Monday, May 31, 2010

Cambridge,MN to Milaca, MN - day 15

Mileage for today is 43 miles - beautiful sunny weather temps in mid 70's no wind

Today's ride was one taken right out of a story book! The weather was absolutely perfect and the roads were in excellent condition, few hills and great scenery with a fare amount of wildlife. We saw turkeys, deer, woodchuck, cranes, and a fox.

Being Memorial Day we started out early with hopes of being off the road before the holiday traffic picked up. It worked out well and we were off the road by 10:30AM. I had hoped we would come across a memorial service somewhere and sure enough, at 8:00AM we came across a rural cemetary near Dalbo Minn just before it started. We pulled in and took in the entire service. The service was exceptionally meaningful to me as the first song sung was America The Beautiful. I don't mind saying in lite of the scenery we have seen the last two weeks, the words brought tears to my eyes. This was followed by a guest speaker, the song I'm Proud To Be An American, and God Bless America. A sincere thank you to all who have served our country and helped to preserve our freedom.

After leaving the Memorial Day service we came across a tractor for sale sitting along side the road. It turned out to be a International Farmall H just like the tractor Mom and Dad Johnson owned when John was young. We stopped and took a picture of us on the tractor. John said that I said "Kathi thinks my tractors sexy"! Yes I do!

When we arrived at our hotel it was only 10:30 but we were able to check into the Super 8. Deb & Dennis went in and showered in our room. After they were done John showered and then I did. Once we were all cleaned up we walked down to Dairy Queen and sat outside and waited for Deb & Dennis's daughter, Amy and her husband Luke, to come and pick them up and take them back home. It was a tearful goodbye and then John and I went and rode around the town and went and spent some time at two of the four parks that are in this town. We had picked up a picnic lunch and sat on a picnic table down at the park and enjoyed time with each other.

We had such a wonderful time the last three days biking with Deb & Dennis and enjoying each others company in the evening! John and I are so fortunate to have such a wonderful family and friends!

When we arrived at the hotel we had 35 miles on for the day and we realized that we needed 8 more miles to make a total of 800 miles in 15 days. So we rode around Milaca and then finished off the last two miles by doing 10 laps around a liquor store parking lot as the traffic was getting to busy on the roads here. If that liquor store is robbed tonight we are in trouble. lol

We are spending the rest of the day relaxing in our room in anticipation of another day of biking tomorrow.

We have been truly blessed!

Total miles biked in 15 days - 800 miles- WOW, WOW, WOW

Happy Trails!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Osceola, WI to Cambridge, MN day 14

46 miles biked today with cloudy skies and southwest winds 15 to 20 miles per hour.

Everybody was up and ready to go at 5:30 but we waited for the continental breakfast (if you want to call it that) before heading west. Our days ride started out with a 2 mile climb out of Osceola and into Minnesota. Hello Minnesota! Things flattened out considerably in a very short distance and we enjoyed a very easy ride for the first 30 miles. We stopped at Sunrise at a little bank that has been turned into a country bar (Sharon suggested it) and we sat out on the deck and took a break. It was not open yet.

From there we had a hill to bike out of Sunrise and then back to the flats. We made very good time and arrived at our destination of Cambridge by 11:30AM. Coming into Cambridge we had to ride in about a mile and half of road construction. So we were happy to arrive at our hotel.

Everyone showered and then we went for a walk to Culvers. On the way there Kathi was unusually quiet for a while. I looked at her and she had the biggest smile on her face that I've seen in a long time. I said Ya think it's pretty cool biking 750 miles in two weeks don't Ya? She said it sure is. Isn't it neat how you think alike after being together so long.

And then back to the hotel where we spent several hours visiting with Deb & Dennis in the lobby of the hotel . We decided to have pizza delivered to the hotel so we wouldn't have to leave the hotel. We had a very nice time sitting and visiting with Deb & Dennis. It is now 6:42PM and we are all settled into our hotel room for a good night sleep.

We ended the day today with total mileage of 756 miles biked in 14 days - that is far enough if you are driving from Dorchester to Chicago and back or from Dorchester to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. WOW, that's a lot of pedaling!!!

Before turning in for the evening I asked the host at the hotel if there was a way to get out of town without going through the construction zone. Her response was no problem, the construction ends one block away, all you have to do is put your tights on and go! We all had a good laugh at that.

Deb & Dennis will bike with us tomorrow to Milaca, MN and then there daughter, Amy, will pick them up and take them back to the cities. A special thank you to Amy for dropping Deb & Dennis off and then picking them up. Without Amy's assistance they wouldn't have been able to bike with us.

Happy trails!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hastings, MN to Stillwater, MN to Osceola, WI -day 13

61 Miles for today - beautiful sunny day with no clouds and mid 90's for temp. However, when we were biking on fresh chip seal Deb's cycle computer indicated that it was a 101 degrees.

