Day 14: Silver Lake Campground to Hickory Haven Campground, Keokuk IA, 49 miles

Silver Lake Campground guard dog

The overnight lows have been on a downward trend, this morning dawned cooler than the last. During breakfast I had was pointedly ignored by one of the resident dogs; neither begging for attention nor food, just being there, enjoying the sun.

Silver Lake Campground had signs up on every water faucet: “WATER IS NOT SAFE TO DRINK” so I got to use my Katadyn water filter for the first time. Save spare parts; I’ve now used all of the gear I’m carrying.

Having paid $10 for the campsite, I was happy to discover the showers were HOT, even if dimly lit.

Private bike lane

I rolled down Highway 61, I was excited to see I not only had my own freshly paved “lane”, but also had a lane to keep the highway traffic at bay. After I turned off that, it was gravel roads alternating with two-lane paved highways the rest of the way to Fort Madison.

In Fort Madison, I got lost, and wound up traversing the almost the whole of town looking for lunch.

Jake and Walt's Diner in Fort Madison IA

I eventually found Jake & Walt’s diner, where I picked the signature “Wally Burger.” One pound, covered in American and Swiss cheese, mushrooms and onions. It looked like a monster, but it didn’t last long, so I took the staff recommendation and had a slice of peanut butter pie, too. ($13 after coffee and tip, if you’re wondering Tim.)

Peanut Butter Pie. Excellent doesn't even come close!

On the way out of town, the weather took a turn for the worse, threatening rain. The winds picked up, and the first sprinkles started. My GPS kept telling me to take a U-turn as I passed the sign for the Duck Haven campground in Fort Madison. Stubbornly I pressed on, and my luck took a turn for the worse. My directions told me to take Highway 61, which had been newly rebuilt as a four-lane super highway. I declined. Rather, I inclined up the steep US-2 hill instead.

Huh. Not stopping here.

The sky brightened, but the light was short lived. I continued riding little gravel roads. As the sun set, I was once again grateful to have the dynamo powered lights. Then the fun of blindly trusting the navigational duties to the GPS began. I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure I crossed Hwy 61 twice (if not three times) in the dark before finding my way to an open camp ground (the first was “1/8 mile” up some never-ending gravel hill, a sign said, but it remained hidden in the dark. I found the second campground, and it was closed). Third campground was the charm. It invited weary travelers to find a spot and square up with the office in the morning, so I did.

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7 Responses to Day 14: Silver Lake Campground to Hickory Haven Campground, Keokuk IA, 49 miles

  1. Bob says:

    The food looks (and sounds) good! Even though it’s getting colder each morning, your luck is holding out. Heavy, wet snow is falling in Philadelphia and New York. Looks like you are about 1/3rd of the way to New Orleans. Keep putting those miles between you and the 45th parallel!

  2. Tamara B. says:

    Like Bob said — keep it up! You’re getting warmer weather now than we’re getting — we woke up to 30F this morning in Saint Paul.

  3. Tim Anderson says:

    Ah yes, the Iowa State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison. If you rolled through town on Highway 61 you would have passed not only the sign for one of the minimum security farms, but also the maximum security prison itself. I find it particularly amusing that the prison is right next to Putt-A-Round, an 18 hole miniature golf course. How close are they? I took this photo last year when I was in town. I think you’ll enjoy it. Think about the kids! ;-)

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