Uff Da Days

Hank – It doesn’t happen often but every once in a while I get up in the morning feeling like crap and all lethargic thinking, “I really don’t want to ride my bike today.” Today was one of those days. But we went anyway. Around the 13-mile mark of the ride Kathy said she was feeling the same way and was all for stopping in Ostrander, which was the about the halfway point of today’s projected ride. That sounded good to me.

We followed County Road 3 all the way to Ostrander. The main roads there are all torn up and under construction so we had some gravel to get through. We headed to Susie’s Roadhouse, which Terry and Jan highly recommended last night. We got there before they opened but we didn’t have to wait long. The doors opened 30 minutes early at 11:30 and Jennifer told us to come on in. She brought us popcorn and peanuts, hence the “Where you can throw your nuts on the floor” saying. We ordered the baby back ribs and they were even more impressive than the BBQ we had yesterday at Piggy Blues. The meat just fell off the bones.

Jennifer told us this weekend was Uff Da Days in Ostrander. We were missing the tractor pull but we could make the watermelon feed at 3:00 pm if we wanted. We asked Jennifer if there was a place we could pitch our tent. She checked with the mayor, who happens to own Susie’s Roadhouse. No luck but Jennifer told us about a free campground in Spring Valley about seven miles away. But then Meagan, who Jennifer was telling about us, offered to let us camp in her yard here in town. How awesome is that! We got her address and headed over after we ate.

I took a nap and my snoring kept Kathy awake. I woke just when it started raining and I got out of the tent to put the rain fly on. After the rain passed I walked around town for a bit. I ran into Meagan at the restaurant and she told me where Nate’s shop was so I could stop by and meet him. When I finally left, Meagan was outside the restaurant and told me Nate was next door instead. I met Nate, his friend Jimmy, and Pat Nesler, who is the mayor and owns Susie’s. While we were chatting about the heat, humidity, and the bugs, Pat got an idea. He keeps his shop air conditioned. If we had sleeping pads we could sleep on his shop floor. Plus there’s a bathroom. I texted Kathy and she came back with an enthusiastic “YES!” So I went back to break camp and move to the shop.

After putting our stuff in the shop we returned to Susie’s for dinner. Jennifer, Mandy, and Tonya took good care of us. Tired and well fed, we retired for the evening.

Kathy – As Hank stated, today was one of those days where I just didn’t want to ride.  I was tired from not sleeping well in the bed at the cheap hotel, my body ached all over and the last thing I wanted to do was ride our projected 55 miles today in the heat.  Well, I decided to buck up and get it done thinking I would feel better once I started riding.  Nope, I still didn’t feel much better at our 13 mile mark so I broached the idea with Hank to call it an early day.  I was happy he was up for it.  It was another hot and humid day with the heat index up to 95 degrees.  The 32 mile ride was absolutely beautiful today through the countryside.

Ostrander, Minnesota is a great little town, population 256 people.  We met many of them and everyone was very kind and generous.  If you ever go to Ostrander, Minnestoa, a stop to Susie’s Roadhouse is a must!  I was expecting your typical bar food and was pleasantly surprised to see a real menu with many great choices.  The food was simply amazing, and I’m not saying this because we were starving – which we were, but really it was truly top notch food and a wonderful salad bar to go with it.  The staff (Jennifer, Mandy, Tonya and Meagan) are some of the friendliest you will meet anywhere.  They welcome you and meet your every need.  Jennifer is a wiz with drinks also.  She made me a ‘homemade’ Mike’s Hard Lemonade which was to die for, and then topped that with a drink called “A Little Slice of Heaven.”  Let’s just say, I’m feeling fine.  🙂

Meagan was very kind to offer us a camping site in her front yard between shade trees.  It was super hot with the humidity as we tried to take a nap, so when Hank said Pat offered us his air conditioned shop for us to sleep in tonight I was all over it.  We are very thankful for Pat and Kim (who own Susie’s) to let us sleep in Pat’s shop. These two are great people as it was evident seeing them interact with the staff and customers throughout the evening at the restaurant/bar.  We are grateful for their kindness and trust in strangers by allowing us to spend the night in their shop.  We are thankful for all the people of Ostrander, Minnesota, they are just another reminder that there are many more kind people in this world than is reflected in our news.  Feeling grateful and blessed tonight.

