Knowing there was a rest day ahead of us tomorrow, we woke up early today at our campground in Spring Green to get on the road. Our campground was covered in dew and fog clouded the road as we headed out.

Our first stop was actually only a couple miles down the road. Before we went to bed last night, we were alerted to the fact that our campground was directly across the river from Taliesen, one of the more famous Frank Lloyd Wright houses. We altered our route of the campground by a scant two miles and headed across the foggy Wisconsin River. Since it was around 6:30 in the morning, neither the visitor center or the actual house were open for visitors. Not to be deterred, we disregarded the "No Admittance" sign on the driveway and headed up to the house. We got to the top of the gravel road and explored around the outside of the house, trying not to disturb the occupants.

For both Don and me, this was the second Frank Lloyd Wright landmark we'd visited in the last couple months (I saw Falling Water and Don just saw his original house and studio outside Chicago). Taliesen was pretty best though, even without a guided tour. The fog, while it made the house invisible from the road, only added to its natural beauty. It has a pretty cool history, too- apparently Wright's mistress and a couple others were killed by a servant who then burned the house down. Two iterations later... There's a pretty cool house on a hill that we got to visit in the fog early in the morning!

From Taliesen, we headed out to the east, trying to warm up while wearing tons of layers. After a quick coffee stop, we were able to get to Madison before stopping for a real brunch. We explored the city (and the UW campus) a little bit and got some advice on where to get some quick tasty fuel.

Some of you might be wondering what we do with our bikes when we get food or stay somewhere at night. Though it's on our gear list I'm guessing most people haven't studied that the way that Dave has. Well, the answer to the question of what we do with them varies. Sometimes we bring the bikes into wherever we're going, sometimes we leave them leaning against a wall outside, and sometimes we lock them outside. I'm guessing that as we get into more populated areas, we'll probably be locking them more often. What do we lock them with? Well, we've got a pretty small and lightweight MasterLock made mostly of plastic that we lock into a 6-foot Flexweave cable lock from REI. We either lock the bikes together or to some stationary object. Whether or not we lock them, we try to keep them in view. This morning at breakfast, this meant choosing a table by the window so we could look down at the bikes on the sidewalk.

Anyways, we headed out from breakfast and Madison along the lake, where there was a pretty nice bike path.

We rode mostly on some pretty rolling county roads for the rest of the day, and even though it might not seem like it from the photos, the scenery is a little different- you can tell we're getting into much more populated areas by the comparatively smaller size of fields. We took a great early afternoon ice cream break at a gas station in the town of Lake Mills, where you can see Dave locking up the bikes.

Ice cream - and dairy in general - are items of pride in Wisconsin, it seems. They obviously are proud of their cheese, but this also means that they have ridiculously tasty. (and cheap!) ice cream. Dave and I made quick work of a pint of Caramel Collision at this gas station before we got on the road again.

Figuring that we should probably pay our respects to the wonderful animals that create this great Wisconsin dairy product, we stopped at a farm along the road in the afternoon. Dave and Don tried to feed these Holstein cows, but I'm pretty sure that even to them we didn't smell too great.

A good bit of flat riding for the afternoon along a combination of county roads and suburban residential roads led us finally into the outskirts of Milwaukee, where we ended up on a busy commercial road. Thankfully, there was a huge righthand land just for bikes and buses, so we sped along next to the cars stuck in late afternoon traffic. 

Once in Milwaukee, we were able to shower and change in our hotel before grabbing some Thai food across the street. Heading to sleep soon so that we can get up early to make our ferry in the morning!


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.