Notes for 1999 (from Newton)

Mon 3/29/99 (Colorado Springs: Mom)
I'm sitting in Monument Park, in Colorado Springs ,a bright sunny day with a nice breeze blowing. My Mom passed away today a little past 11:00a.m.. She died peacefully. She hadn't regained consciousness after having suffered a stroke last Wednesday night.

She never gave up her zest for life. Last time I was here, she was talking about going back to teach at Henry Raab Elementary. Her only concern was that she didn't know how to get into contact with the principal to tell him that she wanted to come back. She had been talking too about joining the Peace Corps. She felt she had something to contribute. She wanted to continue what she had been doing all her life, living life to the fullest and helping others in the process.

I imagine that when she was unconscious she was back in her high school days, the time in her life she seems to have remembered most fondly, which is amazing to me for it's the period in my life I would love to forget. She was popular and active and seems to have participated in every possible activity that was open to her. That was to be the pattern for the rest of her life. She prefered tne active life, and continued to play golf, a game she loved, till late in life. She loved to be witn people, to socialize, give parties, go to parties. She was easy to talk to and fun to be with.

She loved learning and never stopped reading and learning. I took German lessons with her in Wiesbaden from a private tutor, Dr. Pohle, a rather stiff and pedantic German academic. We had a great time, meeting each week (I think Tuesdays). My Mom and I would think up little ways to tease our teacher, poking fun at German grammar or pretending we hadn't done our homework. One time we surprised him on his birthday with a party, and had invited his wife to come, too. He didn't appreciate it, thought we were wasting lesson time. My Mom continued to take lessons from him by correspondance for some time after we left Germany.

She loved to plan. I remember her well sitting and scribbling notes on cards and slips of paper. She seemed to have lists for everything.
She had a never-ending list of projects she wanted to accomplish.

She loved to travel, and I think would have liked to have done more traveling. She had an open mind and was curious about other countries and cultures . It meant a lot to her to be able to travel abroad with her sisters before the eldest died.

She loved to eat and to cook. She owned many cookbooks and subscribed to Gourmet Magazine for many years. She had her tried and true dishes she liked to make (French stew, ice box cake) but she liked to try new things, too. She always made lots of special dishes and desserts at holidays. She was famous for her elaborate gingerbread houses she used to make at Christmas. She loved to have me make potato pancakes at Christmas and I'm sure I'll never eat or cook another potato pancake without thinking about her.

She was a great teacher, as I had reason to know, having had her as my teader in 3rd grade, She must be the one who turned me around, for I did not have a successful 2nd grade experience, as certified by the teacher's comments on my report card, that she was 'deeply disappointed' with my lack ot progress, messiness and inattentiveness. My father's comments back on the report card were to the effect that 'Bobby baffles us, too' and that if corporal punishment were needed, she should just give the word. Yet, according to my Mom, I was one of the best students in an above-average 3rd grade class. As a teacher, my Mom was patient, caring and creative, which must have done a better job on me than spanking. Fortunately, lots of other kids had the good fortune to have benefitted from Rutn Jones's emphasis on learning and love over discipline and order, and I'm sure she reached more kids and changed more lives than we'll ever know.

Fri 4/2/99 (Good Friday)
Good Friday, 1999. On the way to Colorado Springs for my Mom's funeral. It's difficult to think of going there and not seeing her. Even when bed-ridden she was so vibrant and full of life that it's hard to imagine she's not there.

April 3 (Black Saturday), 12:50 p.m. Colorado Springs Airport. Waiting for Beth to fly in. She was supposed to have arrived last night but the airport here closed due to a major snow storm. She was re-routed to Dallas but her flight from there has been delayed. My Mom's Service is at 2:00 today. The finality of it is still something I can't seem to grasp.

Easter. Chicago, O'Hare Airport. I'm waiting for my connecting flight to Richmond. The service yesterday for my Mom was quite nice, better than the service for my Dad. Amy gave a very nice tribute and Judy had written some words about Mom which the minister read. She wrote about the strength, reselience and fortitude my Mom shared with her generation and with mid-westeners of that time and about the sense that my generation has that we are pale imitations of the real McCoy.

Sun 6/20/99
Father's Day. At the playground at Emerson Elementary in Indianola. Yesterdy was the funeral of Alden Godwin, Beth's Dad.

Wed 6/30/99 (Appalachian Trail)
Bridge over Brown Mountain Creek On the Appalachian Trail. 1:00p.m. We stopped here for lunch, after starting off this morning at 10:30 from route 60. We stopped at Brown Mountain Creek Shelter and met 'Flash' and 'Hot Flash' there, local trail groomers. Kids are playing on the rocks in the creek.

6/1/99. 8:30 a.m. Spent the night just outside Pedlar's Dam. We had tacos and nachos for dinner, then made a fire and toasted marshmellows. Everybody was pretty wiped out by the end of the day yesterday. Today-shorter distances.

11:00 a.m. Still at the camp site. I was just about to wake up the girls when it started raining, gently at first but then really hard. It's still coming down hard.

When it seemed safe we took down the tarp and started to get everything packed up and ready to go. Just then it started raining harder than ever. We didn't have time to get everything under wraps and got quite wet. By this time it was 3:00 and we were still at camp. After talking over the options we decided to head back to our starting point and the car.

