Crossing the Rubicon (or at least the Mississippi)

7/23-  Breakfast in the St Olaf cafeteria with a horde of others. It looks like the diving camp and the cello institute are over, but the chess camp is ongoing. The chess kids are all carrying folding chess boards. While we were waiting in line for the cafeteria to open, a game broke out. 

It was a lazy start to the day. A short and easy day was planned and we were warned not to arrive in Pepin before 2 PM. We lingered over breakfast and rode to Cannon Falls, Cycle America World Headquarters, where we were greeted by the Chamber of Commerce offering chilled water and peanuts.

We rode the Cannon Trail, a beautifully paved trail through the woods along the Cannon River to Redwing (home of Redwing Shoes). The path looked and smelled like  home, that being the smells of mixed forest, lush undergrowth and grasses, and fresh water. Lunch was in a park along the Mississippi, with brats to celebrate our entry to Wisconsin. And, yes, he parboiled them in beer and onions before grilling.3BC543C5-523F-4138-92FA-E92C0E639EAB

We rode through the town of Redwing, briefly on Highway 61 (where “God said to Abraham/Kill me a son”), which goes to Memphis, then onto US Highway 63 for a white knuckle crossing of the Mississippi.

In Wisconsin (which is “Open for Business” according to our Governor, who had the “Welcome to Wisconsin” signs altered to say that) we turned onto Highway 35 “The Great River Road”. 

Following instructions to take as much time as possible, I stopped at every scenic overlook and read every historical marker. One of the overlooks mostly overlooked a stand of wild hemp. I took another picture of Maiden Rock after instructing everyone who stopped at the previous overlook that they needed to stop and read the sign about the story of Maiden Rock.   

I chatted with a couple of Harley riders who had started in Grand Rapids, ridden through the UP to Wisconsin, and were now bound to wherever they got before they got tired and decided  to stop.

Stockholm is home to some great little shops and a village park with camping. We hung out eating, drinking, and looking at the shops. I found a bentwood rocker in an Amish furniture store but the sag wagon wasn’t around to carry it for me. It was a really comfortable chair with bent willow arms and curved  oak slatted seat and back. If any of you are passing though Stockholm with a car, you’re welcome to buy it for me.

We arrived in Pepin with more time to kill. It was now late enough to stop for a beer. All the bars along the waterfront were closed. What kind of Wisconsin town is this?

In Pepin we are being fed by folks raising money for their Laura Ingalls Wilder festival. It seems she was born here, so we encounter another town laying claim to her legacy.

No internet access in Pepin, so this post is coming to you a day late. Uploading the photo took minutes, so that’s the only photo you get.

Tomorrow’s post will follow this one with a few hours. It will also be skimpy on photos.

Happy birthday!

Today is my daughter’s 22nd birthday. As they are a big fan of Taylor Swift, I should link to a Taylor Swift song, but I can’t bring myself to do that 😉 not knowing what song to choose.

Instead I’ll go to our mutual love of Jackson Brown, and one ofthe songs that sustained me while working in a war zone in Nicaragua.

I know, this is not particularly celebratory, and doesn’t seem like a birthday song, but I think Emery understands.

We are leaving Emery’s alma mater on their birthday; this seems somehow fitting. At 22, working for a living, you’re definitely a grown-up. Congratulations!

I rode into St Olaf wearing my Wisconsin Bike Fed jersey and will ride out the same way. St Olaf’s crest contains a lion rampant, just like the flag of Flanders. The Bike Fed jersey has a cow rampant. I hope I don’t offend any more Belgians or Flemings. Thanks to Dave Schlabowske of the Bike Fed for defending our honor last time. Based on the Ole fight song (below) I don’t think they’ll take it too seriously.

Flanders coat of arms from Wikipedia, t-shirt from Wisconsin Bike Fed.

St Olaf Fight Song (altered, but the version I know) (It’s a waltz):

We come from St Olaf
We wear cashmere sweaters
We live on a hill t
Be closer to God.

We don’t smoke, we don’t drink
At least that’s what they think
And under the covers
We Um-Ya-Ya-Ya.

On (to) Wisconsin!

A great rest day in Northfield, and the first one that I didn’t really need. I still felt pretty good. The bike needed it.

Dinner (as planned) last night at Chapati. Breakfast (as planned) this morning at Brick Oven Bakery. Back to the dorm to clean and lube the bike, put on a new chain, and add a second layer of bar tape after the beating I took this week. (Also washed out water bottles.)

The bike sounds happier, which makes me happy. Then down to town for a late lunch at El Triunfo (a great little Mexican restaurant) and a visit with the rug seller who sets up outside there. I’ve passed him many times but never stopped to chat.

Old Main, our dorm, Big Ole (the source of St Olaf power)

                                         street sculptures
fairy garden (note the Little Free Library in the back), old train depot, Cannon River

I then went on a little tour of the other (Carleton) side of town before checking out the new brewpub, Tanzenwald. They had live honky tonk music with a singer/guitarist accompanied by a pedal steel guitarist.240F339E-B709-423E-A8A1-A8DD413DEDCD

We will cross the Mississippi River tomorrow, another milestone. Fourteen new riders, thirteen new bikes (another tandem). A short day so they are delaying breakfast by 45 minutes.  If breakfast is like dinner, that will delay our start by about an hour and a half.

St Olaf is hopping. We shared the cafeteria with a cello institute, a chess club, and a diving camp. They had us all arrive at the same time (which is not how it works during the school year) so it was a madhouse.