Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 9 - Kewanee, Illinois to Wenona, Illinois - biked 64 miles today 5-30-2011

First off, we want to thank all of our veterans for their service to keep our country free.  We are so thankful that our nephew, Cole, made it home safely.  Cole, we are so proud of you and all of the service men that are fighting for our freedom!  We are proud to be American's in this beautiful country of ours!  God Bless America! 
In Bradford they were having a Memorial Day celebration but it wasn't for a couple of hours so we didn't stay.  There were flags all along their main street.

Our beautiful American Flag blowing in the breeze!
We left our hotel this morning at 6:50 and headed out in hopes that we can get some miles in before the winds pick up.  We lucked out because the wind this morning was coming from the southwest and we were heading east or south all morning.  Going east we had a great tailwind (in fact we were doing 18 mph in one 12 mile section).  Unfortunately that didn't last all day.   When we started out this morning we realized, in a hurry, that we were in for another tough day of biking as we were in view of probably 50 wind generators at any given time for about the first 4 hours.   Yes, it is windy here all the time apparently or they wouldn't have all of these wind generators in the fields.  We had 40 miles in when we arrived in Henry, Illinois at 11:30 so we stopped at Subway for lunch and for some beverage as it was really heating up.  The high today was 92 degrees so needless to say we did a lot of drinking to keep from getting dehydrated.  Even with the wind we were both sweating as we pedaled down the road.  In Henry we biked on the bridge over the Illinois River and once again saw a lot of flooding.  After leaving Henry we had 19 miles to go and although it was hot we were feeling pretty good.  Then the wind switched and we ended up biking the 19 miles with more of a sidewind than a headwind but it definitely slowed us down.  We arrived in Wenona around 3:00PM and checked into another Super 8.  John and I are both really surprised at how many little towns we have been biking through and how far apart the hotels are.  We have been averaging 65 miles per day and it is mainly due to our having to bike from hotel to hotel.  In fact the next several days we will be biking off our route to get to a hotel. 

View of the Illinois country side!
You know your biking slowly when two ducks can waddle in front of you! lol 

What a joy it is to be able to bike along and always have such beautiful scenery!

Crossing the Illinois River outside of Henry - the flooding went well beyond those trees!

We saw this couple planting with all these pots in their yard.  We went over on the side of the road to ask them what they were planting but due to the wind they couldn't hear us and we couldn't hear her response.  He didn't even look up so either he hadn't heard us or just wanted us to go away. lol

You can see just a few of the wind generators that we biked by all morning!
We walked down to Burger King and had supper and now we are settled in our room for the night. We heard from Marilyn and Gary Solomon tonight and we will be meeting up with them on Wednesday.  They plan on biking with us for a couple of days and then heading back to Ohio on Friday. 

 John figured out that if we continue to bike 60 miles each day and don't take any days off we could be in Bar Harbor, Maine by June 24th.  That is hard to believe and I am sure that we are not going to be able to bike 60 miles every day without taking a day or so off. 

Day 8 - Muscatine, Iowa to Kewanee, Illinois 5-29-2011

We left Muscatine at 5:57AM this morning as we knew that we needed to bike 75 miles to get to the next town that has hotels which is Kewanee, Illinois. Leaving Muscatine it was foggy, overcast, and windy but with no rain. We had ate breakfast at the hotel so we were set to go. About 18 miles into the ride it started to rain Our first stop was in Reynolds, Illinois where we went into a Casey’s Corner Mart to get out of the rain and have something hot to drink. From there we headed to Sherrard, Illinois which was only 9 miles down the road. As we arrived in Sherrard a car pulled up next to us and told us that we needed to take cover because there was a bad storm coming with 70 mile an hour winds and 1“ hail.. He told us that just a block up the road there was a corner mart gas station. When we got to the station the gal said that we should bring our bike and trailer right in the store and that’s where we stayed until that storm passed. I couldn’t believe how dark it got and it was only about 10:00AM in the morning. After the storm passed we headed out and biked another 9 miles and then it started to thunder and lightening so we took shelter in a hall in Orion, Illinois. There were people there getting ready for a graduation party and told us we were welcome to stay inside and out of the rain. We felt like we already had a full day of biking in and we still had 30 miles to go. After a few miles out of Orion it quit raining but the winds did not let up. The winds were coming from the southeast at 20 to 30 mph so they were pretty well hitting us head on almost the entire day. It took us 9-½ hours of actual biking to get 79 miles - it seemed like at time we were barely moving even though we were both pedaling hard. So we arrived in Kewanee at 4:55PM and we stopped at a Chinese restaurant and ate dinner before checking into the Super 8. We are both exhausted and looking forward to a good night sleep.

