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Trails in Minnesota and Iowa

Cycling Route Road Trip June 2014

           With a rough plan in place, we left our home on June 20th, 2014 for an 11 hour drive to Cedar Rapids. Iowa.  The Holiday Inn Express there is top notch.  They have the best showers we’ve ever had in a hotel and their breakfast buffet has a machine that makes pancakes.  If you can press a button with one finger, you can make their pancakes.

           Our first day in town we rode the Cedar River Trail.  It’s paved and not straight, nor is it flat.  We saw lots of trees, a weasel, marmots, deer and rabbits.  We parked at 3000 C. Ave, but found we could have started from our hotel and rode through downtown.  Afternoon thundershowers cut short our riding, but we never did get wet.

           After showers we drove to the Amana community.  This is a great place for shoppers, but I think shop is a four letter word.  I do like to eat, however, so we picked a German restaurant called Ronneburg.  White Cross Cellars was a perfect place for some wine tasting.  Back at the hotel, Jim took a nap. 

           In the late afternoon, we took a walk and stumbled on a movie theatre.  We went to see “Chef” with no preconceived expectations.  It was quite enjoyable.  Jim and I both thought it was good.

           My birthday found us looking for afternoon showers again.  We rode 30 miles on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.  Literature said the trail was paved the 50 miles to Waterloo.  We started at the Boyson parking area.  We rode 10 miles and then it turned to crushed limestone.  You can’t trust everything you read.  We rode the limestone to Center Point and then the thunderclouds chased us back to the car.  A couple miles from our car, we went into Dairy Queen for a snack.  We made it back to the hotel before the rain hit.

           We decided to explore a bit.  Warnings came on the radio about hail from 12 – 1.  We found a car wash to protect the car in until the threat had passed.  The wind was horrific for awhile but when the wind died down, I checked the radar on my phone and it said we were clear.  (Thanks, Craig)  We headed back to the hotel for showers.

           For my birthday dinner, I wanted the jalapeno burger at Parlor City Pub in the Bohemian District downtown.  It was just as good as I remembered it.  More rain!  Sand bags were being delivered downtown.  Predictions were made that the river would crest on Tuesday (after we were gone).

           Monday, we headed north to Waterloo and Cedar Falls.  Some cyclists told us that the trails were better up there.  But when we arrived, many streets and the trails were blocked for flooding.

           We headed up north to Lanesboro.  Our GPS didn’t recognize the town nor its zip code.  The road I chose to get there was closed.  We thought it was flooded, but turned out it was construction on the bridges.  We had lunch in Harmony at the Village Square Restaurant.  It was very good and had about 15 fresh pies.

           We made it to Lanesboro and found the visitor center, since our GPS wasn’t any help at all.  We were directed to our hotel, Stone Mill.  Our bikes went in a storage shed at the back of the property. Our room was called the Bicycle Room and was on the 4th & 5th floors.  The bed is above the living and bath area.

           We walked down to a restaurant right on the Root River, called Riverside on the Root for wine.

           Tuesday, we rode the Root River Trail to Houston, MN and back.  The trail is paved, tree covered and not straight, nor flat.  There was one hill going into Houston.  We ate lunch at JT’s Corner Bar.  It was very clean & not smoky.  Minnesota has a no smoking law indoors.  YEAH!

           The 64 mile round trip about killed Jim.  We stopped in Rushford for ice cream and to let him rest awhile.  Riding on the trail we met some people from Oklahoma City.  They were with another couple from the Chicago area.  I got to talking to Mary Sunday and we rode away from Jim and the other riders.  Mary and friends asked about PAW tours.  They had seen info on the Door County tours, so I told them all about Northwoods.

           We ate dinner at Riverside on the Root.  Jim was in bed by 6:30.  He was dead.

           Wednesday, was another nice day and Jim agreed to ride towards Harmony.  We got to Preston, had coffee and with only 10 miles under our belts, Jim agreed to ride on to Harmony.  There were 3 big hills and Jim walked one.  Jim didn’t look too happy with me. 

           We ate lunch at the Village Square again.  I had a wonderful spinach salad with strawberry poppy seed dressing, fresh strawberries, cashews & oriental noodles.

