June 11th, 2009
Milaca, MN to St. Joseph, MN (34 mi)
We had a mishap and tried to publish our day but it disappeared into cyber space.
This was an amazing day. Serendipity is usually something I think that much about but this day it seems very appropriate.
We left Milaca around 11 am after check out and headed down Hwy 23. There had been detour signs for some time, but we weren’t worried about that since bikes can go just about any where.
We make it about a mile before it is clear that there isn’t a real way around the “road closed” signs.
Nathan walked up to the bridge going over another section of the Rum River and determines we should try and find a different way. We utilize the iPhone to use some roads around the detour. We started heading south on a main road and are looking for 130th St.
We make it down to the very busy, non-bike highway without having found any crossroads where the map said that they were. We look again for 130th and find it. It is no longer a road but is a grass covered nothing. So we start biking back into town.
We make it back to a residential neighborhood and pass a guy who says: didn’t I just see you pass here? Then we had a conversation about how to get around the detour and finally rested upon going through the cemetery and crossing over the foot bridge. Woo hoo! A plan after an hour of detours.
We follow the plan and Nathan picks up the bikes and we push them over the bridge. We start talking to this guy about traveling and life and he accompanies us all the way back to Hwy 23. We say goodbyes and head off and are almost our if Milaca by 1:30.
About 20 minutes after being on 23 we see another bike tourist passing in the opposite direction. He cones over to our side of the road and we tell him about how to get around 23 and he tells us what to follow on our map. Mike has been on the road since February and has logged over 6,000 miles with the goal of 10,000. Wow!
We took off and followed the directions of the map and decided to look again to see if it was saving us miles or not. We concluded not and headed south the reconnect with Hwy 23. We had only gone about 5 miles out of the way.
We kept on biking and pulled over to take a break at a church. We were having a snack and a woman came up to us and started talking about biking. She had done some touring in Alaska and in Minnesota. She had this bandage on her leg and I asked her what happened? She said that she had just gotten her first tattoo an hour before. We asked about biking into St. Cloud and she called over her friends to ask them.
Her name is Tracy and we were introduced to Kramer and Stevie. Stevie had grown up in the local area and gave us a great route into the city so that we wouldn’t have to bike on 23 at rush hour. Tracy invites us over for dinner and to hang out for the evening and we quickly accept.
We get Tracy’s number and head on our way. Her group of friends just had a good feel about them, very free and accepting and fun to be around.
We continued biking for a few miles and came to a MacDonald’s and wiped out their dollar menu. Stevie’s directions were fantastic and brought us right into downtown St. Cloud. We again crossed the Mississippi River.
I call Tracy for more specific directions and we get there quickly and lock up our bikes and head up to a really cool apartment.
Tracy was getting ready to cook for every one. She loves to cook and is a great chef. She offers some refreshments and a place to chill out. We loved our time. I hung out drinking Poweraide and wine and picked Tracy’s brain about a variety of topics. She is a professor at UM St. Cloud and teaches in the sociology department. Both of us would have loved to take a class from her in college and she reminded me of some of my professors, two of which gave me recommendations for grad school. Tracy teaches about the politics of food, gender and racial inequality, and intro to sociology.
Nathan was hanging out on the porch with Stevie, Kramer, and Amanda, who are roommates and live in St. Paul. All I can say is that we had a great time and amazing food. They are warm and generous people.
A bit after dinner Amanda and Tracy helped us load up our bikes and stuff and took us the 7 miles to our campsite at St. Joseph’s. It was a bit of an adventure once we got there because it was dark and all we saw was the baseball fields and no camping. Tracy chased down a couple of bikers and asked them about it and it turns out that we just needed to go one drive way further. I had resigned myself to sleeping on the baseball field, but its good that that didn’t happen because the sprinklers came on pretty early in the morning.
Nathan and I had a conversation earlier in the day about how we came to meet the people that we had met today. There were a lot of wrong turns and turn arounds, but I know that all of those “mistakes” led to meeting new and cool people and a gourmet meal. I think that that is one of the things that I’ll take from this trip: wrong turns aren’t always wrong, sometimes its just a different path with different people to meet. Cool.