10:00AM - we took cover in a corner mart due to prediction of 70 mph winds - we were surprised how dark it got so quickly before the storm hit.

Crossing the Mississippi River for the last time on this trip - just biking out of Muscatine and into Illinois!  Goodbye IOWA!

We are hoping to leave the hills behind!

Cornfield that had been planted this year and is now flooded due to the storm!

There were a number of places that we saw tree limbs down - we were also detour today due to powerlines being down on the road.  Fortunately the detour didn't take us out of our way.

Note the flag blowing in the wind - we were biking right into that wind.

If you look closely you can see a deer in the middle of the picture.  It was really foggy starting out this morning.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 7 - Lowden to Muscatine, Iowa 5-28-2011 54 miles today

We slept in this morning because we figured we only had about 43 miles to bike today to get to Muscatine, Iowa.  We left our hotel about 8:00AM and as soon as we got on the bike it started to sprinkle.  That's just Gods way of letting us know that he is in control. lol  We biked two blocks down main street because there was suppose to be a restaurant that was open but it was closed.  (we found out that it is now closed permanently) so we biked out of town and there was a gas station with a nice restaurant right next door.  As we were waiting for our food we started up a conversation with another couple and found out that the road we were suppose to leave town on (Y14) was detoured due to a bridge being out.  So we ended up biking about 11 miles out of our way due to that detour.  It's a good thing we start early. 
So we ended up biking from Lowden, to Clarence, to Bennett and then on to Muscatine.  Just outside of Clarence we came upon a patriotic mural on the end of a machine shed with the American Flag in the background and in the foreground soldiers setting a flag on Iwojima and  the Statue of Liberty off to the side. (see picture below).  What a beautiful tribute to the American Way.  That alone made the detour worth while.

On our way to the town of Clarence John had to make a nature call and for a little bit of privacy he crossed a set of railroad tracks that ran parallel to the road and went down into the ditch..  Wouldn't you know that while he is tending to business a mile long train comes along so here I am on one side of the tracks and he is on the other.  Even the best of plans don't always work out. lol

We also passed a home that had their own little golf course set up and they had mounted lawn mowers and  golf cart on post.  Obviously they had a good sense of humor.

We arrived in Muscatine about 3:00PM and checked into a Super 8.  We had a little trouble finding a hotel because there is a bike race in town so we were happy to get a room.  After checking in I fired up the laptop and we checked out the nearest Catholic Church and found out that there was a mass at 5:00 at St. Mathias so we got cleaned up and then bicycled about 4 miles to church.  We have so much to be thankful for!

After Mass we went to Applebee's and we both enjoyed delicious salads and came back to our room to call it a night.  When we came back from Applebee there was a couple standing outside by their vehicle and bikes and we stopped to ask them about the race.  They are from Toledo, Ohio and we had a very nice visit with the two of them.  They have invited us to their home as we pass by Toledo.  There are so many wonderful people in this world. 

We will finally be heading East tomorrow and we are looking forward to leaving the hills of Iowa - look out Illinois here we come!

Amazing mural just outside of Clarence, Iowa!

Farmer has his own private golf course in his yard and had golfcart and lawnmowers on post!

John on the other side of the tracks!

