Just a little post race hanging out, which included talking with another van guy biking the trails, and a quick stop at the General Store that graciously supports local events for cold drinks and treats for later, before a couple hours of driving to get just outside Chicago and start the friends and family tour. We had a few days with Rudy's childhood neighbor and friend Shawn, his wife Lucy, and their 15 month old twins Vera and Elise - oh, a couple cats too! We had some nice weather and plenty of time hanging out on the porch, eating, chilling, soaking feet and otherwise recovering. We also got to be introduced to some Rick and Mortie, and also wathced Batman vs. Superman
Another big drive with five hours to Black River Falls, WI, where we happened upon a nice rest area with a 1/2 mile path to a scenic overlook (I neglected to take the phone along!) We ate bean burritos here and played a round of Hand and Foot - Rudy win, before heading to a nearby Casino for free parking the next couple nights. Destination for this area was Levis, where Rudy biked, and I got in some hiking. So nice and sunny, a little buggy, but not unbearable. I also managed to lay in the sun, get in some outside yoga, and start on the race report before we made barley and red sauce and played more Hand and Foot - Rudy wins again!
Little bouts of rain early morning, but no storming. We next headed to Eau Claire and Lowes Creek County Park. We ended up biking with older couple on the relatively flat and fun trails - good for my recovery :) And then we finally get into Minnesota! First stop was Minneapolis to visit our friends Chester and April, and their little ones Olive and Oscar - also dog Hugo. We took some nice strolls, lots of grilled meals, and plenty of good conversation for a couple days! We also spent an evening with Rudy's brother Erin, and his daughter Kailey (wife Kjirsten was on a work trip :/). Hot weather was good for more grilling and hanging out on the deck!
Before we departed Erin's, there was a nasty hail storm at 8:30 am - I haven't seen too many green sky crazy storms, and this was intense!
|The hail is piling up!!|
Although our original plan was to hang out for a day, we ended up sticking around for a few, mostly helping out and not being in the way (at least I like to think so.) Rudy participated in cleaning up some of the minimal damage from the recent storminess, some simple welding, and lots of strawberry harvesting. I mostly chipped in with preparing meals (so much home grown and made from scratch goodness!), processing strawberries, and experimenting with some strawberry treats, including sauce, gelato, and pies. And Rudy made a cheesecake. Despite everyone being pretty busy, Andy and Irene were still great about showing us around and making us feel welcome - pretty inspiring!
We contributed a little more help on the farm before moving on to Alexandria to visit Rudy's cousin Dick and his wife Heather, and their kids: Lilly, Layla, Ritchie, and Jackson. Plenty of catching up, and Rudy was good with helping with projects while I made myself useful by entertaining kids, mostly consisting of strolling around and pushing them on the swings - there were some games and watching The Nanny Diaries too. Heather made some fantastic roast chicken with roast veggies and mashed potatoes, and a coconut cream pie to go along with the leftover cheesecake we had - so much good food!
An excellent breakfast of pannakakku and more more playing and helping until early afternoon when we head toward St. Cloud to visit past trials-riding friends Brian and Jenna, and their girls Camille and Lydia. Lots of visiting, a great dinner of gnocchi, chard, and white beans, and a blessedly earlier bed time!
A little jog for me - slowly recovering from the 100-miler - and then waffles! Next destination was Cayuna - again, the relatively easy trails were nice for me.
|View from Miners Mountain|
We got in a couple hours on bike before afternoon storms started and we continued on to see Rudy's Aunt Jan, and her husband just outside Cross Lake. There were more visitors here and we were able to see Tom Jr., and Rudy's Uncle Larry and his wife Mary Kay. More grilling (including apparently hard to find Vienna hotdogs - good, so far as hotdogs go!) and great visiting. We also got to watch the Barkley Marathons documentary - craziness.
Happy Father's Day! After breakfast and more chatting, we headed to Lake Winnibigoshish to see Rudy's Dad at their cabin for a couple days.
|A blustery day at Winni|
His dad's really long time friend Duke was there too. We were treated to some fresh walleye, mellow days, and venturing around on surrounding forest roads. The weather was a lot of cool and windy, but eventually got better just in time for us to head toward Grand Rapids and visit Rudy's former coworker Mike and his wife Linda.
Happy Summer! We spent a good amount of time in the Grand Rapids/Hill/City/Bovey/Swan River area - got to check out the Grand Rapids farmers market - not a lot of produce yet, but good to see more folks than I expected selling locally produced goods - we just bought a bunch of baked goods, and biking the newish singletrack near the high school. I only got in 5 of the 6 miles there, and the trails were relatively flat, but I had fun! We managed to visit Larry and Mary Kay at their home on the golf course. Their daughters Jenny and Katie stopped by with two boys each as well, it was great for me to finally meet them! We also stopped by the Lillesvies and ogled their garden and solar panels. Then my dad, the Grays, my brother (grilled us some delicious shis-kabobs and entertained us with Dr. Strange and Deadpool), also Rudy's childhood neighbors, and mom and Aunt Mary, and finally my Grandparents (whom we actally got to see a few months ago in Florida!)
Some final visiting with the Grandparents before we head out for a day being of tourists along the North Shore - this is essentially our back yard, yet we have not spent much time there during the past ten years! We stopped along the way at Lookout Mountain in Virginia - a pretty little area on the Laurentian Divide with lots of little trails! Sadly there were scattered showers and the trails were too wet for biking, but a couple hours of hiking was a nice alternative, the mud and mosquitoes were tolerable.
|View from Lookout Mountain|
|Some familiar wild flowers!|
For the evening we drove another hour to a State Trail lot, made bean burritos, and started season three of Gotham.
It was a gorgeous morning to make our way to the Sugarbush Trails just outside Tofte - so nice to see the North Shore again! Here also the trails were too wet for biking, so we got on the Superior Hiking Trail and headed up Carlton Peak.
|The views from Carlton Peak are well worth the extra climb|
We continued north, had lunch at the Onion River rest stop, then more hiking along the river there.
|Onion River making its way to Lake Superior|
We got in some wandering around Cutface Beach and Grand Marais, and made a stop at the Pincushion Trails, which we assumed would be wet, but the little stretched we walked was not terrible, maybe could have biked? Oh well.
|Thompsonite in basalt|
|Lake Superior - still cold|
|Grand Marais is great for strolling|
At the end of the day we went back to Sugarbush for dinner - pasta - then decided to camp at the State Trail again - quite mosquito-y! Got in more Gotham.
June 28 - July 1
We returned to Bovey for a few days with Rudy's mom. The weather forecast called for a good chance of rain, but there really wasn't too much precipitation. We got in some leisurely running and biking, along with some reading, financial planning, and progress on Gotham. Rudy also got in some productive tasks such as making a cheesecake! and removing some big stumps and getting some veggie plants in the ground
We return to Duluth and the big road trip is officially over. Time to re-adjust to regular life and reflect on the past year - more to come!