Finally Facing My Waterloo

In this post, Mom and I close out our time in Iowa. We visit the Anamosa Motorcycle Museum, Waterloo (place 67 of 92) and head back towards home. We nearly get washed away, see the Sistine Chapel Ceiling in spray paint and find out just what a “Waterloo Boy” is.


Sunday, May 26th, 2019

Marion, Iowa

We went to church with our hosts, Norma and Marlon, in the morning. The weather was absolutely perfect which seemed surprising. We didn’t feel like we had quite enough time to visit Waterloo, our final song place in Iowa, so we planned a little detour to nearby Anamosa.


This little town is home to the National Motorcycle Museum, a must visit for anyone with even a casual interest in two wheeled conveyances. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it is also the home to some good friends of ours. Meet Trent and Tami:

Trent was actually my 7th grade P.E. teacher and they were members of our church. I hadn’t seen either of them in over a decade, so it was a pleasant coincidence that we would get to see them.

We took a longer route to get to Anamosa and had some great riding.

In the museum parking lot, Annie was typically attracting attention. A guy named Scott told me that he had connections with the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Sturgis. He thought that if I completed my quest I should warrant consideration for this honor. I doubt this would happen, but I felt very honored he would even suggest it.

We met Trent and Tami and they graciously picked up our entrance fees of $15 apiece. By current calculations, this equates to 567 miles of gas money. Upon walking into the museum, I was like a mosquito in a nudist colony.

Evel Knievel exhibit:


I love all bikes, but I think I’m more drawn to the one’s that are full of personality, rather than the ones that look shiny and new. I didn’t see any bikes covered with signatures though. 🙂

Believe it or not, the monstrosity pictured below was actually the creator’s daily driver. It is easy for motorcyclists to get caught in the debates of what brands, tires, oil types, or even windshields are superior. For me, “ride what you love” will always be the most important axiom.

1909 Harley:

I was intentional in trying to see if they had a 1928 Harley somewhere on the floor. It didn’t take too much searching.

I actually got to sit on one of these when I was hosted by the Carcarás motorcycle club in Brasilia. (This Post)

A steam motorcycle. I consider myself to be fairly brave, but having a boiler between my legs is too much.

A decked out adventure bike caught my eye. This mighty KLR 650 was used by Dr Gregory Frazier for one of his rides around the world. He is a successful author and has written numerous books about his adventures.

Though when I read the description, I was a little confused. Boasting about the KLR’s reliability, it stated that it only required one oil change it its 19,500 mile ride around the world. Isn’t this a bit like a parent boasting about their child’s toughness by saying, “My child only needed to eat two times this week!” Doesn’t that say more about the parent’s neglect than the child’s toughness? Are there places in the world where engine oil is not available? Maybe I’m missing something here. Still, it was nice to see an adventuring bike featured.

I’ve always loved Honda Dreams. As soon as I have room/money for about four motorcycles, I will have one!

I had emailed ahead of my visit and they asked to take some photos of Annie to be the “bike of the week” on their newsletter. I felt honored and hopefully Annie did as well. Our visit ended with making some new friends in the parking lot. It was nice to meet all of you!

Some people have said that Annie should end up in a museum once this is all over. My initial reaction is:

(I’m trying to add some variety to the Han Solo gifs)

I still feel like she has a lot of good miles left, but I suppose ending up in a museum is not the worst fate for a motorcycle. Though she lacks the classic sparkle of a traditional museum piece, she’s definitely unique. And though she would not be considered a “performance” motorcycle, her reliability and efficiency are upper echelon.


After the museum, it was time to go to prison. The Anamosa State Penitentiary is a real piece of architecture. Trent and Tami told us that after it was constructed in the late 1800s, families would come have picnics on the lawn to admire the craftsmanship.

We spent a few hours at their home, catching up and having a great meal. I especially enjoyed hearing about their travels to Liberia, where they’ve worked with a ministry focused on supplying clean water. I’m so glad that it worked out for us to meet up!

We had another pleasant ride home, taking the long way and capturing some more scenic shots of the area.

