Home » 2010 » August

Archive for August, 2010

Welcome Illinois!

Posted August 31, 2010 By Kathy

Illinois prairie grasses.

Illinois prairie grasses.


 
August 28, 2010

At 7:30 a.m. I head south into a magnificent Wisconsin morning. The sun is peering over my left shoulder and the moon is high in the sky on my right. I am cycling through picturesque farmland on lazy back roads. The corn is tall and ready to be harvested. Soybean fields that were once a brilliant green are turning a yellow buff color. Soon the golden leaves will fall off and the dry beans will be gathered.

I turn onto Honey Creek Road. What a delightful name. Yellow butterflies flit and float through fields of colorful wildflowers. While munching sweet grasses, curious brown cows peek at me through wire fences. Their tails move back and forth nonstop as they swat pesky flies. I see maple trees laced with a hint of red, signifying that fall is approaching.

Steep rolling hills monopolize the landscape. I call them drumlin hills. Some are one long, steep climb. Others are two or three short climbs with tiny flat stretches thrown in. Whichever variety, they all have magnificent views at the top followed by an exhilarating descent.  

My frolic through the Wisconsin farmland comes to an end when I enter the small town of Genoa City. It is time to get on the Prairie Trail. The trail, an old Chicago and Northwestern rail line, is a 28-mile route starting just 0.8-miles from the Wisconsin-Illinois boarder in Genoa City, Wisconsin, and ending in Algonquin, Illinois.    

I jump on the trail at 11 a.m. and before I can blink, I cross over into our eighth state, Illinois. A bunny darts out in front of me than high-tails it down the crushed stone path. I cross several bridges under a long canopy of trees before entering a stunning prairie landscape.

The prairie is overflowing with very tall colorful grasses. Yellow, purple, golden brown and red grasses sway in the breeze. Wildflowers painted in purple, blue, white and yellow hues highlight the colorful prairie portrait. It is a remarkable sight.

At mile 8, the surface switches to smooth asphalt. I pedal by tall cornfields and elevated railroad tracks. The trail rolls through Whispering Oaks Park in McHenry, and curves up hilly terrain in Sterne’s Wood. We arrive in the town of Crystal Lake the destination for our layover day.

God Bless,

Kathy

Psalm 51:10

Cycling by farms along the back roads of Wisconsin.

A Weeping Willow tree along a Wisconsin road.

 Stunning grasses along the Prairie Trail.

Stunning grasses along the Prairie trail.

Yellow flowers and ragweed decorate the fields.

Yellow flowers and ragweed decorate the fields.

The Glacial Drumlin Trail

Posted August 29, 2010 By Kathy

A farm along the Glacial Drumlin Trail.


 
August 27, 2010

I am on another rail-trail in Wisconsin, the Glacial Drumlin Trail. The trail follows an old Chicago & Northwestern rail corridor which stretches for 52 miles between Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The landscape along the Glacial Drumlin Trail was formed twenty-five thousand years ago, when much of Wisconsin was under a great continental ice sheet. As the sheets of ice bore down on the area, they created wetlands, ponds, and rivers, and hundreds of low, cigar-shaped hills called drumlins.

I picked up the trail in the small town of Cottage Grove and cycled east along fields of corn. I ducked under a canopy of trees and skirted by wetlands full of tall green grasses. I stopped for a minute to rest and was attacked by a flock of no-see-ums. At mile 7, I arrived in the town of Deerfield.

For people’s enjoyment, the trail was lined with benches and picnic tables. I rode in an open field by marshland lined with yellow ragweed. At mile 15, I arrived at picturesque Rock Lake where people were just “messing around in boats.” Some were fishing, some rowing and others puttering around. The trail continued behind cottages sitting along the lake.

I cycled through Lake Mills and rode under a thick canopy of trees. A long wooden bridge escorted me over the Crawfish River, and then I skidded into the town of Jefferson, where I picked up the second half of the trail.

I rode by a field of Belted Galloway cows (Oreo Cookie Cows). The cattle had a wide, even band of pure white fur completely encircling their midsection. The rest of their body was solid black with no white anywhere else. They were awesome to see.

Finally, outside the town of Dousman, mile 38, the crushed stone surface changed to paved asphalt. I rolled down the trail into the town of Wales, our destination. Later that evening we met Howard Thiel, Executive Director of ST/Dystonia, in Mukwonago for dinner. We enjoyed a Wisconsin fish fry at Fork in the Road restaurant. It was a wonderful way to end our day. Thanks Howard!  

God Bless,

Kathy

Proverbs 3:5

A weathered barn along the trail.