           We met Mary Sunday and her friends on our way back.  It was mostly downhill and Jim was happy about that.   We got back by 2:30 and after showers walked to Riverside on the Root for wine while we waited for a restaurant called, Intermission, to open.  It was worth the wait.  The Tomato Basil soup was the best we’ve ever had.  I had a New York Strip steak and Jim had pork tenderloin with raspberry, jalapeno sauce.  Excellent!

           Thursday we had chosen an Amish tour to see the area.  We had time to pack and get ready to leave after the tour.  I picked up Jim’s little camera bag and it felt empty.  I asked Jim what he did with it.  He got a stunned look and said, “I think I left it in the restaurant.”  We talked to the owner of Stone Mill.  He took Jim across the street to a B&B that had a key to Intermission.  (Intermission owners live in another town close by).  They looked inside and called the waitress but no camera was found.  Jim was devastated.  I had brought down all of the luggage while Jim was on the wild goose chase.  We started going through bags.  I picked up the camera bag and looked inside.  There under the bag that Jim keeps his camera in, was his beloved camera.  We should have looked inside to begin with.  Jim went and told everyone that had been looking for it that the camera had been found.

           Six people and the driver went on the Amish tour.  We visited 4 farms and saw inside one of the farms.  The driver knew all the families and their stories.  We bought baked goods, jellies and pot holders.  There was some gorgeous wood furniture.  The beds had drawers underneath for added storage.  The mirrors on the dressers had hidden cabinets behind for jewelry.  This was an excellent tour.

           Before we left Lanesboro, we had a good lunch at Pedal Pushers.

           We had planned to stay in Spring Valley, but it was still early in the day, so we pressed onward.  Jim spotted Four Daughters Winery outside Spring Valley, so we stopped for some wine tasting.

           We settled down for the night at Holiday Inn in Austin, Minnesota.  We had dinner in the bar and then went for a long walk.  We decide that it might be nice to spend the weekend in Kansas City.  We’ve been through there but never stayed.  The Embassy Suites downtown was full, but I could get in the Embassy Suites in Overland Park.  I was making reservations on-line for $108.  After entering my credit information, the site said it was down and I’d have to call.  I called the 800 number and got Bangaladesh for all the Hilton hotels.  I finally hung up and called the hotel directly.  All their regular rooms were booked but we could stay on the premium floor for $139.  Free Wifi and free snacks.  What a deal!  The snack machine was ALWAYS empty.  LOL

           Leaving Austin after breakfast at Perkins, we ran into several strong rain storms that had us driving quite slowly.  It was hard to see at times.  Several vehicles were off the road on both sides of the road.

           Checking into Embassy Suites in Overland Park, was an adventure.  The check in area was full of 8 – 12 year old baseball players.  Coaches and parents were letting them run amok.  This is going to be another adventure.

           We had dinner at Hooters, which we agreed is not as good as Buffalo Wild Wings.  Jim had to call downstairs to complain about the rugrats running up and down the halls.  Thankfully our bed was in the back of the room and being on the top floor, we didn’t have anyone running above us.

           Saturday morning we started with a Kansas City Fun Trolley tour which we got tickets for at Union Station.  Some special event was going on, but we planned to explore Union Station after the tour.  But alas, you couldn’t get into Union Station after we got back without buying tickets to the event.  It was some science thing with R2D2’s running all over.

           We went for a BBQ lunch at Jack Stack.  We had seen it on the tour.  We then tried to get a free tour at Boulevard Brewery.  We were told that all the tickets were given out within the first hour of opening on Saturday morning.  The tasting room was open but it was packed with nowhere to sit.  We decided to drive out to the Harley Davidson plant for a free tour.  But they only give tours on Monday thru Friday from 9 -3.  It was a nice drive though.  We went back to the room and it began to rain.  The TV said it would rain until 9 p.m.  We hoped to be in bed by then.  But we decided to brave the elements and drove to the Plaza District (another place we found from the tour).  It was great shopping but since neither of us are shoppers, we asked a doorman at a dining place how to get to Westport & Broadway.  Finding the party area, we visited 3 bars.  Kelly’s is the oldest building in Kansas City.  Harvo’s and Harry’s Bar were our other two stops before going back to the hotel.  We never got rained on.  We were so glad that we ventured out, instead of staying in the room.

           Sunday we had breakfast at 7:30, were on the road by 8:30 and got home by 1:30.

           It was a great trip and I’m so glad we both took Monday off.  It’s given us both a chance to get caught up on things at home.  Amazingly enough, the world doesn’t stop while you are gone.

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