Welcome to Minnesota!
Thanks to our friends at the
Apple on Main Tea Room
for a great lunch, a place to wait out the rainstorm and advice on a shorter (and flatter) route from La Crescent, MN to Winona! If you are in La Crescent, be sure to stop by and have the Chocolate Raspberry Blast dessert!!
Tell them that the Two Tandems West Gang sent you!!
Pictured here (L to R) are Rachel, Leanne, Carrie, Jaclynn, Deb the Cook and Courtney our waitress
Brian and Carrie overlooking the
Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge near Homer, MN
Rachel and Carrie enjoy a swim in the Mississippi River. On this particular night, we were camping in the city park in Wabasha, MN where the movie "Grumpy Old Men" was filmed.
(nice biker tan, Carrie!)
THE MALL OF AMERICA!
This was on the top of the girls' MUST SEE list so we got a motel, locked up the bikes, rented a car and went into the city for some R&R! The girls really enjoyed the amusement park & petting zoo while Brian and I shopped and ate. And ate. And ate! At the end of the day we boxed up our purchases and mailed them home so we'll have a real treat waiting for us in September! I think it is pretty apparent what the girls thought of the experience!
The Olson B&B
Little Falls, Minnesota
is the BEST!
Pictured (l to r) Rachel, Brian, Nancy Olson, Bob Olson (CDR, USN ret), Carrie, George Wetzel (USMC) and Leanne
We stopped to visit Bob and Nancy Olson on our way through Little Falls and it turned out to be one of the best stops of our trip! They are the parents of Ann Walker, our friend and neighbor in Stafford. The Olsons treated us like royalty, fed us until we could eat no more, took us on a tour of the Little Falls area and then took us up to Lake Fishtrap for the afternoon. At the lake we met Dick and Jane Eich who gave us a tour of the lake and provided a great place for the girls to swim!
Before we left Stafford, Katherine (Ann & Randy's daughter) had told us so many great things about Little Falls and Grandma & Grandpa. Katherine, you were absolutely right...they are great people and Little Falls is a great place to visit! Thanks for the recommendation! Do you know anyone in Montana?
Thanks Bob and Nancy for the wonderful pitstop!
A few more Minnesota pictures....
Left: Little Falls. There was A LOT of water in the Mississippi because of heavy rains two days before. (Yes, we were riding in that same rain and had to seek shelter in a Super 8 motel to get off of the highway!)
Right: Enjoying a pontoon boat tour of Lake Fishtrap with (l to r) Dick Eich, Brian, Rachel, Carrie and Bob Olson. The afternoon we spent with Dick and Jean Eich was GREAT! The weather was beautiful, the lake was calm and the personal tour of the lake was terrific!
Carrie jumping off of the raft at Lake Fishtrap and baby deer along the road near Little Falls
We have seen a lot of wild life along the route. Many domestic animals, to include bison, as well as deer (like the deer two babies near Little Falls, MN), turtles, raccoons, skunks and possom. But, believe it or not, the most exciting critter we've seen was a black bear that Brian and Carrie (traveling about 100 yards ahead of Rachel and I) saw crossing the road near Taylor Falls, MN! It all happened so quickly that we didn't have time to get a picture, but it was all Carrie could talk about for the next couple of days!
Brian, Leanne and former Marine, George Wetzel on our last day in Little Falls.
George went to USMC recruit training in 1943 at Parris Island, SC (OOORAH!). He fought with the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima and witnessed the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi. There was just not enough time to talk to George, so we are planning another trip to Little Falls to visit a little longer with him.
Semper Fi, George!!
"Oh yea...I think there is one last little hill before you get to North Dakota..."
One last picture in Minnesquita before crossing into North Dakota
As I write this, the odometer reads 2006 miles since we've ridden out of our Stafford driveway on 1 June 2002. Those of you that watched us ride away will remember that our bikes and trailers were clean and heavily loaded for the trip. Our family was nervous with anticipation.
Now, many miles later, the bikes and trailers are a little less shiney (thanks to some inclement weather and long dusty roads) and a lot lighter (thanks to a some unnecessary items we mailed home). Our family is a lot more experienced & road savvy, but still excited about the possibilities of what is over the next hill or around the next corner.
The trip continues to be a good experience. There are times however, when it is hot, there is no wind and there are still twenty miles to go, that we have to motivate each other. We stop and talk about all of the land we've seen, the adventures we've had and the great people we've met...then the tough times don't seem so tough. Memories of our home in Stafford, friends waiting for our return and, of course, Opha Mae are always with us.
More often we are starting to look west...almost like we can see the Pacific Ocean in the distance. I find myself wondering how it will feel to finish the journey.