Lean Into the Curves Together

Welcome to the evening news with Mom and Brett. Our top story tonight is that we visited Davenport, Iowa and had a splendid time. We completed our first TV interview, made new friends and learned the most important lesson for successful travel in Iowa.

*intro jingle plays*


Hello, this is Mom. Brett has invited me to make comments throughout this post. They will show up in orange.


Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 (cont.)

So long, Oskaloosa!

A beautiful day on the road was awaiting Mom and I me. (thanks, Mom) After our initial day of riding, where we ended up cold and wet, I was glad she was going to get to experience the other end of the spectrum.

We were both starting to feel more comfortable riding together by this point. Mom was pleasantly surprised that she was not sore and I was getting accustomed to having a passenger behind me. In terms of curb weight, I’m pretty sure we were lighter than when I rolled home from South America.

Good job, Brett. Never ask a woman or a motorcycle her weight.

The goal for the day was to reach my aunt and uncle’s place in Marion, IA, while taking time to stop to see the Amana Colonies.

What Cheer, Iowa:

The Amana Colonies are a collection of seven quaint villages. The inhabitants were a religious sect which emigrated from Germany. They placed a strong emphasis on divine inspiration and communal living. Nowadays they are known more for appliances and antique shopping. Alas, we did not quite have the capacity to bring home a vintage armoire.

We had a nice surprise at the visitor’s center when we found a plaque commemorating the service of Mom’s aunt at the center.

It really touched my heart to see this plaque, as it brought back memories of my Aunt Karen and Uncle Bob.

We also enjoyed the historical museum. Some of the information posted seemed to emphasize that this was not an Amish settlement. They did not shun technology here. On the contrary, they may have been the producers of your first “Radar Range.”

We had a classic German supper of schnitzel, sauerbraten and an endless supply of seven different sides.

In Marion, we would be hosted by Mom’s sister, Norma, and her husband, Marlon.

They would end up hosting us for seven nights. Norma and my Mom share many similar interests and attributes. I would say the same about Marlon and me as well (Sorry, Uncle, I don’t mean to bring you down to my level). 🙂 Our time together was effortlessly enjoyable and constantly congenial.

Wonderful accommodations, tasty food and soothing hot tub!


Thursday, May 23rd

Davenport day!

When looking at the ten day forecast, it appeared that every day the following week would have a decent chance of rain. This was the only clear day forecast, so Mom and I jumped on the opportunity.

Davenport is situated right on the Mississippi River. It is the largest component of the interstate region known as the Quad Cities, which also includes Bettendorf, IA; Rock Island, IL; and Moline, IL.

It was perhaps poor timing to be visiting Davenport as they were still experiencing significant flooding. On April 30th, a flood barrier was breached leaving the area closest to the river deeply inundated.

(Photo from CNN in THIS ARTICLE)

Thankfully, Mom and I would have a capable guide to help us on our way. Meet Dale:

Dale contacted me through ADV Rider well over a year ago. When I finally nailed down the date of our arrival, he graciously took a day off work and spent the day escorting us around the city. But that was just the least of what he did…

This journey has afforded me with such a cornucopia of experiences, sometimes its hard to think something different can happen. But I should know by now to never be surprised. The new experience for this day would be doing my first TV interview.

Dale’s son, Owen, is an editor for the morning news at the station which is both the CBS and FOX affiliate for the Quad Cities area. It must have been a pretty slow news day, as they decided that our humble story was worthy of being featured. We started out with a tour of the station which was fascinating.

I had to ask if we could sit at the news desk, of course. Honestly, I think Mom and I could carry a newscast fairly competently. 🙂

I’ll take the news, you can do weather and sports.

Winning the war against helmet-hair:

You think you had a hard time with helmet-hair?!

Conducting our interviews would be a reporter named Yukare Nakayama. We chatted briefly, then the interviews commenced!

There were a couple of videos they released. The first one was sort of a “teaser” and had some fun banter about my trip between the anchors.

…and here’s the feature from that evening:

Yukare asked great questions and the whole bit was edited together really well. It is difficult to summarize my story in two minutes, but they absolutely nailed it. I don’t think I said anything too interesting but both Mom and Dale’s parts were really meaningful for me.

It’s a bit of a challenge to respond concisely to interview questions on the spot. But it was for a good cause, so I participated enthusiastically. …and for the record, the riding pants add about twenty pounds to your waistline.

I will never forget Mom’s comment about “leaning into the curves together.” It really is an accurate way to describe what we’ve been doing for the previous months, even before we got on a motorcycle together.

Dale’s words were especially meaningful to me as well. At the time I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but after watching the video numerous times I think I get why: He was proud of me. (Feel free to refute this, Dale) One of the things that’s been difficult for all of my family members since Dad passed away is the “affirmation vacuum” that he left. He was so proud of what I was doing and so intentional about telling me so. In some ways, Dale spoke about my trip like my Dad would have. I think that’s what meant so much to me.

Well said, Brett. I agree.

A big thanks to Owen, too, as he orchestrated the whole interview and stayed later than he normally does to do the filming. This was an amazing experience!

At last check, the video was shared 73 times on Facebook and has over 7,000 views. Pretty good for our humble little story. Thanks to everyone who shared this, but now that I am so famous I don’t need you anymore. 🙂

…but you need me, Brett!

We went to a local rib place for lunch. As the morning had been so hectic, I felt like I’d hardly gotten a chance to get to know Dale. This gave us some good visiting time. Dale is the creator of the website Driftless Road Adventures. The Driftless Area is a region which roughly follows the path of the Mississippi River from Davenport to the Twin Cities of Minnesota. This region was not leveled out by glaciers during the Ice Age, so it features more hills and ridges than the surrounding Plains. This gives the area some of the best motorcycle riding in the Central US.

