|Snow covered CWT|
|Ron and Jean making tracks|
|The bikes with the bike sculpture|
|Way to go Cindy!|
|Snow covered CWT|
|Ron and Jean making tracks|
|The bikes with the bike sculpture|
|Way to go Cindy!|
Which is all to say...DONE! Yep, I finished! Somewhere around 4300 miles, 12 states, and two Canadian Provinces.
I'm glad to be done. I think the weather has been telling me it's time. It was pretty cold again this morning. In fact, I rode in my long sleeve shirt the entire day (okay, I could have taken it off toward the end).
My concern about the Gandy Dancer Trail did not materialize. I did the trail, but did not see another soul.
|Gandy Dancer Trail|
It's funny--Wisconsin charges to ride their unpaved paths, and there is no one on them. Minnesota, on the other hand, paves their paths, and charges nothing to ride them. There are tons of people riding the Minnesota paths. Hmmm...of course, that's just my limited observations.
I had one final second breakfast in Osceola, Wisconsin, just before crossing the St. Croix River into Minnesota. The Belgian waffles were pretty good.
I was pretty lucky because the St. Croix Bridge is due to close on September 11. If I had taken more days off like I originally planned, I very well could have been coming back at, or after that time. It would have sucked to have to detour to another bridge. As it was, I rode across, and into Minnesota. Sadly, no Welcome to Minnesota sign.
|St. Croix River|
|Minnesota over there|
The worst part of today's ride was the headwind when I was heading south. But, I guess I can't really complain too much because I could have had a lot more headwinds coming west.
I haven't seen any other touring cyclists for many many days now. For my last day, I met Reed and Nu (pronounced New, but I'm guessing at the spelling). They were heading to the UP in Michigan. They were riding road bikes with very little gear.
I finally made it to the Gateway Trail. The first part was not part I had done when I left Minneapolis. I came to the junction of the Gateway Trail and the Browns Creek Trail (to Stillwater). This is where I had turned on my way east. Of course I had to stop.
|Where I had been 81 days ago|
There were two guys there, Dave and Lloyd. I told them I had been there 81 days ago, and in the meantime had ridden over 4000 miles. The remaining part of my ride was the stick on my BIG lollipop ride. They were impressed. They said I had great legs for someone who is 52. I said I was 55. Dave said he was going to guess younger. They were funny guys.
|Dave and Lloyd|
The last 20 miles took me past the big snowman in North St. Paul, to the end of the Gateway Trail (close anyway), through construction on Wheelock Pkwy (that wasn't there when I left), past Como Park and Zoo, through the craziness of the Minnesota State Fair, and back to My Sweet Baboo and Little Miss. Grayson was sleeping when I arrived (the only way Mallory had gotten him down for his nap was by telling him I'd be there when he woke up).
When he woke up, we did the same photo we did when I left, only this time Harper is also in the picture.
I'll compile some stats for a final post later, but this tour is fin, fine, fertig!
|What's this telling me?|
|I think I'm getting the idea|
|Oh yeah...I'm at the END!|
Yes, I definitely think I have left the Northwoods of Wisconsin behind. It was back to farm land today, including the occasional dairy farm. At least the roads continued to be rolling, giving me one of my higher average speeds of the trip at 10.7 mph.
Fall really seems to be in the air. While it is sunny with no clouds, it's not terribly warm. In fact, it's downright cold in the morning. It was in the low 50s this morning--brrrr!
I finished riding along Chetac Lake.
It seems most of these lakes, even if they are pretty big, are mostly for fishing. I have not seen any waterskiing, nor jet skis either. Maybe they have a rule about speed and noise??? A guy yesterday told me this area is mostly about tourism. I could see that by the number of lodges and boat rental places I've ridden by.
The biggest town I went through today was Cumberland. I stopped at a cafe and had breakfast for lunch. Generally, I'm more a fan of link sausage than sausage patties, but the guy convinced me the sausage patty was much better than the link sausage. It was made by a local place called Louis' Meats. Since I didn't have both, I can't say whether the patty was indeed better than the links, but the patty was pretty tasty.
