As we expected, the day started out very cold. Dave mentioned in yesterday's blog post that a small polar vortex would be affecting temperatures along our route, especially in northern Iowa and today was by far the coldest morning we experienced - much colder than Yellowstone.

Later this morning we biked by a temperature sign on a bank that read 51 degrees and heard at breakfast that a record low of 49 degrees for this day in July was set a few towns over. Despite the low temperatures, our gear did well by us. Justin and I had purchased sleeping bags from Katabatic, which work down to 40 degrees and are under a pound in weight.  http://katabaticgear.com/shop/chisos-sleeping-bag/

Getting ready, I threw on an extra shirt in addition to my biking shirt, arm warmers, leg warmers and jacket. 

Yesterday in the bike shop we were given advice on some roads to take us to the bridge over the Mississippi. We had come into town on Route 9 and it was awful - trucks at high speed, no shoulder and lots of  pot holes wider than the width of a bicycle tire.  Our original route was a direct approach on Route 18 but we were warned it would be worse than our Route 9 experience as 18 is a major route for truckers who need to cross the Mississippi.  If 18 was the hypotenuse, the new route would be the other two sides of the right triangle.  It added about 12 miles but turned out to be absolutely delightful biking. The roads were smooth and wide, with very little traffic. We could even ride three abreast and carry on a conversation which was a pleasant change.

Part of the route was labeled as one of Iowa's scenic byways.

We had breakfast in Waukon where our matching biking outfits brought the similar comments to those we received all through northern Iowa, "are you here for the RAGBRAI?"
RAGBRAI is an acronym for the Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.  It is sponsored by the Des Moines Register and attracts over 10,000 riders each year for a week-long ride across the state. 

It starts next week and is scheduled to take a northern route, stopping in some if the same towns we stopped in: Okoboji, Rock Rapids, Forest City and Decorah.  I rode in the RAGBRAI back in 1999 with a group from the Air Force while I was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB. The time off was classified as permissive TDY (temporary duty) which meant it was time off but didn't count as vacation. : )  It was a wonderful week, with many similarities to our trip across Iowa: cornfields, friendly people and great hospitality, but in contrast to this year, back in 1999 the temperature exceeded 100 degrees on a few days causing parts of the road to melt.  http://ragbrai.com/about/ragbrai-history-1990s/

Although leaving Iowa was bittersweet, crossing the Mississippi and entering a new state was exciting. The Mississippi River is huge.  After we crossed the bridge, we commented to each other that we thought the river would have been wider.  As it turned out, we were on an island and the width of the river was an equal distance again. 

We received more of a welcome entering Wisconsin than any state so far. There was a park that had a large sign for the state,

one for the city,

and a statue of Rev James Marquette, SJ who was the first westerner to "discover" and map the northern Mississippi. I found it amusing that the town on the other side of the river is called Marquette, Iowa, but the inscription on the statue is clear to point out that the discovery was made from the Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin side. The statue of Rev. Marquette has one hand outstretched to the river but his back is squarely to Iowa, looking over Wisconsin. I'm sure this is part of some interstate rivalry. 

We ate lunch in Prairie du Chien and headed east along the Wisconsin River.  Our destination for the night was a camping spot at the Wisconsin River Resort in Spring Green. Again the riding was very enjoyable on Route 60, one of Wisconsin's scenic byways.

After a few relatively short days of 100 miles, it felt good to get in a little longer distance today. There was no wind whatsoever, temperatures in the low 70s,  clear skies and gently rolling hills.

 When we reached our destination, we quickly set up camp and headed to dinner where on Wednesdays there were two specials - happy hour all night and an all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta and salad bar which was great. We caught a few pictures of the sunset on the river after dinner

and headed back to camp where Dave convinced us that we needed to bear (actually raccoon) bag our Power Bars. For the trip we bought very lightweight rope as we thought we would need to bear-bag our supplies in Yellowstone. There they provided boxes, so the rope hadn't been used for more than a clothes line so far. Not wanting to have carried something we didn't need, Dave used the rope to suspend our food out of the reach of raccoons and himself. 

It was another early night as we have a big push to Milwaukee tomorrow which will be 130 miles, 10 more than today. 


  1. Anonymous7/17/2014

    The Mighty Mississippi, known for producing more than half of the nation's supply of catfish (+350 million pounds per year!), is an impressive beauty. Be sure to nab some catfish nibbles, if you guys have the opportunity, and store them in your "Bear Bag" lest those ferocious raccoons snatch them all...

  2. What gorgeous scenery. Love all the photos.

  3. Beautiful!! The polar vortex even reached the Mississippi gulf coast! It was 66 degrees this morning. Praying for more beautiful weather!

  4. Enjoy your time in Milwaukee, its a great city! The trip across Lake Michigan should be fun, sort of feel like you're on the ocean. If you need a place to stop in mid-Michigan (East Lansing) you're more than welcome to stay at our house. Beds, showers, laundry.

  5. Hi, hope your all set with Verizon service in Canada. I responded to your text with details. Either way the cell will work. Oh Canada.