Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In Which I Visit The Civil War

I have ridden by this museum in Center Point many times, but this was the first time I saw the displays inside.
I am starting to ease off on the biking—not planning any long rides for the rest of this week. RAGBRAI is so close that being well rested is more important than training.

We’ll see how it goes. I feel pretty well prepared, and it’s not supposed to be too bad of a route this year, but weather and wind direction will make a huge difference. Thank goodness RAGBRAI is not taking place the second half of this week!

On Sunday afternoon, to get a few miles in, I rode up to Center Point in the afternoon. The weather was warm but nice, and lots of people were on the trail.

When I rolled up to the train depot, the little anteroom where the restrooms are located was packed. A crowd was there to listen to some program about railroad history (the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, like many bike trails, is built on the route of an old rail line).

The program meant one thing—I by chance had arrived in Center Point during the few hours each week when the museum inside the depot building is open. The nice lady running the museum was very apologetic about the crowded room, and urged me to simply squeeze by everyone and use the facilities and grab water, if I needed to.

“We would not exist without the trail, we don’t want to do anything to interfere with trail users,” she sort of said. I did not take notes, so that’s an approximate paraphrase.

Anyway, I sort of wanted to use a restroom, but my needs were not urgent. I was down to 1/3 of a water bottle on a hot summer day, so I kind of wanted water, too. But neither urge was imperative. Lafayette was only 6 miles away, and both the park at Robins and the restroom at the Hiawatha trail head have water. I didn’t think I would dehydrate in 13 miles, even on a warm, humid day, since I wasn’t really out of water yet.

So I declined the offer to squeeze by the crowd. Let them ruminate on old rail lines in peace. But I did take a few minutes to wander around the depot museum. It was a bit eclectic, but enchanting, too.

Railroad office in museum.

Looks like some keys jammed. I may struggle with this South American keyboard, but that never happens. Anybody else remember deliberately jamming as many keys as possible on one of these things? My misspent youth ...

Soldiers from Center Point all fought for the flag on the left.

Transcribed Civil War diary of a soldier from Center Point.

Player piano.
One room is set up like the old rail office, with some of the old furniture. A mannequin dressed in a uniform stands at the window, ready to sell train tickets for Cedar Falls or Cedar Rapids. The room includes some typewriters with papers in them, and a sign enjoined “before the computer, there was the typewriter, try it!”

Since a Remington portable typewriter had seen me through my undergraduate years, I declined the offer. It did make me feel a bit like a fossil that typewriters are an exotic, old technology. Sort of like bicycles, which date from the same era.

Sign they could put by the trail: “Before there was the Prius, there was the ‘safety bicycle.’ Try it!”

Anyway, there was a display of some Civil War items, including transcribed diaries of two soldiers who came from Center Point. A flag holder on the display held both the flag of the United States, and the Confederate flag. I glanced through one of the diaries, and want to go back just to see more of it, it was fascinating.

And I wondered how those two Center Point soldiers would feel about a rebel battle banner flying over their display. Iowa was union territory, and our boys from Center Point all wore blue.

There were items from the early 20th Century, and a section on World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. I don’t recall seeing the Korean War, but perhaps I just overlooked that part.

The museum seems to house whatever old stuff people donated. One display, for instance, had shelves of old cameras. I enjoyed some of the artifacts from an old school building, too. All in all, I thought the museum was fun, and I’d like to stop by some time when my wife is with me.

The ride back from Center Point was pleasant. As expected, waiting until Lafayette to use a restroom caused no problems, and I did the loop to the city park in Robins but didn’t bother to water up until Hiawatha.

Monday I attached the Tag-Along to my hybrid bike, and two grandsons and I enjoyed what for me was a short ride and for them was a rather long one. We stopped first at Noelridge Park to play for a while, then went down and circled Cedar Lake so the older grandson could see some trains. After that, we rode to Mount Mercy where I had to sign a form for a student, and then took my work commute route home. The older grandson really enjoyed the first part of the ride, all the way to Cedar Lake, announcing several times that “this is fun.” The final third of the ride, I’m afraid, was not as fun, and he announced that his bottom was sore when we finally reached home.

It was a 15-mile journey with two young bikers, and overall I think it was a success.

Today my plan was to get in a few miles in a last “long” ride on my road bike, but my plans changed. When I got ready to leave, my youngest grandson became extremely upset. My wife was going to take him to a library reading program, but when he went out the front door of the house, he assumed that it was to get on my bike, and he was heartbroken.

It was 9:38. The program was a bit more than three miles from home, at the Marion Public Library at 10. “Can you make it,” my wife asked. (She asked it without a question mark because I’m typing this on a Paraguayan computer I may use to blog during RAGBRAI, and the question mark is hard for me to find on this South American keyboard). I ride my bike much more slowly with the toddler seat attached, but I decided to give it a shot. The little guy was happy to be on the bike again, although slightly saddened that we skipped our usual practice of pausing to look at each body of water we pass.

Two or three minutes before 10, just as my wife arrived in the van with another grandchild, we arrived.

I then rode to campus from the Marion Library, and did all of the climbs there for hill practice. So I never rode the road bike today, but still got in 15 miles or so, and some hills. I will probably get a few miles some of the mornings this week, but only a few. RAGBRAI, here I come!

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