Today was supposed to be Tubing Tuesday, a 3-hour float down the Root River. But it rained off and on right up to our meet-up time and I was not keen on the whole idea anyway. Plan B: a “progressive dinner” working around a trip to the library which seems to have the most reliable Internet access in the area.
The first couple of places were closed. We walked through the door of Home Sweet Home at 1:55, five minutes before they closed. They were nice enough to make chicken street tacos for us as long as we’d eat on the patio. No problem.
Our plan had been to order one shareable plate at each stop. These street tacos were huge and delicious:
We went into a few shops as we walked back toward the library and stopped for ice cream at:
We were quite successful at the library for almost two hours and then, even there, everything slowed down and eventually stopped loading.
One last stop, Unwined:
Asian steak bites and the Driftless Tour – a charcuterie board of cured meats and cheeses from the Driftless Area of southeastern Minnesota. Applewood smoked duck breast, elk sausage, Capra Nera goat cheese, raspberry red wine cheddar, and crostini. Yum!
We drove back to Whalan at 7 am. As we were unloading our bikes, Ernie pulled over into the left lane and stopped to chat. When we told him we were riding to Fountain and back, he said, “Ohh .. that’s uphill.” But then you get to ride back down!
Less than 5 miles later, we rode through Lanesboro.
You can go into the phone booth and dial a special number that will tell you a stories about the town:
A different view of the waterfall dam:
The last 5 miles into Fountain was noticeably more uphill, but not too bad, I could pedal 6 mph.
Fountain is known for its sinkhole demonstration site and the western end of the Root River Trail. I took every picture I could think on the way here because I had no intention of missing any part of a nice downhill ride.
We drove 1.3 miles from the campground to Whalan – a very small town – to start our ride.
It was supposed to be hot in the afternoon, so we left at 6 am. As it turned out, it was foggy and quite chilly for the first part of the ride.
Note these black-eyed susans, you will see them again in about 3 hours as we ride back into town:
Billie made cheese omelets. We usually ride for a while, then stop for breakfast. We always look for a bench or table to stop at – a nice feature of some trails.
Rushford Village and Rushford – two different towns on the map. Several historic buildings were transported to this location on the trail.
I was more interested in finding the lefse shop. Merrilyn makes the BEST lefse every December at Christmastime – a real treat. Billie had never heard of lefse. Because it was Sunday, the shop was closed but we’re coming back.
That was our turnaround point. The fog had lifted.
And back to Whalan – the home of the stand-still parade.
We arrived at Harvest Farm Campground with a 10-day reservation, only to be told they had no reservation on file. But they could squeeze us in for 3 days. We are very careful when making reservations and, frankly, don’t make mistakes. We got right on the problem-solving task of where to go at the last minute right after the RV was set up. It was a great feeling when Eagle Cliff Campground in Lanesboro MN was able to get us in and it was only 25 miles away. When we went in to pay our Harvest Farm CG bill on Friday, there was another couple at the registration desk having the exact same problem.
So, the roads to and from Harvest Farm were white gravelly dirt. Even the paved roads had shoulders of fine white dust. The RV and tow car and bikes were filthy. We stopped in Harmony for fuel and to go to a car wash, bikes included.
Eagle Cliff Campground is beautiful and we have a good spot with a big “front yard” although sunny in the late afternoon. It rained early Saturday morning which kept up from riding. As soon as it cleared up, we drove into Lanesboro … to the smallest-ever farmers market.
And I learned something new:
Great little tourist town. We were glad to be here relatively early, before more people showed up.
We got a coffee at Parkway Market – very small but packed with unique items. They’re known for their:
There was also a big selection of Legos, sets in boxes in different areas of the store, but also tubs of random pieces by the front door.
Access to the Internet is not very reliable in the campground, so we took advantage of the local library to catch up on our blogs.
The weather window for a ride tomorrow looks pretty good. Fingers crossed.
We drove about 11 miles from the campground to a parking area near Cresco.
It was foggy which also meant it was cooler. We started early nevertheless. There were many signs like this on the trail. While this one seemed to be a mystery – yield to what? – most of the others were cut-throughs for farm machinery.
Leaving Ridgeway Park:
Our turnaround point was in Calmar:
Calmar is the location for this county’s “freedom rock”. The goal is to have one in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.
In between the fields of corn, a head looked up and watched me until I rode away.
Same excellent surface. A day to look forward to! Leaving Graf:
Looking over the side of a bridge:
Corn, corn, corn, and soybeans everywhere:
The trail ended in Dyersville. Time to turn around. But there was another option, an attraction about 5 miles away, riding country roads with no shoulder and essentially no traffic. I wanted to do it, Billie agreed and we took off. About a mile later, we stopped and Billie said, “Arlete, I am NOT riding these rolling hills, but you can go on.” Ok … and we discussed our plan to meet up later. Billie turned around and rode (downhill) back to Dyersville, then a left onto the Heritage Trail. We would meet up later near Farley. Today’s ride for me was 32 miles. The detour I took will be the next blog post.
However, there is a postscript to the end of the ride. I met Billie on the Heritage Trail at a rest area near Farley. It was gently downhill back to Graf and a great downhill run. However, Billie’s rear tire lost air and she found a rock in the tire that would continue to leak air. Back to Bicycle World, open from 12-4 on Sunday! Once again, hurray!, the young man fixed the flat tire in record time. Great bike shop!
I rode on zero-traffic country roads, up and down hills – at one point I got up to 30 mph going downhill which allowed me to get to the top of the next hill!
Billie made the right decision, she would not have liked this. About 5 miles later …
The movie set! It was crowded, a big line of cars waiting to get in. I rode up the side, gave my donation in between cars, and rode in. To the right, the Baseballism Store. Tours of the home are available plus a group of 7 people can share 3 bedrooms and a full bathroom overnight for $500+/night.
Bats and balls were available on the field for families to enjoy.
The concession stand, behind that is a cornfield with a path through it somewhere. Beyond that is a MLB-quality stadium that seats 8000 people. On August 12, the Yankees and White Sox will play here. Tickets are available but only to residents of Iowa.
Time to head back down the country roads I’d already ridden. One of them – Black Hills Rd – provided me with a first-ever experience. On the way TO the Field of Dreams, it was slightly uphill for a long stretch before some steeper ups-and-downs. At one point I heard a loud “CAW” as a bird flew over my head. On the way back, the same stretch turned a bit more violent. I was repeatedly “divebombed” by one or more birds many times. I could hear the wing flap above my helmet or something touching the helmet briefly and the same screeching “CAW” – I was a trespasser and unwelcome. Thank goodness, it was a bit downhill on the way back, I pedaled faster – 18 mph – all the way to the corner, turned left, and they finally left me alone. Another good reason to wear a bike helmet!
Bicycle World in Dubuque was open and was able to quickly determine I needed a new rear tire. The wobble was quite pronounced when I wasn’t sitting on the saddle. And Parish, the owner of Bicycle World, had a tire perfect for my bike and fixed it immediately. Great service, greatly appreciated by people who are traveling!
In the course of casual conversation, Parish told us about a nice drive to Balltown high on the bluffs above the Mississippi River. And when we got to Balltown, we should eat at Bright Box and told us a bit about this 6-generation family-owned restaurant. We were both hungry after our ride, so we headed there next. We went first to this scenic overlook:
The Mississippi is barely visible in the distance.
When I entered “Bright Box in Balltown IA” into Google maps, it knew exactly what I meant: Breitbach’s.