A weathered barn along the trail.

A field of harvested hay.

Guernsey cattle munch on wildflowers.

Belted Galloway cattle (Oreo Cookie Cows).

Belted Galloway cattle (Oreo Cookie Cows).

Zig Zagging Along Wisconsin Backroads

Posted August 29, 2010 By Kathy

Friendly Guernsey cattle strike a pose.

Friendly Guernsey cattle strike a pose.


 
August 26, 2010

We awoke to a 48-degree morning. It was so cold I didn’t want to leave my sleeping bag. After several cups of piping hot coffee and a full stack of pancakes at the J & J Steakhouse Café in Elroy, I was ready to hit the road. I started on SR 80 and then turned onto SR 33, where I was cycling on rolling hills by dairy farms. It was udderly beautiful cow country.

I cycled by dew covered farmland with mist rising out of wooded areas. The sun sparkled and danced off water droplets covering the land. I rode by a farmhouse where goats were standing on a table in the yard. Maybe they were trying to keep their hooves dry. Wooly white sheep grazing in a field, all turned their backs to me when I stopped to greet them.

A small herd of Guernsey cattle greeted me along a fence. They are my favorite cow breed with their friendly faces and big fuzzy ears. I continued to zigzag along Wisconsin back roads. The county roads have letter names like CR KP or CR V. Missouri is another state that names its county roads with letters. I refer to them as “bingo roads”.

I am in dairy farm country and am seeing fewer beef cattle. Soybean fields still line the road and paint the landscape in a dark rich green. Corn over six feet tall looks like it’s ready to harvest for grain or silage. I really enjoyed my day cycling along the back roads of Wisconsin, through dairy farms and fields of corn. Tomorrow I’ll be riding on Wisconsin’s Glacial Drumlin Trail.

God Bless,

Kathy

Galatians 5:22-23

A farm growing soybeans and corn.

 

 

A farm along the back roads of Wisconsin.

Cornfields ready to harvest.

Wisconsin Trails

Posted August 29, 2010 By Kathy

Along the La Crosse River State Trail.


 
August 25, 2010

We started our day at Marge’s Diner in La Crosse. I carbo-loaded with a large stack of pancakes. I would ride on two trails today. The first, the La Crosse River State Trail is a 21-mile trail that runs from the industrial river community of La Crosse to the small cycling town of Sparta, Wisconsin. The crushed limestone trail follows the old Chicago and North Western Railroad line through beautiful green rolling hills and classic Wisconsin farmland.

I jumped on the trail at 7:30 a.m. and pedaled east by a dew covered golf course. I tried to be quiet as people were putting. It took me back to my avid golfing days in Connecticut when I would be out at the crack of dawn teeing up on a cool, crisp morning. I rode by a wetland area bordered by purple wildflowers. A man on a recumbent bicycle sailed by and yelled, “Morning.”

Train tracks paralleled the trail on my left while soybean fields folded in with fields of corn shadowed me on the right. Metal barn silos stood out like shiny beacons in the distance. I rode under a canopy of trees and when I stopped to rest, ruthless mosquitoes attacked me. I passed through the small town of Bangor and then crossed a long wooden bridge over a rushing stream.  

As I approached the town of Sparta, I heard the whistle of an approaching train. It reminded me of the Johnny Cash song, “I hear the train a comin’, it’s comin’ round the bend … .”  When I entered Sparta, I went to the trail information center, an old railroad depot. I rendezvoused with Rodge and got ready to cycle on the 32-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail.

The trail followed the old Chicago and North Western Railroad line east. In its prime, cattle traveled from Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas to the Chicago stockyards. The trail had 34 bridges and three historical tunnels to traverse. I started riding on the crushed limestone trail by cattle grazing on wildflowers. Soon I was up on a ridge where both sides dropped off into cornfields below.

Nine miles from Sparta, I came to the first and longest tunnel. Opened in 1873, Tunnel 3 was dug by hand through solid rock. It is 3,810 feet long and completely dark. Like the other two tunnels it has 20-foot tall gigantic wooden doors at its entrances. These doors were opened and closed between traveling trains in the winter, to prevent snow from accumulating inside the tunnels.

I walked my bike into the dark, eerie tunnel with my flashlight illuminating the way. Damp, cool air and streams of rushing water along the sides surrounded me. Water dripped from the ceiling like rain and for a minute, I thought I was in a cave. I could see the oncoming lights of people coming toward me. It took me five minutes to cautiously walk through. As I got closer to the other end, the circle of light got larger and brighter.

