After a bit of rain last night, the morning was a bit cool. It almost felt like fall! I think the farmers were really grateful for the rain that fell between yesterday afternoon and this morning.
Just after New Albin, I crossed into Minnesota! The headwinds picked up a bit as the morning progressed, but nothing horrible resulted.
I had to keep pinching myself as I biked along next to the train tracks paralleling the Mississippi! The vibrant colors glimmered in the morning sun.
After La Crscent, I decided to follow Tracy’s advice and ride on 14/61 rather than the ACA route. There is a stretch of 14/61 that merges with Interstate 90, a road that is decidedly not for bicycles. Tracy never mentioned a bike lane or an alternate route around this section, but I set out on this route anyway. When I finally came to the stretch that merged with the Interstate, I pulled over. There was a sign that in no uncertain terms forbid bicyclists and pedestrians from the route. I was just getting ready to go back to La Crescent, when I caught a glimpse of a rusty bike path sign off to my right. I was feeling adventurous, so I took it rather than retracing my steps. Best decision!
While the path wasn’t in the best condition, it was a great find! I was able to ride parallel to the river with the train on one side and the Interstate on the other and have the path all to myself! I-90 splits off at Dakota, and after that I was able to rejoin 14/61 and ride on the wonderfully generous shoulder all the way to Winona. While perhaps not as scenic a route as the ACA’s, I saved a fair bit of miles and still had a great river view for the majority of my ride! What’s more, I met an amazing family on a weekend vacation. We both stopped at a little pullout advertising bird viewing. Their son was visiting from China, where he is a teacher, while their daughter works not too far away. I’m making friends all over the world while riding in my proverbial backyard! Xian & Beijing, here I come! 🙂 They were searching for eagles, as they’d been to the same spot in the early winter and had seen too many to count. While there weren’t any easily detectable this morning, we talked for a while. They were headed up to see the Effigy Mounds, so I asked that they give my regards to the Rangers. All my comestibles were sponsored by their family today, as they gave me a very generous gift for my journey as we parted ways. Really sweet people! Thank you!!!
So, I think my decision to go “off route” was a very good one, both in terms of meeting great people and in terms of stunning views!
I made it to Winona by 4:30pm and met my Warm Showers hosts at their home. After showering, starting laundry, and partaking in an AMAZING dinner of salad, rolls, and vegetarian manicotti, my hosts took me on a tour of Winona. First to the bluffs for an amazing aerial view of the city, and then to one of their favorite coffee shops, the Acoustic Cafe.
This picture doesn’t do justice to Winona. It is a spectacular city!!!
Denise took this picture of me and let me borrow her scarf as nearly all my clothes were being washed! Thank you!
Can you just imagine the glacier that came through and carved the valley??? Apparently, the water nearly filled the valley at one point!
(That’s Wisconsin on the other side.)
(For Vijay and Vic – hockey on Lake Winona!?)
Who said you can’t fall asleep after coffee and peanut butter chocolate ice cream? They were wrong, and I’m off to prove that very soon! 🙂
Tomorrow I’m off to the Wisconsin side for a bit, ending at Bay City. The next day, off to see Ben’s parents in Stillwater!