Nice work with the selfie stick, Mom.


Monday, May 27th

Another rainy morning greeted us, but we had a great place to wait it out. Our hosts, Norma and Marlon made us feel so comfortable. It’s not just the size and dispersion of my family that’s impressive, it’s how well they take care of me.

My Uncle Marlon left a distinctive signature on the top of my side case:

You know how everyone has that one uncle who is kind of strange? I have eight of them. (…and I love you all!) 🙂

The day cleared up and Mom and I probably should have headed to Waterloo. Instead we went to the movie Detective Pikachu. This was special because my brother-in-law, a talented programmer and video effects artist,  had his name in the credits!

In this film, he wrote programs that can simulate the movement of thousands of trees and other environmental elements. It takes a crazy amount of technical and artistic abilities to to this. Way to go, Brad!


Monday, May 27th

Waterloo day! Place 67 of 92. It’s always nice when you don’t have to do much thinking about the theme song for the day:

Probably a top 5 ABBA song, in my humble opinion.

The forecast didn’t look great, but it appeared it would be dry until late afternoon. It started raining soon after we departed and our short ride wasn’t too much fun.

First up on our agenda was the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum. Mom and I managed to occupy nearly the entire coat closet with our wet riding gear.

The Sullivans were five brothers who were killed on the USS Juneau in World War II. After the death of one of their friends at Pearl Harbor, they enlisted in the Navy with the stipulation that they serve together.

Their heroic story was used to drum up support for the war effort, with their parents and widows touring to promote war bonds. A movie was made for them and two Navy destroyers have been named in their honor. It also caused the U.S. military to adopt the Sole Survivor Policy, which is the main plot point in the move Saving Private Ryan.

The museum paid homage to them well and told their story excellently.

The museum had another section which focused on the history of Waterloo. Mom and I spent a lot of time here, getting a better feel for what this town is all about.

Waterloo is an industrial city. It has seen its share of ups and downs, with its most significant dip in the 1980s. To my eye at least, Waterloo has bounced back better than many of the Eastern “post-industrial” cities. They seem to have used economic hardship as a motivator for diversification in industry.

I also got to see an old friend of mine at the museum.

I emailed the visitor’s center about my trip and they just said I should get a picture of this sign:

As I was pushing Annie into position on the sidewalk, Mom was snapping some pictures “in case we get chased off.” Wow, she really is a good travel partner. 🙂

You gotta watch your step in Waterloo!

After a quick snack, it was time to visit the John Deere Tractor Museum. When asking Waterlooans(?) what would be the most iconic picture of their city, a John Deere tractor was a common response. The museum sits close to Waterloo’s John Deere factory, which is the city’s largest employer.

The museum entrance is free and we were greeted well by the staff there. Each person we talked to, from the guy cleaning floors to the guy running the tours, was friendly, helpful and interested in what I was doing.

There really was a person named John Deere. He invented a plow in 1837 which was more suitable for the soils of the Great Plains. The company wasn’t into tractors too seriously until they purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, makers of the Waterloo Boy tractor, in 1918.

The museum was really well done, offering good opportunities for interaction and information.

As we were about ready to leave, the rains began again. We quickly set up Annie for some exterior pictures.

If you even have a casual connection to agriculture, or enjoy agricultural-related activities (eating food, for instance); this museum is a must visit. I definitely learned a lot.

We thought about calling it a day, but it appeared that the current rain system might blow over if we waited. We decided to go to a restaurant called Galleria de Paco, which was an incredible experience. Not many restaurants have a view like this:

Evelin “Paco” Rosic was born in Yugoslavia (present day Bosnia). When the region became engulfed in civil war, the Rosic family was given refugee status to come to the US. Paco’s Dad, Jacky, welcomed us warmly and gave impeccable service. He helped us with our myriad of jackets.

Paco always had a love for art, especially graffiti and street art. Eventually, he had an idea to remake Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, completely with spray paint. This idea might actually be crazier than trying to go “Everywhere!”

