...now browsing by tag


Journey to the East: 8 July 2012

Monday, July 9th, 2012


on the Great River Off-Road trail

Settling, white dew
does not discriminate,
each drop its home

Three states, one day
I decided to ride the Great River Off-Road trail just across the Mississippi in Wisconsin inside of the primary route. So I crossed the river on this big bridge and rode the hwy on the Wisconsin side for a bit before entering the trail at Marshland. Very neat trail, thought wetlands and wildlife refuges, in which I saw a crane, numerous frogs and turtles and of course many unidentifiable birds. The tail then follows the old Mississippi scenic road and was a great riding surface though trees and farmland with many trestles. Nice and flat; this was a good break from the road. The route ended in North LaCrosse and I took regional trails into La Crosse proper. A decent sized college town here I checked out bookstores, re-supplied at an excellent co-op and had a beer at the Bodega Brew pub (which didn’t seem to actually brew but had 15 beers on tap).



Riding the trail actually added about 15 miles to the route and I still wanted to make it to Lansing, Iowa today so after leaving La Crosse I hauled ass. This bit of riding was excellent – along the river with big ridges to the west that blocked the sun most of the time. Mostly flat with the occasional gentle ups and downs. I ran into the Bob towing touron wIth whom I stayed at camp yesterday just outside of Iowa and we agreed to meet at the campground near Lansing. I pressed on and reached Iowa and then Lansing where they were setting up for a barbershop quartet concert right in town. Heading west for a couple miles I reached the Red Barn Resort and Campground where I stayed for the night. This long day at 86 miles is the new tour distance record holder.

Pure white crane
lifts from the marsh —
the whine of cicadas

Journey to the East: 7 July 2012

Sunday, July 8th, 2012


It was like a fire in the sky

Everyone’s journey
through this world is the same,
so I won’t complain.
Here on the plains of Nasu,
I place my trust in the dew.


After the storm
Last night, around midnight, a thunderstorm rolled through bringing with it torrential rain and cooler temperatures. After it had passed I actually got into my sleeping bag for the first time in several days. The next day dawned cooler and mostly overcast – a very welcome change. And what a difference the 15 or so degrees made. The days riding was a real pleasure. First descending from the wooded bluffs where the campground was located to the shore of the Mississippi which I’d be along most of the day. However the route tries to stay off highways so there was a long and hilly jog west and then back east. In between the hills was genuinely rolling farmland. Most of which I just moved through thanks to a tailwind. On another of theses jogs, this one a flatter more eastwardly one, I ran into the Bob towing touron, S__, whom I’d encountered the day before. We ended up riding together (mostly on hwy 61) all the way to Winona where we split a site at the large and well occupied Prairie Island Campground. A nice days riding and I enjoyed the company. Stunning sunset that night mostly painting the clouds vivid colors but also putting a glow on the river.

Along the big slow river,
sun burning through the haze –
clouds of gnats

Journey to the East: 6 July 2012

Saturday, July 7th, 2012


Back in Minnesota (again)

Idly, I wander to the flowering peak.
Morning sun: its glory blazing
All around, in sunlit emptiness
White clouds, and cranes, fly.
-Han Shan

Wisconsin, no Minnesota, aaaarrrrggg
The heat wave continued on though it had been forecasted to break today. There were high thin clouds as I left camp and that seemed to have increased the already high humidity. Plenty hilly on this day as well, first just getting out of Afton State Park, then the route was rolling hills and bad pavement. After a dozen miles or so I crossed the Mississippi and was in Wisconsin again. This visit would be even shorter, about 25 miles. This though was among the toughest riding I’ve done this tour. It was so hot and the route was very hilly with some long steep sections. I ran into another touron pulling a Bob from a Bianchi Volpe and he’d been pushing it up these hills. At the summit of one of these was the Oasis restaurant and it truly was. The owners were very sympathetic to tourists and were super accommodating. From there the route was mostly downhill back to the river which I recrossed and was back in Minnesota at the town of Red Wing. Yes where the shoes are made. A long, long climb out of Red Wing and it was now over a 100 degrees (F). Finally turned east again (been mostly southward into a bit of a headwind) and descended into farmland. Finally I arrived at Frontenac State park. There was a brutal climb into the ‘grounds but finally I was into trees and shade. A short day mileage wise but 100 degree weather kicks it up a notch. The heat wave is supposed to break later tonight – we shall see.

Lying in my tent
flashes of light, loud rumbles –
summer storm

Long legged spiders
crawl over my tent –
hot summer night

Journey to the East: 5 July 2012

Thursday, July 5th, 2012


Park in Stillwater

In the tree’s shade –
A wind,
Travellers both.

