Viva la TWAT – Day 2 – Mineral Point to Ferryville


So, you’re not surprised to find out that I started the day extremely hungover.  We were so excited last night about the ride we’d had and the ride to come that our drinkers were on full throttle.  Our plan to get on the road by 8am didn’t pan out because, well…  I didn’t get up until 9:30!!  I was quite crusty.  Still think we were drugged – I mean we were drinking Coors Light and its equals – can you really get drunk on that?  Apparently, yes, you can.  Perhaps it would have been wise to have eaten dinner.  Oh well, the adventure continues.

We awake to our hostess asking us if we were in the kitchen late last night.  Apparently some jackass snuck into the kitchen and made some late night snacks and might have broken something.  Brad and I look at each other astonished.  No, we didn’t do that.  Brad didn’t even know where the kitchen was.  Weird.  I mean, who would do that?  Could it have been?  No way, but…  I start to have a weird, sinking feeling…  And visions of…

Then, as we’re getting the bikes ready, some dude pulls up in a pick up truck and says in a deep throaty growl, “I was wonderin when you boys would get up.”. I swear that I have never seen this guy before. Then Brad says, “hey, thanks for the ride last night.”  Ride?What? Was I there? What’s going on? I smile and wave and pretend that I know what’s going on.  Of course I do.  Good seeing you (again?)! We say our good days, and he moves on.

Then my comedy of errors begins.  I really don’t like riding feeling like this, but we’ll stop soon for some breakfast and coffee and some more coffee, and that should help.   But before we do that, I immediately start us off in the wrong direction, and we literally drive in a circle around Mineral Point.  Stupid GPS.  Stupid Eric.  Helluva start.  Good thing Mineral Point is a small town…

 

Cute artsy town!! Who knew!! In Illinois!

 

It turns into a great ride, but after waking up at 9:30, we need to put some distance between us and Mineral Point and get to the Trail.  After some great riding we end up in my new favorite town in Illinois!  It’s this cute (not comfortable using that word, but it really works here) artsy (again, no) little town with a great Main Street and very happy, giggly ladies working at the tourist info building – they thought TWAT was as funny as we do.  In Galena, it’s like you’re on a movie set trying to look like a cute little Midwestern art town, and they nailed it.  A big, bad-for-us breakfast later and we’re ready.  I start to have these weird visions of bread loaves in some dark place…  And I didn’t eat dinner last night, so why do I have this weird food taste in my mouth?  Could it have been?  No.  No way.  Really?  No.

With some of the cobwebs dusted (but definitely not all), we left Galena, and I realized how freaking SORE I am.  Whaaat?  Yea, I stand up a few times to stretch, and my thighs are absolutely killing me.  Wow, I am really out of shape.  Yikes.  But, we did do about 150 squats in all our gear yesterday.  I don’t really find myself doing anything like that in  my average day, so I cut myself some slack.  But wow, I am sore.  And I’m beginning to think, well, maybe it was me.  I mean, my memory is lacking, I am surprisingly NOT hungry after not eating dinner, and the visions won’t end.  Good god.  I’m going to stop thinking about that…

But right after leaving the comfort and safety of Galena, we struggle to find the beginning of the TWAT because my GPS has some setting that I can’t find that keeps changing our route.  So we keep ending up where no trail starts.  I bet it would have been funny to watch.  Sorta like pinball.  We’re both a little new to GPS and have never tried to use it in the way we’re using it today.

Just before we abandon the effort until the Mississippi, we (I) finally think we have the trail, so we head off road.  Not a wise decision.  We end up in some hilly farm “driveway,” and we know right away that this isn’t right.  Perhaps it’s the dozen barking hounds hating me from 50 meters away.  Not sure.  So, we both try to turn around and instead of using the hill, I try to turn DOWN the dirt hill with a bike that has just been filled up.  Duh.  I do a little “Oh man! Oh no!  Oh shit!  Ahhhh.. Fuck.  You moron.” and down she goes.  I get out of the way and am fine.  It’s still in first gear with the rear tire spinning, so I have to get underneath and pop it into neutral, but of course I should have turned it off – that would have been the wise move, but in the adrenalin-soaked moment, all that matters is getting the stead back on her feet.  I just thought I could pop it back up and go.  Duh.  It’s the whole pissedoffednesss of the moment that makes you think you can just get it up (never said that before).  So, I turn it off and wait for Brad who’s up above just handling his bike to leave it behind and help me.  We finally get it up (the way it fell put it on an angle like it was upside down, so it’s almost impossible to get it back up from that angle), and I get on and start the engine.  And then the smoke starts!

Not like a little smoke.  This is like the Nomad circa 1999.  Like so much smoke that I can’t see Brad.  I begin to wonder if he made a run for it.  Brad?  We actually wonder if it could catch on fire!  But, the smoking dies down when the engine is off.  Hmmm.  Peculiar.  We determine (by using our combined expert mechanical skills) that maybe some oil dripped on the pipe, but there’s really no damage.  We can’t even figure out where the oil came from or what that thing is attached to my exhaust which appears to be a culprit.  We decide to go back into town (so glad we did, more on that shortly) and see if it gets better.  Funny thing, at one stop sign a woman down the street had to cross over the street to get away from my pollution.  Well, it was sorta funny at the time.  I needed a laugh.  Maybe not now.  It was bad.  But, by the time we’re back in town, it does appear to be getting better, so proceed is the unanimous decision.  Onward.

 

The sing of the strange. Only in Wisconsin (or any small town anywhere).

