Jun 22, 2010
We (the Tuesday Night Ride) had been talking for some time about doing a camping trip, but like the TNR TNA it just hadn't happened yet. After a false start this spring we finally got a trip scrapped together. This is the telling of that story.
- Rode to Saint Croix Falls
- Rode Wisconsin "alphabet" roads for a day
- Rode Home
- 350 miles from group start to loss of quorum.
- Tom, Uriah and I were the only campers, but it was great fun.
The whole story:
Heading North from Uriah's house, we had a route that would send us through Wyoming and then straight across "underneath" Forest Lake. It avoided some of the busier roads and afforded a new route in any area way too familiar to most of us. While we found spots of traffic and backed up lines of cars, it wasn't too bad. Once we got to Wyoming it was clear sailing all the way to Taylor's Falls.
Stopped for cheap but tasty burgers in Taylor's Falls. Felt more like we were about to start our journey than end it, as it only took two hours to get there.
Popped over to Interstate State Park in Wisconsin and checked in. The campground was full, so no switching sites, although we were told it was a lovely site. The ranger was a woman who edited the first book of the Dregni scooter books. So she was fun to talk to and never once called them mopeds. Although we admitted that we'd let her call them mopeds if it meant a discount.
Our site was a camper site in an area of tent sites. This meant there was a nice, flat area for setting up your camper. On gravel. While there was a small grassy area, Tom and I ended up setting up tents on gravel. It was also quite close. Our neighbors were 15 feet away on easy side, with little or no buffer between us. That said, we had no real problems with noisy naighbors which is incredible for the number of people in such a small area.
You can see how close our neighbors were
Once we were set up, it was time to get supplies. We needed water, beer, and wood. The in-campground woodseller had closed, so we headed out to town. Without going into the boring details, we had some serious issues finding alcohol. In Wisconsin. Strange, isn't it? So we ended up eventually finding a bar in which we could purchase off-sale. (We walked through a growing brawl at the Traprock Inn only to find they don't sell offsale.) The final bar didn't have any Leinie's left in cans, so we ended up with Pabst Blue Ribbon. We figured we could be ironic hipsters for the weekend.
Firewood was easily found, less easily packed on the scoots. Tom and I each had a bundle and ended up splitting them up on our scoots and wobbling back to camp. Lighting the fire proved far more of a challenge, but we eventually got it going. We didn't have any chairs (Uriah had a "butt triangle, but he wasn't sharing) so I built a small stool out of wood. It was quite useful, very comfortable, and the next night it burned quite well.
A brief walk to the water pump afforded us a bunch of water for morning coffee. It was pretty late, however and we didn't look too closely at it.
The three of us consumed more than a few PBR's because, after all, they're just water right? Irony. Turns out they actually do have more than just water in them, but it was fun nonetheless. We stayed up til 1:30 or something stupid like that. Discussions ranged from "darn kids nowadays" to the apocalypse, though I'm a little fuzzy on that last one.
The next morning was a bit hairy around the edges due to the PBR the night before, but I was pleasantly suprised with "Who would have thought that my Sleep Number is Gravel!" Uriah lent me a sleeping pad and I slept right next to it all night long. Go figure.
The water we pumped the night before turned out to be an iron-like shade of yellow. It was dubbed "Irony" water for the rest of the weekend, and wasn't bad for washing up. But pretty gross looking.
We had breakfast in Taylor's Falls, a typical high cholesterol affair. Tasty. The restroom immediately reminded me of a scene from Trainspotting, however. Headed out of town on the Wisconsin side heading up the "river road" towards Danbury. At one point we saw a sign with the universal "twisties ahead!" symbol and I thought to stop and take a picture, but we were all too excited to ride it. It kept getting narrower and narrower and I believe it was one of the nicest sidewalks I've ever ridden. Not too bumpy or sandy, just enough curvy to be lovely.
By the time we got up into the flatlands Uriah was having to stop to adjust a mirror quite a bit. We ended up stopping at a crossroads in the "middle o nowhere" and taking a wrench break. While Uriah and Tom messed with the mirror I took pictures of the beautiful landscape, listened to the birds (including the rooster in the barn down the road) and essentially floated happily in my new "happy place."
It was so nice to be out nowhere with no concept of time or goals. Just hanging out. Don't know if Uriah ended up feeling the same way, as he ended up pocketing the mirror for a later fix.
I've looked for information on the Manitou Lake School (1870-1875) and why someone would place such a memorial there, but can't find any. Hope to someday, as it seems odd for such a short time to be memorialized so long after.
We pulled into Danbury with a few drops of rain coming down, but for the most part we remained dry. It was cooler, almost cold. Having had a prediction of sunny and hot we were caught a bit off guard. I was the only one of the three of us who brought rain gear for the weekend. Can you believe that?
