Whew, the states are just flying by… from Illinois into Indiana, where I stayed a few days with a friend, and together we ran down into Kentucky to see Hamilton at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville. Whaaat!! I have been looking forward to this show for many months – like, from back before I moved into this van. As well as looking forward to seeing this friend again!
with Jacinda at intermission
We had a good visit, catching up on all the things that we don’t find time to talk or chat online about in our regular lives. I got to meet some lovely children. And oh, the show… will be reviewed eventually at my book blog, and I’ll repost here when that happens. (It will be a while.) In a nutshell, it was pretty much everything I hoped it would be. It was well worth it to know the soundtrack in advance, and that soundtrack was enriched during the live performance. I am the luckiest woman.
Upon leaving dear Jacinda, I made a stop in Bloomington to see the track where the Little 500 bike race (of Breaking Away fame) takes place. (The quarry that figures in the movie has since been filled in.)
And then back into Illinois, eastbound for my next trip highlights. I found a delightful free campsite on Waverly Lake. We were alone but for a curious and possibly drunk or diseased raccoon who did not photograph well at dusk. All other views were fine.
I was decidedly rained out of Sugar Bottom (the Iowa City area trail system that I wanted to try). So we puttered around town a little, visiting the University of Iowa campus just to say I’d been to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and because campuses are often so sweet.
Then I walked around town a little bit, making a point to visit Prairie Lights (sorry, no pictures), another fine bookstore – I restocked on cards and postcards, so holler if you’ve been left out of correspondence so far! And I couldn’t resist the Jamaican food truck on the way: jerk chicken is my go-to, but I’m always most excited about the plantains.
All of this walking (with Hops on campus, alone to the bookstore) was in the rain, of course. It rained for some 20 hours everywhere I went. Boy was I excited when the rain stopped.
We crossed another state line –
and I had a plan to camp for the night, but the Mississippi River got to it first.
Well, it’s been a treat to see my old friend again. But the camping was expensive! and there’s always something else down the road that beckons. I had a final sweet day riding Lebanon Hills, with CT this time.
And Hops and I had another hike in the Nerstrand Big Woods on our final morning.
And then it was time for my twentieth state:
I headed for a trail system near Iowa City that comes recommended. But the trails are wet and not drying quickly, so I suppose we’ll spend a day in the city instead, and see what they have to offer.
I’m nearing a much-anticipated stop to see a dear friend and attend Hamilton in the next week! Stay tuned…
Well, the weather eventually calmed somewhat, allowing me to get a very fun ride in at Lebanon Hills a few minutes north of town.
And CT and I took a field trip back across the Wisconsin state line –
for a bike race. I decided I wasn’t ready for the distance and elevation offered, so I sat it out, which was kind of bittersweet (especially as the elevation turned out a bit less than expected). But it was neat being in the scene again.
It was also neat seeing another friend again after some years: Derek used to put on a race up here which is how I know CT and how I know that Minnesota (and now Wisconsin!) offers some fine riding and fine people.
CT and Derek fuel up with pizza and beer
pre-riding race trails with CT
The boys each had a better race than they’d anticipated, I was slightly sorry that I’d missed out, and good times were had all around. I even had this unique opportunity to drink two beers next to one another that are not sold within about 800 miles of each other (recall trivia here).
Back into Minnesota –
and Hops, who was boarded for two nights, appeared surprisingly untraumatized but still happy to be back home again in Foxy and with me.
Well, the joke’s on us a little bit. As I scheduled Hops’s doggie daycare afternoons, allowing me to ride bikes with my buddy CT, three things happened: 1, it cooled down enough that he really could have stayed in the van. 2, CT’s work schedule tightened up and he couldn’t take off work after all, so I’d be riding alone. and 3, it rained and rained and rained (see: cooler weather), so I didn’t get to ride at all. Roll with the punches… Hops and I had a really lovely hike in Nerstand Big Woods State Park in the gentle rain.
We enjoyed some walks around town and evening beers with CT instead. All’s well.
“Waist Deep,” by local high school students, at the public library
Hops at Carleton College Cowling Arboretum after the rain
Bonus: Northfield’s little bookstore, Content, is an exceptional example, especially for such a small town – I had a lovely browse there. I think it’s a model!