Sat 7/17/99 (Champaign-Urbana)
Champaign-Urbana, 7/17/99 at 2:45 p.m.

I've been here for just over a week, doing research at the library and staying at the Illini Towers. I've been working on the topic of my summer grant-in-aid, enhancing the 19th century stories Web site.

I've been biking every other day, getting ready for RAGBRAI. Today I went about 40 miles, straight south on First Street. Went as far as 1450 N in Douglas County. Got wet on the way back. On Thursday, I went out the same way, but they turned right on to 'Main Street' just before some railroad tracks. I was intrigued where it would lead. After about a mile, I went around a curve with high corn on all side,-and there suddenly was a town, which the corn had hidden from view. Tolono.

Sun 7/24/99 (RA6BRAI)
7/24/99, 9:00 a.m. Des Moines, On the bus waiting to head to Rock Rapids for the start of RAGBRAI, 530 miles across Iowa in 7 days. Molly and I have been training for the last 6 weeks but havn't put in the recommended 500 training miles, maybe 250-300. We'll see if it`s enough to get us through. Heat and humidity are high, which won't be helpful.

1:30, just past Sioux City. We stopped at McDonald's for lunch- shades of Paris last summer when our first meal was at McDonald's. Most of the folks On the bus seem to be professionals-doctors, bankers, academics. It's so hot outside that the Bus's AC can't cope-we're getting pretty sweaty just sitting here.-


8:00. It's Molly writing now. We got really hot just putting up the tent. There are lots of funny looking bikes here, including a reclining chair and tandem.

10:00 p.m. Molly had pizza for supper, I had a grilled chicken sandwich. Each was $3.00. We each had a shower, $2.00 each. We've been drinking a lot, mostly water but some pop, too. Even now, as we get ready to go to bed, it's hot and muggy. We rode all over Rock Rapids, a typical small Iowa town. Very nice 'Island Park'. We'll see how our tent set-up works out-we have a tarp set up with 3 poles and a small, open 2-man tent underneath. It's supposed to keep Us protected against the elements, yet fight the heat and condensation you get with the typical tent-rainfly. It looks nice anyway, someone came by and complimented us on our 'sculpture'. We also have gone against convention with our sleep gear-no sleeping bag but a youth hostel-style flannel 'sleeping sack', a lignt nylon liner, a light blanket and a heavy blanket. The idea is that a layering system will adapt better to different kinds of weather. Actually, if today is any indication, we shouldn't need more than the liner.

We heard John Karras of the Register receive the keys to the city and officially open RAGBRAI-which he insists should be pronounced RAG-Bray, not RAG-Bri. He warned us of flooded conditions in Waverly, our third overnight. A few day, ago, they got 10 inches of rain in 4 hours , along with much of north central Iowa.

7/25/99, 8:15 p.m., Spencer. We're at the Clay County Fairgrounds-largest county fair in the U.S. We started today from Rock Rapids at 6:35 a.m. and made it the 73 miles to Spencer by 4:30 p.m. We started out fast then slowed to a comfortable pace. It was hard going today due to the high temperature (94) and high humidity (there was an official heat advisory) . We were going for much of the way into a strong headwind. We also forgot to put on sunscreen this morning, so we're both pretty badly sunburnt. Right now a front has rolled in and it has cooled off-hope it will be like that tommorrow.

Despite the difficult conditions it was an interesting experience and fun a lot of the time. There is an amazing variety in bikers and bikes. Quite a few very strange teams, such as Team Tutu-all, male and female, had tutus around their waist or on their heads, or Team Bad Boy-the chief had a full size cooler strapped to the back of his bike. Quite a few tandem, and a few quads.

We mostly drank today and ate fruit. When we got here we took a shower for $3.00 each-no hot water or towels!

It's me, Molly writing now. Next time we go out side, DON' T FORGET SUNSCREEN! We're got the funniest looking tan because of our gloves and shoulders. One part of my leg is red from sunburn, while the other side is practiclly white! Oi!-

7/26/99, 6:40 p.m., Algona. We arrived around 4:00 (started at 6:05 a.m. this morning). Very nice in the morning, cool with no breeze. The last 18 miles were very tough-uphill and against the wind most of the way. We ate a lot of fruit this morning, then had pizza for lunch-Godfather's. The best treat today was watermelon-juicy and delicious. Yesterday, the treat of the day was a smoothie-combined pineapple, bananna and strawberry.

7/27/99, 9:30p.m. Clear Lake. Short day today but tough because of the wind and sunburn. Beautiful ride into town from Ventura, around the lake. We had dinner at Jim and Mary Lou's. Last night we had a spaghetti dinner and then had a crazy bus adventure. The bus driver had never been in Altona before! We were lucky to make it back to the campground.

11:40 p.m. We are now in the high school gym due to a very heavy thunderstorm and tornado warning.

Thu 12/30/99 (New Year's Eve)
Pocahontas Park. We were going to camp tonight but the campground is closed. so we went on a hike and now the kids are playing on the playground. I thought that this would be a neat way to start the Millenium-outdoors-but I gves, we'll try again in the spring.