Day 12: Wildcat Den State Park to Somewhere Near Oakville IA (stealth camping), 56 miles

The summery weather lasted till sometime over night, when I woke up cold enough to grab the pullover jacket & hat that I sadly knew I’d be needing. Morning was chilly, but the winter cycling gloves I had my folks send me made a big difference. As did the whisperlite stove; I waited 10 minutes for a vapor cloud  indicating my water for coffee & oatmeal was boiling which never came.

Harper's Cycling & Fitness in Muscatine, IA

At John D.’s recommendation, I stopped at Harper’s Cycling & Fitness and met Greg, the owner’s son. Greg was super helpful, and recommended  Elm’s restaurant & lounge for lunch.

At Elm’s I had the “Elm’s Burger,” a BBQ sauce and batter-fried onion covered bacon cheeseburger (of course). I’m normally a somewhat leery of BBQ sauce on burgers because taste in BBQ sauce is such an individual thing. This one was my thing, and the Elms Burger will be my new standard reference bacon cheeseburger. It was really that good.

Potosi IPA

I washed it down with a Potosi (WI) IPA, and now I’m wishing I’d stopped at the brewery in Potosi when I was there. Oh well. As I was leaving, the hostesses figured out that I wasn’t their typical customer, and asked me about my bike trip, and the obligatory photo shoot followed. This minor-league celebrity thing is kinda fun.

From there I rode on mostly gravel roads, even though Iowa drivers have been almost universally the most courteous drivers I’ve encountered, it’s nicer still to have no traffic at all.

I stopped at the Wapello library to warm up, refill my water bottles, and make use of the free & open wifi while planning where I was going to stop for the night. I decided on the Ferry Landing Rec Area. After reaching Oakville, things got interesting. There were deceptively helpful signs indicating directions to the Rec area, with it’s alleged 22 camping sites. The roads had been freshly re-graveled, and made travel quite slow. After 50 miles, now both knees and my left Achilles tendon were aching again. The wind was still out of the north, and the sun was sinking. Detouring around one farm field after another, I finally reached what Google Maps indicated  was the road into the Rec area. Feeling hopeful, I picked up speed, and then hit a divot in the gravel two-track that dislodged both of my rear panniers and broke two eggs. By the time I reached the “Rec Area” I was disgusted to see a sign prohibiting “all vehicles” from driving on the levee. While I might have reached the rec area, I had missed the camping area altogether. Checking the time, I decided to use my last 10 minutes of daylight to find a place to setup  the tent out of view. Spotting a line of four wild turkeys, I initially tried to find a tree limb suitable for hanging my food, but failed. I loaded everything into the tent instead.

Short on water, dinner consisted cold rations of dark chocolate, peanuts & raisins (GORP) and the remainder of my Nelson (WI) Creamery cheddar cheese. Not wanting to mess with the sleeping pad in case I got evicted overnight, I pulled out the sleeping bag and pillow and hunkered down for the night.

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10 Responses to Day 12: Wildcat Den State Park to Somewhere Near Oakville IA (stealth camping), 56 miles

  1. bobbydale says:

    I am confused by your comment about the stove – did the water never boil? I hope you aren’t having issues with this stove too….

  2. Lanny Hoff says:

    For Sean’s Dad (From John Brunet):

    “Fall Quinoa Salad”
    2c quinoa
    1c raw pecan pieces
    3/4c dried cranberries
    1 shallot diced fine
    2T butter divided
    1 1/2c cubed winter squash (about 1/4” cubes)
    1/2 tsp dried sage

    check quinoa for small stones and rinse. Put the quinoa in a sauce pan and add water to cover the quinoa by about an inch. add cranberries and a pinch of salt. Heat to a simmer over a medium flame, then reduce the flame to low and cook till the water is absorbed and the grain tender. While the quinoa cools, heat a 8-10in skillet over a medium low flame. add pecans and cook, tossing frequently, till toasted (3-5 minutes). remove the pecans from the pan and melt 1T of butter. Add shallot and saute until softened, then add the remaining butter, squash cubes and sage. Spread the squash in a single layer and cook over a low-medium low flame COMPLETELY UNDISTURBED for four minutes. Check the bottom of one cube after 4 minutes-it should be crisp and golden. If not crisp yet, cook the squash for one minute more, then flip squash and finish cooking it until tender. The squash will carmelize on the first side this way. Combine squash, pecans and cooked quinoa in a serving bowl. Toss to mix evenly. Serve hot or cold.

  3. Tim Anderson says:

    My wife is from Burlington, Iowa, which you’ve probably already passed by now since your last post. Assuming you have gotten to or passed Burlington, your next meal is on me. Let us all know what you ate (as usual) and how much your meal cost in your next post, and I’ll reimburse you via PayPal. I’m really enjoying following your journey via the posts, but probably not as much as you are enjoying the tour itself. Ride on!

  4. monte says:

    dam…i am jealous…what an awesome adventure you are encountering….wish i had know you were heading through muscatine….the inlaws would have treated you to a nice dinner and a place to lay your head for the evening…..may the sun be on your face and the wind at your back…..

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