Monday, May 24, 2021

Homeward Bound

 A wishful glance at the radar had me departing at 9:00 with my rain gear neatly stowed away, but the billions of gallons of water suspended over my head had other plans. I didn't make it 20 minutes before the heavens opened up and I found myself on a field access pulling on plastic pants. It was the most intense downpour of the return journey by far. I filled up in Horicon and snacked on some gas station food while chatting with the locals.

Gas station hangout session while the streets filled with water 
and the storm sewers backed up.

The rain stayed with me off and on until I hit LaCrosse at 3:00. I avoided the interstate, taking my favorite route, highway 33 to the Mississippi and then up the west bank to Hastings, Minnesota. I was tired from a full day's ride yesterday and planned some stops along my journey home. The first was the Canal in Portage. After that, I planned to find a park or wayside, anything new to me would do.

A pedestrian/ snowmobile bridge in Portage.

Wide, mowed paths along the canal are great for stretching your legs.

The paths in Portage are a portion of the Ice Age Trail,
it traces glacial moraines 1200 miles across Wisconsin.

I took a detour following signs for Lake Redstone county park. While I drove up to the lake, it was a long walk down to it and I didn't stay. Just downstream was Douglas Landing, a more secluded place for "yoga" and a snack.

The hills outside of Hillsboro were typical of my morning journey. 
Low hung clouds and light rain made for engaging riding, the miles and hours passed freely.

Taking a break outside of Hillsboro. 
The Guzzi was building up its first real coat of road grime.

Heading into south western Wisconsin, the temperatures started to drop. It was no longer a warm rain and I couldn't help thinking about the long underwear stowed in my bag. If only there was a little out-of-the-way park somewhere where I could change. And then, cresting the next ridge, there it was. The Little School at The Ridge History Park was waiting, empty, just for me.

I thanked the Franciscan Nuns for aiding this wayward traveler with their refuge, and apologized for stripping down to my unmentionables on their sacred school grounds. I did check the buildings for kids first but they all left long ago.

Feeling comfy again on the ridge top.

Wet and hungry, I stumbled into LaCrosse around 3:00. I stopped at the first place serving hot food, the Egg Roll King, and ordered a big serving of egg rolls and Tai fried rice. I took my treasure across the bridge to Pettibone Park. It was a beautiful view of the river as I stuffed my maw and restored my energy. A bald eagle was fishing directly across from me, making multiple dive bombs into a little eddy. A barge rolled down the river. Life is good.

The view from my park bench.

Looking across The River east towards LaCrosse

The remainder of the trip was the pleasant blur that is highway 61. I ditched the rain gear at the park and it remained stowed. There were a few motorcyclists traveling up and down the river, everyone waved. We must have been feeling those Monday afternoon vibes, out in the world cheating the 9 to 5.

I rode all day and never felt tired. I never felt like I was ready to be home, but I was happy to get there all the same.

- Ride North

Monday May 4th  | 9 hours | 300 miles | 50's and 60's |  wet

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Le Bon Voyage

Here we go, it's a new ride and a new spring season. Time for a little weekend warrioring!

This year's spring ride was early due to the warm weather and a recently vaccinated family. I haven't seen my dad since June 2020 and on Sunday May 3rd that was going to change. I'd be meeting up with Todd and my dad in Lansing for breakfast at the River View Cafe. If I was going to make it to Iowa for eggs and coffee, that meant spending a night in our new-to-us 1960 Coastline camper trailer that's parked at a friend's house outside of Chatfield, Minnesota.

Saturday was a full day, complete with a neighbor birthday party barbeque. Again, thanks to the vaccinations rolling out. After tasty pork tacos, with all the fixin's, I hit the road at 7:00 PM with the goal of rolling into the camper at 9:00. There were big thunderheads everywhere, I had to stop to pull on the rain gear. I somehow managed to miss most of the weather and only rode through sprinkles.

I did manage to get to the camper by 9:00 which gave me an opportunity to test the headlight on my new ride. I have to say, I'm very impressed. It's a couple miles of gravel roads and driveways to get back to the camper, the highbeam was very helpful. Howeverm the traction control was not so useful on the steep gravel driveway. It felt like the computer was cutting the power to the rear tire as it spun, like a car would on glare ice. I quickly, without a shred of grace, figured out that I could feather the clutch and get the bike moving.

Home sweet home. A book and a whiskey, then lights out.

Highway 52 to 30. With a stop in Chatfield for gas and an ice cream.

It's been in the 40's and 50's for the past few weeks. I got up at 6AM on Sunday to bright sunny skies and 70 degree weather, which felt tropical. It was a peaceful morning drive down 16 to The River and then down 26 to Lansing. I'm having a hard time remembering it now, a few weeks later. We did a ton of riding on Sunday and this was just the beginning.

The River View Cafe (and Inn) is a gem, the food and coffee were both fantastic. Built in an old grain house, the bottoms of the wooden grain bins protruded from the ceiling. We found some outdoor seating overlooking the river and got on with the business of catching up and plotting the day's ride. 

Mississippi River backwaters, below Lock & Dam #8

the Black Hawk bridge in Lansing, Iowa

First up was to head east to Richland Center and then on to the Slimey Crud run in Leland, west of Madison. Once in Wisconsin, we took: C - X - H - 171 - E - Q into Richland Center. Or that's what my notes said anyway. The next bit of notes says, "N - Wikson" and "E - A, 22 - O", whatever that means. I was happily following my dad, an experienced road hunter.

We made a few stops south west of Baraboo before making "the crossing" back to Hartford Wisconsin, our final destination of the day. The first was for a short walk at Pewit's Nest that took us back to a beautiful swimming hole and slot canyon. There were kids swimming in Skillet Creek so I don't have any picture of the terminus of the canyon. The air temp was in the 70's but the spring water must have been cold.

photo by: Peter Gorman

Our next stop was at Dr. Evermor's Forevertron. Maintained by his wife and daughter, this is a must stop art park off of highway 12, south of Baraboo. 

Being a Guzzi rider, this bust caught my eye.

The Forevertron with Triumph for scale.

I made this map the day after the ride, it stays true to my cryptic notes.

From the Forevertron, we made our way back east across highway 16 to Hartford. I got to hug my mom, have some dinner, and a good night's sleep. In the morning, I'd be heading back to Saint Paul, only to come back to Hartford the following Friday with the rest of my family.

It's good to be back.

- Ride North

May 2nd | 106 miles | 2 hours | 80f dodging thunderstorms

May 3rd | 280 miles | 8 hours | 70f and beautiful