We have been traveling through Wisconsin for about a week or less. Before getting this far we traveled almost the rest of the way to Wisconsin on the Root River Bike Trail. Minnesota and Wisconsin both have an amazing amount of bike trails. If a bike enthusiast was to plan a trip with a route; unlike us, taking the trail systems through these states is relaxing and scenic. The Root River Trail was about 50 miles long and all railroad grade. Once it ended we took Hwy. 16 into Wisconsin.
Back in Minnesota we happened to come across the SPAM museum in the town of Austin. This turned into a couple of hours of free entertainment that was fun. No charge to get in and all you ever wanted to know about a product that, at least in Oregon, is more rarely consumed. The wall covered in SPAM cans was pretty impressive, and a little overwhelming. The entire history is laid out in a colorful interactive experience that reminded me of OMSI. The gift shop had everything imaginable with a SPAM logo on it for sale, from boxing gloves, fancy dish wear, to swim trunks.
Once we did get into Wisconsin we spent the afternoon at a coffee shop in downtown LaCrosse talking to some of the locals about the state. On recommendation we took Hwy. 35 which runs parallel to the Mississippi River down to Prairie Du Chien. The area between LaCorsse and Prairie Du Cien is beautiful along the Mississippi! It's surrounded by forested bluffs on both sides, whereas most of the mississippi is level near the shores. The night that we camped along the Mississippi we found a park in a small town with a covered pick nick area and outlets to stay at. Since electricity was at hand the opportunity to plug in the laptop and rent a movie from the local gas station was possible. I've never watched a movie on my computer outdoors under a covered area by a river, with occasional trains passing by. It was a great way to enjoy a pleasant evening. We spent a day and a half getting to Prairie Du Chien before we began heading East again. So far Wisconsin has been the muggiest state, but its only on hot days after a rainfall.
From Prairie Du Chien we stayed on Hwy. 60 all the way to Madison. It's a small two lane highway that runs parallel to the Wisconsin River. Small towns unroll along the way, and many farms in between. Wisconsin, to no surprise, is mostly farmland; all picturesque.
Madison is known as a bike friendly city. This is sort of true from our experience there. We arrived in the late afternoon off of a secondary highway before beginning to negotiating our way around. The pitfall of this city was in the condition of the roads. Many of the roads that we were on needed repaving badly. Some of the bike lanes were pretty bad; full of bumps, small potholes, and really uneven. There's a nice bike path that we were able to connect up to by the lake in the middle of the city, but it has some rough patches too. It surprised us both that so many people obviously bike around Madison but don't have half decent roads to use. And, Wisconsin requires that you pay for use of the bike trails right outside the heart of the city. So, if people are paying, why are the roads so crappy everywhere?
We camped in a large patch of trees we came across on our way out of town after our battle with the death-trapped roadways. It was stealth camping at some of its best. No one could see us and we had more cover from the rain that night then we normally do. Plus, there was a gas station just down the street encase we needed a bathroom or extra food.
We cleared out the following day arriving at Helenville in the early evening. It only made sense to go to the bar and ask if anyone new if camping in a park would probably be OK. At first everyone gave us a suspicious look like they normally do; after a couple of bedraggled looking outsiders have asked where in a small town they can camp out like hobos for a night. Once we began to tell our story everyone was very curious about us and gave us suggestions for places we could stay. The owner of the local bar, Wingin' It, gave us a basket of free chicken wings and a couple of sodas. Two local ladies bought us beers. We spent a good part of the evening there exchanging stories with them and other people. It was a great time.
Soon we will be getting into Milwaukee and should be in Chicago in the next two to three days.
Ryan and Allegra
Camping last night just off of a busy bike trail into Milwaukee, WI.
Camping spot in Madison between a freeway and shopping center. It was a great spot on the outside of the city.
Cranes or herons (?) walking in the street outside of Madison.
Downtown Madison, WI.
Camping by the Wisconsin River in Wauzeka, WI.
World's largest six pack.
Mississippi River from the bridge.
Bridge over the Mississippi River to La Crosse,WI.
Entering Wisconsin on Hwy. 16.
View from the end of the Root River Trail.
We ate pie for breakfast at Aroma Pies off of the trail.
Street in Lanesboro.
Entering Lanesboro, MI.
Dam off of the Root River trail.
On the Root River Trail near the end of Minnesota.
Section of the trail.
Wall of SPAM.
Outside the SPAM museum in Minnesota.