This year has been a bit strange as to the number of road trips I could get off the ground. Between work and family matters all I could muster was the annual Oark, AR spring opener ride and a few 600 mile day trips. Coming to the conclusion that this was not a good state of affairs I planned and got a trip to IA off the ground. The plan was to ride from Arlington, TX to Harlan, IA in one day and then to do some exploring around SW IA. The weapon of choice was my 2001 BMW 1150 GS As normal I launched very early in the morning so I would miss the DFW commute traffic and have a long day of riding. First rest stop in OK on US 75 The ride from Arlington, TX through the southern part of OK was right out of the mail order catalogue; temperatures where in the mid 70s and no bad weather in sight. Needless to say that bliss did not last long. The nearer I got to I-44 the more the weather closed in. Finally in Big Cabin, OK it was time to pull over. The rain started and from the sudden heavy start it could not last long. I managed to find cover in a convenience store and sat out the storm for one and a half hours. That little hold up did have a blessing in the fact that I meet a fellow systems engineer and we passed the time talking shop (managed to miss the photo op on that one). Anyway, as all things go, the storm finally played out and per the Weather Channel on the i-Phone I was good all the way to KS, MO. Off I went. Managed to make good time on the OK turnpike and turned N onto US71 just E of Joplin, MO. At that time my stomach started to talk to me and, even more pressing, I was facing some mean looking clouds ahead. A Dairy Queen, at Lamar Heights, MO offered shelter and a spectacular way to cheat on my spouses imposed health diet (road trips are the best excuse to drift from imposed health kicks). As in Big Cabin, OK, I was pinned to the location by a squall that dumped rain in sheets that where totally opaque. The silver lining to this location was the availability of non-health food and the chance to indulge without the keepers glare (wifes have a talent for that; must come with the ring). After indulging I was getting restless. The weather turned from a squall to normal rain. Checking the weather on the i-Phones Weather Channel I took note that the rain was moving out of the area; even more important was the fact that it was moving out of the KC, MO area (I do not like wet roads in city traffic I am not accustomed to). So, the rain liners went into the Olympia gear and off I went (again missing the photo op, last one on this trip). Things went fine all the way to KC, MO. The rain was a drizzle and no issue. But, as weather does what it wants to, the rain went from drizzle to full blown rain. No problems, I pressed on. In KC, MO I got on the I-435loop and headed around the W side of town to meet up with I-29 N. By the time I got to St.Joseph the rain had cleared and it was blazing sunshine. With a big grin, less rain liners, I pressed on toward IA. That lasted until I got to Mound City, MO. Sinclair heaven in Mound City, MO Getting lined at the Sinclair Just short of Mound City, MO the weather, again, closed in on me. Having just sufficient time to make it to a closed Sinclair station and cover. This time I was out of any major city so the liners went back in and off I went to my IA goal. On this trip mother nature just had a blast with me. Not sufficient misery to impede the trip but just sufficient amounts of challenges to let me know who ran this trip. So by the time I hit the Hamburg, IA exit on I-29 N the weather again went from steady rain to blazing sunshine (which made the liners way to hot to wear). Needless to say, I pulled over and again removed the liners. But I guess I was shown by mother nature and for the rest of the trip it was a picture perfect ride grin time! Buddies garage in Harlan, IA Some of you might recognize this bike as my ridding buddies KiLR from the Oark, AR spring rides. KiLR at rest So what is there to do in a small IA town the day after a 11 hour trip? Baxters in Marne, IA came to mind. Being in my buddys neck of the woods I let him organize the ride to Marne, IA (per the map it was a matter of 18 miles big whoop). But being the animal he is he managed to turn a 18 mile walk into a fantastic 200 mile ride through the IA back roads ending up at Baxters Triumph shop. Now, if you have never heard of Baxters then you missed out on some serious gathering of English iron. A not to far in the future toy? Not a bad day, 200 mile of road bliss, a trip through English history and, as she had done all trip long, mother nature had to put on a show. This time though a show with actors instead of props. Gathered at a backyard BBQ we noticed that the air became very still and looking up we got a heck of a air show. Turkey Buzzards in formation flight Having a goodly amount of libations in me I was slow to the draw with the camera but it was impressive to see more than 100 birds in flight. We where just lucky they where not a bombing mission. The next day proved to be another picture perfect day. The weather was in the 70s with sun and no inclement weather in the area. Time to explore a bit of the Loess Hills. To say that I know what back roads we took would be a bold overstatement. My friend took me on some serious back roads all of which where a dream to explore. Getting ready for a days ride with K9 help Corn country with a Tiger in it GS in corn Preparation Canyon marker View into Preparation Canyon Looking W into Preparation Canyon Having our fill of the vista, we rode on into the Preparation Canyon State Park to near the site of the village of Preparation (a Mormon settlement with a interesting story of faith and deception). Road to village site Tiger in the woods GS looks good in the woods Meadow where Preparation Village supposedly was From the Preparation Canyon we made our way to Magnolia, IA. I have no picture but take my word do not order the double meat cheeseburger with bacon thinking in chain store sizes. I did, was presented a whale of a burger that was so fresh one could still smell the grass the cow was standing in. This should give a clue as to the size of the town Conserving resources combining as much city services as possible Main crossroad Magnolia, IA Ready to waddle on into the IA countryside From metropolitan Magnolia, IA we rode to the mega city of Westphalia, IA through some of the nicest country I have seen in a long time. Westphalia welcome Former high school/city hall Westphalia Klubhouse Being Austrian I love the street signage Local Catholic church Very German From Westphalia we made our way Earling, IA to view a preserved old country interior. Outside of the Earling Catholic church was not that spectacular OK, no more judging a book by the cover Still had the original pipe organ Some restored artwork Handcraft at its finest What can one say? Another view of Earling, IA After that bit of tourism it was time to head back to the barn and prepare the bike for the ride back to TX. Welcome committee at the barn! The ride from Harlan, IA to Arlington, TX was the usual get home fast so one can go to work ride. I took I-29 S to Nebraska City exit and headed W to meet up with US75 (fooled mother nature who was raising Cain over KC again). Then US75 S to the Kansas turnpike at which point the trip departed my beloved back roads and super slab all the way into Arlington, TX. Spots idea of my ride Garmins view of the ride All in all this was a fun long weekend trip. I was reminded of how a little outing can blow the dust of the brain and remind us why we have bikes.