Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Back To The Country

I mentioned it when I was in El Paso. I was going to be looking for a gravel road ride soon after my return. Well, I got it Saturday. We have friends that live north of town several miles away, and they had invited us to dinner. I asked Mrs. Guitar Ted to drive up with the children, and I made my way up on my BMC "Orange Crush" rig.

Another country church find.
I have to admit that I am a bit of a closet history geek. Since we've returned from Texas, I have been delving into Texas history, and also some of the more colorful characters that are woven in and out of the Southwest's wild history. Folks like Sam Houston, Billy the Kid, and Stephen F Austin.

So I always get a kick from learning about my own "back yard", as it were. During my little ride, I stumbled upon another old country church, and a couple of other interesting tidbits.

Black Hawk County, in which I live, is unique in Iowa since it doesn't use the typical alphanumeric system for naming gravel roads like the rest of the state does. Here the roads bear the names they have had since before the 911 Emergency Plan was established which re-named, or named for the first time, every road in the State of Iowa. I've always wondered what the origin of many of these names was.

Bennington School
For instance, there is a road just north of town that runs East-West named "Big Rock Road". Pretty obvious, but I've never seen a "big rock" on this road, or anywhere near enough to it for me to get the impression that "this is that rock".

Well, Saturday, I rode right past "that rock"! It's pretty obvious when you see it. (I won't spoil it for the locals. You need to ride around and find this one yourselves.)

Another road name up north of us is "Bennington Road". Now sometimes I figure that perhaps an important person, or a figure in Black Hawk County history might be accountable for road names such as this, so I never think about stumbling upon an obvious answer to my questions about names like that. However; Saturday, to my great surprise, I rode right past Bennington School, and a small grouping of homes. Perhaps a place known in the past as Bennington? Maybe. But it was obvious that the road that ran East-West right by the school got its name from here.

That was fun, but getting out and riding was better. My knee is at about 90% now of normal. The wound is still healing, but the swelling is now all but gone, and the pain has subsided to a large degree. Only hurts if I bump it now.

Our friends farm is set back from the road about a quarter of a mile and in the back of the property, there is a large, open space that is a third of the way into the middle of a mile square section where it can get so quiet and peaceful you want the evening to last forever. The cooing of Mourning Doves just amps up the feeling even more.

The whole property is surrounded by our friends fields where they raise corn and beans. Typical Iowa farm stuff, I suppose, but I enjoy just sitting here at times and not doing a single thing but breathe. Sometimes I think the world could use a major injection of "slow down and sit fer awhile", if ya know what I mean.

Fortunately, our hosts are of much the same mind. It is nice to visit here, and they always treat us like kings when we come up. My children just love the big dog and riding on the four wheeler. It sure is nice to see that kids can get a kick out of something that doesn't need to have its batteries recharged and has ear buds attached to it.

Bishop In The Bean Field
We sat and chatted around an open fire pit with flames blazing until the stars were all twinkling in the sky above our heads. We saw a shooting star, and told the kids about the Big Dipper and The North Star.

What a great day! (Well, maybe not so much the afternoon, where I got rained on while mowing the yard that had been neglected for three weeks!) It was one of those great summer evenings that seem to last forever.

I was just super blessed to have had a great ride back into the country and have it end on such a fine farm with great friends, food, drink, and conversation. Sometimes it is just a welcome diversion to be riding without any race, big adventure plans, or purpose other than recreation. I highly recommend it.

(As always, click on any image to make it bigger!)


Steve Fuller said...

Good old Big Rock Road. My wife's parents live on that particular hunk of crushed limestone. I managed to grind a little gravel north of there early one Thanksgiving morning a couple of years ago. My version of the Turkey Day ride.

MG said...

Nice... Glad to see you got out. We got an incredible weekend of gravel to/from Ponca State Park this past weekend. Might have been the best ever, even though we left in rain and had to ride pavement for the first 50 miles (of 160 on Saturday). But after breakfast, the rest of the day was so good, it made up for whatever discomfort we had riding out of town earlier in the day. Just fantastic... I'm sure you've already seen the photos starting to pop up on the facebook.

Have fun buddy.

john said...

Glad you got out on the bike. The Big Rock is on one of the most used E/W roads that we use.
Keep on exploring ...

75 miles south said...

A nice contrast to the let down of the bad hub and bad service.