Seven miles later, I walked through Tunnel 2. It was 1,694 feet long and very dry. I still needed my flashlight but could walk faster without the fear of slipping. Four miles later, I arrived in the town of Wilton for a break. When I continued I pedaled by rolling hills, pastures filled with cows, and farmland. After traversing Tunnel 1, the same length as Tunnel 2, I arrived at the end of the trail in Elroy. I truly enjoyed my trail day filled with cows, corn, trains and tunnels.

God Bless,

Kathy

Colossians 3:23    

A cow sighting along the trail.

A Wisconsin farm.

Destiny waiting to ride the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.

Destiny waiting to ride the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.

Wildflowers along the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.

On to Wisconsin!

Posted August 26, 2010 By Kathy

We start our day at the Chat-N-Chew in Lanesboro, Minnesota.

We start our day at the Chat-N-Chew Restaurant in Lanesboro, Minnesota.


 
August 24, 2010

We started our day at the Chat-N-Chew Restaurant. Surrounded by farmers, who did more chatting than chewing, we learned about putting up hay, building barns and harvesting corn. It was a great place for the men folk to catch up on the town doings before they went to work.

At 7:50 a.m. I jumped back on the Root River State Trail. I had 30 miles to ride to Houston. It was overcast and spitting when I started cycling, but I was protected by a canopy of trees. I pedaled on a wooden bridge, which transported me over the confluence of the Root River and the South Branch Root River. Leaves were falling from the trees and many parts of the trail were covered with them.

At mile 4, I arrived in the town of Whalan. There was activity as people geared up for work. Each town along the trail provided sites of interest and many services to trail users. Everything from campgrounds, bed and breakfast inns, restaurants, museums, outfitters, and unique stores, were found in many of the trail towns.

The trail wound through soybean and cornfields. Lazy Susan flowers brightened everything they surrounded. The sun finally broke through the clouds and scattered light through the trees. I heard the loud waters of the Root River as it rushed by.  

When I arrived in Houston, my ride on the Root River Trail ended. I headed on SR 16 toward the town of Hokah. The road was under construction and just newly paved. For the next twelve miles I sailed on a smooth, wide road up hills and through farmland.  

I cycled down into Hokah and then to La Crescent, Minnesota. I crossed the Mighty Mississippi River and entered my seventh state Wisconsin. We rode into La Crosse to Bikes Limited where Josh adjusted my derailleur free of charge. We finally ended up at our campsite on the banks of the Mississippi River.  

God Bless,

Kathy

1 Samuel 16:7

Beautiful Lazy Susan flowers line the trail.

Beautiful Lazy Susan flowers line the trail.

Bicycle art on the Root River Trail in in Houston.

Bicycle art on the Root River Trail in Houston.

Our camp site along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.

Our campsite along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.

On to Lanesboro

Posted August 26, 2010 By Kathy

A farm on the way to Lanesboro.


 
August 23, 2010

Today we head to “The Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota”, Lanesboro. I left the campground at 6:30 a.m. and headed out into a misty morning. A farmer chugged by on his tractor to a nearby field. Farmers in the area were experiencing bountiful soybean and corn crops. I rolled by farms waking up to a new morning. The undulating road provided amusement as it mimicked a roller coaster ride.

I rode by a field of cows and of course, I had to stop. I love cows. They all looked at me, and then formed a big line facing me. When I came closer, they started mooing. One cow put his head down and started hoofing the ground as if getting ready to charge. That was a stance I‘d never experienced before. Holy Cow!  I didn’t think I looked that threatening. I yelled out, “Have a good day”, jumped on my bike and rode off. They let out one final chorus of moos.

I’m starting to see more hills now. Some of the hills are so big that where the road cuts through, big ledges are formed. I cycled by a grass field full of tiny yellow butterflies. When they fluttered around the field came to life. I saw a sign on a nearby barn that read, “God’s Country”. Yes, it certainly was.

I entered the small town of Fountain, population 343, where I jumped on The Root River State Trail. It is a rail-trails, a multi-purpose trail created from a former railroad corridor. The 42-mile long asphalt trail is level and follows a gentle grade. It starts in the town of Fountain and ends in Houston, Minnesota. Bicycling, in-line skating and hiking are the main summer uses of the trail.

I was on the Root River Trail and had a short eleven-mile ride to Lanesboro. I started cycling through a cornfield lined with yellow Lazy Susan flowers. The field led me to a wooded area covered with a canopy of trees. The trail climbed up the side of a hill and down below I could see a farm surrounded by yellow cornfields.