Deb & Dennis arrived in Hastings about 5:00PM on Friday night so they are biking with us for a few days. We all left Hastings, MN at 6:18AM and crossed the bridge back into Wisconsin - of course immeditely upon crossing the bridge we had to bike up a long monster hill - welcome to Wisconsin.

We had to bike about 7 miles to get back on the Northern Tier route. There were a couple of hills and a beautiful down hill into Afton. This was a very scenic area on the St. Croix river with 2 marina's. We stopped at a little coffee shop and enjoyed drinks and visiting with Deb & Dennis.

We then headed towards Stillwater, MN and had numerous hills to climb and we also crossed interstate 94. It is amazing to me that John and I have biked this far and are now crossing 94. As we rode past Bayport I gave Lyn a call to let him know that we are here in Anderson Window area. Upon arrival in Stillwater we had to go down the steepest hill that we have encountered during this trip. Believe me we had all the brakes engaged down the entire hill. We went to an Irish Pub for late breafast/early lunch and sat outside on the patio overlooking the St. Croix River. At this point, we had no idea of the hill that we were going to have to climb to get out of Stillwater. I will probably have nightmares tonight. lol

From there it was a hot and hilly ride to Osceola but we saw beautiful scenery all day and rolling hills and very little shade. About 5 miles from town we ran in to fresh chip seal on the road which due to the heat kept sticking to our tires. Messy stuff! After biking 61 miles we finally made it to the Dairy Queen in Osceola - life is good! John and Dennis spent about an hour cleaning the rocks and tar out of the tread of Dennis's tires.

We checked into our hotel and then went next door to the bar and grill for drinks and dinner.

Total miles to date 710.

Happy Trails!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lake City, MN to Prescott, WI to Hastings, MN - day 12

Miles for today is 54.3 with sunny skies and very little wind. Mid 80's for temp today.

With today being the start of the Memorial Day weekend we decided to hit the road early and try to be off the roads by noon in order to beat the holiday traffic.

We left Lake City at 6:08AM this morning and headed toward Red Wing, Mn. on highway 61. The Alaska bus passed us about 5 minutes later and blinked his marker lights at us to wish us happy trails. We made excellent time on the way to Red Wing as highway 61 is fairly flat in that area. Since we made such good time we decided to have a leisurely breakfast and killed about 1-1/2 hours. This turned out to be a mistake as the rest of the route to Red Wing was quite hilly and took us about 4 hours to make about 30 miles. All things considered it was still a very nice ride with plenty of river scenery and farm scenery when we got further inland.

About half way between Red Wing and Prescott we came across an interesting rural restaurant / landscape center called Nesbitts. It's an unusual enough combination that we had to stop and check it out. John had a piece of rhubarb pie along with home made ice cream and freshly brewed ice tea and Kathi had a muffin and root beer.

Last night we checked into a hotel for this evening and found we had to go about 7 miles off route to find a hotel so we are staying at the Regency Suites in Hastings Mn.

We had a pleasant surprise this afternoon, Deb and Dennis Veercamp will be joining to ride with us for the next few days.

Total miles so far 643.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Winona to Lake City, Minnesota day 11

Today's mileage is 55 miles - temperature was in the mid 80's with very little breeze

We slept in a little this morning and didn't actually leave the hotel until after 8:00AM. Another beautiful sunny day with very little wind. Once again we spent the majority of the day biking along the Mississippi river with breathtaking views of the river and bluffs all along the way.

We stopped in Wabasha and had lunch at a wonderful little cafe - we had an excellant potato soup and John and I shared a club sandwich. We also stopped at the St. Felix Catholic Church for a moment of thanks for the safe journey. We arrived in Lake City, MN around 3:30 this afternoon and stopped at a park to check the map and call a few hotels to find out what there rates are. We were worried about the cost of a hotel with the upcoming holiday plus this is definitely a tourist town with a lot of boating and sailboat activity. As we were biking along the river I noticed a sign for the Alaska hotel that stated that they have suites for $59.00 so we stopped to check it out. They had one room left so we immediately took it and were pleasantly surprised at what a nice suite it is. We are now sitting out in front of our room and enjoying watching the sailboats, pontoons, and fisherman go by on the water. It is very nice!

As we have been biking along the Mississippi river we have seen numerous eagles soaring in the sky. John said he couldn't agree with the eagles more "It's a great day to go whichever way the wind blows".

While sitting outside the hotel this evening we struck up a conversation with a couple who are drivers for an Alaska motor coach that is headed for Alaska at 6:00AM tomorrow. They told us they would be on the bus with 72 passengers for the next 14 days! No thanks, I'd rather ride our bike.