 

Well, this entire mishap turned out to be a GREAT thing.  We make a stop at the famed Dickeyville Grotto.   Check this out. This was one of the very weirdest places I have ever seen.   It’s kinda indescribable.  I just have to share these photos.  It was a religious, nationalistic, worldistic (?) monument with Jesus and Mary and Thomas Jeffereson and Linoln, and Christopher Columbus all getting play.  And guess which of these historic figures gets the most glamorous monument?  Of couse, Christopher Columbus.  Duh.  Jesus?  Abraham Lincoln?  No.  Christopher Fucking Columbus.  What?  So, the Dickeyville Grotto is a bunch of monuments made entirely out of shells, quartz (is that even a real thing?) and colored concrete, and rocks, and more shells and way more quartz and all hail Christopher Columbus.  I’m getting the chills just thinking about it.  And to top it off we found a praying mantis!  Come on.  One of those could only exist here.   And if you look at the picture, you can see legs on the sill – those were from whatever dude just got done destroying.  This is cool.  We tried feeding it a bug, but I don’t think it was comfortable eating in front of us.  And yes, we’re both twelve years old.  I’ve never seen a mantis in Wisconsin.  Weird things happen at the Grotto.  Just check out these photos…

 

Welcome to the Grotto. We got fun 'n' games / We got everything you want / Honey we know the names / We are the people that can find / Whatever you may need / If you got the money honey / We got your disease

 

 

Yea. Columbus is HUGE here. Yea, Christopher Columbus. THAT Columbus.

 

 

I'm really just trying to figure this all out. Where am I?

 

 

Brad, on the other hand, took the patriotic approach.

 

Time to move on.  The pull of the Grotto is strong, but we must be stronger.  We decide to hit a road that leads to the Mississippi to put some miles in (in Europe, would they say to put some km’s in?).  We’ve given up on the TWAT for a few miles.  It’s now after 1:00, and we have bumbled along roads not getting anywhere.  Could be a long day.  But, the riding is exceptional and the views are huge and colorful.

We finally figure out the GPS, and we connect to the TWAT!  Rock on!  It’s fantastic.  Gravel, dirt, paved, it’s got it all.  It’s slow going, but these roads take you WAY back into it.  Amish carriages pulled by horses, entire farms with no powered equipment, vast valleys sprinkled with cattle and horses, and an intimacy gained by going slowly and closely to everything happening around you.  Like you’re walking through their living room, and it’s totally ok.  But man, I am still really fucking sore.  Geez.

The riding is absolutely spectacular.  Here are a couple photos from the road.  We didn’t stop as much as we’d liked to take pictures because the riding was just so perfect.

 

Brad smooth cruisin.

 

After enjoying the TWAT for a while, we decide that it’s getting dark and we should find a town to aim for.  So, the two badasses we are, we pick Ferrytown.  It’s right on the Mississippi, so it could be interesting.  We pull in to find one hotel in between a couple divey bar/restaurants.  Perfect.  And it gets better.   The room cost $29.  And guess what you get for a $29 hotel room?  Exactly $29 worth of hotel room.

 

This place rocks! Don't mind the stains.

 

I am fairly certain that Brad slept fully clothed with gloves and balaclava.  He may have even worn his helmet.  I also find that you have to spend more than $30 before you graduate to adult-sized hotel bathroom cups.  Seriously?  Are these really that much cheaper than say, 6 ounces?

 

Seriously? What am I supposed to do with this?

 

Dinner was a fish fry and a few beers, and that was it.  We were spent.  Long, long day after a long, long night.  Sat down by the river for a while hoping to see a train seeing as how they seemed to be barreling through our windows every 30 minutes or so.  But you know what they say – trains are like women – you can, yea, you know this one, you can never find one when you want one.  Zing.  Luckily one of the twenty trains that came through that night didn’t wake me up – I was already awakened by the four drunk jackasses talking outside my window at 2:47 am.  No shit, they talked about nothing, not funny Seinfeld nothing, but nothing nothing.  I started to hate them because it wasn’t even interesting to eavesdrop.  And just so happy that my bed sounds like it’s wrapped in plastic.  But I can’t figure out if showering will help me or hurt me in that upturned concrete coffin of a shower.  Paint appears to have been used as the preferred cleaning method.  Yikes.

I’ll wrap this up with a little weirdness of our own…

 

Had to join in on the weirdness. This is actually how I felt.

 

 

Brad, on the other hand, took the patriotic approach.

 

Another day ends.  A  long day.  Aw shit, almost forgot.  Also got chased by two dogs today, saw a couple bald eagles pretty close up, and saw a bunch of wild turkeys.  What a day!  And the views from our dump were perfect!   The Mississippi is an angry, flowing beast.

 

Evening coming to an end across the street from our castle.

 

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4 Responses to Viva la TWAT – Day 2 – Mineral Point to Ferryville

  1. Mom says:

    Am enjoying the reading, and maybe I’m being picky…..but you can’t spell Jesus?????

  2. Ali says:

    First of all, laughing out loud at your posts. So happy you are blogging again. We were surprised by Galena too! Went in May for my first triathlon. It’s so quaint. You have to check out Frtiz and Frites if you go back. On Main street. German and French cuisine. Great atmosphere.

    • ericgwagner says:

      Thanks Ali! Really happy you’re enjoying it. And don’t forget, you’re the one who got me started blogging last year. Would never have started it without you. I’ll definitely be back in Galena sometime, and I’ll make sure to stop by Fritz. Congrats on the tri!

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