Day 37 Is This Heaven? No, It’s Iowa!

Today’s weather was favorable and the ride was relatively short so we didn’t leave Marquette, Iowa until 8 am. First we had to climb up and out of the Mississippi River valley. The cliffs lined the road.

We went through several small towns that had no pretenses about being small. Watson, Iowa had exactly two houses and this sign.

We stopped at an Elkader convenience store and saw this:

Updegraff’s population was 27 in 1902. Today one house remains.

Petersburg, Iowa has a population of 29 people and is barely a wide spot in the road. The town has one grain elevator and this huge church (Saints Peter and Paul) that was built in 1906.

We spent a lot of time on ridges that had very big views.

Harvesting has begun. Here is a combine discharging soybeans.

Tonight we are staying in Dyersville, Iowa. You may know Dyersville from the movie, A Field of Dreams, which was filmed on a farm near here. Dyersville also has the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, one of the few minor Roman Catholic basilicas in the United States outside a large metropolitan area.

Dyersville is also known as the Farm Toy Capital of the World.

The Ertl company makes die cast farm toys and was started in Dyersville in 1945. There are also two other companies here that make farm toys.

We visited the National Farm Toy Museum where they have displayed 30,000 farm toys. At the museum you could see exciting things like these dies used to create a toy tractor.

Tonight we went to a nearby Mexican restaurant. The beer signs were lit and we walked in. All the chairs were up on the tables. No one was around. We called and the phone rang. Turns out that they are closed on Monday evenings but they hadn’t locked the doors. So we had Chester’s Fried Chicken at a grocery store next door and ate outside. Yum.


  • Marquette to Dyersville, Iowa.
  • Distance: 71.9 miles (116 km)
  • Climbing: 3172 feet (967 m)
  • Temperature: 54 – 82°F (12 – 28°C)

Dad and Bicycles

In a previous post it was mentioned that Dad’s first multi-day ride was SAGBRAI (Second Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) in August, 1974. Our brother, Willie, also was on that ride. Willie was 15 and Dad was 39 years old. Here is what Willie remembered:

Dad signed up early and rode on a bus to Council Bluffs. I decided late and got a ride with Matt Eash’s mom to Council Bluffs. Bob Gaston (band) and Bob Hall (math) were also on the ride. I don’t remember a whole lot about the ride but that Dubuque had very steep hills. We were in Waterloo in the middle of the week when we heard President Nixon’s resignation speech in the evening.

One day I came upon a lone rider stopped beside the road. It was Dad. He had a broken chain and said he would have to wait for the sag wagon. I had a chain tool so we removed a link and he kept on going. I wonder if he carried a chain tool after that.

Our sister, Yvonne, rode with Dad on RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) in 1987. It was 437 miles and 6 nights. Yvonne was 23 and Dad was 52 years old. Here is what she remembered:

When I was a kid, I would bike ride with Dad on gravel roads outside Kalona, first on a one speed bike, then later, the yellow fancy-to-me five speed bike we had.

When I was older, I went on a few longer weekend rides with Mom and Dad and the Iowa City bike club. In college, I went on RAGBRAI with Dad and two other guys from Kalona whose names I never remember, but should. Here’s a picture of Dad and me.

I always thought that was a neat father-daughter experience. One thing I do remember is that we had to share an old two person pup tent. Here’s a picture with Chad in the very tent we used.

There may have been a better tent that Mom encouraged him to bring, but for some reason, he brought the old one. We each had our sleeping bags, Dad had some sort of sleeping pad, and I had a blow up air mattress. Maybe the one in the picture with Chad? I believe the mattress deflated by morning most of the trip. Anyway, the night we stayed in Fort Dodge it rained most of the night. The next morning, I woke up on the hard, hard ground in an inch or two of water, but Dad was totally dry, being on his pad and all. I had years of fun harassing him about that afterward.


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