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

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