I’ll Have Spam, Spam, Spam, Baked Beans and Spam

Hank – Kathy and I slept in and had breakfast at the Blue Belle Inn. Today was to be a short 25-mile ride to Austin, MN. We rode back into town and checked out the white deer display. A white deer lived near town in the 80s. After it died they had a taxidermist fix it up. We also discovered St Ansgar has its own bike share program. A simple one but they have one nonetheless. Borrow the bike and bring it back.

While we were checking all that out, Judy Ask stopped to talk to us. After hearing about our adventure she asked us to come down to the newspaper office. They were closed so Judy took some photos of us hoping the paper would do a short article. She was super nice.

The ride to Austin followed a quiet Iowan county road connecting to a quiet Minnesota state highway. We had a short detour when we followed  County Road 105 to Carpenter and failed to turn north on S70. S70 becomes Minnesota State Road 105. When you look at the map you just see 105 so I thought the county road turned north. It only added two miles so no harm done.

We arrived in Austin and stopped by the Rydjor Bike Shop. Clever Norwegian language pun there. I asked for Intel on routes going east and on good restaurants. Savanna was very helpful. We were headed towards the restaurant she mentioned when we saw the Piggy Blues BBQ. Sorry, Savanna, we couldn’t pass that up. And it was delicious.

Next up was the SPAM museum a half block away. The rain had already started so we hustled over with our bikes. Steve, one of the SPAMbassadors who is also a tourer, came out to talk to us. Next thing you know we’re talking to Michelle and other employees who were taken aback by what they described as our audaciousness. We handed out several of our retired  business cards with our blog address. We saw all the exhibits and were reminded of how popular SPAM was on Guam when we were stationed there in the 90s. And we successfully avoided buying souvenirs in spite of how appealing the SPAM bike jersey was.

There was a break in the rain and we hustled over to the Rodeway Inn. The room is kind of air conditioned, the white towels are a dingy gray, and the wifi leads you to believe the owner has a vested interest in ensuring you can’t access the internet. Calling the place a two star hotel is a generous act of kindness. But it’s all part of the adventure. It’s not always daisies and roses you know.

Tara has a cycling friend, Terry Fox, who met up with me and kindly provided a map showing the route we planned to take tomorrow. He and his wife, Jan, also treated me to dinner and a beer for which I am very grateful.

Kathy – It was nice to get a room in the bed and breakfast last night with the heat index registering 106 degrees after our 51 mile ride yesterday. It was a beautiful place, with great staff and a really comfy bed.

We enjoyed our breakfast and headed out to see the town’s white deer. Kinda cool looking. It was wonderful to meet Judy as we were leaving town. What a great gal!

The total of 30 miles today was very pleasant. Pretty flat with beautiful countryside around us the entire way. The temp was 93 degrees today with 99% humidity and the heat index registering in at 101 degrees. Another hot one.

I planted my flowers in Iowa before leaving the state. We passed a beautiful country cemetery and at the entrance there were two columns that needed a little perking up, so I scattered my seeds there (a half pack in front of each column). The white daisy will make a great addition to the cemetery entrance. Shush, don’t tell anyone I did that. 😉

We made it to state # 10 today – Minnesota! Our stop today was in Austin, Minnesota. Had a great lunch before heading over to the spam museum. It was really fun to visit this place. Lots of history along with silly trivia and cute displays to add to the overall charm of the place. We met some nice people working there too that were interested in our travels after seeing our bikes.

We got a hotel tonight since they do not allow camping in their city park and because thunderstorms are moving in tonight. I was happy to arrive at the hotel just before the thunderstorms hit. It’s a pretty low budget hotel with your very basic needs covered. I’m keeping my pannier bags up off the floor just in case any critters are about. I haven’t seen any, but it’s not the cleanest place so just taking precautions. I stayed in the hotel for a little down time tonight while Hank met up with a local cyclist to discuss future routes. It was a good day.