We skipped going to Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park up near Danbury as the day was already passing quicker than we thought it would. Took lettered roads down to Rice Lake. I was in the lead and had "X, B, H, B" running through my head so I could remember the sequence of roads. Turns out this is why I don't get songs stuck in my head while I ride. Although I did end up with Peaches' "aa xxx" going on by the time the buffer emptied out.
Just outside of Cumberland we hit a rumblestrip and my scooter just kept making the horrible rumble noise. Pulled over to find my exhaust had dislodged - a common Stella problem. Uriah had a wooden block and I had a hammer. Tom helped me line it up and they pounded it back on and he tightened it up nice and neat. We were stopped for maybe 5 minutes. I mentioned the close proximity of our cabin and how there were beds there that could be napped on, but nobody was buying. Time for sleep when we're dead. True mileage whores! Woo! We saw a fair number of roadkill, but the thing that struck me as odd were the number of foxes. I've barely seen a live fox up there, and to see multiple fox roadkill was surprising. We saw our share of puffy deer, as well.
By the time we got into Rice Lake it felt like the city again. Traffic, lights, cars. We made our way to the Norske Nook and Tom got his fabled "Lingonberry Apple" pie - as did Uriah. I went for what I thought would be a chocolate silk pie. Wasn't as good as I thought, but hey - I do like Jello pudding. We had a largeish lunch there as well. Tom's rib meal "wasn't what he thought but exceeded his expectations" and my reuben rocked the house. Uriah had a bit of a sausage problem with his vegetarian omelet. Bummer.
Straight back to St. Croix Falls on 8 was a bit of a grind. Long day was winding down but those last miles can be a bummer.
Greast Feast and Great Science
We stopped at the Marketplace on 8 near Saint Croix Falls for food and booze, and at the campground store for wood. We got an extra bit of wood since it could be a longer evening, and the wood you buy is so dry it burns quite fast. We burned all of the wood we bought, but it took some serious effort to burn everything - including my chair!
We had new neighbors across the road. An attractive young woman and her male partner. He did not seem to be in her "league" but we all took that as a sign that even doofuses like us are essential in the species, somehow. Someone made a joke about Austin Powers and tent silhouettes.
Tom boiled up our brats in Summit India Pale Ale on his cookstove and then grilled them on the fire. Uriah had some nice cheese and bean wraps and we all are until we were done. Coke and Jack Daniels was the drink of the night, and it was good that we purchased a whole 12 pack. We used most of it. Somehow the whole bottle of Jack went away in the course of the evening. And not much of it went on the fire.
I pulled out some compression towels and showed off their cool ability to expand into full sized washcloths when wetted. While everyone laughed at first, they were so refreshing when applied to the face that Tom and Uriah had a short contest of making inappropriate noises of joy. The towels were referred to as "cotten lozenges" for the rest of the weekend, and were again enjoyed in the morning. I can't say enough good about them.
At some point in the night the couple across the road retired to their tent and re-enacted the scene from Austin Powers. Turned out they were just reading. It was a little sad when they turned off their light. But that brought our attention to another tent further down the way in which it looked like they were doing acrobatics or something. Odd.
We were all waiting for 10pm so we could collapse, but ended up staying up past midnight again, but that was due to the fact that we were "doing science." What did we discover?
- PBR does not extinguish fire
- Coca-Cola does not extinguish fire, and spews scary thick liquids well after it dies
- Jack Daniels is the anti-extinguisher and makes scariness, but fun.
- "That's what she said" is actually a phrase used quite often in science. True fact.
Tom made espresso on his camp stove, and we enjoyed Donuts from the grocery the night before. A nice quick breakfast.
I had a new theory about the couple across the road, but nobody was willing to do an "adam's apple" check, so that mystery will forever linger. It's always good to have something to wonder about.
Headed down to Osceola on S off 35 - I highly recommend it. Like the river road the day before it just kept getting narrower and narrower. I was reminded of "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" by Stephen King. Look it up, it's a good read.
Got back to the cities with no real drama, just some nice riding. We were home by noon for our Father's Day rituals! Mission accomplished!
- We can indeed scooter camp
- Now that we proved it, maybe next time we should have families bring our gear and hang out
- My Android phone (Nexus One) lived quite well! I charged it with a battery pack (only 50%) Saturday, but otherwise didn't plug it in all weekend. Used it for mapping, lookups, facebook posts, as a camera, and for the web to settle beer-based arguments and conundrums. Was wise about battery usage, but comfortably supplied with phone-goodness.
- Group camping sites are the way to go
- Not too buggy, not too cold. Could have been sunnier during the day