Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pole Cat

September 17: Things were looking bleak as I woke to gray skies. Dark clouds blocked the sun, dropping their wet burden in a steady drizzle. To make matters worse I yanked out the drawstring from my backpack's main pouch. Being the anti-MacGyver I was unable to repair the damage. That being said this (multiple expletives deleted) bag will survive one more week if I have to drag the pieces the remaining hundred miles.
Once I was packed and ready to travel things took a turn for the better. The rain ceased and G-30 (almost to Bingo!) out of Adair revealed itself to be an interesting thoroughfare.
Known under several numerical aliases, the highway from Dexter to Atlantic is commonly referred to as the White Pole Road. The telephone poles which line the route are painted in white, at least the few feet closest to the ground are. Why cover just a part? Did they lack ladders? Was there a budgetary shortfall? Did someone screw up and buy off-white for the rest instead?
The road owes its existence to a grassroots coalition of local farmers responding to the building of the first trans-Iowa highway. That route was too far to the north and the people of the region feared they would be passed by commercially. They banded together and, along with the help of the White Pole Auto Club, built their own highway, hoping to lure traffic towards them.
Just west of Adair I passed by a great moment in an earlier mode of transportation, the railroad. The first train robbery in the west was perpetrated here by Jesse James and his gang in 1873. The haul from the heist came to a disappointing $2,000. The thieves had believed the safe would possess a more robust amount, $75,000 in gold. The railway still runs here; trains from the Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific lines have begun to replace the CSX engines I saw back east.
Lunch in Anita was also a unique experience. The Weathervane Cafe, where I stopped, reminded me of my mother's best friend's kitchen. The look made me feel right at home and the day's special filled me up just like mom would have. After a series of dirty bars where cardboard pizza was the most delectable item on the menu I was glad for the change of pace.
I had wondered all day why the White Pole Road was not included in the ADT and after Anita I understood. The shoulder between Anita and Wiota is virtually non-existent and traffic quite heavy, with numerous trucks carrying their over-sized loads of windmill parts west to fill more fields with their energy-producing might.
I had originally thought to stop in Wiota for the evening, but I reached town before four and chose instead to continue on to Atlantic. The extra haul was worth the effort. Craig (see the Marshalltown and Reinbeck episodes) had hooked me up with a friend of his, Doug Berlin, who promised to put me up for the night in Atlantic. Doug generously purchased a hotel room for me, giving me an opportunity to elude another cold night in Iowa.

21 miles/1717 total miles

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