Changing of the Guard

The Silver Bullet

On my birthday (Thursday, September 17th), I took my usual day off. I decided to do some car shopping while I awaited the final steps before the insurance company claimed RB. My research had led me to decide on the Kia Soul for my next car. The closest dealership is in Des Moines, so I drove over just to have a look around. Three hours and a good salesman later, I had a new car.

I bid RB a fond farewell after moving everything over to the new car. I got a few pictures of RB and the new car together. Then, a tow truck picked up RB. Don’t worry, I won’t post any of those pictures here.

Changing of the Guard

The new car needed a name, one based on how she felt being driven. Her silver body color already influenced potential names, but I couldn’t settle on one because I just couldn’t get a feel strictly driving in the region. This seemed a totally legitimate reason for a more extended test drive, even a short one.

This all took place over a four-day weekend I had created because I hadn’t taken any summer vacation time. With Covid-19 making travel so chancy, I just couldn’t think of anywhere I wanted to go that wasn’t affected by the virus.

I decided to drive up the Great River Road to the border between Iowa and Minnesota. Getting there via I-80 would let me see how she runs on the interstate with a scenic excursion along the Mississippi River heading north, yet I could still maintain social distance.

The first time I saw the Mississippi River from a point that far north was as I crossed into Iowa when I first moved there to take my new job. I wasn’t impressed because the river at that point looked pretty normal and unremarkable, certainly not like the mighty waterway I had seen previously from points much further south. Of course, that I-80 crossing point is a long way from those southern climes.

The Great River Road National Byway extends from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, and it might make for a great trip next summer. (Hmmm….) The map to the right displays the route in the upper left corner with the main portion displaying the Iowa part of theĀ  byway. For this brief trip, I would only cover the part of theĀ  byway from Davenport north.

I left early Saturday morning. The plan was to complete the entire trip that day, so I was travelling lightly. Once I was on the Great River Road, I quickly discovered that I had to carefully watch for the signs that marked the route. I had to turn back more than once to get back onto the correct stretch of roadway. Then, somehow in Dubuque, I ended up on a bridge that took me across the Mississippi River and into Wisconsin. I decided to stay on that byway on that side of the river and continue north until another bridge allowed me to cross back into Iowa. I got a bit nervous as the miles passed because I was in unfamiliar territory and wasn’t always sure I was still on the byway. Also, I missed having the compass that used to be in RB’s dashboard but wasn’t a feature on my new car. I have Waze and Mapquest on my smartphone, but my phone’s WiFi service in parts of the Midwest and northwestern United States is spotty. However, I’m still rooted in the 20th century, and I don’t go anywhere without a printed map–in this case a brand new, large scale Rand McNally road atlas. I consulted it regularly enough to feel reassured that I was on the right track.

I did finally cross back into Iowa and make my way to the Iowa-Minnesota border. The hour was late, and since I was in an area I didn’t know at all, I decided not to enter Minnesota on this trip. Instead, I found the most direct route back to home base.

Below are a few of the pictures I took during the trip. Notice that one is of a flag at half-staff. That’s because Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died the day (Friday, September 18th) before the trip.

I was able to decide on a name for the new car. I’m calling her Silver Bullet (SB) because of her deceptive speed. Now, I want to make a longer trip to see if the name SB really fits her.

As for the trip, I already have something in mind. More in the next post.