Friday, June 5, 2009

Pedal Day 30 - WISCONSIN!

"What if is a terrible world in which to live."

"The saddest words of tongue or pen
are these four words
It could have been."

"Worry is a useless emotion."

"Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life."
-Bill Gates

"Life is not fair - get used to it!"
-Bill Gates

We are in Red Wing, Minnesota, home of Red Wing Shoes.  We are staying at St. James Hotel in downtown Red Wing.  There are little shoe statues scattered around town. Athens, Georgia has its bulldawgs, Lexington, Kentucky has its horses, and Red Wing, Minnesota has its shoes!  
We did get into Wisconsin as we crossed the St. Croix River into Prescott. The riding has been great today and the wind has been at our backs. We did a short day (49.82 miles) since Sarah is flying back to Georgia tomorrow and this gives us a little more time with her. Right now, she and Margaret are walking downtown to check out the shops! We are also missing Carey, Chris, Ryan, Trey, Drew, Maddie, Lydia, David, and Judie. Our crowd is dwindling.
While riding near Afton, Minnesota we spotted another rider, stopped to talk with him, and made a new friend. His name is Dennis. I don't know his last name but, to me, he's Dennis the Dreamer. He was out doing his regular bike loop looking for wild asparagus. We rode and talked together and when we got to his home we stopped to talk awhile. He has a dream to build tent platforms and bunkhouses for bikers on his property. With much excitement he showed us where everything will go. He's also a gardener, builds bat houses, teaches tennis, and loves anything natural. He says, "If we don't get into nature, nature won't get into us." He is a big fan of Albert Einstein and with his hair messed up . . . well, you just might think he's the old gentleman himself. We had a great time talking but had to turn the cranks on our bikes to meet Margaret and Sarah for lunch.
Fourteen miles south of Prescott we came to Diamond Bluff (pop. 479), where we found an eating establishment that goes by the name "Nauti Hawg." Immediately inside the door we struck up a conversation with three residents (and like a dummy I didn't even get their names) about bikes, cars, tractors, and the bike ride. What great folks. Jonathan and I had to wait for Margaret and Sarah to find us so we enjoyed about twenty or thirty minutes of conversation. These folks could be the welcome center for Diamond Bluff. They sure do make people feel welcome! By the way, the food was great and lots of it.
Outside, we met and talked with Becky and Jeff. They are bikers too. Jeff told us that we were adventurers because we were riding to Maine. I told him that he and Becky were adventurers too and he said, "Yes, but we're not pedaling like you." I told him that they were powered adventurers and we were non-powered. Another great time with more enjoyable folks in this great country of ours.
Jonathan and I headed south on Wisconsin 35 and were enjoying the tailwind, smooth road, and the bluffs along the Mississippi River. We arrived in Bay City soon after leaving Diamond Bluff. When I checked our map I realized that we had zipped right by the road that goes to Red Wing. I called Margaret and she and Sarah soon arrived to transport us to Red Wing. Before we departed Bay City we had to stop at Flat Pennies Ice Cream. There we met Jim Ross. He and his wife, Lorna, own this place and what a neat little ice cream heaven it is. I had a root beer float as did Sarah and Jonathan. Good stuff! We enjoyed talking with him and some folks in the shop before heading to Red Wing.
If you haven't already figured it out, the best part of riding across America is the people. We have met so many people who are so different but are friendly, interested, and encouraging. Not all of these people are what we would call church-people either but I have absolutely loved talking, listening, and laughing with them. I have found out also that riding in on a bike automatically opens a door for conversation and we have had many of them! From Washington to Wisconsin we have made new friends, all of which would make great neighbors. 
What a world this would be if we all rode bicycles! We would know more people and know more about them. We would all be healthier, that's for sure. We wouldn't eat at McDonald's and Burger King as much and the local bar and grill type places would be busier than ever serving great burgers and fries. We wouldn't have this gas problem, or the fumes and smog. The Arab countries wouldn't be as wealthy either!  We'd all have friends we don't have now and from all levels of life and thinking. Think of all the new relationships we'd have! Instead of zipping by someone along the road, we would stop, chat, and go on our way with a new friend and neighbor.
You don't know Oscar Thompson. In fact, I don't know Oscar Thompson, but he said, "The most important word in the English language is relationships." Jesus pretty much said the same thing when he said, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). Jesus could say that because he did it every day. That was his lifestyle. Jesus didn't have prerequisites, he just loved people. The religious crowd didn't like it but Jesus didn't care. The Pharisees (religious leaders) even asked the disciples, "Why does your teacher (Jesus) eat with such scum" (Matthew 9:11). I can answer that: Because every person you'll ever see is someone who is extremely valuable to Jesus. And . . . every person you'll ever see is someone for whom Jesus died.
 Jesus loves people! That's why he came! That's why he died. When we see people the way Jesus sees people it will change the world one person at a time. Especially us!
You don't even have to ride a bike if you don't want to! Really.


  1. Barry, You don't know me, but I have been following and enjoying your blog since you left GA. Our son is a bicyclist and at one time lived and worked at a Christian camp in the area where you left from in Washington. We hoped you were going to be Napoleon, Ohio tomorrow, as you originally planned. We live half an hour from there and would have loved to meet you, especially since my husband's grandmother was a Shettel, with roots in York Co. PA. We have our annual church conference at Lakeside, on Lake Erie, this next week. so will miss you. By the way, pleased that you liked Duluth so well, as it is my favorite place to visit, it is also my home town. It is too bad you age at Taco Bell in Hinckley and missed Toby's Restaurant, famous for their doughnuts. Our prayers go with you as you continue on your journey.

  2. You have by now probably ridden your bike through Pepin, WI. That was the area written about by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her book "Little House in the Big Woods:. If the scenery gets any more beautiful than WI Hwy 35, your eyeballs will probably pop. The natives you meet are all pretty much WYSIWYG "wissie wig" What You See Is What you Get. I hope you are making mental notes so they can all be stars in your trip book that you will write and autograph on a Sunday afternoon at the Statham Civic Center catered by Patti Warren.

  3. While you are in Wisconsin, please ask someone why their state looks like an oven mitt. And then do the same thing in Michigan, which also looks like an oven mitt. It's nice that they're both side by side, in case someone needs a pair of oven mitts the size of 2 states. Thank you for the shout-out for Lexington, even though I've only seen maybe 5 horses here since we've lived here, and three of those were dead. Lexington is the horse capital of the world, and it is also the crime capital of the world. The only time I've ever had anything stolen is in Lexington. Someone stole our old ugly green van right from our driveway while we slept. Unfortunately it was found several weeks later. Lexington has 3 million residents and one castle and, speaking of Einstein, is the birthplace of the famous musician.

  4. What do you do for an encore after a trip like this???

    It looks like we Southerners have passed off our reputation for hospitality to the folks in the north, although maybe it wasn't so much Southern as rural hospitality for which we were famous and we have become more urbanized.