My Great Western Auto Tour

Monday, April 15: Defiance, Ohio, to Kalona, Iowa

Page last updated May 17, 2002.

The sleepytime tea that Marion gave me really worked. I woke up around 8:30 AM and had a bagel and coffee in the kitchen. Marion and Bob told me about their ravenous frog, which, they say, has eaten big koi and even a bird that knocked itself out by flying into their kitchen window. Strange things happen, I guess. Bob wants to send the frog into exile because the four koi cost $7 each, but Marion says that grandson Dez would be heartbroken to lose his friend. I suppose everything will be OK as long as Dez doesn't bonk his head and fall down near the frog.

Bob and I went to a hobby shop to get a special plug for the trainer's charging jack. I left around 11 AM EST. The day was clear and hot. I got a bad sun- and wind-burn, on my left arm from hanging it outside the window en route. I haven't spent any time in the sunshine at all this spring. In Chicago, I would smoke cigars out on the front porch, but I was always bundled up against the chill. Four or five hours of sun and wind was not the right way to treat my winter-white skin.

I drove the prescribed route, mostly on I-80, until I crossed the Mississippi and entered Iowa. Then I reset my clock to Central Time and began to wander a bit. I followed the river south and stopped at Dam 19 to smoke a cigar and think about Mark Twain and Huckleberry Fin. The wind was from the south. The radio said it was 20 mph, though it felt stronger to me.

Hmm, the camera may not lie, but it doesn't record what the eye sees. The water was very brown and there were whitecaps all across the river, rolling northward with the wind. Cutting across the river is the wrong way to appreciate it. I've been on lots of lakes as wide as this. Someday, I'll have to rent a houseboat and float downriver. That would be a better way to understand the enormity of the Father of Waters.

I followed the river south at tourist speed for the next hour or so. I lucked out, because 22 West follows the river bank for miles and miles before finally turning into the heart of Iowa at Muscatone.

Regina and her family were as surprised as Marion and Bob at my unexpectedly early departure. When she heard that I was a day ahead of schedule, Wanda asked, "And he got a Ph.D.?" Systematic theology is about eternal truths. They don't change from one day to the next, so I was not tested on my calendar-management skills.

I stayed with Lee, Wanda, and Amanda on their homestead of 8 acres. Lee and Regina built the pole barn last year to house his airplanes and his truck.