Back on the fire
Back on the road today after my long break at my cousins in Minneapolis. Huge thanks to my cousin and his family for the hospitality and the help in getting me ready for the next part of my travels. It is hot again, if not quite as scorching as yesterday. Still upper 90s with some crazy high dew point. I followed a Google Maps route from Maple Grove to the Gateway Trail which I rode coming in. However the Google Maps bit was tough as the trail network here is so extensive that there are splits, connections and side paths off all the wild. So GM has instructions that just say ‘go 285 feet and turn right’ with all those options on the trails this can be hard to stay on. So I got off route all the time and ended up riding nearly an extra 10 miles. I was happy to hit the Gateway Trail for sure. From there it was an easy backtrack to Stillwater. A rested for a bit in Stillwater then rode the seriously steep hill out of town. The ride was pretty flat though in e sun for the next 12 miles or so but after the town of Afton there were several long, though not overly steep climbs. None of these were welcome in this heat. Finally arrived at the Afton State Campground which had hike-in campgrounds only. I’m all for that but there was a crazy steep hill with loose gravel surface I had to push my bicycle up to the ground. Once there though the sites were excellent – among the trees and grassland on a ridge above the Saint Croix River.

hot summer night –
the moon’s rising glow
faintly echoed by fireflies

Journey to the East: 4 July 2012

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Fireworks at the Stone Arch bridge, Minneapolis (not my pic)

Celebrate America by blowing up a piece of it
Another day off at my cousins. I’d planned to be out of campgrounds on the fourth so another bit of good timing with my arrival in the Twin Cities. I spent the morning running errands and then working on the bicycle: put on the new wheel, adjusted the brakes and replaced the chain. Also put the panniers back on and replaced the bulk of my stuff. Almost ready to resume touring. After dinner (excellently prepar by my cousin) we went downtown. He gave me a tour of the Mill District and environs and we hung out a bit at an Irish Pub that had Black Butte porter. After that we headed to the Stone Arch Bridge to watch the fireworks. It was crazy crowded and our view was a bit obstructed (hince the photo from Flickr up top) but still got some nice views. Not an overly long show, which with the heat having topped 100 (F) today was just fine. A nice way to celebrate the fourth and a excellent conclusion to my well deserved long break in the Twin Cities.

Tomorrow’s Song (excerpt)

The USA slowly lost its mandate
in the middle and later twentieth century
it never gave the mountains and rivers,
    trees and animals,
      a vote
all the people turned away from it
  myths die; even continents are impermanent
-Gary Snyder

Journey to the East: 3 July 2012

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012


Alexander Calder, The Spinner (1966)

Walker Art Center
Another rest day in the Twin Cities. This one I spent at the Walker Art Center and the associated Minneapolis Scultpure Garden. Really an excellent sculpture park with nice pieces from Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, James Turrell, Sol LeWitt, Isamu Naguchi, Mark di Suvero and many, many more. A nicely laid out garden with most of the pieces fitting in very well. One nice bit was a row of trees in which Pierre Huyghe’s Wind Chimes (after “Dream”) was installed. Right as I walked through it the wind picked up and they all started to chime. This was echoed by the massive peels of church bells from the nearby Basilica of Saint Mary. A lovely sonic experience.


Pierre Huyghe's Wind Chimes (after "Dream") (1997/2009)

The James Turrell lightspace, Sky Pesher, 2005 was the third of this series I’ve experienced and I always love the atmosphere these pieces create. I spent nearly two hours in the garden before the best drove me to the cool interior of the Walker itself. I’ve wanted to visit the Walker for a while and I have to say it lived up to its reputation. Of particular interest to me on this day was two exhibitions highlighting pieces they’d gotten from the Mercentile Cunningham archives. The first of these focusing on the collaboration with Robert Rauschenberg was excellent filled with many of the costumes and sets of absolute classic dances. The other featured a single large piece from Ernesto Neto. A large soft, drooping organic nylon piece that was suspended from the ceiling the gallery also featured video of the dance and music from John Cage.


Ernesto Neto, Otheranimal (2004)

There was really too much other stuff that I looked at to really go into detail here. A poppy, kitchsy, transgressive exhibition curated by John Waters, a very rough, raw and vital set of video installations by the South Korean artist Minouk Kim, a rather uninterested examination of art in then1980s and finally an exhibition of works from the permanent collection thematically arranged around the “dreams and private visions that have given rise to some of the most remarkable art made in the past 150 years. This did indeed have some nice pieces and it was good to see the collection highlighted.