Day 6 - Dyersville to Lowden, Iowa 5-27-2011

We ate breakfast at the Super 8 and then headed out of Dyersville to go to the "Field of Dreams" which was just a short distance off of our route.  Unfortunately we got there at 7:30 in the morning and they didn't open until 9:00 so we didn't get to go in but we did manage to take some pictures. We had a long day ahead of us with a lot of rolling hills through beautiful fertile farmland.  We bicycled as far as Wyoming, Iowa and stopped at a little cafe for an okay lunch (nothing to great) and then continued on to Lowden where we had a room already booked.  We arrived in Lowden and met up with Liz (the Innkeeper) around 3:30 and checked into our room and then got cleaned up and walked across the street to Schneid's for a few drinks and dinner.  It looked like a brand new bar and grill and was very spacious and not smoke filled which was a major plus for us.  It was a very nice bar and we spent several hours playing cribbage, relaxing, hydrating ourselves, and eating dinner.  We got back to the hotel about 7:30 or so and we called it a night.  Unfortunately neither of us slept very well due to trains passing about a block from the hotel on and off all night plus there were noisy tenants in the room above us.  The hills of Iowa have been challanging and have worn us out but each morning we are up and ready for another day.

We biked 65 miles today and it was a tough day due to headwinds and hills.  We were both very glad to arrive in Lowden.
Home for "Field of Dreams"

Huge dairy farm along our route!

We passed numerous pig farms as we biked south through Iowa!

Lincoln Hotel in Lowden, Iowa where we stayed on Friday, May 27th, 2011

Our room for the night

Lobby to our room at the Lincoln Hotel!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 5 - Prairie du Chien to Dyersville, Iowa - bicycled 65 miles for a total of 307 miles since we left Chippewa Falls on Sunday

Crossing the Mississippi River by Prairie Du Chien, WI.  This is the same road we bicycled acrossed last year when we were heading West.  This time we will be bicycling east (once we get to Muscatine, Iowa).

Beautiful rolling hills and rich soil farm land.  Corn is already about 4" up.

Gorgeous flowers alongside the road.

Fertile farm land!

SS Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Petersburg, Iowa (an amazing beautiful church located in a very small town)

Altar at SS Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Petersburg, Iowa

Corn bins - we saw a lot of dairy farms and of course, we also bicycled by a number of pig farms which is a completely different oder.  So much for fresh country air.
We woke up to a cool cloudy morning but no rain so we headed out around 7:10AM.  We bicycled today with head winds, side winds, and also tail winds (all bicyclist love tail winds).  It was a beautiful day of biking even though it was quite hilly.  However, between the scenery of the rolling farm land, the birds singing, and the rolling hills it was a great day to be biking. We stopped for lunch around 12:30 at Colesburg at Willie's and John ordered the Willie's Whopper with fries and I had a chef salad.  John said his burger was delicious and my chef salad was okay.  From there we headed to Petersburg with a wonderful tailwind.   We had 7 miles to go to Petersburg and with the tailwind we made it there in record time.  As we came into the town we had spotted two beautiful steeples and as we approached SS Peter & Paul Catholic Church we figured we had to stop and see the inside.  The outside of the church was beautiful but the inside was even more amazing.  I hope that you enjoy the pictures that we took of it.

After spending some time inside the church we headed to Dyersville and checked into the Super 8.  We looked at the map for tomorrow and we had hoped to get to Muscatine, Iowa but we would have to bicycle over 120 miles to get there.  That is more than we care to bike especially if it is going to be hilly like today's bike ride.  I called the one hotel in Lowden and it is a old hotel listed on the Historical Registry and they only had one room left for $85.00 a night with no breakfast included.  We didn't have any other options so we booked it.  After cleaning up and watching a little tv we walked across the road to McDonalds and we both ordered a salad and now we are ready to call it a day!

Life is good!   Deb & Dennis we missed you biking along with us today.  You two would have loved the hills (great down hills with kick butt up hills).

Life is good!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 4 - Prairie du Chien - 5-25-2011

We ended up staying in Prairie du Chien today due to it was raining when we woke up and continued to rain all day.  Hopefully tomorrow we can head out and continue our journey.  Boy, it is a long day when you are in a hotel room.  We went swimming, sat in the hot tub, did some reading, walked in the rain to the grocery store and watched tv.  Can't wait to get back on the road.

