Day 3 – April 23, 2016

A Walk Across Iowa on the Old Lincoln Highway: Day #3

Mark Minear

Mark Minear

by Mark Minear

Greetings! Today in Cedar County, just east of Mechanicsville, I came upon an intersection (see picture below) of Old Lincoln Highway and Franklin Avenue… wow! My mother’s maiden name was Franklin, daughter of Ralph and Nellie. Born in 1921, she grew up all of her early years until graduation from high school in 1939 and she lived about a block from the original LH going through Marshalltown. It was the era of the Great Depression (I remind my children that they are children of children of the Great Depression… that the frugalness comes from somewhere!); and I reviewed some of Mom’s stories about those memorable years in her life.

A quick side note here: the LH and the Chicago and North Western (now the Union Pacific) railroad line almost parallel each other. In fact, several times a day I am aware of the sounds of a train, perhaps always within a half mile or closer. I often walk back and forth over the tracks. (See picture below.) My grandparents lived just north of the train tracks; and, somehow, their home was known as a place that always had a sandwich for a “hobo” who would come to their backdoor. In fact, many of my mother’s stories were about Grandpa Ralph growing a big garden with food to share with others during some hard years.

Mom learned generosity from a deep spiritual place… that it was God’s intention to share, even when you weren’t always certain of what next week might bring. Mom’s stories left a huge impression upon me.   I learned something, likely reinforced by the Quaker meeting in my hometown of New Providence, that we are not owners—we are to be faithful stewards of whatever may be considered “possessions” in this earthly journey. Compassion, generosity, sacrifice… deep values that I am still learning to integrate into my daily life from the legacy of my mother’s family. Hmmm…? Where Franklin Avenue and the Old Lincoln Highway intersect set off for me a life review of some of the most important lessons and values I have been given!

Remembering my loving mother with gratitude: Elsie Hall Franklin Minear (February 24, 1921—April 12, 2013)

Did you know that I am discovering (so far) that there are a total of eight original LH markers that were placed by the Boy Scouts in 1928 (maybe about four in their original place): three in Linn County (according to Joe at the Mt. Vernon Visitor Center), one in Lowden, one in Clarence, and three at the LH Welcome Center between Logan and Missouri Valley in western Iowa? But this is still a work in progress that appears to have captured my attention!

Today I met Raymond… and we had a nice chat! His home is on the LH (built in 1926), and he also goes to a church that is on the LH (about four miles apart). And he had a couple of good stories about the history of the LH. But Raymond is also important to me for another reason. Another quick side note: I have contemplated writing a blog entry on the atrocious amount of trash in the ditches along the highway. You have seen it here and there… but when you walk along the highway, it is close up and you see so much more. It is amazing both in terms of the amount as well as the variety of stuff that clutters the beauty of the countryside. I have decided to not write anymore than what I have already mentioned (and don’t think I will be writing a blog entry about it)—but where Raymond is important is that his church cleans up about a three-mile section of the road—and it shows! What a nice boost to my theology of hope—something that I am likely to write about more in the days to come when I reflect upon my therapeutic work! Hope: there are a few folks out there trying to bring some beauty out of the muck! And it did my heart good!

Today I learned that I find myself concerned about the safety of others as well as myself. I want to be careful to not do something that would jeopardize someone else’s welfare. I still feel that I am acclimating to the various types of roads and how to be safe in the various situations and environments. I am still working toward paying attention to safety while, at the same time, have the opportunity to be mindful of the external environment and my own internal experience. Isn’t it amazing that, at any one given moment, we can choose to pay attention to so many different options in and around our lives? The general consensus regarding mindfulness is that it is about awareness—paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment. More about this will be coming… I am certain.

Today I am grateful for my wife and my sister-in-law Beckie who came into Cedar Rapids and my brother Hal brought them out east of town so that they could each walk some miles with me today into downtown CR… it is certainly an emotional boost to walk and talk with someone along the way!

Peace, Mark

P.S. Today’s marble was left near the Abbe Creek School in Linn County. Now a museum, it was established in 1844 and named after William Abbe, a “true pioneer”, a “worthy citizen”, and the “first white settler” in Linn County (1837). I thought of many of the teachers in my life… and expressed some gratitude for the importance of education—learning and growing—in all of our lives! (By the way, there is an original Lincoln Highway marker in its original placement—remember by the Boy Scouts in 1928—just a few feet from the school building. How cool is that!)

Mark: "It is certainly an emotional boost to walk and talk with someone along the way!"

Mark: “It is certainly an emotional boost to walk and talk with someone along the way!”

day 3 b

Mark: “Holed up having a snack. 22 miles in. Three more to go!”

day 3 c

The intersection of Franklin Avenue and the Old Lincoln Highway

day 3 d

The LH ending on the right and the train tracks side by side

day 3 e

The first school in Linn County!

day 3 f

Lincoln Highway history center in Lisbon


For more information and more posts, please see Mark’s homepage:

Everyone is invited to “Walk with Mark” by helping him reach his goal to support quality mental health services for boys and men. Supporting his 331-mile trek is easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Walk with Mark via his blog on the Center’s website or Facebook page.
  2. Walk with Mark by joining him for part of his itinerary.
  3. Walk with Mark with a donation to the Center for the counseling assistance fund.


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