Day Eighteen

Storm Lake to John Sheldon Park


This was roughly the half way point in our journey with regard to days. We awoke refreshed from a day off and were inspired to try to make many miles. We would be delayed at the start as the cloudy sky became darker then outright ominous. The wind began to rock the big trees and shortly a very cold wind began to blow hard. Shortly after, huge raindrops began to fall. First they were few then suddenly the sky burst with a deluge of phenomenal proportion. We had already broke our camp and had to quickly spread a tarp over the picnic table and huddle underneath while Mother Nature did her rampage.

The storm lasted mercifully a short time. After the air was fresh and cool. We headed out and began the trek eastward. I had not been entirely happy with the stay in Storm Lake. My prejudice had tainted my attitude towards the neighbors and Austin picked up on my lame feelings. During the early part of the day, he pedaled ahead of. I could not get his attention. He was too far to yell at. I was feeling depressed and mentally tired. The winds again were on our nose. At one point on one not-sop-steep hill I got off my bike and began to walk. At that moment I felt lost. I wanted to be home and forget that I ever had this idea. I quietly suffered along.

Eventually Austin had stopped and waited for me. We took a break next to the highway and smoked one of the fat joints that I had rolled for special occasions. Some where my energy began to change. Austin’s vigor and commitment buoyed my spirit. I began to sense for the first time that we just might pull this thing off. We hit the road again this time with renewed energy for me. The winds did not help. They became nearly gale force.

Again the sky looked like it was about to burst. We sought shelter in a remote barn. We hung out and waited for the storm to pass. The wind howled. We killed some of the boredom by climbing around in the barn and discovered two baby Barn Owls. They were cool. The wind continued as we headed out again.

We made decent time as we headed towards Clear Lake Iowa. The sky was still crummy looking but it didn’t rain. We pedaled into Clear Lake and asked about camping. We were steered to Macintosh State Park. We found the best loop in the campground to be completely empty. We settled into the most prime spot and began to relax for the evening.

As we became totally relaxed a giant, bus sized diesel camper entered our loop. It was questionable whether it could make the bend. It was towing a pick up truck. The owner/operator stopped the rig, unhooked the pickup and proceeded to maneuver the monster rig into the spot directly next to us. I went to the guy and suggested that he take a spot on the lower level that was designed for such rigs, but he wanted to be in the more scenic spot. This was exceptionally ironic as the aging couple spent the entire time inside the camper with the generator running while watching TV. They could have been in a truck stop and not known the difference. Austin and I noted quite a difference.

The camper would be the least of our problems. After going to bed the unmistakable sound of distant thunder could not be ignored. Over the next hour it grew louder and louder until the night sky totally exploded. The lightning struck constantly and close. The claps of thunder were deafening. The wind howled with such ferocity that at times I suspected a tornado. We could only wait it out and hope that no trees would come down on us. I never thought I would harbor any envy for the neighbors next door. They might have slept through the whole thing, though I doubt it.