Well American Idol is on tonight so I am looking forward to watching that!

Hope everyone is doing well!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 3 - LaCrosse to Prairie Du Chien 5-24-2011 64 miles

We woke up at 4:30 this morning and was on the road by 5:00 to head out of LaCrosse.  We were told that the morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 9:00AM and we wanted to be out of the area before the rush hour started. So we put all our bike lights on and headed out of town and bicycled to Genoa and stopped at a little restaurant/tavern for an incredible breakfast.  All four of us ordered the 3 egg scrambled mess omelet.  Oh my, was it huge and was it delicious.  John and Dennis were able to eat all of theirs but Deb and I left parts of our omelet behind.  It was so good but what we should have done was ordered 1 scrambled mess omelet for the two of us and shared it instead of ordering two of them. After breakfast we continued on to Prairie Du Chien where we checked into the Microtel hotel. Today's bike ride was all along the Mississippi River with beautiful views of the river and bluffs.  We were biking on highway 35 which made biking a little uncomfortable in spots due to traffic and also narrow and poorly maintained shoulders.

 Deb & Dennis's daughter, Jill, will be picking them up around 4:00PM today as they have to go back to work tomorrow. We have had a wonderful time with them and wish they could continue on with us but unfortunately they are not retired yet.  John and I both really enjoyed our time with the two of you and we will miss you but we are looking forward to continuing on our journey east!

Leaving our hotel in Lacrosse at 5:00AM on Tuesday morning!

Beautiful Mississippi River
It's great to be back on the road again!
John, Kathi & Dennis taking a break!

Life is good!

Scrambler Mess - one serving could of fed the 4 of us comfortably!


Day 2 - Wabasha to Lacrosse, WI 5-23-2011

  • Dennis & Deb "Somewhere over the Rainbow"

On our way to LaCrosse - traffic was a little hectic but it was alot flatter biking on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi versus the Minnesota side!

Dennis & Deb with Deb's mom at her home in Winona

Biking through Perrott State Park near Trempleau!


John checking out our chain!

Deb standing with the artist that did this mural at Track II in LaCrosse, WI

John, Dennis, and Deb after Happy Hour at Track II in Eau Claire - a good time was had by all!
  We left Wabasha at 6:50AM and bicycled to Winona with Deb & Dennis. On our way it threatened to rain but really didn't however, Deb & Dennis noticed a beauitful rainbow so we stopped so I could take a picture of them with the rainbow in the background.  It was so pretty but very quickly disappeared but we managed to get a picture of the rainbow first.   At Winona we stopped and spent about a half an hour at Deb's parents home and had a very nice visit with her mom.  While visiting with Deb's mom we all decided to cross over from Minnesota to Wisconsin and bike along the Mississippi River on the Wisconsin side.On our way to LaCrosse we went off route a bit and bicycled through Perrot State Park which was very pretty and then we biked through the little town of Trempealeau in Trempealeau County. John checked out our chain because the bike was not shifting properly and had a tendacy to climb onto the next higher gear and immediately dropped back down.  He did find a link that was separated and took out his trusty chain tool and was able to realign the pin and reset it and we were good to go.  If it reoccurs he will remove a link and replace it with a master link. When we arrived in LaCrosse, and got checked into our hotel, we all hopped in the hot tub and then got ready to go out for the evening.  We walked about 2 blocks to a little corner tavern called Track II where we arrived just in time for Happy Hour and yes, we did get happy.  We had a few drinks and then Deb & Dennis taught us how to play Buck Eucher which is a fun card game. We also spoke with the bartender who paints murals for a living - in fact there was a beautiful mural on the wall of the tavern that this gal had painted in 1970.  About 6:30 we went back to the hotel and sat in the lobby waiting for the pizza that we ordered to arrive.  We ate in the lobby area while watching Dancing with the Stars and then called it an evening because we have decided to get up at 4:30AM tomorrow morning and start biking at 5:00AM so we can be out of the LaCrosse area before the heavy morning traffic starts.  What a great day with good biking conditions and great friends!