So, I’m in Minnesota.
Yesterday morning, I awakened in my flea-bag motel (can’t remember the name, actually) at about 6 am. No coffee in the lobby and to be honest, the lobby is locked and the motel is unattended, with just an emergency # posted.
I walk to the convenience store and get coffee. Piddle around and am surprised to see an entire aisle of cured meat products. Jerky and cured sausages like pepperoni and slim jims, etc. My son would think he was in a paradise. The only fruit: bananas, but thankfully, there was a fruit. The coffee was good, which is all that REALLY mattered. Back to the motel, where at 7 am, the attendant has arrived and unlocks the lobby, so I can use the wifi, which doesn’t reach my room! I posted yesterday’s blog, which took an hour +, which you can imagine, because it was epic length. Answered e-mails, and was finally finished that by 10:50. Good thing Monday’s ride was a short ride.
I packed the panniers and hit the road before the 11 am checkout. The state line was very close to the motel, and I was quickly headed up 61. Yes, that’s intrastate 61. It has a shoulder the width of a full lane, it’s limited access highway, and it’s legal for me to ride it until it becomes a “motorized vehicle only” throughfare. I made great time.
My w/s host met me in Newport, and guided me up by St. Paul, and around Minneapolis to Minnehaha falls. It’s beautiful. Did you know that the lake (Gitche Goomie,if I have spelled it correctly) mentioned in Longfellow’s poem, Hiawatha, is actually Lake Superior? The falls are beautiful, and Minneapolis has done a great job of preserving and presenting excellent natural settings and environments as parks throughout the city. Several things were brought to my attention, which did not surprise me. 1. Minneapolis was just named the #1 most bicycle friendly city in the nation and #2 The city has worked to insure that there is no neighborhood in the city that is more than 4 blocks (I think that’s right) from a park. Isn’t that wonderful? There are great greenways, a bike highway, numberous excellent bike/pedestrian overpasses and bridges, a bike highway!!!
and a proliferation of bike lanes. This city protects it’s cyclists and appreciates the impact that having these people on bikes has had on the rush hour traffic. OH Richmond, I wish we could be more like this wonderful city.
At some points, the multi-use paths have been underwater with much city acreage. We got there, as some of these areas are re-opening, but haven’t necessarily been cleared yet. Even our Schwalbe wide touring tires preferred that we walk through some of the deeper sand.
Beth, is a touring cyclist who saw my companion ad on CGOAB and invited me to be a guest at her house. She and Rebecca are very dear people, with a great sense of how to live a gracious life. The house is really nice outside, with a beautifully manicured lawn. Inside, it is a creative, splash of color and space that welcomes visitors and stimulates interaction. My time in this house was just what I needed. A big bonus is that Rebecca is an excellent cook as well as a loving hostess. We had grilled steak sandwiches on home-made baguettes! I watched as she roasted the red peppers, though I missed Beth grilling the asparagus (fave food of mine!). Great dinner, and when I thought it couldn’t get better, Rebecca brought out the best, home-made, rhubarb crumble one could imagine! We chatted until 10 or so, as my laundry did it’s calisthenics in the basement. Once alone, I worked on e-mails, and mapping the route for today. I was intending to ride the Mississippi River Trail. BEth had helped me to highlight it on the map, and I thought I was pretty secure in my endeavor for today. I finally got to sleep about midnight!
When I awakened, we had delicious, dark roast coffee and smoothies!!!!! Again? Home-made smoothies! Just like home;) It was a delicious breakfast. I finished drying my laundry, chatted with Beth and Rebecca before Rebecca had to leave for work, and at 9 am, left and walked with Beth, part way to work before mounting Itzhak and heading north.
I took various city bike trails as I headed north toward the MRT. Beth had shown me the signs and suggested I imprint the image on my brain, so I’d remember it for today. (She found out yesterday that I’m actually not very good with directions). She was preparing me, like a little gosling….. imprinting it’s mother’s face upon it’s little avian brain. MRT….. MRT…. MRT….
OK. I’ve got it!
Beth also advised me to just remember to keep the river on your right…… Ride River Road W.! Much good advice!
UHHHHHH, but my little avian brain never saw an MRT sign. DARN! What now? Ok, find a path along River Road and AHHHH, there it is with the river on the right. I cycled this for 4 miles, then it crossed the river!!!!! YIKES! I asked a passing cyclist, Leslie, for help. She led me to the MRT…… The Mississippi Regional Trail. Wish I’d realized they aren’t the same thing;) Leslie is training for her first mini-TRI. Yay Leslie!!!!! Good to meet you.
Uh I followed the MRT until I saw Mississippi River Trail signs and like a little gosling, followed them until I realized they were heading South!!!! I retraced my steps knowing that if they were leading South, I should be able to just reverse the direction, and follow the trail in the opposite directions. 3 miles later, that one took a turn south!!!! Double DARN!
OH well, I finally got out the state road map, which we had hightlighted, kept the river on my right, and headed up whatever road was the river front road. That was the right thing to do all along. Beth gave me very good advice. I’m in Elk River, or Elk Rapids, chillin. I didn’t make it as far as I thought, but just got frustrated trying to make out what’s the nest turn. I got Google earth and Chrome downloaded and working, and can see the trail much better on Google earth. It just uses county road numbers, but it’s clear that I just follow whatever road goes along the river, keeping the river on my right. Will do more miles tomorrow, or not. Either way, I’ll have fun. Today was great.
I had a bit of a tail wind and found myself zipping up low-grade inclines at about 16 mph, with little effort. Time flew by. I met many wonderful people and some, I’m sure will be long-term friends. I’d like to do some touring with Beth, but fear I’d just slow her down. She is a good hill climber (as was Mark Herman. he’s a regular Billy Goat!).
To my Warmshowers hosts, I was slow getting your recommendations up, but have appreciated every one of you and finally took care of that today. Thank you Ed and family, Harvey and Lynn, John and Joanne, Beth and Rebecca, Jon and Paula and Mark and family! What a great community of friends Warmshowers is.
I’m so thankful to be on this tour. Every day is a gift. Wrong turns and all, I just see more and do more encounter more than I have in years. Though it’s great fun, my trip has also taught me that my real joy in life is my husband.
In describing the kindness of my friend, Ginger, who is flying out, to take my burdens over the Cascades for me, I also realized what a true analogy that is of friendship. One friend carrying the other’s burdens for a period of time, while the friend with the lightened load presses on, through a tough part of life. Great epiphany for me.
Go make your own breeze, and remember: if you’re not having fun; you’re in the wrong gear!