Renee and my wedding anniversary falls on Labor Day weekend each year…this year marked 29 years! We started the tradition of taking a motorcycle trip over the long weekend a few years ago and it is a tradition we look forward to each year.
This year we decided to ride some of the roads between LaCrosse, WI and Red Wing Minnesota. Renee found some great road recommendations online and I built a route around them.
Day 1: Friday Sept. 1st. Blue River, WI to LaCrosse, WI
On Friday we drove to Wisconsin to start our ride. We dropped our trailer and truck, loaded our stuff, put on our gear and hit the road. Along the way we rode several of the same roads I had ridden during this year’s Mayhem ride. We took back roads to Ferryville, then rode along the Mississippi river to DeSoto. In Desoto we left the river and rode some amazing back roads into Chaseburg.
After Chaseburg we rode on one of my favorite Rustic Roads, County MM outside of LaCrosse.
Once we were in LaCrosse, we took a detour to the top of Granddad Bluff. This is an awesome park that is hidden away up on a bluff. You can see it from miles away because there is a large flag at the top. It is a beautiful park to stop in and take a short walk down to a couple of overlooks that have truly amazing views.
From Granddad Bluff, we tried to find a back route to the hotel, but the roads were not cooperating, so after several aborted attempts, we followed the GPS directions and finally got to the hotel. Renee says I am a slave to the GPS. She wants to just go and do and not worry about routes, but in this case, having the route paid off in the end. So much for spontaneity!
Here is our route from the first day:
Day 2: Saturday, Sept 2nd, LaCrosse, WI to Red Wing, MN
Our 2nd day of riding started out on the cool side because of a storm that had rolled through LaCrosse earlier that morning. Finally at about 8:30, and despite threatening skies, we were able to dry the bike off and get on the road.
We stopped for coffee and a warm up in Winona, Minnesota. On our way out of town we saw this neat city sign with a working paddle wheel.
In Winona, we left the river road for a side trip up US 14. We took this to Lewiston, then we turned back North to get to the river road, passing through Rollingstone, MN.
We followed the river road to Kellogg where we turned off on our next side trip. This side trip took us along the Zumbro River to Millville, Hammond, and then on to Zumbro Falls. It was a beautiful drive.
We were hungry, so we found a park and had our picnic lunch. After lunch, we took Highway 60 back to Wabasha which was one of the roads that Renee wanted to ride on this trip, and it was fantastic. Lots of twisties!
Back on the river road, we quickly came to Lake City, where we stopped for some pictures on Lake Pepin. We couldn’t believe how many sailboats were on the water and the developed parkway all along the river front was amazing.
Lake City was beautiful, but soon it was time to move on, so we continued up the river road to Red Wing. We continued on through Red Wing for one more little loop that took us down to Vasa. From Vasa we took a fun back road through Welsh and then we looped back to Red Wing.
In Red Wing, our hotel was next to a great Mexican restaurant called: Fiesta Cancun. This was a great restaurant after a long day of riding. The food was wonderful and the drinks were delicious. Renee really enjoyed her “little” margarita!
Here is our route from Day 2:
Day 3: Sunday, Sept. 3rd, Red Wing, MN to LaCrosse, WI
Day 3 started out with heavy rains. We thought we might be riding in the rain, but in looking at the weather radar, we could see that it would let up eventually. So we waited, and it really only took about 1/2 an hour to improve.
After the rain finally let up, we started out and crossed the Mississippi River back into Wisconsin.
We followed the Mississippi River downstream until we got just past Maiden Rock. Past Maiden Rock, we turned onto County A and then onto Rustic Road #51. This was a neat road with several small water crossings. Renee loves these rustic roads and was thrilled to find some water crossings. Sometimes we think we will have water crossings but by this time of the year they are dried up when we get there. Not so this year! Interestingly, the road had signs up saying it was closed, but we decided to take our chances and have a look at it. In the end we were so glad we had as we plowed through the water and had a blast! We had no problems getting to the end of the road.
After our fun little side trip, we got back on the river road through Stockholm, Lakeport, Pepin, and into Nelson. These were all really neat looking towns and we wished we had more time to spend there. We saw this fun statue at the Nelson Fire Department.
After Nelson, we continued to Alma where we took a side trip to Buena Vista park. We drove past the entrance, but Renee asked me to turn around because the road leading up to the park was steep and curving and looked like a lot of fun. We were glad we went…the views were incredible and the ride was fun.
After our side trip, we continued down to Fountain City and found a park for our picnic. (Thank you Dale for including this awesome picture of me!!)
When we were finished eating we rode to Arcadia on another great road that Renee had found.
While we were in Arcadia, we discussed what time it was and how much further we had to go and made a change to our route. We still wanted to hit 2 more Rustic Roads before we got to LaCrosse, but we decided to cut out a few other roads to shorten our ride a bit.
At the end of the day we got to our hotel in LaCrosse, and it was beautiful. It was the new Gunderson Clinic Hotel and since it was the weekend, it was practically empty. For supper that night we carried out pizza and gyros from Pizza King. This food was amazing and we ate waaay too much.
Here was our route for Day 3:
Day 4: Monday Sept. 4th: LaCrosse, WI to Blue River, WI
After a good nights sleep, it was time to head for home. We decided to ride down the Minnesota / Iowa side part of the way because we had never ridden in that area before. We crossed the river again and headed South.
We were soon into Iowa and onto our first side trip. We followed the Upper Iowa River west for a short distance then we worked our way back east to our last water crossing.
We studied this water crossing for a while. The water was deeper and wider than we had been led to believe it would be (we had seen pictures of it and read ride reports). And, it was moving quite fast. After looking at it for a while, we decided to try it, but we didn’t make it very far. The bottom was round river rocks and they were pretty loose, so we lost traction and tipped over. (Ok, so Dale never includes much detail on these things, but we kind of talked ourselves into this one when we should have just turned around. I think I may have goaded him a bit, asking him where his sense of adventure was, and why we had this incredible on/off road bike if we couldn’t do this. I knew if we didn’t try we would regret it later. But, after the way it went down, maybe not! And, it wasn’t exactly just “we tipped over”. Dale sort of gunned it to try to keep up our momentum and we sort of spun out and ended up sideways in the water with the bike down on its side. It took a bit of work to get it out of the stream bed and back up on dry land.)
After we got the bike back on 2 wheels and out of the water, we emptied out our boots and headed back the way we came. (Wet and a little disappointed.)
We finally got back to main roads and worked our way to Lansing.
We made our final crossing over the Mississippi at Lansing, turned South and followed the river road past Ferryville and Lynxville to County D. At County D we turned East and rode through Eastman and on towards Steuben. At Steuben, we took Kickapoo Valley Road South until we connected with Hwy 131.
We followed Hwy 131 South to Hwy 60 which we took all the way back to Blue River.
Here is our route from the Day 4.
This was a great trip. We rode a lot of neat roads and saw a lot of cool things along the way. Since we packed so much into this weekend, we had to keep moving and we felt like we missed some things. So, we have a great reason to return to this area again sometime. (The roads on this trip are just amazing! Dale and I marvel at how many great roads there are in this part of the country. You could basically take any road you wanted and not only have great elevation changes and sweeping curves and twisties, but the scenery just never quits! We will definitely be going back to try some more of the abundant fun roads.) Thanks for coming along for the ride!