I went to the library to upload the last two day's posts. As you will have already discovered, the photos didn't upload on the Fur and Feathers post. I tried various things, but nothing seemed to work. The photos were there on the app I use, but didn't upload on the blog itself. It's a mystery...
After Cumberland, I had about 25 miles to go. It was a bunch of straight, either west or south heading roads.
|Really straight road|
When I was going west, I had a nice tailwind. I hammered out the miles pretty quickly. I found another error in the map narrative and map itself, but only for the direction I was going. The narrative said to turn onto 185th. The problem was that, although the other end of the road had a sign that said 185th/Bunyan Rd., the end I was coming onto only said Bunyan Rd. I figured it out after continuing down the road I was on, and coming to 180th, then 174th. I thought I could just go down 174th, but that was a dead end road. I went back to Bunyan Rd (180th only went the other way).
I made it to DN Campground. I was curious as to what the DN stood for. Turns out is stands for "Do Nothing".
|Sign at the campground|
As usual, the place is filled with seasonal RVs. Some places are more permanent looking than others. This is another place with a bar. I think this is now the third Campground that has had a bar. I guess there's not much else for the seasonal "campers" to do than sit in the bar all day. Sounds like fun to me...not!
Tonight is my last night! I think I have around 65-70 miles tomorrow. There is one potential issue that has to do with a trail called the Gandy Dancer Trail. It is another Wisconsin trail that requires a trail pass. The problem is, the end I am starting at apparently doesn't have a self-pay station, and the place where I'm supposed to get the pass doesn't open until 10:00. So, what I'm going to do is try to get to it as early as possible, ride the 4 1/2 miles...and not get caught. If I do get stopped, I'll just tell them I couldn't wait until 10:00. Fingers are crossed!
I've decided 3 is the magic number today. Harper is 3 months old today. In 3 days, it will be Grayson's 3rd Birthday, and I'm on tent site #3 for my last night!
Alas, it has happened. I took no photos today. Why, you ask? Well, the day started out sunny (granted, a bit headwindy), but just when I got down to my minimal riding attire, the clouds rolled in.
I stopped at the only convenience store I came to today, got a snack, and saw there was some big black cloudy nastiness coming my way. I stowed that which had been drying on the rear rack, and pulled out my rain shorts. My rain jacket was already tucked in the pocket of my pannier.
Not even a quarter mile down the road I had to stop and don my rain gear. I could hear thunder in the distance. I wish I had looked closer at my map because there was definitely a section of gratuitous miles. Although, who knows, with the rain, it might have been better to go the way I went instead of the County road I had been on, then returned to. I'm sure there was less traffic.
The rain continued with prolonged periods of downpouring. It brought to mind my ride along the Soulange Canal my last day in Quebec, only instead of a bike path, I was on the road. It finally stopped, and I was able to remove my rain shorts (they are just not very comfortable to ride in after 40 miles), only to have to put them back on a few miles later (yep, still not comfortable).
Although I had planned a different destination today, I had decided to stop in Edgewater at my original planned campground. That was a good choice because as I was riding along, I came to a Road Closed Ahead sign. Ah crap! I hate those! I could see that the road ahead was indeed quite torn up, so I followed the detour signs. I could kind of guess where it was going to take me by looking at my map (ACA does have some side roads as long as they are not too far off the route, or the route is in the middle of the map panel).
The detour started on chip seal, but soon changed to dirt and gravel. Thankfully, I have my trusty Tilmann with his 2" tires. He handled the dirt (becoming slightly muddy) with no problems. The detour added about 2 miles.
I returned to the road I was supposed to be on just before Edgewater. I couldn't remember the name of the campground, but I saw a sign for North Star Resort, and that rang a bell. Yep, that was it.
I paid the guy, and set up my wet tent. Usually, I inflate my sleeping pad, and put my sleeping bag in before I go shower. However, since the tent was wet, I waited. After my shower, I even went to the local bar and grill for lunch before finishing setting up camp.
When I came out, the sun was shining, and everything was almost dry (the shoes are getting there)! Hallelujah!!!
