Yesterday Renee and I rode the lower half of the Laura Ingalls Wilder route. We had a hotel in Durand, WI, so we jumped on the route in the middle of the eastern leg. We woke up to very gray skies, and by the time we had breakfast the radar was not looking good. We waited out a storm and got a later start than we would have liked. When we eventually got on the road, we followed the route south to Pepin before turning north toward Menomonie. We had completed about half of the route when we decided to check the radar again as more storms were predicted. Sure enough a big one was headed right for us, so we cut the ride short and raced the storm back to the hotel. All in all not our best day! BUT, the important part about this trip was that we learned a lot! Today we are back home and we wanted to share some of our observations with you.
First: There was gravel. A lot of gravel. Much much more gravel than we expected. Roads that we thought were paved turned out to contain gravel sections of various lengths. I have been wracking my brain to figure out how I included so many gravel roads and think it might have been due to the method I was using to verify the road surface. We apologize to anyone who followed our route and ended up on a gravel road that they weren’t expecting. Because of the storms, the gravel was pretty soft and slick, so it slowed us down quite a bit. However, we both agreed that we wouldn’t have wanted to miss these roads…they were so much fun. Therefore, we are going to keep this route as is and reclassify it as a dual sport route. We will also be revising the route for those who want to stay strictly on pavement. Thanks for your patience as we make these changes.
Second: This route could be called the Laura Ingalls Wildlife Route. We saw over 25 deer (does and fawns), pheasants, several sandhill cranes and 2 woodchucks! The deer were mostly in the fields but we had a few close encounters too. This was a wonderful added bonus to the beautiful scenery we experienced along the entire route. Another name we toyed with was the Right Angle Route. We have never been on roads with so many 90 degree turns! They may slow you down a bit…and make sure they do because many come right after blind hills and try to catch you by surprise… but it is fun to zig zag through the valleys this way.
Finally: There are many towns in this area, but the route does not pass through them. There are not many places to stop for food or gas (or bathrooms), so be sure to fill up your tank before heading out on this route!
The portion of the route that we got to experience was a lot of fun and simply beautiful. We are looking forward to going back to complete it. So stay tuned for the updated version with no gravel, and if you don’t mind it, get out there and enjoy!