Sauk Centre to Little Rock to Dalbo
Jul 23, 2016
|July 22 - We last left you sweating in Sauk Centre . . . It actually turned out to not be a bad evening at all. By time we had a nice meal and walked back to camp, the weather had cooled considerably once the sun was well below the trees and buildings. A breeze helped the evening comfort level as well!
Up at our new rising time of 5AM to get on the road and try and beat the heat! Started out without breakfast again looking forward to a short 10 mile ride to the next food stop! We were still on the Lake Wobegon Trail and about to go thru all the little settlements that were the inspiration for Garrison Keillor and his famous stories and hugely entertaining radio program Prarie Home Companion. We stopped at the little settlement of Melrose, went into the first supermarket-deli we saw for our breakfast. Inside was a table of about 6 gentleman, all sharing morning coffee and farming stories. After a short time, they started the conversation about our destination and before long they were sharing their pride in their home town and the fact that the whole area was now famous because of Garrison Keillor. I had already done some research about the name of the trail. Being a huge fan myself of Prarie Home Companion and Lake Wobegon, I did entertain a moment of excitement when I thought Oh my gosh, it's a real place!!!!! Never finding a real lake named Lake Wobegon or a town, I resorted to Google!! The trail actually took on the name Lake Wobegon, because the towns along the trail as I mention were the inspiration for it all. These fine Minnesota gentleman told me where The Pioneer Supper Club was, where Garrison sat and the fact that many of the men still meet every morning at The Pioneer but, darn we probably just missed them!!!! So fun! Oh and did I mention the accents?? I could have sat there all day and listened to them!! Plus they all reminded me of my dad, so it was a challenge to tear myself away and get back on my bike!! I did say goodbye and next stop, a Kodak moment in Albany for a picture of The Pioneer Supper Club!!
The trail was very beautiful, a canopy of shade, smooth pavement and the miles flew by! The next town of Holdingford, also riveted to the fame of Lake Wobegon!!! As we slowed to have a look at their city park a truck honked and pulled us over. Before I could even get my bike stopped, the driver rolled down the window to welcome us! Take a moment to relax and cool off in our lovely park! He said "I am dressed down today, it's my day off, I am the police chief"!! He continued to tell me all about the town and its Lake Wobegon influence and threw in that actually it isn't all Lutheran as the story implies. It is mostly Catholic and in fact I am the Catholic Priest here!!!!! Whaaaaaaaaat??????? Yes, and I am in charge of 5 parishes! You can see why it was hard to ride away at that point! He was talking so fast, he had so much information about absolutely everything, it was impossible to absorb it all! Oh and he was leaving the next day for a trip to Poland and he was escorting 28 local catholic youth!!! What a guy!!!! It was very hot standing in the sun, so we said our good-byes and thank you and with my head absolutely swimming with info, we rode on!! This area deserves a couple of weeks on its own!! Especially if you are a fan of the Prarie Home Companion, but even if you aren't, the whole area gives you such a great feeling!! The homes are simple but lovely and so well cared for, the farms immaculately organized and tidy. We may have gotten off to a slow start when we crossed into Minnesota because I had to keep my head down and pedal into the wind, but it has more than made up for it in these last few days! If we could just do something about the mosquitos!!!!! Just an added extra, we crossed the Mighty Mississippi River Today!! We have gone about 1400 miles, not quite halfway, but the Mississippi River is a pretty important landmark!!
But wait!!! . . . There's more! The day isn't over yet!!
So we are in an area now in Minnesota where there are long distances between anything that we can use as a campsite, and no hotels either! BUT, out in the middle of all this nowhere is Alice's Attic and she allows only cyclists to camp in her yard. As we were instructed to do, we called in advance and were invited to come for the evening! You ride for miles and see nothing but corn and beans (oh and a few Texas Longhorns! Did we take a wrong turn in ND???) you ride and then there is Alice's Attic!!! A most perfect setting. Lovely home, tall trees and lots of them, flowers and plenty of space. Alice bounds out of the house with a huge welcoming smile and said let me show you where you can stay!! She lead us to the back corner of the property, behind the old silos to a most lovely flower bordered, shady area of lawn complete with a porch in the shade and chairs!!! Seriously???? It was so beautiful!!!! Just knock on the door when you are ready for your shower!!!! When things leave me speechless you know it's big! I am not often at a loss for words, but it was just so perfect and private, I was speechless!