In looking ahead, I think I will actually push a bit to get back to Minneapolis on Friday instead of Saturday. It seems ridiculous to do two low 30 mile days, when I have been doing 60+ mile days. So, that means just two more days of riding (because really it would have been 2 1/2 after today). The route back into Minneapolis will be mostly the same as when I left, so no reason to dilly dally.
Sorry for no photos today, but there just wasn't anything to take a photo of.
It rained last night so due to that, and condensation, my tent was a soaking wet blob once it was packed up...yay...
It was as thick as pea soup on the road. It makes me glad I have a headlight and taillight. Although, there was hardly any traffic to speak of.
I continued on County Road FF. I decided FF stood for Fur and Feathers. First I saw deer bouncing across the road. Zoom in on the photo below and you might spot one.
Then I saw a bunch of turkeys--some baby gobblers too. Then I saw a small rodent, not a mouse, too small for a mole, maybe a vole (there's such a thing right?). It was running across the street. A car was coming. Instead of continuing across the street, it did a sweeping 180, and headed back the other way. I told it to hurry or it was gonna get squished. I think it lived to scurry another day.
The first town I came to was called Butternut (no joke). I wonder if their football team is the Squash. Actually, I'm not sure if they even had a school. It was a pretty small town. I stopped at the gas station/convenience store for a snack. A guy asked me the usual questions. He asked if I was worried about the knuckleheads. I told him, so far, I hadn't met any knuckleheads, unless he was one. He said he wasn't. Later, as I was riding along, I heard a voice say, "Hey!" I stopped and said, "What?" It was the guy. He said, "I met you at the gas station. This is where I live." I gave him the thumbs up and continued on my way.
It was a long straight road to and through Glidden, then I turned onto an even longer straight road to Clam Lake. I saw more deer, and more turkeys (at the same time). The deer were crossing the road going one way, and the turkeys were going the other way. It was like they had the Walk signal, and the cars had a red light.
In Clam Lake, I was at 50 miles. There was another campground 10 miles further, so I had some lunch, and kept going. The gal at the store said maybe I would see some elk. I hoped so, so I could continue with my Fur and Feathers theme of the day. Unfortunately, I did not see any elk, even though they are certainly prevalent, according to the highway signs. I did see 4 more deer. Also, a hawk came swooping down. Either I distracted it, and it missed its prey, or there wasn't any there. Either way, it came up empty clawed, and flew away.
I came up to Boulder Lodge and campground. I couldn't remember the name of where I was staying. I pulled out my little book. Oh, it was Boulder Lodge. According to my map it was supposed to be at the junction of Hwy 77 and County Road S. I hadn't seen the Junction yet. I'm guessing it's just out of sight. Anyway, I pulled in and gave my $20 to Michelle. This is a nice place, but I don't think there is anyone else here. I'm sure they'll be packed this weekend for Labor Day. Oh, and it's on Ghost Lake--oooooooo...could be scary!!!
Now just 4 more days!
After the first few days of riding by dairy farm after dairy farm, I thought I just wanted to get across Wisconsin and back to Minneapolis. While it is still true that I'm looking forward to getting back to Minneapolis and My Sweet Baboo and Little Miss, I am really enjoying Wisconsin now. Even the last two days in the rain weren't that bad, and of course there was THAT BEAR I SAW!
Speaking of bears, I was on the lookout as I left this morning. I didn't see any bears, but I saw a few deer--not nearly as exciting. It wasn't raining this morning (yay!), and the road continued to be rolling hills past numerous lakes.
|Still a little foggy and cloudy, but not raining!|
I picked up the Crystal Lake Bike Path into Boulder Junction. It was a nice path into town. I decided I would look for a restaurant for 2nd breakfast. I haven't had the opportunity for awhile. As I pulled into the parking lot of The Granery Restaurant, another couple pulled in on bikes. They were there to eat too, so I asked if I could join them. Jeff and Vicki are retired educators from Madison. We had a wonderful time chatting at breakfast. They were camping in Boulder Junction and were out for a ride on the trails.
|New friends, Vicki and Jeff|
Besides the Crystal Lake Trail, there is also the Heart of Vilas County Trail. It's a very nice trail that goes from Boulder Junction to Manitowish Waters. After our breakfast and taking photos, we rode together for awhile on the Heart of Vilas Co. Trail.
