Shuffleboard Anyone? - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

June 4, 2014

Shuffleboard Anyone?

Marquette, Iowa

Crotchety Jake stopped by my site while I was breaking camp and wished me well and told me to watch out for the crazy drivers.  I think I will upgrade Jake from crotchety to curmudgeonly.

Soon afterward, two guys in a canoe were paddling a direct line toward my site.  I had seen them camped on a sandbar on the other side of the river last night and now here they were.  It turns out they are on an adventure of their own.  Larry and Toby had started canoeing at the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca and were on their way to New Orleans.  They were a little frustrated that they had been on the river for 23 days and were STILL IN MINNESOTA.  I told them that I had once given some thought to canoeing the Mississippi, but I had to admit there is a big difference between THINKING of something and actually DOING it.  Interestingly, Larry had ridden his bicycle across the country a few years ago, so we a great conversation about cycletouring.

Toby and Larry. They're just taking a little canoe trip down the length of a little river, that's all.
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I entered the State of Iowa and was greeted by aggressive redwing blackbirds protecting their nests and a neverending cloud of gnats.  I made it to Lansing, where I made another river crossing.  This one was over a scary bridge with a see-through deck.  I had great riding conditions on Wisconsin Highway 35 with constant views of the river.  I also saw a groundhog scurrying to its burrow, a huge, doomed snapping turtle trying to get across the highway, and a dead bundle of porcupine quills.

Seriously, there is a terrible gnat infestation here. Still, I thank the friendly people of Iowa for the greeting.
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At Prairie du Chein, I was working on my journal when the not-so-friendly librarian informed me that my computer time was up.   Sometimes one hour isn't enough, but I didn't argue.  I got back on my bike and I crossed back over the river to Marquette, Iowa with a specific goal in mind.  

A couple of days ago I mentioned my buddy J., who has been on many wilderness adventures with me.  Well, he is meeting me in Marquette.  In fact, he already met me and he was kind enough to let me use his laptop to type that which you are now reading.

After my typing, J. and I had a few beers and we went to Pike's Peak State Park.  As J. said, "the GOOD Pike's Peak, not the INFERIOR Pike's Peak in Colorado.  The views across the Mississippi River valley below were fantastic.  As a bonus, it was the first time I ever heard him say something good about Iowa.

J., at the REAL Pike's Peak.
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We went back over to Prairie du Chein and had a great meal.  We laughed and reminisced and joked around, but then, for some reason, the server stopped asking us if we wanted to order another round of beers.  "What's up?" we wondered.  Our glasses were obviously empty.

Well, we can take a hint.  There was a bar across the street and, inexplicably, I switched to Black Russians and J. switched to Crown Royal and Coke.  Craziness ensued.

Behind us, a cool shuffleboard game was going on and we put up the money to challenge the winner.  The game looked so easy that we started a little trash talking.

The winning team, Bruce and Nate, gave us a brief lesson on the rules of the game and then trounced us in three straight games.  After the first game, they became so aware of our incompetence that they even tried to help us with various strategies.  But it all came down to the fact that, for some reason, the "pucks" just didn't go where we wanted them to.

More drinks.  We left the bar.  The bartender came running after us, yelling "Hey!  You guys didn't pay your tab."  We apologized profusely, paid the tab with a very generous tip, and decided it was time to call it a night.

Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 197 miles (317 km)

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