He used over 5,000 aerosol cans over the course of four months to complete his masterpiece. The whole story is absolutely fascinating HERE IS THE LINK to the story on their website.

We were fortunate enough to arrive right when they opened (5pm) so we could really take time to admire all of the artwork.

The amount of detail he was able to achieve is absolutely amazing. The food was great too and we were both so glad that we had stopped.


It appeared that our plan to wait out the rain had worked and it was dry when we rolled out of Waterloo. Driving rain caught us shortly thereafter though.

Perhaps Iowa’s immune system sensed an infection of two Nebraskans and was trying to do everything it could to flush us out of the state. It sure felt that way.

…but we were not deterred. Coming around the last curve (below), you can see that Mom still has a smile on her face.

We were pretty soaked…

…but within minutes of arriving, Norma had hot chocolate warming our insides and hand-made quilts warming our outsides. She really took good care of us. That night she even sewed up my boot covers (which I had left at their place) so hopefully I will have no more ped-ponds.


Wednesday, May 29th

On this day we would have loved to take a ride on the Iowa Waterfall Route. Dale, our Davenport guide, had recommended this route to us. A rainy morning made us decided against it. Once the weather cleared in the afternoon, we decided to make a break for it and head home.

As my boots were still thoroughly waterlogged, creative solutions were needed:

Thank you, Norma and Marlon, for being such wonderful hosts!

Mom and I developed a few hand signals to communicate while at speed. Flashing three fingers in a “W” shape signifies, “Would you look at that!” This was probably my Dad’s most common travel phrase. Shortly into our ride, I flashed the “W” and pointed at the sun. It was a real treat to see it!

We had a nice calm riding day and decided not to push daylight, settling down at a hotel in Denison. One of the many bonuses of having Mom along was that she paid for pretty much everything. I still haven’t paid for a hotel in North America.


Thursday, May 30th

Kind of a sad day. The end of the Iowa loop for Mom and I. It’s really a shame, considering I was finally getting her to help with the morning inspection. The brake light test can be especially tricky:

We were in full on “mozy mode” as we didn’t have much ground to cover on the day.

We explored the Loess Hills area again, even getting onto some gravel roads.

We made a final stop in Iowa, celebrating with a Twin Bing (made in Sioux City).

Finally, it was over the bridge and back into the state which is number 50 in tourism and number one in our hearts.

Soon, we leaned into our final curve together and reached home.

Before Mom even had her helmet off, she was inspecting the progress of her flowers. 🙂


What can I say about this special chapter of my trip? Having Mom along was so much fun and so good for both of us. As were going through this difficult time in our lives, I continue to be impressed by her. Her resolve to carry on joyfully is ever evident. Thanks, Mom, for being such a good passenger. Sorry about the rain and helmet-hair. 🙂

Stay dry, everybody



Realtime update: We have a new feature on this blog, one that I’ve been meaning to implement for awhile. Up on the top menu you will see “Places/Progress.” (LINK HERE too.) On this page you can see all of the places in song order, as well as a link to the post where I visited that place. I may add maps, mileage and budget totals at some point too.

I’ve also been thinking about adding some sort of “Hall of Fame” for posts, where new visitors can get a better feel for what this story is about. It is a nearly insurmountable task for someone to read everything, so I thought this might help. Any input about my most memorable posts would be welcome.

I am in Lincoln right now, doing final preparations. I should be on the road by Monday or Tuesday. Missouri/Kansas will be up first. Hopefully we won’t get washed away!


Author: BA


10 thoughts on “Finally Facing My Waterloo”

  1. Great update, I look forward to reading about how things feel once you’re back solo after so much family time. With your ability to make friends instantly I know that you won’t be alone much.


  2. Another great post! So glad you and Mom had such a positive experience. Love the new places/progress feature too! -B&E


  3. Crazy amount of rain during your Iowa time! In Kodiak, rainy days are sort of our default weather. But then when a sunny day happens, it is so beautiful we forget. So glad you two did a portion of the trip together. I hope your mom enjoys her garden for a bit. And I wish you well in your preparations for the ongoing trip.


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