We said our goodbyes (they turned back, and I continued on). I was on the trail for 13 miles. I crossed a few bridges, and meandered through the trees.
|Heart of Vilas Co. Trail|
Yes, Jeff, I also saw the geraniums. There were a handful of people picking berries along the trail. I looked closer, and saw they were little wild blackberries. I had one. It was pretty sweet. It would sure take a lot to make a pie though!
My route didn't go all the way to Manitowish Waters. I had to get off and get back on the county road. Vicki thought it might now go all the way to Mercer (my next town), but she wasn't sure. I think she could be right though because when I arrived in Mercer, I needed to get groceries. By the grocery store, there was a trail that came from the other end of town in the direction of Manitowish. So, maybe there is a trail that goes from Manitowish Waters to Manitowish, then to Mercer. I'll have to look it up when I get a chance.
After restocking my food, I noticed there was a Subway right next door! Since I hadn't really had a full meal at a Wisconsin Subway, I decided I would eat a late lunch there. I only had about 7 miles to go to get to the campground.
The guy in Subway asked me which way I was going. I told him County Road FF. He said I should find another way as they had the road all torn up. Well, there really isn't another way. He didn't know how long the construction area was. I wasn't terribly worried as Tilmann can handle gravel pretty good.
I'm glad there wasn't an alternative, because the construction was only for two miles. It wasn't bad at all. I would have been mad if I'd gone out of my way to avoid two miles.
Lake of the Falls County Park is not very big, only about 33 sites. There is only one other occupied site, but no one seems to be there. They do have a brand new restroom/shower building, which is great! I don't know where or if there are actual Falls near here. All I can see is a lake.
|Lake of the Falls|
I hope there are loons, because I really like their call. If not, at least I saw this one today in Mercer.
|One giant Loon!|
Five more days and I'll be back in Minneapolis!!!
Today was another full day of riding in the rain. It mostly drizzled. Still, I ended up pretty wet. Combine that with yesterday's wetness, and most of my riding clothes are wet. Putting on the still soaking wet arm warmers this morning was...delightful. But, once I had my rain coat on, I was warm enough.
Today I continued riding by multiple lakes. I really wish the weather had been nice because I'm sure it would have been beautiful.
|Whitefish Lake--would be beautiful I'm sure.|
On the upside, this being Sunday, there probably would have been a lot more traffic if it had been sunny. As it was, there was very little traffic on the winding roads. There was much more traffic on the highways, but there was a shoulder then.
The best road (even in the rain) was Military Rd. Scenic Byway. It was winding and a rollercoaster. It was really fun. It was through the Nicolet National Forest. Here's a little info.
|Nicolet National Forest|
I had decided to even out today and tomorrow's mileage by camping sooner today, then making up the miles tomorrow to make two 60ish mile days. Also, since it was raining all day, I was hoping for someplace under cover, or maybe...someplace indoors! On my map there was a place called Buckatabon Lodge and Lighthouse Inn. They allowed camping too, so I had my bases covered.
I finished the Manitowoc Alternate Route, and have now rejoined the North Lakes main route. I should now be heading in a more westerly direction. Although today was definitely the day to be going mostly north as the wind was out of the south.
