Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our day began with a drive.  Cathy has happy memories of a childhood visit to Galesville when the town was celebrating its centennial in 1954.  We drove 20 miles downriver for a great breakfast at the Garden of Eatin - a rock guitar themed cafe.
Some wall art

The town of Galesville

Note the "Harness Shop" sign on the building second from left.

To prove to her sister she was there - at the center of the town square.

We drove back to Fountain City for espresso at Brone's Bike Shop (I told you this was a complete bike shop!)  After getting the car packed, I stopped into the bike shop one more time as Mark Brone wanted to try again to fix my pump.  We couldn't find the exact o-ring I needed but it might work better than before.  I'm also hoping to have the part I need sent to the motel in Lacrosse, today's destination.  I also met two more people cycling the MRT.  Miles and Alyssa started in Minneapolis and are heading for New Orleans.  Because they are carrying gear and camping a lot, I may catch up to them in a few days.  They had a 2 hour head start on me today and I'm not riding tomorrow.  I wasn't able to get their picture until they were on their way.
When I got on the road, it wasn't long before I had the usual view--one I have not yet gotten tired of.

At about mile 10, I entered the Marshland trail.  I would be on a trail like this for most of the rest of the day.  The trail into and through the Trempeleau Wildlife Refuge was hard packed dirt and gravel.  The road surface was slightly better than a gravel road I had to deal with getting to Aitkin on day 3.  However, on that day I was just trying to get through it as quickly as possible.  This time I was more than happy to take it slow and enjoy the sights and sounds.  There is a reason they call it "marshland".

This is what the trail was like

It is a one-way trail.  The other direction is on the berm to the left.

The most dramatic sight was this view of the marsh.  Because I have not figured out how to load a video, I took the following four pictures as a pan shot from my left to right.
Some local people there encouraged me to look through the telescopes mounted there for public viewing.  A white spot that you will likely not see in this last picture turned out to be an egret.
Not long after this I left the refuge and started nearly 20 miles on the Great River Trail.  This is a crushed limestone surface that is rather like thin asphalt.  In places it was quite smooth.  More often it was slightly rough.  My hands never quite got used to the nearly constant vibration.  That said, it was one of the most scenic, peaceful bike rides I have ever had.  At least twice I am sure I had stretches of five miles or more without a hint of a bend in the road and, with the exception of about a mile when I entered a small residential community, was lush forest and swamplands.

One of many bridges over streams or deep pools.
Upstream and downstream from another bridge
At the only metal bridge I encountered I met Chris from Rochester, NY.  He is fairly new to biking and decided to get into it in a big way.  His bike is fully loaded for camping--probably weighs over a 100 pounds--he even has a solar panel!  He started in Albany, NY and is headed for Seattle.  I hope he reads this because I forgot to get his phone # or email address and I would like to correspond with him as he crosses the country.  He might even be able to stay at our house when he reaches Seattle.
Last marsh shots--nearing Lacrosse

Road construction caused me to detour and lose my route once that added a couple of miles.  Still it was just 40 for the day and easily one of the most pleasant, enjoyable rides I have ever had.  Even with the less than ideal surfaces, I truly enjoyed my time on the trails.
As I neared the city, I caught glimpses of the river through a heavy tree line.  Finally there was a small break allowing me this view about a mile before I was back on city streets.
As I entered La Crosse, I could not help reminiscing about my favorite aunt.  My aunt Lil was 4' 10" of energy and love.  I never saw her go out to dinner without a martini before, coffee with her meal and usually a brandy after.  She had season tickets to the local semi-pro basketball team.  I hadn't seen her in years but talked to her on the phone when she was in her 90's.  She took herself off the road and turned in her driver's license when she turned 90 but still climbed the stairs to her second floor bedroom.  She passed away in 2010 just six months away from her 100th birthday.  She was the only relative who always called me 'Billy' and I never minded a bit. 
Data (note how flat it was and how straight most of the trail section)


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