Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Willing, But Un-Adel

September 12: I overcame my own inertia in an attempt to leave Des Moines, although unseen forces seem to be allied against me.
The biggest hitch came when I left the Clive Greenbelt Trail and started on what I thought, correctly it turned out, was the Raccoon River Valley Trail. I then came across a sign, which in retrospect must have been placed there by the village idiot. It read, "to Raccoon River Valley Trail and Timberlake Park." Thinking, hey I want to be on that trail, I fell for the trick. An hour of meandering behind several Clive neighborhoods on an unmarked path was my reward.
Eventually I came to another sign, which read exactly as the first. On the other side, greeting those hiking the other way, was the exact same message. What the hell? How can you come to the same place by moving in opposite directions? I'm trying to avoid spinning in circles, so I decided to dispatch with the current arrangement and navigate myself back to the real Raccoon River Valley Trail.
I managed to return to the proper track with ease, but the time I had lost with the road to nowhere put me behind the pace. Making Adel by sundown would now be difficult. I pushed on at mach ten, or the backpacker's equivalent, three miles an hour. The scorching orb above was not on the same wavelength and the urban trail was unshaded. A fierce wind did prevent the heat from taking full effect, but had its own drawback - the powerful breeze blew right into me, making forward progress difficult to attain.
More disconcerting was a possible physical problem. On three separate occasions I was convulsed by spasms in my lower back. To be struck down so near this year's goal would be a cruel blow.
Now back to Kurt Loder and your Hollywood news. I had drifted near fame on a couple of occasions coming out of Des Moines, passing only a few miles to the north of Van Meter and Desoto. The first is home to Cleveland Indians Hall-of-Famer Bob Feller and the latter is the birthplace of the Duke, John Wayne, most famous in my family for playing Jake McCandless.
In Adel, which I finally reached just before seven, they claimed a more obscure celebrity.
If he'd lived Nile Kinnick's star might have eclipsed even Feller and Wayne. Considered the greatest football player in Iowa's history, Kinnock won the Heisman trophy in 1939. As the Hawkeyes quarterback he took a team from the bottom of the Big Ten standings when he arrived and brought them to a top ten national ranking as a senior. He scored or threw all but three of the team's touchdowns that year. Kinnick was student body president that year and unbelievably, also excelled academically, earning entry into the Phi Beta Kappa society.
Alas, NFL greatness or a career in politics was not in Kinnick's future. Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II and the quarterback, seemingly prescient, had been inducted into the Navy only three days earlier. In 1943, on a routine training mission, his plane went down and the life of Nile Kinnick came to an end all too soon. So too ends today's Hollywood minute.
As for me, the delays of wind and whimsy left little daylight left with which to explore Adel. I had a quick meal at Godfather's Pizza (this is in no way meant as an endorsement of owner and presidential candidate Herman Cain) and retired to Adel Island Park on the Raccoon River to bed down for the night.

20 miles/1647 total miles


Anonymous said...

Slight spelling is Nile Kinnick, not Kinnock. I'd never heard of Kinnick. I enjoyed reading more about him online.

Alastair McCandless said...

Yeah I kept confusing him with a British politician for some reason.