Now Alice is no ordinary woman!! Her little business of Alice's Attic was antiques, and she had several barns filled with all kinds of interesting things from clothes to furniture!! Not only that but she uses her welcoming home setting to host a theme dinner once a month that she has catered! And apparently everyone has such fun! She hosts the paint and wine nights, has weddings on the property and she is a nurse!! What a delightful combination of high energy and kindness!! She leases out parcels of her farm and from what I understood her to imply, I believe she makes it available to young farmers who need a start and gives them quite the opportunity to get on their feet!!! This trip just makes you want to be a better person when you meet the Alice's in the world!! We had a wonderful restful night, thanks to Alice and her Attic!
July 23 - There is rain out there! Here we go again!! But this time I believe the weather report, so we made plans to get to the next place in plenty of time to get settled and get out of the rain. And that is what we did!
On the way, fairly early this morning . . . It happened again!! Or almost happened!! This time a huge black dog came charging from the right barking and running! I have never had a fear of dogs; ever. But this time my heart raced and my legs turned to mush!! I guess you can call it adrenalin kicked in, I grabbed that whistle and I blew so hard, nearly forced the little internal ball right out of it!!!! Happy today it did the trick and mean Fido retreated immediately!! Mike survived the piercing vibration in his ear as well and was glad for its force!!! Yay, me!!!!!
Along the way we see cyclists headed the other direction. What better source of information than from someone who has been there?? We stopped and chatted with a young man who told us to be sure and stop in Dalbo at the Cyclists Bunkhouse. He explained he did not want to ruin the surprise but strongly suggested we stop in. As it worked out, that would be our next stop with just the right amount of miles to ensure we would get there before the rain. And it couldn't have worked out more perfectly! We pulled into the driveway, Donn and Cheryl's Adventure Cyclists Bunkhouse. Donn was cutting the grass on the huge tree covered lawn and immediately jumped off and welcomed us! ( I called ahead here as well, just to be sure!). He promptly offered to show us around. I think he said the barn was built in 1884 out of logs. He has converted it, first of all by putting in a sliding door so you can just wheel your bikes inside! Once inside, it takes awhile to take it all in!! All of the internal structural walls, beds, doors are all made by Donn from timber he milled. We have a kitchen, complete with shelves of food, items like cans of anything for .50, snacks .25, refrigerators and freezers filled with more good stuff for $1!!! There are beds, pillows, towels, couches, chairs, the shower outside is again made from the same wonderful timber, as is the clever outhouse!!!! TV, microwave, coffee maker, wifi . . . There is nothing we could ask for! And of course there is Donn himself, full of stories of his own family history and his army career as a helicopter pilot and work at the Pentagon!! So we have very comfortably waited out the first storm!! Yes it did rain right on schedule, we had barely been here an hour! The sun wants to tease us for a while and come out long enough to make it steamy hot outside, I believe another storm is on its way! No problem, we could not be anymore comfortable!! Donn, although he is not a bicycle rider himself, there isn't anything he doesn't know about our Adventure Cycling Maps, local trails or trips others have taken! He is a wealth of information and has it all printed out for people to take, makes maps available, takes your picture and puts it on the board!! He does all this just because he loves it and sees it as a way to benefit from the advantages of the trip with out ever leaving home, he travels thru everyone else's experiences!!
Tomorrow holds more excitement. We will be arriving in Minneapolis and again as luck would have it, we are going to get to visit my very dear friend from High School and her wonderful husband!! I didn't think we were going to be close enough to her to be able to stop in, but they are directly south of where we are right now! We have decided to take a short cut across Wisconsin now, so this plan to go directly south will start a new adventure as we get off our very carefully planned and mapped Advernture Cycling Route and go it alone on a route of our own!! It won't be bad!! We mentioned our idea to Donn and he snapped into action, went to his drawer of info and pulled out a map which exactly supported the route we had guessed would work! And he improved upon it as he was familiar with the condition of Hwy 47 and told us where to get off for a safer trip! It will take us directly to one of Minneapolis bicycle path network, and right to my friends house!!