Dale produces maps and guides which are free to download. They highlight different routes and experiences in the Driftless Area. It is obvious that it is a real passion for him. His commitment to ensuring that riders have a great experience in the area is really commendable. Yours truly was even featured in his last newsletter. (Link Here)

I especially enjoyed listening to Brett and Dale’s shared enthusiasm for the art of motorcycle riding. Thanks, Dale, for your dedicated work in creating a community of like-minded motorcyclists.

Next, it was time to check out some more of the waterfront.

I really wanted to get a picture right next to the river, but every route there was closed down. Instead, Dale suggested that we go to the top of a downtown parking garage to get a good angle on it.

Up here, we met a nice guy named Matt. Mom asked if she could ride his one-wheeled electronic contraption. Thankfully, her padded gear was not needed.

Always up for adventure. 🙂

It could be as much fun as a Segway. 

Behind us in the picture above is Davenport’s Skywalk. From its vantage point, we could really get a feel for the amount of flooding.

Remember, this is more than three weeks after the flood hit. Crazy stuff.

We did some more riding around and had some more great interactions. I really enjoyed getting to know Dale.

As sunlight began to wane, it was time for us to part. We had the signing ceremony, as Dale checked off Davenport, number 67 of 92, from my sign.

I can’t say enough about what he did for us. He played the roles of tour guide, photographer, publicist and historian. I can’t wait until our next ride together.


Carrying a hefty helping of new experiences, we bid a fond farewell to Davenport. I’ve driven through this city so many times in my life, but I will never look at it the same again. Mom and I happily chugged home to our hosts in Marion.

My first full day of riding in the sunshine and I loved it!


Friday, May 24th

We planned for a day at home since it was forecast to rain all day. The skies actually cleared in the afternoon and I received an invitation from my cousin, Erica, to come give a presentation to her 6th grade Social Studies class. Pic of Erica, Nick, Leah and Landon from later on:

I had about an hour to prepare, plenty of time to polish up an exciting multimedia tour de force. The kids had learned about Central and South America this year and I was impressed by how much they knew. I’m pretty sure the highlight for them was getting to meet Annie and Sonic.

The picture above, which I just love, was me going flag by flag on my windshield to see how many they could name.

It was a fun experience. Thanks for inviting me!

I enjoyed and was proud to see your great teaching, Erica!

We had a cookout that evening, which ended up being an enlightening experience.

Great steaks, Nick!

As I’ve traveled through Iowa, I know there’s been one question on the minds of all the readers of this quality publication: Is there anything that Iowa values more than 4-way stops? Now I can safely say that there is.

Traveling is always a learning experience. Among the lessons I’ve learned are that you never take food into your tent in bear country and you never use the Spanish verb “coger” in Central America. This day I would be guilty of an even more heinous travel faux pas:

Crushing a can.

If you are from Iowa, please scroll beyond the next image. It may be too graphic for you.

In order to receive the 5 cent rebate from a carbonated beverage receptacle, it must be unsmashed. I want to deeply apologize to all of my Iowa brethren for this abhorrent action. At least I didn’t damage any of your 4-way stop signs.



Well, before this post gets any worse, I better wrap it up. Though I’m still struggling to get back in the swing of the riding/writing balance, it feels wonderful to be continuing this adventure. Having unforgettable experiences with my Mom, developing deeper relationships with my extend family, turning strangers into lifelong friends, telling the stories of overlooked places, using a hair brush for the first time; all of these things serve to confirm that whatever I have sacrificed to undertake this journey, it is well worth it.

Mom and I have both noticed that although we are going through a difficult, emotional time in our lives, joy is still the prevailing feeling. I know that this is due in large part to us leaning into the curves together.

Facing those curves with your help has lightened my load greatly. Thank you, Brett, and I love you!

Love you too, Mom! Thanks for adding your voice!

Keep the belly-buttons aligned, everybody.



Realtime update: Mom and I are back in Nebraska. I have a little more preparation to do, hopefully 4-6 days, then I will be back on the road for good. Though it was just Mom’s plan to join me for Iowa, she enjoyed it enough that she may think of meeting me somewhere down the line. We’ll have to see.

Next post will focus on Waterloo and the rest of our time in Iowa. The update after that will feature an individual who has spent a night at the train station in Schefferville and who is practicing his Diamantina pronunciation. It is perhaps the biggest “never tell me the odds” of the whole trip.




Author: BA


10 thoughts on “Lean Into the Curves Together”

  1. So happy you had such great hosts in Iowa! I’m sure that helped you be able to focus on really seeing the area and enjoying the experience.


  2. Enjoyed as always. I also try to have a good time no matter where I go and I joke with my kids saying, “I bring my own fun”, meaning bringing the proper attitude, lightness and humor to most situations, as appropriate. It looks like you “bring your own fun” where ever you go as well.


  3. Loved the TV interview! You two are naturals! and I was delighted to see the Wausa Valkommen sign from the Watson Lake sign forest. That goes back a few miles!
    Belly buttons in alignment, truly an apt description. Your words here, both of you, express the prevailing joy. And you are reminding me of Randel’s painting of sun rays coming through clouds. Keep on taking those curves and writing in all colors.


    1. Yeah, I was surprised they used that picture. I think they got it from facebook and I don’t have many of my current ones on there. That will always be a special moment from my trip.


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