The trail leveled out and I crossed over the Root River on a wooden bridge. I passed a farm on my left and noticed cows peeking at me through trees. I met up with the Root River again and cycled alongside it until I arrived in the town of Lanesboro. Tomorrow I will jump back on the trail and ride to Houston. Riding along the Root River Trail is awesome sweetness!

God Bless,

Kathy

Matthew 6:14

A shout out to my niece Emily, her husband Brett and their son Aiden. Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy and brother Daniel Lucas.
 

A big Minnesota farm.

A canopy of trees covers the Root River State Trail.

A canopy of trees covers the Root River State Trail.

Crops Bloomin’ on the Prairie!

Posted August 24, 2010 By Kathy

Kathy and Bailey are dwarfed by tall corn.

Tall corn dwarfs Bailey and Kathy.


 
August 22, 2010

At 7:30 a.m. I rode out into heavy fog. The visibility was poor so I turned on my red rear flashing light. I was on my way to Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, 63 miles down the road.  As the miles ticked by, the sunlight burned through the fog and shined like a big spotlight. Fields of corn and soybeans came into view. Everything was covered in a refreshing mist.

From a distance, rows of soybeans looked like green corduroy. Yellow tasseled corn stood in rows like soldiers at attention. Standing at six feet tall, it dwarfed all other plants around. I entered the town of Waseca and cycled by its granary. Empty railroad cars sat in front of it waiting to be filled. I saw a set of train engines all hooked together. They belonged to the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad. Each engine had the name of a local city on it.

When I left the city of Waseca, I cycled by a mobile speed detector. It clocked me riding at 14 mph. The shoulder of the road was terrible. It was badly chewed up and in some cases non-existent. So, I straddled the white line. Some of the holes I saw in the road were frightening. They were so large and deep, they looked like miniature sinkholes.

I entered Owatonna, a city of 22,434, and turned south onto US 218. I started to see huge trucks full of corn go by. That explained the cornhusk and kernel debris I saw on the shoulder. I rode by a field of wet mown hay that hadn’t been baled yet. Large farms with pretty houses were scattered among fields of crops. When I arrived in the town of Blooming Prairie, population 933, all was quiet.  I was ready to relax and reflect on the wonderful day I had cycling through scenic, bountiful farmland. 

God Bless,

Kathy

Philippians 4:19

Rows of soybeans looked like green corduroy.

Rows of soybeans looked like green corduroy.

More corn as far as the eye can see.

More corn as far as the eye can see.

Engines waiting for a train to pull.

Engines waiting for a train to pull.

A farm scattered among the crops.

Hello Minnesota!

Posted August 22, 2010 By Kathy

Kathy at the "Welcome to Minnesota" sign.

Kathy at the "Welcome to Minnesota" sign.


 
August 18, 2010

We had a whirlwind of a night. The wind was so strong it blew our tent back and forth. It was so bad we ended up sleeping in the van. The morning was still blustery as we left Lake Thompson. We entered our sixth state today, Minnesota and stayed in a campsite in the town of Lake Benton. Lake Benton is known as the “Original Wind Power Capital of the Midwest”. It is presently home to 600 plus wind turbines, with more currently under construction. I passed by many wind turbines and they were fascinating to watch. As the blades gracefully twirled around they looked like they were doing a mid air dance. By the way, we had no wind related problems with our tent in Lake Benton. 
 
August 19, 2010

Today we head to Springfield, Minnesota. Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. We left Lake Benton, our first Minnesota lake, and have 9,999 more to see. For the first time on the trip, we have humid weather. Up until this day, it has been dry with no humidity. The ”uggy muggies” have arrived.

The sun peaked through dark clouds as I cycled by soybean and corn on US 14. I’m seeing more trees now. Many are planted as wind breaks around farms and houses.  Mile 33, I entered Walnut Grove, the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. There was a museum to explore in town, but it was closed when I rode through.

We camped in the Springfield Town Park. In the morning we ate breakfast in Ruby’s Café. We got to meet and talk with Rich, Ray and Sue. Thanks for making our day!
 
August 20, 2010

We are heading to Mankato, Minnesota for a layover day. I am more than half way through Cycle for Dystonia and can’t believe how fast the time has gone. I’ve had the privilege to meet many wonderful people and see so many beautiful places. We are all blessed to live in such a magnificent country.

I’ve connected with many people, who now know what dystonia is. On the rest of my journey, I still have more to meet and educate. I have yet to meet anyone who has heard of dystonia. So there is much work to do. We can all spread the word about dystonia. You don’t need to be rich, famous or of celebrity status to raise awareness for dystonia. If we all tell one other person, we can make a difference.  

