Decorah was hosting their Pride Week when we arrived. On Thursday night, we carried lawn chairs to town, ordered drinks and sat outside on a local street to play Pride trivia. Corey and Kyra’s team, is named Sexy Neighbor and they often have a circle of 10 people in their group. Unlike our trivia in the Mad River Valley, it’s all done with an app.
As we walked into town Friday morning we spied our former orange cat, Lucky, in the school playground. Two little girls were petting him. Twelve years ago, we agreed to send Lucky with Corey and Kyra when they left Vermont. Lucky found himself a new community and every day he visits the children before the beginning of the school day.We were told that there is one playground rule about Lucky. He’s not allowed to be taken down the slide.
Pat’s bicycle needed a new wheel. The local bicycle shop, Decorah Bicycles, did an outstanding job – the part was ordered on Friday morning from Minnesota and his bicycle was good to go by Saturday afternoon.
Kyra, our daughter-in-law, led swing dance instruction on the main street Friday evening for the annual sock hop. Several young people practiced the swing dance steps. Pat and I also had the chance to catch up with Laura and Randy Hashman, our Cedar Falls Warm Showers hosts from two years ago. When they learned we were going to be Iowa once again, they brought their camper up. We spent Friday and Saturday evenings feasting and sharing stories with them. It was wonderful to see them once again.
While we were in Decorah, Corey and Kyra assisted us in making some additional bicycle and camping equipment repairs. We toured the Porter House one block up their street; the former owners never needed to work. Instead they traveled through several countries collecting artifacts, butterflies and insects. Closer to home, they collected rocks and used them to create a unique rock wall around their property.
Corey offered to give us a ride into Harmony, Minnesota, the beginning of a lengthy bicycle trail, and we agreed because none of the roads out of Decorah looked very appealing. We had cycled the same trail two years ago. We stopped in Lanesboro to get groceries at what was the local organic market; alas it is now cannabis only. We stopped to talk with a woodworker in Peterson, who makes beautiful tables, bought groceries in Rushford, and continued cycling to Houston. Once again, we stayed at a primitive campsite there. When the sun disappeared, the temperatures turned chilly and it was tough to sleep in our lightweight bags (though this time we do have a liner). It was 44 degrees when we woke up and the fog didn’t lift until 10 a.m. We climbed over ten miles out of Houston and toward the Mississippi River at La Crescent, MN.
From there, we determined it was better to cross into Wisconsin because it offered the Great River trail (a dirt path next to the Mississippi River. Hence, we crossed the Mississippi into La Crosse, WI. That was our second time across the river. The Great River Trail was once a railroad. We had spectacular views of the river as we cycled north. In the town of Trempealeau, we called it quits for the day. Forty three miles had been plenty. The Little Bluff Inn had one room left and we grabbed it. The motel owner suggested we get a drink at Cat Daddy’s by the river because of the excellent view and also that we try Sullivan’s restaurant for dinner because it was Manic Monday; night of a free bottle of wine. She said both were too far to cycle to but that we could borrow her golf cart to go to Cat Daddy’s and that Sullivan’s would shuttle us to dinner and back to the motel. And that’s exactly what we did.
After a yummy yogurt parfait and another espresso in Trempealeau, we put our wheels back on the Great River Trail north until we reached a wildlife refuge, and cycled around it until we landed on Highway 35 and then on a bicycle trail across the Mississippi once again to Minnesota. After sharing a black and blue salad in Winona, we steered toward Prairie Island, a national wildlife refuge, eventually finding ourselves on Highway 61, a four lane highway. There was no other choice -14 miles of fast vehicles next to the Mississippi with eight foot wide shoulders. We definitely were moving at a fast pace.
We’ve been told that unlike Vermont, Minnesota and Iowa have had little rain all summer. The fields of soybeans and corn are baked to a crisp. Our last destination for the evening was Wabasha, and we now have a new problem to resolve. The highway is closed 15 miles ahead because the state is paving. Who knows what route we will now take?
Follow us as we spin our wheels.
Shevonne and Pat