Muscatine, IA to Burlington, IA – 53 Miles

…The sun will rise and set regardless. What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us.  Journey wisely.   -Alexandra Elle

Our last day was somewhat of an anti-climatic ending for our week of riding.  Once we got to the outskirts of Muscatine the route was mostly out in the countryside with very little change in scenery, utilizing just two lightly traveled highways.  The guide book had a long “go around” for a section of the first highway that was unpaved when the guide book was written, but I checked satellite images and could tell that it has since been paved.  We saved ourselves about five miles of riding by double-checking.   

We left the hotel and agreed we’d stop at the first gas station we saw to stock up on a few snacks and drinks -because we were pretty sure we wouldn’t be seeing another gas station or any other place to stop until we got closer to Burlington.

 At the gas station, I realized we hadn’t done our official departure picture.  It was the first time we had to do a selfie!  

The GPS was doing the “recalculating thing again -so when we got near the river, I wanted to stop and double-check our situation.  We pulled into the riverfront park and since I was stopped, I took a couple of pictures.

Once we got away from the city and turned onto the highway we followed for most of the ride, we saw…again… road construction ahead.  There was another short bike trail next to the road, which helped us get around a bit of it, but we did have to get back onto the road for a short distance to get beyond the work zone.

Waiting for our turn to go through the one-way lane section.

After that, it was just riding and looking at farmland or country views.

At one point we were riding along and I glanced to my left and saw some buildings and signs and thought…that looks like a park with a restroom!  U-turns were made and we had our first break at the Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge. 

Bike parking area and bike repair stand.Weren’t very close to the river at that point, but the refuge is situated in an area where the river flood plain includes some sloughs.  (Sloughs are areas of backwater -sometimes swampy.)

A few miles later I saw a sign that we’d be crossing the Iowa River.  A few years ago, the paddling group did a trip on the Iowa (further upriver).  I was quite surprised to see how low it was.

Our next rest break was something that seemed really odd to us.  We were looking for an area where we could find some shade.  The vegetation was cut back a good distance from the sides of the road where we were. I saw what looked like an old, abandoned, parking lot and pulled in.  At the far end of it, there was enough shade for us to stand in.  We were trying to imagine what the lot would have been for because we truly were in a country area with mostly farms and even those were few and far between.  Later Jim told us that there’d been a church there that had burned down and wasn’t rebuilt.

Our third stop was where there was a wide spot on the side of the road where a gravel street joined our highway.  Also chosen for the bit of shade we were looking for.

A good example of what the scenery looked like all day.

Finally, after nearly 50 miles of pure countryside, we came into the outskirts of Burlington.  I made a beeline to the Caseys as soon as I saw it.  Time for a cold drink and a bit more shade.

At that point we were only about two miles from the riverfront park that we’d arranged to meet Jim at.  On the map, the park seemed quite large and I told Jim we’d be waiting North of the bridge, so when we rode in, I turned in that direction.  We went as far as Big Muddy’s, which is a place we remember fondly from previous paddling trips -and which, sadly, is now closed permanently.

I realized that that direction wasn’t that good for a stopping point, so we turned around and went the other way and found the Burlington Welcome Center at the other end of the park. They are doing quite a bit of landscaping type work there to make the welcome center more welcoming.  It is going to be nice when they are done.

We took our official end of trip selfie…. Then I checked out the Welcome Center.  They had a few displays, some merchandise, and helpful tourist maps and information.  

Before long, Jim arrived…so we had to do a selfie with our sag “stag”. 

We told him that we’d be happy to treat him to lunch or a cold beverage of his choice wherever he chose.  He pointed across the street to a place called The Drake (a place that hosted an “end of trip” banquet for the paddlers a few years ago). 

We had some lunch, but I only took pictures of the dessert.  A great end of trip treat!

Mike took my official “Shut Up Legs” T-shirt picture.  My sister, Laura, gave me that shirt and I always take a picture of me in it on the last day of a bike trip.

It took about 1 1/2 hours to drive back to Jim’s farm.  The best way back was to follow the way we’d just ridden on our bikes that day.  It seemed like a LONG ride in the car!  It was even LONGER on the bikes! 

The sun sets on the Seat Of Our Pants bike tour for 2022.  

Both Mike and I really enjoyed traveling this section of the Mississippi River and wished we’d had time to ride a few more days before we stopped.

We are already excited about returning to this trip in 2023.  We are planning to ride at least twice as many miles as we did this year (or more).


(An extra bit of fun: The pineapple is a symbol of welcome and hospitality in the South. Someone in the family heard a story once (may be a myth) about how in the plantation times, people traveled long distances to see friends and family. Because travel took time and effort, the visitors stayed for weeks. The story goes that if they found a pineapple in their bed, it was polite notice that the they had overstayed their welcome. The visitors would take the hint and arrange their departure. Our family has joked about “getting the pineapple” for ages. Jim knows this. So on our last day with him, he went out early and bought a pineapple! We think he was kidding?)

We staged a couple of pictures-

All in good fun, right Jim? Right?

Categories: MRT Bike Trip 2018 & 2022, Muscatine IA to Burlington IA

2 replies

  1. Thanks for another entertaining ride. I loved all of the pictures and the stories. You definitely pull the reader into them. The pineapple was hilarious.
    So happy you made the whole trip safely. Our world today is scary. Glad you didn’t run into any Karen’s or Kevin’s.

    • Thanks, Judy…I didn’t realize I hadn’t answered. I agree…making the trip safely considering all the things that could go wrong was a huge blessing and relief.

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