Brownsville, Minnesota to Wabasha, Minnesota
Distance: 73.1 miles
Ascent: 2,033 feet
Cumulative Distance this tour: 753.5 miles
As previously noted, this was one fantastic campsite, the best yet on this tour. Sunrise over the Wisconsin bank. Mist rising off the river waters. Very dewy conditions due to yesterday’s rains. Magical.
Phil got up real early, with Jack and I lagging. We arose to winds from the north between 5 and 10 mph, so our early riding took us into a headwind. The scenery along the river road, however, was again marvelous, blue skies with white clouds and the wide Mississippi to our right.
We reached busy SR16 and lots more traffic. In La Crescent, the road intersects with US14 and develops into one huge mess of construction. We were supposed to find a bike lane but never once saw a turn-off. Instead, we found ourselves in the middle of heavy traffic on construction detour lanes, ducking beneath the bridge roadway to Wisconsin trying to phase in with cars and trucks since there was no shoulder. We made it. Maybe we ARE hardcore cyclists.
River-side backroads north of town took us through tiny Dresbach and Dakota. Further up, we rejoined again with US14, which was full of high speed traffic but also had a 6-8’ shoulder lane. Uninteresting (except for the river views) but comfortable.
In Winona we found the Green Mill Restaurant for lunch, a dressed-up hotel restaurant with a buffet pizza and salad thing going on. Their chicken and wild rice soup was tasty, their pizza not so much.
Back up US61 still slogging into head breezes. I found myself stopping at every opportunity for sightseeing, to regroup, for a photograph, for constitutional reasons. I guess that’s my remedy for headwinds. Jack handles them a lot better than I do, and it seemed that Phil and Jack preferred to chug along steadily all day without stops.
Around 1:30PM we found Latsch State Park, a possible camp for tonight. We regrouped roadside. Not much was said, but we decided to keep rolling. So far today, the hills had been small and the headwinds the only riding factor. Otherwise a beautiful day to ride.
In tiny Minneiska I stopped at a bar (the Eagle View Bar & Grill) for a water bottle refill. The bartender in there was cute although officially I’m not supposed to notice. She talked about how great yeti vacuum bottles are for insulation, and together we decided in jest that we should patent one for use in bicycle water bottle cages. Probably already exists although I’ve never seen one.
Ducking off US61, we wound our way through a beautiful wildlife preserve area (near the McCarthy Lake State Wildlife Management Area). To me, these look like pristine lands, before farming took over. Serenely green marshes and stands of deciduous trees. Jack and Phil found a big ole snapping turtle about to cross the road, and a little later I ran into him too. I kept my distance too much for a good photo but Jack got a decent one.
A little later I spied a bushy hemp plant and had to do a “High Times” photo. Add in numerous other stops for photographs and wonderment, and Jack and Phil were soon a mile ahead of me.
We regrouped in Kellogg. The little town had 2 bars and no motels or parks, and here it was about 5PM. What to do… I called ahead to Wabasha and found a room available for a whopping $149 and so immediately declined it. It was 5 miles to Wabasha, and then another 5 miles north to a campsite called Kruger Campground. Jack suggested we get rolling – nothing in this town – while Phil stated he was “on life support.”
Off we went up US61 again. We reached Wabasha and I actually think the minute we all saw the AmericInn we all knew we were going to eat the outrageous rate and stay there. In the end, we decided to split one room three ways and thereby distribute the pain evenly, no matter the sleeping arrangements.
I suppose it was a good choice – the air conditioning and showers felt heaven sent. We watched FlyBoys on TV, Mexican food was delivered, and then we watched The Social Network. Some of us even watched it twice (I’m a sucker for that movie.)
Pretty long day today, 73 miles. Jack and Phil are already snoring in concert as I write this – they both really chugged it today with a low number of stops. Personally I feel pretty good except for an ingrown toenail that has been bothering me, but, well, perhaps that is too much information.
In go the earplugs. Tomorrow we venture into Wisconsin.