After about two miles on the main route out of Conover, I turned to go the 1 1/2 miles off route to Buckatabon. I was pedaling along when, not far ahead, A BEAR WALKED ACROSS THE ROAD!!!! I'M NOT KIDDING!!! A BLACK BEAR WALKED ACROSS THE ROAD!!! I stopped. OF COURSE I STOPPED--A BEAR WAS WALKING ACROSS THE ROAD!!! I got out my camera, but I couldn't get it turned on and zoomed in fast enough before THE BEAR went into the bushes. DANG!!! I knew there was a reason why I decided to end my day earlier! I thought it was to even out the miles, but NO. IT WAS TO SEE A BEAR WALK ACROSS THE ROAD!!! HOW LUCKY WAS THAT???
|Really! There was a bear there!!!|
I arrived at the lodge just as Kathy, one of the owners, was walking out of the house (the office is down on the lake). I asked if they had anyplace indoors I might stay tonight. She said they do, but none of the cabins had been cleaned yet. I said I wasn't that picky. After all, I've spent most of my nights in a tent! I really just needed to dry out my clothes. My tent was surprisingly dry this morning. It must have stopped raining for a bit during the night. The wind was blowing pretty good this morning. It probably dried it out.
She brought me to Cabin 2. It looked pretty clean to me. She asked how much I thought she should charge me. She said she certainly wasn't going to charge me the $150.00 rate for one night! I told her I had no idea. She suggested $50, and I said sure! She grabbed some sheets for the bed (there's actually two bedrooms), and even brought me a drying rack!
|My little cabin|
So, I've got a wonderful cabin on Buckatabon Lake for the night, AND I SAW A BEAR!!!
I actually had to bring out my climbing legs today! They were a little rusty.
The rain started before I even left the campground, but then it quit for awhile. I stopped just 6 miles down the road at the Mattoon grocery as I knew I would not have any other food opportunity today.
The rain started again in earnest about 15 miles in. It didn't quit, and still hasn't quit as I sit here in my tent typing up this post. It's not a downpour, just continuous.
The hills were not terrible, but I did have to use my easiest gear a few times. I can't remember the last time I had to use it. There was this sign for a ski hill!
|An actual hill!|
Not only is this area of Wisconsin pretty heavily forested (there is even a Forest County), but there are a ton of lakes of all different sizes. I wish it wasn't raining as I think it would be quite scenic.
On my map today there was another trail--the Wolf River Trail. ACA did not say it could be used as a shortcut like the Mountain-Bay Trail, even though it was shorter. I discovered why. It was more of an ATV trail (although bikes were allowed on it). The gravel was pretty heavy. It would have been perfect for Mama Cass, but Tilmann would have struggled a bit. I'm sure he could have done it if we'd had to, but we didn't. If it hadn't been raining, I might have tried a short section.
|Wolf River Trail|
After 55 wet miles, I arrived at Veteran's Memorial Park. I'm not bothering with a shower because I have enough wet things, I don't need to add my towel.
|Would be prettier if it wasn't raining|
By this time next Saturday I should be back in Minneapolis!
It was pretty chilly to start with. I actually put on my leg warmers for the first time. It was 47 degrees in my tent this morning. I guess Fall is coming. At least it warmed up to a comfortable 70 or so.
I wasn't really sure where my end point would be today. I had the option of taking a shortcut on an unpaved trail. When I was planning this trip, I thought I might take the trail, and camp somewhere along it. Although, I had no idea what the trail would look like.
First, I had to get to Shawano, where the Mountain-Bay Recreational Trail started (for me anyway). It was another day of dairy farm after dairy farm (it takes a lot of milk to make all that Wisconsin cheese). I saw where the baby cows live. These little pens have a milk bottle holder on the side of the little kennel. I saw a guy putting the bottles in the holders (otherwise I would not have known that little tidbit of information).
|Baby cow houses|
|See the wire thing on the one to the left? That's where the milk bottle goes.|
I don't think I could ever get used to the smell. I did a lot of breathing through my mouth, filtering it through my teeth. Even then, it wasn't the best. When I rode through the Naverino Wildlife Area I got a respite from the cow smell. I breathed deeply. As for the wildlife, I saw one deer.
|The cow free zone of the wildlife area|
I rolled into Shawano around 1:00 or so (maybe a little later). I had done 51 miles. I really did want to take the Mountain-Bay Trail. I stopped at the bike shop and asked how far it was from Shawano to Bowler, where I would get back on the route. Surprisingly, the guy didn't know (really??? You run a bike shop that's on this trail and you rent bikes, and you don't know the distances???). Well, he calculated it out to be 22 miles. So, the "short cut" saved me 3 miles. The only thing was that by taking the trail, I would bypass two campgrounds, and there wouldn't be another one until about 7 miles further along the route after I got off the trail. Still, it was a nice day...I opted for the trail. I had to buy a trail pass for $5.
