West Salem/Mindoro Ride – August 2016

In Mid-August Renee and I took a 2 day ride in Southwest Wisconsin.  Having grown up in the area, I already knew how awesome both the roads and the scenery would be, and I had really enjoyed the MayHem route (see previous blog), so I wanted to share it with Renee.  Since we had an extra day, I created an extended route to include some must-ride roads a little farther north.  Here is a rough idea of our route:

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We parked the truck and trailer at my parent’s house…it’s nice to know someone in the area…and left from there.  Our first stop was at Pier County Park in Rockbridge.  This is a little park and campground with a really cool natural rock formation that creates a long thin finger along the Pine River.

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There was a man-made tunnel through the formation that we had to explore.

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There was also a stairway to the top of the ‘finger’ so we climbed up for a look.

After we were done exploring we ate our picnic lunch and then stopped over at the little store next to the park.  When we were there, we started talking to the lady who was working there and it turned out that she knew my parents.  Small world!

After we left Rockbridge, we made our way over several small back roads to Wildcat Mountain and then on into Ontario where we stopped for gas.

From Ontario, we wandered around until we ended up in Sparta where we got some more pictures for our entry in the Americana Grand Tour contest.  One of my favorite pictures is this one which is a tribute to astronaut Deke Slayton.

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Once we had the pictures we needed we stopped for a some supplies.

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Our plan was to spend the night in West Salem, but on the way we rode up to Mindoro and down through the Mindoro Cut to West Salem.

Unfortunately, there was recent road work the whole length of the Mindoro Cut road, so we really had to be careful the whole way.  Strips of the road had been removed and replaced with gravel, so we had to keep our speed low and it made it a much less enjoyable ride.

We got to our hotel in West Salem and then unpacked the bike.  By this time we were hungry to we went to find some food.   Outside, we found this guy guarding the bike:

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Just down the road from the hotel were these interesting sculptures:

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The next day when we hit the road, there was fog in some of the low lying areas, but the roads were all clear.  I took us West on Hwy 14 because I wanted to ride on Rustic Road #26, which is County Road MM.  County Road MM is one of my favorite Rustic Roads. You start out in the valley and ride past a neat old cemetery and an old farm settlement. Soon, you quickly climb up a twisty, turny road, around and around to the top of the hill. Once you are on top of the ridge, you ride along the top until you come back out to Hwy 14.

After this little bit of fun, we rode North and East to a place called Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center.  This is an arboretum, preserve, and heritage center that celebrates nature and the Norwegian heritage.  There are original settlers homes and buildings on the site.

The road to Norskedalen was really cool, and we stopped at the entrance for a picture.

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Once we were inside, we drove around a bit and Renee found a new friend:

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This was a really neat place and we saw several deer while we were driving around.

From Norskedalen, we rode to Westby for a pit stop.  When we left Westby, we were back onto the MayHem 2016 route.  Here are a couple of pictures from that part of the route:

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This little ‘pond’ in Viola has been there ever since I was a little kid.  I remember seeing it when we drove by on the way to my grandparent’s farm.  Originally, it was cement painted blue, but it looks like in recent years, they had to go with a tarp.

After Viola, we took Hwy 131 (which is a great road) down to Readstown, then we took back roads into Gays Mills.  In Gays Mills we got back on 131 and took it further South almost to Steuben, where we turned off onto Maple Ridge Road.  Maple Ridge Road was another great little road that took us to County E, and then Hwy 61, which we took into Boscobel.

While we were in Boscobel, we drove past the old Rock School, which was cool because I was involved with an engineering project there when I was in college.

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From Boscobel, we had planned to take more back roads to the truck, but we were thwarted by road construction and a bridge that was out.  We were not too broken hearted because we were getting stiff and tired and the batteries on our headsets were dying.  So we just headed back to the truck, loaded up, and headed for home.  We had great weather, great roads, and the company, as always, was great too!

Somebody (who is not spoiled at all) was happy we were home:

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