SABULA TO CLINTON
French toast, fruit parfait, crispy bacon, orange juice, coffee—a breakfast for champions, or so we hoped, as we got prepared to leave Sabula’s Castle Bed & Breakfast and make the journey to Clinton, Iowa entirely on foot. Road conditions were again poor for cycling, with no shoulder and high speed traffic, so Tom ran the first 8 and I the last 7 miles, meeting just before town at Eagle Point Park, Clinton. Tom Koester, our Clinton tour guide, had gathered together Mary Seely from the CVB, Greg, Steve, some others, and of course my parents.
We learned about the holiday display, dog park, castle, lodge, WPA walls and features, 1000 steps, as well as the American Queen Steamboat Company tour earlier in the week. We learned bits and pieces about our hosts as well. For instance, Greg came to Clinton by way of Joliet, IL, born and raised in New Jersey. He became immersed in the history of Clinton by way of his work in the Park system for decades.
Tom Koester, who orchestrated our tour through Clinton, is actually from Dubuque, Iowa, but once he married a woman from Clinton, he adopted a new home. He took us from Eagle Point to the Catholic Historical Center to Rastrellis Clinton Iowa, a long established Italian eatery, to the Bicycle Station, a highlight for us cyclists!, to the Sawmill Museum, and finally down the dike to see the best sights of Clinton. Tom K did suggest we close our eyes while driving through the old downtown, with many blighted and empty storefronts, but we were glad to see all sides of this community—both its success stories and its struggles.
While at the Catholic Historical Center, we met Joe. He has a family farm of 260 acres just outside Clinton made up of 190 acres of crop land with the rest for raising cattle. At 82 years old, he rents the farm out, but he still visits daily to feed the cats. Joe holds a great deal of history in the area, last name filling up several pages of the phone book we’ve been told. But more interesting to us was the story of his marriage. Joe and wife are working on supporting each other into old age—she making sure he has a cell phone after he had a recent fall, and she going through a circuitous series of knee and hip replacements (all while being stubborn about it, he says).
We lucked out in our visit to the The Bicycle Station and Jensen Oil Company. Not only were Tom and I in need of some additional lights to strap on our helmets, but we got to meet Chad Jensen, third generation owner of this unique business—both bike shop and car shop. The rack on the wall holds up tires of all shapes and sizes for various types of moving vehicles, and they have a bay for fixing bikes and another bay for changing the oil on cars and trucks. Jensen’s started out as a typical garage and fueling station many years ago, and Chad grew up working there in his youth before moving away to pursue college than a desk job. But at a certain point, missing working with his hands, he decided to move back to his home town and move back into the family business, updating the model a bit. Bicycles have grown to be a greater and greater part of the operations here and now the Bicycle Station is the primary bike shop in the Clinton community.
We finished our day at dinner with Tom K and my parents, a very nice treat at the Candlelight Inn- Clinton Iowa thanks to Mary Seely at the CVB. This was a day of overindulgent eating if ever there was one. Our tour through Clinton was a whirlwind and it seems we only brushed the surface. Another visit and some much deeper listening is definitely called for. The town has more stories and struggles to tell.