The Wish Book

When I was a kid we looked forward to the arrival of the big mail-order catalogs from Sears and Spiegel. We referred to them as “wish books” and pored over them to figure out what Christmas gifts to ask for.

Nowadays (I never thought I’d be using that word) catalogs seem to arrive on a daily basis. Some companies (you know who you are) send catalogs every week.

Image from The Gahan Girls

I was looking for a suitable image (hoping to find a Norman Rockwell-esque image of kids lying prone on the floor, feet in the air, looking at a catalog) to go with this thought but, instead, came across the gift I wanted for years and never got (and it’s not a Daisy Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle). It was a fake car dashboard so I could pretend to drive – one with working horn, turn signals, and windshield wipers. My parents thought it inappropriate. Kids shouldn’t drive ’til they’re 16, and driving is not a game, but to be taken seriously. Funny that I hardly ever drive now.

Anyway, last week I found myself looking, not through Christmas catalogs, but through listings for cross-state bike tours. While I know it will be years (if ever) before I can ride across the country again, maybe a state or two would suffice.  A couple of riders from the Twin Cities last summer wore a variety of jerseys from South Dakota rides. South Dakota had some great riding, so I’m looking there. (Greg and Dawn, if you’re reading this, tell me what you think of some of those rides. Or were all your jerseys from Nebraska? You’ll have to do some fast talking to convince me to join you for that one.) The Finger Lakes and Adirondacks were great fun, so I’m looking at New York rides. One of these days I’ll do the GRABAAWR (Great Annual Bicycling Adventure Along the Wisconsin River) and I’m thinking about RAW (Ride Across Wisconsin), a one- or two-day ride across the state. And maybe it’s time to return to Cycle Oregon, which I rode in 1992.

My summer 2019 travel budget will be taken up by nieces’ weddings out west, so I’m already thinking about 2020, with 2019 spent on day rides around here. Of course, 2020 is also the next Cycle America ride, which I won’t be on, though I may either join them across Wisconsin or buy them all a beer in Baraboo. If you’ve had a great (or terrible) experience with an organized cross-state or regional ride, tell us about it in the comments.

I know I linked to this before, but it’s time again. In 2011, my friend Keith Greeninger wrote the song “Hop in the truck”. It is sung from the viewpoint of a contractor looking to pick up casual labor to build a wall. Since our president has announced that he would be proud to shut down the federal government if congress doesn’t allocate several billion dollars to build a border wall, the half-fast cycling club dedicates this to the man of orange (not to be confused with the man in black):

So this post was written a couple of days ago and waiting to go up tonight…I’m listening to Astral Weeks by Van Morrison and realizing what this time was like musically 50 years ago – fall 1968 saw the release of “The Beatles” (AKA the White Album), “Beggar’s Banquet” by the Rolling Stones, “Memories” by Richard and Mimi Fariña, and the aforementioned “Astral Weeks”.  Oh, and “Electric Ladyland” by Jimi Hendrix. An embarrassment of musical riches. And that’s just off the top of my head from stuff I’ve listened to recently.

I have one standard for Christmas music – it has to be something I’d listen to even if it wasn’t Christmas. So I’ll leave you with this from David Grisman’s Acoustic Christmas (not from 1968, but 1986):

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.