Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 32 - Rochester MN to La Crosse Wisconsin - Rain and the Mississippi

Pouring rain.

Mike Munk looks at the radar on his cell phone.

It's all red and orange.

Yep, he tells Ian, looks like it's clearing up. We'll load on schedule.


Alex can't believe it!

They aren't going to SAG us?!

Well, I know I'm not up to 90 miles...

in a headwind...

with pouring rain...

and bad roads to boot!

Call me a wimp.

I'm taking the truck to the first SAG.

So I get to watch the fools...I mean, brave souls...take off into the downpour.

Ian doesn't look too sure about this...

Katie says she's ready...

And Sandy is rarin' to go!

So I hit the road in the truck with Barb for the first 27 miles.

We pass interesting little spots I'd like to visit on a better day...

I worry about my fellow bikers out on these slick, wet roads.

The rain is so hard it hurts as the drops slam into their faces.

I later find out Al gets a flat tire in the middle of this rainstorm.

We pull into a Subway to wait for the first bikers to pass us.

Eileen is with me.

We chat about life and the world as we chill in the lee of the sandwich store.

An hour later - it's slow going out there - Rick trudges up the road with a semi-smile on his face.

We have to hurry now.

Barb has to get to the first SAG spot thirty minutes before the first rider so she can set things up -

the food

the hand washing station

the bin for discarded clothes.


We realize the route directions - carried by every rider on their handlebars - they are wrong!

They miss a critical turn at road 30!

We might be sending our riders up to Duluth!

Barb quickly jumps into the road - luckily the rain is letting up - and bravely sprays the AB arrows to alert the riders to a turn.

But we know riders don't always see the arrows.

Barb waves down the first riders and rapidly explains the change in route.

Then we call White Van to come set up at this corner and direct our riders to the crucial turn.

We drive on to the next turn and Barb marks the road there also to help the riders keep on track.

We hear a fierce gobbling and I look up at two huge sheds stuffed to the gills with raucous turkeys being fattened for Thanksgiving day.

Quickly we move on to Bucksnort Park - I never did find out why it got that name.

The first riders arrive the same time we do as we frantically pull out the supplies to get them on their way.

Why are we always in such a hurry?

As Mike and Matt Tandem pull up in rain gear, Eileen and I set off.

The clouds are breaking up.

Passing observation - we are in the Midwest now - this is rich soil!

I say good-bye to Eileen as she bikes away up the hill.

Now I need to get down to business - taking pictures!

And what a great day for the camera!

Rolling hills of farmland...

Clouds scurrying across the sky....

Cemeteries and Lutheran churches reflect the human spirit that lives on this fertile land.

As I get back on the road Dan asks me - did you hear that cemetery?

The wind howling through the trees sounded like it was full of ghosts.

The next cemetery must have required only red flowers.

Nice of Don to wear this red shirt for the picture...

Out in the country I pass isolated farmhouses with their own gardens like this...

And when I reach town there are lovely homes with beautiful woodwork like this...

After town we cross a bridge....

...and enter a lovely bike trail...

Woods on either side...

Long stretches of wonderful prairie flowers including the best display of Liatris I've ever seen...

I see two indigo buntings...

and a speckled fawn...

But it rains on my camera so I can't take any pictures.


After the trail we all stop at a charming shop with the best pastries - The Barista Cafe.

The rain stops and my camera starts working just as we hit The Big Hill.

The sun hits the wet pavement making the slog up the hill rather sauna-like.

Ken follows me...

until I give up and walk up to the top.

But after the top we swoop down a wonderful long descent to the Mississippi River valley.

Gerard gets a terrific photo of the Elk farm on the way down...

My friends see a great blue heron take flight from this pond full of lily pads at the base of the long hill.

But I cross into Wisconsin - my sixth state - alone.

Too tired to even pose my Diet Coke for the photo.

It's a big moment crossing the Mississippi River - the dividing line between East and West.

We are now officially in the East...

....and 2/3 of the way across the country.

I enter the town of La Crosse -

 - a college town.

I believe my Dad stayed here when he was an intern so many years ago.

Interesting park sculpture - Water under the Dam...

.....dedicated to the children of La Crosse.

I have many friends here...

But I miss home.

I miss Tom and the kids and Kitty....

Even the bunny nibbling grass outside the hotel reminds me of how our cat, Dusty, loves chasing bunnies...

But I'll see them soon....

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