So, um, it’s been a month since I’ve posted. I’m a terrible blogger.
Here’s the thing: We’ve been home (as in, in Portland) for over two weeks.
I meant to post about it in Chicago, and never did. And then I figured I’d post on the train home, but the Empire Builder route doesn’t yet have wi-fi. Which makes sense when you think about it–that route goes through places where there’s not even cell service, for pete’s sake.
And then I was home, and distracted, and just putting it off, and putting it off, and putting it off. And it just got more and more ridiculous. There are a number of things I’ve wanted to post about, but I couldn’t, ’cause I hadn’t posted about the end of the trip yet!
But I’m posting now! (Yaaay!)
The rest of THE BIG TRIP! Well, the highlights thereof, in any case.
After La Crosse, we spent a day biking along the Mississippi River, which was beautiful. There were also a bunch of historical markers on the side of the road noting a battle between the local Native tribe and white settlers from back in the day. I suppose you can guess how that one ended. Many of the markers were old and used rather racist (or just old-fashioned) language, and next to them sometimes were newer signs basically saying, we kept these here because the signs themselves are a part of history, please excuse their language.
In Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, we stayed in our third motel room of the trip, which we could (sorta) afford because we’d mostly been staying with folks or in their backyards as opposed to campgrounds. The next day we met the guy at the local bike shop, who was fun to chat with.
Our host in Anamosa, Iowa, gave us a ride part of the way in. The biking was pretty enough (in a really hilly and lots of cornfields kinda way) but the headwind was brutal! We got to meet some local folks in the nearby bar. Shawn made jokes about wanting to have samosas and mimosas in Anamosa.
From there we went to Iowa City, where we stayed with Cody and Steve of 30th Century Bikes. Iowa City is a cute town (with an excellent book store and a grocery co-op), but the university is definitely the biggest thing around, and riding through downtown on a football game night was entertaining.
Shawn and I gave a presentation on our tour that was a lot of fun, and Cody and Steve were nice enough to give our bicycles a quick tune-up. They also let us stay in their super-sweet loft bedroom. (Part of me wants a similar set-up, but the rest of me knows I am a klutz, and that sooner or later I’d just fall off the ladder or miss it entirely or something.) And we got to go to a party run by artsy folks who were making pizza!
I also feel that I must note that while I was there, I bought the new issue of Bitch Magazine, an awesome feminist magazine. Several months ago they published a short critique of “bicycle chic” that really pissed me off, and I’d written an email to them saying why it bothered me–the article made it sound like dressing fashionably on a bicycle was OMG Dangerous! and that bicycle chic blogs were irresponsible for posting images of helmet-less women in heels and skirts on bikes. Um…it’s not that hard to bike in heels (it’s certainly easier than walking in them) and people are not dying left and right from errant scarves or skirt hems. But whatever.
I can remember sending them the email, too, in the house of a warmshowers host in Missoula, drinking Moose Drool (that would be a beer). How time flies!In any case: in Iowa City I bought the most recent issue of Bitch, and they’d published my letter! A shortened version of it, but that’s okay. Woohoo!
After we left Iowa City, there was a really cool night where we were biking in the dark to a warmshowers host after we crossed into Illinois. We were biking past lots of cornfields, and there wasn’t a lot of car traffic and it wasn’t cold, and I wasn’t too tired, and we kept hitting patches of mist, and it was just amazingly peaceful somehow. It would have been totally creepy if I’d been alone, though.
The next day we woke up to pouring rain and wind. We tried waiting it out, but it was no use! So we ventured out anyway and hoped for the best. Hahahahaha. I have nice long fenders, and yet, they dumped water into my shoes. I don’t have rain pants, so my legs were wet. My rain jacket is worn out, so that leaked. It wasn’t long before we were cold and soaked.
We were on our way to visit our friends Brad and Kim in Ottawa, Illinois; who we knew would be happy to give us a ride in. So we stopped at a grocery store with a deli seating area and called them up. But alas, they were hosting our friend Matt and were already a few drinks into the day. And then Kim generously offered to get us a hotel room nearby. Excellent! We braved those last few miles to a soulless hotel room near the airport just outside the “Quad Cities,” and enjoyed their hot showers, huge bed, cable TV, and wi-fi, with our stuff spread out all over the room, drying.
The next day Brad came to pick us up, with Matt in tow, only to realize he’d left the bike rack for the car at home! He picked up a used one at a local bike shop (yay smartphones) that was exactly like the one he had at home, put our bikes on it, and off we went to Brad and Kim’s house.
Brad is someone we knew from Portland, but like most of our friends he didn’t grow up there, and on one of his visits back home he fell in love with a girl he’d known in high school, Kim. Kim has a daughter who herself is now in high school, and Brad’s job is moveable, so he’s living in Ottawa with Kim and her daughter until she graduates. They had already hosted Paul and Caroline, but our visit overlapped with Matt’s. So there were five of us total, and it felt like a small reunion of Portland folks!
Brad and Kim are fun people, and many beers and margaritas were consumed over the course of several days. I also got to see people sky-dive, as there’s a sky-diving school behind their house! It was fun to see tiny dots come out of the plane, and then they’d open their parachutes (which made a cool sound), and drift down to the ground, only to get back in the plane and do it again. And I got to meet their sweet chihuahua, Julio! I could not get over how cute that dog was.
From Brad and Kim’s we went straight to Chicago, but that deserves another post. Which I promise to write right now. But I’ll post it tomorrow.