Monday, October 12, 2020

Fall Views: Leaf Peeping

Escape route: Young Road.
Saturday was another oddball Fall day which felt more like August than October. I think it nearly got to 80° here and the winds were a mere breeze from the Northeast. So, that pesky bit of road nabbing I had to get done was tackled after I deliberated on the route for about a half an hour before I left. I was trying to solve the mystery of the Northeast corner of Black Hawk County when I suddenly realized that by doing a simple thing with the long planned Nesbit Road ride that I could simplify my Northeast Corner ride a lot. 

It's amazing how when you look at something suddenly you see it in a unique way and things start to make more sense. This used to happen to me all the time when I was wrestling with Trans Iowa route finding. But at any rate, I had a plan then and I was set to go. 

The bike was an unusual one for recent times. We got in some new tires to test for Riding Gravel and since I had three sets of WTB SG2 tires taking up wheels already I had to pull the Raleigh Tamland Two from the mothballs, clean it up, check it over, and mount the new tires to that bike's wheel set so I could get out and start the review. 

I also decided that since there were about 15 or more miles of just "junk miles" to get to where I needed to be, that I'd implement that thought I had, the one where I mentioned I'd load up the bike and take it to a destination to ride from. I chose the same place I embarked from earlier this Summer in Raymond, Iowa. It is a softball complex and they have a nice, big gravel parking lot. Raymond is a pretty sleepy community, and so I felt safe letting the Truck With No Name sit there in that lot for several hours. This also meant I had about a mile to the gravel. 

There was tons of harvesting activity going on Saturday.

The stub end of McStay Road looking North to the quarry.

I decided I may as well do 'out-and-backs' of a couple of stub roads which were truncated when Highway 20 was made into a four lane minimum access road. The first one was McStay Road, which has another corresponding stub end I have to deal with South of HWY 20. That'll be another ride. I also bagged Oxley Road which dead ends at HWY 20 as well.

The Fall colors were starting to pop. It was a beautiful day to boot.

The Raleigh Tamland Two at the dead end of Oxley Road hard against HWY 20 looking South.

The gravel was pretty chunky down along HWY 20. These roads don't get a lot of traffic and harvesting had yet to start in earnest down there. As I moved North, once I reached Nesbit Road, things smoothed out a bit more as the big machines tend to chew up the chunk into smaller bits and dust. Oh! Speaking of dust, it was super dusty out Saturday. All the roads were a mix of white moon dust and chunk. 

Hauling in the gold from the fields. Note all the dust from the tires.  
This lone windmill sticks up above the horizon line.

I have to say that the first few miles of Nesbit Road were rather unremarkable. The road climbs up on to a plateau of sorts from the South and then rolls along some desolate fields of corn with no break in the views. I even said out loud to myself that this was a fairly boring road. But then I crossed North of Independence Avenue and things started perking up. There were trees and more rollers. There was more farming activity too. 

Barns For Jason #1

The corn was so fresh you could smell it in the air.

Nesbit is a road that is fairly long at eight miles, but I hadn't been on a single mile of it until Saturday. I'd ride the bit closer to Dunkerton again, as that part was a lot more interesting than the Southern bit. It also climbs steadily as you go North until you reach the ridge where the Cedar Valley drainage ends and the drainage turns toward the Wapsipinicon valley. 

Barns For Jason #2 

Barns For Jason #3

As you can tell, there were several barns I hadn't seen before along Nesbit Road also. These were surprisingly either in good shape or still in use. That usually is not the case unless you are in Amish or Mennonite areas. At any rate, it was nice to see barns in good repair.

Old iron in the pasture.

The closer to Crane Creek I got the more visually interesting things got.

Once I reached the end of Nesbit Road just to the Northeast of Dunkerton, I needed to do a couple 'out-and-backs' on Mt. Vernon Road and on a Northerly bit of Wheeler Road to where it terminated at Bennington Road. As I approached the end of Nesbit Road I was coming on to Crane Creek and things were looking pretty good as far as Fall colors go in regard to the trees in that creek's valley. 

This harvesting activity was occurring along Mt. Vernon Road North of Dunkerton.

Barns For Jason #4

After doing those two 'out-and-backs' I was back onto going forward without anymore backtracking nonsense. I rounded the corner which is the end of Mt. Vernon Road on the East and then headed South on Wheeler Road which had spectacular views all around. I imagine about mid-week the Fall colors will peak around these parts and it should be something to see. It was sure looking good from the seat of my bicycle Saturday. 

Barns For Jason #5 This one has a 'porch'! Ha!

More Fall colors near Crane Creek on Wheeler Road.

I stopped for a 15 minute break on Wheeler Road at a bridge where I could sit on the railing and enjoy some beef jerky. As I was sitting there I heard owls hooting in the distance. Hoo hoo hoo-hoo! Hoo hoo hoo-HOOOOO!! I just love that when I hear it. Owls have such a lusty, deep call and it carries a long way out in the open spaces. Well, after that fun I had to get a move-on. 

More harvesting activity. It seems as though all the soybeans are done and in.  

There was a lot of dust in the air from a passing vehicle when I took this image.

Oddly enough, there was post-harvesting activities going on out in the fields already as well. Farmers were bailing up the corn stalks into round bales as feed for cattle. There were also places which had already worked up the soil for Winter also. These past weeks have been hot, dry, and devoid of moisture which is perfect for harvesting, but rains are supposedly on the way. I suspect that if this rain materializes it will delay everything a day or so. The ground is so dry though that any moisture will get absorbed quickly, I think. 

The colors were everywhere. What a great day to ride!

That lone cottonwood I had up as a header pic earlier this year here on the blog. See from the opposite way this time.

I finally rolled in to that gravel parking lot about3+ hours later with several roads nicked off the list of 'to-do's'. That was a successful outing as far as "The Quest" goes. But it was also a great day to be riding. The Fall colors and the harvest activities were enough to keep me engaged and excited to see what was over the next hill. The owl call was icing on the cake. What a great day to be out!. I hope that you all reading this were able to get outside and enjoy whatever you have to do where you are as well.


S.Fuller said...

Spent a solid 7 hours checking "meat" of the rain route for Spotted Horse, after making a loop of the first and last quarters last weekend. Same conditions here - dry, beautiful,dusty, and loads of farm equipment.

Gorgeous day to be on a bike.

flying_sqrl said...

Based on your description of the owl’s call, it sounds like you heard a Barred Owl. Barred Owls have a distinctive hooting call of 8–9 notes, described as “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” Try to strike up a conversation next time by mimicking the call, it’s possible the owl will respond.

MG said...

Glad you got out… Looks like your conditions were a lot like ours. We did a weekend bikepacking trip to Indian Caves State Park and the fall color was as good as it gets. The dust was intense though, particularly Saturday afternoon. It was an awesome weekend.

Cheers, Brother!!