John called Deb & Dennis tonight and we are excited to hear that they will be joining us on Saturday to spend a couple days biking with us. We look forward to spending more time with them.

Happy trails!

Total trip mileage as of today is 593 miles

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lansing, Iowa to LaCresant, MN to Winona - day 10

Mileage for today was 73 miles with cloudy skies and cooler temperatures. Wonderful biking weather.

After packing up this morning and meeting up with Michelle and Steve we stopped at the local restaurant in Lansing, Iowa for breakfast. There were trivia questions on the table so we went around the table asking each other questions. Mr. Steve is very good at sports trivia and obviously enjoys the game.

Heading out of town on highway 26 we encountered a hill that we ended up walking up - not too serious of a hill but we decided to walk it versus grinding away on it. New Albin was only about 12 miles up the river and we stopped to use the rest rooms and visited with some of the locals. We were told that we were within 10 miles of Dorchester, Iowa but it was in the opposite direction. Just out of New Albin we crossed into Houston County, Minnesota. So now we have biked in 3 states within the last 24 hours.

We took pictures of entering Minnesota sign and came across a painted turtle that we took pictures of. It has been wonderful joking and visiting back and forth with Steve & Michelle. Continuing north on 26 we viewed beautiful overlooks of the Mississippi rivers with barge traffic and train traffic on both shores (Minnesota & Wisconsin sides).

We stopped at a little bar/grill about 2 miles south of Brownsville where there was an older gentleman tending bar. He enjoyed telling us stories of other bikers that have biked thru the area. He even had to come out and take a look at our bikes before we left.

Upon arrival in LaCresant we had lunch with Steve & Michelle before they headed back to Wisconsin. We have so enjoyed the time that we were able to spend with them and miss the two of them already. Hopefully we will get to bike with them again soon.

After saying our goodbyes we headed out of LaCresant - oh my, what a long hill to get out of that town and to the top of the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi river. Once again, WOW, WOW, WOW! You can see for miles and it is absolutely beautiful in every direction. We biked along the bluffs for approximately 20 miles with glances of the Mississippi and the beautiful wooded areas and apple orchards.

We biked thru the town of Nodine and to a Kwik Trip truck stop along I90. John has gotten a heat rash on his leg where his biking shorts rub and so he went into the truck stop and applied a band aid to where it was rubbing. We then headed towards Pickwick which is on County Road 7 which was a horrible stretch of road but beautiful rolling hills and wood scenery. We then went back onto highway 61/14 along the side of the Mississippi river all the way to Winona.

Once we got checked into our hotel we took off and biked to the laundromat to wash our clothes. While we were there we were surprised by a phone call from our friends, Deb & Dennis, who offered to drive from 30 miles away to take us to dinner. We had such a wonderful time together sharing fajitas and beers and then a beautiful drive up to Garvin park to an overlook of the city of Winona.

Hopefully Deb & Dennis will be able to meet up with us on Saturday and spend a day or two biking with us as we headed west from Stillwater to North Dakota. We are sure it is only a matter of time before Deb & Dennis go on the same type of bike adventure as we are now on.

We are so blessed to have so many people that are such good friends and family members interested in hearing how we are doing and to be able to share this adventure with them.

Total mileage as of today is 539 - WOW, do you know how far 500 miles is?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Prarie du Chein to Lansing, Iowa - day 9

Mileage for today was 38 - overcast and rainy

We left Super 8 in Prairie du Chein under threatening skies after an exceptional continental breakfast of waffles, biscuits and gravy, and misc. items. 4 miles into our ride while crossing the Mississippi river it started drizzling so we stopped and put on our rain gear. We are now in Iowa! We continued on another 5 miles to the Effigy Mounds National Park where we spent about 1 1/2 hours watching the video's and waiting out the rain storm. It is a very interesting visitor centers and we also got to see a real time pictures of an adult eagle feedings its eaglet fish in there nest. The rangers had cameras mounted above the nest and were actually able to watch the eagle's care for there eaglets. We also were able to observe a turtle laying eggs and burying the eggs in the sand.

When the rain stopped we continued on and within a mile we started up a 2 mile long hill (it seemed to go on forever). However, we were rewarded with a very long down hill into Harper's Ferry where we stopped at Spillway Bar and Grille. After an excellent lunch we went to continue our bike ride and it started to rain again so we went back in and played sheephead for an hour or so and waited for the storm to pass.

Once the weather looked a little brighter we got back on our bikes and headed towards Lansing with threatening skies again. We came upon another 1 to 2 mile hill that we had to crawl up. We have been riding along the Mississippi river on and off all day with beautiful views of the river. Who ever said Iowa is flat has never biked in Iowa.

