Hok Si La Campground--Heaven's Bowling Alley - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

June 1, 2014

Hok Si La Campground--Heaven's Bowling Alley

Lake City, MN

As is common before a big adventure, I didn't get much sleep last night.  Besides being too excited to sleep, there were thunderstorms off and on all night.  And when I got up this morning, the first thing I saw was a "Severe Weather Alert" on my cell phone.  "Flash flood warning until 10:00 a.m." it read. 

The Feeshko, ever the worrier, tried to get me to delay my departure for a day, but I just could not do that.  I've been counting the days for three months so it would take a lot more than rain and flash floods to stop me.  Undeterred, I pulled out of my driveway at 9:20, pedaling headlong into the dark clouds.  There is nothing like starting a bike trip with a little extra adventure.

As it turned out, all I got were a few sprinkles over the first 25 miles until I reached Red Wing where the deluge began.  I found a nice gazebo in the middle of this busy little river city and waited it out.  "Hah!  I guess I outsmarted you, rain."

When the rain eased up, I continued south and east along Highway 61.  It was maybe a mile out of Red Wing when Mother Nature regained the upper hand.  "Don't you ever, ever, EVER mess with me again!"  She didn't actually SPEAK those words, but they were forcefully implied in the vengeful downpour she unleashed upon me.  I put on my rain gear and pedaled all the way to Lake City with my head down in shame.

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If the welcome sign to Lake City is to be believed, the sport of waterskiing simply did not exist before this town presented that gift to the world.  Lake City is located on a very wide section of the Mississippi River called "Lake Pepin."  The "lake" is obviously conducive to boating and waterskiing.  I am not a waterskier myself, but I have a ton of admiration for the first citizen ever to think of strapping boards onto his feet and getting towed around behind a motorboat--the same admiration I have for the first guy who looked at a chicken egg and thought "hmmmmmm, I think I'll crack that thing open into a frying pan.  It will be delicious."  Those are the kinds of things that would never enter my mind.

At the Hok Si La Campground (walk-in sites only--I love it) I had a pleasant discussion with the lady who registered me.  She had done some bike touring on the west coast and in New Zealand.  She came outside to have a look at my bike and her first reaction was, "What?  No fenders?"  Ah yes, the first person to get a glimpse of my naivete.  (By the way, I may not have gotten fenders, but I DID break down and bring shaving crap.)

Then the lady fixed me up with a premier campsite overlooking Lake Pepin and the bluffs of Wisconsin on the other side.  She called it "The Sunrise Site," though it's unlikely I will see a sunrise according to the gloomy weather reports.

It stopped raining long enough for me to set up Jim the Tent and take this picture of "The Sunrise Site." (I think its real name is Site N-1.)
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Soon, another wave of storms rolled through.  When I was a kid I was told thunder was the sound produced by angels bowling in heaven.  In college, they had quite a different explanation--something about a sudden increase in pressure and temperature that produces rapid expansion of air around a lightning bolt.  This expansion of air supposedly creates a loud shock wave similar to a sonic boom.  Oh, the crazy things they would have you believe in those liberal institutions of higher learning.

Today, the angels were using particularly heavy bowling balls and extra-long lanes.  I swear one roll of thunder lasted three continuous minutes.

Storms do not discourage me, nor do the angels.
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While I was preparing my dinner, I saw a bald eagle hovering around out over the water searching for its own dinner.  It made a stealthy dive and then another.  One more wide turn, one more dive, and the eagle got the fish it was looking for.  Bald eagles are very common in the Mississippi River waterway but I still get a thrill seeing them.

One more thing before I sign off.  My good friend, who will only be known as "J" for now, texted me.  He had just read the introductory pages of this blog and, after seeing the photo of me on the overloaded Reckless Mr. Bing Bong, he wrote, "Ding Dong on a Bing Bong."  It cracked me up. 



Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 45 miles (72 km)

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