Just the Basics: Only 30 miles, today. We had some complications getting out of Cambridge, due to road work. We were then on MN 95 - wide shoulders, quite safe, but a busy, noisy freeway - not our favorite riding conditions, but through pretty country - again, mixed agricultural and resort areas.
At around mile 12 we arrived in North Branch, where we stopped for pie and coffee - and had the happy idea of buying an iced tea for one of our water bottles. Once again, lots of road construction and related complexities - but THEN: 18 miles on two consecutive paved off-road multi-use trails - the Sunrise Prairie and the Hardwood Creek Trails, right into Forest Lake, where we are spending the night at the Hitching Post Motel. This is the motel where the final motel scenes in Fargo were filmed! (We are apparently the only folks in the country who haven't seen the movie - we hope to rectify that sometime soon.)
After showers and some Internet research about weather, we walked about a mile into town for a nice dinner at Za's Italian/Minnesota restaurant - a local restaurant on the lake with a focus on fresh, locally-sourced foods and cooking from scratch - a lovely evening.
Today's Photo: We're falling down on the job - no photo again today!
Tomorrow: A diversion! We plan to rent a car here in Forest Lake, leave our bikes here and drive into the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, where Riley grew up. We'll leave the bikes here, drive back on Monday, and pick up the trail where we left off!
This accomplishes several things: (1) Tomorrow there is supposed to be lots of rain and a big thunderstorm - not good for riding, but we can't lay over because we are due to have dinner with Riley's Twin Cities relatives on Saturday; (2) It means we have a way to get around in the Twin Cities - shop, be tourists, see friends and family; (3) It avoids the complexities of biking in a big city that is unfamiliar. = ) = )
For Those Who Want More:
Encounter on the Trail: Today we stopped at a trailside park in the little town of Stacy. There was a very nice sign there which said something like "Stacy Did It's Part" (of sponsoring the trail), with a list of local trail sponsors. Just as we were finishing our peanut butter sandwiches, apple, cookies and iced tea, another cyclist came up. We exchanged the usual stories and discussed the trail ahead - he was able to give us very detailed instructions for finding our motel. He also contributed a story for our growing collection of deer stories - see They're Not All Bambi, below!
Something We Keep Forgetting to Mention: Several days ago, on our way to Father Hennepin State Park we stopped to share a banana split at the Dairy Queen near Onamia. Riley struck up a conversation with another couple - they were riding Harleys. We talked about a variety of things, here are some highlights: (1) Becky noted that we like to have a banana split on really hot riding days - the man observed that he thought it was probably mandatory! (Another guest, at the counter when Becky ordered, had helpfully contributed the point that banana splits would be loaded with potassium.) (2) They knew about the bike trail a bit further on with which we wanted to connect, and told us how to do so. (3) They serve on a sort of Harley honor guard for veterans' memorials. (4) We share an interest in signs with poor grammar and spelling - a recent favorite of theirs was in a pizza parlor which offered "Pictures of Beer" for $1 if you bought a pizza. They said that they are thinking they might go into the business of selling such pictures and make a real killing . . . .
They're Not all Bambi! (1) Our recent story of the fawns we saw elicited an email from Becky's sister Sarah, reporting about a recent encounter between one of their neighbors and a deer. Their neighbor was out walking the dog when a deer leaped out of the brush and crashed into her - landing on the woman before she realized what was happening. She found herself lying on the road under an unconscious deer - it took her five minutes of very concentrated effort to shove it off and crawl to the curb to call a family member to come pick her up - she had a broken foot! The deer eventually stood up and limped away to an unknown future.
(2) This reminded us of an experience our friend Nick had some time back. He's a runner and was in a race which included a trail through woods. A deer leaped out and crashed into him, knocking him out; he ended up in the hospital, quite seriously injured. Yikes!
(3) The cyclist we met today contributes this story: His brother is a bow hunter and was hunting one day. He saw 2 does ahead and prepared to shoot - when a wild turkey came up behind him and bit him in the butt! He swung wildly behind himself at whatever had bitten him and knocked out the turkey - he assumed he had killed it. The deer, of course, took off. He threw the turkey in the back of his truck, thinking to have at least something to show for his day. When he got home and went to get it out of the truck, it had revived and immediately escaped - it lived around the neighborhood for at least a year following this incident!