A Pilgrimage to the town of my birth, a soul searching & time of reflection ride.
1. This past Saturday, June 28th.
1. The Raccoon River Valley Trail.
2. The original trail went from Waukee, Ia. To Yale, Ia., about 32 miles one way. It now goes from Clive, Ia. to Jefferson, about 51 miles one way.
3. It averages about a 1% to 2% grade. I started in my ride in Waukee where I had always done so in the past.
4. Every part of the trail is asphalt/concrete, except where it crosses gravel roads.
5. A trail pass is required to use the trail, $2.00 for a day pass, $10.00 for the yearly pass.
Total time & distance:
1. I rode 96.6 miles, it took just over 8 hours of actual riding time.
2. Was unable to make it back to Waukee as I ran out of daylight and had to have my wife come and pick me up in Adel, one of the towns the trail passes through.
3. The trail is in 3 counties, Dallas, Guthrie and Greene. Each county’s conservation board is responsible for the trail up keep.
The pass through towns are anywhere from 5 to 10 miles apart along the trail. But after Panora, another pass through town there is no place to get anything to drink or eat until you get to Jefferson, a distance of about 25 miles or so.
Interesting things seen the trail:
2. Hundreds of rabbits.
3. What I call squiny’s, I think they are some kind of ground squirrel, saw 2 of them doing the wild thing in the middle of the trail.
4. Several birds, including a few I can check off of my list.
Challenges faced and dealt with during ride:
2. Wet spots in the shaded areas of the trail. It rained the night before, & the wet spots in the shade had not dried completely.
3. The areas where the mulberry trees dropped the berries onto the trail. This made it nice and slippery, not to mention messy.
4. The gravel road crossings. There were several where I had to stop, get off my bike and walk across. (remember I ride a recumbent)
5. Forgot sunglasses, made it a little more difficult to ride in the sun.
6. Other trail users not paying attention to what they were doing.
Things I reflected on/thought about:
I took this journey for more then one reason. First of all I was born in Jefferson at Greene county Hospital. I do not remember the last time I was in Jefferson. So I wanted to see if I could remember any part of the town. I was unable to.
I looked at the challenges that I faced as a comparison to my tough birth to come into this world, and the tough first few years of my life, plus all of the challenges I have faced in life since then.
During the last week of my mothers pregnancy with me I turned around in her womb and was facing the wrong way. Medical technology being what it was in 1971 they had no way of telling if the cord had wrapped around my neck or any other possible problems that may have occurred. So the dr. gave my parents a choice. Natural birth or C-Section. They weighed the options and chose C-section. And thus on Nov. 24th, 1971 I was born a normal, happy & healthy baby.
Mom was only 18 when she got pregnant with me, my father in his early 20’s. In fact mom graduated high school with me inside her. My parents had almost no money. My father worked odd jobs wherever he could find them. Mom was busy taking care of me. I do not know if either of their families helped them or not. I’ve never asked. Nor do I know of any kind of pressure that either family may have put on them on what decisions to make regarding my future, before and shortly after I was born.
During my ride I did wonder since thing were tough for them at the time why was I born? I mean was it only because abortion was still against the law at the time? (Was it illegal in 1971, or had the law been changed by then?) Even if it was illegal and since things were so tough for my parents why didn’t they give me up for adoption? Again I have never asked these questions & I never will, but on my ride Sat. I reflected on them.
My parents did marry, though I do not recall if it was before or after I was born. But I imagine it was because they were pregnant with me. I do think at one time or another they did truly love each other. Maybe it was more for my benefit then their own. If that was the case it was not enough because their marriage ended in divorce when I was only 3 years old.
I also reflected on the possible fact that I could have very well been a “back seat or hay loft conception”. Meaning my parents fooled around, did not use protection and I was the result of their fun. And it was more out of lust then love. I was a pretty sick baby for the first 2 years of life. In and out of the hospital with a plethora of illnesses. Some how I survived it all.
My parents divorced for a number of reasons. But I have always known I was never one of them. And I have always had a great relationship with my father; I still do to this day. Both made sure of that when I was growing up, after that it became my decision, I’ve never regretted it.
I am not angry or upset at my parents for the possible way I came to be conceived and was born into the world or for anything that happened to/with them from the time I was born until they divorced. After all they did give me life, even though it was quite possibly an accident and they were very young and not prepared at all.
I also equated the challenges I encountered during the ride to the challenges I have faced over the past 21 years. I use the number 12 because at about the age of 6 the real turmoil in my life started. The list is way to long for me to even remember, but they have been great. Some easier to deal with then others. And some are still being dealt with even today.
I look at the fact that I was unable to finish the ride as being equated to life not being finished for me yet. There is still plenty for me left to do in the world.
I chose to do this ride, this particular route, to the place where my life began with the goal of making it back to Waukee before it got to dark to ride. But was unable to.
So this pilgrimage I took gave me a chance to think about my past, present and what lies ahead for my future. And it made me realize that life is nowhere near being over with yet.
This journey was a real soul searcher for me. I did find some of the answers I was seeking from within me.
I can only hope that some of you have been able to do the same.
Thanks for reading.