Thank you for all of your support, your prayers and encouraging words. They have lifted my spirits and kept me going. Every brochure I hand out is making a difference. The sign on the van is making a difference. The blog is making a difference. To all of you with dystonia, one day at a time, one mile at a time people are learning about dystonia. Yes, there is hope!

God Bless,

Kathy

Isaiah 55:8

Windmills near Lake Benton, Minnesota.

Windmills near Lake Benton, Minnesota,

Tracey, Minnesota

Tracy, Minnesota.

A derelict barn near Lamberton, Minnesota.

A derelict barn near Lamberton, Minnesota.

I Can See For Miles and Miles

Posted August 21, 2010 By Kathy

I can see for miles.

I can see for miles.


 
August 17, 2010

In the campground, I awake to the sound of cows. Soon the whole herd is mooing. It is 7 a.m. and the sun is breaking out of the clouds. It is going to be another beautiful prairie day.

The terrain ahead is flatter than a pancake and rolls for miles. Hay bales in the distance are stacked to look like sculptures. Farmhouses are decked out with colorful flowers and metal grain silos are ever-present.

I cycle by a grain processing plant and watch as trucks are being loaded with grain through a chute system. I will see many of these trucks again when they pass me on US 14. I stop by the side of the road to photograph some cows. When they see me they run to the herd. Seconds later, the whole herd does an about-face and runs. Wow, cows can really sprint fast. Did I just cause a stampede?

Many states are putting rumble strips along their secondary roads. So far, the roads in South Dakota have bicycle friendly rumble strips. The grooves don’t seem to be cut as deep. U S 14 steers me into the tiny town of Wessington. I cycle by a Main Street lined with flower boxes and their beautiful town park.

I now have a tailwind behind me, so I can ride like the wind. Thank goodness for that, because I’m riding by a horrific smelling pig farm and I can only hold my breath for so long. At mile 42, I cycle by the big town of Huron, population 11,893. It is home to world’s largest pheasant.

At the end of the day, I arrive in the town of DeSmet, the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “Little House on the Prairie”. That night we camp at Lake Thompson Recreation Area on the shores of the beautiful lake.

God Bless,

Kathy

Hebrew 10:36

Metal grain silos are ever-present.

Metal grain silos are ever-present.

A herd of cattle hanging on the prairie.

A herd of cattle hanging on the prairie.

Huron's world's largest pheasant.

Huron's world's largest pheasant.

Lake Thompson.

Lake Thompson.

Chasing Smiling Sunflowers!

Posted August 21, 2010 By Kathy

Smiling sunflowers.

Smiling sunflowers.


 
August 16, 2010

I jumped onto US 14 and cycled by a John Deere tractor plant. Dark, billowy clouds loomed behind me as I welcomed a clear, sunny day. I rode by a man mowing along the side of the road. The scent of fresh cut grass filled the air.

I climbed to the top of the prairie and was riding in wide-open spaces. I could see for miles. The view of the wide expanse was incredible. I felt like I was riding on top of the world. Rows of hay lined the highway. I could see yellow fields in the distance. They were sunflowers.

Fields of bright yellow sunflowers greeted me as I cycled by. Their smiling faces were all facing east as they swayed in the breeze. I walked along the fields and stood eye to eye with them. They posed while I captured a yellow prairie portrait. I was having a blast just hanging with my smiling friends.

I pedaled for several miles by sunflower fields in different stages of growth. Soon the fields gave way to wheat and soybean crops. However, when I saw yellow patches in the distance I knew I was coming up on more sunflowers. I felt like I was in prairie Shangri-la.

I rode by the small town of Blunt, population 342. Three yapping dogs came out to welcome me. The sound of my wheels pounding the pavement startled ducks in a nearby marsh and they took to the sky. A water tower in the distance signified the town of Harrold ten miles away. I started to see metal grain storage silos in every town.

Two or three sunflower fields later we arrived at our destination, Lake Louise Recreation Area. We pitched our tent in a private grassy campsite set back in the woods. I was ready to relax and reflect on my awesome day of riding in wide open spaces among the smiling sunflowers.

God Bless,

Kathy

Romans 12:6

Wide open spaces on the high prairie.

Wide-open spaces on the high prairie.

Sunflowers decorating the landscape.

Sunflowers decorating the landscape.

Fields of sunflowers.

Fields of sunflowers.

Rows and rows of sunflowers fill the field.

Rows and rows of sunflowers fill the field.

Patches of yellow in the distance...Sunflowers!

Patches of yellow in the distance...Sunflowers!