Hank – Stumpy’s was the only place open for breakfast. It was quite unremarkable. While there I got some cash out of the ATM but it was unable to give me the full amount I requested. After the transaction completed I got an email from my bank stating I did get the full amount. I went to the Rushford State Bank, owner of the ATM, across the street. They took down my info and asked me to check with my bank as well to see if it automatically gets straightened out. Sigh.
We finished up the Root River Trail all the way to Houston. There were a lot of leaves, branches, etc., on the trail as if this part isn’t traveled much. We only saw a couple other cyclists. It might be because it was Monday morning. Who knows? Arriving in Houston we found a Nature Center with bathrooms and showers for campers. Nicely done, Houston!
Houston is also the home of the National Owl Center. We stopped to pay a visit and saw three live owls they have along with all the exhibits. The part open to the public is a large room with a gift shop on one end and the owls at the other. They do annual events to raise money and awareness. They also save injured owls.
Since we were at the end of the trail that meant we were back on the road. We followed Highway 16 to La Crescent, MN where we turned onto US Highway 14 to La Crosse, WI, which was the day’s destination. Crossing the Mississippi we had a separated path that continued into town. We stopped by Smith’s Bike Shop, which has been around since 1898, where I asked about some Wisconsin Dept of Transportation maps showing the bike friendly roads. According to the DOT you’re supposed to find these at any bike shop. Unfortunately, the guy there didn’t know what I was talking about so I’ll check with some others. After getting a bite to eat we went to the St Rose Convent.
My mom’s friend and classmate of many, many years, Sister Nina Shepard lives here now. She’s in the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and St Rose of Viterbo Convent is the motherhouse. Sister Nina is in her early 80s, swims laps at the Y, rides her bike, and keeps herself very busy. She’s taught music, served the poor, and ministered to many in need for almost my entire life. She made arrangements for us to stay in a room here as her guest. We met her in front of the convent where she took us to our room and invited us to her place for dinner after we got cleaned up. Nina is a vegetarian and the rice balls–instead of meat balls–she made with the spaghetti were very tasty. Nine years ago she began making stuffed bears for people. She’s up to 265 now and she has a photo of every one. Some are sold in the gift shop here. Later she started making owls and she’s up to 140 something of them. She does them all by hand. We chatted with her for too long as we all began to tire so we called it a night. Plus, Nina has to get up at 4:30 am to swim laps.
Family history note – My Aunt Judith spent four years at the St Rose Convent. The photo in the gallery is from 1964. It was Reception Day at the convent. I lived in Topeka, KS at the time. Aunt Janet and Uncle John drove Esther, their mother, from Spokane to Topeka where they picked up my mom. They then drove to La Cross to see Judith. Judith never took her final vows and went on to become a mother, school teacher, and is now a doting grandmother.
Kathy – It was another good day riding. We enjoyed our first 13 miles on the last part of the Root River Trail. What a beautiful gem! We enjoyed riding the hills around the gorgeous bluff. We were warned about the elevation, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. The temps were a bit cooler but still a hot 92 degrees with the heat index. We finished our 39-mile ride crossing the Mississippi River into LaCrosse, Wisconsin – our 11th State! I love seeing the Mississippi River as I grew up in Southern Illinois just across the river from St. Louis, Missouri and we often swam in that muddy river.
It was so wonderful to see and visit with Sister Nina. It is just amazing how healthy and active she is at 80 years of age. I can only hope Hank and I can be that way in the future. She is also such a sweet, kind and giving person, and we really enjoyed our evening conversing with her. We are looking forward to a tour of the church tomorrow. It looks spectacular from the outside and I can only imagine what beauty in hold inside. It is all so very interesting since our Aunt Judith (or Sister Barbara Marie) spent four years here. It was a great day today and we are looking forward to spending the day with Sister Nina tomorrow. Our cup is full, good night.