Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 33 - La Crosse to the Wisconsin Dells - Trails and Tunnels!

Ninety miles?

But the booklet said today would only be 75 miles!

And I have to get to the Dells while the car rental place is still open!

Al and I have big plans.

After the ride today we are leaving the group (just for 2 days) and driving South to join our family in New Glarus, Wisconsin.

My Dad died in May and this is the time to bury his ashes next to his Mom and Dad.

So I hop in the van for a bump up again, so I can get to the Dells in time.

The van follows the intrepid bikers along the narrow Wisconsin byways....

To Sparta - Bicycling Capital of America!

They take cycling seriously here.

In the town park is a humongous statue of a cyclist.

I hear he talks to you if the time is right.

He doesn't talk to me.

The trail is crushed gravel.

Slow going at times.

Cool bridges over the highways though.

There are always local people selling things along trails...

But why flashlights?


A dark tunnel ahead!

You can tell by the stonework this was built many long years ago.

The sign warns that the tunnel will cut so deep into the mountain that you will be walking in total darkness.

Walking - you can't ride your bike cause the floor is rough, wet stone.

We turn on our flashlights and enter the tunnel with a bit of a shiver.

Deep into the tunnel there is no light at all.

Just the wavering flicker of our flashlights dancing over the floor ahead of us.

After what seems forever we see a faint glow ahead of us.

No pinpoint of light, but a fuzzy large circle that gradually firms into the arch of the opening ahead.

We are thrilled to leave the cold darkness into the bright, warm sunlight.

And it is warm out here.

Both the sun and the people.

Cute cafe offers homemade treats!

The walls are hung with colorful aprons.

The center one with pink flowers was made by a lady in Guatemala - with her feet. 

My cafe hostess was there to get her son baptized.

And, being Wisconsin, there is cheese!

But look at my bike!

This delicate machine is caked with thick dust from the trail!

And another tunnel ahead - but this one isn't such a challenge.

We have other challenges though - bike groups of every age scatter over the trail.

We have a boy scout troop and families filling the path.

We have to keep a close eye on these cyclists to avoid any mishaps.

This guy is really having fun!

The rocks close in around us again.

It's another Tolkien-like tunnel -

I imagine giant spiders and trolls lurking in the darkness ahead.

I'm told our ride leader was here once when a choir was inside the tunnel practicing Amazing Grace.

Just that thought reminds us of the vision of the light at the end of the tunnel often seen by people at the end of their life.

I feel another chill.

Bill is glad to have reached the end of the tunnel.

But there are more challenges ahead - 

and I was in a hurry today?

Luckily for Nan, she has her little Kuchaloo to help her past this obstacle!

We all find our way past the fallen tree...

I think about just jumping my bike over it, but I wouldn't want to show off.

Nan is taking pictures of all of us with Kuchaloo.

Bill looks like he thinks the little critter might be a snack.

The town of Kendall and another restored train station.

I have to go inside this one!

It tells the history of this rail line that has been converted to the bike trail.

The story of building these three tunnels.

Displays of train stuff.

My brother-in-law Rich would love this.

And this is the shirt I really want!

Right outside is a real find - the largest train turn around...

Not the largest in the world...

or even the country!

But it is the largest in western Wisconsin!

Leo almost biked right past this important sight - but I caught him and sent him back to get his own picture.

Finally we made it to the end of the trail.

It was scenic, but the rough surface made it slow going.

Here we have our SAG at another charming train station.

Look who's here waiting for me!

We bike together for a while - on the road.

Tail wind.

Nice rolling hills through dairyland.

I have to stop for a rest under this willow tree

We meet up at the van with Dan from Indiana.

His son Gary has joined him to bike for a couple of days.

In the meantime, my little girl gets biking advice from bike leader, Jim.

It's a quick trip to the Dells from here.

When we get there it is bike cleaning time.

Need to get all that grit out of the gears!

But Al and I jump into a motorized vehicle -

toss in the bikes...

and off we go!

Al drives - a scary experience since she hasn't driven in 5 months.

And she only gets us a little bit lost.

I watch the road anxiously.

I haven't seen Tom for 30 days.

That's the longest we've been apart for 25 years.

Finally we pull into New Glarus - Little Switzerland.

The town is full of Steussys!

But most important to me is the Steussy-Williams family - all six of us together!

KC, Al, Nicky, TJ, Tom and me.

We throw the kids in the back of Tom's car and go out for a nice dinner and lots of stories.

TJ and his life-guarding.

Nicky and Starbucks.

Al and me and our biking.

Tom and his Kitty.

And we fall asleep in the Chalet Laundhaus....

together as a family again.

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