What do people do when they get done after riding a bike for 50+ miles? The Iowa Gallivant has some ideas for that question. RAGBRAI’s (Registers-Annual-Great-Bike-Ride-Across-Iowa) overnight #4 has many options that we all love to do when we’ve been working out all day. A comfortable place to sit and drink a cold beverage(s)….A guaranteed cool place to rest your derriere….A place that offers live music and respectful sleeping conditions with an atmosphere that’s loyal to your party needs…It’s in Hardin County and you can find all of these in one convenient campground. Set up your tent and bring coldy’s and just park “it” in a soft inner-tube, because Team Goodvin brings you an amphibious exploration of Eldora, IA!
We arrived to Eldora at 8am. We did a quick recon of of the town and bought our supplies for the day at one of local grocery stores. We then made our way to Rock-N-Row Adventures. This would be a camping trip for us and it was proving to be a perfect day for such an effort. We setup our tent, got the beers on ice, and stocked our campsite. Next it was time we meet the RNR family of Sondra and Tracy, the owners of the campsite and the captains of our float down the Iowa.
Before we took off to explore the Iowa River, we had to first explore Eldora! Our trusty guides for the morning were Eldora’s Executive Director of Economic Development, Deb Crosser, and Michaela Kendall, who’s chipping in to showcase her home town for her Iowa State University summer internship.
Deb picked us up at our campsite and away we went to see her beloved Eldora. Our first stop was at one of Iowa’s most historic soda jerks. A mid-morning rendezvous at the Ahoy Fountain!
We weaved in and out of the area while Deb and Michaela showed us how Eldora is equipped, ready and prepped for RAGBRAI. It’s the smallest overnight town on this year’s route, but Eldora is stocked with restaurants ranging from sandwiches, Chinese food, pizza, steaks and bars to go along with the familiar vendors that will be all along the route. Their grocery stores were humming with activity with RAGBRAI on the minds of their employees. The local theater will even be playing the movie American Graffiti in honor of it’s 1973 theme when RAGBRAI made it’s inaugural tour across Iowa. This town is officially stoked for the spokes! (2016 RAGBRAI hosts can reach me for official use of that last line of writing/marketing magic)
Deb did her homework and knew that we gravitated to local history. Every town has a story to tell and Eldora is no different. Eldora also has a unique bit of history that can only be found their. Our next stop is a must see for anyone searching for this certain niche of history, Eldora’s CCC/POW camp.
The morning was gone and the afternoon set in. That meant only one thing. Tubing time! Deb dropped us off at Rock-N-Row and we huddled with some fellow tubers we knew very well. Joining us on the river was Brent, Tracy, and Addison Spurrier, some of our family members driving in from Corning, IA for a little Iowa Gallivant action. Here we go!
Sondra, our camp-boss, promptly gathered all of us scheduled for the 1pm float and guided us into the old school bus that served as their shuttle to the launch in the nearby town of Steamboat Rock. Just minutes after showing up our rear-ends were in the water and we were officially floating down the mighty Iowa River. Beer, music, laughter, and one hell of a fun time were seen and experienced all day on the water and on the banks.
Iowa experienced heavy rain earlier in the week and caused the river to be up that day. Which meant the float only took us about 3 hours. Very good timing for most tubing standards. The watery path took us past cabins and marked access points so we knew where we were at all times. The scenery was picturesque and all the tubing participants were respectful with their trash so all could enjoy the views of this Historic National Water Trail. We tipped back on beers, booze, and got to meet locals and fellow travelers. The spirits with all of us were as high as the river.
We woke up early the next day and took advantage of the scenic Eldora landscapes. The RAGBRAI early birds will soon appreciate this opportunity as well.
Deb was ready to meat up again and show us even more of the Eldora area. Her energy was just what we needed after a long day down the Iowa River. Working her weekend to make sure ours was a blast. It was back to Steamboat Rock and what will be known during RAGBRAI as “Breakfast Town.” Our gallivanting has led us to many people that volunteer their time to make their communities that much better. The folks in Hardin County were no different!
The scenic tour of Eldora wasn’t finished. After we refueled our stomachs at the Boathouse, Deb brought us to one of the most inspiring landscapes in the state of Iowa.
Eldora produced a truly entertaining and scenic experiences that is completely unique, to Hardin County, and ready for the masses to enjoy in July. Hardin county already pulls in over 350,000 annual visitors and is ready for this year’s RAGBRAI spike. We even had plenty of time to explore Pine Lake State Park. However, you’ll need to stay tuned as we update The Iowa Gallivant on that piece of Eldora splendor. Overnight #4 couldn’t be happier to have RAGBRAI back and we know that Eldora will captivate the thousands that will coast into it’s town limits and countryside. See you on The Iowa Gallivant again real soon, Eldora!
Don’t forget to read parts 1 through 5 of our Scouting RAGBRAI series!