Mark Rothko No. 2 (1963)

Journey to the East: 2 July 2012

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012


Since I didn't ride today, here's a trail into Minnesota

I’m spending a few days at my cousins in the Maple Grove suburb of Minneapolis. The timing on my arrival was fortuitous as the heat wave that is plaguing the bulk of the nation is in full force here as well. I also was in need of re-upping some supplies, so I spent most this day running errands. I managed to get almost all the things I needed including a new riding shirt as my original Rivendell seersuckers disintegrated on this trip. My rear wheel had become wobbly so I took it in to be trued but it turned out the rim was severely cracked and it needed a rebuild. And of course nobody had a touring quality wheel in stock and what with the Fourth of July holiday one couldn’t be ordered in a timely fashion. After trying three shops the last one did have a decent enough rim and would be able to build me a new wheel by tomorrow. So that was a relief, if an unexpected and unfortunate occurrence. Major thanks to my cousins family for facilitating all this running around.

I also while I’ve been here been uploading photoes every night to the Flickr group. The most recent batch includes Glacier and the crossing of Marias Pass. Check em out here: Tour 2012 Photoset. Below I’ll embed one of these recent uploads.

Tour 2012 Day 35 - macro flower 2

Journey to the East: 1 July 2012

Monday, July 2nd, 2012


Paddleboat on the Saint Croix river in Stillwater, MN

no place to hide from the blazing sun
the water flows by

The days just keep getting hotter and the humidity just saps your soul. Luckily this was a short day prior to a few days off in the Twin Cities. I rode from the Float Rite party zone back into Minnesota – my Wisconsin adventure being quite short lived. There was a short, steep descent down to the Saint Croix river and once across I was back in the land of Ten Thousand Lakes in the quaint town of Stillwater. I spent a bit of time wandering around Stillwater before climbing the massive hill out. I was following a highway but pretty shortly a trail appeared and I rode along the highway separated from the traffic. It wasn’t a flat trail by any stretch but when I turned south onto the Gateway Trail it was much flatter and much more shaded. The trail system in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region is pretty amazing and I just brushed the surface of it. I rode that trail for nearly 10 miles and then wandered through neighborhood streets for a bit. Finally I arrived at Como Park where I’d arranged for my cousin to pick me up. So not a long days ride but with the heat and being in general need of a rest day that was a-okay.

The sun shines wearingly down –
are those vultures circling overhead?

Journey to the East: 30 June 2012

Saturday, June 30th, 2012


Entering Wisconsin

Down in the village
the din of
flute and drum,
here in the mountains
everywhere the sound of the pines

On, Wisconsin
A long, hot exhausting day today. The campgrounds have become sparse on the route and there are none at the terminus of this section of the route, Stillwater, MN. Since I was planning to ride into Minneapolis/St. Paul along the spur route I needed to be as close as possible to Stillwater so as to not make it too much of an epic ride. The route crosses the St. Croix river and then one is in Wisconsin for oh 30 miles or so. The closest campgrounds were slightly off route in Wisconsin so i ended up spending one night in the state. The day was hot, hot and humid and mostly though farmland. This of course is more open and thus more exposed to the scorching sun. Once in Wisconsin the route became hilly, first along the river but then again in open farmland. I missed a turn on the route but it ended up taking me directly to Float Rite Park one of the two camping options. Overheated and worn out I decided to stay here. This turned out be be party oriented ‘ground, literally: they sell booze, have a bar and a band played into the night. I’ve not really seen a ‘ground quite like this. I was put right amongst the throngs but a sympathetic security guard who was interested in my tour suggested I move to a shady spot above the main party area. I gratefully agreed. It was of course loud and crazy but I was away from it all and was tired enough to sleep alright once the band packed it in.

Looking ahead only brings anxiety,
the past is a trap;
dwelling in the present is the way

Journey to the East: 29 June 2012

Friday, June 29th, 2012


Tires eye view

It’s all falling or burning —
     rattle of boulders
     steady dribbling of rocks down cliffs
     bark chips in creeks
Porcupine chased here —
From Tillamook a thousand miles
Soot and hot ashes. Forest fires
Upper Skagit burned I think 1919
Smoke covered all northern Washington.
     lightening strikes, flares,
Blossoms a fire on the hill.
Smoke like clouds. Blotting the sun
Stinging the eyes.
The hot seeds steam underground
     still alive.
-Gary Snyder, from Burning

Those hazy days of summer
It was hot humid and hazy today. The wind off Mille Lacs Lake had blown in thousands of mayflys which where everywhere, though still not their peak a campsite worker assured me. The route was at first along the lake then turned more southeast into more farmland. Still plenty of trees and little lakes and bogs of course, but definitely more fields of young corn. The day had dawned clear blue but then this haze came in and persisted. Listening to Minnesota Public Radio at camp that night I found out that this is smoke from the massive Colorado wildfires. Crazy. It’s just going to get hotter too over the next couple of days. Anyway by late afternoon I’d arrived at the Springvale Campground which in marked contrast to Castaway’s is an excellent private ‘ground. Very low rates for touring cyclists and all the amenities. As the daylight dwindled the hazy sky was painted brilliant shades of orange and pink.

Homeless by choice,
freely wandering this land
living in the moment