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Hawkeye Point (IA)

Elevation: 1670 ft
Date: May 26th, 2009
Group Size: 1
Miles Covered: Few feet
Difficulty: Drive-up
Scenery: Flat field with a grain silo

Highpointing is best done when combined with other interesting excursions. Otherwise, the cost of this hobby adds up really quick. So, when I found out my buddy Mike will be getting married in Milwaukee, I saw a great opportunity to scratch off all those remaining states east of the Rockies.

My adventure actually started with a visit to Frankfort, IL. Sarah's family was having a get together, and this was a perfect opportunity to get introduced to the parents. And the eight siblings. And the whole extended family. Yikes!

I left the house on Saturday, the 23rd, at around 5pm. My drive took me by Cumberland, a very scenic town tucked away in a valley shared with the C&O canal. One day I hope to ride the towpath all the way from D.C. It was late, so I decided to call it a night. But there was a problem. The receptionist notified me that there were no empty rooms to be found for at least an hour and half. The overflowing parking lot seemed to confirm her statement. The culprits: a local music festival and Memorial Day. But with help from Sarah and my mom, I was able to find an Ecolodge in Morgantown for a nice $80 a night. Everything went well, despite my "Virginia Tech Alumni" license plates.

Map of my journey: 4,300 miles, 12 days.

Meeting the family went great, and I left town the following morning. From Frankfort, I took I-90 to Jackson, MN. This was my first ever visit to this state, and the western part by Wisconsin border is absolutely spectacular. The south-eastern part, where I found myself, was something else. This was a desolate place, where flatness was the defining geographic feature. The next morning I drove to Worthington, and then south across the border into Iowa. The highpoint is 7 miles south of the border, and a prominent sign indicates the turnoff from highway 60.

Grain silo by the highpoint


View from the top. Whoa, this one is flat!

Marker indicating the spot. This was a nice touch, given the lack of prominence of any kind.

The residence of the owners, the Sterlers. Looks like they run some sort of a university extension program from their house.

By now I started to regain confidence this trip will actually work out. See, I've been having bit of a love-hate relationship with my Forenza. From the start it has driven like a tractor and sounded like a supercharged moped. But the fuel economy has been great (sometimes even over 35mpg), and I had no problems with it. At least not until my trip to Florida. The Suzuki dealership in Wheaton, MD diagnosed the problem as a bad throttle switch. That seemed to fix the problem for about a week, but then the same problem resurfaced. This time, the diagnosis (basically reading the codes from the onboard computer) was bad throttle body. Suzuki has a limited powertrain 100,000 miles warranty, but this experience taught me that the important word here is LIMITED. The warranty seems to cover only few major components, like the few pieces internal to the engine (the cylinders?). These two repairs left me without some $1,200 dollars, and with much less confidence in making it back with the car. But in the end, everything worked out. I may still be driving a lemon which after only 2 years is worth just a fraction of the purchase price, but at least this lemon got me back home.

Next, onto Minnesota...