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July 18


Wednesday July 18

Rochester MN to La Cross WI

82.0 miles


I surely had many “Travelling mercies” today. That was Cindy’s parting words and her blessing for me last evening before she left. As I came across the Mississippi River this afternoon nearing the end of an 81-mile ride, I couldn’t help but think how great a day today had been. I did experience many travelling mercies today. First, I had such a high energy today compared to yesterday when I was so close to heat exhaustion. I wondered how today would be with temperatures. As high and humidity even higher plus a lot of rolling hilly terrain.


I didn’t eat very much for dinner last night. Dinner was, unfortunately served in a stifling hot room and it seemed to take my appetite away. But, I woke up at midnight and was my stomach ever empty! With our metabolism working overtime, we must eat lots of food. So I couldn’t get back to sleep because I was on” empty” Cindy had saved the night. She had brought me those goodies from home. There I was up in the middle of the night eating Calamities (little baby oranges), granola bars, oatmeal cookies and fresh apricots. Slept like a log until wake up call at 5 AM.


Breakfast was again served in this lousy room – but it was a few degrees cooler this morning. I was on the road early. My first travelling blessing was the rainstorm had ended and we didn’t get wet. When we came to the first rolling section of terrain and the wind was in our face, I hardly even noticed. I charged right on through the wind and made it to the first SAG stop. I ate bananas and fig bars, refilled water and went off. Then the biggest rollers came. I called it ten mile of “Deerfield hills”.  Deerfield hill is a 16% grade hill near my house. It is a monster hill. But today we did one right after another – fun thing was once we got to the top it immediately went straight down and then straight back up.


Another travelling mercy that I could do every one of them, and still breathe just fine. The scenery was so beautiful. It now had changed totally from what we have been riding through for the past several days. Hills, valleys, tress, lakes, it was all so beautiful. I was making good time. It just surprised me so because it was coming so easy for me. I stopped in a small town and had a yummy piece of apple pie and I knew that would get me to the next SAG stop.


We had climbed up on a bluff and then a screaming descent down into a long beautiful valley. Not for long because we had to eventually climb for 10 miles up over another bluff. As we got closer to La Crosse on highway 16 the traffic was very heavy. But, again more travelling mercies as I was kept safely on the narrow shoulder. The ride was so enjoyable and so beautiful I was quite emotional many times. The beauty all around me just made my heart sing and today was so thankful to God for “America the Beautiful”. How fortunate I am to be here on this marvellous adventure.


          At 75 miles, we came to the Wisconsin State line. We were all taking lots of photos of each other under the nice Welcome to Wisconsin sign. Then the big thrill was just up ahead. The Mississippi River… Now I have crossed over the Mississippi River many, many times (near Hudson, WI) in the car.  Let me tell you, it brought tears to my eyes going over this mighty river and this expansive bridge on a bicycle!  All of us that were together at this point were in such awe we got off our bikes on the bridge and were taking pictures and walking slowly with our bikes just basking in the beauty of crossing over into the town surrounded by bluffs: La Crosse.


          It was around 2PM.  Father Jim and I were looking toward the city and saw church spires and he was guessing it might be the Cathedral for the La Crosse diocese. It ended up our route took us within two blocks of it and we rode up to the Cathedral. It was St. Joseph the Workman.  We parked our bikes inside and paid a visit to the beautiful place of worship.  Another travelling mercy for today.


          When I got to the motel, I called my cousin Jane. They were soon on their way to pick me up to take me to dinner. By they, I mean Jane and her husband Bill and my cousin Judy and her husband Larry. It was so good to see my first cousins and husbands. We had a great fish dinner, and a surprise birthday pie was brought to the table and we song happy birthday to Judy. They gave me a short tour of a few sights around here. We drove way up on a high bluff called Granddad Bluff and over looked the city. What a sight. I had to be back for route sap by 8:00, so they took me on back to the hotel. What a grand day I had today. Thank you Lord for all the “travelling mercies” I was blessed with the day.


          Oh, I almost forgot to mention about the road kill count. I am relieved that when we left South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho behind and entered Minnesota there were no more sights of rattlesnakes. However, some sort of mass suicide had taken place here in south-western Wisconsin and south-eastern Minnesota. Frogs, thousands of them, belly up dead on the shoulders of the roads. Pretty gross trying to manoeuvre my bike amongst the carcasses.