Wednesday was the second shortest day at 51.5 miles. This was the only morning that all five in our party headed out together so that my mom, dad, and I, all in our college bike jerseys, could show off our combined school spirit. We stopped to buy breakfast burritos from Girl Scouts of Northern Iowa. Included in the meal were two GS cookies and a drink. My dad drank a PBR with his burrito at 9:30 am.
We rode on and skipped over some of the stop towns. We had to stop along the road to watch some of the many people flying off a rope swing into a giant pond. We decided not to wait in the long line to join the fun but regretted it after hearing that later in the day this turned into a nude swimming/ rope swinging event that had to be broken up by the police. Not long after, we stopped at Peanut Butter Jam, a delicious and creative lunch stop where you can get PBJ sandwiches with toppings such as nutella, honey, chocolate chips, pickles, cheese, potato chips and more. There was a jam sesh tent by the food where riders could rock out with guitars, drums, and maracas while waiting or eating. Video to come. Five miles outside of Charles City, our overnight town, Joyce and Ben and I stopped at a county fairground offering beer, sweet corn, karaoke, and elephant rides. I love elephants and at first considered riding until I watched the elephant for about 30 seconds and realized how sad the situation was. Joyce and I had our first day beer and we enjoyed laughing with the karaoke artists.
We set up camp in Charles City, cleaned up, and headed into what would be my favorite evening experience of the trip. We went to the grocery store and bought two 6-packs of Keystone tallboys, bought gyros on the street and sat at a park picnic table conversing with several great strangers. We talked to Ralph, a middle school principle from Minnesota with a wife and two kids, the longest. His advice was always pay things off on time, pay in cash and use your credit card only in case of emergencies, and embrace life because it goes by fast. He was a great guy. The grassy park we spent so long in was also great, as was the entire town. We eventually got up to walk around the river, climb trees, sit on the curb to read aloud my post from Tuesday night, and watch a juggling show. As one guy, debatably intoxicated, got on a unicycle without a helmet, I yelled "where's your helmet?" To which he responded "first rule of juggling, safety third".
For us, safety comes first but fun and adventure are right up there with it. Nude rope swinging would have been highly adventurous but jamming with strangers, meeting Iowan Girl Scouts, and connecting with Ralph was all the fun we needed.
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