Only 39 to go!!  We are tired of itching with all our mosquito bites, black fly bites, gnats, and other nasty little flying bugs that like to devour us so we bought a Thermacell gadget.  Rick (Deb & Dan’s son-in-law) told us about them. This Thermacell runs on batteries and is very light weight.  It is supposed to emit some smell to keep the buggies away for up to 15 feet.  Today is the first day we tried it, not sure if it’s working…the jury is still out.  We need to find something that helps since we are heading towards Minnesota and Wisconsin next.  I heard the mosquito was the state bird for Minnesota – yikes! 🙂  So we are hanging in our tent tonight and at the local convenience store catching up on our blog post as we try to stay cool and avoid additional bug bites.  I know so many people are envious of us tonight.  😉