The wind wailed outside my office window. Leaves, rain and yes, snow, blew past in furious gusts. It was, as this morning’s paper called it, a “warning shot” from winter. Time to hang it up for the season.
I got out the leather cleaner (great stuff from Australia) and began rubbing it into my chaps, which were still muddy from our last ride. I thought about the places I’d seen this past motorcycle season: the Mississippi River headwaters, B.B. King’s in Memphis, New Orleans’ French Quarter. How I’d learned that Iowa isn’t always flat, and armadillos live in Missouri.
As I wiped smashed insects off of my jacket, I thought about how my leathers had kept me dry during a Tennessee thunderstorm and actually afforded some cooling in the humid Deep South.
As I reached into the closet for the hanger, I realized I had’t put the lining back in this fall. That was one hell of a riding season!
We took a ride down Wisconsin 35 this past Labor Day weekend (yes, I know it’s not in Minnesota, but you can see the state from the other side of the Mississippi River). The sun shone brightly in Minneapolis when we left. By the time we crossed over to Prescott, it had disappeared. Fall colors have begun to appear along the river. They added some bright notes to the muted gray atmosphere.
What a change from a week and a half ago, when Ralph and I drove up 35 after a trip following the Mississippi to New Orleans! The air that day was cool and clear, and the bluffs stood out prominently against a blazing blue sky. Summer’s heat was still on, but minus the stifling humidity and high temps that had accompanied us downriver.
Our trip yesterday brought us to Pepin, where author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born (the town celebrates “Laura Days” this coming weekend, September 12-13). We stopped for breakfast at the Homemade Cafe, where everything is made from scratch. It’s a popular stop for bikers and folks who like pie. If you go there, be sure to bring cash. The restaurant does not accept credit cards. We managed to scrape up just enough money between the two of us to pay for our breakfast and leave a very modest tip.
We rode south to Nelson, then re-crossed the Mississippi into Wabasha, Minnesota, where folks are gearing up for a month-long (or is it two?) celebration of Septoberfest. Pumpkins and fall decorations are scattered all over town, including a gauzy Cinderella pumpkin coach near the AmericInn.
Up Hwy. 61 at the entrance to Lake City, we stopped at Pepin Heights Orchards and bought a bag of SweeTango apples and a loaf of their apple fritter bread. The place was packed with apple lovers, and ours was not the only motorcycle in the parking lot. We negotiated the road construction in downtown Red Wing, then went down the road to Welch, just for the ride. The village was crowded as folks scrambled to get one more inner-tube ride down the Cannon River.
There’s a lot of good riding weather ahead. Ride Minnesota, before the snow flies!