Staying last night in Okoboji at the Leafstedt house was amazing, but made leaving this morning even harder. Mrs, Leafstedt cooked us an amazing breakfast (seriously, Iowa sausage is unparalleled), and afterwards we took off on highway 9 headed east.

We were lucky enough to have some fantastic cross/tailwinds that followed us for the rest of the day, making our morning quick. Though we're definitely not back in New England yet, the towns are getting closer together and it feels like there are a lot more people- easier to find rest stops with a place to grab a cold drink and a snack. Iowa, you've done pretty well so far! While we rode in the morning, we experienced the "polar vortex" that our friends have warned us about - which basically consisted of strong wind and a little bit cooler temperature. We are definitely not complaining about it being less than 90°, though.

With beautiful clouds and surrounded by corn fields, we got some good drafting in on a fairly deserted highway. Got some good video, too!

We stopped for lunch in the town of Buffalo Center at a grocery store. This grocery store happened to be attached to a small cafe, where we sat down at a table and ordered some food to supplement our usual regiment of fresh fruit and protein. While we ate, some men gathered at the table next to us drinking coffee. Much like in Platte, this group of guys gets together to drink coffee at one of the few places in town. We talked to these guys for a bit about what they do in Buffalo Center (among other things, some of them own land that has wind turbines on it!) and I grabbed a photo since they seemed like such great guys.

After lunch, we headed east again on highway 9 for another quick 30 miles before we essentially could stop for the day in Forest City.

We had seen a billboard coming into town that said that the Winnebago factory was there and offered free tours all summer long! However, when we got there we discovered that it had closed for the day, and so our first afternoon activity was a no-go.

From there we headed to the bowling alley, which Don's sister had told us would be a good way to occupy ourselves. Sadly, they looked closed, too! So we headed back into town to grab some dinner and found a terrific Mexican restaurant despite the rest of the downtown looking pretty empty.

As we discovered, Forest City is an unexpected haven of tasty Mexican food and inexpensive drinks!

After dinner, we headed back out on highway 9 to the east to the bowling alley, which was now open. The owner let us in, despite the fact that we were one of two parties in the entire place and there didn't seem to be any more people coming in for the night. We played a few games, drank some beer, and enjoyed some vending machine dessert items.

After a good exposition of bowling skills (I won a game, and Dave won a game), we decided to head to our campsite. Pilot Knob State Rock was about 5 miles east, so we slowly headed east as the sun set behind us. We entered a deserted campground, set up camp, and are headed to sleep now. Crossing our fingers for more speedy winds and smooth roads tomorrow!


    When we went to sleep last night it was a little too warm for the fly, but during night the temperature dropped and it became much better sleeping weather. Unfortunately, the temperature dropped below the dew point and by morning all of out gear was wet. It's difficult to see, but here's a picture of the sun shining on the wet grass and bikes taken with a damp iPhone: 

     For breakfast we ate the food we bought the night before, but in addition I wanted a cup of coffee. I was ready ahead of the other two so I went into town to see what I could find. The supermarket was open and the same manager was there from last night who gave us directions to the camp site. After telling him we slept well, I asked if he sold coffee. He said that he had none for sale, but he had just made a pot and I was welcome to it. He brought me to the break room and filled up a large Styrofoam cup, and offered sugar and creamer too. We chatted for a while in the front of the store while I drank the coffee and learned he had moved back from Denver, drawn by the small town experience. Like many we have met along the way, he likes living in a place where he knows most of the people and has a strong sense of community. He was very proud of his town and we agreed, as it was a great place for us to stop. 
  It was a little cold when we started so we still had on our jackets but the temperature  quickly became perfect.  
     It wasn't  long before we left South Dakota and entered Iowa. There was not an official "Welcome to Iowa" sign as we were traveling on a small secondary road  but after crossing the Big Sioux River we knew we had changed states and took a picture next to the most official looking sign we could find. 

     Out first and only official stop was in Rock Rapids, Iowa for lunch at the Sunshine Grocery store.   It was early in the day and they had an attached restaurant/diner, so we orders eggs, ham, toast, etc. and picked up a few bars for the road. We were anxious to get moving as we would be spending the night with some friends. 
     When we reconfigured the route to drop south, it brought us through the Lakes region of Iowa. I have a good friend and classmate from Williams College, Carl Leafstedt, who was from Sioux City but would spend summers on Lake Okoboji, near where we were scheduled to stop.  He's a professor of music at Trinity University in San Antonio Texas and I thought he might be at the lake this time of year, so I sent him a text. Unfortunately he wasn't going the be there,  but his mother was there and she was happy to host us.   We were thrilled to be staying in a house for the night, with a chance for a swim also, so we made great time out of Rock Rapids. The roads were very good, gently undulating, and we had a nice tailwind which brought us to the house a little before 3 PM. 
     We were a little self conscious about our appearance, unshaven and dirty with road grime, entering this beautiful lake house, but Mrs. Leafstedt immediately put us at ease. After catching up over beers (Shiner Bock!) and chips and salsa, Mrs. Leafstedt let us air out our gear on the outdoor furniture. 

We played in the lake,
did laundry and took showers. When we were finally clean, we were served a fantastic Midwestern dinner of bratwurst, sauerkraut, baked beans, corn in the cob and fresh fruit. 

Here we are sitting together at dinner. Also in the photo are Carl's brother Matt's two children who had just flown in from Switzerland where they live. They'll be here at the lake for a few weeks visiting with their grandmother. 

Of course the meal was excellent and we were easily able to replace the lost calories from the day of biking. 

     We needed to make a few adjustments to our route and a computer would really help us. There wasn't one at the Leafstedt's but their very friendly neighbor, Denny Anspach, invited us into his house the use his.  

After about an hour of tweaking the route with my sisters on the phone,  we were confident we could borrow some miles from New York so we wouldn't have to race to Milwaukee in three 140 mile days. 

     Walking back across the yard, we caught a picture of the sunset on this beautiful lake. 
     Denny came Back to the Leafstedt's with us where we had cherry pie and ice cream for dessert and discussed a wide variety of topics including ice fishing and architecture.
    We brought out gear in from outside to keep it dry and headed to sleep in real beds.  What wonderful hospitality.