Meandering in Minnesota...
After leaving New Ulm, I continued across Minnesota through Owatonna, Rochester and to the Mississippi River at Winona. Along the way I had a chance to visit with several old friends. Forrest Pape and Kevin Kuehn drove down from Minneapolis to visit me and go out to dinner in Owatonna. Kevin even brought me cookies from his wife to fuel me on the next day's ride. In Rochester, I spent two days with college friends Carl and Laurie Meier and their kids.
Being a childless bachelor, visiting the Meier family is a little bit like going to a three-ring circus for me. There's always something going on and usually three things at once. You're never quite sure what's going to happen. Just about anything can happen. And, it's much louder than at my house. In short, their lives are completely different from mine. But, just like the circus, you enjoy going because it's different, it's a spectacle, and it's fun... at least for a little while.:)
In this family, the three rings are named Jakob, John and Annelise. The ringmaster is Laurie, and Carl is the clown (shhhh, don't tell him he's a clown, he thinks he's the lion tamer). Three kids aged 11-13 have a lot going on even in the summer. The mealtime conversations usually revolve around the logistics of getting kids to and from softball, baseball, basketball, friends houses, the library, etc., etc. Adding a house guest for a couple days just adds to the challenge - how can we squeeze in an afternoon on the lake with the boat, going to Dairy Queen for ice cream, playing board and card games, watching videos and inviting over neighbors/family who want to have their shot at asking the cross-country cyclist a few questions. In between all that, time had to be found to deal with an overheated guinea pig, giving tours of the newly finished basement to anyone and everyone that came over, cooking mountains of great food to feed hungry kids and cyclists and arguing over the merits of 'haj' and 'quad' as Scrabble words (they're in the dictionary, so John and I did win!!)
Speaking of questions, the big game while I was there involved trying to come up with questions I hadn't already been asked on the trip. There were a couple of winners such as, 'Do you ever ride with your feet on the handlebars?' and 'Did you buy your bike at Walmart?'. We won't repeat the one that involved the method for customizing bicycle seats.
After Winona, I crossed the river into Wisconsin and spent a relaxing day cycling along The Great River Trail to La Crosse. It was nice to have a traffic-free day and enjoy the shade of the trees and the wetlands wildlife. I won't be in Wisconsin long, as next I'll be heading south into Iowa before crossing Illinois and Indiana.