All Aboard ~

Earlier this month we had someone in the family joining the “red, white and blue” team. 😉. It was a special birthday so celebrating was of utmost importance and we needed to be grateful for this guy, my other half, taking several trips around the sun these last 65 years!

Sitting around the kitchen island deciding what this celebration thing might look like, Brian thought it might be fun to get the Avion out and go back to his “hometown”. Was he getting sentimental, wanting to go back and reminisce his younger years? Moving right along, we love to camp so I too thought it would be fun! Like they say, whatever it will be, will be. The next day we pulled the 1962 trailer out of storage and got the wheels in motion with stocking and cleaning.

Since it had been a few years since Boone was in Brian’s path, he quickly got on line to reserve a spot at the Ledges State Park just south of Boone. A beautiful state park that held fond memories for him from participating in Boys Scouts, camping, riding his bike and I’m sure a couple parties over the years. 😉 We are picky about our parking spots so when we seen they had secluded camping spots, we were ready to book!

Next on the agenda was how long we wanted to stay and what would we do? I would leave that up to the birthday boy since this was his old stomping grounds. I was game for fun and a bit curious what he would come up with as I loaded the trailer with few cuisine choices and of course a couple of his favorite bottles of wine.

Boone is located on U.S. Route 30. The original Lincoln Highway ran through the center of town, but a new four-lane highway was built in the late 1960s that bypassed the center of Boone to the south. There is also a network of paved country roads radiating out in all directions. Brian made sure we did a little history cruise around town when we arrived.

A little history on Boone for those of you that might not know, coal mining played an important part in the early history of the Boone area. Local blacksmiths were already mining coal from the banks of Honey Creek south of what became Boone in 1849.

Boone is also served by the mainline of the Union Pacific, which purchased the Chicago & North Western Railroad (C&NW) in 1995. Boone was a division and crew change point on the railroad under the Chicago & North Western and some of that business remains today. There is a moderate-sized rail yard to the east of the downtown area.

Another bit of information, its hometown of the grocery chain Fareway. The company still maintains their business offices in downtown Boone. Also the first Casey’s General Store was founded in Boone, Iowa in 1968. Who knew Boone is such a thriving rural town hosting such booming businesses.

The “B” was off and running bringing lots of ideas to the table. Mentioning earlier, the Union Pacific train tracks running through the town, I wondered if his birthday would in some way or another have train whistles playing in the background. We are always saying to each other “get on the train or get run over”!

The Des Moines Register Newspaper recently ran a feature article of Rail Explorers coming to Boone offering exhilarating rail rides. The “B” was all over wanting to learn more and take on the experience. I have to admit, at first I was a little skeptical quickly responding, “you want to do what”? Having aviation in his blood, I thought we might take a wild ride in the sky so when he came up with trains, I was a bit surprised.

The Rail Explorer rentals is a pedal powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks. They have 4 steel wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, pedals for each seat, and are comfortable, fun and easy to ride. Although the rail explorers require pedalling, the magic of steel wheels on steel rails makes the experience very different from riding a regular bicycle. There is no need to carefully watch the road ahead, there is no need to steer and riding is hands free – making it easy to take photographs and video as you roll along.

Rail Explorers recently partnered with the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad bringing the Rail Explorers Experience to the Midwest. Riders could enjoy beautiful views with the 12.5 mile round trip of the Des Moines River Valley. The ride’s showstopper is the 750’ long, 156’ high “Bass Point Creek High Trestle”. Riders crossing this bridge have panoramic views of the valley and experience the thrill of soaring high above the creek below.

We launched off mid morning heading to Boone, Iowa in our 1962 Avion Trailer named “Jill” to take in the beautiful sites of Ledges State Park. Tickets in hand and excited to experience the Rail Explorers. We were Thrill Seekers hoping to capture some fun, make some memories and keep it as simple as possible.

We decided four days would be the length of stay in Boone. It would offer us enough to time to take in the sites of Boone, visit family close by, celebrating a simple birthday with a few hikes and of course taking a ride on the wild side of the Rail Explorers.

Also putting in our path we wanted to explore the East Village of Des Moines. Over the last few years, they certainly have made this area a gathering of fun shops, eateries and brew houses. A birthday wouldn’t be complete without having a local brew.

The day arrived, we would “hop on the trail bike” and head down the train tracks. My heart started racing just thinking of the high bridge we would be crossing over. It was too late to back out of now!

We were encouraged to bring a snack and a drink to enjoy at Rose’s Landing Turnaround, halfway point of the ride. Explorers rode the REX Propulsion System – an electric motor making the journey truly effortless.

The team at Rail Explorers were awesome! They kept you cool, calm and collected while briefing us on the in’s and out’s of this journey. Since we were late in booking the two passenger trail bikes were taken so it was a four seater for us. In hindsight, I’m thankful I had a little extra security in front of me to help with the jitters, I rather enjoyed “sitting in the back seat”.

“All Aboard” the crew yelled out! My feeling of “born to be wild” clicked in and we were ready to head down tracks looking for adventure!

All was going just “peachy and dandy” when the conductor stopped us right before going over the 157 foot bridge. It was a quick reminder to keep seatbelts locked, have a heavy grip on our phones if we were choosing to snap a shot, and DO NOT STAND UP! Ready or not, here we go!

The “Birthday Boy” was ready and excited! After all, this was his old stomping grounds mentioning he had camped up this bridge a few times in his youth.

One bridge and then another and I was starting to relax enough to snap a couple of videos. The first bridge made my stomach flip flop a couple times and then I was started to enjoy my ride. My phone was so tightly held in my hand for the fear of falling over that I almost missed the moments of beauty 157 feet high.

We arrived at the turning point of Rose’s Landing where our carts / bikes would be turned around for the journey back. You were encouraged to bring a beverage and sit back to enjoy the sights of the river as the crew did their magic of turning your car. My Lake Escape brew did the trick and relaxed my nerves for the ride back. I was getting into it and now I didn’t want it to end.

It was beautiful day pedaling down the tracks, taking in the sights feeling proud we were able to take in such beauty.

Another bridge and I was now feeling and living the song “Born to be Wild” with my birthday boy beside me.

Yeah, darlin’ gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature’s child
We were born
Born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die

Born to be wild

The journey was fun filled building memorable memories. We lived on the “edge” for few minutes, blew out a few birthday candles, played a couple games of dominos, hiked a few trails, built a some fires and had a blast! The birthday boy now 65 years young, sporting the “Red, White and Blue Medicare card and we couldn’t be happier in our simple life of camping and exploring the backroads of Boone, Iowa.

If you get the chance, by all means get on the Rail Explorer bike train. They serve five cities across the USA. Rhode Island, Las Vegas, The Catskills in NY, Cooperstown, Boone – Iowa and soon to be in wine country in California. You can learn more about the adventure pulling up the link:

So my blog friends I leave with this tune that has been in my head for a few days now ~ Born to be Wild. Get to know your “wild side”, turn up the speakers and keep rocking in your life! Get on the train, or get run over ~