Sunday, August 18, 2013

From Muscatine IA to Minneapolis MN

After our restful night in Muscatine we headed north to meet up with one of Anna's mates, Scott, who she had met on her last bike trip. We rode the 55 miles to Oxford Junction with time to spare before Scott arrived. We then headed to the local park to enjoy a delicious salad courtesy of Scott. Then we discovered rain was forecast so we retreated into the local Legions Club for the night.

The next day we had to wait out the rain until after twelve before cycling on to Dyersville with Scott. It was nice to have a new addition to our team, and a real Iowan to boot. When we arrived at our destination we convinced Scott to sleep in a park picnic shelter after some deliberation. 

The following morning we awoke to a thick fog surrounding us. It was at this point we realized that maybe Iowa was the beginning of some colder weather as we were getting closer to Canada after all. Though later that day Iowa definitely challenged this though, turning on the sun big time as we climbed some steep bluffs to reach Pikes Peak on the Mississippi. 

On Wednesday the 7th we bid farewell to Scott with a celebratory breakfast in Marquette. Then Anna and I continued along the River crossing into Minnesota then making another river crossing and border crossing to into Wisconsin. We made it to our warm showers host Ed's place in La Crosse. Ed took us our for tea and talked to us about his cross country bike tour on a recumbent. He even let us try it out the next morning before we headed off. Ed also rode with us about 30 miles or so to help us get on our way through some local trails he knew. It was lovely to meet Ed and learn more about recumbent bicycles and to be honest I think I see a recumbent bike in my future. 

That night we crossed the river back into Minnesota and went to another Warmshowers place in Wabasha, but this time there was no one there to greet us. Our host was away but told us just go in the back and stay in the pool house and we could use the hot tub. Pretty nice really great view right on the river for the sunset and our own little pool house for the night. 

Thursday the 8th we crossed the river again back into Wisconsin and headed to Prescott. We stayed with another Warmshowers host, Bicycle Bob and his family. They cooked us a lovely tea and the next morning Bob guided us into Minneapolis where we took advantage of the many bike paths in the twin cities to get to my friend Hannah's place.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Onwards and Upwards...

On Monday the 29th of July we finally made our exit from Old St. Louie. We headed West out of town and onto the Katy Trail, America's longest "rails to trails" project, which crosses most of the state of Missouri. The trail was a nice reprieve from city biking, as its crushed limestone surface is car free and mostly flat. After a lunch stop in a town called Defiance we headed on down the trail to Augusta where we camped for the night at the Klondike park.

Unfortunately we were only on the trail for about 60 miles, and the next day we were back on the roads and heading North. We wound through some of the pretty Missourian countryside and ended up in Troy. The weather looked like it was closing in and the Troy Fire Department was nice enough to put us up for the night. We slept in the crew quarters and had free use of the facilities -- it was awesome. So big ups to the Troy fire department for the great night's sleep :)

The next day we road further North, this time taking highway 61 and enjoying the large shoulders as we blasted all the way to all the way to Hannibal MO. Hannibal is a interesting town famous for being Mark Twain's boyhood home, and throughout town you can see tributes to his various characters. As well as the Twain history there are many interesting old buildings and rail bridges which I am sure if given more time Mitts would have been all over. Looking for a place to spend the night we found ourselves at the Hannibal fire house where we were given a tour of the trucks by John and even allowed to attempt to pick up all of the different sizes of the jaws of life. The fireies were very helpful in assisting us to find a dry place to stay for the night, hooking us up with one of their connections in town who owns a campground. Top job guys, thanks again :)

In the morning we set off early and crossed our seventh state border in to Illinois, over the Mississipi river. We rode another 60-something miles north to Hamilton Illinois where we found a campground right next to the local swimming pool, which I'd say after a hot day on the bikes was just what the doctor ordered.

On Friday the 2nd of Aug we spent the first part of the morning on a beautiful little ride up the 96 about 13 miles from Hamilton where we stopped in at Nauvoo. Nauvoo was the first Mormon settlement and much of the old town has been rebuilt including the new temple. After an interesting lesson in Mormon history and a feed we hit the road. We crossed the Mississipi river again -- our 8th state border -- into Fort Madison, Iowa. We took the 61 as far as we could till the shoulders almost disappeared and the semis got so thick that we decided to head back onto the quieter roads and ended up in a little town called Oakville. We stopped off at the community center ask where we would be able to camp for the night, met a couple of colourful locals and were invited to stay the Mayor Benita's house  for the night. Thanks again Benita, we really appreciated your hospitality :)

This morning we hottailed it to Muscatine where we had our next map posted general delivery. After our jaunt to the post office we met up with our first warm showers host, Mark, and headed back to his place. He helped us clean the Katy Trail dust off our bikes and show us some other bicycle maintenance stuff. So we are all ready to get back on the road tomorrow with our clean bikes and our new map :)