We arrived in Lansing around 4:30 and reserved a room and cleaned up before we went to the Safe Door Saloon for pizza and beer. The special for the night was a 16 ounce shiner beer for a $1.00 a mug. They also served an excellent pizza (John's comment - gosh I love this bar). We spent the evening joking and laughing with Steve & Michelle. What a wonderful way to end the day.

Once again we have had a wonderful biking day and enjoying the time that we are spending with Michelle and Steve. Tomorrow will be there last day of riding with us as they will head south on Thursday morning.

The little bit of rain that we had today was a relief after yesterday's 90 plus temperature. Tomorrow we will head into Minnesota.

Life is good!

Happy Trail!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday, May 24th, 2010 - Spring Green to Prairie du Chien - day 8

Mileage for today was 73 miles - 90 degrees, humid, with a heat index of 100 degrees

We met Michelle & Steve at the General Store for breakfast at 8:00AM. Once we arrived there we found out that they don't start serving until 9:00 but they could give us yogart and granola or oatmeal. So we ordered that so that we could get going as soon as possible. We knew we only had about 38 miles to go to Boscobel today but that it was going to get very hot.

We left Spring Green about 8:40 and headed out of town. Within 15 minutes we came upon our first hill and it was getting very hot even that early in the morning. The scenery was incredible and we biked along the river for quite some time. Michelle had told us about a German (Minnonite) restaurant that was in Muscoda and so we were all excited about getting there to eat. Upon arrive we found that it was closed - they are only open on Wed thru Saturday each week. So we had some more gatorade and headed to Boscobel. Upon arriving at Boscobel we went to a local restaurant and ate lunch and decided that it was to early to turn in for the day and that if we took our time we could make it all the way to Prairie du Chien. Everyone made sure that our water bottles were full of gatorade and ice and we headed out.

Throughout the day we had a number of hills but nothing to serious. Overall it was a very nice bike ride even though it was very hot and humid. It wasn't to hot until we would stop and get off the bike and then we really felt the heat and humidity.

We arrived in Prairie du Chien around 5:00PM and while checking into the Super 8 we saw the weather report and it was 93 degrees with a heat index of 100. We had just finished 73 miles of biking and we were really looking forward to a cool shower.

Michelle and Steve decided to get a room at the Super 8 also because of it being so hot (versus camping tonight). Once everyone was showered we walked over to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store and bought items from the deli and came back to the lobby of the hotel and enjoyed dinner and drinks and sharing stories between the 4 of us. The best story told was by Michelle of a biking and camping trip near LaCrosse. When they were told, after they had there tent set up, that there were tornado warnings in the area. Her response was "I guess we better go into town and buy more tent stakes". Now that's what I call a girl with a sense of adventur.

Great day of biking with good company! Look out Iowa because here we come!

Total miles as of today is 428.

Happy trails!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Middleton to Spring Green, WI - Day 7

Todays mileage was 47 miles with temps approx. 89 degrees and southeast winds 10 to 15 mph.

Steve and Michelle met us at the hotel at 8:00AM for the breakfast buffet. We said our goodbyes to our other biking friends and everyone wished us good luck. Many expressed that they would love to be going with us on this adventure. Deb V. was out front to take pictures of the 4 of us before we headed to Spring Green.

Steve and Michelle are very strong bikers and we had a tough time keeping up with them (even though there bike was loaded with there personal items and camping gear). Once again we had a number of hills and a few chain issues that we were able to fix quickly. Little by little John is getting the bike where it will shift properly again. Michelle and Steve are so interesting to visit with as they have done a lot of biking and have had many very interesting adventures regarding bike touring that they are sharing with us. Michelle is originally from South Africa and the two met when Steve was in the Peace Corp. Michelle said that they met at a border crossing. They will be biking with us for a few days before they head to their destination in Argyle on Memorial weekend.

We stopped in Mazomanie and visited with Michelle's friend, Marsha. She brought out glasses and an ice cold pitcher of water along with cookies. Very nice treat and nice visit.

On the 2nd half of the ride we finally got out of the hills of Dane County and into the flats heading towards Spring Green. We stopped at the General Store for lunch and then went across the street to a little Tea shop and sat outside underneath a huge oak tree while John worked on the bike chain adjustment.

Steve and Michelle then left to go to their campside and we went to our hotel. What a pleasant surprise to find out that our room has a king size bed along with a whirlpool tub. It was heaven after the hot ride today. This evening John and I biked down the road to an old fashion rootbeer stand with carhops and sat out on the picnic table and had dinner. Very enjoyable!

We have been on the road biking for 7 days now and can't get over all the beautiful rolling hills, forest's, lakes, rivers, and fertile farm land here in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a truly beautiful state.

Total mileage as of today was 355

Happy trails!