Derek Johnson Muses

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Trailways to Dubuque

This spring, I wanted to visit my friend Tom in Dubuque and didn’t want to drive. I know that by the end of this summer, I will be so tired of driving I will want to throw up, and these miles would count toward that. Other than driving, there’s only one way of transportation to get to Dubuque, and that’s Trailways bus.

Taking the bus was better than taking the train. It was indirect-an extra hour or two was added because of the stops we had to make, some of which were miles off the highway in campus-town Ames and downtown Waterloo. In the end, I got to read a lot and watched a couple of movies I wouldn’t have ordinarily gotten to see: 2008’s Journery to the Center of the Earth, 2010’s The Karate Kid, a Veggie Tales‘ episode called “Lord of the Beans” (forgot how funny Bob the Tomato is), and Cinderella Man (too bad it bombed-it was good), a movie I had wanted to see when it was in theaters eight years ago, but didn’t because too many other good movies came out that summer. Glad I never rented it.

Trailways does a good job, but they are helped by the fact that not many people take the bus to begin with. There’s still the smell of recycled air you get on planes, but I read a lot of the books I brought, and thanks to the wifi on the bus between Des Moines and Dubuque, I got to watch some college football highlights from last year that I wanted to see. Even if I know what’s going to happen, it’s still feels like a crisp fall afternoon or a Christmas destination game when I watch those highlights.

But the most important part of this trip was getting to see my best friend, who I have racked up a lot of long phone calls and good times together. He really is my brother, and it’s great to catch-up and laugh together again. He’s got a great life; this past weekend, I met his significant other (finally!) and saw his friends, all of whom are awesome and great Christian persons who encourage me.

Saturday, I volunteered with Tom at the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, clearing away leaves from rose beds and putting the leaves back on once the plants had been fertilized. It was great exercise, and we got to met a man who had grown up in Michigan just west of where our grower is and went to college in the Upper Peninsula, an area that has always fascinated me. It’s amazing how Michiganders, Wisconsinites, and Minnesotans live in 40-inches of snow per year and face snow storms in May just shrug it off.

Railroad on the Mississippi in the Mines of Spain near Dubuque

Railroad on the Mississippi in the Mines of Spain near Dubuque

Sunday, we went out to the Mines of Spain State Rec Park just south of town, to hike and enjoy the sun. The Mines of Spain are exactly what a great park should be: open prairie to walk, hills and cliffs to climb, and a majestic body of water. The birds were out, singing their spring songs and displaying their colors. Like I saw in Kansas, the countryside hasn’t been overrun with green summer growth. But that will change son.

And the best part of the visit? Tom telling me that he’s moving back to Seward for the summer and that he wants to stay with me while he detassells! It’s going to be an awesome summer!

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