Return Motorcycle trip to Anacortes.

Dispatch 2

Wheaton, Illinois to Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Sept 20, 2007


Alfalfa and corn, Wisconsin.

I had 450 miles to ride between Wheaton, Illinois, near Chicago, and Minneapolis, Minnesota and I wanted to do some of it along the Mississippi River.  I broke with my rule of thumb, to avoid freeways, and headed for the tollway, Interstate 90, which would connect with Interstate 94 and take me to where I could cut west to the Mississippi.  In 7 AM morning traffic, it took me about 45 minutes to creep my way to the freeway, but once there, the Chicago traffic was headed east and I went west.  I moved quickly through Rockford, Illinois and soon crossed into Wisconsin.  

The flat farm land of Illinois gradually gave way to to gently rolling farm land.  Areas of hardwood forest become more common.  By late morning I was approaching Baraboo, Wisconsin, a geologically interesting area combining a lifting of continental plates with glacial scouring during the last ice age.  I had done a geology field trip in Baraboo during my college days, but I was not expecting the degree of commercialization which had turned this area into a vacation play land.   

I stopped for gas and a cold drink.  I was casually inspecting the motorcycle, when to my shock, I discovered three areas of cord showing on the rear tire.  I had been expecting to replace the tire at some point on the trip, but I was surprised that it had gotten so worn without my noticing it.  Cord on tires is only acceptable on airplanes.  On the DC-8, with 26 ply tires, we could go through three cords before change was mandatory.  On motorcycles, however, a high speed blowout is a very serious adventure.

I called a local Harley shop, but they didn't have my tire.  However, they referred me to a Power Sports shop 50 miles south, in Richland Center,  which did have my tire.  I was disappointed to be taken an hour out of my way, but Highway 154 turned out to be a spectacular ride and I was soon having to curtail my photo stops in order to get to the shop in time.  In fact, I missed getting to the shop before lunch hour, so I cooled my heels by test riding a new 1400cc Kawasaki Concourse, an extremely high performance touring bike.  

Soon the new Metzler tire was on, and when the proprietor heard that I wanted to ride along the Mississippi to Minneapolis, he said, "I have just the roads for you."  Highway 171 took me west through hilly apple orchard country.  I found myself behind a lady in a Camaro convertible.  She knew the road and she was in a hurry.  We made very short time of that 40 miles to the Mississippi River.  

Kickapoo, Wisconsin.



Highway 171 deposited me by the Mississippi at a tiny community called Mt. Sterling.  Across the river was Iowa.  Highway 35 runs along the eastern side of the river and I took it all the way north until I intercepted Interstate 94, just east of Minneapolis.   Here in Wisconsin, the river was generally narrower than it had been in Missouri and Kentucky, although, I rode by areas where the river widened out, with islands, some of them wooded and some covered with tall reeds.   I passed several sets of locks and a few tugs pushing barges, although barge traffic seemed less than further south where the river was bigger.

Considering that it was late September, I was expecting the weather to be cold approaching Minneapolis, but it had been in the 80s most of the day.  I was also surprised that since leaving Alabama, I had only experienced fifteen minutes of rain, while going by Cincinnati.  It had been perfect riding weather.

Highway 35, a lock across the Mississippi.

Sunset on the Mississippi.  Looking from Wisconsin towards Minnesota. 

I arrived in Minneapolis after dark, but had no trouble finding my way to the older but elegant enclave just west of Cedar Lake where Loren and Amanda Aandahl live.  They welcomed me and introduced me to young Anders, their five month old boy, who struck me as pretty much the model baby.  Loren, another missionary kid from Taiwan,  has worked his way up in airline management and is largely responsible for the route structure of Northwest Airlines.  Amanda, after taking time off for child rearing, has returned to medical school.  Once again we settled down for some serious catching up and reminiscing.  

It rained through the night, and I was happy I had arrived when I did.  In the morning, while Amanda was in school, Loren and I pushed Anders along the shores of Cedar Lake and enjoyed the mature trees in full color.  We then had lunch with a Navy friend of mine, Lane Littrell, and did a bit of sight seeing in downtown Minneapolis.  That night, Loren had arranged for a Morrison gathering at an authentic Taiwanese restaurant, so we enjoyed yet more reminiscing to the authentic flavors of Chinese dumplings and well spiced dishes.  

Minneapolis at dusk. 

Amanda, Loren and Anders Aandahl. 

Morrison Academy schoolmates: Amanda, Anders and Loren Aandahl,
 Monica Powers, Bill and Joy Dennis, Durant Imboden and Art Dickenson.
Also in attendance but not shown:  Orvella , Ruth,  Shang-wen and Andre Batchelder.


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