At first the trail was a grassy doubletrack to get out of town. Then I was on the road. There were directional signs that said "Hiking and Biking Trail". I followed them, but was on the road for what seemed like a long time. I was beginning to think I was going the wrong way, when one of the signs finally pointed to the unpaved trail.
|Getting out of town|
I don't think it gets much use as a bike trail. There were very few tire tracks, and the plants were growing up in the middle. The whole time, I saw only one other bike. I think it probably gets lots of use as a snowmobile trail in the winter. It'd probably be fun for fat biking too.
I made it to Bowler. I stopped at a bar/restaurant because they had a sign saying soft serve ice cream. They didn't have soft serve, but they did have ice cream sundaes. I had that and a Sprite. I sat at the bar eating my ice cream. The bartender asked me the usual questions, and a gentleman waiting for a take out order also talked to me. His name was Elton, and he lived a mile and a half down the road I was going on. When I asked the bartender what I owed him for the ice cream and Sprite, he said it was on the house. He said, for how far I had ridden, it was the least he could do. I thought that was pretty nice!
I got back on the road to finish the day's ride. Elton honked as he drove by me. He turned into his driveway, and I waved.
I was quite happy to see the sign for the campground. It's a private campground with a bar. Too bad I'm not a beer drinker!!! I got my tent site. When the gal told me they had available sites, I said that's good because I've ridden 81 miles, and I'd rather not go further. She said even if they were full, she would've found a place for me. I like that about the private campgrounds.
So, today was just a half mile short of my longest day on this tour. It was okay though, because there was a variety of riding. And, it really was a nice day for a long bike ride! Heres a few more photos.
|Now what are these birds?|
|Barn with a guitar quilt|
|Ah, now I know why all the barns have quilts on them.|
This might have been the coldest morning I've had at 56 degrees. And it stayed cooler for quite awhile.
As I suspected, I woke up a little before 6:00. That's a little before 7:00 Eastern time, but now I'm back on Central time. Since I was in the hotel, I didn't have much packing to do. I was on the road by 7:00.
So far, Wisconsin is mostly rolling hills. The smell of dairy farms is in the air most of the time. It's not the most pleasant smell, but it's better than some smells I've encountered. This is Land O Lakes butter country.
|The rolling hills of Wisconsin|
There are lots of corn fields, but they seem to be primarily feed corn (which makes sense). I did see a couple of fields of Milo being grown for Kaytee (the bird seed company). It looks like this.
I also saw a couple of fields with herons in them. I'm used to seeing those long legged birds in the water. Here's a photo.
|Herons and Canada geese|
The only town with any services was near the end of my day. I came into Wrightstown around noon. I was hoping for a Subway. I need to check off a Wisconsin Subway. I came to a pizza place. While I was waiting for my food, I turned on my phone to have a look at Google maps because the route narrative was wrong. Whaddya know, there was a Subway just across the bridge!
After my salad and cheesy garlic bread (it was good, even though it wasn't Subway), I rode across the bridge (part of my route) and stopped for cookies at the Subway.
The reason the route narrative was wrong was because the bridge is new. It was a little confusing at first because, in addition to the new bridge (and the approach to it), there is a new roundabout. I figured it out. I've written a note about what the map narrative should say, and I'll send it to Adventure Cycling when I get back to Minneapolis.
I'm at one of the nicest campgrounds I've stayed in for a ridiculously low price of $10.50. They have a pool and laundry. While I didn't go swimming (it's just not that warm), I did do full-scale laundry. I haven't washed everything since Lorraine and Doug's place in Lincoln, Ontario. It was time.
The only downside to this campground is that it is rather close to a busy highway, therefore somewhat noisy. Yeah, who cares!
I hope it's a little warmer tomorrow. If not, I might have to dig out my leg warmers!